Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 15, No. 5, 2016
  Current Issue  
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nick Catalano
Jordan Adler
Lynda Renée
Gary Olson
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
Samuel Burd
Farzana Hassan
Betsy L. Chunko
Andrée Lafontaine
  Music Editors
Nancy Snipper
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque
Denis Beaumont
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
The Past



So far, A & O film critics Robert J. Lewis and Jordan Adler 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.


3.4 -- TWO LOVERS AND A BEAR, Kim Nguyen
[reviewed by Robert J. Lewis] The event maker in Kim Nguyen’s haunting, fascinating, highly original, Two Lovers and a Bear is location (Iqaluit). Everything -- relationships, shopping, partying, dressing -- is under-the-influence. As the camera follows the favoured means of transportation (the high-powered, all-terrain snowmobile), the viewer quickly learns that in the extreme north nothing is biodegradable: mixed in with the snow banks that line the roads are wooden crates, discarded junk and a fleets worth of abandoned vehicles. The director uses the brilliant natural light and pervasive, antipodal darkness to convey both awe and respect the north commands: the long shots are breathtaking, the remoteness unlike anything you’ve ever seen – a wonderland that invokes terror and incredulity that anyone could survive there. We quickly learn that extreme conditions often appeal to people looking to escape the extremes they have been subjected to in 'the south.'
Madly in love Lucy and Roman are damaged goods, both victims of abusive fathers. Their fragile love and stability are severely tested when Lucy announces that she is going south to study biology. As if in thrall to the harshness and absolutes of their environment, each in his own manner breaks down. Roman, flirting with suicide and who has categorically refused to return with Lucy, drinks himself into a stupour followed by hospitalization, while Lucy’s demon, in the form of an hallucination, relentlessly stalks her. Lacking the funds to fly themselves out, they finally decide to snowmobile their way home in what will prove to be a journey fraught with peril and weird and unforgettable scenes that seem to come straight out of a dream sequence. In an environment that lends itself to the expectation that whatever can go wrong will go wrong, Nguyen wisely opts for a balanced unfolding of both major and minor crises, including philosophical pronouncements delivered by a talking bear, and a surreal evening spent in an abandoned radar station.
The casting was a tour de force, from the minor roles delegated to the locals to the selection of the two leads, Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan, who deliver deeply affecting yet very natural performances. From the opening scenes framed by the deep cold, we are spellbound, like deer frozen in head lights, by the expressions worn on DeHaan’s face: no matter what he does or says, everything, like a beautiful sadness, is refracted through his quiet hurting and fragility.
In cinematic language that is its own precedent, even while conceding the North invariably takes more than it gives,
Two Lovers and a Bear is an homage to the physical and metaphysical beauty of the land and its imperatives, and the indestructible spirit of the defiant men and women who challenge its dominion.

2.6 -- I AM NOJOOM, AGE 10 AND DIVORCED (Moi, Nojoom, 10 ans, divorcée), Khadija Al-Salami
[reviewed by Robert J. Lewis] Deepa Mehta's Water and Jeremy Teicher's Tall as the Baobab Tree are probably better films than I Am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced by Khadija Al-Salami, but none is as important. All films deal with enforced but legal child marriage. Nojoom's case garnered international attention in 2009 when her plight was brought to the attention of the Yemeni justice system. Despite an uneven script and lapses into melodrama the film, quite brilliantly, manages to address two very separate and mutually suspicious audiences: the local population that subscribes to Sharia law and the West that unapologetically regards child marriage as a legalized form of pedophilia. In a far-off-the-beaten-track village in Yemen, a farmer and his wife, suffering through hard times, decide to marry off their 8-year-old daughter, Nojoom, who only wants to play with her dolls; they are desperate for the dowry and are looking forward to feeding one less mouth. The groom, 20 years older than his child bride, rapes her on their wedding night, after which she is treated like a slave until she finally manages to escape to the capital, Sana'a, where she explains to a sympathetic judge that she wants a divorce. Father and groom are arrested, and interrogated under oath. The groom is asked if he is familiar with Sharia's position on child marriage. He explains that he is a decent law-biding, peasant who can't read, that with the blessings of the local sheik he is simply following tradition. The judge explains there is no excuse for ignorance, that Sharia, while it condones child marriage, obliges the groom to wait until the child comes of age (message for local consumption: pedophilia verboten). Where the film could have indulged in pure messaging and stereotyping, it instead grants father and groom the complexity of character that humanizes them despite their ignorance, and contextualizes without exculpating the tender of children to the highest bidder. Father and groom are not so much evil as hostage to the traditions into which they are born. Nojoom is an important true story that needs to be told again and again. For viewers for whom cinema is an opportunity to vicariously visit foreign lands, they will be treated to the fascinating World Heritage architecture of Sana'a and breathtaking panoramas of Yemen's arid and rocky countryside turned green under extensive cultivation. A nod to very credible performances from mostly non-professional actors.


Ratings for 2015
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

Ratings for 2014
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

Ratings for 2013
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

Ratings for 2012
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

Ratings for 2011
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.
Ratings for 2010
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.
Ratings for 2009
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

Ratings for 2008
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

Ratings for 2007
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.



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3.5 -- THE SAVER, Wiebke Von Carolsfeld
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Once in a rare while there comes along a film that steals our heart because of its honesty and simplicity. Yet the subject matter is pretty serious. Fern, a 16-year-old aboriginal girl, living in Montreal, has just lost her mother who spent her life cleaning houses and taking care of her only daughter. Fern has to start cleaning those houses. She finds a book about how to become a millionaire and reads it, but saving money just doesn't get her far. She ekes out a living cooking in an African little restaurant, avoiding a terrible landlady, and doing odd jobs for her as a janitor, and then must suddenly put up with her Uncle jack who appears at the door. He wants to become her guardian. Fern is on her last rent money and is told to get out, but not only does she do a great deed to help the mean landlady and her autistic son, but takes in Uncle Jack once again; after she kicked him out, and gets herself rehired at the restaurant she is told to leave for having almost burnt down the kitchen. As Fern begins to deal with the loss of her mother, she enters a happier stage of her life, and this is where the film ends. It's a moving little film that turns victimhood into a reverse state of victory. Imajyn Cardinal is a great actor who deliberately underplays her role in order to fully inhabit the psyche of Fern and vibrate the pathos buried in our hearts

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