• 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…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: The Fight

    With the national election less three months away, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend some portion of every day saying a silent prayer (to whom, I’m not exactly sure) that things don’t get any worse than they already are before our struggling democracy can do what it does best and reconfigure the make-up of those in elected office. Unfortunately, it seems the current administration and its collaborators are intent on doing as much damage as they possibly can before then, so a film like The Fight arrives at a most opportune moment. From filmmakers Eli B. Despres and Josh Kriegman, The Fight (a special Jury Award winner at…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: I Used to Go Here

    The last we saw Kris Rey as writer/director (she had a small on-screen role in Damien Chazelle’s First Man last year), she delivered Unexpected, a sweetly thoughtful exploration of motherhood in its many forms. She returns five years later with I Used To Go Here, another exploration of the (cis-het white) female experience, this time as protagonist Kate (Gillian Jacobs) faces a disappointing book launch and is asked back to her downstate Illinois alma mater (the fictional Illinois University) to speak to a class taught by her former professor. Her trip away turns into a bit more than she bargained for, as she navigates a recent break-up, the drama of her…