The Chicago International Film Festival has started, and with more than 100 movies in the lineup, admit it: you're lost. Don't fret; we've got the flicks you can't miss--and the movies you wouldn't wish on your worst enemies. Plus, check metromix.com for daily reviews, showtimes and fest updates.
****: Go now!
**: Could be worse
*: But not by much
Bee Season (U.S.)
Catch it: An ambitious miscalculation of spelling and
spirituality, "Bee Season" combines a daughter's (Flora Cross) rise to the
national spelling bee with her family's (Richard Gere,
Juliette Binoche, Max Minghella) search for a higher truth.
The actors blend nicely into a family and the film begs
conversation, but its attempts to capture a sense of ambiguous
mysticism never jell.
Skip it if: You'll be bothered by people around you
spelling out words in the bee. Because they will.
Bottom line: Twinkly and tender, "Bee Season" does a lot of
emotional buzzing without much of a sting.
Bonus: The sense of pride you'll feel if you can spell some of
the words that these 11-year-olds can. Cotyledon? Come on!
The Squid and the Whale (U.S.)
Skip it: If Wes Anderson stayed up all night watching "The Ice Storm," he might end up making a movie like "The Squid and the Whale," Noah Baumbach's (co-writer of Anderson's "The Life Aquatic") semi-autobiographical drama of family disintegration. Striving for a mixture of ironic humor and naked emotion, Baumbach's short, simplistic story doesn't break much new ground in terms of parental misconduct or
adolescent sexual confusion.
Catch it if: You're fascinated by family. The cast of Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline nails the push-and-pull dynamics of dysfunction.
Bottom line: A whale of an overrated, derivative disappointment, with extra points off for typecasting Anna Paquin into her "25th Hour" role of seductive student.
Bonus: William Baldwin, a breezy delight as a laughable, studly tennis pro.
The Weather Man (U.S.)