Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 9, No. 4, 2010
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Nancy Snipper
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Film Reviews
  Bowling for Columbine
Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl
Leaving the Fold
The Mourning Forest
Beneath the Rooftops of Paris
Before Tomorrow
Paraiso Travel
Necessities of Life
For a Moment of Freedom
Blood River
By the Will of Genghis Kahn
The Concert
Weaving Girl


reviews by




Nancy Snipper attended the Festivalissimo Film Festival and recommends the following films, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, and 4 for a classic.

Among her all-time favourite films are:The Island (Paul Cox); Dog Star (Akira Kurosawa); Ceux qui m’aiment prendront le train (Patrice Chéreau); El Hijo de la Novia (Juan José Campanella); Cleopatra (Juan José Campanella); Les Choristes (Cristophe Barratier); The Seventh Sign (Carl Schultz); Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg); Wallace and Gromit series (Nick Park); Avatar (James Cameron).

Now in its 15th year, Festivalissimo continues to assemble superb films representing daring directors committed to revealing the strife, humour and wonder whirling around the Latin American world and beyond. From Argentina to Chile, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Cuba and Spain, each film frames unforgettable characters both big and small, who in their own way touch our hearts and frazzle our senses. Landscapes both savage and serene spread across the silver screen in hypnotic splendour. ExCentris must be proud to have hosted Festivalissimo for a second time within its elegant complex. Fans used to flock to Cinéma Park to get their Festivalissimo fix. Bravo Elisa Pierna and your team for bringing fascinating Spanish speaking films (with English and French subtitles) to an audience hungry for more. I liked the fact it wasn’t too crowded, that it was low key and extremely well organized. Most notably, it gave me a close up view on the way Latin America looks at its own issues utilizing the brilliant talents of several directors.


What a delight! Despite the hopelessly poor conditions that plague the people living in the Cuban village of Yaragüey, their lives are full of laughter, disappointments, secrets, escapades and sizzling sexual antics. Life in this little village turns into a chaotic mess when the chance of obtaining a huge inheritance for every inhabitant sharing the family name of Castiñeiras becomes a reality. But like most things in Cuba, it all falls through. Brilliant acting and laugh out loud situations perfectly illustrate the great humour that Cubans have. Titled in English as “The Horn of Plenty,” the irony is perfect. Tabio's sense of humour is infectious; he makes us all want to be part of the Castiñeiras clan.

3.8 -- LUISA, Gonzalo Calzada
Luisa has just experienced the second worst day in her life. The first one came with the sudden death of her husband and daughter: how -- the viewer does not know, but we do see flashbacks and the cremation plaques in the ground bearing their names on the premises where Luisa works as a receptionist. Spanking new empty urns for sale sit on shelves behind her desk. She's been polishing them as they come and go for the past 30 years. But one fateful day, she is dealt her own death blow of sorts. Her beloved cat dies, and on that same day, she is fired from her receptionist job and her second job as well -- cleaning the home of a famous actress about to retire. Luisa descends into dark days literally; her electricity is cut off and the means to support herself leaves her own life also in blackness. But she has a few cards up her sleeve, including lucky Chinese ones she distributes with the hope of being handed pesos on the subway for them. No such luck. She resorts to playing a cripple and even a blind woman begging in a way that could earn Luisa her own Oscar. This wonderful film features the brilliant actress, Leonor Manso. Her portrayal of this homely woman over the hill in desperate need of a life lift is beyond words.  

3.2 -- LA BUENA VIDA (THE GOOD LIFE), Andrés Wood
Santiago, Chile is rife with people who are miserable, and this film zooms in on some of them. One is a mother without means to care for her baby. Another mother, who gives classes on birth control to girls in the sex trade, finds out her teenage daughter is pregnant, and to top it off, her ex is fooling around with prostitutes at a bar. Then there is the gifted clarinettist whose aspirations to play in the Philharmonic Orchestra are dashed; he has to settle for playing with the carabineros (the police band). His clarinet is stolen by another character, a man who lives with his mother and whose dream is to get enough money to buy a Ford. His problems are plentiful and money is one of them. He can't afford the upkeep of his father's grave, nor does he want to see his dad go up in ashes, and that is what will happen if he doesn't act immediately. Marvellous performances and believable life circumstances earn this film a Festivalissimo competition award.  

Life in Columbia's La Barra is a seemingly idyllic place where coastal waters are impressively alluring. But in fact, life there is depressingly impoverished. Those who have lived there most of their life wish to stay and preserve their primitive way of survival regardless of the lack of fish and other food that used to be in abundance. There are crabs, but one must go far to get them. The movie illustrates that no matter how far off the beaten track a man may go, problems are always close by. Threatened by the attempts of a young foreigner to enlarge his shanty hotel and turn the beach into a more modern lucrative spot, the natives take things into their own hands. Particularly interesting is the relationship of Daniel, a young man who comes to La Barra in search of a boat. There isn't one, so he ends up staying. A little girl who befriends him ends up being his ticket out of the conflicts and intrigues he witnesses. Indeed, La Barra is beset with all kinds of challenges. It is said that once a crab lands on its back, it can never return right side up. But some manage to. This movie proves that hardships have their own just resolution, and sometimes everyone gets what they deserve. La Barra's raw scenery and the film's slow pace gently take you into a world that most of us will never experience.  

For the ratings of 2010 Montreal Festivalissimo Film Festvial, HERE.

For the ratings of 2009 Montreal Festivalissimo Film Festvial, HERE.

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