• Cinephilia

    Review: Nomad – In the Steps of Bruce Chatwin

    It’s possible that to the uninitiated, Werner Herzog may be a bit of an enigma. Is he a documentarian? An actor? A screenwriter? A historian? Something else entirely? The fact is, he’s all of the above; your kids have seen him as a brooding outsider in the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” and your grandparents know him from his prolific filmmaking in the ’70s and 80s. Today, his recent work reflects that enviable point in one’s career when the art is as much what one wants to make as it is what one recognizes to be a story worth telling. The two sentiments are beautifully combined in Herzog’s deeply personal and…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Get Duked!

    At some point since its premiere at 2019’s SXSW Film Festival, Get Duked! got re-titled. Originally called Boyz in the Wood, one imagines there were some copyright issues with that nod to John Singleton’s classic, so the film was re-christened to reference the very real Duke of Edinburgh Award program in the UK around which it centers, one that is designed to teach life skills and build confidence in the nation’s youth through real-world and outdoor endeavors. The title is slightly unfortunate here in the states, as on its own it may be enough to cause an idle viewer sifting through endless streaming options to pass on it. Which would be too bad,…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Boys State

    There’s a moment not too long into Boys State, the Sundance Grand Jury award-winning documentary about the annual mock-government conference for Texas high schoolers run by the American Legion now streaming on AppleTV, that might have you wanting to scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. The film, by Amanda McBane and Jesse Moss, begins by giving us a lay of the land, from the history of the program (there is also one for girls, though that’s for a separate film) and some of its famous alumni (Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney and Cory Booker to name a few) to the rapid onboarding the young men get about the week ahead.…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Sputnik

    When it comes to Russian horror films, I don’t exactly have a deep expertise. Thankfully, such a viewing history isn’t required to get a thrill out of Sputnik, the latest from IFC Midnight to be released creatively during these topsy-turvy times for movies—now available on major streaming platforms, the film has also been screening at select drive-ins around the country. Directed by Egor Abramenko and written by Oleg Malovichko and Andrei Zolotarev, Sputnik is, in a lot of ways, a familiar alien invasion story. Two cosmonauts on duty in a cramped ship orbiting Earth make a mysterious crash landing, and the one who makes it home is possessed by something…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Represent

    In 2002, a lot of documentaries about 9/11 were released. In 2009, it was economics and the recession. 2020 is proving to be the year of the political documentary, as something about the country’s two most recent elections apparently triggered every documentarian’s spidey senses. Earlier this month, The Fight and Boys State (both exceptional) chronicled different aspects of the elections and how they impact our everyday lives. Now comes Represent, the feature directorial debut from filmmaker Hillary Bachelder with a laser focus on the journeys of three women running for office in the Midwest. The film skillfully understands that by limiting its own scope, there’s an opportunity to invest deeply in each of the…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Out Stealing Horses

    Based on the 2003 Norwegian novel by Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses is a sweeping story of traumas inflicted by war, by circumstance, even by our own families. The film version, adapted and directed by Hans Petter Moland, cleaned up at Norway’s Amanda Awards (presented by the Norway International Film Festival)—it won best film, best direction, best score…you get the idea. Starring Stellan Skarsgård as Trond, a widower who decides to live out his remaining years alone in a quiet, rural farmhouse, Out Stealing Horses is told mostly in flashbacks as we learn more about Trond, his childhood during World War II and the various tragedies that plagued him, his family…