• Cinephilia

    Review: The Biggest Little Farm

    In a world where success can seem like it’s one well-received Instagram post away, being reminded of the thankless hours, the countless fails and the unrelenting hard work it is to build something from nothing is quite a wake-up call. John Chester, director of The Biggest Little Farm, and his wife Molly couldn’t have known what an up-hill climb they had ahead of them when they decided to launch an independent farm in 2011. But nearly a decade later, their 400 acres are a thriving, self-sustaining ecosystem of crops, animals and wildlife that proves what fruits can come from good, honest labor. Making its way into theaters just now after a…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Photograph

    The best moment in The Lunchbox, the insanely underrated 2013 film by Ritesh Batra about a homemaker whose warm lunches end up getting delivered to a stranger, is the ending. While I won’t spoil it for you here, suffice it to say that it’s an absolutely perfect note on which to end an already lovely movie. The fact that I remember it at all more than five years later is a testament to Batra’s storytelling skill, teasing his audiences with an outcome while managing not to ruin it entirely. Batra has directed a few films since then, largely forgettable and neither of which he wrote; Photograph marks his return to writing credits, this…

  • Just This

    Playing Catch Up: Latest Reviews

    I set myself a goal at the beginning of 2019 to write a film review every week, and after nearly half a year I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to do that for all but one week. Go me! Some weeks, I’ve even managed to post two reviews rather than just one, over-achiever that I am. Only problem is that rather than getting all that coverage posted here, I’m putting it all up over at Third Coast Review, the Chicago-centric culture website I’ve been working with for a couple of years now. Which is great, given that it’s an outlet with a significantly larger following that this ol’ thing.…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Fast Color

    Filmmaker Julia Hart has a knack for casting. Three years ago at SXSW, I got to see her directorial debut, Miss Stevens, a surprisingly poignant road comedy about a high school teacher who chaperones her students to a drama competition, starring the impeccable Lily Rabe in the title role and a then-little-known Timothée Chalamet as one of her students. Hart co-wrote that film with her husband, Jordan Horowitz (best known as a producer on the likes of La La Land), and the two have teamed up again for Fast Color, a female-centric origin story that flips the idea of superheroes on its proverbial head. Here, the casting again stands out, with the divine…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Diane

    Just a few weeks after Sebastian Lelio gifted us with an English-language remake of Gloria Bell, about a woman in her 50s looking for love and connection in Los Angeles, writer/director Kent Jones (Hitchcock/Truffaut) puts his own spin on the solo female protagonist story with Diane. The similarities between the two end there, however. This time starring Mary Kay Place (Being John Malkovich, Girl, Interrupted) in the titular role, the film revolves a life she’s built devoted to others: her drug-addicted son Brian (Jack Lacy); a cousin in hospice care (Deirdre O’Connell); the men and women she and her best friend Bobbie (Andrea Martin) serve at the local soup kitchen. But where Lelio…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Dumbo

    There’s an ironically gleeful moment in the third act of Tim Burton’s live-action remake of Dumbo that all but sums up the film as a whole. Alan Arkin, a wonderfully silly casting choice as the capitalist banker deciding whether to invest in a theme park named Dreamland, looks out at the park, engulfed in flames after a performance gone very awry, and says without a hint of self-awareness (or perhaps with all the self-awareness in the world), “Well, this is a disaster.” Indeed, it is. Burton’s been in a bit of a slump as of late, and his latest–for all its delectable on-screen eye-candy–is no exception. Devoid of any sentiment at all (except,…