• 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.…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Fast Color

    Filmmaker Julia Hart has a knack for casting. Three years ago at SXSW, I got to see her directorial debut, Miss Stevens, a surprisingly poignant road comedy about a high school teacher who chaperones her students to a drama competition, starring the impeccable Lily Rabe in the title role and a then-little-known Timothée Chalamet as one of her students. Hart co-wrote that film with her husband, Jordan Horowitz (best known as a producer on the likes of La La Land), and the two have teamed up again for Fast Color, a female-centric origin story that flips the idea of superheroes on its proverbial head. Here, the casting again stands out, with the divine…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Diane

    Just a few weeks after Sebastian Lelio gifted us with an English-language remake of Gloria Bell, about a woman in her 50s looking for love and connection in Los Angeles, writer/director Kent Jones (Hitchcock/Truffaut) puts his own spin on the solo female protagonist story with Diane. The similarities between the two end there, however. This time starring Mary Kay Place (Being John Malkovich, Girl, Interrupted) in the titular role, the film revolves a life she’s built devoted to others: her drug-addicted son Brian (Jack Lacy); a cousin in hospice care (Deirdre O’Connell); the men and women she and her best friend Bobbie (Andrea Martin) serve at the local soup kitchen. But where Lelio…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Dumbo

    There’s an ironically gleeful moment in the third act of Tim Burton’s live-action remake of Dumbo that all but sums up the film as a whole. Alan Arkin, a wonderfully silly casting choice as the capitalist banker deciding whether to invest in a theme park named Dreamland, looks out at the park, engulfed in flames after a performance gone very awry, and says without a hint of self-awareness (or perhaps with all the self-awareness in the world), “Well, this is a disaster.” Indeed, it is. Burton’s been in a bit of a slump as of late, and his latest–for all its delectable on-screen eye-candy–is no exception. Devoid of any sentiment at all (except,…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Woman at War

    Woman at War

    What can one person do to combat the forces of climate change and globalized industry? Quite a bit, as Benedikt Erlingsson would have us believe in Woman at War, the story of a brazen and bold activist who destroys power lines and takes down factories as a battalion of one against forces far, far greater than her. Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir is Halla (and her twin sister, Ása), a mild-mannered choir director most days. Other days, she’s the perpetrator of industrial sabotage that’s so perfectly executed it would be impressive if it weren’t so destructive. Only a few close friends know her true identity, and as the media and government employ ever more intense measures…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Gloria Bell

    As filmmaking challenges go, a movie with the resplendent Julianne Moore at its center, where the camera is as enamored with her as we are, is not exactly a difficult hurdle to clear (see: Still Alice). When that film is a highly-anticipated English adaptation of a widely praised Chilean original, the stakes are understandably a bit higher, particularly when the adaptation is helmed by the same filmmaker who made the original. Such is the case with Gloria Bell, the English-language update to Sebastian Lelio’s original Gloria of 2014, a film that starred Paulina Garcia as a middle-aged woman determined to get her groove back, or at least survive the journey to doing so.…