ALCHEMY OF THE SPIRIT – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

explores life, death, the universe and, well, everything. The film follows an older, successful artist Oliver (Xander Berkeley) who wakes up one morning to find his beloved wife Evelyn (Sarah Clarke) has died in her sleep. Shock and grief mingle as the lines between reality and fantasy increasingly blur as Oliver attempts to come to grips with what has happened, the film’s signature magic realism only heightened by Hanuman Brown-Eagle’s exquisite cinematography.

Read more

CHERRY (Tribeca 2022) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Perhaps most impressive is just how much energy Cherry belts along with; there’s hardly time to catch one’s breath before the film’s final credits role, and the vibrancy, energy and color that define Cherry herself mark the film itself, too, both in terms of its charming visual style, and also its sheer vibe. Smart, sassy and never dumbing down the seriousness of its title character’s predicament as she faces the reality of an unwanted pregnancy, Cherry is a delight.

Read more

ATTACHMENT (Tribeca 2022) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Steeped in Jewish folklore and strengthened even further by a superb supporting cast, Attachment is a perfect example of a film that is precisely aware of its own sense of scale; never too big, never too small, it is the right size film, the right size story, the right size characters and the right size emotional and visceral punch to carry the film from its first frames right through to its last. With no need for the whistles and bells of some of the horror genre’s more bombastic offerings, Attachment is a captivating, confident and deeply moving little miracle of a film.

Read more

NUDE TUESDAY (Tribeca 2022) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

While Jemaine Clement may be the big name draw card to Nude Tuesday, it is fellow New Zealander Jackie van Beek who grants the film the spectacular oomph required to pull this nice little sex comedy off so convincingly. Along with Madeleine Sami, van Beek of course co-directed, co-wrote and co-starred in the best romcom of recent years, The Breaker Upperers, and Nude Tuesday provides a satisfying return for those of us who have been waiting to see what else she could cook up. Along with director Armağan Ballantyne – who is certainly a force to be reckoned with in her own right, based on her 2009 debut feature The Strength of Water alone – all the pieces are here to make Nude Tuesday a real treat.

Read more

A WOUNDED FAWN (Tribeca 2022) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

What begins seemingly as a slick, sexy although at first perhaps superficially color-by-numbers serial killer movie rapidly turns into something altogether different, and from the outset it is probably worth acknowledging that this turn certainly won’t be for everyone. There is, surely, an alternative vision of this same film that takes a more orthodox path, eschewing the wackadoodle abstraction that the Carrington reference itself so overtly belies from the outset that would most certainly make A Wounded Fawn appeal to a wider audience. But this is, thankfully, not that film – which is great news if you are a fan of wackadoodle abstraction.

Read more

HUESERA (Tribeca 2022) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Michelle Garza Cervera has an extraordinary ability to provide striking, unforgettable moments that stand alone – Valeria going into labor in a mosh pit, for example, or the indescribably beautiful opening moments of the film are of particular note here – while at the same time weaving them with a master craftperson’s precision into a tapestry where each of these moments is inseparable from the thematic fabric that surrounds it. Aside from its undeniable artistry, Huesera is propelled by an undisguised, catch-in-your-throat fierceness in its determination to say something really meaningful about the dark side of motherhood

Read more

Girls to the Front at Tribeca FF 2022’s Retrospective Screenings – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Running from the 8th to 19th of June, all eyes are cast as perhaps to be expected on the Tribeca Film Festival’s rich offerings of premiere screenings. But scratch the surface of the program and just as exciting is the superbly curated series of retrospective screenings, including a notable and diverse array that are either directed by women, or have women in central, significant production roles.

Read more

WATCHER – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Watcher is a dark, smart treasure of a film, with the collaborative energy of director Chloe Okuno and Maika Monroe very much at the heart of what makes it such a compelling viewing experience. The decision to not use subtitles for the Romanian language dialogue in the film is a canny creative decision, adding further to our alignment with the main character as both she and we (assuming we are not familiar with the language) are excluded from what may or may not be important conversations.

Read more

NEPTUNE FROST – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

It’s sadly unsurprising that the Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman co-directed Neptune Frost finds Uzeyman’s name oft deleted in casting sole authorship of the film to the acclaimed, multi-talented Williams. But considering the aesthetic, philosophical and ideological aggression which propels the sci fi musical from its opening moments, there’s something of a depressing irony surrounding Uzeyman’s common erasure as a key co-author of the film, often (at best) reduced to a footnote, if she’s mentioned at all.

Read more

POSER – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

As a world building exercise, Poser is deeply ensconced in the Columbus indie music scene, which is brought to life here in a variety of ways, including casting significant scene luminaries such as Bobbi Kitten. But this is no navel-gazing, regional subcultural circle jerk; sometimes dark, frequently self-depreciative and often dryly funny, there is a sad, bleak heart to Poser that is where its ultimate impact is contained.

Read more