As you may know, I do most of my writing these days for Third Coast Review. I started off contributing pieces on film (reviews, festival coverage, event updates) here and there, before stepping into an editor role a little over a year ago. In that capacity, I field and publish several other (very talented) writers, ensuring that the site has a regular influx of film-related coverage.
Earlier this year, I further expanded my coverage into theater openings, attending various live performances to review on behalf of the site (which has proven an utter joy). This combined with at least one film review each week means that in October, I logged over a dozen pieces at Third Coast. For those of you keeping score, that’s far more than I post here in any four week period these days!
So I thought it might be of interest to periodically recap what I’ve been up to over at Third Coast, gather in one place my most recent pieces for you to peruse.
This month, I got to see a handful of great live theater, from opera to musical theater to a play about opera. Over at Shakespeare Theatre Company, I caught an early performance of Nell Gwynn, which was lovely to look at but lacked the depth of other Bard-era productions. Anytime I get the chance to check out a Porchlight production, I snap it up; Gypsy proved no exception, with a lead performance to die for and a supporting cast that rises to meet her. Just after seeing a documentary about operatic legend Maria Callas (review forthcoming), I took in Masterclass, a play about the period that Callas offered one-on-one mentorship at Julliard in the 1970s. But topping them all was easily the opportunity to attend Lyric Opera’s opening night performance of La Boheme, a gala affair where the people-watching in the lobby was nearly as impressive as the production on stage.
I’m making it a bit of a goal for myself to write at least one film review through the end of the year. It’s a nice way to ensure I’ve always got something to write, and frankly, I enjoy it. This really kicked into high gear in October, as I reviewed a handful of documentaries and narratives alike. Studio 54 proved a party of a film as it recounts the stunning rise of the titular nightclub of 1970s NYC and its subsequent careening fall from grace. I’d seen Bisbee ’17, the true story of a mass deportation in our not-so-distant past, at DOC10 earlier this year, and wrote up a full review upon its theatrical release.
I was pleasantly surprised by Heavy Trip, particularly given the difficult nature of translating comedy from its native language. The story of a Nordic heavy metal band determined to play one real gig, I found myself laughing even as I screened the film on my own at home. I also reviewed two films I’d seen at Toronto that went on to theatrical release recently. Timothee Chalamet, who impressed audiences with his stunning performance in Call Me By Your Name, delivers again in Beautiful Boy as a young man battling addiction and the family trying to save him.
And in perhaps one of my favorite films of the year, Hilary Swank stars in What They Had as a woman returning home to Chicago to deal with aging, ill parents and facing the course her own life has taken. It’s a pitch-perfect script so polished it shines, and Swank delivers one of the best performances of her career.
With the help of an amazing team of writers, I got to cover the Chicago International Film Festival pretty thoroughly. Between a preview piece and several dispatches, I saw at least a dozen of the festival’s official selections myself and edited capsule reviews of more than a couple dozen more.
I also write a monthly “Screens” column where I call out all the various, interesting film events happening around the city. It’s fun to dig into calendars and see what gems I can help shine a small light on. I wrote one in October, but it probably makes more sense to check out the November one to see what you can still check out yet this month.