Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 8, No. 1, 2009
  Current Issue  
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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
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl
Leaving the Fold
The Mourning Forest
Beneath the Rooftops of Paris
Before Tomorrow





So far, A & O film critic Sylvain Richard has had time to see the following films. Here are his ratings, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.


Sylvain Richard Among Sylvain Richard's best ever films = (Historias Minimas; Smoking Room; Carandiru; Crimen Ferpecto; Un Dias Sin Mexicano; My Best Enemy; The Chair; Pan's Labyrinth; Silent Light; It Smells) .

2.2 -- LAKE TAHOE, Fernando Eimbcke
Sixteen-year-old Juan is experiencing domestic opression. Taking the family car, he smashes into a pole. While trying to get repairs he encounters some very peculiar characters. Strong performances and humorous moments but the flow of movie was marred by frequent blackouts between scenes. Seen @RVCQ09

1.9 -- LOS BASTARDOS, Amat Escalante
Illegal Mexicans hang around bus depot trying to get hired for odd jobs -- usually menial and underpaid. One day Fausto & Jesus are offered work plus spectacular salary, but the tool is a sawed off shotgun. Potentially strong material handled superficially and without emotion. Seen @ RVCQ09

2.6 -- AMERICANO, Carlos Ferland
{Seen in Nov 07} A personal journey from Patagonia to Nunavut -- Returning to the indigenous peoples befriended in previous wanderings, too much material for 110 minutes.

2 .8 -- LE COTE OBSCURE DE LA DAME BLANC, Patricio Hernandez
{Seen in Nov 06} A look at the sailing vessel "The Esmerelda" a.k.a. "The White Lady," considered one of the most beautiful in the world and a symbol of Chilean national pride . After the 1973 Coup d'etat it was used as a floating prison. A painful search for the truth & justice amidst contradictions & lies. Powerful and emotionaly stirring.

2.4 -- EMPTY NEST, Daniel Burman
A Buenos Aires couple in the "autumn" of their marriage suddenly find themselves alone as the youngest child has left the nest. Both deal with the situation in their own way. A reflective work with characters that are true to life. A quiet touch of humour that owes a lot to Woody Allen.

3.0 -- ANOTHER LOVE STORY, Lucia Murat
A revisiting of the familiar Romeo and Juliet love theme ; this time as a musical (à la West Side Story) set in the slums (favelas) of Rio de Janeiro (City of Men, Paulo Morelli). Musical content is Brazilian contemporary. Strong social commentary that asks if having an artistic side is enough to overcome the lure of gangs.

2.0 -- TONY MANERO, Pablo Larrain
Pointless and aimless film set in 1979 Santiago, Chile about an impoverished man obsessively competing in a look alike contest for the John Travolta character in Saturday Night Fever. Script could have put more empasis on the political and social situation in 1979 Chile.

2.7 -- A BOYFRIEND FOR MY WIFE, Juan Taratuto
Very funny film about a man who unable to face his ill-tempered and headstrong wife that he wants to divorce, so he engages another man with a reputation of an irresistable seducer. Fast paced dialogue; a comedy of "mixed feelings." Subtitles were a little unclear at times.

2.5 -- DIOSE, Josue Mendez
Social drama dealing with rigid social mechanisms in the upper classes. Acting like gods with neither rules nor morality, we watch them negotiate decadence, hypocrisy and conformity, while the unsuspecting lower classes aspire to become them. Script and editing could have been tighter. Beautiful seaside shots.

3.2 -- LAST STOP 174, Bruno Barretto
Film based on a true event. One afternoon in Rio de Janeiro an adolescant boards the 174 bus. An hysterical hostage situation ensues. Hard hitting social commentary that leaves the viewer breathless, wondering if there is a solution.

Intricate and complex weave of three central plots (along with many subplots) with intrigue and mystery providing the syntax. An over 4-hour long but satisfying film that requires full attention from beginning to end.

2.7 -- LIFE KILLS ME, Sebastian Silva
Black comedy centering on life versus death. Grief, obsession, depression and suicide are conjugated by mostly pretentious and egocentric characters. Shot mainly in black and white.

3.1 -- SATAN, Andreas Baiz
Inspired by true events, we follow the lives, hopes and aspirations of three individuals leading up to what is now known as the Pozetto massacre that took place in a Bogata restaurant. A film that superbly exemplifies the Pink Floyd lyric"Skating on the Thin Ice of Modern Life."

2.0 -- THE OTHER, Ariel Rotter
Drama following a middle aged man who during a routine business trip decides to play a game by taking on the identity of others. Why he felt compelled to do this escaped me and thus, the disappointing rating.

2.5 -- LAS NINAS, Rodrigo Marin
First feature film. Shot in 24 hours in one location with two actresses who had not previously met. An exploration into the dynamics of friendship. Wavers between documentary and fiction. Performances were natural and sincere. Certain elements of the script lacked developement. A director with potential.

First feature documentary recollecting her grandmother's relationship with a troubled young tenant - Jorge Riosse - who died suddenly in 1993. Personal intimacy laid refreshingly bare. Familiarity with the background helps in understanding and appreciating the film.

2.6 -- THE BLIND SUNFLOWERS, Jose Luis Cuerda
Historical drama set in the 1940 Spain. Wife attempts to hide her anti-franco husband from the authorities. This is complicated by the arrival of a new deacon. Good performances, beautiful score weakened by shoddy script.

2.7 -- OUR FATHER, Rodrigo Sepuluida
Tragi-comedy about an irresponsible patriarch who wants to spend his last days reunited with his family. Hilarious performances, exquisite cinematography of Chilean coastline. A bit clichéd.

2.6 -- THE DEAD GIRL'S FEAST, Matheus Nachtergaele
A young man is exalted to sainthood after a "miracle" following the suicide of his mother 20 years earlier. Clearly shows humanity's need to make sense of the harsh realities of life. Appreciation of the film requires concessions made to its theatrical underpinnings.

3.4 -- PARAISO TRAVEL, Simon Brand
A young man is persuaded by his irresistable girlfriend to leave his comfortable life in Medellin, Columbia and travel with her through Guatemala and Mexico to New York City -- illegally. Upon arrival he is separated from her. While trying to find her, he suffers through much hardship and danger. A powerful, empathetic film that puts a human face on humanity's faceless and forgotten. Excellent Columbian soundtrack.

2.1 -- DOGHEAD, Santi Amodeo
Eighteen year-old Samuel suffers from a neurolgical disorder which totally isolates him. After a series of events he finds himself lost in Madrid. Too much on the fence between comedy and serious drama. Fine performances but music was tacky.

First feature exploring the terrain of female desire coloured by self-inflicted limitations and social expectancies, that follows three single women -- grandmother 70, mother 40 and daughter 16 -- in small town USA. A bit long at times. Fine acting.

2.4 -- THE DICE IS CAST, Sebastian Borenztein
Estranged half brothers -- each going through difficult times -- are reunited at their father's deathbed. He makes a bizzare request. A comedy of awkward proportions exploring fates and destinies based on the decisions one makes in life.

2.7 -- LULA, German Gutierrez
An examination of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva -- union worker who attained Brazillian presidency January 1st 2003; his determination to change the economic order of things. Presentation well thought out and factually accurate. Festival copy not helped by inadequate translation.

2.5 -- MI VIDA POR SHARON, Carlos Azpurua
Venezuelan comedy about a charmer who is also a compulsive liar, with an obsessive love for "Sharon" -- his car, and his wife whom he's trying to win back. Their paths cross with predictable mayhem. Socio-political commentaries abound and are enhanced by a latin-tinged jazz sountrack. Film succumbs to loose-ends in script and weak ending.

2.6 -- WADLEY, Matias Meyer
A young man with just a back pack walks into the Mexican desert to confront both solitude and nature. Sparse dialogue, strong on imagery. Experimental including the electro-acoustic soundtrack. Film becomes a bit confusing towards the end.



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