Count Gregula and I had the extreme pleasure of attending the first ever Chicago Critics Film Fest that took place on April 12-14, 2013. It was a fun weekend full of movie screenings, parties and celebrity meetings.
The ball got rolling on Friday evening when we viewed the opening movie "Stories We Tell", a documentary by writer/director and actress Sarah Polley. This film followed the history of her family, focusing on her mother Diana, a free spirit who frequently but lovingly clashed with her family (especially the men in her life) and the circumstances of Ms. Polley's birth. The story is told by family members with reenactment scenes blended so expertly with actual home movie footage it was hard to tell which was real and which was the magic of film. After the film was over, there was a very informative Q & A session and impromptu meet and greet. Ms. Polley was very gracious and even took a photo with My Count. Oh, we also give the movie **TWO FANGS UP**.
Next up was "Grow Up, Tony Phillips", introduced by writer/director Emily Hagins. At the tender age of only 20 years old, this is actually her FOURTH feature film. The movie focuses on high school senior Tony Phillips a HUGE fan of Halloween. He loves the holiday so much that he models costumes in September, plots out trick-or-treating routes and even has a "costume fund" jar in his Halloween-themed bedroom. Unfortunately for Tony, all of his friends seemed to have outgrown Halloween and a now only interested in parties and moving on to adulthood. This film was a blend of comedy and the drama of having to let go of one's childhood. We defintely identified with the character of Tony Phillips, who if this had taken place in real life would have grown up to become a Horror Host just like Count Gregula and myself. ;) We give it a big **TWO FANGS UP** as we enjoyed the high quality of the film, the entertainment value and also because it focused on our very favorite holiday!
The second day of the fest (Saturday) began a bit late for me as I had to work my day job, but there were a few short films plus a documentary, "The Force Within Us" that Da Count enjoyed very much. I arrived at the theater just in time to see the film "The Kings of Summer" which starred Nick Offerman, Nick Robinson and Megan Mullally. This film was about two boys Joe and Patrick who are so frustrated with the treatment they are getting by their respective parents, they plot an escape to the woods to build a house of their very own and live off the land. Along the way they meet a very strange kid named Biaggio , and with his help their dream became reality. They do become rulers of their own lives, but eventually come to realize that being on their own isn't all that it was cracked up to be. **TWO FANGS UP**
Afterwards we went over to the auditorium at The Premier facility upstairs from the general theatres at the Muvico to see the headliner movie of the evening "Sparks" a superhero film in the vein of "Watchmen". Ian Sparks (Chase Williamson) has just discovered the dark side of heroism while going after the nation's most notorious supercriminal. Along the way, he teams up with a fellow superhero Lady Heavenly (Ashley Bell) who has the power of morphing into any person she needs to be. The arrival of a vicious serial killer Matanza (William Katt) who unleashes his bloody wrath on the city complicates things with Sparks and Heavenly and destroys their relationship. Just when Sparks has hit his lowest moment, along comes guardian angel Archer (Clancy Brown) who discover they share a common enemy and form a partnership with other "gifted" individuals who may not be as honorable as Sparks. The movie was good, had lots of action and we liked the special effects. **TWO FANGS UP** by Super Gregula and Super Countess hehehe.
The film was followed by Q & A session with writer/director Christopher Folino, stars William Katt and Jake Busey (Sledge) with a bonus surprise gift of the graphic novel by Mr. Katt. Da Count and I got to meet and greet with everyone and got autographs and pictures with the stars (who we previously met at the Days of the Dead con Indianapolis in 2011) and director. We then all retired to the Bogart's bar and eatery for the offical CCFF afterparty where we enjoyed delicious finger foods such as pretzel breadsticks, chicken wings and quesadillas.
Other movies screened on Saturday evening included "Black Rock", a thriller about three women who renewed their friendship and bond of sisterhood at their old campout on an Maine island, only to discover that they are being hunted by a group of recently returned servicemen who via a tragic misunderstanding turn on the women and make them their target. **ONE AND ONE HALF FANGS UP**. The final film of the evening was "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane", which unfortunately we could not give a proper review due to techinical difficulties and not letting us see it all. We will give it **ONE FANG UP** anyway because we liked what we did see. Hopefully we will get to screen it again in the near future.
All in all it was an amazing weekend and we hope to do it all over again next year!