• Cinephilia

    Review: Skin

    Skin

    Every year, the Oscars dole out top honors for three short films: one documentary, one animated and one narrative live-action. There’s a complicated qualifying process, a very large selection pool and not a lot of hype around these back-half-of-the-show awards, even as a win can often completely change (for the better) the trajectory of a filmmaker’s career; adding “Oscar winner” to one’s resume still impresses. This year, the award for Best Live Action Short Film went to Skin, a drama directed by Guy Nattiv about an incident at a grocery story between a white, neo-nazi family and an African American family, the fight in the parking lot that ensues, and a…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Farewell

    Awkwafina (née Nora Lum) made a splash last year as the boisterous, straight-talking sidekick to Constance Wu’s Rachel, visiting Singapore to meet her fiancé’s family. Her performance as a say-anything, always-up-for-a-good-time friend with funky style and a brash, lovable attitude made her a breakout star of an already massive movie. Which makes her dramatic turn in writer/director Lulu Wang’s The Farewell all the more an accomplishment, as the thirty year old proves a talent versatile enough to carry a film that, though it still centers around a large family dynamic, could not be more different from that 2017 blockbuster. Based on Wang’s own experiences, The Farewell follows Billi (Awkwafina), a daughter of Chinese immigrants…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Maiden

    It’s surely a good sign if, when a film ends, your first thought as the credits roll is that you wish there were more. Such is the case with what may just end up being a personal contender for best documentary of the year, Maiden, the wildly inspiring, ambitious and heartfelt story of Tracy Edwards and the first all-female crew to compete in Britain’s massively challenging Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. Sure enough, as the credits began, I found myself unready to part company with these women who’d done the seemingly impossible, wanting to know more of their stories and to keep their can-do-anything vibe in my life as…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Toni Morrison – The Pieces I Am

    Except for a brief period in my pre-teens when I thought it wasn’t “cool,” I’ve always been an avid reader. I was practically raised in the library, and to this day, I’m always reading something (sometimes more than one thing). One of the first books I can remember being blown away by is Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a book I read in high school, not because I was assigned to or because I was trying to impress anyone, but because I chose to. I can recall knowing as I read it that this was something special, something different from the books I was used to reading. Morrison’s sprawling, exquisite language flowed off…