Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 8, No. 2, 2009
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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



A & O film critic Sylvain Richard has seen the following films listed in chronological order (most recent at top) below. 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 = (Pan's Labyrinth; The Wall; Elephant Man; Scarface (with Al Pacino); 10 Canoes; 2001 Space Odyssey; 21 Grams; Brokeback Mountain; Aliens; Metropolis) .


2.5 -- A WINK AND A SMILE, Dierde Allan Timmons
Fascinating documentary that profiles the burlesque scene in Seattle, Washington. Incudes a look at Miss Indigo Blue's "Academy of Burlesque" whereby ten students of various ages, body shape and background learn the art. Clips of performances a little short.

3.8 -- DAY AFTER PEACE, Jeremy Gilley
An extremely important film documenting one man` s quest to establish a day of non-violence and ceasefire as a stepping stone for peace (Sept. 21st was voted by UN to be that day). Deeply emotional and moving. A powerful testament to the power of individual determination.

2.4 -- LITTLE ASHES, Paul Morrison
An account of the stormy friendship between artist Salvador Dali, poet/ playwright Federico Garcia Lorca and film maker Luis Buñuel. Begins in 1992 at a Madrid university and ends in 1936 when Lorca was executed. A potentially powerful filmed marred by unacceptable linguistic oversights: strong Spanish accents speaking in English; recital of poetry in Spanish with voice over in English. Strong performances by entire cast and a well written script.

L'INTÉGRALE "JOHN CASSAVETES" COMPLETE WORKS played at Cinema du Parc July 31st to Aug 13th 2009 with a special presentation by Gena Rowlands (his wife) before each film.

3.1 -- DEPARTURES, Yojiro Takita
Tokyo Orchestra is disbanded leaving cellist suddenly unemployed. With his wife in tow, he returns to his deceased mother's home in Yamagata, northeastern Japan, where he answers an employment ad that highlights the word "departures," and assumes it's a travel agency. The owner hires him on the spot. But the work turns out to be "encoffination" -- the ceremonial preparation of a corpse for cremation. Initially hesitant to accept the position, and then having to deal with rejection from his social milieu and taunts from his wife, everyone is gradually drawn into his new world that deals with the philosophical implications of life and death. Lightly comedic yet emotionally stirring. Beautiful classical (diatonic) cello soundtrack slightly marred by scratchy vinyl (when cellist is playing live).

3.2 -- TETRO, Francis Ford Coppola
Family saga about an Italian immigrant family living in Venezuela torn apart by sibling rivalry and a family secret hidden in a cryptic code written by older brother Tetro, whose daily routine is threatened when younger sibling Bennie (beautifully executed by Vincent Gallo and newcomer Alden Ehrenreich ) pays him a visit, wanting to know more about his father and mother. The casting of Klaus Maria Brandauer as the patriarch was a bit of a stretch -- strong Austrian accent lowered credibility as Italian. Beautiful black and white cinematography interspersed with colour flashbacks.

Biopic about photographer Maria Larssen, a Finn living in Sweden. Having won a camera in a lottery, she tries to sell it but is convinced by store owner Sebastian Pederson (aka "Piff Paff Puff) to keep it. Her developing passion for photography gives her the strength to overcome poverty and an alcoholic, abusive, womanizing husband. A touching portrait of working class life in Sweden in the early 1900s. Account based on interviews with eldest daughter Maja along with director's wife, then turned into a book.

1.8 -- THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, Steven Soderbergh
Social drama set in October 2008 about an upscale Manhattan call girl who offers her clients a simulation of a full romantic relationship -- the "girlfriend experience." Interesting premise presented in an unengaging, monotone manner.

2.7 -- OBJECTIFIED, Gary Hustwit
Second feature documentary (following"Helvetica" -- the world's most ubiquitous typeface) that examines the complex relationship between us and the OBJECTS we choose to surround ouselves with and what they reveal about who and what we are. Fascinating interviews with the major designers of these everyday objects we take for granted. An engrossing film that after 75 minutes, ends too soon.


2.5 -- ZRUBAVEL, Shmuel Beru
Social drama centering on a multi-generational Ethiopian immigrant family living in Israel. Generations clash over Israeli culture versus Ethiopian tradtions. Average handling of subject.

0.5 -- O'Jerusalem, Elie Chouraqui
Historical drama recounting the battle for Jerusalem and the birth of the state of Israel. Begins just after WWII and continues until the cease fire on June 11th 1948. It follows two freinds -- one Jewish and the other Palestinian. Potentially potent film RUINED by dubbing all primary dialogue into French (linguistically unrealistic). Original version would have rated much higher (

2.4 -- OUT OF THE BLUE, Igal Bursztyn
Comedy revolving around a junkdealer in Tel-Aviv who has a recurring dream about a beautiful red-haired woman who falls for him. As it turns out, she is real, and is famous cosmetics provider. Along with his "scruffy and compulsive liar and thief" partner, they finally meet, but things don't work out as expected. The result is very funny yet somewhat cliched.

2.6 -- FOR MY FATHER, Dror Zahavi
A young Arab man is sent to Tel-Aviv on a suicide mission. While in the the market square, the bomb fails to go off and he is forced to spend the week-end in Israel. He is befriended by the locals. Potentially an emotionly engaging film somewhat weakened by shoddy script and editing. "Paradise Now" by Hany Abu-Assad is far superior.

2.0 -- NAF: THE STREET KID, Moshe Alfi
Documentary that follows a young man who, after being thrown out at 14 by his father (an ultra-orthodox Jew), takes up life in the streets of Jerusalem where he is exposed to crime and drugs, politics and rap music. Pales when compared to "Leaving the Fold." Film glorifies kids' lifestyle; script and editing were choppy; issues were unclear.

2.6 -- THE JERUSALEM SYNDROME, Emmanuel Naccache and Stéphane Belaisch
Title refers to the presence of a "religiously themed" idea that is both obsessive and delusional, triggered by a visit to Jerusalem. A French diplomat is convinced that he is Jonah -- the prophet swallowed by the "big fish." He enters a synagogue and asks for "prophet asylum." In a collective taxi, he joins a Rabbinical student and five other strangers all from completely different backgrounds. Hilarious and enjoyable.

2.4 -- SHIVA, Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz
Dysfunctional Jewish family comes together in the home of a deceased loved one in keeping with the tradition of SHIVA -- seven days of mourning. As the days and nights unfold, tension, bitterness, resentment and rivalries between brothers and sisters begin to surface creating an emotional rollercoaster that oscillates between the comedic and tragic. Over-dependence on threatrical props combined with vagueness on the custom of SHIVA detracted from the film's overall effect.

3.1 -- THREE TIMES DIVORCED, Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana
Documentary that vividly brings to light the all too frequent occurrence of conjugal violence, especially when complicated by religious and political values that effectively deny the rights and even the existence of the victims.


Historically accurate account of the developement and building of the Devarim -- the first car to be manufactured in Turkey (the year is 1961). Well crafted scenario, exquisite score, good performances throughout. A compelling rendering of the productive synthesis of unity and determination.

Day to day look at Turkish society that does not quite engage despite low key humour. Rambling and unfocused.

Social, political and economic comedy about a local ice cream vendor struggling to succeed against a huge competitor. Delightfully engaging characters. Amusing plot lines.

2.6 -- CLOUDS OF MAY (MAYIS SIKINTISI), Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Human drama about a film maker who returns to his village to shoot a film, which upsets the apparent happiness of his parents and relatives. Slow to engage but does seep in. Beautiful landscapes shots of Turkish countryside.

3.2 -- TAKVA - A MAN'S FEAR OF GOD, Ozer Kiziltan
Social drama exposing the potentially destructive power of religiously induced guilt. Although set in an Islamic context, this film has a universal application. A stricly devout and humble man is given a position of responsibility by a rich and powerfull religious group. This puts him in conflict with his concepts about his responsibilties towards God. Convincing performance from the lead.

2.6 -- DISTANT (UZAK), Nuri Bilge Ceylan
A photographer in Istanbul opens his home to his younger cousin from the country. Continuing with the themes taken up in the director's previous film, "Clouds of May," Ceylan's latest allows him to productively contrast city versus country life, which evolves into meditation on life. To great effect, he uses the same two actors, Muzaffer Ozdemir and Mehmit Emin Toprak.

Set in Southeast Turkey in the early 1980s during marshal law, this bittersweet, politically charged comedy centers on a group of musicians trying to make ends meet. The commander decides to draft them into serving their country. Humour is light-hearted but not immune to the uncertainty of the times. Ample use of Turkish folk music.






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