Interview: Alexandre O. Philippe on “78/52”

My third director interview, this one with Alexandre Philippe, director of documentaries like “The People vs. George Lucas” and “The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus”.

Cinema Axis


Alexandre O. Philippe is a practiced documentarian with a decided penchant for pop culture phenomena, especially films. In The People vs. George Lucas, he looked at the interaction between filmmakers and fans. In The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octupus, he commented on an octopus named Paul that correctly “predicted” eight consecutive World Cup matches. And in Doc of the Dead, he tackled all things zombies. Now, in 78/52, Philippe delves deep into one of the most iconic scenes in the history of cinema: The Shower Scene from Alfred Hitchock’s Psycho.

Cinema Axis’s Derek Jacobs reviewed the film as part of our coverage for the Hot Docs 2017 festival, and Mr. Philippe was kind enough to be interviewed about his newest film.

Derek Jacobs: The first thing that I’d like to ask you about 78/52 is the subject of the documentary. Where did this idea to…

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“Blade Runner 2049” is a Spellbinding Sci-Fi Sequel

The moments of Blade Runner 2049 pass by too quickly, lost in the next gorgeous shot, meticulous special effect, or confounding mystery. Fluorescent advertisements reflect off of murky puddles at the street level, while the higher classes enjoy the seemingly infinite refraction of a glorious light off of crystalline indoor pools. It’s evident immediately: the world of Blade Runner 2049 is complex, dark, and fascinating – a finely-crafted melding of science fiction and noir filmmaking.

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“Barry Lyndon” and Complete Artistic Transportation

The eighth entry in my series, Stanley Kubrick – A Year of Masterpieces.

Barry Lyndon is one of Stanley Kubrick’s most overlooked films. Cinephiles and casual fans alike are quick to list a dozen other Kubrick films as a favorite before even considering this film – if they even care for it at all. But, if one is to judge by the magnitude of the artistry, Barry Lyndon may be Kubrick’s greatest triumph. His intention with the film is crystal clear: to approach the “period piece” with the respect that it deserves, both in terms of accurate storytelling and through aesthetically appropriate cinematographic techniques. The result is a resounding expression of the power of cinema, as Kubrick positively transports us into the world of Mr. Redmond Barry.

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Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” Expresses Intrigue with Quiet Sexuality

Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, a remake of a 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood, was a bit of a darling at Cannes this year. Coppola took home Best Director at the festival, which was only the second time a woman won the award. The film itself is a peculiar kind of Civil War era drama charged with the flavor of an erotic thriller or mystery. There’s a deep sexuality to the unraveling of the plot, as a single wounded male character navigates a school of isolated and curious women. The result is a tight tale of empowerment and intrigue, presented in a quiet and classical aesthetic.

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“War for the Planet of the Apes” Earns Another Victory for the Rebooted Franchise

Remember how Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a James Franco-laden disaster with John Lithgow wandering around forgetting everything and apes rampaged over the Golden Gate bridge being attacked by police helicopters? How far we’ve come. This Planet of the Apes reboot may be one of the most artistically successful reboots of a beloved franchise in the history of Hollywood, and it is almost entirely on the strength of the final two films – first with 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and now with War for the Planet of the Apes.

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TIFF 2017: The President’s Visit

Cinema Axis


In a small village in Lebanon, a soap maker toils in his dingy shop. He earns very little respect from the townsfolk, though his service is essential. Then, one day, the President of the country calls him. As part of a new “Clean Up the Country” campaign, he will be visiting the humble shop to buy the finest soaps available in a publicity stunt. The owner is told to keep the visit secret.

Of course, that fails immediately.

First, the soap maker tells his uncle, a local fishmonger. The uncle spreads the word immediately, and takes credit for owning the soap shot, to boot (he doesn’t; but is quick to take advantage of the publicity to hawk his mackerel). Now, ever denizen of the sleepy town is dressed to the nines, ready to impress the president with their sophistication.

Except he doesn’t show. And the soap maker has decided to…

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