The 5th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival kicks off this Friday with a screening of Jeff Baena’s The Little Hours. The prime festival slot has become a placeholder for whatever quote unquote breakthrough Sundance comedy emerged from earlier in the year, with past selections including David Wain’s They Came Together, Joe Swanberg’s Digging for Fire, and Chad Hartigan’s Morris from America. We’re a long ways from when Sarah Polley opened the festival with Stories We Tell. But the shift would appear to a be a wise (commercial) programming decision; Wain’s film sold out the Music Box’s large auditorium in a feat that would’ve seemed inconceivable during the festival’s initial run. In programming The Little Hours, one can assume the aim is to capture that same massive audience, as director Jeff Baena. along with actors Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci, will be in attendance.
Elsewhere, in what’s the festival’s most significant coup, is a screening of David Lowry’s A Ghost Story. The film won’t see its nationwide premiere until July, making this early screening an especially appealing prospect. Other notable films include Eliza Hittman’s sophomore film Beach Rats, the Harry Dean Stanton starring-vehicle Lucky, and a revival screening of Southland Tales with director Richard Kelly in attendance.
I’ll be covering the festival throughout its run from May 12 to the 18th. For a complete schedule of films and ticket information, please see the Chicago Critics Film Festival’s official site here. Below you’ll find a selection of capsule reviews for films screened during the festival.