• 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…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Wild Rose

    In a genre that seems to be quite of the moment, count Wild Rose as the latest entry into films about female musicians searching for themselves, stardom, love…and sometimes all of the above. From A Star is Born to Her Smell and more, there’s apparently a lot a woman can do with a microphone and a dream. The first feature film written by Glasgow native Nicole Taylor (who boasts a strong resume in television), the film centers around Rose-Lynn Harman (Jessie Buckley, also now appearing in “Chernobyl”), her lifelong love of country music and her long-shot dream of becoming a star. Long shot, to say the least, as we meet Rose-Lynn…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Yesterday

    The hardest reviews to write are the ones for greatly anticipated movies that ultimately fall short of expectations. Such is the case with Yesterday, a film that, based on its premise and leading creative credits, should be one that delights from start to finish. Written by the wonderful Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral; Love, Actually; About Time and the best episode of the rebooted “Doctor Who” series, “Vincent and the Doctor”) and directed by the equally talented Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours), Yesterday centers around Jack Malik (a charming Himesh Patel) and his meteoric rise to stardom after a global incident renders him the only person who remembers…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Dead Don’t Die

    Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch is nothing if not versatile, as can happen with a career that spans more than three decades. His early works helped shape a burgeoning independent film scene, while lately he’s indulged in bigger budgets and bolder narratives; 2013’s Only Lovers Left Alive is perhaps one of the best vampire films in the genre, and 2016’s Paterson established Adam Driver as an impressive acting talent beyond the small screen. Jarmusch returns to cinemas this week with The Dead Don’t Die, tackling the zombie film genre as only he could: painfully self-aware, desperate to be funny and so utterly pointless it’s weirdly enjoyable. Corralling an ensemble cast to fawn over,…