• Cinephilia

    Review: The Nightingale

    Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale may just be the hardest film of the year to watch. It is brutal and intense, devastating and unflinching. It is also essential, and features perhaps one of the best performances of the year from Aisling Franciosi (“Game of Thrones”). She stars as Clare, a woman wronged who is on the warpath for revenge—though that wildly oversimplifies what Kent has accomplished here: a bold, fiery statement on colonialism, patriarchy, racism, classism…pick your -ism, really. A native of Australia, Kent sets The Nightingale in Tasmania in 1825, when the British were in full imperialization mode and the land was more prisoners’ colony than settled community. Clare is there, toiling away on…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Chambermaid

    Like last year’s triumphant Roma, a film by Alfonso Cuarón set in Mexico City, Lila Avilés’s debut feature film, The Chambermaid, follows the life of a servant. In Roma, it was a live-in caretaker whose life unfolded on screen; here, it’s hotel maid Eve (Gabriela Cartol), who cleans and resets guest rooms in a high-rise, high luxury property with internal machinations as bustling as the comings and goings of its guests. Avilés sets her focus on Eve from the beginning, and it’s a tight focus throughout. Though we get glimpses of Eve’s surroundings—the plush guest rooms, the staff cafeteria—the camera is largely concerned with Eve and her day-to-day experience. As such, there isn’t much…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Mike Wallace is Here

    Mike Wallace Is Here

    The generation obsessed with social media and information that’s instantly available may not even know who Mike Wallace was (and they’re the worse off for it). Though 60 Minutes, the show he helped create in 1968, is still on the air and remains a mainstay in television news, featuring some of the most respected journalists of our day, it’s not exactly a go-to for millennials seeking an informed perspective on the world. That could be because it’s a show, like Wallace himself, that takes its time on any given story, preferring to dig deep and uncover all the most important details rather than rush to report and feed the 24-hour-news cycle. Avi…

  • 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…