• Cinephilia

    Review: The Whistlers

    Though he’s been a productive filmmaker for the last twenty years or so, I wasn’t familiar with writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu’s work until The Whistlers, a heist film that manages to entertain with plenty of originality even if it gets itself tied up in a few narrative knots here and there. Ostensibly about Cristi (Vlad Ivanov), a Romanian police investigator who’s a double agent for Spanish organized crime based in the Canary Islands, Porumboiu takes more than a few liberties with how the story is pieced together as well as who exactly we’re supposed to be rooting for. Structured as a series of vignettes introduced with placards naming the character at the…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Other Lamb

    Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Szumowska’s dramatic feature In the Name Of… won the award for Best Feature Film at 2013’s Berlin Film Festival and received a sufficiently warm welcome when it was release in the US later that year. Since then, she’s directed a couple of other Polish-language titles and now returns with an English-language feature that sees her as a more confident storyteller than ever. Written by C.S. McMullen (a first-time feature writer), The Other Lamb centers on Selah (Raffey Cassidy, Vox Lux), a teenager who’s been raised in a cult of women (mothers in red, daughters like her in blue) following the man they call the Shepherd (Michiel Huisman, perhaps best…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Uncorked

    Every week, all kinds of new content lands on Netflix without much fanfare. Like a tree falling in the woods, if there isn’t a pandemic to keep us all home, does anyone notice? Now that we are home, the streaming service is serving up plenty worth checking out, from a trippy limited series about big cats and the people who raise them to a galvanizing, timely documentary about the power of a collective movement. Landing somewhere between these two riveting offerings and the studio’s forgettable holiday fare is Uncorked, a perfectly charming, fairly predictable story of an aspiring sommelier from Memphis whose family would rather he take over their BBQ joint.…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Crip Camp

    If you know nothing at all about it, a film with the title Crip Camp might not immediately jump to the top of your Netflix queue. Rest assured, it should. An official selection at January’s Sundance Film Festival (back when there were such things as film festivals), the documentary—subtitled A Disability Revolution and co-directed by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham—is an undeniably inspiring chronicle of the disability rights movement in America with one very special summer camp as the epicenter from which an entire generation of activists was born. Formally known as Camp Jened, the ‘crip camp’ was a place for kids and teens with disabilities, developmental delays or other differences—the stuff that made them…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Bacurau

    As the film industry, like the rest of us, grapples with how to move forward in the midst of a global pandemic, studios that had plans to release new films to now-closed movie theaters in the next several weeks have had to rethink things. Some are pushing the films back by months, sometimes an entire year to be safe; some are scrapping the theatrical route all together and pushing their films out on streaming platforms. This “new normal” presents unique challenges to the film economy, as venues are suddenly rendered obsolete and those making the movies have to figure out new and unique ways to get their products to audiences.…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Swallow

    Believe it or not, there is a mini-genre of independent films that center around women eating…weird shit. As riveting as it is disturbing, 2016’s Raw centers on sisters at a veterinary school who acquire a taste for human flesh after a very intense hazing ritual. After a respectable film festival run, Are We Not Cats, a sweetly weird romance about a woman with an obsession with eating hair, hit streaming channels in 2018. The debut feature film from writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis, Swallow starts in a place of domestic bliss, a well-to-do, beautiful young couple living a life of privilege as he (Richie Conrad, played by Austin Stowell) heads off to work at his father’s office each…