• Cinephilia

    Review: Pavarotti

    Ron Howard is at a point in his career (and probably has been for some time) where he can essentially take on whatever projects he likes. He’s long since earned the right to both helm massive blockbusters (most recently 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story) and usher pet projects into the world on his own terms. Such seems to be the case with Pavarotti, a documentary recounting the life and work of larger-than-life opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Here, Howard liberally channels his knack for creating an emotional moment with an audience, something typically reserved for third-act miracles in his well-known narrative films (Apollo 13, Backdraft, In the Heart of the Sea), in order…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Ma

    Producer Jason Blum and his filmmaking shingle Blumhouse have made a name for themselves in the horror movie space by consistently delivering scares to grateful audiences and box office returns to grateful investors. The formula is simple: keep the budget low and the action high; a solid script and impressive cast are both a bonus that only help pad the bottom line. With over twenty titles listed as in progress on IMDb, Ma (directed by Tate Taylor) is the latest theatrical release in a veritable horror movie factory, and it fits so well into Blum’s formula that it almost doesn’t matter how wacky the whole thing is by the third act.…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Non-Fiction

    With popcorn buttered and perfect seats secured at the movie theater this weekend, you might want to buckle in before the previews end and Olivier Assayas’s latest, Non-Fiction, begins. Because once it does, you’re in for a non-stop, sharp-witted, word-heavy treat that will keep you engaged (and giggling) from one moment to the next. In less talented hands, a film that talks (and talks) its way through the death of the publishing industry, the complicated relationships we find ourselves in and just how absurd all of it is at the end of the day would be a heavy-handed bore. Thankfully, Assayas is quite talented indeed. Starring Juliette Binoche (one of the…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Biggest Little Farm

    In a world where success can seem like it’s one well-received Instagram post away, being reminded of the thankless hours, the countless fails and the unrelenting hard work it is to build something from nothing is quite a wake-up call. John Chester, director of The Biggest Little Farm, and his wife Molly couldn’t have known what an up-hill climb they had ahead of them when they decided to launch an independent farm in 2011. But nearly a decade later, their 400 acres are a thriving, self-sustaining ecosystem of crops, animals and wildlife that proves what fruits can come from good, honest labor. Making its way into theaters just now after a…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Photograph

    The best moment in The Lunchbox, the insanely underrated 2013 film by Ritesh Batra about a homemaker whose warm lunches end up getting delivered to a stranger, is the ending. While I won’t spoil it for you here, suffice it to say that it’s an absolutely perfect note on which to end an already lovely movie. The fact that I remember it at all more than five years later is a testament to Batra’s storytelling skill, teasing his audiences with an outcome while managing not to ruin it entirely. Batra has directed a few films since then, largely forgettable and neither of which he wrote; Photograph marks his return to writing credits, this…

  • Just This

    Playing Catch Up: Latest Reviews

    I set myself a goal at the beginning of 2019 to write a film review every week, and after nearly half a year I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to do that for all but one week. Go me! Some weeks, I’ve even managed to post two reviews rather than just one, over-achiever that I am. Only problem is that rather than getting all that coverage posted here, I’m putting it all up over at Third Coast Review, the Chicago-centric culture website I’ve been working with for a couple of years now. Which is great, given that it’s an outlet with a significantly larger following that this ol’ thing.…