• Cinephilia

    Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    There’s a moment in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s exquisite new film, when painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant) gives up on an early attempt to capture the likeness of her subject, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). She’s been commissioned to paint the young woman as a way of ensuring a favorable marriage for her, but Héloïse is so against the idea of marrying (she’s only recently returned from a convent following her sister’s untimely death) that her mother (Valeria Golino) insists she can’t know she’s being painted at all. So Marianne has three-fourths of a portrait—a bodice and shoulders in an emerald green gown—but nothing above the neck, as daily…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Corpus Christi

    Believe it or not, there were other films besides Parasite nominated for this year’s International Feature Film Academy Award; even though the Korean film stole the show (and the most Oscars that night), four other films were vying for the one award of the night given to the country that submits the film. Spain sent in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory; Honeyland (from Macedonia) made history as the first film to be nominated as in Best Documentary, too; France inexplicably selected Les Miserables (despite Portrait of a Lady on Fire being a wildly superior film); and Poland snuck into the final five nominees with Corpus Christi, a film about faith, community and the lengths we’ll go…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: And Then We Danced

    Set in the world of Georgian folk dancing, with its sharp, deliberate choreography and percussion-driven rhythms, And Then We Danced is the story of Mareb (Levan Gelbakhiani), a promising young performer determined to join the national troupe if he can navigate family drama, personal injury and more along the way. Written and directed by Levan Akin, Mareb’s journey through the demands of his chosen art, a family coming apart and the seams and an unexpected—and incredibly taboo—romance is vibrant, emotionally rich and beautifully wrought. Under the training of a no-nonsense dance instructor who expects perfection in every movement, Mareb and his fellow dancers—including his older brother David (Giorgi Tsereteli), his…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Assistant

    Though it grapples with a distinctly American scandal—that of the #MeToo movement in the movie industry—Kitty Green’s The Assistant comes off as surprisingly European in its observational, detail-oriented approach. As it follows a day in the life of the assistant of the title, played by Julia Garner, the devil is quite literally in the details: the wording of an email, the nudge of a box of tissues, the dishes left behind after a meeting she’s not invited to. A film quite light on dialogue, we follow Jane (as she’s identified in the credits, though never in the film) through moments that seem unremarkable, doing the entry level work of an office assistant…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Oscar Documentary Shorts

    If you plan to see the Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts Program, now playing at the Music Box Theatre, keep in mind that all five films are presented as a single program that, this year, runs to a whopping two hours and forty minutes. It’s a marathon, to be sure. But seeing how each of the five films is a captivating snapshot of the lives of others, sometimes in their darkest, hardest, most challenging moments, it’s a compilation of films that’s more than worth the investment of your time. Featured at the 2019 Chicago Critics Film Festival, Life Overtakes Me is the painfully sad story of children who’ve faced such devastating traumas that…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Oscar Live Action Shorts

    The five 2020 Live-Action Short Film Oscar Nominees hail from four different countries—Belgium, Tunisia, France and the USA—and average about twenty minutes each. Aside from their runtimes, the films don’t have all that much in common, as they explore everything from a fatal fire at a Mexican orphanage to a Brooklyn family’s odd connection with the neighbors they can see through their living room window. Directed by Marshall Curry, The Neighbors’ Window stars Maria Dizzia and Greg Keller as a Brooklyn couple juggling their work, raising three small kids and their own relationship when a younger, hotter couple moves in next door and they get a front row seat to their lives.…