• 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: Free Fire

    Free Fire cast photo

    For all the obscure festival releases and challenging documentaries I see, all the high-brow foreign dramas and such, you’d be forgiven for thinking that most of what I watch is, well, not that fun. Or at least, not the kind of fun one is usually looking for on a night out at the cinema. Friends, I’m here to tell you that not only do I see those other films, the ones made for the spectacle and popcorn, but you know what? I enjoy the hell out of them. I took myself to see Guardians of the Galaxy a couple years ago. I voluntarily made my way through seven Star Wars films, and now I…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Their Finest

    Their Finest - Gemma Arterton

    The first part of the year is traditionally a bit of a cinematic wasteland, a barren stretch of a release calendar filled with movies that would qualify for a Razzie long before an Oscar or Golden Globe. Sure, there’s Sundance in January, and some nominated films see wider U.S. releases in February. But generally speaking, it isn’t until May that things really improve, as early summer blockbusters make their way into the world. It’s that context that makes a gem like THEIR FINEST, opening barely halfway through April, all the more enjoyable. In a sea of mediocrity, it’s well worth the trip to the cinema this month before they’re overrun by superheroes and…

  • 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: Get Out

    Last month, Film Twitter went all a-twitter when it was revealed that this year’s Sundance Film Festival secret screening was comedian Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out (he also wrote the original screenplay). Early buzz was effusive, a promising reception after a work-in-progress Keanu, which he co-wrote, failed to blow audiences away at SXSW last year. The team at Universal was smart to launch the film, the story of a young black photographer whose weekend visit to meet his white girlfriend’s family goes terribly wrong, at the January festival in advance of a February theatrical release. In doing so, they’ve carved out a fairly rare slice of positive momentum in an otherwise barren release…

  • Cinephilia

    Maybe Watch This: The Founder

    There’s a family story I’ve heard at holidays and cookouts since I was a kid. A joke, really. And that’s the story that my great grandmother went to high school with Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s. Had she played her cards differently, we might all be in very different circumstances today. Imagine! Heirs to the Golden Arches! Revisiting the story after seeing The Founder, the film version of how Kroc (Michael Keaton) ushered McDonald’s from a single burger joint to, well, world domination, it’s clear the whole Boyle clan dodged a bullet. The Founder has been on my radar for at least six months now, and for a brief moment it was slated…