Brigid K. Presecky
Brigid K. Presecky 111 posts
FF2 Media Vice President and Managing Editor Brigid Presecky began her career in journalism at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. In 2008, she joined FF2 Media as a part-time film critic and multimedia editor. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Bradley University, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked in development, production and publicity for Berlanti Productions, Entertainment Tonight and Warner Bros. Studios, respectively. Returning to her journalistic roots in Chicago, she is now a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and certified Rotten Tomatoes Film Critic.

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Patricia Clarkson leads neo-noir homicide investigation in ‘Out of Blue’

Based on Martin Amis’ 1997 novel “Night Train,” Patricia Clarkson stars as a lead investigator in the death of a leading astrophysicist (Mamie Gummer). Although the stellar cast is more compelling than the story itself, the science fiction elements make director Carl Morley’s Out of Blue a unique homicide puzzle to piece together. (BKP: 3.5/5) […]

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‘Captive State’ another gloomy envisioning of dystopian America

Erica Beeney co-writes with director Rupert Wyatt, creating a sci-fi thriller with the help of a stellar cast, including John Goodman as William Mulligan, a Chicago police officer tasked with fighting an invading alien force. For fans of the impending-doom genre or those willing to dissect the political commentary, Captive State could be captivating. For […]

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Matt Smith captures a visionary in ‘Mapplethorpe’

Director Ondi Timoner paints a portrait of an artist in her Tribeca Film Festival award-winning biopic Mapplethorpe. The impeccable Matt Smith disappears into controversial artist Robert Mapplethorpe in this memorable lead role, following the evolution of a trailblazing photographer. (BKP: 3.5/5) Timoner’s fascination with her subject matter shines through in Mapplethorpe, balancing audience’s perceptions of […]

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Rodriguez stands out in messy ‘Miss Bala’

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Twilight, Miss You Already) and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, Miss Bala is an ambitious action drama set in Tijuana. Gina Rodriguez is a deserving lead despite the complicated, questionable plot following a California makeup artist who gets caught up in tense drug cartel drama near the Mexico border. (BKP: 3.5/5) […]

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Nuanced dramedy ‘Egg’ examines motherhood, female friendship

From director Marianna Palka and screenwriter Risa Mickenberg, Egg is a sharply-written feature about the diverging paths of college friends and their seemingly different approaches to adult life. (BKP: 4/5) Art school friends Tina (Alysia Reiner) and Karen (Christina Hendricks) lead entirely opposite lives – Tina lives in an artsy loft with her free-spirited husband; […]

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Christina Hodson’s ‘Bumblebee’ gets nostalgia right

Christina Hodson’s take on the Transformers story focuses more on human emotion than the well-known Michael Bay franchise. With Hailee Steinfeld impressively leading the action blockbuster, this new telling of an old tale is a refreshing change. (BKP: 4/5)

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Star, producer Aniston returns to comedy gold in ‘Dumplin'”

“As Dolly would say, ‘It’s hard being a diamond in a rhinestone world,’” Willowdean Dixon’s Aunt Lucy tells her in the opening sequence of Dumplin’. The popular Netflix feature directed by Anne Fletcher, written by Kristin Hahn and starring Danielle Macdonald is exactly that – a diamond in a world of rhinestone movies that try and fail to preach body positivity. Adapted from the novel by Julie Murphy, Dumplin’ is an inspiring comedy for bigger girls everywhere, who haven’t really had a protagonist they can count on – until now. (BKP: 4/5)

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‘Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’ another retelling of classic origin story

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is a visually impressive live-action film that retells the story of The Jungle Book from the point of view of Mowgli the “man cub.” Rudyard Kipling’s century-old story has been retold several times, from the well-known 1967 Disney animated film to Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation. From first-time screenwriter Callie Kloves and director Andy Serkis (a motion capture expert), Netflix’s Mowgli is an origin story that’s biggest failing is being told too many times. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ a clever, memorable Disney sequel

From co-screenwriter Pamela Ribon, Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet is a fun, thoughtful journey of two colorful arcade game character venturing into the world wide web. Undeniably imaginative and satirical without snark, this sequel to Wreck-It Ralph (2012) is a great addition to Disney’s ever-growing list of decent sequels. (BKP: 4.5/5) Review by Managing Editor […]

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Rowling, Redmayne dive deep in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’

In Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindelwald, J.K. Rowling uses her time turner to take us back to the 1920s Wizarding World, when Dumbledore (Jude Law) was still just a professor, long before the names Riddle and Potter appeared on his radar, let alone in his Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. The Ministry of […]

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Stellar cast of ‘Lez Bomb’ guesses who’s coming out at dinner

Writer/director Jenna Laurenzo’s new spin on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner tells the story of a closeted young woman who brings her girlfriend home for Thanksgiving. When her male roommate shows up unannounced, misunderstandings snowball into comedy gold, aided by a stellar supporting cast of Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern, Deirdre O’Connell, Steve Guttenberg, Elaine Hendrix and Kevin Pollak. (BKP: 4/5)

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Nutty ‘Nutcracker’ not quite a Christmas classic

Screenwriter Ashleigh Powell creates a whimsical world in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a disjointed but entertaining ride through a magical kingdom kids can only dream of. But along with flowers, sweets and snow (what three of the four realms are made up of) comes a lingering evil, which Powell and directors Joe […]

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‘London Fields’ hardly worth the five-year wait

Writer Roberta Hanley’s adaptation of Martin Amis’ book of the same name falls prey to both the fictional story and the real-life drama behind the scenes. Starring Amber Heard and Billy Bob Thornton (and Johnny Depp — dating itself immensely as production began in fall 2013), this hodgepodge of a mystery thriller is one to skip. (BKP: 2/5)

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‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ a buzzy showcase for McCarthy

In a dramatic turn for Melissa McCarthy (not the first, but lauded as so), Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the story of fledgling author Lee Israel and the illegal lengths she went to for extra cash and a sense of purpose. The Marielle Heller-directed drama based on Israel’s memoir of the same name is a no-makeup-Oscar-buzz-generator showcase for McCarthy, but its anti-hero protagonist isn’t much of a protagonist at all. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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White and Monroe make believable pair in honest love story ‘After Everything’

Co-writers and co-directors Hannah Marks and Joey Power tell an honest, raw love story of two people who prematurely deal with the hardships adulthood. When Elliot is diagnosed with cancer after only one date with Mia, the couple is thrust into the role of patient/caregiver in the midst of a passionate, burgeoning relationship. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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Giamatti and Hahn a sad, perfect duo in Netflix dramedy ‘Private Life’

Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn bring their best to Tamara Jenkins’ Netflix dramedy, Private Life. Telling the story of two 40-something artists struggling with fertility, they enlist the help of their gung-ho step-niece in the hopes that her donation egg will start their family. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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‘Hell Fest’ a fun start to Halloween season

From screenwriter Blair Butler (one of five credited writers) and director Gregory Plotkin, Hell Fest is a typical teen slasher film that’s refreshingly free of demonic possession, but also free of originality. (BKP: 3.5/5) Review by Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky Childhood friends Brooke (Reign Edwards) and Natalie (Amy Forsyth) reunite for Halloween to attend […]

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Like the film’s heroine, ‘Love, Gilda’ leaves lasting impact

Like a belated memoir-turned-audiobook, Gilda Radner tells her story in her own words – in her own voice. Director Lisa D’Apolito collects and chronologizes the life of the famous funny girl using her own 1989 autobiography, “It’s Always Something,” along with personal belongings, family videotapes and journal entries from the height of her Saturday Night Live fame. Documenting personal struggles with family, friends and her own health, Love, Gilda leaves you wanting more – of the film and her. (4.5/5)

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Blake Lively at her best in twisty, original ‘A Simple Favor’

A Simple Favor is a compelling and strange comedy-thriller hybrid from director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, Ghostbusters) and screenwriter Jessica Sharzer (Nerve). When Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) meets mysterious fellow mom Emily (Blake Lively) at her son’s elementary school, their fast friendship quickly spirals into a wild ride involving missing persons and mistaken identities. While not necessarily unique in plot, Feig and Sharzer’s adaptation of Darcey Bell’s novel remains consistently unique in tone and entertainment value. (BKP: 4/5)

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‘The Apparition’ a lengthy journey of questioning miracles

Unlike the horror-thriller genre one might expect from a church story titled The Apparition, the drama tells the story of a journalist investigating a young woman who claims to have miraculously been visited by the Virgin Mary. Lengthy in its 144-minute running time, the film is anchored in its compelling performances and test of faith in the Catholic church. (BKP: 4/5)

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Gleeson keeps ‘The Little Stranger’ interesting

From Room director Lenny Abrahamson and The Danish Girl screenwriter Lucinda Coxon, The Little Stranger is a slow-moving, mysterious horror film that spends most of its 101-minute running time building suspense. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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Alison McAlpine’s ‘Cielo’ reminds us to look up

From director Alison McAlpine, Cielo is a breathtaking documentary tribute to a simple beauty we take for granted – the night sky. (BKP: 4/5)

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‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ cleverly mocks human behavior

Director Susanna Fogel’s buddy comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me is made for viewers who are in on the joke, understanding that ordinary human behavior can be funnier than any pratt fall or bodily malfunction. Tom Cruise’s latest Mission Impossible may be a better fit for serious fans of the spy-action genre, but for anyone in desperate search of a laugh, leave it to Kate McKinnon. (4/5)

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‘Far from the Tree’ documents beautiful, moving love of parent and child

Based on Andrew Solomon’s bestselling book of the same name, director Rachel Dretzin documents the personal, heart wrenching stories of parents whose children are drastically different from them. Peeking into the lives of people with disabilities like Down syndrome, Dwarfism and Autism to Solomon, himself, recounting his parents’ acceptance of his sexuality, Far from the Tree is the most life-affirming documentary that will resonate with anyone who has felt or is looking for the magnitude of unconditional love. (4.5/5)

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Political doc ‘Dark Money’ a thrilling, sobering look at corruption

Director Kimberly Reed’s political thriller documentary pulls back the curtain on corrupt American politics, examining the illegal coordination between big-money corporations and elected government officials. By following investigative journalist John Adams through the state of Montana, Dark Money exposes the real-life consequences of political fraud and its threat to democracy. (4.5/5)

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‘Recovery Boys’ documentary captures heartbreak of opioid crisis

Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Netflix original documentary Recovery Boys covers the full spectrum of opioid rehabilitation efforts of four drug-addicted men and their path to sobriety. Easily-accessible on the streaming service – and thankfully so – the heartbreaking documentary will resonate with the mass audience it deserves. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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‘Spiral’ sheds light on European anti-Semitism

Breaking down a grand scale of European anti-Semitism into personal anecdotes of people who have fled their communities, director Laura Fairrie uses Spiral to document intolerant and fearful attitudes towards Jews. Although the film could be difficult to fully comprehend for some viewers, this timely look at the Israel/Palestine conflict is expertly constructed. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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All-star cast can’t save underwhelming heist in ‘Ocean’s 8’

Ocean’s 8 boasts a powerhouse cast of award-winning actresses as a ragtag group that attempts to rob the annual Met Gala, led by con artist Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock). Written by director Gary Ross and Olivia Milch, this excellent cast saves the story from just going through the typical heist-movie motions. (BKP: 3.5/5)  Review by […]

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McCarthy brings humor, depth to ‘Life of the Party’

Melissa McCarthy co-writes and stars in Life of the Party as a recent divorcee who goes back to school to finish her degree at the same college her daughter attends. McCarthy’s third creative collaboration with her husband, director Ben Falcone, is funnier and fresher than their previous work together (Tammy, The Boss) thanks to its supporting cast and surprising depth. (BKP: 4/5)

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THE DESERT BRIDE (2017): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

Cecilia Atan and Valeria Pivato’s The Desert Bride (aka La Novia del Desierto) stars Paulina Garcia as an aging woman who journeys through Argentina and, through happenstance, finds meaning along the way. Although the film is only 78 minutes in length, the storytelling, cinematography and performances make a striking impact. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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