Arts &
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Vol. 12, No. 4, 2013
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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 Editor
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
Le Havre
Presumed Guilty
A Separation
Take This Waltz
Beyond The Walls
The Place Beyond the Pines



So far, A & O film critics Nancy Snipper and Daniel Charchuk have seen the following films. Here are their ratings, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.


4.0 -- SEE YOU TOMORROW, EVERYONE, Yoshihiro Nakamura
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] The time is 1981. The place is the housing projects in Furoku, Japan. Satoru Watarai is about to graduate from primary school, but he is incapable of furthering his education, for that would mean leaving the projects, for which he is the self-appointed guardian of its tenants. The truth is Satoru has grave anxiety issues about going down the stairs of the project's main outside entrance that gives way to city life. He witnessed in his classroom a killing of his best friend when a small boy and that has left him on the borderline of being mentally disabled. Still, this tenacious little warrior has not a lazy bone in his body, and he spends his time helping others, learning to be a pastry chef where he works with the shop owner, and most importantly, builds up his physical strength learning karate in order to defend any tenant in need of dire help. We follow this wonderful boy into his teens and as we do, we discover his devotion to people and the two girls he loves. But within a decade, almost everyone leaves the projects to continue their education and careers. Only Satoru and his mom are left, along with a family run by a violent man. In the end, Satoru must face his demons, and happily he succeeds. This is a film gem classic. Gaku Hamada was beyond brilliant as he completely embraced the character of Satoru. I left the film almost in tears despite many hilarious moments I savoured. I had to pinch myself into realizing this was just a movie with actors. It was based on the novel (same title) by Takehiko Kubodera. This movie should not be missed!

2.5 -- PLUS ONE , Dennis Iliadis
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] The ever-popular subgenre of ‘one crazy night’ party movies gets a sci-fi twist in this latest offering from Greek director Iliadis, best known for his surprisingly effective and well-crafted remake of Wes Craven’s "The Last House on the Left" in 2009. Centering on the requisite group of outsiders at a massive house party – including David, played by Rhys Wakefield (recently seen in "The Purge"), who has just been dumped by his long-time girlfriend – and featuring the (in)appropriate amount of boobs, booze and other teenage interests, things veer sharply into the realm of scientific fantasy when a meteorite crashes into the ground nearby, altering temporal reality and causing doubles of the party guests to appear approximately 45 minutes behind their original selves. Unfortunately, Iliadis and first-time screenwriter Bill Gullo take this spaced-out concept and dumb it down for a teenage audience, turning it into a heavy-handed commentary about second chances and growing up – just as every other movie of its ilk, from "American Graffiti" to "Can’t Hardly Wait," has already done. It’s too bad, as the idea has potential, but it’s simply not executed as well as it could be.

3.3 -- YOU’RE NEXT, Adam Wingard
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] A darkly comic riff on home invasions horror flicks like "The Strangers" and "The Purge," director Wingard and writer Simon Barrett – Fantasia staples and contributors to both V/H/S films – inject some much-needed life into this tired and stale subgenre. Nearly everything in the movie – from the invaders wearing animal masks to the unlikely hero that saves the day – is both a twist on the staid formula and comes with a wicked sense of black humour. Though the film does fall back on cliché too often, and lacks the meta-cinematic brilliance that elevated similarly subversive horrors like Wes Craven’s "Scream" and Michael Haneke’s" Funny Games," it’s still a refreshing bit of gore-filled entertainment amidst increasingly dour and depressing post-9/11 horror films-as-social commentary. That’s not to say that a certain amount of cynicism in the horror genre isn’t often needed, but it’s still nice to have fun every now and then.

3.8 -- THE WORLD’S END, Edgar Wright
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Director Wright and co-writer & star Simon Pegg finally complete their comedic Cornetto trilogy (following the rom-zom-com "Shaun of the Dead" and the buddy-cop homage "Hot Fuzz") with this sci-fi flick focusing on a group of middle-aged friends who return to their hometown 23 years after graduating high school in an attempt to complete an epic twelve-bar pub crawl; upon returning home, however, they immediately realize something is amiss, and soon find themselves attempting to stop an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"-style alien invasion. Wright and Pegg haven’t lost their touch for hilarious, impeccably layered scripts and superb comic timing, but this final installment adds something new – fluid, exquisitely choreographed fight scenes that combine realistic movements with fantastical elements, all in (nearly) one-take shots. It’s just further proof of the maturation of these filmmakers, and their overall message in this work – about the nature of humanity itself – is a final testament to this.

1.2 -- RITUAL; A PSYCHOMAGIC STORY, Guilia Brazzale & Luca Immesi
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Lia is contolled by her live-in boyfriend Viktor. He loves her but babies her. He is also gruff with her and has sex with her whenever he wants. She gets pregnant, but Viktor assures, It is taken care of." Lia sinks into a grave depression and tries to commit suicide. Viktor finds her in the bathtub, but saves her. Lia goes to visit her aunt in the countryside. She practices all kinds of magic to improve people's health. Viktor pays Lia a visit and discovers the aunt is nuts. Meanwhile the aunt is doing some kind of ritual on Lia to get her pregnant. Viktor hears her screams, but all that the aunt has done is put a big apple on Lia's stomach. The next stage in the ritual is the burial of the apple in a box. Viktor finds the box and brings it back up to the bedroom. Lia is horrified and stabs Viktor. Lia now has a baby on her lap as Viktor lies dying.

4.0 -- LIBRARY WARS, Shinsuke Sato
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Brilliant, funny and poignant! The premise for the fighting in this film is most original. The Media Betterment Committee is burning books, killing people and raiding book stores to get rid of material that they deem politically and sexually provocative. To further justify their censorship terror campaign, they claim the recent spate of murders by a young teen is due to such vial publications. To combat this insidious widespread movement, the Library Defense Force is formed, but when they are about to be attacked as they defend their libraries -- d one in particular that stores all Japan's history -- they are never allowed to first the first shot. Set in this mad situation are two heroes with a love interest that never really gets off the ground. During an early attack, one young woman's book is grabbed by one of the soldiers in a book store, but she won't let him have it. She falls back into the arms of a man whose face she never sees. He saves the day and hands the book to her, but her back is to him. He then pats her hair. Years later, this same girl joins the Library defense Force. Her trainer is actually this man who salvaged her book from the incident, but she doesn't know. Still, she falls for her gruff leader. She wanted to join the Force to find her prince and emulate his noble acts. It's a darling story full of subtle humour set against a dangerous series of action that threatens freedom and everyone's future to express themselves through the written word. The fighting scenes were as powerful as any clip from a WW1 film. It was thrilling to see muscular might and intellectual diametrically opposed convictions set against one another in in such a spectacular way within the broad story context.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] An adorable Korean comedy which puts a homely assistant AD face to face with the sexy arrogant star in the commercials she works on. Suddenly she meets a man at night who sells her videos on how to use men and get what you want in life. She watches these videos and soon she is being wooed by the star. But he finds out she’s been watching the videos and feels used. Eventually, she ends up in an important position as a director of ads, buthates her position. There is no creative input at all. Finally, the two protagonists end up finding each other, admitting they love one another. It seems the videos worked! This film has some hilarious scenes that all of us can relate to when we feel like goofs in love or invisible to those we wish could see us. The lead actor, Si-Young Lee, is gorgeous and as funny as they come -- cute like Jackie Chan. His comedic timing does not take a back seat to his serious side either -- both of which are illustrated in this delightfully refreshing romantic and wildly whacky comedy.

3.8 -- A COMPANY MAN, Lim Sang-yoon
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Ji Hyeong-do works in a rigidly run company. This enterprise looks like it has ordinary offices, but employees are hired – not to do book work, but to kill. The entireplace is rotten, and Ji plays a vital role in cold killing. Then he meets the mother of the temp he hires to do a killing job. But the temp takes the elevator, and is filmed on camera. Ji is summoned by the big boss to answer for the blunder. He is ordered to kill the teen, but hides him instead. That’s when he meets the mother to tell her her son is away on a company assignment. He falls for her, but their attraction ends when she takes a bullet. The shoot-out finale is remarkable. This film is thrilling in action and revealing of character, and is a persuasive indictment of Korean company culture that demands people die for their company. Lots of violence and martial arts segments work effectively.

2.8 -- TIGER MASK, Ken Ochiai
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] An orphaned boy named Naoto Date is put in another dimension to train in the Tiger Lair Pit as a fighter along with two other boys: Dan, a friendly best friend to Naoto, and Joe, a bad seed. Mister X is their cruel trainer who uses some kind of electric stun gun to instill discipline. As the boys grow up, each is allotted a different coloured tiger mask and matching iron-made body garb. Each mask imbues each boy with super powers, but these powers do not last long in a fight. The boys fight so that Mister X can earn money; the boys get some of the take when they win a fight. As can be expected, his friendly pal Dan is defeated most unfairly in a fight against bad-ass Joe. Mister X then finishes him off with his lethal gizmo. Naoto runs away and escapes once more to the orphanage where Ruriko, the owner's daughter -- now grown up -- has taken over running it since her father died. Her father was exceptionally kind to little Naoto. Joe finds Naoto and burns down the orphanage. A fight to the finish ensues when Naoto goes back to kill both Mister X and Joe -- tiger mask on of course. He is a master fighter and will keep on fighting and protecting Ruriko. What is interesting is the fact that in 2010, a child-care facility in Tokyo received and anonymous Christmas donation which led to more donations -- all in the name of Naoto Date. Called the Tiger Mask Movement, these good deeds reignited the 1968 Tiger Mask character which was originally created by manga writer/artist Naoki Tsuji. The comic's great popularity led to an anime series in 1971 which gave rise to a feature film and TV series. This film however was made in 2013, and it is unique and sincere in feel. The intensity and child aspect featured in this film adds richness to what could have been just another Japanese sci-fi martial arts film.

3.5 -- ZERO CHARISMA, Katie Graham & Andrew Matthews
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Scott is obese, obsessed and totally hostile to just about everyone, except his pals who show up almost every night to play another round in the continuing saga of Scott's self-designed D&D-styled tabletop RPG of which he is the game master. One of his pals has to pull out after three years of playing the game because his wife is separating from him, and he needs to tend to his marred marriage. By chance, Scott pulls in Miles, an intelligent and successful game player to take his pal's place. Soon, Scott's friends are so impressed with him, they start going to his house to play, especially when Scott's mom shows up and wants to sell the house and put granny with whom Scott lives in an old folks' home. The climax occures whenMiles and Scott get into a real-life fight, and Scott is sent packing. This witty film is full of caustic repartee, and it's entertaining even as the plot shows how gamers can lose it if they are not controlling everything -- not just in the game, but in real life. It's a weird and whacky comedy, but its message strikes a nerve. Sam Eidso as Scott is brilliant; he is equally matched by his buddies who complete the film's ensemble with excellent acting. "The Big Bang Theory" comes to mind in this movie, but the latter ups the game big-time.

2.2 -- NEW NEIGHBOR, Norman England
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A Japanese woman in her twenties is surrounded by sex-obsessed males: in the transit system, men are leering at her while reading porn mags, billboards, flaunt sexual promiscuity, and at work, her boss feels up all the female employees. Home is no respite for her -- not only because her mom constantly calls her and tells her it's time to trap a husband; she offers all kinds of vulgar tips that embarrass her daughter. Most importantly, a new neighbour moves in -- a prostitute who keeps the prudish pretty young woman up at nights. There is an extremely loud thumping sound heard through the adjoining wall. It blatantly makes a mockery out of tender love-making. Finally, she has had enough and as she approaches the door of her sex-crazed neighbour, she finds it's open. She enters and ends up in a den of iniquity where sex toys of all kinds in all colours, in all sizes, and strange masochistic contraptions fill the seedy dark room. A cage closes in on her. The prostitute hurls lewd comments to her, telling her she really needs and wants sex, but she just won't admit it. What ensues is a fight where ildos act as swords (the prostitute has a huge one; the prude a tiny one). Finally, the fight ends, and the teen virgin gets to kiss goodbye her past and purity. In the end, she is killed by her own hand in the most sordid manner possible. The film is most macabre, and treats sex like a weapon of power whose fatal blow is not one even the weirdest of perverts would want.

1.5 -- ACROSS THE RIVER, Lorenzo Bianchini
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] An Italian wildlife botanist is tracking animals in the forest near Slovenia. He's equipped with sound gadgets, cameras, a gun and tranquilizers to tag the animals he catches in cages which he has set up. On one rainy bleak day, he takes his camper across the river and ends up in an abandoned village full of old stone houses. Soon, odd noises, butchered animals and macabre visions begin to appear. Two young girls in particular keep reappearing. We find out from an old couple living in a village that two sisters disappeared and that they were considered possessed by the devil. The couple hears screams while they sleep almost every night. The biologist meanwhile is trapped in this maze of houses, as the river has become impassable. Things go very badly for him, and he eventually disappears. A search team is sent out after him. It is reported in the news that he is found dead. The movie starts out well, and we are intrigued and beguiled by the forest, but the action drags and the suspense becomes one long yawn. There comes a time in a film where things must happen beyond real time or else nothing grabs us -- such as in the case of this disappointing film.

3.8 -- THE GARDEN OF WORDS, Makoto Shinkai
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] An enchanting animation film about a young student who designs shoes, and a teacher who has suffered from an inability to walk properly. She only can taste beer and chocolate and is very quirky. Her character is most interesting. She has also been shunned by the school where she teaches because a student had fallen in love with her. Most of the film takes place with the two of them sitting in a gazebo in a park during the rain. Both skip their responsibilities when it rains. This becomes a love story where neither actually gets together. The restraint and hypnotic details in this cinematic wonder transport you to a world where manners, respect, sadness and love create a world of haunting beauty. This is a garden where the poetry in the story and the setting transcend into endlessly lush blooms of cinematic wonder. The udience was transfixed -- unusually quiet for this festival because of the film's greatness.

2.3 -- MISSIONARY, Anthony Diblasi
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Catherine, who works in a car scrap yard, is trying to get her life on track along with her marriage. She is parenting her young son, and feeling despair when her supposed saviour from the Church of Latter Day Saints appears just like that. His name is Brock. He endears himself to the boy, but when he and Catherine become lovers he is determined to make sure the husband won't enter the picture. Trouble is, he already has. Brock kills him and shows his insanity by insisting Catherine and her son will become a celestial family either on earth or in heaven -- if she does not cooperate. It's a low budget film that is about as thrilling as ttending a church service run be a bunch of bible thumping fanatics. Still, the acting was good and the movie gave a different slant on obsessive love -- made more intense when its within a religious context. I wasn't bored, but it did get predictable.

2.0 -- I'LL FOLLOW YOU DOWN, Richie Mehta
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Don't' bother following anyone down -- in the case of the film -- the father, a physicist professor who bids his loving wife and son goodbye at the airport. He is supposed to return in 3 days. His Princeton conference is where he disappears -- down into the dank dungeons where he has this time machine contraption that takes him back to 1948 to visit Einstein. Twelve years pass, and the wife commits suicide, the son's girlfriend loses her baby and he hope of finding Gabriel is refueled by the wife's father -- also professor. Together, with Gabriel's son -- Erol, they find the way to retrieve Gabriel. The son goes back to bring his dad back but not before lecturing him about having abandoned his family. He says goodbye to his research and chooses family over science. Haley Joel Osment was lovely as Erol -- still as winsome as he was when he played a young boy in "The Sixth Sense." However, this film made no sense at all.

2.9 -- SHIELD OF STRAW, Takashi Mike
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] The body of a 7-year-old girl has been found murdered. Her grandfather, a wealthy businessman, offers a billion yen to anyone who kills the perpetrator, Künihide Kiyomaru. His DNA was found on the body, and he has killed before. The film makes it very clear he is the scum of the earth. In fact, all of Japan is on the manhunt for him, and everyone wants his head. A small group of policemen are in charge of tracking him down and bringing him to Tokyo where he is to stand trail. But, the murderer turns himself into the local cops; his hiding place is no longer a safe haven, as the man who hides him tries to kill him. Everyone wants those yens. Transporting Kiyomaru becomes the most difficult task taken on by the small group of star policeman, for no matter where they move him -- from car to bus to train to train, he is found out. Someone is leaking information as to his whereabouts. The film is about honour and justice versus personal vengeance. It has many twists that center around the protectors trying to preserve their own lives while trying to safeguard the murdering psychopath -- brilliantly played by Japanese star, Tatsuya Fujiwara. The film is unique but needs more editing. Two hours -- short a minute -- is just too long.

2.4 -- THE DEER (CHEVREUIL), Rémi St-Michel
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This quirky 14-minute slice of fun that comes from Université de Québec de Montréal offers a black humour premise. Marc, who likes to toke up in his bedroom is being pressed to leave by his brother, mother and other family members as they knock on his bedroom door. He is supposed to drive his brother's car -- a hearse -- to the funeral home, but as usual, he bungles things up. He barely gets there. On the way through the road cut through forest, he hits a deer. The coffin escapes from the car, rolls down a steep cliff and that is the end of his father. He's nowhere to be found as the coffin is now empty. Marc does what any decent son would do: he puts the deer in the coffin. At the funeral parlour, everyone thinks they are weeping for the father until . . .



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