• Cinephilia

    Review: Bombshell—The Hedy Lamarr Story

    This is a repost of a review that also appears at Third Coast Review. Even if you’re not a fan of classic Hollywood cinema (and why the heck aren’t you?), you know the name Hedy Lamarr. According to IMDb, Lamarr has only 35 film credits, but among them are the likes of Boom Town (alongside Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable) and Cecil B. DeMille’s Sampson and Delilah. Though she was never nominated for an Oscar, so iconic was the Austrian-born actress that other starlets working at the time followed her trend-setting ways, copying her hair, her fashion choices, even her ability to generate a headline. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Faces Places

    Full disclosure: this is a cross-post with Third Coast Review, where my review also appears. If you’re a film nerd like me, you follow the various film festivals during the first half of the year (Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca, Cannes) with one ear to the cinematic ground, just waiting to hear what everyone’s going to be talking about come awards season. If you’re a film nerd like me, you heard all kinds of buzz out of Cannes about something called Faces Places (Visages Villages), by someone named Agnès (said: Ahn-yes) Varda, an octogenarian filmmaker well known by everyone who knows anything about international cinema. If you’re a (lacking) film nerd like…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: STEP

    Founded in 2008, the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women is a charter school with a goal of seeing all its graduates succeed in college. Its educators and administrators set high standards and expect greatness from the girls in their charge. Academics are paramount, and failure is not an option. For the students at BLSYW, though, it’s more than just a school. It’s a haven in a rough neighborhood; a support network often far more dependable than family; and a launch pad for talent, passion and futures so bright these girls’ll need shades. It’s a glimpse into those trials, tribulations and triumphs that Step delivers in one of the year’s best documentaries, as it…

  • Cinephilia

    Watch This: Chicago’s DOC10 Film Festival

    Next week, Chicago Media Project presents DOC10, an annual film festival that presents the most compelling documentary films of the year over the course of a few days. This year, organizers have partnered with the newly-revamped Davis Theater in Lincoln Square to showcase films covering subject matter from music and film to social justice and true crime. Much as I’d love to, I can’t fit in all eleven films in four days. But I am going to catch a few, which I’m highlighting here. Join me!

  • Cinephilia

    Watch this: I Am Not Your Negro

    “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” -James Baldwin The hardest part about watching I Am Not Your Negro, easily 2016’s best documentary and most essential viewing, is watching it. More than once, I cringed, winced, looked away, closed my eyes; it was all I could do to keep watching, keep facing the stark reality Raoul Peck brings to the screen through James Baldwin’s words. In 1979, Baldwin proposed a book, Remember This House, that would chronicle his friendships with Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, each murdered for their activism. He wrote a proposal letter to his publisher,…

  • Cinephilia

    2015 [in films – documentary]

    Of the 160 movies I watched in 2015, 44 of them were documentaries. That means that roughly one third (28%) of the hours of film I absorbed were factual accounts of the world around us. From finally watching 1990’s groundbreaking Paris is Burning to cramming in as many of the Oscar Documentary shortlist films, I managed to see films about religion, culture, crime, history and more. I didn’t see some of the most talked about docs of the year, including Michael Moore’s latest Where to Invade Next, Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog, or Josh Oppenheimer’s follow up to The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence among them. That said, I feel…