Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 7, No. 4, 2008
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Robert Rotondo
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Film Reviews
  Bowling for Columbine
Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days





So far, A & O film critics Sylvain Richard and Marcel Dubois have seen the following films. Here are their ratings and comments, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.


Sylvain RichardAmong Sylvain Richard's best ever films = (Babij Jar; Man Who Wipes Mirrors; Napola; Les Choristes; The Headsman; My Nikifor; Hell in Tangier; Camaron; Who Are You; King of the World).

.7 -- RUMBA, Abel, Gordon & Romy
Overly absurd black comedy that isn't funny and personally insulting. Distatefuly treats tragedy as a joke.

2.8 -- THE STRANGER IN ME, Emily Atef
Psychological drama involving young mother suffering from post-partum depression. Credible acting, lazy editing and script, compelling story.

2.7 -- MERMAID, Anna Melikian
Wonderful fantasy of young girl who makes her wishes come true. Acting uneven, convincing mix of animation and cinema verité.

2.9 -- ABSURDISTAN, Veit Helmer
Farce about women in central Asian village going on strike: no water, no sex. Engaging narration, beautiful locations.

Typical movie of the week involving a terminal disease. Overly sentimental but acting was forceful with tight script.

3.2 -- NILOOFAR, Sabine El Gemayel
Iranian drama concerning pre-adolescent seeking emancipation from Islamic tradition. Slow but extremely effective pacing. Despite harsh cultural conditions film avoids stereotypes. No truths are left untouched.

1.5 -- THE CHICKEN, THE FISH AND THE KING CRAB, Jose Luis Lopez-Linares
Special interest film about world class cooking contest. Too much food and not enough plot.

Pschological drama that takes place inside isolated boarding school. Uplifting film with fine acting performances and well chosen locations.

1.4 -- SHULTES, Eakur Bakuradze
Poorly conceived crime drama that takes place in Moscow. Couldn't identify with the characters; uneven editing.

3.1 -- JERUSALEMA, Ralph Ziman
Biting crime drama taking place in Johannesburg. Racial tensions set the tone in post-Aparteid era. Gripping original S. African score. Film compares well with City of God (Brazil).

2.7 -- PEACEFUL TIMES, Neele Leana Vollmar
Light hearted cold-war comedy as seen through the eyes of 3 children; well acted, well directed and edited.

Haunting psychological drama of survivor returning to scene of earlier tragedy. Quasi religious score and apropos locations enhance the mystery element.

2.4 -- FOR MY FATHER, Dror Zahavi
Human drama about Arab sent to Tel Aviv on suicide mission. Powerful beginning undermined by weak editing and spotty script. Not in the class of Paradise Now.

Romantic fantasy about a woman who is like a Black Hole: her loves disappear. Interesting concept defeated by weak script and superficial characters.

3.5 -- VOLGA-VOLGA, Grigory Alexandrov
Russian 1938 musical comedy -- self-evident classic. Thoroughly enjoyable featuring native folk and classical music that is both sung and played. One of 6 films playing in Russian retrospective.

3.2 -- FAUBERG 36, Christophe Barratier
Period drama that effectively captures the atmosphere of Parisien music halls circa 1936. Now with two excellent films under his belt (Les Choristes), this director is a major candidate to become a big name on the international scene.

2.7 -- LE BANQUET, Sebastien Rose
Social drama centering on individuals trying to find their true calling. Although a bit confusing in the beginning this film will grow on you. Top notch performances from the entire cast.

1.0 -- ELEVE LIBRE, Joachim Lafosse
A coma inducing film that is shallow in all its aspects. I was anxiously awaiting the final credits.

3.0 -- KATYN, Andrzet Wajda
Historical drama depicting the massacre of the Polish officers in the spring of 1940. Can be compared to the film Babij Jar. Over abundance of characters & lack of identification re. locations & dates made this fine film a little hard to follow.

2.2 -- DOG EAT DOG, Carlos Moreno
Common variation of gangster action where small guy keeps the boss's money. Voodoo element helps sustain interest that is helped by a good soundtrack from a Columbian group. A credible late nite flic for those who tune into the tube after midnight.

2.7 -- SHADOW, Mehmet Gureli
Romantic mystery regarding a femme fatale. Soothing melancholic score. Poetic dialogue unfortunately undermined by "unsteady subtitles."

2.7 -- SOUTH OF THE MOON, Antonio DiVerdis
First film. A coming of age pre-adolescent boy at a major crossroad in his life. Top notch performances. Poignant songs. A director to keep your eye on. Added bonus: subtitled in French.

2.8 -- MY MOTHER'S TEARS, Alejandros Cardenas Amelio
Drama involving an Argentinian family living in exile in Berlin. Light-hearted humour in a bittersweet film. Camera movements jittery.

2.0 -- THE STRANGER, Fernando Diaz
A young woman returns home to her grandfather's ranch after he dies. Humour helps this overly long film.

Romantic fantasy involving 2 comatose patients falling in love. Fun to watch; beautiful mix of fantasy vs reality. Music score somewhat disappointing.

One of the most fantastical films that I have ever seen @WFF. Shoddy subtitles made this dialogue rich film hard to follow. Script & editing were spotty. Music well chosen.

0.9 -- REPARATION(CORRECTION), Thanos Anastopoulos
Quiet drama about an ex con wandering the streets of Athens trying to find himself. No character developement. Poor cinematography. Slow pacing failed to keep my attention.

2.7 -- AFTER SCHOOL, Kenji Uchida
Complex Yakuza comedy drama. Good acting. Editing could have been tighter.

2.8 -- THE RED SPOT, Marie Miyayama
A young Japanese woman goes to Germany alone to excorcise her nightmares regarding a fatal car accident involving her parents 18 years ago. Debut feature shows tremendous potential. Excellent performances, script, & editing. Solo piano score evocatively beautiful.

3.2 -- COWARDS, Jose Corbacho & Juan Cruz
Hard hitting social drama about bullying. Top-notch performances especially from the teens. Film will ring true for many viewers.

3.8 -- URTIN DUU (Long Tune), Hasiehaoulo
Meaning traditional Mongolian Folk Music. Exquisite & spectacular cultural drama depicting life in a traditional Mongolian village & the return of one who had gone to the big City (Beijing). Natural & sincere. Minor fault: Translation of english subtitles seemed a bit off the mark.

2.8 -- A SONG OF GOOD, Gregory King
All too common theme of a desperate drug user attempting to clean up his life. Decent acting; OK pop soundtrack.

2.6 -- THE WAVE, Dennis Gansel
Socio-political drama of a high school project on Autocracy that goes quickly overboard. Despite solid performances film was weakened by incomplete script & editing. Punk rock soundtrack.

1.9 -- UNDER THE MOON, Candel Figuera & Maitena Muruzabel
Slow repetitive pace could not hold my attention. What worked well in the film was the interaction between the 4 main characters.

3.0 -- MY MAGIC, Eric Khoo
Based on the true life story of Singapore fire eater Francis Bosco (who stars in the leading role), adds credibilty to this bitter social drama about a yong boy with an absent mother & an alchoholic father. Many of the "magic acts" border on S&M & will make you squirm. Eclectic music score.

2.8 -- BURNING MUSSOLINI, Conrad Pla
First feature for Pla who also stars in the leading role in this Canadian indie about an attempted BURN that goes horribly wrong. A very high dose of comedy. Good performances, Tight script, Moody electro score. A director/actor to keep an eye on.

3.2 -- VARG(WOLF), Daniel Alfredson
Powerful witness of how governmental laws often threaten the livelyhoods of first nation peoples. Powerful score. Scenic images of northern Sweden.

2.8 -- THE MIRACLE OF BERLIN, Rolan Suso Richter
Political thriller of a divided East German family just 17 months before the fall of the Berlin wall. In the same class as director`s The Tunnel, Goodbye Leninand The Lives Of Others.

1.7 -- THE LITTLE HEART, Nguyen Than Huan
Social drama about a young village woman lured by the promise of a high paying job in Saigon & ends up being forced into prostitution. Doesn`t live up to the promise of being a gritty powerful treatment of this much travelled subject. Film was not helped by confusion editing. Subtitles were replete with typographical errors. Confusing editing.

2.6 -- FOLLE DE DIEU, Jean-Daniel Lafond
Well crafted & researched documentary portrait of Marie de L`Incarnation who founded the Ursulin Order. Marie Tifo does a beautiful reincarnation of the main personage.

2.9 -- DON`T LOOK DOWN, Eliseo Subiela
Slowly paced erotic & philosophical comedy drama that slips into redundancy. Editing could have much tighter.

1.3 -- EN PLAIN COEUR, Stephane Gehame
Meaningless drama about a car thief looking for love. Credible acting.

3.0 -- CHATURANGA (FOUR CHAPTERS), Suman Mukhopadhyay
Disturbing, social drama of one man`s search for moral truth. Outstanding score. Top notch acting. Well scripted & edited.

3.2 -- FAREWELL GULSARY, Ardak Amirkulov
Human drama set in mid 20th century Kazakstan USSR. Linked destinies between a man & his horse during the rule of Stalin. Georgeous cinematograhy of countryside. Spellbinding score.

2.1 -- WISPERING EMBERS, Ali Nassar
Drama with political & moral overtones. Conceptualy strong begining but transmission of message breaks down. Good humour, music. Noteworthy location shots.

3.5 -- DREAMING AWAKE, Takeo Kimura
Directorial debut from a veteran of cinema. He is 90 years old & has been credited in over 230 films. Human drama that deals adeptly with multiple themes.

1.7 -- NOKTA, Dervis Zaim
Crime drama involving a rare 13th century Koran. Too short. Confusing script. Expansive scenes of the Salt lakes in Turkey. When it ends you say, `Is that it?´

2.4 -- YASHI (TEARS), Shano Shinju & Kerlan Nurmuhambetou
Disturbing mix of fiction & documentary regarding the plight of the Uygur people in China & Kazazakstan. Educational but a little slow. Conclusion of fictional part is unclear.

Drama about refugees fleeing Iran. Touching & rings true. A common yet very relevant theme. Rates comparison with Spare Parts & El Norte.

2.0 -- LEO, Joseph Phares
All too common theme of being victimized by a brutal & often fatal attack of a loved one. As a revenge film, the Death Wish series is better. Scene shifts were abrupt.

1.4 -- EL CAMINO, Ishtar Yasin
Sister & mute brother escape Nicaragua to try & locate their mother in Costa Rica. Does not stand up to last years similar themed "Under the Same Moon. Lack of focus& I quickly lost interest.

2.4 -- THE FOURTH MAN, Dejan Zecevic
East European Hollywood style "Who done it?" thriller. Man awakes after 2 months in a coma with total amnesia . He is told that his wife & son have been murdered. A joy to watch. Subtitles were fuzzy, were not in synch & disappeared too quickly.

2.8 -- ROMAN POLANSKY: WANTED & DESIRED, Marina Zenovich
Documentary focusing on Polanski's scandal in 1978 in which he was accused of statuatory rape & subsequently fled USA. Well researched & crafted apart from some superfluous material.

2.8 -- THE LEMON TREE (ETZE LEMON), Erin Riklis
Humanitarian drama about a private citezen (Palestinian widow) standing up to government forces (Isreali defence minister). Shares similarity with the documentary "The Colour of Olive." We sense the humanity & helplessness from both sides.

3.1 -- LEAVING THE FOLD, Eric Scott
Documentary that focuses on a universal dilemma of what one goes thru when he/she feels they don't belong to the religion/culture they were born into. A bit too short.

2.3 -- THE END OF POVERTY, Philip Diaz
Social issue documentary asking what is the true cause of poverty in a world with enough for all. Too much information to handle in one film. Film includes an excellent historical overview from colonial times till the present.

3.6 -- THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE, by Benoit Pilon
An Inuit man suffering from tuberculosis is uprooted and sent to a Quebec sanatorium. An extraordinary film that holds up a mirror to xenophobia and its unsustainability in the face of the give and take of everyday life. Winner of 3 Genie Awards and an Academy finalist for Best Foreign Language film.


Marcel DuboisAmong Marcel Dubois' best ever films = (All Quiet on the Western from (1930); Magnolia; Ben Hur; Dances with Wolves; Marathon Man; Papillon; Saving Private Ryan, Manchurian Candidate; Casino; Naked Prey) .

2.5 -- PEACEFUL TIMES, Neele Leana Vollmar
Social comedy, well acted, children take matters into their own hands to save their parents' marriage and mother's happiness.

Suspense, unconvincing plot, credible acting by children about disappearance of 6 children from orphanage. Too long, ambiguous ending.

2.9 -- FOR MY FATHER, Dror Zahavi
Psychological drama, engaging plot that examines young man's feelings who is sent on a terrorist suicide mission. Beautiful locations (Israel), tight directing.

.7 -- LA TROISIEME PARTIE DU MONDE, Eric Forestier Fantasy drama, rambling story about a young girl whose lovers disappear after love making. Interesting special effects.

1.4 -- VOLGA-VOLGA, Grigory Alexandrov
Russian musical comedy (1938 b & w). For period film buffs only. Two amateur groups race down the Volga to attend the Moscow Musical Olympiad. Worthwhile singing and dancing.

3.5 -- FAUBOURG 36, Chirstophe Barratier
Music drama. Credible acting. Well directed, very short 2 hour film featuring veaudeville of the late 1930s. Three friends occupy a closed down theatre and stage a hit show against all odds.

2.8 -- LE BANQUET, Sebastien Rose
Social drama. In depth study of the turmoil existing in a university between director, teachers and students. Tight scenario, very well acted.

1.5 -- ELEVE LIBRE, Joachim Lafosse
Poorly made film on the indoctrination of a young student as it concerns education, relationships and sex. Disturbing scenes depicting the effects of peer pressue.

2.8 -- KATYN, Andrzej Wajda
Factual, well-researched war drama depicting man's inhumanity to man and the effects on their relatives and family. Commendable editing and pacing.

3.4 -- VARG, Daniel Alfredson
Drama about the conditions of surival that challenge the rules of society in a village where wolves are killing reindeer. Superb locations and cinematography; a well paced film with fine acting.

2.0 -- SHULTES, Bakue Bakuradze
Psychological drama about a 25 year old pick pocket living in an emotionless void. He finds a videotape of a young lady he robbed and it leads to some rash decisions on his part. Jerky plot ine and pacing not helped by acting performances.

3.6 -- THE HOME DARK BUTTERFLIES, Dome Karukoski
Psychological drama. 14-year old Juhani is oppressed by a traumatic childhood experiences. Now in a boy's home under the strict supervision of the administrator, his experiences are many as he enters a world of its own. Powerful script, excellent directing.

2.4 -- THE BLUE XANADU, Zhuo Gehe
Sentimental drama. A giant judo instructor is released from prison to bring a 12 year old girl back to her mother. On the way a strong relationship will develop. Exquisite scenery. Note: subtitles are good but disappear quickly.

War drama Story of a woman who meets a younger man during the war and holds him hostage in her apartment. Remarkable acting, skilled directing, a film that leaves you feeling good.

2.9 -- NINA'S WOMEN, Zhuo Gehe
Social drama. Nima, an aging matriarch has two daughters who, for their mother's birthday, plan to give her a gift of joy and good news. Beautiful locations, persuasive acting, emotionally charged film that suffers somewhat from slow pacing.

3.0 -- THE MAGIC HOUR, Koki Mitani
A straight no chaser comedy about a man who has stolen away the girlfriend of his crime syndicate boss and must face an ultimatum: find a legendary assassin or die. Special effects are numerous, intense script. Film was a tad long but nonetheless very enjoyable.

3.3 -- SPECIAL ESCORT, Maggie Peren
A highly entertaining comedy about 5 friends, short of cash, who start up an escort service for needy women. Good script and editing.

Light comedy about a fireman stuck in a failing marriage who looks to his block neighbours for sympathy. Uneven acting, unconvincing plot.

2.4 -- BACK SOON, Solveig Anspach
Social comedy. Anna sells her cell phone and its enclosed marijuana client base. Attractive locations and catchy cinematography undermined by weak plot and unimaginative acting.

3.1 -- MISSING PERSONS UNIT, Jan Verheyen
Very watchable serious film about a young 16 year-old facing problems at home with her father. When she disappears, the Missing Persons Unit opens an investigation. Good plot, fast action, some disturbing scenes.

2.8 -- FIGHTER, Natasha Arty
Action drama. A young Turkish immigrant defies her family by training at a kung fu club. She is forced to decide who she is and what she wants.





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