• Cinephilia

    Review: Relic

    What haunts in Relic, the debut feature film written and directed by Natalie Erika James, is something sinister, but also something essentially unseen and, therefore, all the more terrifying. A horror film much more concerned with the weight of strained relationships and the scary potential to lose oneself without an anchor, a mooring to latch onto, James creates a moody, personal intergenerational story with just enough bite to make it hurt. Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns) stars as Kay, called back to her aging mother’s home in rural Australia when Edna (Robyn Nevin) inexplicably goes missing. Kay and her grown daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) find Edna’s large home left essentially untouched,…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Hamilton (The Movie)

    In March of 2015, I moved back to Chicago from New York. That was right about the time a new musical production about an (until then) obscure founding father was also making a move, from its initial run off-Broadway at the Public Theater to the Richard Rogers Theater on the Great White Way. For those in the know, the buzz was already high on this one—buzz that was soon to break out to not only theatergoers in general but far, far beyond that, too. The show, of course, was Hamilton, the blockbuster new musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) that reimagines first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton’s life…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Good Trouble

    As the country engages in an urgent and necessary conversation on racism and inequity, it’s tempting to think of much of the history of this particular issue as just that, the sort of thing that is behind us, only being revisited as a means to understand how best to move forward. A documentary like John Lewis: Good Trouble reminds us that, in fact, not only is the cause of civil rights and racial equity very much a present-day fight but the landmark events that are well-known milestones in the struggle didn’t actually happen all that long ago. Chronicling the life and work of Representative John Lewis, now 80 years old…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: House of Hummingbird

    The American film landscape isn’t lacking for coming of age films, particularly those of the female teenage experience. Bora Kim’s lyrical debut feature film House of Hummingbird explores similar themes half a world away, following South Korean teenager Eunhee (Ji-hu Park) as she navigates a turbulent home life, demanding school work and budding relationships, all while trying to figure out where she fits in along the way. Set in 1994, the film incorporates that year’s newsworthy events in the country (the death of Kim Il-Sung; a bridge collapse that killed more than two dozen people) as plot points that shift Eunhee’s world and help her evolve from a lost little…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Beats

    If you check out Beats this weekend, the latest from Scottish filmmaker Brian Welsh (from a play by Kieran Hurley, who co-wrote the script), it will help greatly if you’re a fan of the kind of thumping, driving house music prevalent at the kinds of illegal raves around which the film is centered. Not that it’s required; the story of two friends from a quiet small town looking for some excitement (and perhaps an escape from the toxic masculinity of their home life) is a pulsing, frenzied exploration of pushing boundaries, running right up to the edge and maybe, just maybe finding your way back from the brink. Set in…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Miss Juneteenth

    If the first two thirds of Miss Juneteenth, the beautifully realized debut feature film from writer/director Channing Godfrey Peoples, feel a bit quiet and underdeveloped, please do yourself the favor of hanging in there to see how it all comes delicately and triumphantly together by the time the credits role. Starring Nicole Beharie as Turquoise, a one-time pageant queen now raising a teenage daughter in the same Texas town where she grew up, Miss Juneteenth is at once a distinctly personal story about finding one’s path forward when your life doesn’t exactly go as planned and a universally moving reminder of the turmoil, durability and beauty of mother/daughter relationships. Working several…