• Cinephilia

    Review: Everybody Knows

    Everybody Knows

    What’s most striking about writer/director Asghar Farhadi’s (A Separation, The Salesman) new film, Everybody Knows, even with strong performances and its setting in lush Spanish wine country taken into account, is the language of the thing. And that’s not a euphemism, some reference to a universal cinematic language. I mean actual, spoken language. Farhadi, an Oscar-winner for both A Separation and The Salesman, is an Iranian filmmaker, and his previous works are, not surprisingly, set mainly in that country and delivered in Persian. Everybody Knows, on the other hand, transports the action to a village northeast of Madrid, for a film that’s entirely in Spanish. According to the production notes, Farhadi was inspired to…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Oscar Nominated Short Documentaries

    Black Sheep

    If you’re looking for a pick-me-up at the movies this weekend, checking out the Oscar Nominated Documentary Short Films may not be the way to go. A powerful, haunting slate of five short documentary films (ranging from about 8 minutes to a full 40 minutes), the films vying for the film industry’s top honors later this month are an intense group of stories steeped in the struggles, chaos and pain of our current global state of affairs. As is often the case with contemporary, issue-based documentary films, these five reflect back to us all too starkly the depth of our collective wariness as the world’s problems sometimes seem too significant…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: El Angel

    True crime stories are big business. Since the success of the blockbuster podcast Serial, seemingly every producer, writer and director in any medium is looking for the next big crime story to tell. Just look at the latest Netflix offerings on any given week…there’s always a new criminal to profile, a new mystery to try to solve. Which is what makes El Angel, a dramatization of the life of Argentina’s most notorious serial killer, such a captivating treat of a film. Not only is the timing perfect for a profile of the babyfaced, remorseless criminal who terrorized Buenos Aires in the 1970s, but as an import from the southern hemisphere, it’s likely…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: If Beale Street Could Talk

    If Beale Street Could Talk

    This is a cross-post with Third Coast Review. To those with just a passing awareness of such things, Moonlight may only be known as that film at the center of Envelopegate at the 2017 Academy Awards; the cast and crew of La La Land ascended to the stage thinking they’d won Best Picture, only to realize the wrong title had been announce and, in a reversal welcomed by cinephiles everywhere, Moonlight emerged as the true winner. The snafu cost Barry Jenkins and his remarkable film its much-deserved moment in the spotlight, but as legacies go, if it’s that memorable moment that gets this exceptional film on anyone’s radar, well…all’s well that ends well.…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Favourite

    About a decade ago, when I was a young, budding, innocent cinephile, I heard about this film, Dogtooth. You must see it, they said. Naive and trusting as I was, I did just that. And I was never the same again.  Dogtooth is filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’s break-out feature about grown siblings confined to their home by over-protective parents. Claustrophobic as that may sound, things go very, very quickly from strange and intriguing to flat out weird, leaving one to wonder just what boundaries Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou have left to cross. That film went on to garner an Oscar nomination, and Lanthimos went on to make more weirdly wonderful films,…