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

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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
 

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