Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 10, No. 2, 2011
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Andrée Lafontaine
Samuel Burd
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
Into Eternity
When We Leave





Nancy Snipper

So far, A & O film critic Nancy Snipper has seen the following films. Here are her ratings (except where noted), always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.

2.3 -- THE LIFE OF FISH, Matias Bize
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A well edited film with some subtlety, but that's about all one can say of merit here, especially since dialogue replaces plot. Andres (a looker for sure) has been living in Germany for 10 years, but a return trip to Chile to attend his best friend's birthday party. However, his real purpose in attending is to see Beatriz, the love of his life who is now married and has twins. The movie slowly reveals his attempt to reconnect to her; she's at the party, too. She's unhappy in her marriage and has never forgotten Andres. She even called him while in Berlin, but doesn't tell him until the end of the film. I found this film horribly slow moving. The acting was good enough, but the conversation about his sexual preferences with the young boys he plays video games with is in poor taste and highly improbable. Who cares if Andres and Beatriz will reunite?

3.9 -- GATOS VIEJOS, Sebastian Silva & Pedro Peirano Ferguson
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This wonderful film with winning performances of superbly interesting characters and a fine plot builds to an unusual crescendo that argues for massive kudos to its directors. A Chilean/United States co-production, the story centers around Isadora, an aging lady who suffers from Alzheimers. Her loving partner, Enrique tends to her every need, and although she has many moments of clarity, her perceptions turn terribly foggy when her gay daughter Rosario pays them an unwanted visit. She is intent on getting her mother to sign a power of attorney contract that hands the apartment over to her. Together, they battle it out, but Isadore, with the aid of Enrique, doesn't cave. Rosario shows just how wicked and limited she is: her only interest is her lover Beatrice, AKA Hugo, along with cocaine. She continually snorts up in her own mother's bathroom. There is humour, tears and suspense in this feature. It honestly portrays the breakdown and hatred between a mother and a daughter. Can things change between family? Touching, cathartic and unforgettable, "Gatos Viejos" brings cleverness and new meaning to the words, "cat fight." Note bene: Finally a great film from Chile.

2.9 -- LA VIDA UTIL, Federico Vieroj
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Shot in black and white, this Uruguayan film has a kind of subtle humour to it. Jorge is the owner for the last 25 years of Cinemateca, an alternative arthouse. This theatre is his passion -- a personal accomplishment that he earnestly shares with the public. Yet, he is experiencing a slew of problems: projectors and seats that are breaking down, a declining membership, a board of donors who withdraw their support, and on a good day -- an audience of ten. His only hope is to get a haircut and pursue the woman he has his eye on when it is not on the screen. This gem of a film moves slowly, yet with grace and irony. It also features the superb acting of real-life Uruguayan critic, Jorge Jellinek.

1.0 --CHICOGRADE, Felipe Cazals
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] You would think that a film about Americans hunting down Poncho Villa -- bandit or liberator depending on which side you are on -- would be a potboiler that had us biting our nails and hanging on the edge of our seats. Not so with this film. What a stiff, terribly acted movie whose scenes are fragmented and devoid of any suspense. In 1916 Villa took over Columbus, New Mexico, thereby stirring up trouble for Mexicans and American soldiers. General Pershing led 5000 men into the territory, but we only get to meet him and his cruelty. Still, the only interesting feature in this film is the arid, rocky terrain of cliffs. It makes us wish we were climbing them to escape witnessing this dark period in Mexican history depicted in this film in such a lackluster, empty way.

1.0 -- LUCIA, Niles Atallah
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] I have yet to see a good film come out of Chile. On the wake of Pinochet's death, the film tries to convey the stagnation that marks the daily grind for the poor. Lucia and her father live a life of monotony whose only saving grace are the kitschy little Christmas lights that flicker in their dilapidated dwelling. There is no plot; nothing happens in this movie. Aggravating camera shots that focus on doors (for far too long a time) rather than the characters standing in front of them exaggerate the inanimate. Such symbolism we all could have done without. It's the first feature film the director, and may I suggest it be his last!

3.9 -- PEQUEÑAS VOCES , Jairo Carillo & Oscar Andrade
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A powerful animated documentary that tells the excruciating stories of four families told by the children of each in voice over method. It's Columbia, and the guerillas change the lives of the kids as they uproot their families and nearly destroy their lives. The film starts off in idyllic happiness as each family farms and has land to enjoy. But things change as the guerillas take over the village and the kids become victims to gunfire atrocities. One is recruited into the fighting; another loses his hand and leg; another watches her father being taken away at gun point, and yet another loses his own house -- forced to abandon his childhood haunts and his dogs as he travels to another world: Bogota. The children's testimonies are superbly honest. They themselves did the drawings for the film. Masterfully refined by both directors, this unique movie is compelling from the moment we hear the first little voice uttered by one of the children who, in fact, represents millions of child victims who suffered atrocities during Columbia's fiercest war.

2.3 -- LAS BUENAS HIERBAS , Maria Novara
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Such an interesting notion: to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease by investigating medicinal qualities of Mexican plants. In this feature, Dalia must deal with the rapid downslide of her mother who has a full blown case of the devastating disease. She is in her forties. Dalia discovers no cure, but shcockingly, she finds out that her biological father is not the man she has been addressing as dad her entire life. Her mother, an herb specialist herself lets that slip in a moment of her illness. The rather cruel irony is, the film picks up pace as the mother's condition worsens. Mexico is such a lively fascinating place, full of mystery and magic. Yet this film, fails to put its Mexican roots into a taut bouquet of its intense themes: death, deception, illness, separation and death. Ursula Pruneda as Dalia was excellent. Unfortunately, the editing was terrible. What should have been a dramatically moving piece did not happen. Too many superfluous scenes that went nowhere diffused any chance of focus and intensity

1.0 -- MARTHA, Marcelino Islas Hernández
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Martha, a fifty-something Mexican woman, has been made obsolete in her filing job as new technology tosses her out of her tedious but stable position. On a Friday, she decides to end her misery (and ours too for having to watch this film) by taking the pills that were in fact prescribed to a sick lady she tends to after work. She wakes up on Monday to find that she will have to find a new purpose for her life. This film, dedicated to the director's mother, is so amateurishly crafted, offering all the worn clichés that go with being fired. The sad, but truthful reality is, we wish Martha would have offed herself soon after the film starts; so insufferably slow and boring is the pace. A kind kudo to Magda Vizaino though for bringing existential emptiness to a whole new level from the get-go. Her performance had nowhere to grow or go in this low budget, stagnantly stiff, poorly directed film. Her Stanislavski technique worked for her but no one else.

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

For the ratings of 2010 Montreal Festivalissimo Film Festivial, HERE. = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting
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