• Cinephilia

    Review: The Favourite

    About a decade ago, when I was a young, budding, innocent cinephile, I heard about this film, Dogtooth. You must see it, they said. Naive and trusting as I was, I did just that. And I was never the same again.  Dogtooth is filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’s break-out feature about grown siblings confined to their home by over-protective parents. Claustrophobic as that may sound, things go very, very quickly from strange and intriguing to flat out weird, leaving one to wonder just what boundaries Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou have left to cross. That film went on to garner an Oscar nomination, and Lanthimos went on to make more weirdly wonderful films,…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Maria By Callas

    I’ve attended more opera in the last year than I have in all my years of attending theater (and that’s a lot of years!). Thanks to my in over at Third Coast Review, I’ve been able to see several productions at Chicago’s acclaimed Lyric Opera, and I’m always impressed by the grand scale of it all. From the lavish sets to the talented performers to the music and melodies that have endured for decades (if not centuries), it’s all quite an affair to behold. No one quite embodies the grandeur of the contemporary opera stage more than Maria Callas, the soprano who remains so popular today that even non-opera fans…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: A Private War

    This Halloween, girls and women of all ages took to dressing up as heroes; a particular favorite appeared to be Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She’s having quite a moment, after all, with the release of RBG, the rousing documentary about her life, the forthcoming On The Basis of Sex that sees Felicity Jones portrays a young Ginsburg, and, you know, the current administration and the risk to a generation of court decisions should she not outlast it.  After seeing A Private War, I’d make the case that there’s another real-life figure for women (and men!) to admire and emulate: foreign affairs correspondent Marie Colvin (here inhabited to stirring effect by…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Wildlife

    Wildlife

    Sometimes, when an actor says he or she is actually interested in directing, there’s a collective eye-roll from those within earshot. It’s like a singer saying “But what I really want to do is…act!” These talents don’t often overlap, making those who have successfully made the leap from one discipline to another all the more impressive. Add Paul Dano to that list of the latter, those who’ve earned their bragging rights as a multi-hyphenate. His directorial debut, Wildlife (which he co-wrote with Zoe Kazan, adapted from a book by Richard Ford), lands squarely in the “impressive” camp as it explores a nuclear family’s breakdown in the 1950s from the perspective of only child…

  • 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…