• Cinephilia,  Work Life

    Toronto, Here I Come

    Toronto Film Festival

    For the longest time, whenever I’d sit back and think about what a dream job might look like, it always included one thing: attending film festivals. From the moment I stumbled into one in Indianapolis over a decade ago, I was smitten. Lots of movies? In one place? With all kinds of other people who love them too? Sign me up! And over the last few years, I’ve managed to carve out some attendance as part of the various roles I’ve held. Sometimes I was working for the actual festival organizations, and other times I attended as part of an acquisitions or publicity team. It’s not like I’ve been jetting…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Minding The Gap

    Minding the Gap

    Into an already very strong year of documentaries (Three Identical Strangers, RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) comes a powerful, poignant observation on family, masculinity and coming of age, Minding the Gap.  The first feature film from Bing Liu and produced by Chicago’s own Kartemquin, Minding the Gap, the very personal story of Liu’s experience growing up as a skateboarding misfit from a broken home in north-central Rockford, is at times so emotionally raw it edges on squirm-inducing. But it’s this very vulnerability, Liu’s willingness to have the hard conversations on camera and his friends’ willingness to let their buddy follow them around through the good, the bad and the ugly, that makes…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Madeline’s Madeline


    Teenage girls are having a moment on screen, from Elsie Fisher’s beautifully real turn as a middle schooler in Eighth Grade to Kiersey Clemmons as a college-bound musician in Hearts Beat Loud to Chloe Grace Moretz in the upcoming Sundance Film Festival award winner The Miseducation of Cameron Post. This week, another young woman steps into center stage in Madeline’s Madeline, a swirling fever dream of a film written and directed by Josephine Decker. Starring Helena Howard in a debut role that’s equal parts thrilling and baffling, Madeline’s Madeline is more visual art installation than narrative film, packed with abstract optics, palpable sound design, disjointed cuts and frenetic camera work. Howard’s Madeline lives with…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Puzzle


    This is a crosspost with Third Coast Review. Based on the synopsis alone—a housewife discovers she has a talent for solving jigsaw puzzles and enters a competition—you’d be forgiven for thinking that Puzzle, directed by Marc Turteltaub, is a quirky, wholesome competition film that fits in nicely with the likes of The Queen of Katwe, Miracle or even Rocky, those age-old tales of the underdog with an unexpected talent conquering life’s toughest obstacles to win it all. They’re favorites for a reason, the way they get us to cheer on the hero, bite our nails with anticipation and celebrate their eventual triumph. Puzzle will wind up being a favorite, to be sure,…

  • Cinephilia

    What I Watched: Binge-worthy Television

    Living alone, I often have something—music, the news, a podcast, sometimes even an audiobook—running in the background as I putz around doing chores, making dinner, or whatever it is I’m up to at the moment. I enjoy a bit of quiet alone time now and then, but more often than not, I prefer to have something  on. It makes the space feel less empty, I suppose, but it’s also a great way to fit in something entertaining or edifying or maybe both. Working from home these days, I find that I’m consuming more content than ever. I sit at my dining room table for hours on end, plugging away at…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: En el Séptimo Día

    This is a crosspost, also shared at Third Coast Review. En el Séptimo Día (On the Seventh Day) is set in the summer of 2016, and in a way, this timing—recent as it may be—is a small grace as we spend a week with José (Fernando Cardona) and the guys he plays soccer with every Sunday afternoon. José and his friends are undocumented immigrants from Mexico, working off the books at jobs in restaurant kitchens, as delivery guys and on construction sites. They toil away six days a week just to earn enough to share an apartment and think about what kind of American dream all their hard work might get them. The…