For the next few days, the Music Box Theatre in Chicago will play host to the Chicago Film Critics Festival. Now in its third year, the fest features a lineup curated entirely by the city’s critical community. Most of these films have played major festivals like Sundance or Toronto. Almost none of them have played in the area.
The event kicks off tonight with a screening of Digging For Fire, the latest (and most star-studded) feature from hometown hero Joe Swanberg, who will be in attendance. The fest closes next Thursday with this year’s big Sundance winner, the fairly irresistible teen weepie Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. There’s plenty to see in the days between, and plenty of special guests scheduled to appear. For example, Bobcat Goldthwait will be around to discuss his new documentary Call Me Lucky, which screens Saturday. No stranger to the stage, he’s always candid and funny in post-screening Q&As. Tomorrow night should be no exception.
Full disclosure: As a local critic, yours truly had some input as to what the festival would screen, and several selections get the official A.V. Club stamp of approval. There’s Results, a surprisingly mainstream (and often hilarious) comedy from Computer Chess director Andrew Bujalski, featuring Guy Pearce and Avengers costar Cobie Smulders, the latter of whom will be around for a Q&A after tomorrow’s screening. Less mainstream, but also worth seeing, are Blind, the feature directorial debut of Oslo, August 31st screenwriter Eskil Vogt, and Heaven Knows What, a noisy, naturalistic character study from NYC’s the Safdie brothers.
Looking for something scary? Goodnight Mommy, from Austria, is true nightmare fuel; showing it any earlier than midnight, when it screens on Saturday, would be an affront to weak stomachs and delicate sensibilities. And be sure to make it out for The End Of Tour, which screens Wednesday night. The film, which stars Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as the journalist who spent a few days with him after the release of Infinite Jest, was easily the best thing I saw at Sundance in January.
Tickets for the festival are available at the Music Box’s website. If you live in the area, there’s no better moviegoing option for the next few days.