• Cinephilia

    Review: What They Had

    What They Had is a wonderful film. There’s no use burying the lede on Chicagoan Elizabeth Chomko’s writing and directing debut. The script won the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting in 2015, and it shows. From moment one, it’s obvious we’re in for a polished, character-driven story, not an easy task for a first independent feature. Here, the combination of Chomko’s pitch perfect dialogue and perhaps Hilary’s Swank’s best performance of her career (and yes, I remember Boys Don’t Cry) creates one of the most personal, moving films of 2018. Swank is Bridget, a woman who’s long since left her family in Chicago behind for sunny, successful California. But all…

  • Cinephilia

    What To Watch For Halloween

    As far as I’m concerned, Halloween is only good for one thing: making it socially acceptable to begin getting ready for Christmas. Sure, I’ve had some fun with costumes over the years, and there’ve been a few good parties in there. But overall, the holiday of ghouls and goblins just isn’t my jam. And yet, I’m surrounded by friends and loved ones who are so into the spooks that I can’t get away from it. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? While I wait out the days until November 1 and the first spin of my holiday playlists, there are a few festive shows and movies I’ll be…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Beautiful Boy

    Beautiful Boy

    You'll watch most of Beautiful Boy with a lump in your throat. The story of a father and son (Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet) navigating the younger man's battle with addiction, the whole film is achingly tender, wounds and vulnerabilities exposed to the light in ways that aren't always easy to watch, but are always worth the attention.

  • City Stories

    Summer Adventures

    The radiators in my apartment kicked in for the first time this season just the other day, and as excited as I am for sweater weather, it got me nostalgic for all the adventures I managed to pack in over the summer. It’s no secret that Chicago loooves summer, those fleeting three months in the middle of the year where we can come out of hibernation and enjoy all the city has to offer. And oh boy, does it have a lot to offer. Just a quick rewind on my Instagram account offers a photographic recap of some serious summer celebrating, and I’m not even counting my trip to Europe…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: First Man

    First Man

    Damien Chazelle has come a long way from his first feature film, the no-budget hipster indie musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (it’s in black and white, for Pete’s sake). Like Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio, he’s also struck up a bit of a creative partnership (and one imagines a friendship) with Ryan Gosling, who sang and danced his way through La La Land, the musical perhaps best known for losing Best Picture to Moonlight. Chazelle, however, did win Best Director that year, and with each new film he puts his name on, we’re witness to an artistic evolution of a filmmaker gaining both confidence and skill as he goes. First Man, based…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: A Star Is Born

    star is born

    I first saw the 1954 version of A Star Is Born on the big screen; I got to see it as part of a sidebar program at the Chicago International Film Festival several years ago, and despite its length (the restored cut is just 4 minutes shy of three hours long), I was riveted. Judy Garland’s Vicki Lester is so complex, so multifaceted; it’s clear this role is a sort of accomplishment for a woman who’d been on screen since the age of 14, and Garland’s ability to carry the character from ingenue to stardom to desperation is, in a word, striking. The story—an aging, veteran entertainer discovers an up-and-comer only to…