TIFF 2016 Movie Review: A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS (Israel/US 2015) Directed by Natalie Portman

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

a_tale_of_love_and_darkness.jpgA TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS (Israel/US 2015) ***
Directed by Natalie Portman

Starring: Natalie Portman, Shira Haas, Amir Tessler

Review by Gilbert Seah

A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS was screened at last year’s TIFF after premiering at Cannes. When a film that marks a directorial debut by an actor is screened at TIFF, the normal reaction is to avoid. But this film by actress Natalie Portman (Oscar Winner for BLACK SWAN) is truly a labour of love. Whether successful or not, it is one that has Portman’s heart and soul put into its making. This should be reason alone to view the film.

Portman reported took 8 years to write the script after obtaining the rights to the book – an autobiography by Amos Oz. She also not only learned Hebrew but to speak it without an American accent. Portman herself was born in Israel. The film is shot in Hebrew.

The book and Portman’s film are told from the point of view of Amos Oz, the son of the mother Portman portrays, as he grows from adolescence to youth. The film tells the story of his youth, set against the backdrop of the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the State of Israel. A major influence of Amos’ upbringing is his mother. But in certain scenes, like the one where the mother imagines her bookish husband as a handsome labourer,the film uncomfortably shifts the point of view from the boy to her.

The boy, Amos is closer to the mother than to the father, as observed by the film. The mother is seen to be the more realistic person than her academic husband. Portman paints him as an ugly creature with bucked teeth and spectacles. But she shows the boy, at various points in the film smiling whenever his parents share a loving moment.

Her film is meticulously crafted, perhaps too much so. Her film is beautiful to look at, with a dizzy hazy look but it lacks drama and life. Even the dramatic scene like the swing accident is shot with the confrontation taken away. Portman never makes it clear he purpose of this segment. The audience is expected to figure out this one and many other such segments (like the kicking of the football) on their own.
When a story is told of two monks traveling through India, these scene is materialized with the son and mother in monks’ robes walking through a field of flowers. When the boy smiles while lying on the ground looking at his parents, the image is shown upside down, from the boy’s angle. Portman appears to concentrate more on the film’s look than the way the book’s message is put across to the audience.

Portman’s film though set in the Israel/Palestinian conflict is violence free. The violence is only heard as news on the radio or from conversations that take place. Her film is also a very serious piece, almost devoid of humour. Se does inject the occasional nostalgia as in the rendering of the Charles Trenet Frenc song, “La Mer”.

It is difficult to figure to see the reason for Portman’s obsession for filming Oz’s novel, or why the novel is such a bestseller. Oz’s writing skill is assumed to be inherited from his father. One scene shows Amos’ story telling skills used to prevent himself being beaten up by bullies. But nothing is said on how his writing skills developed except for the stories his mother tells.

The result is a beautifully looking but rather lifeless film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_bC0o9l2vs

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: FIXEUR (THE FIXER)(Romania/France 2016) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.


the_fixer_poster.jpgFIXEUR (THE FIXER)(Romania/France 2016) ****
Directed by Adrian Sitarru

Starring: Sorin Cocis, Tudor Istodor, Mehdi Nebbou

Review by Gilbert Seah

This Romanian New Wave entry, shot in both French and Romanian tells the moral tale of a Romanian FIXER, Radu Patru (Tudor Istodor) who works at a prestigious French news station, the Bucharest headquarters of France Presse. He speaks Romanian and is both a translator and fixer, i.e. problem solver.

His big break (he hopes to progress from intern to journalist) would likely come through fixing an interview of an under-aged Romanian prostitute who wants to spill the beans on her John. He uses all means to obtain the interview but director Sitarru reveals the unethical practices involved. Sitaru shoots in the realistic style of the Romanian New Wave directors using everyday situations, non-professional actors and hand held camera.

Yet he is not afraid to inject some fun when needed – like the film’s best scene in a bar where Radu picks up a saxophone to join in the rendering of the famous Edith Piaf song, “Je ne regrette rien.” He uses incidents to get a message across like the argument between Radu and his son at the dinner table. An effective, occasionally moving and absorbing film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c7R3GzrXFI

Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.

Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: MA’ ROSA (Philippines 2016) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

ma_rosa_poster.jpgMA’ ROSA (Philippines 2016) ****
Directed by Brillante Mendoza

Starring: Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Baron Geisler

Review by Gilbert Seah

MA’ ROSA (Jaclyn Rose) is a plump middle-aged convenience store owner with a drug using husband and three children who are more enterprising than they let their parents to believe. Rosa does a bit of selling drugs to make ends meet.

When Rosa and her husband are arrested, she and her children do all their best to come up scott-free any way possible which includes bribing the corrupt cops. Mendoza’s (SLINGSHOT) film is done neo-realist style using non-professional actors in a real setting (a poor Manila neighbourhood).

The camera often follows behind each character, very much like in a Dardenne Brothers’ film. The result is a totally absorbing film, depressing (it rains half the time in the film) though, most of the time.

A bit of much needed humour is provided by a bitchy aunt who lends the family money but not before having her voice heard. Jaclyn Rose won her Best Actress at this year’s Cannes which is another reason to see this rare Filipino film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=SQ4nqo6FuS8

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (UK 2016)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

the_girl_with_all_the_gifts_posterTHE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (UK 2016) **
Directed by Colm MCarthy

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine

Review by Gilbert Seah

The film begins with the scene of the cell belonging to who apparently is a polite, smart little girl, Melanie (Sennia Nanua) who likes school, loves books, and adores her teacher, Ms. Justineau (Gemma Arterton). But things are not it seems as the Melanie and other kids are chained and forced to wear restrictive masks. It turns out that they are in a high-security military cell whenever not in class.

That’s because just catching a whiff of human flesh turns them into ravenous monsters. Melanie and company live in a military compound under the watchful eye of the Sergeant (Paddy Considine), his soldiers, and a cold-hearted scientist, Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close).

Once the film goes to the outside, the sci-fi film degrades into yet another tired version of the zombie genre. A few differences do not hide the fact that the hungries, as the zombies are called are just plain zombies that eat human flesh and walk in slow motion.

The script ties in a ridiculous twist about Melanie who (believe it or not) has feelings and wants to save the world. The film when not boring gets sillier especially towards the end.

Trailer: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=HjGkB_oWTe0

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: FIRE AT SEA (Fuocoammare) (France/Italy 2016) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

fire_at_sea_poster.jpg
FIRE AT SEA (Fuocoammare) (France/Italy 2016) ***
Directed by Gianfranco Rosi

Starring: Samuele Pucillo, Maria Costa, Giuseppe Fragapane

Review by Gilbert Seah

This winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, takes a look at the shocking the European migrant crisis. The film is set in the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily, which has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees fleeing wars, violence, and drought in Africa.

Director Rosi iwas obviously given almost unlimited access to film there. Hi documentary makes no judgement and has been described as observational filmmaking. His camera looks and records while the audience observes and make their own judgement.

Rosi selects a couple of characters including a 12-year-old boy with a slingshot, a radio host and the only doctor on Lampedusa. (who gives the boy an eye patch) among others. A moving and occasionally powerful film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=f8Kc5wy0Rxg

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

TIFF 2016 Movie Review: SAND STORM (Israel 2016) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

sand_storm_poster.jpgSAND STORM (Israel 2016) ***
Directed by Elite Zexer

Starring: Lamis Ammar, Ruba Blal, Hitham Omari

Review by Gilbert Seah

SAND STORM is the Grand Jury Prize Winner at Sundance in the Contemporary World section. The film details a little known culture in a Bedouin village. Jalila is preparing to host an awkward celebration: the marriage of her husband to a second (and noticeably younger) wife – something unheard of n western society.

To make matters worse, her eldest, Layla, is involved in a clandestine relationship with a boy at school, all her suppressed emotion finds an outlet. Emotions run high and very member of the family feels the pressure.

Zexer moves her efficient film covering all the details and tying her film up neatly towards the end with a classy ending.

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
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Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: SAMI BLOOD (SAME BLOD) (Sweden/Denmark/Norway 2016) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

sami_blood_poster.jpgSAMI BLOOD (SAME BLOD) (Sweden/Denmark/Norway 2016) ****
Directed by Amanda Kernell

Review by Gilbert Seah

An impressive and totally compelling coming-of-age passage film of a teenage Sami girl Elle Marja (wonderfully portrayed by Lene Cecilia Sparrok). At the same time, it is a look of prejudice that was prevalent in the 30’s when the film is set.

Elle Marja is of Lapps descent and forced into an educational system that taught them that their customs and lifestyles were inferior at best. She runs away and finally gains entry to Swede education but only after overcoming surmounting odds. This is a story that needs to be told for enlightening of what occurred in the past.

The film also celebrates Lapps culture with lots of scenes with reindeer.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FFyRuwkZ94

 

 

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com