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,
[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
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.
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.
LUCIA, Niles Atallah
[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,
[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!
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
LAS BUENAS HIERBAS , Maria Novara
[reviewed by Nancy
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.
the ratings of 2009 Montreal Festivalissimo Film Festival,
the ratings of 2010 Montreal Festivalissimo Film Festivial, HERE.