2019 TIFF Movie Review: PORTRAIT DE LA JUENE FILLE EN FEU (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE) (France 2019) ***

Portrait of a Lady on Fire Poster
Trailer

On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.

Director:

Céline Sciamma

Writer:

Céline Sciamma (screenplay)

Set in 18th-century Brittany, Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows Marianne (Noémie Merlant), an artist commissioned by an Italian noblewoman (Valeria Golino) to paint a portrait of her reclusive daughter Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), who is soon to be married. The peculiar conditions of this assignment, however, require that Marianne never  announce to Héloïse the objective of her visit.  

Instead, Marianne is to escort Héloïse on walks, posing as a hired companion while closely observing her subject so as to render her likeness on canvas in secret.  

Though nothing much happens, the film includes scenes of exquisite beauty courtesy of the cinematographer  Claire Mathon who did STRANGER BYTHE LAKE back in 2013.  The shot of the facial expressions of the three women playing cards and the one with the household breaking into a chorus of song are incredibly moving.  

It takes 3/4 of the film before the two women embrace, and the segments are executed with grace and erotic taste.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64QcwARoZAM

2019 TIFF Movie Review: WHITE LIE (Canada 2019) ***

White Lie Poster
Trailer

A popular undergrad faking cancer struggles to maintain her secret.

This odd feature centres on Katie (Kacey Rohl), a young woman who has become a literal poster child on her university campus: recently diagnosed with cancer, she’s the focal point of an online funding campaign for both herself and other cancer-related causes.  \

The only problem is, it is all built on a lie.   Katie isn’t sick but gets the money she raised for cancer for herself.  When the campus asks for her medical reports, things start spiralling for the worse when she needs money for forged papers.  She lies to everyone including her ever-loyal girlfriend.  The trouble with this film is the indecision of the directors on whether to have the audience like or dislike the protagonist.  

Though one might root for her keeping her secret, Katie is quite the nasty person with hardly any scruples.  Only her father (Martin Donovan who steals the show) calls her bluff.  Just like Katie, WHITE LIE is a difficult film to like especially since it leads nowhere though Rohl is quite convincing in the role. 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6146a_vM0HU

2019 TIFF Movie Review: LA BELLE EPOQUE (France 2019) ***

La belle époque Poster
Trailer

A couple in crisis. He, disillusioned, sees his life upset the day an entrepreneur offers him to plunge back into the time of his choice.

Director:

Nicolas Bedos

Writer:

Nicolas Bedos

Stars:

Daniel AuteuilGuillaume Canet, Doria Tillier

A high concept comedy that turns out to smart for its execution, This French comedy follows an old fashioned cartoonist, Victor (Daniel Auteuil) no out of work as print makes way to  websites that do not favour cartoons.  To make matters worse, his wife, Marianne (Fanny Ardant) is totally modern with her self driving Tesla, virtual reality and artificial intelligence and bored with him.  Victor engages in a service called ‘Time Travellers’ that take client their past historical moments.

  Victor hicks 1974 where he meets and falls in love with his wife when they first met.  Writer/director Bedos (MR. & MRS ADELMAN) creates an original premise blending modern technology with old-fashioned French romance.  Bedos edits his film really  quickly at quite the manic pace so that the audience has hardly any time to breathe, often forgetting the simplicity of comedy.  

Still this is Bedos’ unique style that is still entertaining with this film demanding a Hollywood remake int he future.  Auteuil and Ardant are a delight to watch on screen,

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9172422/videoplayer/vi3889675289?ref_=tt_ov_vi

2019 TIFF Movie Review: THIS IS NOT A MOVIE (Canada/Germany 2019) ****

This is Not a Movie Poster
The groundbreaking and often game-changing reporting of legendary foreign correspondent and author Robert Fisk is profiled in the latest from acclaimed documentarian Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze).

Director:

Yung Chang

This doc for on foreign reporter Robert Fisk is designed  to arouse emotions.  It begins with the reason or reasons Fisk decides to become a reporter. This Chang (UP THE YANG-TSE) does by including a clip of Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense thriller FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT.

The hero inspired Fisk, and another inspiration is described by Fisk as a fireman falling to his knees crying while putting out a fire in Belfast when he saw part of a body by the fire hose  Chang evokes the raw emotions of both Fisk at that time transported in time to the present. Chang creates an eye opening vivid account of Fisk at work with his camera following Fisk on his assignments, particularly in Syria in the present. 

 Like a film within a film, this is a director reporting a reporter.  Director Chang also instills the truth that reporters have the duty to tell – especially in the times of fake news.  In the inspiring words of Fisk himself recorded by Chang: “If you do not go the front lines and see what is happening how can you see what the truth is?”  

A remarkable and  unbelievably inspiring doc!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftjkRxikuO4

TIFF 2018 Review: SHARKWATER EXTINCTION (Canada 2018) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Sharkwater Extinction Poster
Trailer

Discovering that sharks are being hunted to extinction, and with them the destruction of our life support system – activist and filmmaker Rob Stewart embarks on a dangerous quest to stop … See full summary »

Director:

Rob Stewart

Writer:

Rob Stewart

 

SHARKWATER EXTINCTION is the follow-up of the 2006 documentary SHARKWATER that filmmaker, marine biologist and shark lover championed to convince the world not to eat sharksfin soup.  Sharks have been killed just for their fins.  

According to this new doc, sharks are now killed for a variety of other reasons, thus diminishing the shark population to dangerous extinction levels.  Writer/director Stewart takes his film to Costa Rica, Cape Verde, the Bahamas, Panama, and the US to explore the myriad of ways sharks continue to be in peril.  

Stewart’s aim in the film is clearly twofold: to shock the audience and also to educate them to want to be a fighter for the environment.  The film is not as good as the first but is still moving in its effectiveness.  As most of the world knows by now, the Toronto filmmaker was missing in January 2017 during a dive, making this film his sweet swan song. 

 One can admire the hero for his dedication to the preservation of sharks that eventually took his life.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7iNoSNejSM

 

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TIFF 2018 Review: SHOPLIFTERS

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Shoplifters Poster
Trailer

A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find on the street.

Director:

Hirokazu Koreeda

 

Hirokazu Kore-ed’s (his masterpiece AFTER LIFE and last year’s THE THIRD MURDER) latest film won him the Palm d’Or at Cannes this year and is a real gem of a movie.

It tells the story of a poor family barely etching out a decent living in the outskirts of Tokyo.  The family is comprised of a couple, a grandmother and  2 children.  The film contains two twists – story turns (not revealed in this review) that occur after the son, Shota is injured while jumping off a highway overpass in order to escape being caught from shoplifting.  This he does to save his little sister.  

What is revealed is unexpected that teaches the audience what an ideal family should be.  Kore-ed’s actors need not act – his camera does.  From, close-ups, long shots, a character’s glance, the turn of a face, Kore-ed knows exactly how to capture a moment or create an effect.  The result is a superior movie from a clear Master of a medium who is not only a great story-teller (telling a story with a clear timely message) but a superb filmmaker.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwcb5ki1f-4

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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: VISAGES, VILLAGES (Faces Places)(France 2017) ***** Top 10

 

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Faces Places Poster
Director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.

Directors:

JRAgnès Varda

Stars:

Jean-Luc GodardJRLaurent Levesque

Faces Places have received high critical praise from critics at Cannes, many calling it a masterpiece. That might be too big a term to use for this little personal film but VISAGES VILLAGES is simply the most delightful and personal film at the festival.

Director Agnes Varda (wife of the late Jacques Demy), now 89 is famous for her films, photographs, and art installations that focus on documentary realism, feminist issues, and social commentary with a distinct experimental style.

In this latest and perhaps her last doc (she is losing her vision), she and fellow friend and artist known as JR travel around France, particularly the North in their photo camion to take pictures of the people they visit. At Le Havre, for example they photograph the images of three wives of the dockworker and paste them on stacked containers.

In a deserted mining town, they paste the photograph of the last woman (wife of a miner) still staying in the old house district. When asked the reason she does this, she replies it is too demonstrate the power of imagination.

No doubt about that, this film is personal, inspiring, powerful, sad and happy and perhaps ‘masterpiece’ might be really an accurate term to describe this film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmHG5HXYc9w
 

VISAGES, VILLAGES 1

TIFF 2017 FINAL REPORT – BEST OF THE BEST

The last day, the 17th of September marks the end of another year of the Toronto International Film Festival. Most noted difference is the fewer number of films programmed, as attendances over the past years have been dropping. Reasons for this state of affairs are many including higher unaffordable movie prices, the removal of the festival all movie pass and movie pirating.

Of the 79 festival films seen this year, I have selected my 10 best – the best of the best.

These are listed in alphabetical order:
ANGELS WEAR WHITE (China/France)
BPM (France)
BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (USA)
THE CHILDREN ACT (UK)
L’INSULTE (THE INSULT) (France)
LES GARDIENNES (THE GUARDIAN) (France)
LOVELESS (Russia)
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (Ireland)
THE SQUARE (Sweden)
SWEET COUNTRY (Australia)

The public is the most important and the PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD went to THREE BILLBOARDS.

Other winners as selected by the Toronto Intrenational Film Festival, are, as listed below, in the different categories.

Till next year…….

The Toronto International Film Festival® announced its award winners at the closing ceremony at TIFF Bell Lightbox today, hosted by Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of TIFF. To watch the presentation, visit tiff.net/ceremony. The 42nd Festival wraps up this evening.
The short film awards below were selected by a jury comprised of Marit van den Elshout, Head of CineMart at the International Film Festival Rotterdam; award-winning filmmaker Johnny Ma (Old Stone); and Cannes 2017 Art Cinema Award winner Chloé Zhao (The Rider).

IWC SHORT CUTS AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM

The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film goes to Marc-Antoine Lemire’s Pre-Drink. The jury remarked the film “is a monumental yet intimate portrayal of a woman in transition. Lead by the towering performances of the film’s two actors, both of who are worthy of receiving their own awards. The jury were especially taken by the leading actress who gives one of the best performances we saw in the Short Cuts programmes. The 2017 Short Cuts jury honors Pre-Drink for Best Canadian short film.”

The award offers a $10,000 cash prize, made possible by IWC Schaffhausen.

IWC SHORT CUTS AWARD FOR BEST SHORT FILM

The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film goes to Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s The Burden (Min Börda). The jury remarked, “Whimsical but tragic, imaginative and just plain weird, this is exactly what one can expect from a Scandinavian musical with fish in bath robes singing out their existentialist crisis. This is a film that stands out in this program and any film program it will ever be part of.” The award offers a $10,000 cash prize made possible by IWC Schaffhausen.
The jury gave honourable mentions to Matthew Rankin’s The Tesla World Light (Tesla: Lumière Mondiale) and Qiu Yang’s Xiao Cheng Er Yue (A Gentle Night).

The Canadian awards below were selected by a jury comprised of Mark Adams, Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival; Canadian documentarian and Hillman Prize winner Min Sook Lee (Migrant Dreams); and artist and filmmaker Ella Cooper, who is also the founder of Black Women Film! Canada.

CITY OF TORONTO AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FIRST FEATURE FILM

The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film goes to Wayne Wapeemukwa’s Luk’ Luk’l. The jury remarked, “The award goes to a striking debut film that disrupts borders – of form and content and suggests new cinematic territories.This beautifully realized film offers a unique Canadian perspective, made with real compassion, insight and remarkable characters from Vancouver’s East Side.” This award carries a cash prize of $15,000, made possible by the City of Toronto.

The jury gave honourable mention to Sadaf Foroughi’s Ava.

CANADA GOOSE AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM

The Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to Robin Aubert’s Les Affamés. The jury remarked, “This year the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to a hybrid art-house film that proved to be something of a revelation. Wonderfully scripted and perfectly cast, this film managed the rare feat of featuring genuinely interesting and well-rounded characters; surprising dramatic and comedic moments with well thought-out multi-generational female roles (who were totally badass, I might add) while also dealing with poignant and contemporary issues, set against a striking rural backdrop and hundreds of ‘ravenous’ zombies.”

This award carries a cash prize of $30,000 and a custom award, sponsored by Canada Goose.

The jury gave honourable mention to Simon Lavoie’s The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes).

THE PRIZES OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FILM CRITICS (FIPRESCI PRIZES)

The Festival welcomed an international FIPRESCI jury for the 26th year. The jury members comprised of jury president Jonathan Rosenbaum (USA), Robert Daudelin (Canada), Martin Horyna (Czech Republic), Ivonete Pinto (Brazil), Marietta Steinhart (Austria), and Jim Slotek (Canada).

Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery programme is awarded to Sadaf Foroughi for Ava.

Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for Special Presentations is awarded to Manuel Martín Cuenca for The Motive (El Autor).

NETPAC AWARD

As selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema for the sixth consecutive year, the NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere goes to Huang Hsin-Yao’s The Great Buddha+.

Jury members include jury chairperson Rashmi Doraiswamy (India), Jian Hao (China), and Savine Wong (Canada). The jury remarked, “The NETPAC Jury awards The Great Buddha+ for depicting the interface between the haves and have-nots, with black humor and style, innovating with noir in representing the social reality of Taiwan today.”

TORONTO PLATFORM PRIZE PRESENTED BY AIR FRANCE

This is the third year for Platform, the Festival’s juried programme that champions directors’ cinema from around the world. The Festival welcomed an international jury comprised of award-winning filmmakers Chen Kaige, Małgorzata Szumowska, and Wim Wenders who unanimously awarded the Toronto Platform Prize, presented by Air France, to Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country.

“This is a spiritual epic taking place in 1929 in Australia’s Northern Territory,” said the jury in a statement. “It is a great saga of human fate, and its themes of race and struggle for survival are handled in such a simple, rich, unpretentious and touching way, that it became for us a deeply emotional metaphor for our common fight for dignity.

Speaking about their deliberations, the jury added: “We saw 12 films from all over the world that took us into very different universes of the soul and to extremely different places on our planet. We were thankful to be able to see these films and we very much appreciated that actually exactly half of them were made by women. TIFF is leading the way, we feel.”

“As we only had one award to give, we had to be quite radical. We also limited ourselves to only one special mention, even if other films might have imposed themselves for best acting, writing or directing.”

Awarding a special mention to Clio Barnard’s Dark River, the jury said: “This film, deeply rooted in the Yorkshire countryside, convinced us, as its characters and actors, its photography, its story and its sense of place were all so much ONE, so utterly believable and controlled, that we were totally taken by it.”

The Toronto Platform Prize offers a custom award and a $25,000 cash prize, made possible by Air France.

New this year, the Festival presents a free screening of Toronto Platform Prize winner Sweet Country at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 8:30 pm on September 17. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 6:30pm.

GROLSCH PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS

This year marked the 40th year that Toronto audiences were able to cast a ballot for their favourite Festival film for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. This year’s award goes to Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The award offers a $15,000 cash prize and custom award, sponsored by Grolsch. The second runner-up is Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. The first runner-up is Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya.

The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award goes to Joseph Kahn’s Bodied. The second runner-up is Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99. The first runner-up is James Franco’s The Disaster Artist.

The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award goes to Agnès Varda and JR’s Faces Places. The second runner-up is Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! The first runner-up is Long Time Running directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas De Pencier.

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: CATCH THE WIND (PRENDRE LE LARGE) (France 2017)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Catch the Wind Poster
A middle-aged factory worker’s life is upended when she follows her employer to Morocco.

Director:

Gaël Morel

Writer:

Gaël Morel

Stars:

Sandrine BonnaireLubna AzabalIlian Bergala

CATCH THE WIND is a personal look at what happens when companies second source to a cheaper country. The story concerns Edith (Sandrine Bonnaire) informed that the job she’s held for her entire adult life is being relocated to Morocco. She refuses to accept a healthy severance package.

Against the advice of her colleagues, her self-absorbed son, and even the consultant hired to fire her, Edith instead opts to follow her job to Tangier.

Arriving with the naïve energy of a teenager on their first overseas trip, Edith realizes before long what she’s up against: the expected subpar working conditions and subpar pay, but also an adjustment to new social and cultural realities — nuances that her failure to grasp would mean her job and, more importantly, her dignity.

The film works for two factors. One is the detailed account by director Morel on what living is like in Tangier – the factory corruption, the poverty, the strife to support families and the danger on the streets.

The second is Bonnaire’s calculated and worthy performance. Brutal yet sensitive, PRENDE LE LARGE finally gets Morel’s characters a happy ending but not without sheer determination and strong will.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsfAPoCk5AA

CATCH THE WIND

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: LAISSEZ BRONZER LES CADAVRES (Let the Corpses Tan)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Let the Corpses Tan Poster
The Mediterranean summer: blue sea, blazing sun….and 250 kg of gold stolen by Rhino and his gang! They had found the perfect hideout: an abandoned and remote hamlet now taken over by a …See full summary »

Writers:

Jean-Pierre Bastid (novel), Hélène Cattet 

Stars:

Marc BarbéBernie BonvoisinDorylia Calmel

The film credit sequence begins with the title splattered on the screen one word at a time sets up the stage for what audiences are to expect in the upcoming 92 minutes gore fest.

An extreme close up of events and we are talking seeing a screen of a close up of a close up like a the teeth in a mouth. This effect can be terribly annoying if one is sitting up close to the screen, so best be at least in the middle to thee back of the theatre when viewing this one. The story is simple enough. A gang of thieves absconding with 250kg of stolen gold arrives at the abode of a listless artist caught in a bohemian love triangle.

The scenario quickly escalates into a desperate day-long firefight between cops and robbers throughout the remote ruins of a Mediterranean hamlet — and genre and art-house tropes collide in a relentless reverie of action spectacle. It should be noted that as bloody as this film is, it is not as bloody as the other Midnight Madness, nor is it as inventive.

Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are also fond of using colour saturated silhouettes as in the spaghetti westerns.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Cx48AN5_y8