Review: A Fantastic Woman

This is a cross-post with Third Coast Review.

It’s often said that film is the most collaborative of arts. It takes a village, so to speak, to create ninety minutes of story and visuals that move us, inspire us, scare us, entertain us. When everything comes together seamlessly, no one aspect of the film overshadows any other.

There are those cases, of course, where a certain element of the production trumps all others. Sometimes it’s the score that soars over every scene, or the cinematography that breathtakingly captures a world on screen.

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

In the case of A Fantastic Woman, an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film from Chile, it’s one performance that sends an already wonderful film into greatness. Daniela Vega is Marina Vidal, a trans woman scraping by with a waitressing job and dreams of being a singer. When her older boyfriend, Orlando, dies suddenly after celebrating her birthday, she faces her own grief and the prejudices of a family who want nothing to do with her.

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What I Watched: January 2018

I spent the first week of 2018 holed up at home. It was negative a bazillion degrees outside in Chicago (still is, honestly), and working from home means I can basically hibernate for days on end if I want to. (Which I do more often than I care to admit.)

All that time at home was filled with just over twenty new-to-me films, and because I like to write about movies (and need content to fill this little corner of the internet of mine), I thought I’d share with you what I watch and how it all went. 

January’s films included some of the best cinema of 2017…and some of the less good, too. I saw three movies on the big screen (Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name and All the Money in the World); there were 11 documentaries in there, and films from Mexico, France, Sweden and Brazil. 

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Review: The Breadwinner

This review originally appeared on Third Coast Review.

Every year, after the Oscar nominations are announced, the dust settles and a few titles rise to the top as head-scratchers. How the heck did that get nominated for an Academy Award? There’s one such movie in this year’s Best Animated Feature category, although mercifully it is not The Breadwinner. (I’ll give you three guesses which it is…it starts with a B and ends in …oss Baby.)

Image courtesy of Gene Siskel Film Center

From the studio that created The Secret of the Kells and Song of the Sea, both masterpieces in their own right and both also nominated for Oscars, The Breadwinner is a universally stirring drama about a young girl in Kabul, Afghanistan in the shadow of September 11. As war looms, her father is unjustly imprisoned and she’s forced to get creative about how to support her mother, older sister and toddler brother under an oppressive regime.

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