Critics film fest flies!
The second annual Chicago Critics Film Festival begins Friday night, May 9, at the Music Box Theatre (musicboxtheatre.com) with the Midwest premiere of David Wain's spoof of rom-coms, "They Came Together," starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler as a couple on a double date. They observe their courtship is like a romantic comedy, triggering the movie to play out like a cliché-ridden flashback. The director will be at the screening to answer questions.
More than two dozen movies will be shown at the festival, including features and documentaries, plus two programs of film shorts selected by Chicago film critic (and Arlington Heights native) Collin Souter.
The fest also pays tribute to veteran movie actor Dick Miller, a star in nearly every Roger Corman and Joe Dante film, with the documentary "That Guy Dick Miller." He'll be at the screening in person to discuss his career and show his breakthrough thriller, "A Bucket of Blood."
The Chicago Critics Film Festival is the only movie fest of its kind, programmed and produced by actual film critics.
A full schedule of events can be accessed at chicagocriticsfilmfestival.com. Tickets can also be purchased for the festival, which runs through May 15. Passes for every single film plus the closing night party cost $150. Individual tickets run $12-$15.
Film critics notebook:
● Dear Dann: We went to the AMC theater in Lake in the Hills Saturday to watch "Draft Day." They have a bar in the lobby named the MacGuffin bar. I asked the bartender if he knew the significance, and he said, "Hitchcock!" Good for him.
BTW, I liked "Draft Day" better than I thought I would. Of course, I like pro football. My wife liked it also, but she said the characters were poorly developed. I told her these were pro football coaches and executives, and they really don't have much of a character in real life. Did anyone really think Lovie Smith had much of a personality? -- Gary Koca, Pingree Grove
Dear Gary: It's good to know the cocktail slingers at Lake in the Hills theaters know their movie lingo. (For the uninitiated, Alfred Hitchcock frequently employed a "MacGuffin," his word for a red herring device that would throw viewers a narrative curve ball, such as the embezzled money in "Psycho.")
You must certainly like pro football more than pro filmmaking to cut "Draft Day" slack. I say the movie is miscast and dumbed-down with lots of fancy, schmancy visual tech stuff added to compensate for those shortcomings.
Also, Gary, good luck with your new book, "Forgotten Movie Stars of the 30s, 40s and 50s," if you don't mind my shameless plug. -- Dann
• We won't be distributing programs for the next Dann & Raymond's Movie Club, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at the Schaumburg Township District Library in Schaumburg. (A schedule change bumped us from our original May 1 play date.) Film historian Raymond Benson and I will present favorite movies that we have so far never employed in our partnership.
Hint: Raymond tilted more toward the classics; I went for movies I know might be flawed, but love them nonetheless. Film clips! Free admission! Go to stdl.org for details.
● The Hollywood Blvd. theater, 1001 W. 75th St., Woodridge, will show two vintage "Godzilla" epics on Saturday, May 17, in celebration of the release of the new "Godzilla" thriller May 16.
The 1963 release "Mothra vs. Godzilla" will be shown at noon. The 1991 release "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" will be shown at 2 p.m. Early bird $4 tickets can be purchased at atriptothemovies.com. ($6 regular). Both movies will be presented in the original Japanese with English subtitles.
• Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire's Reel Life column runs Fridays in Time out!