Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 12, 2013
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
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



Listing + Ratings of films from festivals, art houses, indie





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

3.9 -- ZERO DARK THIRTY, Kathryn Bigelow
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] This much-acclaimed (and heavily controversial) fact-based account of the search for and eventual capture of Osama bin Laden is akin in many ways to director Bigelow’s previous Oscar-winning drama "The Hurt Locker." Both are decidedly apolitical and straight-forward, depicting the lives of their no-nonsense leads (whether an explosives expert in Iraq or a CIA analyst in Pakistan) with little-to-no moral posturing and no grand thesis statements on their respective topics (whether it be war or terrorism). These are simply low-level professionals, dedicated to their day-to-day jobs, which just happen to be protecting America from potential threats. In this case it is Maya (Jessica Chastain), a young agent who becomes the key figure in the hunt for bin Laden, and who seems less a fully developed character than a representative cipher for the myriad of CIA professionals who helped lead to bin Laden’s death. Nevertheless, Chastain’s performance is fiery and ferocious, and Bigelow’s mastery of tension and suspense remains unparalleled. Though largely procedural and by-the-books, it is no less effective, making this likely the best film of the year.

3.2 -- CATIMINI, Nathalie Saint-Pierre
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] This low-key Québécois drama is an insightful and sobering look and the deeply problematic foster child system, through the eyes of four young girls ranging in age from 6 to 18. Writer/director (and Montréal native) Saint-Pierre’s overlapping screenplay is an emblem of structural perfection, as it follows each girl for a set period of time before seamlessly transitioning to the next one via the plot device of a shared foster home. The film thus garners sympathy for each of its female leads while simultaneously (and subtly) exposing the cracks and flaws in the system. Through the progressively increasing ages of the four young protagonists, the film tackles issues stretching from borderline racism and homophobia to outright sexual exploitation and substance abuse – weighty themes indeed. Thus, despite the impressive performances of the cast and the intriguing quality of the narrative, this is not an overly enjoyable work, although it is quite an important one.

1.4 -- THE IMPOSSIBLE, Juan Antonio Bayona
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] The supposedly true story of one family’s amazing survival in Thailand following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, it seems less concerned with reality and truth than heartwarming fantasy and cheap melodrama (the fact that the family’s nationality was changed from Spanish to British for the purposes of the film speaks to this). Melodrama is not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case, the invocation of an actual natural disaster which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands for the purposes of cinematic spectacle and tacky sentimentality seems in extremely poor taste, not even a decade removed from the actual event. Thus, any awe or wonder gained by the amazing digital reproduction of the enormous tsunami wave is instantly washed away (so to speak) by feelings of sadness and guilt for the real-life victims. Despite the inevitable uplifting ending, then, this is not an enjoyable film to watch, with images of dread, destruction, and death dominating, leaving one notably depressed and downtrodden. What is the purpose of making such a film? To whitewash the actual disaster with a fake tale of survival? If so, what a terrible affront to the remaining survivors, who surely do not want to relive their tragedy for the purposes of entertainment.

1.8 -- BROKEN CITY, Allen Hughes
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Director Hughes flies solo for the first time, separating from his brother and usual co-director Albert to helm this NYC political drama starring Marky Mark Wahlberg as a former detective turned private eye (yes, they do still exist – a conceit even joked about) and Russell Crowe as the popular mayor running for re-election (complete with an awful hairstyle and fake tan). The result is a crime tale full of corruption, intrigue and sleaze; unfortunately, it is also one full of ridiculous action sequences and even more ridiculous plot developments. Hughes lets the film get away from him on more than one occasion, and thus things only grow wilder and more out-of-control as the narrative progresses (and not in an exciting or interesting way). The convolutions and contrivances of the plot are actually fairly well structured and revealed; however, the frequently overwrought camerawork and variable performances (ranging from Crowe’s scenery-chewing to Wahlberg’s woodenness) render the story mostly pointless. Therefore, this becomes a largely meaningless and silly film, one without much aim or direction.

2.5 -- PARKER, Taylor Hackford
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Playing Parker won't go down as Jason Statham's greatest acting role, but this fist-wielding dude who happens to be a professional thief, sure knows how to knock out the bad guys using all kinds of survival methods: guns, knives, fists, broken glass, electric cords, even the top of a toilet tank. When bad guys owe him money for taking part in a planned heist and then renege on paying, watch out! This is exactly what this movie is about: chasing down the bad guys for personal payback, and this time the hero not only finds a way to get back the $200,000 owed to him by participating in a heist at the Ohio State (he disguised himself as a priest to make it happen), but he ends up getting a lot more dough after he hunts down the band of guys who betrayed him and left him for dead immediately after shooting him because he doesn't want to do any more heists. Jennifer Lopez plays a real estate agent up to her eyeballs in debt, so when Parker lands at the real estate office in Palm Beach, Florida, where she works without any success, he uses her to get close to the bad guys' hideout. She ends up winning big -- but not before she gets caught in the bad guys' snare. Parker saves the day of course and cashes in on jewels and ends up getting off the bad guys (they rob them at huge auction). He kills them, gets the goods and shares the money with the real estate agent much later. Parker is a good guy who only wants what is promised to him in any deal. He doesn't like chaos or those who don't do what they say they will do, and he will kill to get his fair shake. This film would make a good series around this Parker character, and Jennifer Lopez ought to be included. She added great comedic flare. Not a dull moment to be had, but the blood was as plentiful as the billionaires who keep the banks busy at Palm Beach.

0.9 -- PARKER, Taylor Hackford
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] The latest Jason Statham vehicle is an adaptation of the novel Flashfire, from the Parker series of novels, of which the films Point Blank and Payback had previously been adapted. Though this film would thus seemingly have literary cred, it is little more than an excuse for another generic Statham plot, involving a group of thieves, a double-cross, J.Lo, and a horribly fake Texan accent. If all that sounds rather ridiculous, that’s because it is – but not even in a fun or entertaining way. Instead, this thing is so ineptly shot and cut that it’s barely watchable – director Hackford seems to have forgotten how to construct a workable movie, and thus the plot is full of so many gaps and holes you’d think they were writing the script as they went. Even the action scenes – the prime reason or any Statham picture – are few and far between, leaving one to wonder as to the actual purpose of such a film. Without impressive fight sequences, what’s the point?

4.0 -- LES MISÉRABLES, Tom Hooper
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Expect the richest feast of lyric and song score with voices sent from heaven and all lush places in between from the gifted mouths of Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe (Javert), Anne Hathaway (Fantine), Amanda Seyfried (Cossette) Samatha Bark (Éponine) and a sterling cast of supporting singer/actors who dramatically convey their individual hopes, but mainly horrors endured during the turmoil of pre-revolutionary France. Based on Victor Hugo's epic 1862 masterpiece novel, this film vividly captures the crush of chaos and inhumanity that begins with the theft of a single loaf of bread! The script and libretto is earth-shattering fantastic. Raw emotion was the only way to go to give each character his/her profound plight. This is a great musical worthy of the $81million dollars spent to make it happen. I saw the Imax version at Cineplex Odeon forum in Montreal, and I recommend you splurge to benefit from the high definition sound. Powerful, stirring and a cinematic feat for all involved.

3.8 -- QUARTET, Dustin Hoffman
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] It doesn't get much better than this! Music, wit, tempers, hurt feelings, flamboyant personalities overflowing with magnificent musicianship and a catharsis as compelling as any opera -- these are the juicy elements that reach their high notes in this delightfully endearing comedy. An illustrious array of over-the-hill opera stars have been put out to pasture -- so to speak -- in Beecham House, a stunning retirement home that resembles a regal estate striding the verdant meadows of Buckinghamshire. Musical ensembles, singing duos, solo practices, piano lessons, choir groups and lectures fill the days of this engaging group of septuagenarians. The plot is as melodramatically thrilling as the Verdi quartet that the main stars will be performing in honour of Verdi's birthday, and most importantly, with the purpose of raising funds to keep Beecham's old ebullient self alive. The cast of characters who steal the entire movie include Cissy (Pauline Collins) Wilf (Billy Connolly), Tom Courtney and Jean Horton (Maggie Smith). Their over-the-top music director is Cedric whose self-aggrandizement is embodied in the flashy garment/costumes he wears every day. Cissy has dementia, and Wilf is a charming letch whose flirtatious charm is practiced on Beecham's Doctor, Lucy Cogan. Each of these characters appears to be characters in their own real-life opera. With the arrival of Jean Horton, Beecham House is thrown into chaos, and the plot intensifies. It seems Reginald was married to Jean for a grand total of nine hours decades ago; he left her when he had found out she cavorted with some Italian tenor in her younger days while on tour. But at Beecham they come face to face once again, and although Jean wishes to make amends, Reginald snubs her -- that is until he along with his friends realize they need her to complete the quartet group for the Verdi benefit performance. Jean refuses. She is a gritty one who does not take ageing gracefully. But she relents once she realizes she has been acting like a vintage prima donna. Action and dialogue pick up their pace marked in moments of various crescendos and diminuendos -- much like Bach's contrapuntal preludes and fugues which intermittently are heard throughout this timeless gem, "Quartet" is a mini masterpiece that is funny, fun and highly sympathetic to the exceptional calling of artists who have so much to offer no matter how old they get. The cast (which also features Dame Gwyneth Jones in the role of a former 'Tosca' star -- vocal rival to Horton) is sheer genius. What an ensemble. Every moment in this film is precious. Bravo!

2.5 -- QUARTE, Dustin Hoffman
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] An altogether harmless and rather enjoyable romp, set a retirement home in the English countryside for former musicians ranging from opera singers to pianists. The titular foursome refers to a famed group of operatic voices that are reunited when the most popular of the group (played by Maggie Smith) arrives at the sprawling estate. Inevitably, personality clashes emerge and old wounds open, leading to some sense of manufactured drama; however, the stakes are never particularly high – all that’s at risk is a climactic performance of one of Verdi’s operas – and thus the tone remains agreeably pleasant throughout – save for a typically crass and colourful performance by Billy Connolly, one of the funniest men on the planet. But even he is eventually tamed by director Hoffman’s bland filmmaking and adherence to the stagey script – adapted by Ronald Harwood from his own play – that saps the film of most of its life and renders the lively performances mostly inert. Still, it’s not a bad film, just a plain and simple one, geared towards middlebrow audiences by an actor-turned-director who lost his edge a long time ago.

2.5 -- DJANGO UNCHAINED, Quentin Tarantino
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German immigrant, joins forces with Django (Jamie Fox), a slave he picks and frees from a small chain gang being led in the forest by some bad white guys who are on route to sell the poor souls. They too are freed after the bad guys are killed by Schultz. This polite former dentist is looking for the cruel Brittle brothers who work on a plantation who Django can pick out as they used to whip him silly. They are wanted by the USA government for murder. Soon into the story, they are found and killed by both. Django and Schultz become close friends, and now they are trying to find Broomhilda, Django's wife -- separated from him when they were sold. She is tracked down on Candyland Plantation run by Calvin Candy (Leonardo DiCaprio). They mislead Calvin cooking up a business deal that has nothing to do with their true intentions -- to escape with Broomhilda. Django carries out his love mission; he is a fearless hero who stops at nothing to find his beloved Broomhilda and seek vengeance; she has suffered great indignations and cruel whippings. After much bloodshed, the film ends in happiness, but Schultz is killed in a Candyland shootout when he refuses to shake hands with Calvin after paying thousands of dollars to buy back Broomhilda. The best performances come from Christoph Waltz, an interesting character who plays by the rules which involve upstanding values. Another interesting role was the supercilious slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) Calvin's uber-loyal confident who runs the house. He is a betrayer of his own people, preferring to tattle and seek punishment on run-way slaves, such as Broomhilda. There are so many violent scenes in the film that the message in this love story is drowned in a never-ending series of blood baths. It's a fun western, but don't eat anything while watching it.




Help Haiti = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
2012 Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 10-21st, (514) 844-2172
Arion Baroque Orchestra Montreal
IMAGE + NATION film festival Nov. 22 - Dec. 2nd (Montreal)
Nuit d'Afrique: July 10th-22th
Lynda Renée: Chroniques Québécois - Blog
Montreal Jazz Festival
CINEMANIA (Montreal) - festival de films francophone 4-14th novembre, Cinema Imperial info@514-878-0082
2011 Longueuil Percussion Festival: 450 463-2692
2012 Montreal International Documentary Festival Nov. 7th - 18th
Bougie Hall Orchestera Montreal
2008 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL (Montreal) North America's Premier Genre Festival July 3-21
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101
CD Dignity by John Lavery available by e-mail: - 10$ + 3$ shipping.
Montreal World Film Festival
© Roberto Romei Rotondo
Festivalissimo Film Festival - Montreal: May 18th - June 5th (514 737-3033
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
April 29th to May 8th: Pan African Film Festival-Montreal
2011 Festival Montreal en Lumiere
Photo by David Lieber:
Listing + Ratings of films from festivals, art houses, indie
Armand Vaillancourt: sculptor
Canadian Tire Repair Scam [2211 boul Roland-Therrien, Longueuil] = documents-proofs
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis