• Cinephilia

    Review: Cold War

    Cold War is the latest film from Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski, follow-up to his Oscar-winning drama Ida. Like that deeply intimate story of a young nun discovering the truth of her ancestry in post-war Poland, Cold War unfolds in the years after World War II, as that country begins to rebuild both its cities and its reputation, each quite damaged from years of combat and propaganda. Filmed in a lush black and white (also like Ida) that immediately conjures a sense of nostalgia and austerity, central to this story of starting over is an ill-fated love affair between a young performer (a simply astonishing Joanna Kulig) and the dashing instructor and band…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: El Angel

    True crime stories are big business. Since the success of the blockbuster podcast Serial, seemingly every producer, writer and director in any medium is looking for the next big crime story to tell. Just look at the latest Netflix offerings on any given week…there’s always a new criminal to profile, a new mystery to try to solve. Which is what makes El Angel, a dramatization of the life of Argentina’s most notorious serial killer, such a captivating treat of a film. Not only is the timing perfect for a profile of the babyfaced, remorseless criminal who terrorized Buenos Aires in the 1970s, but as an import from the southern hemisphere, it’s likely…

  • City Stories

    2018 [on stage]

    I broke a personal record of sorts in 2018: thanks to exceptional access via Third Coast Review (hello, media tickets!), I saw a whopping 35 theatrical productions over the course of twelve months. From storefront productions to world-class opera and everything in between, there were weeks I saw several shows in a row. And of course, who can forget that super-festive holiday run in December. (To put this all in perspective, consider this: I only saw seven shows in 2017!) There are several highlights (and low-lights) that come to mind when I look back on the full list of shows (recorded below for posterity). Generally speaking, I’m most grateful for…

  • Cinephilia

    2018 [in films]

    Whenever people learn that I keep a spreadsheet to what films I see every year, the news is inevitably met with a bit of a giggle and a slight raise of the eye-brows. It’s geeky, I know. But I also don’t care, because movies—in case you didn’t know by now—are kind of my jam. Some people have sports, some people have cars…I have movies. This year, I had 182 movies to be exact. That’s a new personal high since I’ve been tracking—which, at least with spreadsheets, is five years. I notched those films in any number of ways, from theatrical screenings (53 of those, including a few film festivals); to…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: If Beale Street Could Talk

    If Beale Street Could Talk

    This is a cross-post with Third Coast Review. To those with just a passing awareness of such things, Moonlight may only be known as that film at the center of Envelopegate at the 2017 Academy Awards; the cast and crew of La La Land ascended to the stage thinking they’d won Best Picture, only to realize the wrong title had been announce and, in a reversal welcomed by cinephiles everywhere, Moonlight emerged as the true winner. The snafu cost Barry Jenkins and his remarkable film its much-deserved moment in the spotlight, but as legacies go, if it’s that memorable moment that gets this exceptional film on anyone’s radar, well…all’s well that ends well.…