Sarah Knight Adamson is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a voting member for the Critics Choice Awards for Movies.

Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

The Big Sick 😷 (R) ★★★★ Radio Podcast 🎙

Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan star in the romantic comedy ‘The Big Sick’ Photo: Amazon Studios

 

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2017, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

The Big Sick (R) ★★★★

Zoe Kazan, Kumail Nanjiani, Ray Romono and Holly Hunter star in ‘The Big Sick.’ Photo: Amazon Studios / Lions Gate

 “The Big Sick” Will Cure the Blockbuster Overload This Summer

Many romantic comedy films can be fairly sappy with the main crisis being some variant of “will they or won’t they.” In fact, it’s pretty rare when a romantic comedy breaks the mold and explores serious societal issues in anything but a silly way, which makes the achievement of the new romcom, The Big Sick so remarkable. Not only is there a heartfelt love story at its core, but the movie intelligently deals with issues surrounding race, religion, family and even illness. Based on the real-life experience of the film’s star, Kumali Nanjiani, and his wife Emily Gordon (who also co-wrote the movie), The Big Sick is a solid film that provides laughs and tears. 

The movie begins with a comedian Kumail, played by Kumail Nanjiani (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, 2016) describing to audience what it was like growing up in Pakistan through a series of funny jokes. Kumail is still struggling to break through as a stand-up comedian and works as a part-time Uber driver in Chicago. As Kumail performs before his hometown crowd (with an important comedy booking agent in attendance) his set is thrown when a young woman in the crowd shouts something that interferes with his rhythm. After the show, Kumail approaches the woman and tells her that yelling during a comedy set, even if it’s a positive comment, is still considered “heckling.” The two playfully banter back and forth. Eventually, Kumail finds out her name is Emily (Zoe Kazan, Our Brand is Crisis, 2015) who is a grad student studying to become a therapist. They end up spending the night together, and the next morning they agree that they’re both too busy for a serious relationship and that they shouldn’t see each other again. Their connection was undeniable, however, and the pair continues to see each other, eventually becoming a serious couple.  Read more…

Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

War For the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) ★★★

‘War For the Planet of the Apes’ Caesar played by Andy Serkis (Motion Capture) Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Humans bad (Unmerciful, Bullies, Stupid). Apes good (Peace-loving, Compassionate, Intelligent).

At its core, War for the Planet of the Apes is exceptional filmmaking; the “Gorilla in the room” is clearly the disappointing lopsided script and the uneven character choices. Don’t get me wrong; I thoroughly enjoyed and applauded the first two films in this recent trilogy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The main problem with War is the ideology.

Yes, I know war is hell, but what happened to the humans here? Why don’t we see one single soldier show any sign of compassion for the apes? And yes, I also know there’s a mute, sweet, young doll-carrying little girl, but she’s in no position to symbolically help the apes. We can also surmise that she represents the last hope for humanity. I held out for hope. Hope that Gabriel Chavarria’s (Preacher) soldier character would step up to the plate. Nope, not a chance. Even though the apes spare his life, he offers no aid, not even a small nuance of humanity. Truly, this is a big mistake as the prior films show humans empathizing with the apes’ cause to the extent of some trying to work toward peace. Read more…

Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

A Ghost Story (R) ★★★★

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in A Ghost Story
Image credit: Andrew Droz Palermo

A deeply affecting meditation on life, death, grief, time, existence — and letting go.

So as you can probably discern from the statement above, A Ghost Story goes deep. Even though it tells a simple tale, has only two main characters and features several scenes that are mostly silent, it is more moving, more memorable, and just so much BETTER in every way possible than 95% of the films I see each year. By the end I felt like both my brain and my emotions had been put through the wringer. But I personally believe that’s what the best films should do—make you think deeply, feel deeply, and leave the theater a changed person in some way. A Ghost Story achieves these things because of the brilliant vision and execution of its writer and director, David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon), who does a lot with a little.

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara—who worked together in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints as well—play C and M, a couple who live simply in a ranch-style house. We get just a taste of their relationship before C unexpectedly dies. He dies . . . but he’s not gone. He rises up from the table in the morgue, still covered by a white sheet, and (in an especially gorgeous shot, accompanied by a wonderful, violin-heavy score by Daniel Hart) makes his way back home. He watches M go through the stages of grief, but he can’t do anything except stand there in his sheet and observe. Mostly.

Read more…

Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13) ★★★ Radio Podcast 🎙

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2017, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13) ★★★

Spider-Man Comes Home to Queens, Spinning a Friendly Web

Spider-Man: Homecoming provides the new charming Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) with his own feature film. However, it’s the sixth film in the series, and he’s the third actor to don the suit. The idea of an immature, untrained neighborhood Spider-Man, as in Holland’s, does bring a fresh look and feel to the franchise. In addition, Michael Keaton as the sinister villain ‘The Vulture” brings a sympathetic nudge toward an anti-hero. Let’s just say there’s enough brilliance to the film and its script to recommend seeing it in the theater.

Other cast in the film include a young, hot-looking Aunt May (Marisa Tomei); Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.); Jon Favreau as chauffeur/henchman Happy Hogan; Jacob Batalon, Peter Parker’s best high school friend; Laura Harrier as Liz, Parker’s love interest; Zendaya, Michelle, a member of the Academic Team and a fringe friend; and Tony Revolori, Flash (remember the lobby boy), as another member of the Academic Team who antagonizes Parker. The high school kids have a diverse assortment of personalities and backgrounds; they are a well-cast group. Odd in an action film, each is written with humor and enough depth to create a group of teens such as John Hughes’ Breakfast Club. The ensemble of a group of “good kids” creates   a strong model as they set an example of how high school students work hard to achieve success.

Marisa Tomei stars as Aunt May in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN™: HOMECOMING.

Tony Stark/Iron Man, who mentored Parker in the prior film, Captain America Civil War, takes a backseat in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which makes for a better-centered film. Parker continually is trying to coerce Stark into letting him fight crime in his slick Spider-Man suit, and at every turn, Stark is saying no way! What occurs is that Spider-Man does find a way to go at it alone, and thus we see his trials and tribulations. The approach works, and it is refreshing.

Spider-Man climbs the Washington Monument in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: ™: HOMECOMING.

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Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

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