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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

2010 + 2009 REVIEWS  




2.5 or more for a noteworthy film
3.5 for an exceptional film
4 for a classic.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Biopic centering on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s older sister Maria Anna Walburga (Nannerl, 1751-1829). Like her brother, she was a child progeny and musically gifted, adept at playing both the harpsichord and the violin. She also had a strong desire to compose; to put on paper the music she heard in her head. However due to society’s stance that playing violin and composing were unacceptable pursuits for women, her father did not allow her to develop her gifts, only allowing her to accompany Wolfgang on the harpsichord. The film’s characters were un-engaging and superficial. Loose editing and weak plot distracted from the potentially informative aspect of a little known figure in the history of music, who was overshadowed by her brother. The set designs and costumes were exquisite.

3.3 -- BARNEY’S VERSION, Richard J. Louis
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s (1931-2001) final novel. Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) is an ordinary man who has lived an extraordinary and colourful life. As the title suggests, it unfolds from his point of view as Barney goes through three marriages (Rachel Lefevre, Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike). His father, Izzy (Dustin Hoffman) a retired cop, guides him through life. We also explore the relationships with his friends, especially his best friend Boogie (Scott Speedman). When Boogie suddenly vanishes one day, Barney is the prime suspect. Delightfully scripted and edited with outstanding performances throughout. With engaging and credible characters and a true reflection of life, this light-hearted human comedy is a fitting tribute to one of Canada’s most noted authors.

3.1 -- RABBIT HOLE, John Cameron Mitchell
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A stirring portrait of a husband and wife dealing with one of the most difficult of life changing situations – the sudden loss of a child. Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) lost their only son Danny, just eight months prior. Danny had been playing with his dog, when suddenly the dog dashed out onto the street. Danny ran out after him and was fatally struck by a passing car. The driver was Jason (Miles Teller), a teenager. Both are trying to get back on track and regain a sense of normalcy, each in his own way. This leads to conflicts as Becca desires to remove all memories of her son whereas Howie wants to hold on and still feel Danny’s presence. Becca opens up to her mother (Dianne West) and reaches out to Jason. Howie drifts towards Gabby (Sandra Oh), a member of a bereavement group. Fine acting, well conceived script and tight editing along with appropriate emotional responses will give this film its rightful place among the genre of coping-with-loss films.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] The third chapter after “The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe,” and “Prince Caspian” -- of a fantasy series about a group of children who are drawn into a fictional fantasy world called Narnia. Peter and Susan Pevensie are visiting America whereas Lucy and Edmund are staying in Cambridge with their cousin, Eustace Clarence Scrubb. Eustace is an ill-humoured, gloomy and mean-spirited boy. When a painting of a ship in Lucy’s room seemingly comes to life, the three children are drawn into Narnia and end up on the ship ( called the Dawn Treader). They are greeted on the ship by Caspian, who is now king of Narnia. Lucy and Edmund are delighted to be back in Narnia but Eustace is embittered and apprehensive especially when he meets Reepicheep, a talking mouse. Caspian is on a quest to find the seven lost lords of Narnia, to fulfil a promise he made to Aslan. Well written and enjoyable fantasy that will take its rightful place among classics of the genre such as ``Wizard of Oz`` and ``Alice in Wonderland.’’

2.7-- THE FIGHTER, David O'Russell
[reviewed by Robert Lewis] Since many boxers come from disadvantaged backgrounds (mean streets), it's almost a matter of course that their battles outside the ring are as tumultuous and newsworthy as in the ring: Sonny Liston versus drug addiction, Muhammad Ali versus US government, Mike Tyson versus inner demons. "The Fighter," based on the life of boxer Mickey Ward, scores most of its hard-earned points outside the ring. Ward is torn between loyalty to his family (his trainer, crack-addicted brother and overbearing but well intentioned mother who acts as his manager) and professional Las Vegas pros that would eventually pave the way to Ward's three epic battles with the now dead Arturo 'Thunder" Gatti. "The Fighter" is a briskly paced, hot-blooded film that benefits from nervy dialogue delivered in quick jabs that cut to the quick; by well drawn characters who are too self-referential to see a punch coming much less avoid it, and a boisterous soundtrack so totally integrated into the emotional life of the Ward family it almost feels the issue of flesh and blood. The story line isn't helped by occasional lapses into slapstick, and the war of insults wears a bit thin towards the end; as such, this highly entertaining, well made film doesn't quite rival Clément Virgo's boxing gem "Poor Boy's Game" which ranks as one of the genre's best since "Raging Bull."
2.9 -- THE FIGHTER, David O’Russell
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Lowell is a working class town north of Boston. Boxer ‘Irish’ Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) had long been overshadowed by his older half-brother, Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale). Dicky had a promising career ahead of him (he fought Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978) but due to drug addiction he fell upon hard times. Micky depended upon him to show him the ropes and on his mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), to get him the fights. After one particular mismatched fight that nearly killed him, Micky’s girlfriend, Charlene (Amy Adams) persuades him to go out on his own. Based on true events, this gritty and often humorous account brings home the message that success is an outcome that is best assured by family loyalty and support and self-determination.

3.2 -- TRON: LEGACY, Joseph Kosinsky
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Exciting 3-D adventure into an alternative humanly created digital world; a sequel to Steven Lisberger’s 1982 film “Tron.” Jeff Bridges reprises his roles as Kevin Flynn and digital counterpart Clu; Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley and Tron. In 1989 Flynn promised his young son, Sam, that he would return and bring him into this digital world. He never returned. Flynn’s intent was to create a perfect digital world that could heal reality’s imperfections. Clu was created for this purpose but as with most such ‘ideals’ it had become corrupted and Kevin Flynn was now trapped in his own creation. Twenty years later, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) discovers his father’s office (in the basement of a family owned arcade) and enters into this alt-world. He must rescue his father and prevent Clu from entering into the real world. Though 28 years have transpired since the original, you would never know it. his thrilling science fiction adventure is high tech on all levels from the spectacular special effects that draw the viewer into this world and the throbbing electronic score from French duo Daft Punk.

2.4 -- YOGI BEAR, Eric Brevig
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Jellystone’s most notorious resident, pic-a-nic basket-stealing talking-bear Yogi (Dan Akroyd) along with his sidekick Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake) come to the big screen in Real-D-3D live action adventure that is combined with CGI. You have to be quick-witted and ingenious if you reside in Jellystone Park and your daily diet consists of all the delicious treats found in a pic-a-nic basket. This is so with Yogi Bear especially if you must also be one step ahead of Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh). Rachel Johnson (Anna Faris) arrives to film a nature documentary on the famous i.e. notorious bear. Meanwhile Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) decides to close down and sell Jellystone in order to pay off the city’s debt. Now Yow and the Ranger must join forces in order to save the Park. The animation is without depth and the focus is more on gags than on character development. Roger Kumble’s “Furry Vengeance” handles the theme of environment versus profit in a more powerful and entertaining way.

2.3-- YOGI BEAR, Eric Brevig
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Yogi and his adoring, intelligent partner, Boo Boo are great at stealing lunch boxes from couples picnicking in Jelly Stone Park. Yogi fancies himself as a clever inventor and entertainer of sorts. When the mayor is about to close down the park in favour of urban development, Yogi actually uses his contraptions to assist ranger Smith in stopping the takeover. However, this doesn't happen until disaster strikes during the park's 100th anniversary celebration. Yogi causes a fireworks show to explosively backfire -- right into the crowd of onlookers. It appears that park ranger Smith has no chance of saving his beloved park. The animation lacks vitality, the story without pizzazz and stereotyped characters are a yawn. There was little laughter coming from the children watching this film. Indeed, Yogi may have had his day in the park; best to let bygones be bygones.

3.9 -- THE KING’S SPEECH, Tom Hooper
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A riveting and powerful historical account of Albert Frederick Arthur George (Colin Firth), who on December 11th, 1936 was crowned King of England as George VI, when his brother Edward (Guy Pearce) unexpectedly abdicates the throne due to certain infidelities. The film recounts his relationship with Australian born Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and spans the period from October 31st, 1925, when he gave the closing speech at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley (an ordeal for both Prince Albert and the public due to his stammer) to his public broadcast at the beginning of WWII in 1939. The successful relationship revolved around the training and breathing exercises Logue implemented to help rid the King of his embarrassing stammer. Logue was initially approached by Lady Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the King's wife, who at first refused the help, but due to his increasing responsibilities requiring him to speak publicly, he accepted. Though Logue’s methods were unconventional, Prince Albert (later King George VI) was able to overcome his impediment. This well-constructed and tightly focused film pays precise attention to set design detail, costumes and character development and is destined to take an important place as a chronicle of a significant period in the history of the Royal family. An all-star British cast that is rounded off with Derek Jacobi as Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill and Michael Gambon as George V.

3.0-- THE KING'S SPEECH, Tom Hooper
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This is a true account of King George VI's crippling speech impediment. He stammered, and when he became king he hired Lionel Logue whose totally unconventional methods helped the king get through a long speech. One of those pivotal speeches was given in order to rally the courage of the people to meet the horrors ahead of them at the onset of WWII. Summoning his own courage to face the microphone was perhaps the most moving scene in this rather pilotless, slow-moving movie -- redeemed by the vulnerably brilliant performance of Colin Firth in the lead role. Helena Bonham Carter, who played Lady Elizabeth (his wife) put in a superbly credible and strong performance that reflected her Majesty's forthright stance in helping her husband find his own voice.

2.5 -- J'AI OUBLIE DE TE DIRE (I FORGOT TO TELL YOU), Laurent Vinas-Raymond
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Social drama accounting an unlikely relationship between an elderly man and a young woman. Marie (Émilie Dequenne) has just been released from serving an eight-month sentence for stealing. Without money or family she travels to Perpignon ( Pyrénées-Orientales ) in Southern France. On her arrival she encounters Jaume (Omar Sharif), a talented painter who was a former ‘yellow jersey’ champion in the 1950s for the ‘Tour de France.’ Marie wants to show Jaume her drawings and wants him to mentor her. Though reluctant at first, Jaume agrees and a strong bond of friendship begins. Jaume is suffering from a form of dementia and when it takes a turn for the worse, Marie decides to devote herself to taking care of him and reminding him of who he really is. The character development is a bit superficial; the editing and script -- choppy, especially in how the film portrays the progression of Jaume’s mental decline. Other noteworthy films that have touched on the subject of Alzheimer and dementia include Sarah Polley’s “Away from Her," Tamara Jenkins's “The Savages” and “The Notebook” by Nick Cassavetes.

2.2 -- BLACK SWAN, Darren Aronovsky
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina for the New York City Ballet Company. Her mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), is a former ballerina and exerts an obsessive and suffocating control over her daughter. Artistic director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides that for his first production of the season, it will be a new version of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and that the lead role will go to the dancer who can embody both the white and black swan. He wants a ‘new face’ in the role instead of Beth (Winona Ryder) who is the current Prima Ballerina. Thomas’s first choice is Nina but newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis) enters the picture as a competitor for the role. The fierce rivalry between Nina and Lily is both real and imagined. We get the impression that it is more in Nina’s mind than in actual reality but this is not clear. This is a low quality thriller that is over-the-top unhelped by contrived acting.

3.8 -- 127 HOURS, Danny Boyle
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A gripping heart-stopping survival adventure, from the director of “Slumdog Millionaire” that is based on the memoires (“Between a Rock and a Hard Place”) of adventurer Aron Ralston. In April of 2003, he embarks on an expedition to an isolated canyon, the Blue John, in South-Eastern Utah. He goes alone and tells no one. During his hiking he slips into a deep crevice and a huge boulder pins down one of his arms. With only a limited supply of water and food and facing the harshness of nature, Aron Ralston faces hard choices: What does he need to do to survive? What sacrifices does he need to make? Danny Boyle combines a powerful score with breathtaking cinematography and an outstanding performance by James Franco to capture the emotional volatility of the protagonist as he struggles to free himself physically and psychologically from his capture. Timely interjections of humour help to ease the unrelenting intensity and gravity of the situation. This harrowing social drama sends out a strong warning that a prideful, cocky attitude can result in costly consequences.

3.7-- 127 HOURS, Danny Boyle
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] When Aron Ralston falls deep into Blue John Canyon in Utah, a tumbling boulder pinions down his arm. For days he is left to videotape his thoughts that include vivid memories of his childhood (flashbacks used here). Regrets along with fantasies fill his days and freezing nights. It looks like he won't make it out. By amputating the arm below his elbow, he is able to escape his excruciating horror; he barely survives deep within the bowels of the canyon. This is a true story about this adventurer who tells no one where he is going, and leaves everything to chance except until he learned his lesson deep within that nasty canyon. He now tells people where is heading, and the movie lets us know that at the end. Danny Boyle uses music most effectively and innovative camera work to graphically put the viewer into the shoes of Aaron. We squirm, despair and suffer along with this dare-devil hero who teaches us that life versus death often hinges on a dime -- in this case -- a falling rock.

2.5 -- LOOKING FOR ANNE, Takako Miyahira
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Seventeen-year-old Anri Kinoshita (Honoka) is from Okinawa, Japan and she has been raised by her grandmother, Shizuka (Kazuko Yoshiyuki). For Anri’s 17th birthday, Shizuka wants to bring Anri to visit PEI; but unfortunately she passes before this can happen. As soon as Anri arrives in PEI, she sets out to look for her grandmother’s first love, a Canadian veteran who was in Okinawa in 1946. Her only clue being that he resides near a lighthouse, Anri explores all of the lighthouses in the area. Many of the locals, including an eccentric, retired philosophy professor and bed and breakfast neighbour Jeff (Daniel Pilon), offer to assist Anri. This is a typical Canadian family film that is a tribute to “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Picturesque cinematography is a highlight.

3.9 -- TANGLED, Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Delightful retelling of the fairy tale about a young woman with long golden magical hair held captive in a tower by an enchantress that leaves no doubt that Walt Disney Studios are still the masters of the world of animation in bringing magic to families. The 3D cinematography brings the characters to life and takes its audience into a luscious forested location. Humorous moments abound; there is wonderful interplay between the characters: Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder (the charming thief), Maximus (horse), Pascal (chameleon), Mother Gothel and the rough/tough patrons at the pub (who are actually sweet and sensitive). The musical numbers recall the Walt Disney classics of yesteryear.

3.9-- TANGLED, Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) never looked so glorious with her magic golden hair that miraculously heals wounds and holds the power to lift anyone up to lofty heights with its longitudinous ladder-like strands. Because of her hair, our sweet heroine is kidnapped from her royal family when she is just a little babe by an evil old lady who knows there is more to hair than luscious locks of beauty. But without splitting ends, suffice it to say that this wicked woman knows Rapunzel's hair has the power to turn back time -- hers specifically -- and so this is what compels her to hold Rapunzel captive, and she does it by posing as her real mother. Never was there such a manipulative one too! The wonder in this story is not so much the magic of the hair, but the non-stop detail to characterization, including Pascal, the chameleon. Along with these goodies is the clever, hilarious schtick that happens between Rapunzel and Eugene, her goofy but gallant saviour. I actually felt the heady chemistry gradually building up between the18-year-old brazen beauty and her handsome hunk. The snappy, dialogue in the film is smart, slick -- never superfluous nor syrupy. If there is one grey hair in the lot, it is the singing. Although the songs enter the picture unobtrusively, the singing is not strong enough to match the momentous excitement that inspires the characters to break out in song. However, the village celebration scene and its accompanying Celtic music are unforgettable. Animation can be more potent and enchanting than life's real stuff. This 3-D film is about dreams, and every character has one. The subtlety of facial expression highlights the magic of it all. I loved this film!

2.2 -- LA DANSE – LE BALLET DE L’OPÉRA DE PARIS, Frederick Wiseman
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Documentary. Backstage with the Paris Opera Ballet that follows dancers rehearsing the choreographies for upcoming performances; staff meetings discussing issues with individual dancers and directors; also included are excerpts from various performances. The film was way too long at 159 minutes, much of it unfocused and unengaging, perhaps of interest to aficionados of the Paris Opera Ballet.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] I guess you would have to be a follower of the series to follow the convoluted plot of this seventh and final chapter in the HP saga. Standing on its own, the movie dragged on as the three main characters wrestled with their own demons while trying to fend off real ones. Sent by vile Voldemort to hunt the heroes down, his wicked human-like harpies almost succeed in breaking up the taught trio of friends; at one point Ron feels like a third wheel to Harry and Hermione, and casts him-self out far beyond the invisible shield of protection that only the wand of Hermione can create. This film departed from the usual snakes and ladders feel of the others, bringing more into focus the personal relationship of these star wizards. Although I was engaged in the film, I think it was due to the film's many spells cast through special effects on us viewers.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] The seventh and final chapter of this epic saga begins with our three heroes: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), seeking to escape the clutches of the dark lord Valdemort and to find the Horcruxes (dark magical objects used to attain immortality) before he does. The world is now a very dangerous place to be and our three heroes must do what they need to do without the guidance and protection of Dumbledore and their professors. On their perilous journey they are told of the “Legend of the Deathly Hallows.” The use of shadow animation to recount it is fascinating. For those who have seen the whole saga, it is easy to take note of how our three protagonists have matured and developed not only in their characters but as performers as well. The film includes an all-star supporting cast. A greater appreciation and understanding can be had if one revisits the world of Harry Potter either in the films, the novels or both. Part Two is to be released on July 15th 2011.

2.7 -- HEREAFTER, Clint Eastwood
[reviewed by Robert Lewis] In the interest of full disclosure, I normally avoid films that deal with the supernatural (paranormal), and I enjoyed Clint Eastwood’s "Hereafter" more than I wanted. When after 15 minutes, we realize that George (played by Mat Damon) is a psychic who can communicate with the departed, I thought to myself,”Come on, Clint. You’re 80 years old, your imminent demise is on the near horizon, surely you can do better than that”? And he has recently done much better: “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Million Dollar Baby" and "Grand Torino.” "Hereafter" is comprised of three woofs in a warp, each a prism refracting age-old anxieties over death and the beyond. Only one of the stories works well: inconsolable 7-year-old Marcus is struggling to come to terms with the death of his identical twin brother. Still young enough to have a foot in fairy tale culture, he’s convinced his brother Jason is 'out there' and reachable. He eventually tracks down certified para-phenomenologist George. Their heart-stopping encounter is the most memorable in the film: George reports to Marcus his dead brother's concerns and offers the young boy down-to-earth advice on how to deal with ‘real’ absence. The lesser stories deal with a Tsunami survivor (played by the lovely and lissome Cécile de la France) who believes she briefly died and come back, and George, who wants to get out of the business (linking up with the dead) because he can’t live a normal life. Despite the disappointing ending -- romantic when it should have been philosophical -- genre skeptics will embrace the implausible premise thanks to sharply drawn, complex characters who, because they are willing to sacrifice everything for their beliefs, are fully realized, and, with all due respect to the hereafter, make for excellent company in the present.  

3.2 -- CONVICTION, Tony Goldwyn
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A powerfully inspirational film, based on true events, about a sister’s unwavering devotion and deep love for her brother. In 1983, Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) was charged and convicted for the 1980 murder of Katharina Brow in Ayer Massachusetts. He was sentenced to life. His sister, Betty Ann (Hilary Swank) believing that he was innocent, finishes high school, goes to college and finally passing the bar exam. Dedicating her whole life to proving her brother’s innocence, his conviction is overturned after 18 years based on DNA evidence. Hilary and Sam both give excellent performances and the script riveting.

3.6 -- CONVICTION, Tony Goldwyn
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] When Kenny Waters is convicted of a brutal killing in Ayers, Massachusetts, his sister Betty-Anne, spends the better part of her life trying to prove he is innocent of the crime. She ends up going to law school, and loses her husband and kids while doing so. Still, her conviction never wavers. Her brother is losing hope and 18 years later, he is finally freed. Despite setback after setback -- even when DNA testing comes into being, and proves her brother innocent, Betty-Anne still plods on. All the women in this film are nasty mean except for the heroine. They all framed him, and did so under duress: the female cop, Kenny's ex-girlfriend and his wife, is to blame. What makes this film so powerful is not just the acting of Hillary Swank, Sam Rockwell and Juliette Lewis, but the fact that this story is true. The devotion between brother and sister is moving and most rare.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A complex social drama exploring the intricacies of modern relationships. Alfie Shepridge (Anthony Hopkins), in a desire to regain his youth, leaves Helena (Gemma Jones) for a free-spirited call girl, Charmaine (Lucy Punch). Trying to get her life back in order, Helena finds solace in the advice offered by Cristal, a charlatan fortune teller. Their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts), unhappy in her marriage to Roy (Josh Brolin), develops a crush on her boss Greg (Antonio Banderas). Roy, fearing that he just a flash-in-the-pan writer, becomes moonstruck with his next door neighbour Dia (Freida Pinto) and steals his comatose friend’s manuscript. The title, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," is a common prediction used by fortune tellers to beguile their customers. The film clearly illustrates how our dreams and hopes can often lead to unrealistic and impractical decisions. Not among Woody Allen’s best films nor as neurotic, but it is a joy to watch. The humour is light and the performances by this all-star ensemble cast are good.

[reviewed by Robert Lewis] Every time Woody Allen makes a film he's entering his confession into the public domain: that he's addicted to falling in love with young and beautiful actresses. His scrips unfailingly serve that addiction; plot is an after thought. So for the length of time required to shoot a film, he engineers daily contact with the likes of Penelope Cruz, Scarlet Johannson, with whom he falls love. Then the film ends, the loved ones leave, and like a man on the rebound, he's immediately on to his next film project, and another script that calls for more beautiful women. In "Tall Dark Stranger," the women, who just happen to be excellent actresses, are drop-dead gorgeous Freido Pinto (of "Slumdog" fame), the always exceptional and very gifted Naomi Watts, and relative newcomer, the lovely and sensuously lippy, leggy, super-ovulating vixonette Lucy Punch (her real name, of course). The film is as light as it is forgettable and will appeal to film goers with too much time on their hands and older men looking for their younger selves.

3.5 -- NEVER LET ME GO, Mark Romanek
[reviewed by Robert Lewis] For full reviews, I defer to my distinguished colleagues below, Sylvain Richard and Nancy Snipper. If there's a hidden agenda to the film (inspired by the Kazuo Ishiguro novel of the same name), it might be that however repugnant pro-lifers feel about harvesting stem cells from embryos, it's kids stuff compared to the alternative depicted in this harrowing, deeply disturbing, tragic film that asks the largest questions of life.

3.6 -- NEVER LET ME GO, Mark Romanek
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Science fiction drama that unfolds in a dystopian society whereby cloning is used to provide healthy organs for transplant. Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name, the film chronicles the love, jealousy and betrayals that bond the three youths -- Kathy, Ruth and Tommy -- as they confront the truth regarding their fate. The story, narrated by Kathy as she reminisces about her life, is divided into three chapters. Chapter one is set in 1978 as the young Kathy, Ruth and Tommy (played by Isobel Meikle-Small, Ella Purnell and Charlie Rowe) attend an idyllic English boarding school by the name of Hailsham. Chapter two is set in 1985 when they are 18; they reside in ‘the cottages’ where they learn their responsibilities regarding being a carer or a donor. Kathy decides to be a ‘carer,’ whose responsibility is to be with the donor during an operation. Chapter three, entitled completion, is set in 1994. The title refers to the term that is used when a donor dies after donating an organ, and Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are reunited. A dark thought-provoking film that explores fundamental questions and that will leave a disturbing impression long after the final credits have rolled off the big screen.

3.9 -- NEVER LET ME GO, Mark Romanek
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] For a good part of this remarkable film, we are treated to a British class system in every sense of the meaning of this word. Darling British kids are attending Hailsham; a private elite boarding school that we believe is grooming these well-behaved youngsters for Cambridge and Oxford. Hailsham's idyllic grounds appear to belong to a blessed lot. Although there are rules, there are also movies, theatre games, sports, and literature -- all the trimmings that go with education for valued children. Indeed, these kids are being groomed to grow healthy, but they will not make it beyond 30. Rather their fate is a tragic one that is preordained. It is with horrific surprise that a certain new teacher informs her class that they will never make it past their prime. They will never experience, middle or old age. These kids actually have been picked from unwanted pregnancies, prostitutes and prisoners to serve a medical need. They will be providing their organs for the National Organ Donor Program. The main focus involves a trio who will experience a mutual love triangle, betrayal and ultimately death. The journey they take together is what fascinates and repels us. Never has suspense been so beautifully rendered and so masterfully repelling. The complete reversal of mood and misfortune that sets in motion the fate of these three pathetic victims is haunting and inexorably sad. From their beginnings to their doom -- a cycle called completion in the movie -- these characters live in a dystopia that destroys their natural lives during the period of 1978 to 1994. The ensemble acting was outstanding, and Charlotte Rampling in the role of head mistress is fearsomely appealing. Particularly outstanding were the performances of Isobel Meikle-Small as the young Kathy, and Ella Purnell as the young Ruth. They were as compelling as Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley playing them in adulthood respectively. More than a touch of class malignantly pervades this bone-chilling and thought-provoking film. It haunts you for many days after the credit role. It also makes you want to get hold of the novel written by Kazuo Ishiguro, who also penned "Remains of the Day." 

2.4 -- 2 FROGS DANS L’OUEST, Dany Papineau
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Marie Deschamps, a 20-year-old Québécoise, decides to suspend her studies at CEGEP. She wants to go out west, to Whistler B.C., to learn English and to find out who she really is. When she gets there, she meets Jean-François Laforest who is also from Quebec. A mutual bond develops between as they struggle to survive. Despite the majestic beauty of the mountains of Whistler cinematographically captured, there is nothing noteworthy about this film -- a so-so script and average performances.

3.0 -- L’IMMORTEL (22 BULLETS), Richard Berry
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Charly Matteï has turned the page on his former life of crime and now devotes himself to his wife and his two children. One morning after letting his son out of the car, eight masked men appear and Charly is riddled with 22 bullets and left for dead lying in a parking garage in the old port of Marseille. He survives, finds out who the shooters are and sets out to take vengeance. Well-acted, action packed and taut thriller that fares favourably with the best American films of this genre.

2.3 -- LE POIL DE LA BÊTE, Philippe Gagnon
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] This film, set in Nouvelle-France 1665, is the Québécois entry into the werewolf genre. JOSEPH COTÉ (Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge) is about to be hanged for moral crimes against the church. He escapes, sees the corpse of a dead Jesuit priest and takes on his identity, Father Brind’amour. Joseph soon discovers that Brind’amour is a legendary werewolf hunter and the hamlet of Beaufort is being ravaged by werewolves at night. The situation worsens when Joseph falls for Marie Labotte (Vivianne Audet), one of the ‘King’s Daughters.’ Will he be worthy of being Father Brind’amour’s successor? This poorly scripted, badly edited film with its forced and clichéd dialogue is an clearn indication that the myths and legends surrounding the werewolf do not form a part of Quebec folk-lore.

1.8 -- CATFISH, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A real-time documentary account of a virtual (Internet) relationship. New York photographer, Yaniv ‘Nev’ Schulman is contacted by eight-year-old Abby, from Ishpeming MI, seeking permission to paint some of his photographs. He agrees and thus begins a complex journey into the world of Abby, her family and friends. Basically comes across as a home-movie and lacked any purpose. Film could have addressed the risks involved with getting emotionally attached with anyone met in the virtual world of the Internet. To ‘fall in love’ as Nev did for Megan (Abby’s sister) is extremely naive since it is so easy to set up an alternate profile (the ideal ‘me’) or even multiple profiles on any of the current social networks. This film should have remained in the privacy of the filmmakers.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Words for the wise; this movie is about owls, so if you are a wise one, you will empathize with the film's feathered friends who inhabit the lofty regions of the legendary clan of Ga’Hoole. You'll meet the most expressively kind creatures who never ruffle their feathers over small matters. But then, reality sets in, and these good ones must combat the bad ones: mean owls who in this film are called the pure ones. Their owl purity is plumped with totalitarian rule. They are power hungry screechers set on taking over the world. They are in the business of kidnapping the good ones for their own freaky purpose. The hero in this film is Soren, who is taken under the wing of Ezylryb, who has chronicled the legendary battles between the two opposing owl forces. He has saved many good ones and his battle-weary face attests to this. Soren also has his period of glory in this outstanding film. The animation quality, expressive eyes, characterizations and stunning setting combine to create a movie that is transcending. Like "Avatar," the film moves you regardless of age. Birds of a feather stick together, so bring along you own ken. Whether you be a wise owl, an ageing one or a young one, you will thoroughly enjoy this remarkable film, made by the same team, Animal Logic who gave us “Happy Feet.” 

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Zack Snyder’s ("Dawn of the Dead," "300" and "Watchman") debut in animation is based on the book series "Guardians of Ga’hoole" by Kathryn Lasky. Film opens with a family of owls gathered together. The father is reading stories from the Chronicles of the Legendary Guardians of Ga’hoole. Soren loves to hear his father tell these stories. His sister, Eglantine, is enamoured by them. Kludd, his brother, finds them boring and is jealous of Soren getting all of his father’s attention. One night, when Soren and Kludd are showing off to each other, they fall off the tree branch. While trying to get back up to the branch, they are abducted and brought to an academy for orphaned owls. It is led by Metalbeak and Nyra, who are developing an evil plan to lead an army (allusion to ‘child soldiers’) to bring ‘purity’ to the owl kingdom. They believed that barn owls were the purest of owl races (the Aryan race of owls). Kludd accepts this, but Soren does not. With the help of the Academy librarian, and along with an Elf Owl named Gylfie, Soren escapes and flies towards the Great Ga’hoole Tree. Along the way they meet Digger and Twilight (a Grey Owl) and Mrs Plithiver (Soren’s nursemaid who is a snake). They convince the Guardians of the threat from Metalbeak and Nyra. A wise old screech owl, Ezylryb, agrees to train them to fight against the Pure Ones. The film is an expression of the power of faith and the importance of loyalty. With an awesome soundtrack by David Hirschfelder, a dialogue giving these owls the whole spectrum of human emotions (voices provided by an all-star cast) and a majestically spectacular 3D imagery, this feature is destined to be a favourite for children of all ages. The imagery and detail is such that it strikes the eye as more real than live. The scenes of owls flying over the seas and mountainous landscape are nothing less than awe inspiring and breathtaking.

3.9 -- LE JEU DE LA MORT (THE GAME OF DEATH), Christophe Nick
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] This terrifying and shocking documentary transposes the Milgram experience of 1963 (based on the book “Obedience of Authority” published in 1974 and the 1979 film by Henri Verneuil, “I Comme Icare”) to a fake reality-TV game show called “The Xtreme Zone.” Stanley Milgram (1933-1984) was a researcher in social psychology. In 1963, he conducted a series of experiments with the purpose of analysing the mechanism behind how we approach the dictates of an authority figure, especially when the dictate given is in direct confrontation with one’s moral standards. Each experiment involved three individuals: the instructor who provided the ground-rules i.e. the ‘authority,’ the questioner and the one who responded. The one giving the response was required to memorize a list of word associations in one minute. He would then go off to an isolated room, be tied to a chair and connected to electrodes. The questioner was required to ask the question and if the response was wrong to administer an ever-increasingly powerful electroshock -- from at first mildly discomforting to extremely dangerous. However, unknown to the questioner, the one responding was actually an actor. In 1963, 62.5 % of the participants went all the way to the end. In 1963 there was no audience. In 2009, in consideration of peer pressure from the studio audience and the possibility of a home audience (the eye of the TV camera on the contestant), there was the added lure of one million Euros to the one who went to the end and administered the highest voltage. The result is disturbing and frightening as it reveals our true nature and explains why, when a strong dictator is in power such as Hitler and Stalin, it is the general masses that commit the majority of the atrocities. A fundamental question that arises; ‘Can they be held accountable for their actions?’

2.4 -- THE TOWN, Ben Affleck
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Charlestown, a one-mile-square neighbourhood of Boston, Massachusetts, is considered the bank robbery capital of America. In Boston there are over 300 bank robberies committed every year and most of the robbers reside in this neighbourhood. Dramatic crime thriller based on Chuck Hogan’s novel “Prince of Thieves.” Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) leads a gang of ruthless bank robbers, who take what they want and getaway with it. Doug had the opportunity to become a professional hockey player, thus not following his father’s (Chris Cooper) footsteps, but things didn’t work out. His ‘partners-in-crime’ have become his family. Jem, James Coughlan (Jeremy Renner) is the closest thing Doug has to a brother. But everything is about to change. On a current job, bank manager Claire Keesey is forced to open the safe, is taken hostage and released unharmed but feels terrorized. Jem wants to find out what she saw and knows, but Doug takes charge. He seeks her out and makes it look like a random encounter. A passionate romance develops. Meanwhile the Feds, led by special agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), are closing in on the gang. Claire is now in the line of fire. Doug must choose between the gang and the woman he loves. After a promising opening sequence, when the gang took Claire hostage, the film quickly degenerated into clichés. The overacting provided the audience with 125 minutes of laughter and diversion.

2.4 -- THE TOWN, Ben Affleck
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Charlestown in Boston was the place to go to meet the best bank robbers in America, and as this film graphically illustrates, it's not a great place to work as a teller. But if the main actor in the trio of thugs happens to be Doug Macray played by Ben Affleck, one need not worry too much, for it turns out he falls for the very girl he is supposed to stalk to ensure she does not tell the FBI too much about what she witnessed during the robbery that takes place at the beginning of the film. The plot has some ironic twists, such as the aforementioned unlikely romance, and the ending is not what one expects. Alas, Ben doesn't get the girl in the end, although the actress (Rebecca Hall) bears an uncanny resemblance to his real-life wife, Jennifer Garner. Unfortunately, neither the shoot-out car chases, guns, scary disguises used by the robbers and fast paced action make the story riveting or suspenseful. The acting was good enough, if you can understand the mumbling dialogue that plagued the lines. What really stole the scene, aside from robbers making off with the money, was the nun disguises the thugs wore during the last bank heist. Go to the film if you are in need of daring diversion, but don't quit your day job to emulate these no-good Charlestown chaps.  

3.0 -- ALPHA AND OMEGA, Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Animation. Kate and Humphrey (an allusion to Hepburn and Bogart in “African Queen)” belong to the same wolf-pack. Kate’s responsibility as an alpha is to lead whereas Humphrey’s as an omega is to have fun and provide levity to the day-to-day issues that face the wolf-pack. The most pressing is the rivalry between the pack led by Kate’s father Winston and that led by Tony. In a meeting to discuss a solution, Winston and Tony agree that both packs should come together. To achieve this, Kate will marry Tony’s son, Garth, at the next midnight howl. Though she would rather not, , her sense of duty wins the day. But when she hears Garth howl, she excuses herself and asks her sister Lilly, an omega, to keep Garth, company. Because Humphrey is an omega, he is not allowed to participate in the howl, so he is off wandering. Kate and Humphrey bump into each other. At this moment, they are tranquilized, abducted and relocated from Jasper Park to Idaho. What follows can only be considered as the ultimate road movie, as the pair attempt to make the journey home. They must do so before the two rival packs enter an all-out conflict. After all what can beat a golfing goose with a duck caddy, hitchhiking, truck stops, angry bears and hopping on the Canadian Express? Along the way Kate will realize that there is more to Humphrey than meets the eye. All they have to do is convince the packs to allow a union between an alpha and an omega. An all-star cast that includes Justin Long, Hayden Panetiere, Danny Glover and Dennis Hopper (in his final role) lend their voices to this delightful animated comedy adventure, adding an emotional element to the characters they portray.

3.3 -- INCENDIES (SCORCHED), Denis Villeneuve
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] This complex, lyrical and investigative drama, based on the play by Wajdi Mouawad (Littoral), opens with Notary Jean Lebel (Rémy Girard) reading the last will and testament of their mother, Nawal Mirwan (Lubna Azabal) to her twin children, Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxime Gaudette). Jeanne wants to hear what her mother has to say but Simon just wants to get it over with. Nearing the end of reading the will, Notary Lebel hands a letter to each of the twins and reads the instructions regarding the two letters and the burial of Nawal. She was to be buried without a gravestone until the instructions, according to the two letters, are fulfilled, at which point both twins will receive letters: Jeanne’s about the father they thought had died in the war and Simon’s for the brother they never knew existed. They have to try and locate said father and brother. Simon scoffs at this and just wants to open the letters and rebuke the wishes of his mother. Notary Lebel advises Jeanne that a will is a sacred document. Jeanne takes a flight to her mother’s country of origin, somewhere in the Middle East (not identified in either the film or play). Simon will follow her later. The truth behind their mother’s silence will be brought out as the story unfolds from Nawal’s vantage and from Jeanne’s and later Simon’s inquiries. A strong intensely emotional film that is well crafted and boasts a cast that fits the characters portrayed. Overall this film is a successful adaptation of Wadji’s play.

2.7 -- FLIPPED, Rob Reiner
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A delightful coming-of-age comedy about what it like to be in love in grade school and junior high. Second-graders Juli Baker and Bryce Losky first meet in 1957. The Loskys are just moving into the neighbourhood, just across the street from the Bakers. When Juli spots Bryce, she rushes over to help, hoping for her first kiss. She ‘knows’ that it is love. To Bryce this is overwhelming, so he spends the next six years trying to avoid her. Alas it is to no avail as Juli even begins to smell his hair -- it has the scent of watermelon. To Juli, he is the one, despite the ever mounting doubts. At one point however they stack up so high that Juli begins to think that she may have been wrong. Bryce begins to change his approach and he wonders ‘Am I too late.’ The narrative unfolds as a ‘He said, she said’; first from Bryce’s perception of events and then Juli’s. An important message of this film, apart from being an exploration into youthful love, is that we need to be careful about our first impressions.

2.8 -- IN THE ELECTRIC MIST, Bertrand Tavernier
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] In New Iberia, in the Louisiana Bayou, veteran detective Dave Robichaud (Tommie Lee Jones) is investigating the murder of a local 19-year-old hooker. He is trying to link the murder to Julie ‘Baby Feet’ Balboni (John Goodman), New Orleans mob kingpin. As it turns out, this is just the latest in a string of young women being murdered. Robichaud stops Hollywood star, Elrod T Sykes (Peter Sargaard), for drunken driving. Sykes reports to Robichaud, that in the Atchafalaya Swamp, near the set of the film (that Sykes is shooting -- a civil war epic -- coproduced by Baby Feet), he spotted a corpse with prisoner’s chains about it. Robichaud believes that it is the same black man he witnessed being murdered around 40 years ago. He also has an intuits that this is somehow linked to the young recently murdered women. Beautifully shot and well-conceived, this film captures the spirit of Louisiana and links the past with the present. The acting is wonderful, but the film self-indulges and looses focus from time to time.

2.9 -- TÊTE DE TURC, Pascal Elbé
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] An emotionally stirring and moving urban drama that deals with integrity and honour. Bora is a 14-year-old Turkish immigrant living with his mother and seven-year-old brother in a tough Parisian suburb. One night, during a confrontation, Bora throws a Molotov cocktail from a rooftop in order to impress the boys in the ‘hood.’ It lands on the vehicle of Simon, a doctor. He feels remorse about doing this, so when the boys leave, Bora rushes down to pull the comatose body of Simon out of the burning vehicle and leaves him lying on the sidewalk. This saves his life. The Mayor wants the culprit to be arrested in order to honour the ‘Good Samaritan’ with a medal. Simon’s detective brother, Atom, leads the investigation. Being burdened by guilt, Bora wants to do the right thing and turn himself in, but fearing the consequences he is reluctant to do so. His mother sees this as a means to move out of the neighbourhood, and pushes Bora to accept the medal. A star-studded well-casted film that includes Roshdy Zem, Pascal Elbé, Ronit Elkabetz and relative newcomer Samir Makhlouf in the leading roles.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Viviane (Suzanne Clément) is a professional photographer. Frédéric, her brother, used to be her muse. One day, he storms out of her life and since then she has been on a creative impasse. That is, until a young mechanic named Guillaume (Maxime Dumontier), walks into her studio to do a photo shoot for an ad campaign. She is intrigued by the raw energy he exudes. It reminds her of her brother. She trashes the muffler on her car, to give her an excuse to see him. She asks Guillaume to work with her on a special project. He agrees but on his own terms. A short while later, Guillaume’s father comes to the studio and warns Viviane to maintain a distance from his son. She continues to see him, disregarding his father’s warning. Guillaume begins to manifest a self-destructive nature from being deeply traumatized by a family tragedy that he feels responsible for. The direction of this psychological drama is aimless and un-engaging. Certain scene shifts are vague or blurred, leaving the viewer perplexed on whether or not a scene has concluded.

2.0 -- Y'EN AURA PAS DE FACILE, Marc-André Lavoie
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Réjean, (Rémy Girard) is a biographer. He embellishes the life stories of others to increase their marketability. He is recently separated, so he decides to sign on to an on-line dating service. He is asked to submit a video recounting his past relationships. Now in order to sell himself he must embellish his own experiences and that he does. This comedy is not particularly funny. It is tedious to watch and Rémy Girard is not in usual top form in his performance. With different actors used to portray his character in each of his (mis)adventures is confusing, resulting in an uneven film.

2.7 -- HIDDEN DIARY (MÈRES ET FILLES), Julie Lopes-Curval
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Family social drama about three women, three generations. In the 1950s, Louise mysteriously leaves when her children, Martine and Gérard, are still young. Martine is now a respected physician in the community (a seaside resort) married to loving husband, Michel. She harbours resentment towards her mother, Louise, for abandoning her and her brother. This resentment is often directed against her daughter Audrey. It also manifests itself in her reluctance to travel outside the community. Audrey lives in Toronto and works for an engineering firm. She is an independent woman who discovers that she is pregnant. She decides to go and see her parents, Martine and Michel. Before she leaves her bosses hand her an important project to work on. Unable to do her work due to the many distractions at her parents, she decides to settle into abandoned home of her grandfather, Gilles, who recently passed away. While she is fixing it up, she stumbles upon the hidden diary of her grandmother, Louise. While reading it, she begins to imagine what it was like for Louise, her uncle Gérard and her mother Martine at the time. Will this diary clarify what actually happened and help Audrey decide what her future will be? Will she keep the baby and allow Tom, the father, to help taking care? Though the three main characters (portrayed by Marie-Josée Croze as Louise, Catherine Deneuve as Martine and Marina Hands as Audrey) cross three generations, the passing of time goes unnoticed because it is the chemistry that defines what is unique in this family.

2.6 -- THE SWITCH, Josh Gordon, Will Speck
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] An offbeat comedy that is told in two parts. The first part comes across as ‘just an average comedy’ but not long into the second part the film begins to pick up thanks to a significant message and much needed injection of humour and sentimentality. Wally (Jason Bateman) and Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) are best of friends. Wally is neurotic, self-absorbed and pessimistic; so much so that his name is often used by those around him -- including his business partner Leonard (Jeff Goldblum) -- as a verb. Kassie is in her 40s, beautiful, funny and makes things happen. When she announces to Wally that she wants to have a baby and is looking for the perfect donor, Wally expects that she would want him to donate. Alas not so, she finds the perfect donor in Nordic-looking Roland (Patrick Wilson). A party is thrown to honour this event of insemination. Wally gets very drunk; stumbles into the bathroom; spies Roland’s sample then ... passes out. Kassie moves to Minnesota; gives birth to Sebastian. Seven years pass and Kassie decides to return to New York. She calls Wally to introduce him to Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). There is an immediate connection between them. As they spend more time together, Wally begins to see similar personality traits in Sebastian. Wally begins to remember what happened seven years ago at the insemination party. Now he faces a dilemma: how does he tell Kassie that he is ‘the Seed man’ without losing her and Sebastian. The chemistry between Bateman and Robinson is a definite highlight of the film.

3.8 -- I, DON GIOVANNI, Carlos Saura
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Spanish director continues his fascination with music. His latest is an account of the creation of Mozart’s (Lino Guanciale) opera “Don Giovanni” from the point of view of its librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte (Lorenzo Balducci). Film opens in a crowded church in Venice 1763. Casanova (Tobias Moretti) is among the onlookers as four young Jews are being baptized. Among them is Emmanuel Conigliano. Scared, he runs into the library where he browses through Dante’s "Divine Comedy." The Bishop convinces Emmanuel to be baptized into the Holy Mother Church with the promise that he would have access to the whole library. He becomes known as Lorenzo da Ponte and is eventually ordained as a priest. He befriends his mentor, Casanova, which leads to Lorenzo being arrested and charged with libertinage and belonging to a Masonic Society. He is exiled from Venice for 15 years, and takes refuge in Vienna. Meeting Mozart, Lorenzo da Ponte writes his first libretto for “The Marriage of Figaro.” It is a success. Years later, Casanova convinces him to collaborate again with Mozart. He suggests a new version about Casanova’s hero Don Giovanni. As the work progresses, Lorenzo’s Giovanni becomes more a reflection of his life rather than that of Casanova’s. Music co-ordinator Nicholas Tescari successfully reproduces the sound of the orchestra and cast as it would have been heard at the premiere of “Don Giovanni” in Prague, the Estates Theatre October 29th 1787. Exquisite costume and set design faithfully recreate the look of Venice, Vienna and other locals of the mid to late 18th Century.

3.8 -- I, DON GIOVANNI, Carlos Saura
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This is a film about genius, including the film director himself. Saura has taken key episodes from Mozart's heaviest opera and created a spectacularly beautiful masterpiece whose plot colourfully explains the truth behind the opera. The premise is: what was written in the opera reflects real characters and events both hilarious and haunting that took place prior to and during the writing of the opera. It's a double drama for the viewer and all the performing artists in the film. It's a case of art imitating reality and vice versa. Men and their mentors are lustful on stage and off -- spearheaded by Casanova himself. Now recreated as Don Giovanni in the opera, Casanova has his own doppelganger -- and his young follower, Lorenzo da Ponte. A poet prodigy, his various reincarnations comprise (in chronological order) a Jew, a priest and finally a librettist -- the last being his salvation and glory. His collaboration with Mozart is memorable, as were his off-stage exploits. But meeting Annetta, the love of his life, ends such meaningless dalliances. But it's too late for him; Adriana Ferrarese, his jealous lover and opera star, sabotages the real romance by highlighting to the love struck Annetta his previous exploits. Typically, this event also ends up inspiring segments in the opera. Indeed, a written list of his exploits is added to his mentor's exploits which number 1003! If it all sounds confusing, suffice it to say that you have to see it to believe it. The singing is divine, the costumes and settings so vivid and true to the time. The acting is delightful. Special note must be given to Lino Guanciale who performed the role of Mozart with great believability. You just never want this film to end. Alas it does, in flaming Hell which engulfs Don Giovanni; fortunately, viewers of the film get 120 minutes of heaven.

3.2 -- I, SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD, Edgar Wright
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim in this flashy pop-culture fantasy action comedy. Twenty-two-year-old Scott is a bassist for an alt-rock Toronto band called ‘Sex Bob-omb’ and he is currently dating a high school student. He is an archetypal slacker in his approach to both: his girlfriend and the band, until he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winsted), who has just arrived from New York with a sweet job at Since she is his dream girl, he awkwardly asks her to go out with him, she accepts and gives him her phone number (with seven Xs below it); soon after he receives a strange email, which he summarily deletes. The Sex Bob-ombs are competing for battle-of-the-bands; Scott invites Ramona to come as does Scott’s high school ‘girlfriend.’ While the band is playing the author of the strange email crashes the event, hell-bent on fighting Scott to the death. Turns out he is the first of Ramona’s Xs. He defeats the X and bewildered, demands an explanation. She explains that if he wants to continue to go out with her he has to defeat all seven of her Xs -- led by Gideon (Jason Schwartzman) -- her last. Based on the popular graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley “Scott Pilgrim” series, director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”) has successfully translated the novel’s manga and video game sensibilities to the big screen. Effective use of Onomatopoeias, along with the dry comedic use of dialogue that is a trademark of Michael Cera, by the whole ensemble cast. A joy to watch destined to be a hit amongst adolescents regardless of age.

2.8 -- ANIMAL KINGDOM, David Michôd
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Low-key, slow-burn crime thriller that knows how to rack up the tension. When 17-year old J’s (Joshua) mother dies of a heroin overdose he goes to live with his grandmother Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody: his introduction to the Melbourne underground. All three of his uncles are criminals. Pope, in his 40s, the eldest of the Cody brothers, is an armed robber and is currently in hiding as a group of renegade detectives want him dead. Craig is a successful drug dealer who samples his wares a little too often which makes him volatile. Darren is the youngest, about three or four years older than J, and the most passive. He is the bridge between J and his two brothers. Barry ‘Baz’ Brown, Pope’s best friend and partner, realizes that the old school ways no longer work; so he wants out. Unfortunately before he can act on it, Baz gets shot in cold blood by the same renegade detectives that want Pope eliminated. Furious and frustrated, Pope enlists his brothers and J to take swift revenge upon the police; tensions rise, culminating in a bloody confrontation between the Cody brothers and the police. This is a well-cast ensemble that perfectly represents the savage beasts that inhabit the jungles of underground Melbourne.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Slow-paced emotionally stirring film about a mother, Françoise (Guylaine Tremblay) mourning the tragic death of her violinist daughter, Anna (Sheila Jaffé). The film poetically unfolds in three movements that portray the three phases or moments of mourning. Françoise attends a recital of Beethoven’s String Quartet Number 15 in A minor, Opus 132 in which her daughter is performing. That evening Anna is brutally murdered in her apartment. Françoise leaves Montreal to seek refuge. She goes back to the home of her ancestry in Kamouraska. This is the first movement -- mourning alone inside the house she grew up in and trying to ease the pain of her loss by getting back to her roots and nature. While there she feels the presence of her grandmother and her mother who have long since passed away. Yet the pain is too great so Françoise lies down in the snow and attempts to end her life. Édouard (François Papineau), who is out checking his traps, finds her and brings her back to his cabin. They were childhood sweethearts in their teens and haven't seen each other for 32 years. This begins the second movement when Françoise and Édouard begin to rekindle the love they had as teens. The third and final movement comes at the end of the film asking the question what will happen to Françoise and Édouard. Well acted with solid direction against the snowy, mood-setting landscapes of Kamouraska.

2.3 -- SOLITARY MAN, Brian Koppelman, David Levien
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Social drama that tells the story of a man, Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas), overendowed with charm that allows him to get away with questionable behaviour, until his conscience begins to corrode from the inside and he becomes solitary. A portrait of men who have been at the top of their game but are on the way down due to personal peccadillos, aging or hubris, but refuse to let go and sink even further. Despite the stellar cast (which included Susan Sarandon and Danny Devito) there was a clear lack of character development (especially the leads).

2.3 -- FILIÈRE 13, Patrick Huard
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] This latest comedy by Patrick Huard centers on three cops all going through difficulties. Thomas is the stereotype of the heroic cop but suffers from excruciating migraines that result in serious mistakes. Jean-François, responsible for media relations, has a panic attack while he is explaining away Thomas’s most recent gaff. Benoît assigns Thomas and Jean-François the task of surveilling the mother of wanted bandit, ‘Cannes de Bine.' Benoît’s wife has just left him and he becomes lovesick and obsessively follows her to see if she is seeing someone else. An unoriginal script with unamusing performances.

3.8 -- INCEPTION, Christopher Nolan
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an ‘extractor,’ a special type of professional thief. Along with a handpicked team of assistants he infiltrates his target’s subconscious dreams in order to steal their secrets. Both extractor and target sleep in close proximity to each other, connected by a special device that sedates both, allowing the extractor and other members of his team to infiltrate the target’s dreams. All that is experienced is real, so for protection, the extractor takes along a ‘totem.’ This is a personal item that reports on the status of reality. If it obeys the laws of physics then they are in a non-dream state; if not, they are still in the dream state. This also prevents them from getting lost in the dream.
The film opens with Cobb -- along with his assistant Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who researches the target and advises Cobb how to proceed -- who is in the dream of Saito (Ken Watanabe). They are attempting to steal the combination to the safe. The mission fails, but Saito makes a proposal. Fearing elimination from their employer, Cobb and Arthur accept. The proposal is to infiltrate the subconscious of Robert Fisher (Cillian Murphy), the son of Saito’s corporate rival, to perform an ‘inception,’ which is a more difficult task than extraction as it involves implanting an idea: to break up the corporate empire after his father’s imminent death to prevent the Fischer company from threatening Saito’s. To efffect this, Cobb and Arthur assemble the following team: Eames (Tom Hardy), a forger who can change his appearance; Yusef (Dileep Rao), to develop and administer the sedatives and Ariadne (Ellen Page), a student architect who is to build the dream landscapes in Robert Fischer’s mind. Saito will accompany them. One threat to the team is the existence of ‘projections.’ If the target becomes aware that his mind has been infiltrated projections are sent out, and like white blood cells, attack the intruders. Knowing that Fischer has been trained, they convince him that he is part of the team on another mission. This particular mission involves building a dream within a dream, each level going deeper into Robert Fischer’s mind. One team member is left in each level to enable the others to be kicked back up to the previous level. The result is somewhat like an infinite maze, since we all know that anything is possible in dreams.
In order to convey the concept of infinity, Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister introduce highly innovative and precedent setting techniques, all of which are enhanced by Hans Zimmer’s scene-specific electronic score. Very credible ensemble cast that includes Michael Caine as Cobb’s mentor and father-in-law and Marion Cotillard as his deceased wife and a frequent malevolent presence in his dreams. “Inception” is an original and innovative science-fiction thriller that is destined to join the ranks of classics such as Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis," Richard Fleisher’s “Fantastic Voyage” and Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: Space Odyssey.”

2.5 -- RESTREPO, Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Afghanistan’s Korenga Valley, near the Pakistani border, is the epicentre of U.S. involvement in its fight against the Taliban. PFC Juan Restrepo, after whom the outpost Restrepo is named, and who was killed in action during the tour of duty of the platoon, is stationed there. The intent of debut directors Hetherington and Junger was to capture the experiences of the 15 man platoon sent there to protect American interests. The film at 94 min. is too short, but we learn of the dangers and risks of filming men in actual combat situations. "Restrepo" is an important thread in understanding the situation and experiences of American troops stationed in combat zones around the globe.

2.0 -- SOUL KITCHEN, Fatih Akin
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Zinos, a young Greek, owns a restaurant in Hamburg called ‘Soul Kitchen.’ His girlfriend, Nadine, has moved to Shanghai. He wants to join her there, so he asks his brother Elias, who has just been released from prison, to take over managing the restaurant. To make matters worse, Zinos has pulled his back and Elias is a gambler. As well, an unscrupulous real estate developer wants to tear down the building and put up condos. This is an all too commonly done comedy about losing one’s property and somehow getting it back. The plot was very predictable, the direction loose. All and all, very disappointing compared to Akin's superb "Head-On" and "The Edge of Heaven."

2.0 -- PIÈCE MONTÉE, Denys Granier-Deferre
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Bérangère and Vincent are getting married. In the spirit of the bourgeoisie, family and friends gather to celebrate. It is a day of joy for some and of sorrow and pain for others. A light-hearted family comedy-drama that is weakened by mixed performances and too many clichés. Intended as a theatrical movie, it comes across more as a TV movie of the week.

2.8 -- CABOTINS, Alain DesRochers
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A bittersweet comedy with a well-cast ensemble. Marcel (Rémy Girard), former actor and producer of popular cabaret theatre is a semi-alcoholic. He learns that his wife left him nine days ago and that he is on the brink of bankruptcy. He decides to reunite with his former collaborators. Firstly he finds Lady Moon (Yves Jacques), a transvestite in mourning; then Lucie (Dorothée Berryman), an indomitable comedian; lastly Roger (Gilles Renaud), a crooner. They all agree but on one condition -- that Marcel brings in his son Pedro (Pierre-Francois Legendre). The two have never seen eye to eye, especially in their respective visions of popular theatre. Against all the odds (both personal and external), this film speaks to the eternal values friendship and family.

2.4 -- CABOTINS, Alain DesRochers
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Marcel's life is on the skids. His former glory as a cabaret actor leading his troupe of talented misfits is no longer. It's 1985, the decline of cabaret hey day in Québec. Years have passed and not only has Marcel failed at his marriage, but in his friendships with his fellow thespians as well. He hasn't contacted them for years. Now, his estate in Saint Come is on the cutting block; the bank is about to repossess the property. But it's not over until the fat lady sings, and that she does in the form of Lucie, another cabaret star in the group who reunites with Marcel when he decides to reopen his theatre that is attached to his property. To do this, Marcel needs to reconnect with his other ageing stage pals. His son Pedro even joins them -- an appearance which adds a whole new plot twist in this touching comedy. Outstanding performances are noted by Rémy Girard as Marcel and Yve Jacques as Lady Moon, an enchanting transvestite. They tug at our hearts, and as actors hold us in awe with their genius. The film moves far too slowly in the beginning, but its snappy dialogue and the marvelous ensemble acting make up for the pokey pace. It took director Alain DesRochers and script writer Ian lauzon eight years to make the film, so such sluggishness can be forgiven.

3.3 -- MR NOBODY, Jaco Van Dormael
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] In 2092, Nemo, at the age of 118, is reflecting on all of his possible life memories that center on a crucial moment that occurred when he is but nine-years old. His parents are getting divorced, his mother has boarded the train and his father is on the platform. Both are yelling at him to come and live with mom or dad. Not an easy decision to make. An existential, quantum and philosophical study of doubt and the difficulties faced when one is at an important crossroad in life. For Nemo this was only the first of many. A well performed and perfectly executed unique and complex film. A major tour de force in direction and editing.

1.8 -- PREDATOR, Nimrod Antal
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] What a disappointment! The special effects were ineffective, and given the pointless slow plot, I was praying for the appearance of a predator within the first 15 minutes. I mean, how long can you watch a bunch of men and one woman traipse through a bunch of jungle leaves toting huge machine guns and kiddy backpacks? When the big metal encased predator creatures finally appear and dig their incisors into their prey, which happens to be this same bunch of combat fighters who fall from the sky into the tangled jungle, we go thank God they are gone for good. It turns out these murderous creatures detect their prey through infrared lights hidden in their eyes. Wow! How original! Characters played by Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne and Adrien Brody cannot endure their doomed destiny, nor us their acting. This limp sci-fi feature makes us yearn for the return of another "Avatar." Even that was scarier than this bomb.  

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Xavier Dolan’s sophomore effort doesn’t quite live up to the promise of his debut “I Killed My Mother.” In this film, the director explores one of the most crippling foibles in human nature, that of the hopeless crush upon another. In this case, best friends, Francis (Xavier Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri) both develop an obsessive crush on Nicholas (Niels Schneider). Intercollated into the narrative (art house style) are interviews with 20-somethings talking about their romantic failures. I found the film to be somewhat superficial, clichéd and self-absorbed.

2.5 -- LES HERBES FOLLES (WILD GRASS), Alain Resnais
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] In a parking lot, George Palet (André Dussollier) finds a wallet that belongs to Marguerite Muir (Sabine Azima). She had just been robbed of her purse after buying a pair of shoes. George brings the wallet to the police station and begins to obsess over her . . . A dark comedy that throws light on the irrationality that often governs human interaction. The dialogue is witty, the chemistry between the two leads helps a film that suffers from loose directing and editing. The score by Mark Snow is eclectic.

2.8 -- WINTER’S BONE, Debra Granik
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Rae Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in the Ozarks. She is 17-years-old and takes care of her sick mother and her two younger siblings. One day the sheriff drives up to the house to advise Rae that her father has put up their house as jail bond. Her father has disappeared and if he doesn’t show up for the hearing, Rae and her family will lose their home and end up in the woods. Challenging the Ozark code of silence and hacking through her outlaw kin’s lies, evasions and threats, Rae risks her life to try to find her father before it is too late. Underneath the luscious backdrop of the Ozarks, we find a violent and unforgiving world. Uneven script and editing prevents this film from reaching the heights of back-woods classics such as “Deliverance.”

2.3 -- LE BAISER DU BARBU, Yves Pelletier
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Benoit (David Savard) is a struggling actor who survives by working as a bartender. He has a role in a play set in the 19th century, which is being performed a few nights per week at a dinner theatre. Following his brother Frank’s (Ricardo Trogi) suggestion, Benoit grows a beard to better fit his role. The beard seems to have a touch of magic for Benoit. The play begins to attract sold-out performances. He is now attracting media attention and a director wants to cast him in a major role in a TV series. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Vicky (Isabelle Blais), develops a mysterious allergy to the beard. This film is a less than average comedy that quickly becomes repetitious and formulaic.

2.6 -- MARADONA BY KUSTURICA , Emir Kusturica
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Noted Serb director takes a celebratory look at the living god of soccer, Diego Maradona. Through the use of archival material and interviews, Kusturica traces Maradona’s rise and subsequent fall and gives us a whirlwind tour of the star’s favourite people and places. Maradona’s political stance against British and American imperialism is amusingly portrayed through the use of Pythonesque animation. You don’t need to be a soccer fan to enjoy this film.

2.3 -- L’ENFANT PRODIGE, Luc Dionne
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Biopic about Québec born world renowned pianist and composer André Mathieu (1929–1968). Initially taught by his father (both father and mother were musicians), Mathieu composed his first piece at the age of four. He gave his first recital at the Ritz Carleton Hotel in Montréal when he was five or six. In December of 1936, after his family had moved to Paris, Mathieu gave a recital at the prestigious Chopin-Pleyel Hall. It received enthusiastic critical response; he was proclaimed a genius and called ‘a little Canadian Mozart.’ While his family moved from Paris to New York and Montreal, Mathieu renown continued to grow. Returning to Paris in 1946, he was a changed man. Feeling lonely, homesick and abandoned, he succumbed to alcoholism and his career subsequently declined. He died at the age of 39 in 1968 -- unknown and underappreciated. This is an important film that it brings to light one of Quebec’s artistic treasures. Musical director and pianist Alain Lefèvre gives fabulous renditions of André Mathieu’s best known compositions. The editing and scenario were poorly done and the cast lacked a sense of commitment.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] An epic adventure tale set in sixth century Persia, a land and a time filled with imagination and fantasy. Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is not born in royalty but as a street urchin. When still a young boy, he catches the attention of the King of Persia who perceives that Dastan is destined for greatness. The King adopts him into the royal family. Fifteen years later, he leads an attack on the holy city of Alamut and acquires a dagger that upon pressing the handle time is reversed i.e. a key to the Sands of Time. At the reception to celebrate the victory, the King is assassinated and Dastan is suspected. He flees, entering an uneasy alliance with Tamina -- the Alamut princess whose family has guarded ‘The Sands of Time’ for centuries. Both must face dark forces in order to find the King’s real killer and to protect the key to The Sands of Time and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Containing many elements, this adventure includes a Persian group of mystical warriors called the Hassansin who bear a striking resemblance to the Ninja. Giving a super standout performance as Nazim, the King’s brother and uncle to Dastan, is Ben Kingsley. Alfred Molina as the tax-evading and ostrich-racing Sheikh Amar has the audience roaring with laughter with his biting political comments. Illustrating the universal belief that all of us have the potential to achieve greatness no matter how humble or unfavourable our origins, this is an entertaining family film with a message.

3.9 -- MAO'S LAST DANCER, Bruce Beresford
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] When 11-year-old Li Cun Xin, from Qingdao province in China is selected in 1973 to go to Beijing to become a ballet student at the academy there, he is unwillingly taken from his family and friends. He endures gruelling training and unsympathetic task masters, save for one -- teacher Chen who encourages him in his quest to become a better dancer. Li's rigorous physical regime is matched only by his relentless determination to rise above all other dancers with the hopes of being chosen (in 1981) by the choreographer of the Houston Ballet Company in America for a scholarship to study there. Eventually he becomes the leading male dancer. After much deliberation by the Chinese authorities, Li is the lucky one; he is allowed to leave. Li loves his new journey, the ballet repertoire and the freedom which allows him to grow as a person and dancer. But he reaches a dead end when the Communist government refuses to extend his visa, despite the fact he is now married to an American. Thanks to his lawyer and a media blitz, Li is allowed to stay but not to return to China. Mao's might continues to dog the gifted dancer until chance gives him a break, and strings are pulled to allow a family reunion of sorts. Unbeknownst to Li, his parents come to see him dance during a performance of The Right of Spring. Li is now under contract with the Houston Ballet Company. Over a decade has passed, and despite his successes, he has not heard from his parents. Then the moment comes when he spots his parents in the audience teary-eyed and in awe of the son they haven't seen in years. More time passes, and Li finally is allowed to go back to his village, where he dances perhaps his most heartfelt pas-de-deux ever -- his ballerina partner in his arms. He breaks out in dance, yet there is no dance floor, only the dusty ground where the villagers are standing along with his mentor, teacher Chen. They are stunned with joy. What a finale! The movie pits China’s Cultural Revolution against one man's struggle to do what he loves: dance in America. Phenomenal dance scenes are perfectly injected into the filmscape; yet they never take over the compelling true life story of a young man whose exceptional drive and magnificent talent result in an autobiography, now visually brought to life in this inspiring film which features the brilliant dancing of Chi Cao in the role of adult Li. “Mao’s Last Dancer” magnificently celebrates Li's life and his dance star status.  

3.9 -- MAO’S LAST DANCER, Bruce Beresford
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A powerful and emotional account of dancer Li Cunxin’s (pronounced Lee Schwin Sing) remarkable journey that began when he was 11 years old. Based on his autobiography, we follow Li who rises from utter poverty in rural Qingdao province in China to becoming a world renowned ballet dancer. He does this with strong passion and determination, working hard and giving his all. Giving his most credible performance of his career is Bruce Greenwood as Ben Stevenson, choreographer and artistic director of the Houston Ballet. The dance sequences are a total joy to watch; which is not surprising when you consider that the major dance roles are casted with professional dancers. Also featured are the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company.

3.5 -- SPLICE, Vincenzo Natali
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Superstar genetic engineers Clive (Adrian Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) specialize in creating new hybrids by splicing together DNA from different species. The next logical step is to add human DNA to the mix. The pharmaceutical company that funds their research now wants to receive profitable returns from their research. Clive and Elsa, not willing to give up ‘pushing the boundaries,’ go ahead in adding human DNA. Risking all, the result is a creature they name Dren (Delphine Chanéac). Having the qualities of a newborn, Dren quickly captures Clive’s and Elsa’s affections. They decide to nurture and observe it as if it was their child. As Dren develops and learns, the fine line between animal and human begins to blur; Clive and Elsa lose perspective on their scientific mandate now competing with the moral imperatives of parenthood. This is a thought provoking script that is not far removed from the reality of today. Sharing many common elements with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this science fiction thriller effectively explores the moral and ethical concerns and the dangers of genetic engineering and DNA manipulation especially where humanity is concerned.

3.5 -- THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES, Juan José Campanella
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Extremely taut crime thriller that reflects Hitchcock to a tee. Campanella delivers a film that is exquisitely paced, that artfully balances comedy and drama, with sufficient twists and turns to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin), a retired criminal court employee, has been haunted by an unsolved rape/murder case that was prematurely closed over 20 years ago when two immigrant workers were falsely accused and forced to confess. Upon noticing a subtle detail in a photograph, Benjamin and his colleague Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella) team up to identify the possibility that a certain Isadoro Gómez (Javier Godino) could be the actual killer. He confides his intentions to write a novel about the case to Irene (Soledad Villamil), his former boss and a judge and object of affection. The development of the case and subsequent investigation is told basically through flashbacks. The final result is a film that goes beyond a simple unsolved crime thriller; it at once reveals and indicts the judicial and political corruption of Argentina of the 70s and 80s. The performances of the four main actors and that of the supporting staff was phenomenal and the chemistry electric.

3.9 -- THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES, Juan José Campanella
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Wow! A thriller beyond compare. Haunted for some 22 years by the rape and murder of a young married woman, criminal court employee, Esposito, tracks down her killer. But so does her long-suffering husband. Esposito finds the killer first and in the oddest place, thanks to the crazy ideas of his colleague Pablo who himself makes the ultimate sacrifice. Romance, political intrigue, twisted moments and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, including Argentina's corrupt judicial system foil the dare-devil duo's attempts to make loose ends knotted ones. The plot is tightly woven. The suspense, the comedic dialogue, its well-placed timing within the film's highly unusual plot, and the charisma of Ricardo Darin (Esposito) along with the genius acting of Guillermo Francella (Pablo) make this movie-viewing experience sensationally unforgettable. Things end as best they can and Esposito ends up finishing his novel now that everything is resolved. Director, Campanella of "Son of the Bride" movie fame is a talent deserving festival awards around the world. Every one of his films is brilliantly crafted.  

2.7 -- LESLIE, MY NAME IS EVIL, Reginald Harkema
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Violent and sexually charged psychedelic drama loosely based on the Charles Manson murder trials of the late 60s. Film follows the converging paths of Perry and Leslie. Perry is a young man who has a beautiful fiancé and promising career as a chemist. Conventionally Christian, he is blissfully unaware of the harsh realities of life until he is summoned for jury duty for a murder trial involving a hippy death cult led by a charismatic, sexy man named Charlie. Leslie, before being put on trial for her part in the murder, was a cheerleader and a homecoming queen. Disillusioned by an abortion, Kennedy’s assassination and her parents’ divorce, she joins the hippie death cult where she is introduced to drugs (LSD) and sexual debauchery. During the trial Leslie forms an unspoken bond with Perry, who is now forced to deal with and reflect upon the deepest and darkest corners of his beliefs and values. With songs specifically chosen to tell the story, this film effectively asks whether or not religious extremes are the two sides of the same coin.

3.2 -- HARRY BROWN, Daniel Barber
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Michael Caine is Harry Brown in this hard hitting and gritty urban western. Harry is an ex-marine and a widower who lives in a depressed housing estate in London’s east end. In a neighbourhood plagued by drug peddling and violent youth gangs, Harry goes about his day avoiding the scene and playing checkers in a local pub with his best friend Leonard. One day, feeling increasingly threatened, Leonard shows Harry a knife he is carrying in order to protect himself. That night Leonard is murdered with that very same knife and now Harry feels compelled to act. He purchases a gun from two local thugs and proceeds to mete out justice. Michael Caine gives an astonishing and heartfelt performance that is matched by an excellent supporting cast. Unlike most other vigilante films ("Death Wish"), where the violence tends to be glamourized and stylized, in Harry Brown it is born of the situation and handled in a very matter-of-fact way.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Melancholic drama about a film producer who, on the surface, seemingly has it all: a loving wife, three adoring daughters and a ‘successful career’. Yet his prestigious production company, Moon Films, is threatening to become bankrupt due to overextension and high debts. Unwilling to face the reality of the situation he attempts to complete current projects and start new ones. Yet the pressure becomes too great and in despair he admits failure and leaves his wife a widow, his daughters fatherless and his employees needing to pick up the pieces of his broken company. Beautiful cinematography failed to save this long and rambling -- especially in the second half -- film. Overall the film has a weak and un-engaging scenario.

3.2 -- MOTHER AND CHILD, Rodrigo Garcia
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Multi-layered, emotionally packed drama that explores the unbreakable bond between mother and child even when separated by adoption. We follow the lives of three women who have all been deeply affected by adoption. The first is 51-year-old, guilt-ridden Karen (Annette Bening), who, at 14, gave up her new born daughter up for adoption. Then we have 37 year old Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), whose mother, at 14, gave her up for adoption. Elizabeth is now an independent woman and a successful lawyer. Lucy (Kerry Washington), who has been unsuccessful in becoming pregnant, is seeking to adopt a newborn. Jimmy Smits as Paco, Karen’s co-worker, and Samuel L. Jackson as Paul, Elizabeth’s boss, round off this excellently cast film. Well developed plot and character development make this a very engaging and thought provoking film.

2.7 -- THE TROTSKY, Jacob Tierney
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Leon Bernstein (Jay Baruchel) sees himself as the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky, the iconic leader of the Russian revolution. Film opens with Leon protesting working conditions at his father’s factory (Paul Rubinek); he is asking the workers to join him in a hunger strike. He calls his father a fascist. As punishment he is sent to a public high school. In his attempts to organize the students into a ‘real’ union, Leon comes into direct confrontation with the school’s dictatorial principal, Berkhoff (Colm Feore). Through the infusion of humour, this very funny film asks the question: are today’s student population committed or apathetic?

2.3 -- JUST WRIGHT, Sanaa Hamri
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Formulaic and predictable romantic comedy about a physiotherapist, Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah), who is hired to work on NBA all-star Scott McKnight (Common) after he suffers a serious, career threatening knee injury. She falls for him, but he is enamoured with Leslie’s childhood friend. Is she destined to play the role of `best friend` with Scott or will she win his heart? The film is moderately funny with a tad too much melodrama. Fine acting throughout.

2.8 -- BABIES, Thomas Balmès
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Based on an original idea by producer and comedian Alain Chabat, this observational film follows four babies from birth until first steps. In order of appearance they are: Ponijao from the Himba village of Opuwu, Namibia; Bayarjargal from Mongolia; Mari of Tokyo, Japan and Hattie of San Francisco, U.S.A. Naturally a slow start, as most newborns tend to sleep most of the day, but as they became more aware of their surroundings, the pace begins to pick up. Their characters and personalities begin to be expressed as each baby interacts with his parents, siblings and friends. The message in the baby's bottle is that despite our cultural differences we all share common, universal traits that make up the human spirit.

3.0 -- LIBERTÉ/FREEDOM, Tony Gatlif
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Historical drama set in Nazi occupied France, circa 1943. Film centres on a gypsy family’s struggle to maintain its culture’s concept of freedom in the face of increasing restrictions being placed upon its traditions by both the Vichy regime and the Nazis. The gypsies' concept of freedom is based on access to wide open spaces the ability to travel unhindered from village to village. Their music and dance embody those values and the risks they (and some non-gypsies) are willing to undertake in order to preserve and transmit them. Gatlif's film is a powerful and moving drama expressing the need for all to be free.

2.5 -- GUNLESS, William Phillips
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Distinctively Canadian spin on the American western. Notorious gunslinger, the Montana Kid (Paul Gross), wanders beaten and injured into the remote and isolated hamlet of Barclay’s Brush. Nestled in a valley of British Columbia, Barclay’s Brush is far removed from the wild American Western frontier where a man’s pistol is the tool used to mete out justice. The Montana Kid immediately finds this out as he calls out Jack (Tyler Mane) for a showdown -- frontier style as in “High Noon.” Yet there is not a single working pistol to be found except a broken down one owned by a lone homesteader named Jane (Sienna Guillory). In return for helping her build a wind mill, he will repair the pistol and give it to Jack to honour the code of the wild-west. As life moves on, the inhabitants of Barclay’s Brush begin to wear down his resolve to honour the code. To complicate the issue an attraction develops between the Kid and Jane. Meanwhile a ruthless American posse, led by Ben (Callum Keith Rennie) arrives. An entertaining diversion from the daily grind -- is the Montana Kid pure fiction or the stuff of legend?

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] The third and final chapter of the Millennium trilogy begins where chapter two ("The Girl Who Played With Fire") left off. As a result of her encounter with her father, Zala, Lisbeth Salander is in the hospital with a life-threatening head wound. Her father is also there. Meanwhile, Michael Blomkuist, editor of Millennium Magazine, in his continuing investigation uncovers a secret and illegal government organization. “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” is an effective conclusion for to a trilogy that is destined to become a cult classic.

2.6 -- FURRY VENGEANCE , Roger Kumble
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser), along with his wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and his son Tyler (Matt Prokop) has relocated from Chicago to Rocky Springs nestled deep in the woods of Oregon. His job is to oversee an ‘eco-friendly’ housing development. This is a gag filled family comedy with an eco-social message: Mother Nature and its inhabitants have had enough and is screaming “This is our home and we will not let you destroy it.” To give the illusion of our furry inhabitants expressing emotions without resorting to the conventional animation or talking animals, a limited use of CGI was employed with effectiveness. Moreover their thoughts and dialogues were conveyed as images. The director’s goal -- to make the funniest movie ever -- did not quite succeed.

4.0 -- OCEANS, Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] “Oceans” is a masterpiece in aqueous exploration. The film takes us on an breathtaking journey into the depths of the world's oceans inhabited by the most extraordinary sea creatures: the marine iguana, the helmeted horseshoe crab, the lionfish, the Asian sheepshead wrasse, the stonefish, and the elephant fish -- to name a few from the spectacular maze of species this film exquisitely captures on camera close up and personal. They dance, glide, scramble, crawl, skulk and often hide among the sea's immeasurable, ever-changing aquatic growth whose mystery magnifies our curiosity. As the world's sea waters trounce their wondrous waves towards South Africa, Polynesia, China, Costa Rica, New Caledonia, Egypt, New Zealand and a myriad of other exotic lands, we realize since time immemorial, oceans have always been hospitable hosts for these amazingly mysterious often fragile aliens -- many who are swimming towards survival when it comes to Man, his nets, pollution, orca predators, global warming and glacial melting. But the film does not belabour this point, nor does it sensationalize the vulnerability of fish and seals. Rather, it shows the beauty and brilliance of ocean bounty. The film is not only a rapturous visual symphony of sea life, but also of sound -- both from the vocality of the fish themselves and Bruno Coulais' sublime classical music score. Narrated by Pierce Brosnan -- and for the French version, Quebecois filmmaker/explorer Jean Lemire -- this on-screen seascape is an incredible feat achieved by the Disneynature production teams. A global gathering of cinematographers and divers have succeeded in accessing never-before-seen sea creatures in a variety of ways day and night. As these odd ocean fish move beyond their habitats in quest for food, we are inspired, amused and utterly confounded by a world of which most of us have such limited knowledge. "Oceans" is a 'must-sea.' 

4.0 -- OCEANS , Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] This latest from Disneynature (Earth) takes the viewer below the surface into the universe of marine life. Using the latest technologies in underwater filming capturing never before seen imagery, we, the viewer, becomes them. We enter into their world, experiencing the diversity and immense beauty of our oceans. Filmed in all four corners of the globe in regions least touched by man, we encounter a varied cast of characters: Iguanas, whales, seals, turtles, penguins, fish of all shapes and colours and many more. Surreal and mysterious, this film reflects and demonstrates the need to respect Mother Nature. The general impact of humanity has been negative and evidence of this is shown in this film. English narration by Pierce Brosnan reads like an epic poem which is enhanced by Bruno Coulais’ soundtrack that combines marine sounds with orchestra. This film goes further than Jacques Cousteau’s and Louis Malle’s groundbreaking documentary “Le Monde de Silence.”

3.8 -- LE JOURNAL D'AURÉLIE LAFLAMME, Christian Laurence
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A coming-of-age tale of a 14-year-old girl trying to understand the death of her father five years prior and experiencing her first love. To deal with (rationalize) the passing of her father, she entertains the theory that he was an extraterrestrial who was returned to his home planet. This same theory explains why she feels so different from those around her. The use of animation to portray Aurélie’s imagination is fascinating and effective. A delightful and entertaining family comedy drama.

2.2 -- THE WILD HUNT, Alexandre Franchi
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A similar excursion into the world of role-playing as the far superior “Demain des Aubes" (FNC 2009). Erik reluctantly watches his girlfriend Lynn as she leaves to participate in the role of a kidnapped princess in a Viking themed game. He decides to follow her to a remote resort to attempt to convince her to come back with him. What ensues is a descent into madness as the other participants (including Eric’s brother, Bjorn) confuse reality with fantasy. The scenario is a bit far-fetched and confusing, poorly scripted and edited. The performances were unconvincing.

2.3 -- MY NAME IS KHAN, Karan Johar
[reviewed by Robert Lewis] Recommended! There are a plethora of things wrong with this sprawling, unsubtle, 50 minutes too long, sappy, simplistic Bollywood drama about a man, suffering from Asperger syndrome, whose young Muslim son is ganged up on and killed in a school yard. To redeem himself before his inconsolable Hindu wife who has asked him to leave, the protagonist makes it his life's task to meet the President of the United States and tell him:"My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist." So why am I recommending a 2 star film? Because of the strength and importance of its message. Its straight in-your-face examination of the reflux of racism and its ramifications; its insights into the largely unsuspected tragedy of Muslims becoming self-hating, and no-holds barred look at the fault lines within the post 9/11, media transformed Muslim community. Whether or not "My Name is Khan" will succeed in humanizing the Muslim like "Roots" humanized the Afro-American depends on the marketing team rising to the occasion of the American mindset-in-stone. The film features an highly engaging, uplifting score (East-West fusion) and outstanding performances from the two leads: Shahrukh Khan, who illuminates the condition of Asperger syndrome, and Kajol, who plays Khan's wife. Director Karan Johar, not yet 40, is capable of producing Academy Award deserving scenes and is definitely a director to keep an eye on.
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A fantasized biopic of Serge Gainsbourg, beginning with the precocious, outspoken child in the 1940s through his successful song-writing career until his death at 62 in 1991. The film derives its fantasy and comedic elements from the inclusion of a long-nosed, long-fingered alter-ego known as The Mouth, who encourages Gainsbourg to abandon his childhood desire to be an illustrator and become a songwriter instead. We learn about his relationships with his many muses: Juliette Greco, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot et al. Despie its length at 130 min, the conclusion came about too abruptly and lacked detail.

2.8 -- A L'ORIGINE, Xavier Giannoli
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A solitary swindler takes on the identity of Philippe Miller, manager of a huge conglomerate. By chance, he becomes aware of a freeway project that was abandoned due to environmental reasons, which left economic devastation in its wake. Miller approaches the leaders of the region and convinces them that the freeway project will be renewed. He becomes a hero to the residents, even though his initial intent was to take the money and run -- until his conscience begins to gnaw at him. Torn between absconding with the money or staying to complete the project and keeping his cover, the protagonist's dilemma is lesson on the transformative powers that come from serving the common good.

2.7 -- THE GHOST WRITER, Roman Polanski
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Controversial former British PM is writing his memoirs. A successful ghost writer (referred to as The Ghost) is employed to complete the book. Initially, The Ghost is reluctant to accept because his predecessor was found dead. While waiting at the airport, a breaking news story accuses the PM of handing over suspected terrorists to the CIA, where they were tortured. If proven true, the PM will be branded as a war criminal. A complex yet predictable political thriller with a stellar ensemble cast.

2.8 -- THE RUNAWAYS, Floria Sigismondi
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] The Runaways were a seminal, pioneering, all-girl Rock & Roll band that formed in the summer of 1975. Initially founded by guitarist Joan Jett (Kirsten Stewart) and drummer Sandi West (Stella Maeve) and managed by über-eccentric Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), the band was rounded out by a bassist (compositely played by Alia Shawkat) and lead guitarist Lita Ford (Scout Taylor Compton). Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) became the lead singer. Based on the book "Cherry Blossom" by Carrie Borzillo, the film focuses on Cherie Currie and her relationship with Joan Jett. Coached by Joan and Cherie, both Kirsten and Dakota pour themselves into the music, and personify their respective characters to a tee. With Dakota Fanning's best performance to date, she is definitely on the cusp of becoming one of the best actresses of her generation.

2.8 -- THE GHOST WRITER, Roman Polanski
[reviewed by Robert Lewis] In its early 'pages,' Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" seems to be about a British politician whose past has come to haunt him -- until we deliciously discover that what is at issue is a gradually unfolding moral quandary. The ghost writer, played by Ewan McGregor, is hired by Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan at his very best) to finish his autobiography (first ghost died under mysterious circumstances). The ghost, who gets to interview the former Prime Minister, is sworn to confidentiality. But what is he to do when he uncovers unsavoury information about his subject that he believes should be entered into the public domain -- and what are the consequences of his decision? Even better than the heart stopping plot and the superb Felliniesque ending is Polanski's masterly melding of detail, landscape and weather, and suspense. The craft behind the pacing is so ingenious and ingratiating, by film's end one is smiling with pure pleasure despite disconcerting revelations and their real world implications. The Polanski-penned screenplay is charming and lethal, relentlessly chipping away at the illusions the system manufactures for mass consumption. With "The Ghost Writer," Polanski assures us that despite his advanced age (born 1933) and the sex scandal that continues to dog him, he remains at the very top of his game ("Chinatown," "The Tenant," "Cul-de-Sac," "Rosemary's Baby").

1.5 -- OUR FAMILY WEDDING, Rick Famuyiwa
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] When the parents of Lucia, a Mexican bride-to-be, played with some emotion by America Fererra, are introduced to her African American fiancee, Marcus (Lance Gross) and Brad, his father (Forest Whitaker), a clash of cultural values, wedding traditions and upbringing send both fathers into childish feuding. It's a fight to the finish until each ends up realizing he is seriously sabotaging the happiness of his own child's love for family and fiance. Slapstick scenes wane pale compared to Laurel and Hardy. Not a surprise that the love scenarios are not solely restricted to the kids; the parents get their day too, which makes the thematic symmetry annoyingly predictable. But there is one scene with a goat on Viagra. Original as it is, this slice of life silliness illustrates the IQ level of audience this film appeals to. The shocker in the film is Oscar-winner, Forest Whitaker accepted such a fluff role. What a waste! The bright light in the fiasco is actress Anjelah N. Johnson in the role of Isabella, Lucia's sister. She brings understated humour to the film's hyperbole. Despite the one line where Lucia tells her dad that he himself had taught her not to judge people by the colour of their skin, the film shamelessly plays the stereotypical race card.  

2.4 -- REMEMBER ME, Allen Coulter
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Set in New York City in the summer preceding the events of September 11th 2001, this romantic tragedy involves two 21 year olds helping the each other cope with a past tragedy. Tyler (Robert Pattinson) is dealing with the suicide of his older brother and a strained relationship with his father (Pierce Brosnan). Ally (Emilie de Ravin) witnessed her mother`s murder 10 years earlier on the metro platform. Since then her father (Chris Cooper), a N.Y.P.D. sergeant, has been trying to protect her. Well matched ensemble cast. An unfocused script that lacked the power to deliver the weighty subject matter in an engaging and clear manner.

2.6 -- LE HÉRISSON (THE HEDGEHOG), Mona Achache
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Set in a bourgeois Parisian apartment building this dramatic family comedy recounts an unexpected and unusual relationship between three people of different social class and cultural backgrounds. The first, an 11-year-old girl who is intelligent yet suicidal and loves to hideout from her parents and sister. The second, the janitor Renée Michel, is a 54-year-old widow with low self-esteem and a tendency to keep to herself. Lastly, a distinguished Japanese gent in his 60s who has just moved into the building and is attracted to Renée whom he invites for dinner. Culture clashes abound in this well acted and scripted film loosely based on Muriel Barbery`s novel "The Elegance of the Hedgehog."

2.1 -- VILAINE (UGLY MELANIE), Jean-Patrick Benes, Allan Mauduit
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Melanie is a plain looking young woman searching for true romance. She is a nice girl -- in point of fact too nice as everyone takes advantage of her: her mother, boss, friends, neighbour and even her neighbour's dog. Then one day after a cruel joke she decides 'enough is enough,' and decides to take revenge on those around her. Excellent performance by Marilou Berry as Melanie. Characterizations were initially charming but wore thin and even irritating as the movie progressed.

2.0 -- OSCAR ET LA DAME ROSE, Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Drama about the friendship that develops between Oscar, a 10-year-old boy who lives in the hospital, and Rose, who delivers pizzas. Neither his doctors nor his parents are frank with Oscar regarding his prognosis. Rose is a hard shelled middle aged woman. She proposes to Oscar that each day he survives would be the equivalent of ten years. A potentially powerful and emotionally driven film watered down by an excess of overweening sentimentality and the inclusion of Disneyish sequences.

2.4 -- BRENDAN ET LE SECRET DE KELLS, Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Set in ninth century Ireland in the Abbey of Kells, a beautifully illustrated animated tale recounting, on a level of mythical enchantment, the tale of a 12-year-old boy named Brendan. Fearing attacks from the Vikings, the Abbott (Brendan's uncle) orders that a wall be built and that all of the monks remain within the confines. Brother Aidan -- master illuminator from Iona -- arrives and sees in Brendan his successor. Brendan steals away into the forest to retrieve a special ink to illustrate the book. There he meets a water imp named Aislan who also helps him fight a serpent god. A somewhat formualic but delightful fantasy especially for children aged six to ten.

2.3 -- ANOTHER MAN, Lionel Baier
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Third feature length fiction ("Stupid Boy," 2004 and "Stealth/East," 2006) is an art house film shot in black and white. François and his girlfriend have just moved to Vallée de Joux in the Swiss canton of Vaud. He has been hired by the local paper to chronicle the films playing in the village's only cinema. Not knowing what to write he copies word for word the critique found in a cinema revue called 'Travelling.' The aspiring film critic travels to Lousanne to attend press screenings; there, he meets Rosa, a renowned film critic. A passionate and perverse affair quickly takes place. Film marred by unconvincing emotional rejoinders and somewhat excessive (code for compensatory) eroticism.

3.2 -- SHUTTER ISLAND, Martin Scorsese,
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This complex psychological thriller is reminiscent of a Hitchcock drama laid out on a film noir palette. Most notable about the entire film is the surprise ending, dramatically climaxing in an abundance of irony -- both for the hero protagonist and viewer alike. It begins with a certain female patient who has mysteriously escaped from a mental institution located on Shutter Island. Two marshals are called in to solve her disappearance. She eventually turns up, and as events begin to unravel, it turns out there is a covert connection with this missing patient to one of the marshals. Everyone seems to know about this relationship, except for him. Such is the stuff Shutter Island's secrets are made of. Despite this tale of tragic irony, "Shutter Island" is a cinematic pleasure to watch. Leonardo DiCaprio as the chief marshal stars at the centre of the film's diabolical conspiracy, but DiCaprio's emotional turmoil is eclipsed by the cool, formidable strength of the chief psychiatrist, brilliantly played by Ben Kingsley. 

3.2 -- SHUTTER ISLAND, Martin Scorcese
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Scorcese's latest offering makes it clearly evident that the spirit of Hitchcock is still alive. Based on Dennis Lahane`s mystery thriller of the same name that not only walks a fine line between reality and delusion but also through its many twists and turns take the viewer on a fright filled thrill ride -- what is real and what is not? Two US marshalls -- Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) arrive at Shutter Island -- an imposing former fortress currently housing the criminally insane. They have been summoned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of one of the patients. Set in the 1950s on a remote barren island off the coast of Massachusetts. Stellar cast rounded out by Ben Kingsley and Michelle Williams.

2.4 -- LITTLE NICHOLAS, Laurent Tirard
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Delightfully funny family film about a boy named Nicholas whose life is going well: loving parents, wonderful friends, everything a young boy could want out of life. One day he overhears a conversation by his parents. He gets the impression that he will soon have a little brother. He imagines the worst, such as his parents abandoning him in the woods a la Tom Thumb. So with his friends, he schemes for the best way to prevent this from happening. A predictable genre film that nonethless charms and makes for a wonderful weekend family outing.

2.4 -- THE WOLFMAN, Joe Johnston
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Remake of the 1941 horror classic that starred Lon Chaney. Benico del Toro fails to impress in his portrayal of The Wolfman but Anthony Hopkins (as his father) shines. Set design and costumes provide authentic Gothic feel. Focus is heavily tilted towards special effects leaving the story line far too predictable. The original classic is by far more engaging and superior.

2.1 -- THE WOLFMAN, Joe Johnston
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This remake of the 1941 classic horror hit by the same name doesn't improve upon the famous pairing of Claude Rains and Lon Chaney as father and son. In this vintage favourite, each is devoted to the other as loyal members of the Talbot family. Fast forward to 2010, and sadly, lively dialogue, humour and characterization are discarded in favour of gory special effects along with sadistic scenes that centre on Talbot as a sick-minded father intent on killing his sons -- both when the moon is full and the sun is up. True, the effective setting is akin to a German expressionist moody painting -- an apt match for the unrelenting suspense that puts your heart in pounding mode. But as for substance, the older film reigns supreme. Despite the phenomenal cast and their prime roles: Sir Anthony Hopkins as Mr. Talbot, Emily Blunt as Gwen and Benito del Toro as the wolfman himself, howling for help even during childhood, is a film you may end up howling at. The biggest disappointment was Benito del Toro who seemed to walk through the dual roles of wolf/human with inappropriate casual stride. “The past is a wilderness of horrors” (a line from the film), as is the story in its present-day cinematic incarnation.  

3.7 -- THE LAST STATION, Michael Hoffman
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Well-crafted biopic focusing on the final days of celebrated author of "Anna Karina" and "War and Peace" -- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910). Title of film refers to Astapolo -- the train station where Tolstoy died. Focuses mainly on the struggle over who owns the copyright to his works: his estate or the public. Also touches upon the movement -- the Tolstoyans -- founded on his philosophical and moral principles. A stellar cast that includes Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, James Mcavoy and Paul Giamatti.

2.4 -- FROM PARIS WITH LOVE, Pierre Morel
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Action comedy about a personal aide -- James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) -- to the U.S. ambassador to France, who aspires to be a bona fide CIA agent and see more field action. His 'break' comes when he is assigned to accompany Special Agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta, who literally illuminates the screen) who has been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist threat. Reese's glorified vision of being an agent quickly fades as Wax drags him through the Parisian underworld, shooting first then asking questions. While on this wild and frenzied spree, Reese begs to return to his former cushy -- behind a desk -- job. Then it is discovered that he is a target and there is no turning back; Charlie Wax is his only hope. Rhys Meyers and Travolta as a mismatched duo that sure to rival that of Lemmon /Matthau in "The Odd Couple" and Chan /Tucker in "The Rush Hour" series. Due to its predictable and formulaic driven plot the film fails to be noteworthy.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Complex pre-war drama set in the North German protestant village of Eichwald of strange events that occur between July 1913 and Aug 10, 1914 (the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand). Told as a narrative through the distant memories of the village's school teacher, the film begins with the doctor's horse tripping over a thin wire between two trees. This is followed by other incidents of an increasingly malicious nature as a subtle foreboding permeates the atmosphere of this film. Well cast with a black and white cinematography that is outstanding along with a tight knit script and editing. Hard to follow due to its length and complexity yet a worthy addition to one's video library.

3.2 -- DEAR JOHN , Lasse Hallstrom,
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] There's more than meets the eye for both viewer and protagonists in this tightly woven relationship film. A pair of star-crossed lovers choose their individual destinies. But ironically, much as they madly wish to be together, their seemingy noble and selfless decisions drive them apart both emotionally and physically. John, played with brooding thoughtfulness by Channing Tatum, wants desperately to be with his love, Savannah, played by the tears-on-command actress, Amanda Seyfriend ("Mamma Mia" fame), but his own call to serve in the American army drags him into areas far away from the safe shoreline of South Carolina and his human anchor -- Savannah. He also abandons his autistic father who has always provided for his own mental safety net by collecting coins and cooking, which his son John has no taste for. Predictably, when the son returns, it's too late. When John goes off to serve for over six years, he and Savannah keep up a passionate correspondence for about two years, but this do-good girl unwittingly creates her own Desert Storm and sadly the tides of sand and oceans along with self-destructive decisions drown both lovers' identity and love. Could it be that when love arrives in our lives, we ought to take the plunge? Is this not the biggest call of all? Despite each one's conflicting pull -- one to fight for good, the other to help an ill friend -- their sacrifice proves pitiful. John and Savannah learn that following one's desire to serve an ideal rather than one's true love makes for murky waters, but waters waiting to be purified -- through love. Nothing else quenches the heart more.  
2.3 -- DEAR JOHN, Lasse Holstrom
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] John (Channing Tatum), a special forces soldier, meets Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) while on leave visiting his father (Richard Jenkins). The connection between them is immediate and intense. After two weeks of seeing each other every day they have to go separate ways: he to complete his tour of duty of one year and she back to school. They agree to correspond. When John's tour of duty is up he signs on for two more years. This proves to be too much for Savannah, who breaks it off and marries another. John finally returns after his father suffers a stroke. He pays a visit to Savannah. Is the love between them still there? Beautiful location shooting in Charleston S.C. The major drawbacks: plot and editing are superficial, choppy and formulaic.

1.7 -- THE SEVEN DAYS OF TALION, Podz (Daniel Grou)
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] In this latest film adaptation of a Patrick Senecal novel, Claude Legault plays a 38-year old surgeon, Bruno Hamel, living comfortably in Drummondville with his wife and eight year old daughter Jasmine. All is well, until one day, Jasmine, on her way to school, is abducted, raped and murdered. When the suspect is taken into custody, Bruno plots to kidnap him, take him to an isolated chalet, torture him for seven days and lastly kill him. Good performances rounded out by Remy Girard, Martin Dubreuil and Fanny Mallette. A plodding, exploitive film that lacked credibility and purpose.

2.5 -- RACHEL, Simone Bitton
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] An investigative journalism film delving into the whys of the tragic death of Rachel Corrie -- a 23 year old American Pacifist -- who in March 2003 was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. At the time she was protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes. A vital thread in the cinematographic carpet that oxygenates the issues and dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Structured like a police investigation, but it reads like a transcript of court proceedings (Nuremberg Trials), which renders the film somewhat dry and academic.

2.5 -- LUCKY LUKE, James Huth
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A western comedy adventure based on the popular graphic novels " The Adventures Of Lucky Luke." In 1869 the first transcontinental railway is being laid in the U.S.A. The last spike is planned for lawless Daisy Town, where our hero, Lucky Luke (the fastest draw in the West, even faster than his own shadow) grew up. The President assigns Lucky the task of cleaning up the town and reestablishing law and order. Enter Pat Poker, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane and Jesse James, all of whom are vying to kill Lucky Luke. A spoof on the American Western genre as seen through the eyes of France, featuring stellar performances from entire cast. Design and decor a bit tacky, but recommended diversion for weekend matinee.

2.4 -- WHEN IN ROME, Mark Steven Johnson
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Romantic comedy that includes a touch of magic. Beth is an ambitious workaholic curator at the Guggenheim Museum. She learns that her ex-boyfriend is engaged and that her sister is impulsively marrying her new Italian boyfriend in Rome. She falls for the best man Nick but is unsure whether he feels the same. Inebriated, she wades into the Fountain of Love and defiantly takes five coins. The owners of these coins immediately fall for her and pursue all the way to New York. While at times funny, film is riddled with clichés and predictable results.

3.2 -- HELEN, Sandra Nettelbeck
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Human drama depicting a woman`s descent into the hell and painful isolation that accompanies serious clinical depression. Helen Leonard (aptly played by Ashley Judd) has it all: a loving husband, an adoring daughter and a well established career yet she is plagued with a sense of inadequacy -- a secret she vainly tries to keep to herself. A very difficult and emotionally disturbing film but important for the following reasons: 1) makes one aware of the nature of this disease. 2) we learn that depression knows no bounds with regards to age, sex social status or cultural identity.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Medical drama inspired by the true story of John Crowley (Brendan Fraser), who risked his family's future in pursuing a cure for his two youngest children, both diagnosed with Pompes Disease -- a fatal, rare genetic disorder. With the clock ticking, he teams up with a brilliant, unconventional research scientist, Dr Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford); together, they succeed in developing a drug that will cure the disorder. An emotionally stirring portrayal of the corporate machinations behind drug research and how profit margins are a greater incentive than the humanitarian aspects. Excellent performances from the leads including Keri Russell as Ailleen Crowley and Jared Harris as Dr Ken Webster. Maredith Doeger and Diego Velazquez as Megan and Patrick Crowley -- the two stricken -- give honest and spontaneous performances.

2.7 -- CRAZY HEART, Scott Cooper
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Debut feature about a fast living, alcoholic country music singer -- Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) -- who at 57 years old and career on the down and out, is on the road playing bowling alleys and small town bars, rehashing his old hits to his smashed fans. One day he meets Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a single mom and journalist. This triggers a desire change his ways and seek redemption. Potent country rock soundtrack by T Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham and Stephen Bruton, with Bridges singing on many of the songs. Top notch performances throughout somewhat undermined by a weak script and watering down of the tragedy of alcoholism.

2.3 -- LARGO WINCH, Jerome Salle
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Action thriller based on one of Belgian graphic novelist Jean Van Hamme's most notable works, Largo Winch, who is a James Bond type but in a corporate setting. Story begins with the suspicious death of Nerio Winch, business tycoon, founder and principle shareholder of multinational Group W. Who will be his successor? Officially he has no heir, until we learn that 27 years ago he had adopted a son -- Largo, currently serving time in Brazil on trumped up drug charges -- from a Bosnian orphanage. And so begins an action packed tale of corporate espionage and intrigue as Largo attempts to prove his legitimacy as heir and prevent Group W from falling into hostile handss. The film is linguistically flawed; it was shot mainly in French with some subtitles (usually Bosnian) while some of the characters were Anglophone yet no English was heard.

2.5 -- THE SPY NEXT DOOR, Brian Levant
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Bob Ho (played with the usual impecable blend of action and comedy by Jackie Chan -- "Rush Hour") pretends to be an 'average' Chinese immigrant living in the suburbs when he's in fact an undercover CIA super spy. He wants to retire and devote himself to his next door neighbour and girlfriend Gillian (Amber Valletta). She has three children -- Farren (Madeline Carroll), Ian (Will Shadley) and Nora (Alina Foley: daughter of David Foley) -- who hate him and consider him just a boring pen salesman. One day Gillian has to leave town so Bob offers to babysit the children. One of them inadvertently downloads a top secret formula. This attracts the attention of his archenemy Poldark (Magnus Scheving) who decides to attack Bob. This forces Bob to juggle his roles as spy and prospective father. Revisits similar territory in director's previous "Are We there Yet?" but with a 007 point of view. Appropriate use of song "Secret Agent Man." Potentially strong ending with emotionally charged message about the true meaning of family undermined by use of outtakes during end credits.

2.5 -- I WEAR THE VEIL, Natasha Ivisic, Yannick Letourneau
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A 52 minute thread in the cinematic tapestry of identity and life values. The docu is seen through the eyes of director Natasha Ivisic -- Quebec born of Yugoslav parents -- who converted to Islam 16 years ago and wears the traditional veil (hijab). Her daughter Amina, now 13, is questioning whether she should begin wearing it. What begins as the mother's advice to her daughter ends up as a personal interrogation into why is she wearing the hijab.

2.3 -- YOUTH IN REVOLT, Miguel Arteta
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Teen sex comedy that effectively combines animated sequences -- stop action -- with real life. Based on the acclaimed novel by C.D. Payne that centers on a dull, predictable sex-obsessed teen, Nick Twisp (played by Michel Cera, who delivers his usual brand of serious sounding yet dry humour that has made him one of the most sought after actors in the business today), who falls for the beautiful free-spirited Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) while on a family vacation. Driven by a strong desire to be with her, Nick develops an alter ego, Francois Dillinger, who is the total opposite: reckless and rebellious. Francois leads Nick down the a path of destruction and mayhem. While a delight and a joy to watch, the plot, script and editing were somewhat formulaic.

2.8 -- DAYBREAKERS, Peter and Michael Spierig
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Vampire science-fiction thriller with elements of a zombie flic. The year is 2019, 10 years after a plague has transformed 95% of the population into vampires. The remaining five % (human) are busy fleeing or are being farmed to supply blood to feed the vampires. There is an ever increasing shortage of blood so starving vampires are turning into mindless beasts called subsiders. The race is on to find a suitable solution before all humans are extinct and the vampires have turned into subsiders. Highly original vampire flic by the Spierig Brothers who had previously given us "The Undead."

2009 REVIEWS  

3.2 -- FANTASTIC MR. FOX, Wes Anderson
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] First stop-motion animated feature from director of "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" based on Roald Dahl's children's novel of the same name. About a sly fox (George Clooney) who along with his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) get trapped during a chicken raid. While there she reveals that she is pregnant; in turn, if they survive, he promises to become a responsible father and give up stealing chickens. Two years later (12 fox years), Mr. and Mrs. Fox are living in a hole along with their son Ash (Jason Schwartsman), a journalist. He moves his family into a home at the base of a tree which just happens to be located near three large farming facilities run by Boggis (chickens), Bunce (ducks) and Bean (cider). The temptation is too great and Mr. Fox decides to pull off one more heist. . Delightful dialogue and soundtrack; humour abounds; fun for the entire family. Subtle message: we are what we are.

2.4 -- SHERLOCK HOLMES, Guy Ritchie
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] New mystery featuring the famed detective (Robert Downey Jr.) and his sidekick Dr. John Watson (Jude Law). Heavy use of special effects took away from the mystery element and story: tiresome retelling of one man (Lord Blackwood played by Mark Strong) wanting to rule the World. Holmes' renowned powers of deduction play second fiddle to the blunt force of his fists. Though the set design depicting Victorian era London, England was both authentic and grounded in the reality of the times, the film makers attempted and succeeded in imbuing the film with a contemporary feel, which, in this reviewer's mind, weakened the film's credibility.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A modern fantastical morality tale with a Faustian theme. Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), in a travelling theatre troupe, inspires his audience to experience what they have only dared to imagine. Consequent to a bet with the devilish Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), he has won immortality but at a price. In another bet, his daughter Valentina's (Lily Cole) soul will become the property of Mr. Nick on her 16th birthday. A race against time begins (only five days until Valentina's birthday). A mysterious stranger, Tony (Heath Ledger) arrives. Will he aid the Doctor or has he been sent by Mr. Nick? Tony`s Imaginarium sequences are played by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell, all filling in for Ledger who died before the film was completed. But the substitutions aren't convincing, the symbolism suffers, some of the viewers leave during the film; a repetition of what happened during the director's previous works: "Brazil," "Tideland" etc.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Think "Moulin Rouge" directed by Baz Luhrmann (2001), with tons of colour, spectacle and actors playing silly characters that no one cares about in a theatrical stage show. Now think of having the best sleep in your life. No matter that you missed Tom Waits, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Christopher Plummer and Jude Law while snoozing away. The characters and plot you were dreaming about during your snooze were probably far more credible than those of Terry Gilliam’s. A movie never works without a good story and authenticity. The fantastical settings were fun to look at -- for a second. The symbolism evoking evil and goodness get lost in the visual clutter and pretentious dialogue.

3.8 -- A SINGLE MAN, Tom Ford
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] When professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) suddenly loses the love of his life, Jim, in a car accident, his introverted existence seems to him to feel 'invisible' -- so painfully lonely is he. His homosexuality remains locked in the taboos of the time, and he must deal with this. In his Los Angeles university lecture, he exposes hatred as a fear that conjures up false charges against minorities. This is 1962 where gays were punished and communists were fired and Americans thought Cuba would take over the world. George, a Brit, is totally alienated from the ethos. His friend Charlotte (Julianne Moore) takes on the role reminiscent of the one she played in "The Hours:" she is married to a gay man in that movie. Unsuccessfully, she tries to change George’s sexuality so her love for him may be requited. But all they have in common is a bottle of booze and terrific loneliness. Brilliant acting by Firth -- worthy of an Oscar -- illustrates a depth that heretofore has not been seen in any of his other films. His comedic talent also shines in the pathetic scene where his life is about to meet its maker. Always restrained, Firth’s vulnerability as Charlie is crushing, and it is made all the more moving by the haunting violin score that seems to express musically his inability to be happy. Based on the novel by Chistopher Isherwood, the movie also illustrates the fact that director Tom Ford was a fashion designer. To great effect, he uses clothing to dress up feelings and accentuate a particularly climactic moment in the plot.

3.6 -- A SINGLE MAN, Tom Ford
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Aesthetically stunning film debut from famous fashion designer, Tom Ford. Set in 1962 at the height of the Cuban missile crisis and the Bay of Pigs scare, this drama centers on George Falconer (Colin Firth), a gay college professor who has just lost his long time partner, Jim (Matthew Goode), in a fatal car accident. We follow George as he attempts to cope with his loss, his struggle to let go and face the future, and the advances of both his closest friend Charley (Julianne Moore) and a student, Kenny (Nicholas Holt). Film also sensitizes audience to the difficulties involved in facing up to one's nature and homophobia.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A long and complex investigative thriller -- the second volume of a trilogy involving a publication called "Millenium" (based on Stleg Larsson's bestseller) -- the first entitled:" Men Who Hate Women," the third is entitled: "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest." A triple murder is being pinned on a young woman -- Lisbeth Salander -- who was formerly institutionalized. Dubbed into French from original Swedish decreased the film's impact and inadvertently added an inappropriate comedic element. Would love to see film in original language with either French or English subtitles. Contained a few too many superfluous scenes that could have been edited out. Performances were mixed, but overall a very thrilling ride. Certain scenes were shockingly graphic as gauged by audience reactions. Could have easily fit into the programming of a genre film festival such as Fantasia.

3.1 -- NINE , Rob Marshall
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Yes, it happened even to Federico Fellini -- director’s block -- just when shooting was slated for his masterpiece, "8 ½" -- “It fled from me,” the legendary director revealed about that loophole in his life." Nine," a somewhat biographical musical, recreates the drama of director Guido Contini when he loses the creative spark -- despite the appearance of his muse Claudia, played insipidly by Nicole Kidman. The movie charts the breakdown of Contini’s talent, via the appearance of the women who have inspired him throughout his personal and professional life. Penelope Cruz as his mistress is magnetic; what a fierce dancer and singer she is! Fergie is also fabulous in her song and dance number. Daniel Day-Lewis as Contini is positively riveting, charming and soulful. His Italian accent is luscious. Who would have thought this uplifting highly energetic movie full of pizzazz could be deep and moving? But it is. The women are stunning: Kate Hudson’s disco queen performance is hilarious fun, and Sophia Loren takes your breath away. Judi Dench shows superb versatility in her craft as an actor as she cabarets on the stage. The only femme without force was Marion Cotillard. The screen serves her best as a Bond girl -- not a Fellini one. .  

3.9 -- NINE, Rob Marshall
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A musical that is a veiled portrayal of Fredrico Fellini in the guise of Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), a famous film director going through 'director's block' in preparing his next film aptly titled "Italia." Feeling suffocated, he flees, not revealing where to even to his wife, Luisa (Marion Cotillard). His mistress Carla (sensuously played by Penelope Cruz in an Oscar deserving performance) joins him. His wife and entourage find them, complications arise. Other members of the all-star cast include: Nicole Kidman as leading actress Claudia Jenssen; Judi Dench as Lilli, his costume designer; a still gorgeous Sophia Loren as his mother. Memorable song and dance numbers from the entire cast. Excellent follow up to his previous "Chicago."

3.0 -- AVATAR, James Cameron
[reviewed by Robert Lewis] If you're older than 20, you're not going to "Avatar" for its facile plot: man is prisoner of his genotype, that despite his obsession with sacred texts and their divine origins, in pursuit of lucre he profanes everything he touches. In the films most telling line, a human asks: 'Why are they, the enemy, helping us?' Because they (the Na'vi) are not us. What sets the film apart from all other films is its ground-breaking special effects, implausibly lush settings and exquisite sets, and sleek and slim, hypnotically graceful, alien bodies that populate the phantasmagorically fecund planet of Pandora. If the plot were removed, the film would merit a 3.5 as a documentary or ode to the natural world. All in all -- and there's enough for back to back viewings -- a memorable and highly recommended 166 minutes of cinema unverité.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Children's fable directed more towards adults than children. Centers on a rambunctious yet sensitive boy named Max (Max Records) who one day, feeling rejected by his family, flees. He lands on an island inhabited by cuddly, furry creatures (designed by Jim Henson Studios). Max is crowned king and sets out with the creatures to build a fort where only that which is desired will be allowed in and all will live and cuddle together for all time. Yet the realization soon sets in that relationships are far more complex than this. Fable sends out a strong and dark lesson in this important aspect of life: that underneath the naivety and innocent charm of childhood there are the realities of life.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Max, a young boy in search of a family that will care about him -- he feels his real one doesn’t -- escapes in a sailboat to a distant island where he encounters big, cuddly furry creatures that take him in and call him king. That’s what Max claims he is, especially after they threaten to eat him upon finding him. They too are in search of a loving leader they can call a member of their family. Max assigns each of his newly adopted furry family members building tasks for a cozy fort that will give them shelter and peaceful sleeps cuddling together. But, as in most families, things go awry, and Max is dethroned. The truth about his identity is revealed. It’s a happy ending, though tears are shed. Everyone learns there is no such thing as a perfect family. Max learns that home is where you come from, not where you want to go. Max Records, as Max is exceptional as are the facial expressions of the characters created by the Jim Henson studio. Maurice Sendak wrote the children’s story that is funny, frightening, and not without family failures and redemption. Recommended for children aged 8-11.  

3.7 -- INVICTUS, Clint Eastwood
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Powerful and inspiring telling of Nelson Mandela's involvement with South Africa's rugby World Cup victory in 1995. Clearly the underdogs, Mandela's use of William Ernest Henley's poem of same name rallied both the Afrikaans and the Blacks (total population of approximately 43 million) to inspire unity, reconciliation and forgiveness. Through effective dialogue and stunning performances by Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as rugby team captain Francois Pienaar, the film recaptures the emotions, the pride and passionate nationalism of the underdog South African Springboks that wrest the World Cup from the seemingly invincible New Zealand All Blacks.

2.5 -- INVICTUS, Clint Eastwood
[reviewed by Robert Lewis] I take issue with NYT critic A. O. Scott who proposes that revenge is “the defining theme of his (Clint Eastwood’s) career.” The mature Eastwood is obsessed, fascinated by borders; how people of different race, colour, culture and religion meet and negotiate their differences – and how they come to discover that the differences aren't so different after all. "Gran Torino" situated a xenophobe in an oriental neighbourhood; "Million Dollar Baby" entered a female boxer into a man’s sport; in "Flags of our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima" soldiers from both sides have to negotiate dying and death. As a measure of our vast disenchantment (euphemism for self-loathing) both inside and outside the theatre, we, the people, have never been so primed to catch onto the smallest wave of idealism that promises to carry us high and travel us far – all the way to Kandahar – (and back) if Obama is still your favourite wavelength? In movies, I can’t think of a director who has provided more inspiring waves than Clint Eastwood in recent years. "Invictus," that can be compared to the film "Gandhi," will not disappoint. As to the 'you’re never too old to take chances,’ adage, the now 79-year-old Eastwood inserts into his 2-hour plus film no less than 30 minutes of rugby segments that remind us that waves and willing them are one and the same. I preferred "GTorino" but recommend "Invictus" for its inspiring insights into the unconquerable souls of both Madiba and Clint.  

3.8 -- INVICTUS, Clint Eastwood
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] If a poem can inspire a man to lead a country out of racial hatred and set that country on a new path of reconciliation with all humanity united -- no matter the colour of your skin -- then that poem is Invictus. The film clearly illustrates this. The Springboks, South Africa’s rugby team, are on a losing streak -- as was the country until Mandela became President, and used that poem as a modus operandi, making breakthroughs both personally and for the country he loved. Using inspiration and example to unite the country, Mandela chooses the failing Springboks rugby team as a means to ignite the collective spirit of South Africa -- a country and a team aching to thrive without the shackles of apartheid. Mandela says, “This country is hungry for greatness.” Interestingly, the movie never shows the whole poem -- only the way to believe in oneself. Eastwood has made a film destined for greatness. Unforgettable performances by Morgan Freeman (Mandela) and Matt Damon (Francois Pienaar, the team captain).  

2.5 -- EARTH KEEPERS, Sylvie Van Brabant
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Another filament in the genre of films that throws light on the world's increasing need to deal with the environmental issues. Rather than resorting to an alarmist approach, the director chooses to focus on those individuals and groups who have come up with solutions. The setting of the issues to slam poetry tended to water down and distract from the impact.
2.5 -- THE YOUNG VICTORIA, Jean-Marc Vallee
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Historical drama set in 1837 England when Victoria (1819-1901) was crowned Queen of England just short of her 18th birthday. Despite exquisite period designs and costumes, the film failed to engage and the performances were lacklustre.

3.0 -- NOEMIE: LE SECRET, Frederik D'Amours
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Charming, lighthearted comedy based on the popular series of novels by Gilles Tibo. Centers on a precocious and imaginative seven year old girl whose parents are away at work and spends most of her day with an upstairs neighbour who was recently widowed, whose late husband convinced the gullible Noemie that a treasure was hidden treasure somewhere in her neighbour's appartment. With a classmate, she sets out to find it. After a weak beginning that threatens to bog down in yet another run in the mill family flick, the film takes a powerful dramatic turn and finishes strongly.

2.6 -- BROTHERS, Jim Sheridan
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A remake of Suzanne Bier's 2004 Danish film "Brødre" that explores the effects of war on those who serve and their immediate family. Despite riveting performances and timely storyline the original Danish feature stands out as far superior (rated 3.5) re. acting and originality. But for names and locations, story and circumstances remain unchanged. The film pries open the relationship between two brothers: the eldest is a military man, married with two daughters; the younger is an alcoholic drifter just out of prison. The eldest is sent to Afghanistan where his helicopter is shot down and he is presumed dead. The younger brother gradually begins to assume responsibility for his nieces and attractive sister in law. Unexpectedly, the elder returns -- a changed and broken man -- having been subjected to torture as a POW.

3.0 -- PRECIOUS, Lee Daniels
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A heartwarming, sensitive film that follows a young woman as she journeys from darkness into light. Set in Harlem in 1987, its unlikely main character is 'Precious' Jones, an obese and illiterate young woman whose father has impregnated her for the second time. The mother with whom she lives blames the daughter for 'stealing' her husband, and relentlessly subjects her to venemous verbal and physical abuse. Precious is offered a place at an 'alternative' school. Sensing that she can begin to change her situation, she accepts behind her mother's back. Thus the journey begins, hard and gritty at times. Gabour Sidigue, in her first role as Precious, and Mo`Nique, in an unusually dramatic role as Marie (mother), plus an excellent supporting cast add authenticity and humanity to a precious film.

3.5 -- PRECIOUS, Lee Daniels
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] She’s Claireece Jones -- but she’s called Precious by all who know her. It turns out few really do, including herself. How could she, when her deadbeat mom abuses her physically and mentally, telling her she’s fat and good for nothing, and that she must not go to school but to the welfare office to get the cheque so mom can spend it on all the cigarettes she smokes. Mom’s boyfriend is equally horrific, yet, ironically the nightmare he inflicts on Precious becomes her salvation. It turns out Precious’ purpose in life is to be a great mother, and that is where the movie ends. Of course, she gets equipped with an education from an alternative school, so her two kids will be kept from the terrible poverty cycle their precious mom endured from age three on until her mid teens. “Precious” is a stirring drama of unbridled honesty and frankness. Scenes depicting dreaded moments in which our unlikely heroine endures brutality stand in contrast to the instant fantasies that erupt in her mind as a singing star. The movie does this so successfully that we are grateful Precious has something with which to instantly feed her imagination as an escape in those segments when reality comes crushing literally and physically down on her. We see there is no where for her to escape except through her hungry imagination. Thankfully, it is eventually nourished, and finally . . . cathartically expressed. Gabourey Sidible as Precious and Mo’Nique as her monster mother may well up cussing each other in real life: only one will end up with the Oscar. Both deserve it. The novel “Push” was written by Sapphire.  

3.7 -- POUR TOUJOURS LES CANADIENS, Sylvain Archambeault
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Powerful, affecting drama evoking the deep passions that have been associated with the Montreal Canadians in their more than 100 year history. William is a star player on the local hockey team. His father is working on a documentary commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Canadians. His mother is a nurse at St Justines Hospital. Ten year old Daniel arrives suffering from kidney failure. His wish is to see a live hockey game. And thus, two passions and destinies converge. Seamless weaving of archival footage and special appearances by Jean Belliveau and Saku Koivu.

2.8 -- PIRATE RADIO, Richard Curtis
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 1966 -- the height of British pop with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who, Kinks et al topping the charts. Yet the only way you could hear this new music was to tune into . . . a boat. Richard Curtis's new film is an ensemble comedy that attempts (and succeeds) to recreate the communal atmosphere of MASH but this time on a boat -- that broadcasts Rock & Roll 24/7. The comradship and party mood on the boat is in sharp contrast to the conservative and stiff-necked approach of the British government as it attempts to shut down these pirate radio stations: for ex., Philip Seymour Hoffman's character, 'The Count, ' is pitted against Kenneth Branaugh, who plays the British minister Dormandy (sporting an Hitlerian style moustache.) Soundtrack contains many of the hits from the era, providing an element of nostalgia for those of us who were teens at the time. Some of the music has been chosen to recreate specific scenes and moods, some of the music has slipped into obscurity.

2.7 -- THE FOURTH KIND, Olatunde Osunsanmi
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] We are all familiar with "Close Encouners of the Third Kind." Now comes The Fourth Kind thriller exploring the phenomenon of alien abductions. A dramatization of psychologist Abigail Tyler's (played by Milla Jovovich) case studies of her patients in Nome, Alaska. Film's premise is to present documented evidence of alien abductions. This is done by an intricate mix of recreations and use of 'authentic?' archival material -- both audio and visual;- much of it is unclear and unconvincing. Uneven performances by both professional and unidentified 'actors?' Were they really convinced? Promises to be devoured by UFO enthusiasts as definite proof, but it is up to the viewer to decide.

2.6 -- THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, Grant Heslov
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Fictionalized comedy inspired by Jon Ronson's non-fiction book of the same title about "First Earth Battalion" ("New Earth Army" in film). This was an alternative approach to combat using new age techniques and psychic abilities. Many references to "Star Wars" as much of the film occurs during the Reagan administration. The soldiers were called Jedi Warriors. Outstanding chemistry between the leads.

3.7 -- MARY AND MAX, Adam Elliot
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Clayography (animated) feature that chronicles an unlikely penpal relationship that lasted 20 years. Mary (Toni Collette) is a lonely 8-year old girl with particular tastes and points of view, living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Max (Phillipe Seymour Hoffman) is a 44-year old obese man with aspergers syndrome. Subsequent life journey ensues exploring all possible issues that can affect humanity in a touching and uplifting way with the voices of the two leads adding a deep sense of emotion and childlike innocence. Highly complex, painfully slow film to produce, , requring six animators and a crew of 50 for every two and a half minutes of footage/per week).

3.5 -- ANTICHRIST, Lars Von Trier
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A grieving couple (their only son died tragically) retreat to Eden, their isolated cabin deep in the forest, hoping that Nature, its tranqulity, will heal their broken souls. But instead, they encounter sinister and malevolent presences. Intense, superb performances from both leads, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Striking use of imagery, much of it symbolic; and skillful manipulation of colour hues from soft grey, B&W to lush green (latter gave forest stature as a 3rd character). A meticulously researched film, conceived as a form of therapy as director was battling a deep depression.

3.2 -- ABSURDISTAN, Veit Helmer
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Absurdistan -- a forgotten village somewhere between Europe and Asia. Home to 14 families. The men play cards, drink all day and then return to perform their honourable "duty" with their wives. The women take care of the village and do all of the chores. Young Aya and Temelko have known each other since birth. Their friendship has grown into love and are looking forward to "being together" for the first time. Aya's grandmother predicts that this night will come on July 11th, in four years time when the constellations of Virgo and Sagittarius are together in the night sky; and they must do it immersed in water. The village's water supply has been drawn through a pipeline from an underground cave in the mountains. The condition of the pipes has deteriorated seriously over the years, thus, the available water has dwindled to almost nothing -- the village is dry. The big day approaches for Aya and Temelko, who steals precious water to fill the pool. Aya becomes furious and proclaims, " No water, no sex." The other women follow suit, and a battle of the sexes begins. Will the women prevail over the men? The film, which features an international cast, is charming, subtley absurd and fairy tale-like, with an emphasis on image over dialogue.

3.0 -- 3 SAISONS, Jim Donovan
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Thriller involving five individuals, three stories, nine months, set in the vile, toxic and dense urban atmosphere of Montreal that works up to a catharsis of blood and suffering but, ironically, also hope, love and rebirth. Bourgeois couple couple Carmine and Sasha -- he a successful ad-man, she an aspiring actress -- are at opposite in every sense from Justine and Seb, who live from day to day on the streets. But they share one commonality -- a child is on the way; and so is Stephen Decker, from Calgary, who is seeking vengeance for the murder of his daughter. Director's third and most mature effort where he skillfuly and engagingly weaves several complex tales into a seamless narrative. Performances are all top-notch.

2.5 -- LES PETITS GEANTS, Anais Barbeau-Lavalette, Emile Proux-Cloutier
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Another thread added to the cinematic tapestry that makes up Montreal's social structure special as seen through the eyes of children. In this case pupils from grades 5 and 6 in the South-West sector (Ville Emard, Little Burgandy & St Henri) of Montreal given the colossal challenge of preparing and performing, in nine months, a musical inspired by Verdi's opera "A Masked Ball." Films of this nature are better appreciated when viewed as part of a whole.

3.8 -- LA JOURNEE DE LA JUPE (SKIRT DAY), Jean-Paul Lilienfeld
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A social drama tackling the issues of education and equality with the side issues of gang rape, condoms, Islam, immigration, respect and racism. A high school professor in a mixed low income neighbourhood in Paris, facing a lot of pressure and resistence from her students, upon discovery of a gun brought in by one of them, flips out an takes them hostage. Totally opposite in objectives when compared to Laurent Cantet's "The Class" when factoring in the elements of brutality, relevance, reality and -- humour. Stunningly authentic performances from both professional and non-professionals. allowing for a a truer sense of authenticity in the relationship between student and professor (Isabelle Adjani). A difficult but essential film. Could have used subtitles as many slang terms employed.

3.6 -- LA DONATION (THE LEGACY), Bernard Emond
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Set in the austere and exceptional beauty of the Abitibi region in the former copper mine village of Normétal, 750 kms north of Montreal, Dr Jeanne Dion agrees to replace Dr Rainville, who is approaching retirement, for a few weeks while he goes on vacation. The final installment of a trilogy (2005 -- "La Neuvaine" and 2007 -- "Contre Toute Esperance") tackling the issues of faith, hope and charity. On the surface these remote regions seemingly have nothing to offer when compared to big cities but for many newcomers a strong attraction develops and they stay, won over by the region's magical light and spaciousness, the dignity, openness, generosity and authenticity of the people.

2.4 -- UN ANGE A LA MER (ANGEL AT SEA), Fredric Dumont
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] In a small seaside Moroccon town a 12-year old boy resides with his parents and older brother. For him life is a dream until his severely depressed father reveals a devasting secret to him. A difficult and sensitive subject -- the psychological abuse of children -- not well handled, the script failing to provide impact. Performances from principals were top notch.

3.4 -- A SERIOUS MAN, Joel and Ethan Coen
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Dark Jewish satire addressing the issues of faith, family, mortality and misfortune. Set in a Minneapolis suburb (close to home for the Coens) in 1967 when Jefferson Airplane is playing on the radio and F-Troop is on TV. Larry Gopnik (a physics professor at a university) starts to -- like a modern day Job -- have his life unravel beneath him. His wife wants a divorce so she can be with another; a brother s becoming more of a burden; a daughter is stealing money for a nose job; a son approaching Bar Mitzvah but is strung out on pot. In short, difficulties and problems in every area of his life. In his search for clarity and struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advise from three rabbis but receives only vague responses. Though this film is one 100 % Jewish, its relevance and stark message is universal: we all go about living from day to day without a clue and little guidance, leaving human nature to call the shots.

2.7 -- 5150 RUE DES ORMES, Eric Tessier
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Yannick has just moved out of his parents' home to study film. One day he is cycling, has a spill, goes to the nearest house for help -- 5150 Rue Des Ormes -- the residence of the Beaulieus, where he meets the punishment-meting, iron-handed, judgmental father, who overwhelms his weak and submissive wife. Seventeen year old son is rebellious and subject to violent outbursts; 7-year old is mentally handicapped. Good performances from principal cast, well developed characters, but script doesn't compare to previous 2003 'Sur le Seuil." Nonetheless, director shows promise and could become Quebec's answer to Hitchcock or Chabrol.

3.5 -- BRIGHT STAR, Jane Campion
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] Exquisite and beautiful rendering of the difficult love affair between romantic poet John Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne from their meeting in 1818 to his death at the age of 25. Weaving both visual and aural (through his poetry) elements, Campion allows the viewer to experience the transformation of the relationship from one of restraint (externally imposed) to that of a passion and desire so strong that both were willing to risk all to see their feelings through. A slow paced, haunting and ravishing film that is guaranteed to please all of the senses while engaging the emotions. Can be favourably compared to a previous work, "The Piano", but is very much a gem of its own.

3.0 -- CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, Michael Moore
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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.

[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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.

2.2 -- I KILLED MY MOTHER (J'AI TUE MA MERE), Xavier Dolan
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] 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.

2.4 -- LE DANDY MOURANT, Anders Wahlgren
[reviewed by Sylvain Richard] A loose dramatization of Swedish expressionist painter Nils Dardel (1888 – 1943) from the 1920s until his death. Good performances undermined by sloppy editing. A film that fails to live up to its promise. = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting
Listing + Ratings of films from festivals, art houses, indie
Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 10-21st, (514) 844-2172
CINEMANIA(Montreal) - festival de films francophone 1-11 novembre, Cinema Imperial info@514-878-0082
Festivalissimo Film Festival - Montreal
2008 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL (Montreal) North America's Premier Genre Festival July 3-21
Montreal World Film Festival
2009 FIFA International Film Festival
Montreal Jazz Festival
Armand Vaillancourt: sculptor
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