• Cinephilia

    Review: Give Me Liberty

    A sure sign of a film’s impact is finding oneself thinking back to scenes, moments or certain lines of dialogue long after seeing it. Such is the case with Kirill Mikhanovsky’s directorial debut Give Me Liberty, a chaotic, cluttered slice of life drama about the son of Russian immigrants who gets by as a transport driver for Milwaukee’s disabled community. In a film that quite literally could induce motion sickness, one of the quieter scenes lingers after the credits roll. It happens after Vic (Chris Galust) has joined one of his clients, Tracy (Lauren ‘Lolo’ Spencer), and her family for dinner; the two retreat to her room and Vic, who has…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Chambermaid

    Like last year’s triumphant Roma, a film by Alfonso Cuarón set in Mexico City, Lila Avilés’s debut feature film, The Chambermaid, follows the life of a servant. In Roma, it was a live-in caretaker whose life unfolded on screen; here, it’s hotel maid Eve (Gabriela Cartol), who cleans and resets guest rooms in a high-rise, high luxury property with internal machinations as bustling as the comings and goings of its guests. Avilés sets her focus on Eve from the beginning, and it’s a tight focus throughout. Though we get glimpses of Eve’s surroundings—the plush guest rooms, the staff cafeteria—the camera is largely concerned with Eve and her day-to-day experience. As such, there isn’t much…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Mike Wallace is Here

    Mike Wallace Is Here

    The generation obsessed with social media and information that’s instantly available may not even know who Mike Wallace was (and they’re the worse off for it). Though 60 Minutes, the show he helped create in 1968, is still on the air and remains a mainstay in television news, featuring some of the most respected journalists of our day, it’s not exactly a go-to for millennials seeking an informed perspective on the world. That could be because it’s a show, like Wallace himself, that takes its time on any given story, preferring to dig deep and uncover all the most important details rather than rush to report and feed the 24-hour-news cycle. Avi…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Skin

    Skin

    Every year, the Oscars dole out top honors for three short films: one documentary, one animated and one narrative live-action. There’s a complicated qualifying process, a very large selection pool and not a lot of hype around these back-half-of-the-show awards, even as a win can often completely change (for the better) the trajectory of a filmmaker’s career; adding “Oscar winner” to one’s resume still impresses. This year, the award for Best Live Action Short Film went to Skin, a drama directed by Guy Nattiv about an incident at a grocery story between a white, neo-nazi family and an African American family, the fight in the parking lot that ensues, and a…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Farewell

    Awkwafina (née Nora Lum) made a splash last year as the boisterous, straight-talking sidekick to Constance Wu’s Rachel, visiting Singapore to meet her fiancé’s family. Her performance as a say-anything, always-up-for-a-good-time friend with funky style and a brash, lovable attitude made her a breakout star of an already massive movie. Which makes her dramatic turn in writer/director Lulu Wang’s The Farewell all the more an accomplishment, as the thirty year old proves a talent versatile enough to carry a film that, though it still centers around a large family dynamic, could not be more different from that 2017 blockbuster. Based on Wang’s own experiences, The Farewell follows Billi (Awkwafina), a daughter of Chinese immigrants…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Toni Morrison – The Pieces I Am

    Except for a brief period in my pre-teens when I thought it wasn’t “cool,” I’ve always been an avid reader. I was practically raised in the library, and to this day, I’m always reading something (sometimes more than one thing). One of the first books I can remember being blown away by is Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a book I read in high school, not because I was assigned to or because I was trying to impress anyone, but because I chose to. I can recall knowing as I read it that this was something special, something different from the books I was used to reading. Morrison’s sprawling, exquisite language flowed off…