• Cinephilia

    Review: Promising Young Woman

    This time last year, I was writing about the film that ultimately landed at the top of my Best Films of 2019 list: Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. In Gerwig’s capable hands, Louisa May Alcott’s all-American story of the March sisters growing up in the shadow of the Civil War became a sort of feminist treatise on choice, agency and self-reliance, as each young woman claims her right to live her life exactly as she wishes. It’s an adaptation of the classic story that is unlikely to have emerged from a male filmmaker’s imagination, and perhaps not even from a woman’s at any other moment except for now (even Gillian Armstrong’s…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Soul

    It’s fair to say that the cinema experience is richer, more impressive, more memorable when it takes place in an actual movie theater (as opposed to from one’s couch), something I’ve missed sorely this last year. That pang of longing hit me quite sharply as the credits rolled on Soul, Pixar’s latest animated triumph about a jazz musician with big dreams whose plans are unexpectedly upended on what might’ve just been the best day of his life. Watching the credits on a film isn’t just for cinephiles; if it’s not something you do already, I recommend starting the practice (streaming service “autoplay” buttons be damned). There’s all the people involved…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Collective

    America’s healthcare system is far from anyone’s gold standard, and far too many people can’t get the care they need or can’t afford it when they can. As disheartening as it all is, it somehow pales in comparison to the massive corruption, mismanagement and malpractice discovered in Romania’s hospital system in Alexander Nanau’s eye-opening and completely riveting Collective. In October 2015, a fire broke out at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest; without proper safety measures in place (including just one emergency exit that the hundreds of concert-goers rushed to, causing a stampede), and with a ceiling made of highly flammable sound-proofing foam, the fire—ignited by a spark from the band’s…

  • 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…