• 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…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Oliver Sacks – His Own Life

    Neurologist, author and generally wonderful human being Oliver Sacks died in 2015 after a months-long battle with cancer. On receiving the news that his prognosis was terminal, he wrote a moving Op-Ed in the New York Times reflecting on his life, his work and what it means to know death is not far away. After a lifetime spent observing his patients and in analysis with a therapist of his own, Sacks approached his final days with the clarity and grace of someone with a unique perspective on the value of every life. Filmmaker Ric Burns chronicles those final months in a new documentary, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, a beautiful tribute…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: Our Time Machine

    If the best things are worth waiting for, that certainly goes for poignant documentaries on family ties, legacy and channeling our most complex emotions through art. I first saw Our Time Machine, a film by S. Leo Chiang and Yang Sun, over a year ago at the Chicago Critics Film Festival, a week-long event that’s made a name for itself by featuring some of the most impressive films of the year. Now, the film is available via Siskel Film Center’s virtual cinema, and it is very much worth seeking out. The film follows Chinese visual artist and puppeteer Maleonn as he navigates this father’s progression into dementia by creating a steam-punk…

  • Cinephilia

    Review: All In – The Fight for Democracy

    For longer than I care to admit, before seeing All In: The Fight For Democracy, I referred to it in shorthand as “the Stacey Abrams documentary.” I meant no offense by this; rather, it was simply a quick way to reference a film about a rising political player who made a name for herself during her historic 2018 run for the office of Governor of Georgia. Reader, so that you don’t make the same mistake I do, please know that this important documentary about the history and value of voting rights in America is not so much “Stacey Abrams’s documentary” as it is an urgent call to action to every member…