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A Long Walk
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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



SYLVAIN RICHARD is a film critic at Arts & Opinion. 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 = (The Wall: Ben-Hur: The Passion of the Christ: Wizard of OZ: Gone With the Wind: 13 Tzameti: This Island Earth: 2001 Space Odyssey: Modern Times: Metropolis) 5 favourite directors = Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorcese, Takashi Miiki, Oliver Stone and Woody Allen .

3.0 -- CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, Michael Moore
Like a romance gone horribly bad best describes the relationship between the American people and capitalism, a relationship now characterized by abuse, enslavement and exploitation. Film has all of what we have come to expect of post-modern crusader Michael Moore in his satirical, unflinching pursuit of the truth. "Capitalism" is the culmination of 20 years of painstaking investigation and taking issue with the inherent immorality of capitalism that began with his ground breaking "Roger and Me."

2.8 -- JENNIFER'S BODY, Karyn Kusama
Practically every high school has one of each -- a sexy, popular girl (Jennifer) desired by every boy, and a nerdy plain jane (Needy). Devil's Kettle High School is no different. Needy and Jennifer are "best of friends" since their days in the sandbox. One night they go to a local tavern to hear an indie pop band. A disasterous fire ensues, both escape; Jennifer goes off with the band members. On her return she has been transformed into a blood-thirsty, boy-eating demon. Needy must do all she can to save the day. An above average teenage angst, comedy-horror thriller from a promising director.

1.8 -- MEN FOR SALE, Rodrigue Jean
A group of young males confide (over the course of year) live on camera their day to day struggles to survive prostitution, drugs and life in general. Film was a bit long, lacked personal touch and failed to strike a chord of sympathy for these sex workers.

3.0 -- A CARGO FOR AFRICA, Roger Cantin
Buddy movie involving a man who wants to return to Africa and a young troubled boy dealing with life. Man and boy serve as each other`s bridge over troubled waters. Heart-warming with the right touches of humour. Appropriately scored African soundtrack.

3.4 -- THE TIMEKEEPER, Louis Belanger
A tale of good and evil involving a young man assigned to be a timekeeper for The Great Slave Railway in 1964, presided over by an iron-fisted, tyrranical foreman who is desperate to complete the last 52 mile stretch of track in 52 days, who doesn't hesitate to banish into the wild disaffected workers who have broken the faith. The new man refuses to play by the foreman's book as a battle for survival (over evil) ensues. The film, destined to become a classic, is magnificently enhanced by wilderness beauty of the Canadian north, a bluesy-folk soundtrack and powerful performances. Based on a novel novel by Trevor Ferguson.

2.6 -- LA FILLE DU RER, Andre Techine
Cinematic adaptatation of Jean-Marie Besset play R.E.R. which is based on on what has been termed L'Affaire du RER D which occured on the Paris, France metro system (R.E.R) on July 9th, 2004 whereby a young woman falsely claimed she had been agressed. This caused a huge media fury that is still generating shockwaves to this day. Film is divided into two parts: the circumstances and the consequences. Film fails to transmit the full impact of the incident socially and mediadically. The editing was fragmented, script sloppy and unimaginative. Performances were excellent.

2.3 -- DETOUR, Sylvain Guy
An explosive cocktail of lewdness, duplicity and deception when a lowly secretary (Leo Huff -- Luc Picard) convinces his boss to allow him (in her Mercedes) to go to Bic National Park to promote an engineering project. To get there, he has to pose as engineer. Once there his life is totally turned on end when he encounters Lou and her extremely jealous and violent boyfriend Roch. Topnotch acting and georgeous oceanic cinematography. Character developement and responses to situations lacked credibilty. Flow was formulaic and all too predictable.

2.4 -- EXTRACT, Mike Judge
A blue collar comedy centering on the machinations of a culinary flavour extract business. With an odd cast of characters, director Mike Judge's challenge is imply an intelligent underpinning to the film's funny ideas and situations without coming across as banal or unserious. The result is mixed: at once joyful and entertaining but without depth.

2.3 -- SORORITY ROW, Stewart Hendler
A sorority prank goes horribly wrong when one of the six "sisters" of Theta Pi is inadvertently murdered. To protect their futures and their reputations, the remaining five decide to cover up the mis-dead. Easier said than done. Later at their graduation a mysterious killer goes after them. An all too predictable slasher flic.

2.8 -- COCO AVANT CHANEL, Anne Fontaine
Beautifully executed biopic of Gabriel "Coco" Chanel (1883 - 1971; Audrey Tautou) that concentrates on her rise from the depths of provincial poverty to her early days as a cabaret singer (with her sister), and ends as she becomes a legendary symbol of high fashion. Film focuses on her life from the moment she enters the orphanage (1893) to the period of the two major men in her life: Etiene Balsan (Benoit Poelvoorde), her protector who opened her eyes; and Arthur "Boy" Capel (Alessandro Nivola), who opened her heart. As biopic, doesn't quite rank with "Seraphine" by Martin Provost.

2.8 -- IN THE LOOP, Armando Iannucci
Hilarious political satire set on both sides of the Atlantic that begins with a verbal snafu by a British goverment minister and snowballs into an international affair. Raucous and razor sharp script that features an alternately venomous and mellifluous barrage of word play not seen since the heyday of screwball comedy. Pokes fun at the absurdity and ineptitude found in the "hallowed" corridors of government. Note: stay till the end of the final credits

3.0 -- INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, Quentin Tarantino
Latest from the master of pulp: "fairy-tale" vision of WWII -- a what-if the Jews of occupied France fought and took revenge on the Nazis -- Apache style. Typical Tarantino in its ultraviolence, excellent production values, interracial cast, meticulous attention to historical detail, costumes and makeup. Film pays homage to earlier classics -- Chabrol, Leone and others: specifically to Enzo Castellari's 1978 film of similar name "Inglorious Bastards."

2.9 -- ADAM, Max Mayer
Melodramatic romantic comedy. Beth, a young school teacher and aspiring author of children's books, develops a seemingly unlikely romantic attraction for Adam, a 29 year old who suffers from Asperger's syndrome (a form of autism that manifests itself in a lack of social skills). The film's occasional awkwardness creates an endearing and charming style of humour while at the same time sensitizes audiences to the plight of individuals who don't quite "fit in," despite their social relevance. Ranks lower than "Paper Heart" but higher than "500 Days of Summer."

3.5 -- PONYO, Hayao Miyazaki
Latest offering from Japan's Studio Ghibli. Animation about a fish-girl, who, after escaping from her father -- a sea wizard -- and being rescued by a five year old boy, wants to become human. Exquisitely detailed. Judging by audience reaction, this is destined to become a multi-generational family classic (as with Wizard of Oz).

2.0 -- THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE, Robert Schwentke
Romantic drama that plays out in the vagaries of transcendental time. Claire (Rachel McAdams) meets Henry ( Eric Bana) in a meadow behind her home when she is six years old. Henry has a genetic anomaly that causes him to travel back and forth through time. If you are expecting a science-fiction drama with a romantic touch you will be sadly disappointed. This is purely romantic -- a kind of modern fairy tale where young girl meets her prince charming. "The Lake House" by Alejandro Agresti is far superior. Temporal issues poorly handled, emotional impact of inherent paradoxes not carried through. Good casting and excellent performances throughout.

Comedy set in the 1960s. Six buddies from an impoverished sector of Montreal (Faubourg-à-M'lass) attempt to commit "the robbery of the century" -- of two million dollars. They get caught but one escapes with the money. Upon their release two years later, the five learn that in order to retrieve their share they need to do the 839 km. pilgrimmage to Santiago de Compostela (Spain), and more importantly they need to clearly show that they have changed: easier said than done. The main cast includes the "cream of the crop" of Quebec actors : Roy Dupuis, Patrice Robitaille, Claude Legault, Paulo Noel and Jean-Pierre Bergeron -- and they deliver. Has moments where I began to desingage but was always drawn back. Director's first film as director, who previously wrote the screenplay for "Maurice Richard."

2.8 -- AGATHE CLERY, Etienne Chatiliez
Delightful musical comedy centering on a career woman who is hard, haughty and racist. One day she is diagnosed with Addison's desease -- a rare condition by which ones skin pimentation changes colour (i.e. she will turn black -- allusions to Michael Jackson, but in reverse). Director wanted to tackle a very serious subject in a light and funny way -- and succeeds. Shows that one can be racist and not even be aware of it and in the most suble of ways, often holding fast to foundationless concepts that will crumble in the face of overwhelming evidence.

3.5 -- PAPER HEART, Nick Jasonovic
A charming, unique, innovative and original take for a ``romantic comedy`` containing three major elements: (1) Documentary -- Charlene Yi does not believe in fairytale or Hollywood mythology of love so she sets out on a trek (along with her director played by Jake Johnson) across America to inquire "What is love?" (2) Narrative -- along the way she meets Michael Cera and a certain chemical attraction develops. (3) Puppetry -- recreates stories in place of routine talking head and still images. Totally realistic with every piece fitting together intrinsically perfect.

3.4 -- THE PERFECT GETAWAY, David Twohy
Survival thriller with the theme "paradise gone bad." Set on the lush island of Kauai, Hawaii, three couples are hiking the secluded and remote 11 mile trail from Ke'e Beach to Kalalau Valley. News circulates that there is a killer serial couple on the island tracking and eliminating its victims la Natural Born Killers). All three couples suspect the others. Who is guilty? All show suspect behaviour and innocence. Previously directed Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick and wrote the screenplays for The Fugitive and G.I. Jane.

2.4 -- WHATEVER WORKS, Woody Allen
Allen returns to New York City with this delightful yet at times irritating romantic comedy. Boris, world class grouch and self proclaimed genius (Larry David), developes an unlikely relationship with Melodie (Evan Rachel Wood), a teen runaway from Eden, Mississippi. Despite having nothing in common, a chemistry (predictably) develops. In Larry David, Woody Allen has found a perfect sub for his brand of neurosis fueled humour. Script and editing a bit choppy.

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.

2.8 -- TOKYO, Gondry, Carax and Joon-Ho
Three part urban theatre fantasy (same genre as New York Stories and Paris Je t'aime) poses the question,"Does man define the city or does the city define the man?" An entertaining look into the heart and soul of Tokyo.

2.7 -- LIMITS OF CONTROL, Jim Jarmusch
Existential account of a mysterious loner assigned to do a "job" that is outside the law. Thus, begins a voyage that take him across Spain; a voyage that is repetitively dreamlike. The protagonist crosses paths with similarly nameless characters, many of whom are played by internationally known stars in cameo appearances. Limits of Control, which follows Broken Flowers, is an engaging film that requires full attention to catch the subtlest of clues that are at best parsimoniously offered. Excellent score by Boris.

2.3 -- THREE MONKEYS, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
A drama showing how past indiscretions and hidden secrets can come
back to haunt and even destroy us. A well thought out idea undermined by weak editing. Good performances throughout.

2.6 -- RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, Jonathan Demme
Dysfunctional family comedy drama. Excellent performances. Good music by Robyn Hitchcock.

3.6 -- 12, Nikita Mikhalkov
Reorchestration of "12 Angry Men." Many elements make this distinctly Russian/Chechen. Its unfolding & logic of the dialogue logic (as with original) kept me glued to my seat, attentive to every word. Unfortunately subtitles were a bit hard to read.

2.2 -- OF TIME AND THE CITY, Terrence Davis
Personal recollection and ode to the city of Liverpool. Madden's "My Winnipeg" more compelling

3.0 -- GOMORRA, Matteo Garrone
Based on monumental study of Camarra Mafia in Naples. Overly complicated which doesn't detract from the larger message. Closer to Day to Day than Godfather or Scarface. Locations and actors well chosen.

3.0 -- HUNGER, Steve McQueen
Brutally realistic "arthouse" historical essay on the 1981 Maze Prison hunger strike in Belfast. Some of the sequences were hard to follow due to editing & heavy Irish accents.

2.0 -- WENDY & LUCY, Kelly Reichhardt
Lost girl Wendy, accompanied by her dog Lucy, get bogged down in a small Oregon town. Despite fine acting performance and credible script, I just couldn't identify.

2.2 -- I KILLED MY MOTHER (J'AI TUE MA MERE), Xavier Dolan
A depiction of a "love/hate" relationship between a mother and her 16-year old gay son. Also a coming of age story. I found too many of the scenes in this "adrenalin adulterated" film unnervingly exaggerated. Nonetheless ( attributed to immaturity), a director/actor with major potential.


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