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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
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Serge Gamache
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Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
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  Film Reviews
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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




A & O film critic Nancy Snipper has seen the following films. Here are her ratings and comments, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.


3.4 -- STOP A LA GRÈCE EN SLIP, Brigitte Roüan
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] The director has made a few films on Greece, and after the 2012 riots in Athens, she returns to interview some of her crew members on her last film, ("Greek Type of Problem") to hear the truth about the situation in Greece. The situation spells daily poverty and moral depression. The frightening facts indicate that unless there is a marked evolution or revolution, Greece will permanently slip into rock bottom stagnation. Over 1,200 people have committed suicide since 2011; people borrow on credit to clothe themselves, yet they must pay 23% interest each month on the amount received from banks. The defense minister now in jail for taking over 1 billion euros to build his own houses and stock his personal coffers, epitomizes the politicos monopolizing the country both in business and in government. The neo-Nazi party holds 7% representation in parliament. Seven parties and not one of them able to devise a long term plan to build some form of prosperity. In this film, we meet people who run a hotel in Milos, an archeologist who fears for the fate of his country and the immigrant overload. We meet artists on the verge of having to sell their houses. We learn that the consecutive loans to Greece from Germany come with a price that not only includes payback, but the contractual assurance that Greece only buys industrial machinery and marine boats, such as submarines from Germany. We also learn that big magnate ship owners state their yachts are for personal use and are taxed only seven euros per ton; whereas, one film director who is honest must pay 15,000 euros per ton, as he declares his boats are used for personal pleasure; the other villains state their yachts are for business, and so they receive a hefty tax reduction. We meet so many who have never worked a day in their lives -- according to one crew member -- suck up the extra high taxes and put them who knows where? The one problem I had with this documentary was the lack of name indications to identify each of those interviewed, and their role in her past films or in her present life.

3.5 -- BRASSERIE ROMANTIQUE, Joël Vanhoebrouk
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Forty-something Pascaline runs a gourmet brasserie, and her brother is busy cooking up a storm for Valentine's Day. He also owns 50% of it. His daughter in her teens was abandoned by her mom and so Pascaline steps into her shoes; the brother is often drunk. Couples come in and this is what moves the movie into comedic flavours. One couple is madly in love, the other has a marriage on the rocks. The wife pretends she has a lover; that's why she's getting phone calls. She gets the desired reaction, but in the end, she walks. A girl is tragically mourning the loss of her hubby who left her for her best girlfriend, but that was seven years ago. She ends up though with the head waiter by the end of the movie. One particularly shy guy is waiting for his blind date to show up. Her name is Sylvie, and when a gorgeous dame sits at his table, he assumes it's Sylvie. But she is a lust-driven call girl, and so he makes an exit for the bathroom which he does several times during the course of the evening. He stares at himself in the bathroom mirror and receives a pep talk from his alter ego. Upon returning, the call girl has left, but in her place is the 'real' Sylvie he had a date with. They hit it off. The true thrust of the film is the entrance of Pascaline's lover some 20 years ago. He wants to start anew with her in Buenos Aires where he lives. She decides to leave the restaurant but her brother goes ballistic when she tells him. Who would take care of his daughter if she goes? She gets in the taxi with her lover from the past, but then decides she won't go. She belongs with her niece and the restaurant needs her. This is a gem of a movie that basically covers the gamut of love relationships in a charming yet meaningful manner. The dialogue is great.

3.9 -- THE VERDICT, Jan Verheyen
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] It's the night; Luc Seger's wife is murdered, and his little daughter is run over by a car as she runs across the street to help her dad is being beaten up outside the store at night where his wife had gone in to buy some food from a deserted vending machine. A thug named Kenny de Groot is the assassin and is arrested. But the prosecutor had forgotten to sign his name on the right to prosecute document. This is a legal loophole that sets De Groot free. Segers sets out for revenge; he kills the thug, and is then arrested. Most of the movie takes place in the courtroom. Will Segers be found guilty for the murder or will he be set free? The ending is ambiguous. This is a great film that deftly handles the questions of Belgian law, procedural mistakes and the devastating consequences allowing for criminals to go scot free -- just because of human error on a piece of legalese paper. The justice system is put into question through the dialectic presented by the lawyer as well as the prosecutor -- the very prosecutor who forgot to sign on the dotted line that would have put De Groot behind bars in the first case.

1.9 -- CHA CHA CHA, Marco Risi
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A big Roman pop star has hired a detective to follow her teen son Tomaso, who gets into all kinds of mischief. One night, he is killed in a hit and run accident. But it turns out he knew something about the family's lawyer with whom the mother is living. The detective gets to the bottom of the truth. The lawyer is corrupt, and Tomaso found out. This thriller is so confusing and stupid, one would have preferred to see a film about the cha cha cha, though the last scene did show a dance scene. The detective, played by Luca Argentero is drop-dead handsome; he would make a nice dance partner.

1.1 -- FRÄULEIN ELSE, Anna Martinetz
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] You can tell this is the first feature film for this director. A cold-hearted aunt and her aloof depressed niece, Else, are staying in a luxury hotel in the countryside of India, along with the aunt's adopted son. A certain wealthy man there has an eye for Else, and it is a lecherous one. Else receives a letter from her mother that her father is about to go bankrupt if he can't find 300,000 Euros to appease his bank loan manager. The family is from Vienna and is wealthy; the father is a lawyer, but cash is rare. Her mother asks Else to talk to this lecherous man who is actually a friend of the family's. She is to ask him for the money. He agrees if she consents to show him her body unclothed so that he may stare at it. The event is to take place in his room during the evening. Else is in great turmoil. She wantst to save the family from proverty, but she prides her purity more. She takes pills, appears before the man but in a salon where there are people. She then collapses, is taken to bed, tended to by her step-brother, but she doesn't make it. I am sure the book upon which this move is based is intriguing enough, but the movie was a dismal failure. The scenery couldn't compensate for the jungle scene; the reappearing tiger that kept popping up must have mistakenly jumped out of the set of "The Life of Pi" and got lost, ending up in the jungle mess of this film.

4.0 -- THERE WILL COME A DAY (UN GIORNO DEVI ANDARE), Giorgio Diritti Brazzale & Luca Immesi
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Augusta is accompanying Franca, a nun who is a friend of her mother's, on the most noble of missions. These two Italian-born women deliver medical supplies and food via river boat steered by both women heading for various villages spotting the Amazon River. Augusta is sad and alienated, but she is incredibly self-sufficient and independent. Augusta decides to leave this type of journey and take to her own. She goes to the favelas of Manaus where slowly but surely she befriends the children, the young men, and helps out with physical chores by the docks meant for men. She drowns herself in work and never complains. All the money she earns she gives to the village men to support their families. She is the quiet saint who is beginning to smile. But soon, her trust is broken when she sees the men going off to paint the ugly box cement houses built to rehouse the poor favala community. Yet most of the people do not want to leave their tumble-down dwellings, for here they are happy and they have a strong vibrant community full of warmth and support. No matter the hardships they face. Augusta retreats to the river in a canoe, and settles on a lone sandy shore inhabited by no one. She has lost touch with her mother, but has sent a girl to Italy to tend to her grandmother. Augusta has not only lost her unborn baby, but her father and now she is out of touch with everyone she once held dear. It seems the only thing that can bring a smile to her face is the appearance of a child. One suddenly appears on the shore; a couple has boated over to bring her food and their child to play with. Augusta does not go back to any village; she is left alone pondering why God has taken away her unborn baby, finally deciding that God is jealous and wants her all for himself. There is a scene where it is raining so hard, and she lies on the sand with her arm outstretched as if she were on a crucifix. In another scene, she squats in front of the largest trunk of a tree whose roots have formed a vast fan. They seem to be cradling her. Although the film has several scenes that take place in Italy where we see the loneliness of her mother, and the life she leads with her own ill mother, most of this journey occurs in the Amazon. The cinematography is outstanding, as the story's journey is not only a physical one, but it is also about the emotional and spiritual one we all must take. The film presents the quest for fulfillment that we are all searching for. For some bliss lies with God; for others with motherhood, and still for others a sharing, loving community. For Augusta, her happiness never seems to last; events corrode. She chooses to be alone. Will her day ever come and last? A marvelous film of immeasurable depth that delves into the very heart of an individual's despair. Escaping sorrow and pain may indeed lie at the root of a tree waiting to cradle you in an undiscovered forest hiding behind an endless stretch of untouched white sand where no one else treads.

3.6-- ABSENCES, Carole Laganière
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This documentary follows four different people suffering from loss. In the case of the director herself -- her mother is in the verge of full-blown Alzheimer's disease. We follow Ines, another woman questing for answers. She returns to the former Yugoslavia (Croatia) where her mother abandoned her during the war. She visits her old bullet-ridden apartment building where they once lived, and the hotel where the family lived before she was left behind, and finally there is the reunion with her mother. She ends up working at that hotel. We follow another woman searching in Toronto for her own sister who disappeared years ago. She uses a taxi to get around at night, visiting strip clubs and bars. She also goes to Niagara Falls where human trafficking is prevalent. Then we meet Deni, an author who tracks down the family of his father who had always refused to let his son meet or know about his grandparents and relatives. His father had robbed a bank and had brought Deni up in the United States. This moving documentary is funny at times and very heartwarming. Each story seems to connect through images of hotels, beds being made and the scenery. The editor did a masterful job of weaving together the content and the emotions each of these questers felt as they faced the void in their past and in the case of the director, the future whose mother would soon not recognize. A highly important documentary worth seeing.

4.0 -- MY PAPAROTTI, Jong-chanYoonDanni Resifeld
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This incredibly rich film exemplifies the brilliance of Korean directors and actors. Jang-ho, a teen gangster, enrolls in a music school in the countryside because he loves singing opera. Sang-jin, the teacher can't stand him and hates the idea of having him as a pupil. He verbally abuses him and doesn't teach him anything. Jang-ho is caught between being controlled by his gangster 'brothers' who took him in as a homeless kid, and his desire to be the world's greatest singer. As the movie unfolds we see the vulnerabilities and events that shaped these characters into their own destinies. Their relationship of relentless insults and hostile behaviours begins to change once Sang-jin learns the terrible truth about his young protégé whose voice actually inspires envy in Sang-jin. Loathing transforms into love. The singing in this film by the lead actor brought tears to my eyes, as did the movie as it progressed. "Nessun Dorma" takes on a whole new purpose for both teacher and student, even though the latter called his opera idol Paparotti.

3.3 -- WHITE PANTHER, Danni Resifeld
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] When a Russian family must face the hardships of living in Israel in the projects, their life spirals downwards. We learn the father, Moscow's boxing champion, was killed in Israel not on the fields but in the kitchen of the soldiers; he was a cook. The two brothers live with their very sick mother. One of the brothers, Eugeni, is a brutal thug who beats up Jews, and he is intent on using the boxing talents of his younger brother for his own purpose, but Alex doesn't buy all the violence, but still goes along with his brother, until he is put in jail; David, a Moroccan Jew feels sorry for him given the loss of his father; David the head of the police makes him an offer. He offers to train him as a professional boxer because he owns a boxing club. But pressure to side with his brother is winning out. Still David's devotion to his new protégé plus the love David's daughter has for Alex changes proves victorious. The conflicts within the relationships are astoundingly played in this tightly-crafted film. The acting was terrific.

4.0 -- LA FILLE DU MARTIN, Samuel Thivierge
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Yes, yes, yes! The director also stars in this charming gem of a Quebec film that takes place in Lac-St-Jean. The scenery is great and we get to see a lot of it. Here's why. Sara Leblanc (Catherine Michaud) retreats to a fishing lodge with grief in her heart. She was supposed to go with her dad, but she has just learned from her mother that his cancer took a fatal turn, and he died. Sara is more than ever determined to go. Sara and her mother do not get on, as the mom who runs a pet shop always wants Sara to work weekends, giving her no time on her own. At the lodge Sara meets Dan, a rugged aloof fellow who works with his brother at the fishing lodge owned by their father. Dan is always going off on his own, but boy can this man handle the country. He drives a motorcycle, an ATV, fishes like a pro, runs like an athlete, and lifts heavy logs as if they were twigs. Dan has a boyish manner and before long he falls for Sara, feeling concerned that she is alone. A terrible accident happens one evening on what was supposed to be a side-by-side motorcycle ride (Sara is learning to ride one). Poachers are nearby, and it looks like Dan and Sara may not come out safely from the ordeal. The character play between the father and two brothers is brilliant, as is the acting of the entire cast. I did not want this movie to end, but was happy how it ended. Suspenseful twists, romance, excellent characterization and unpretentious dialogue make the movie a must-see. The script, also created by Thivierge is perfect.

3.0-- THE DAM, Thomas Sieben
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Roman has been hired by the public prosecutor in Munich to go to the village police station where a teen went on a rampage killing students and teachers. It happened a year ago. He goes there and meets Laura who beguiles him. Roman is supposed to pick up files at the local police station, but permission is denied on one set of files, so he must stay three nights before he is given them. It is during this time that he befriends Laura who knows more than she lets on, but slowly she reveals she knew Peter Wagner, the perpetrator of the crime who was shot by the police at the dam of the village. Roman and Laura leave the village together as he heads home -- with the police files placed in the car trunk. The film creates suspense but nothing happens. I would have liked to have seen an intriguing plot twist, something about the crime perhaps involving Laura or even Roman, but nothing really happens. It is superbly crafted and well acted, as so many German films are, but it moved on a slow track whose destination was disappointing.

For 2008 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.
For 2009 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.
For 2010 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.

For 2011 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.

For 2012 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.




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