• Cinephilia

    Review: The Planters

    A film with a distinctive sense of style, humor and fun, The Planters marks the confident and highly-watchable feature directorial debut of collaborators Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder. The duo also co-wrote the script and co-star in this brief but enjoyable dark comedy about friendship and grief, with a bit of a mystery thrown in for good measure. Both still in their mid-thirties, Kotcheff and Leder nevertheless make an assured debut with a film heavily influenced by Wes Anderson in both its visuals and dry tone. If mimicry is the highest compliment, the filmmaking duo does Anderson proud, establishing themselves as a new generation of artists who, like those before them,…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Rebecca

    That anyone would consider making a new film version of a noir novel already masterfully adapted by none other than Alfred Hitchcock is in itself the definition of hubris. Why bother? The answer, of course, is because art is—by its own definition—open to interpretation. And so, filmmaker Ben Wheatley (Free Fire) has had a go at the story Rebecca, that of a mousy young newlywed, her new husband Maxim de Winter, and the dead first wife whose presence haunts their expansive English manor, Manderley. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who says it’s a “better” interpretation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 gothic novel than Hitchcock’s Best Picture winner, including here.…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The 40-Year-Old Version

    One of the great things about Netflix snapping up some of the best films of the year is how easily the platform can make an incredible film available to millions. One of the worst things about it is that with a seemingly never-ending list of options in your queue, it’s all too easy to miss truly remarkable movies when they come along without the fanfare they deserve. For The Forty-Year-Old Version, the story of a struggling New York City playwright determined to salvage her artistic career, plenty of acclaim has already been afforded: for one, the film won the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance this January, after workshopping its…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Time

    There’s no shortage of true crime documentaries on streaming services lately, films and mini-series that chronicle the ins and outs of murders and heists and frauds that audiences eat up like candy. So focused on the salacious details of the crime they chronicle, rarely do these projects shift their focus to the actual people involved, those whose lives are impacted indefinitely, and often in ways invisible to all but those who know the situation best. Filmmaker Garrett Bradley takes just such a turn in the deeply humanizing documentary Time, a fascinating chronicle of one woman’s life-long journey through the criminal justice system on behalf of her husband and for the…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Dick Johnson is Dead

    With more than 50 credits to her name (according to IMDb), cinematographer Kirsten Johnson has made a career of observing the world around her and capturing it for us to absorb in all its beauty, chaos, turmoil and tranquility. Her work as director is a much shorter list, but 2016’s Cameraperson impressively encapsulated her years of framing moments through a lens, a cinematic memoir documenting both her travels on assignment and more personal moments close to home. With Dick Johnson Is Dead, a film as light-hearted and silly as it is deeply affecting, Johnson focuses on life closer to home as her father (the Dick Johnson of the title) is diagnosed with…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Possessor

    The premise of Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor is the sort of sci-fi make believe that’s so outlandish, a bit of comfort can be found in this otherwise unsettling, intense film. The sort of body-swapping, mind-melding reality he creates is so far-fetched that as the rest of the film successfully creeps us out, at least we can take solace in the fact that it could never actually happen. At least, that’s what I need to tell myself. Andrea Riseborough (Mandy, The Death of Stalin) is Tasya, a top assassin at a very surreal agency, one where her job is to literally possess the bodies of their clients and carry out the deadly deeds assigned to…