Arts &
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Vol. 12, No. 5, 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 Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  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



2013 cinemania program


So far, A & O film critics Nancy Snipper and Daniel Charchuk have seen the following films. Here are their 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.



[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Four seasons of sexual awakening in the life of a teenage prostitute are depicted in this sexy yet complicated coming-of-age film. Rife with full-frontal nudity and sexually explicit content, there exists a very possible danger that charges of exploitation and even pedophilia could be levied against the film and its maker, but acclaimed director Ozon carefully toes the line between erotic and exploitative, avoiding the most pornographic shots and never assuming a judgmental or accusatory tone. The result is a work full of ambiguity and unanswered questions -- why does she do what she does? -- that are never fully resolved, only adding to the complex nature of the film. Ozon doesn’t seem to be making a social or political point about prostitution so much as exploring general topics of sex, love, and youth in a much more personal and intimate manner, adopting a welcome and refreshing frankness that turns his film from ‘just another’ teenage sex film into something warmer and more intriguing.

3.5 -- THE PAST (LE PASSÉ), Asghar Farhadi
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Iranian director Farhadi, world-renowned and Oscar-winner for "A Separation," follows the lead of his compatriots Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf and moves to France for his next film, away from the controversy and censorship of the conservative government in Iran. The work, starring Bérénice Bejo and Tahar Rahim (of "The Artist" and "A Prophet" fame, respectively), concerns an Iranian man who returns to Paris to finalize his divorce from a French woman and finds her living with another man. Like in his previous work, Farhadi doesn’t shy away from the power of melodrama, this time using it as a tool to slowly reveal a mystery and peel away various characters’ motivations. Though perhaps not as accomplished as his previous work, the film nonetheless continues Farhadi’s penchant for compelling dialogue and eye for stark, modest compositions, as well as his quietly rebellious nature; although not an overtly political film, it does have quite a lot to say about cultural differences in relationships and the disparity in gender roles between France and Iran.

3.2 -- GRAND CENTRAL, Rebecca Kiotowski
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Gary K goes with his 3 buddies to work in one of France 19 nuclear power plants, The dangers are many and accidents happen that threaten workers. He and his team leader are victims of contamination. While at the plant, Gary falls for Karole who has a boyfriend named Toni with whom she lives. They secretly meet as Toni is a co-worker of Gary's, and the latter even saves the former from contamination through the fault of Toni. Karole and Gary have secret trysts, and they seem in love. But Karole weds Toni who can't have children. Was her plan to make Toni happy or to stay with Gary? The ending is ambiguous. Karole weds Toni, but she runs after Gary as he quits his job. This film was meticulously researched, and the many scenes at the plant vividly track the various steps taken to avoid radiation and what one does to measure it in the body and attempt to get it out of the body. The love relationships were most interesting. It is a quiet film with a huge if not horrific message.

4.0 -- MARIUS, Daniel Auteuil
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Director and actor Daniel Auteuil brilliantly crafted superb dialogue and recreated the fetching romance of two young ones from Marseilles, Marius (Raphaël Personnaz) and Fanny (Victoire Bélézy). Marius works in the bar his nagging domineering dad César owns (Auteuil). Their acting is superb and the father son relationship is so funny. Fanny minds an oyster stall with her mom. Fanny and Marius play a lot of cat and mouse games, partly because Marius is of two minds. The lure of the sea calls him, but when the two finally consummate their love, he is ready to stay with her and forgo the offer to travel on a vessel. But Fanny overhears him talking to the captain telling him he won't go because his girlfriend does not want that. At the last moment, she relents and forces Marius to go. When the father finds out that they are finally together and are going to wed -- he does not know Marius has just sailed off -- he and Fanny are up in César's room and as he describes how happy he is and is going to give his room up for the couple, she is nearly in tears, knowing her lover has gone away. The film ends with her fainting.

2.0 -- MARIUS, Daniel Auteuil
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] As an adaptation of the first part of playwright Marcel Pagnol’s Marseillaise trilogy, actor/writer/director Auteuil’s second feature is unsurprisingly stagey and incomplete (though accompanied at the festival by the second part, "Fanny," with the third part, "César," yet to be filmed). Though Auteuil (who himself plays César, father to the titular character – a young bartender who dreams of the sea) does his best to overcome the necessary theatrical elements of the story – dialogue-heavy scenes, limited settings, minimal dramatic action – with the necessary cinematic flourishes, his attempt ultimately falls short, leaving his movie feeling like little more than a filmed play. Despite impressive performances from the cast (especially newcomer Victoire Bélézy as the virginal Fanny, object of Marius’ affection) and beautiful, sun-drenched cinematography, the narrative of star-crossed lovers and disobeyed social standing simply isn’t compelling enough in this day and age. Not to mention it’s been adapted several times previously, begging the question: why bother revisiting something without adding a unique spin on it?

4.0 -- FANNY , Daniel Auteuil
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This is the second part of the Marius series, and now we have Marius having taken off without his father or Fanny's mom knowing. However, Fanny, now pregnant reveals it to her mother. Timing either lucky or unlucky figures a lot in this film. Fanny and her mother are now in a huge pickle about this -- no father to bring up the child, but Fanny's rich suitor once again reappears -- he had proposed to her in the first "Marius" film, but she declined. Now, she decides to accept, but César is furious when he learns she is carrying his grandchild and that the child will not have his name. Finally, compromises are made, and Fanny marries the man who will give her status and respectability. Two years go by, and Marius unexpectedly shows up, only to be rejected by Fanny, even his father who tells his son that his handling of the entire situation will not help the child. Marius wants Fanny and his child to live with him. But it is not to be; it appears Marius 'missed the boat." The many situations and the hilarious relationships in both Marius films splendidly recreate a time of innocence and old fashioned values. Yet both films were made this year.

2.2 -- FANNY, Daniel Auteuil
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Picking up right where Marius leaves off, this second act of the Marseillaise trilogy maintains the same cast, crew, and general feel as its predecessor – meaning the issues and problems are identical as well. Namely, the heavily expository dialogue, bare minimum of locations, and simplistic narrative progression all remain obvious and substantial flaws; however, one notable improvement over the first film is the darkening of tone and deepening of themes. Gone is the sunny disposition and starry-eyed love of youth, replaced by the grim melancholy and stark reality of adulthood. While the change in tone and greater thematic depth is primarily due to the source material, Auteuil does help things along, utilizing close-ups and handheld camerawork to emphasize the characters’ complex emotions and break up the monotony of his flat compositions. It’s still not a particularly revelatory work of art, but it is a slightly more interesting one.

2.6 -- MAUVAISE FILLE, Patrick Mille
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Based on a quasi-autobiographical novel by Justine Lévy, daughter of a well-known French philosopher, and starring Irish rock star Bob Geldof as, essentially, a version of himself, this is a film concerned with celebrities and, more specifically, their children. The ‘bad daughter’ of the title is novelist Louise Doutreluigne, enfant terrible of rocker George and groupie Alice and clearly based on Lévy herself. Jumping between Louise’s extraordinary childhood and relatively mundane adulthood, co-writer and director Mille (Lévy’s live-in boyfriend) uses a fractured chronology (without resorting to time stamps to establish dates and years) to present a portrait of a girl with a highly unusual upbringing and the effect that has on her attempt at normalcy later in life. Oscillating between tragedy and comedy without much of a buffer, the film strikes a schizophrenic tone that doesn’t always work, but remains at least amusing throughout. As an incisive look at the perils of celebrity upon children, it mostly fails, but as a light-hearted and sweet-natured familial dramedy, it’s funny and entertaining, if rather straightforward.

2.9 -- ARRÊTEZ-MOI, Jean-Paul Lilienfeld
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Former Bond Girl Sophie Marceau embraces middle-age to take on the lead unnamed role of a battered woman pushed too far in this talkative, pseudo-real-time thriller. Walking into a police station one night, ten years to the day after she pushed her abusive husband to his death, she demands for the night detective on duty (Miou-Miou) to arrest her for the crime, the police having assumed suicide; and so begins a confrontational pas de deux between two determined women, one insistent on paying for her crime, the other refusing to punish her for an act of self-defence. Director Lilienfeld isn’t shy about his indictment of domestic violence, utilizing point-of-view flashbacks to place the viewer in the role of victim and truly depict the horrors of such acts, but he lacks the requisite subtlety to completely pull it off. While his two leads hold nothing back in an attempt to out-act each other, the director uses all manner of symbolism and allegory to make his argument, resulting in a mostly effective but rather overwrought modern melodrama.

3.4 -- GRIGRIS, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] A neo-realist social drama filmed and set within the landlocked African nation of Chad, this assured and confident work continues the success of art cinema from the third world. Focusing on the day-to-day life of its titular character (Souleymane Démé, essentially playing himself), a wannabe dancer with a paralyzed leg who must turn to crime to pay for his stepfather’s medical bills, the film owes a debt to post-war Italian cinema as much as anything, specifically in its use of non-professional actors, elliptical storytelling, and long-take cinematography. But it is also very much rooted in the problems of contemporary Chad (and Africa as a whole), depicting – with great poise and nuance – the vast gulf between the haves and the have-nots, and the desperate circumstances that the latter have to turn to in order to survive. Not a particularly innovative message, but Haroun’s composed and powerful style make it feel as vital and important as anything from post-war Europe, as well as a significant member of African cinema.

2.0 -- MICHAEL KOHLHAAS, Arnaud des Pallières
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] International film star (and multilingual actor) Mads Mikkelsen headlines this adaptation of a 19th century German novella, itself based on a 16th century true story; Mikkelsen plays the titular character, a horse trader who is wronged by the local Baron and soon leads a violent peasant revolt against him. With a great multinational cast (also including Bruno Ganz, Denis Lavant, and Sergi López), sweeping natural cinematography, and a general period feel, it seems to have all the makings of a traditional historical epic; instead, the plotting and pacing is so confounding and lethargic that the film becomes aggressively confusing when it isn’t plainly boring. That said, Mikkelsen is great (as he always is) speaking fluent French, and the graceful look of the film is almost enough to overcome its glaring narrative flaws, but it’s simply not exciting nor compelling enough to remain watchable throughout. In a day and age where so many so-called art films are criticized for their slow and glacial pace, here is one that actually fits the bill.

3.2 -- IT HAPPENENED IN ST-TROPEZ, Danièle Thompson
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Two brothers -- Zef, a violinist and a devout Orthodox Jew, the other, Roni -- a non-practicing Jew who is a big-time wealthy spender are both stuck between a father whose senility adds to the absurdity of both these brothers' lives. They each have a daughter, and they are in love with the same young man named Sam. However, the daughter of the wealthy man is engaged to him, while the other one, a cellist meets him on a train and has no idea this is her cousin's finance. There are fabulous black humour scenes in the film, such as when the wedding day announcement party held on the lush grounds of the wealthy brother also holds another family affair -- this one far more secretive: the wife of the devout brother is dead, and her body is lying on dry ice inside the coffin which is being kept in another room until the rabbi can bury her after Shabbat. Her accidental death (she was hit by a car while on the way to fetch a pastrami sandwich for her husband -- enter the husband's Jewish guilt) and the pre-wedding party happened the same day. There are many imaginative scenes sporting clever dialogue delivered by characters that are very funny. Although the situation is highly unlikely, this film works, and it is refreshingly entertaining.

2.2 -- A GESTURE OF BEAUTY, Dominique Besnehard & Muriel Flis-Tréves
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This documentary has Françoise Sorya Dreyfus whom we know as screen legend -- Anouk Aimée talking on camera about her life and never-ending acting career. Born a Jew (during Nazi persecution), she changed her name. Three important aspects contributing to her outstanding success stand out in this documentary. As she says: she was very very lucky, never forced anything or pushed to get ahead. Adoring Fellini and a great friend of Lelouch, she reveals she has a sisterly relationship with all the men that came into her life, especially directors and actors. She began her career at the age of 13 and to date has played over 70 roles. The film opens up with her acceptance of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1968 for her role in "A Man and a Woman," directed by Claue Lelouch. We are struck by her striking beauty and femininity. Indeed, she still remains lovley. The star has been the featured guest throughout the festival; ten of her films are being shown.

2.9 -- FOR A WOMAN, Diane Kurys
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Upon the death of her mother, Lena, one of the two daughters, uncovers a photograph of her mother with a handsome man who is not her supposed father. In fact, it is Jean, her father's brother who has a few secrets of his own as we find out when the film plays out the past as a full story revealing her mother and father living in Lyon, having settled there from Russia. This film is rather interesting as it plays out on a variety of levels through the characters. The topics of romance, marriage and underground Nazi hunters come together through the intimate lives of these people. It is highly credible and unsentimental. The acting was superb. Finally, one figures out the answer to this: was Anne's real father Jean, and could it be true that the director was inspired by her own family history as she lifts the veil on a long-held secret? This was a film-worthy story.

1.0 -- A CASTLE IN ITALY, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Films that are autobiographical that star the person in question and that are also directed by that very same person who stars in the film are usually totally uninteresting, fragmented and without any universal appeal. Ms. Bruni-Tedeschi is a boring actor and her life is quite frankly without any resonance to others. She loses her brother to AIDS, has a mother who lives with her in a huge estate outside in Italy, is about to face financial ruin, gets pregnant by a man who is much younger than her (her real life ex: Louis Garrel plays the role); her real life mother mother play the mother role too. Her name is Marisa Borini. She was the only person of interest in this film. This film was devoid of emotional impact despite the losses that obviously drive the plot and the characters' lives that make our own seem much more lustrous.

2.3 -- MICHAEL KOHLHAAS, Arnaud Des Pallières
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] If only this film could move at the swift pace of 16th-century French justice meted out by queen and vengeance-fighting horse trading peasant/hero -- Kohlhaas -- then perhaps one might have felt sorry for the wronged Kohlhaas who not only loses his two favourite horses and his wife, but eventually his head. Trying to win back through legal means his two horses that are terribly abused when taken by a young baron and totally abused proves futile; his case is dismissed. His wife then goes to plea to the princess of Navarre for her husband to get back his horses. She winds up being killed. Now it's time for Kohlhaas to eke out justice at his own hands. His loyal servant together with others, sneak up at night to the baron's home and kill his men. But he has escaped. Kohlaas round up peasants to fight with him; they too have been wronged. The pincess finally grants him amnesty, but two of his loyal followers have rebelled and not handed in their arms. Kohlhaas gets back his horses in perfect condition, is paid retribution but is beheaded for going against church and the queen's rule. It is an unfair ending for this proud man, nobly acted by Danish star, Mads Mikkelsen. The truly tragic fact about the film is that is based on a true story, detailed in the novel, by Heinrich von Kliest. Faith, loyalty, vengeance, justice and cruelty collide violently in this saga that moves like an aged horse on the way to the glue factory.

1.8 -- ELLE S'EN VA, Emmanuelle Bercot
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] ] Despite the magnificent performance of Catherine Deneuve as Bettie, a sixty-something woman who escapes into a series of unwelcome adventures as she takes her car into areas beyond her own restaurant's town in Bretagne, this film goes on and on like a road trip gone wrong -- just like the movie does. Bettie has received news that her lover has gone back to his wife, and she is beside herself. This is what compels her suddenly to leave the restaurant without telling anyone and drive into a series of misbegotten encounters. This in part is due to her addiction: cigarette smoking, and she'll go anywhere to get one, even when the stores are closed. She does reconcile with her daughter and her pre-teen grandson who joins her in the car trip. They too have their issues. The movie's 116 minutes seem like an eternity, At one point I wanted her car to break down so she would just go back to where she was in the first place. Of course, the movie ends with a subtle romance that one suspects will last. Deneuve's acting held the movie but not my unwavering interest. When the French make a film without good plot focus, the lens shoots one big boring blur. Not even the scenery or pretty French faces can mask this unfortunate fact.


For the ratings of 2012 Cinemania Film Festival, HERE.

For the ratings of 2011 Cinemania Film Festival, HERE.

For the ratings of 2010 Cinemania Film Festival, HERE.

For the ratings of 2009 Cinemania Film Festival, HERE.

For the ratings of 2008 Cinemania Film Festival, HERE.

For the ratings of 2007 Cinemania Film Festival, HERE.



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