far, A & O film critics Robert J. Lewis and Sylvain Richard
have seen the following films. Here are their ratings and comments,
always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film,
3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.
Robert J. Lewis' best ever films = (Io Non Ho Pauro (I'm Not Afraid),
Life Is Beautiful, Death In Venice, Babel, Days of Heaven, A
Long Walk, Amadeus, Secrets and Lies, Monsignor Quixote,
Looking For Richard, Mulholland Drive).
-- DIRTY MIND,
Peter Van Hees
After an accident resulting in brain damage, a wimpish, fearful
man with low self-esteem wakes up to his opposite, now working
as a stuntman. He loves his new self but his medical team considers
him dangerously ill (his behaviour is wreckless and unpredictable)
and they want to operate on his brain and return him to his
former self. Formulaic plot but with enough twists and turns
to sustain interest. Grainy texture didn't help; subtitles at
times difficult to read. Within the genre, doesn't compare to
"Fearless" (Peter Weir). .
3.3 -- PERSONA NON GRATA,
Documentary. Power one of man, Franz Wuytack, activist priest,
to inspire hope and political change for the wretched of the
earth in Caracas, Venezuela. Spectacular, shocking (à la Slumdog
Millionaire) arial photography of the hillside barrios that
surround modern, downtown Caracas. Exquisite, haunting guitar
score. An exemplary, must see documentary whose only flaw might
be its lack of objectivity: the director-son paying homage to
his revered father.
-- LEFT HANDED,
A film, about a boy who has locked himself up in his room
for 18 months, that doesn't flinch in its harrowing examination
of a growing problem in Japan: self-incarceration. A languidly
paced docudrama whose unsuspected lyricism is a function of
its relentless but ingratiating (affective) melancholy. What
does voluntary self-incarceration tell about the world (its
pressures and imperatives) the disaffected young are rejecting?
An at once illuminating and disturbing film that will go nowhere
commercially, as the world squirms on its axis.
-- PRINCE OF BROADWAY,
The unwitting star of this engaging, low-budget film is a
child not old enough to speak, who is rudely handed over to
the care of his paperless Ghanese father, a Broadway street
hustler hawking counterfeit brand name clothing and runnning
shoes. The stakes are high: the child's future predicted by
the cycle of poverty and illegal immigration. Fine acting
performances throughout in a script that allowed for considerable
Sexually graphic, experimental
(no dialogue) film about a morose Hollandaise looking to relieve
her ennuie through one gratuitous sexual encounter (with both
men and women) after another. The repetitive sex is sterile,
the vomiting scenes explicit, the characters thoroughly dislikeable,
which means this film isn't for everybody, especially I Love
Lucy fans. One suspects the director either holds his people
(their mores) in utter contempt (à la "Caresses" by
V. Pons) or he is indicting the catastrophic effects of post-modernism
and its devotees.
Sylvain Richard's best ever films = (Babij
Jar, Man Who Wipes Mirrors, Napola, Les
Choristes, The Heasman, My Nikifor, Hell
in Tangier, Camaron, Who Are You, King
of the World).
Slow burning psychological drama involving a desperate and
frustrated young woman recovering from an attempted suicide
caused by an overbearing father who is a surgeon preparing
a weird skin graft to repair her severely damaged face. He
hires a nurse with a sordid past to care for her. A forbidden
and passionate love affair developes between her and the nurse.
Despite abrupt ending, erotic scenes and music poetically
-- RAPPING WITH SHAKESPEARE,
A look at 2005 graduating class of Crenshaw High School in
L.A. Features the personal stories of five students and English
teacher Andy Molner, who collates Shakespeare with Rap music,
and choral music featuring the work of reknowned musicologist
Iris Stevenson (inspiration behind film "Sister Act").
Title did not match scope of film; editing and script unfocused.
THE RED RACE,
Documentary portrait of a special school in Shanghai training
children to be olympic gold medalists
in gymnastics. Strong propaganda appeal,
where the line between cruelty and rigorous
training is blurred in the 'end justifies
the means' philosophy.
for 2007 Nouveau Cinema Festival.
Tragi-comedy about shy and low self-esteemed Diego who has
a serious accident and awakens as unhibited
free-spirited stuntman Tony T. A typical
case of Frontal Syndrome -- a deterioration
of behaviour and personality often caused
by a head injury. Director's intent
was to have the film serve as a metaphor
that examines the struggle with masculine
identity in Western society. He somewhat
succeeds. Funny in parts though main
character does begin to be irritating.
PERSONA NON GRATA,
Portrait of activist priest and artist Franz
Wuytack who fought for social justice in Venezuela in the 1960s. Hard
to keep up with all of the reading.
Teenage boy locks himself in his bedroom -- hikokomon (self-incarceration)
for 18 months. A serious problem superficially
handled. Slow pacing, black and white
cinema verité style effectively executed.
for 2008 Nouveau Cinema Festival.