Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Robert Rotondo
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
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





So far, A & O film critic Sylvain Richard has seen the following films. Here are his 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.


Sylvain RichardAmong Sylvain Richard's best ever films = (Babij Jar; Man Who Wipes Mirrors; Napola; Les Choristes; The Headsman; My Nikifor; Hell in Tangier; Camaron; Who Are You; King of the World).

2.3 -- QUEEN TO PLAY, Caroline Bottaro
Set in the lush and romantic island of Corsica, a housemaid for a luxury hotel living a humdrum daily routine has her life transformed when when she spies an American couple playing chess on the balcony of their hotel room. Intrigued, she asks one her other clients (Kevin Kline's first role entirely in French) to teach her. Excellent performances, loose script and editing. The effect of chess on her personal life alluded to but not fully developed.

2.6 -- YOU WILL BE MINE, Sophie Laloy
Housemate horror thriller that is a cross between "Single White Female" and "The Page Turner." Aspiring pianist moves in with her childhood friend in downtown Lyon to study at the conservatory. Quickly (and predictably) the housemate develops a possessive, lesbian attraction, hampering the pianist's studies. Roles well interpreted by two leads, but other performances lacking. Excellent use of classical music and closeups in the rendering of emotions.

2.3 -- THE CHILDHOOD OF ICARUS, Alexandre Iopaschesco
A scientically oriented drama about a man who in his desire to return to his past agrees to partake in an experimental genetic regeneration treatment (to restore his amputated leg and to rekindle his relationship with his estranged wife). A strong and promising beginning gives way to rambling and erratic plotline. Strong, quasi autobiographical final performance by Guillaume Depardieu in lead.

2.6 -- TWENTY , Abdolreza Kahani
A realistic slice of bleak Iranian social mores. A banquet hall owner wants to -- due to health -- close and sell his business in twenty days. Though he mistreats his employees they attempt and slowly succeed to soften his hardened heart. Appealling more to a smaller audience dynamic.

2.7 -- A PIECE OF ME, Christoph Rohl
Coming of age drama centering on a 17-year-old who needs to accept his responsibilities as a father to his newly born daughter. A-1 performances from the entire cast and persuasive script.

3.0 -- JERMAL, Rayya Makarim
Title is Indonesian for ``fishing platform.`` A 12-year-old boy rejoins his absentee father after his mother dies. Powerful relational dynamics in this enriching and delightful human drama.

2.4 -- BULLYING, Josecho San Mateo
After his father dies, a teen moves to a new city with his mother to start a new life. Unfortunately, he falls prey to a vicious and cruel bully -- an all too common malaise in modern society. This potentially powerful and difficult subject was undermined by a significantly watered down handling of the material.

2.6 -- WARD NUMBER 6, Karen Shakhnazarov
Documentary style fictional account of how the head psychiatrist of an asylum ends up himself becoming a patient at said institution. Well crafted albeit wordy on a philosophical level. A modern take on Chekhov's short story of same title.

2.7 -- SILENT WEDDING, Horatiu Malaele
An account of the consequences that resulted when an isolated Romanian village defied the decrees ordered when Stalin died in 1953. Folksy Romanian humour permeates this forboding tale that sends a strong message that no one has the right to dictate to another what to do -- and that feelings, despite an oppressive system, must and will be expressed (in this case the joy of a wedding).

2.1 -- VILLA AMALIA, Benoît Jacquot
A middle aged woman who is a musician decides to break from her past and start anew. Beautiful locations and stunning performances. Script and editing lacked continuity.

2.8 -- THE MAIN THING IS TO STAY ALIVE, Roshane Saidnattar
Director is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia in the 1970s. Spurred by her interview (to find the truth) with its chief theorist Khieu Saphan (who lies and denies), she and her mother return to the region where they resided and worked at the time. Well crafted with the use of significant archival footage and reenactments serving as background to her interview. Personal reminiscings between the director and her mother along with the fellow villagers provide a powerful account of a tragic period in Cambodian history .

2.9 -- 1981, Ricardo Trogi
Autobiographical account (spring 1981) of adjustment trials and errors of director Trogi at 11-years-old when parents purchased a new house. His perceptions of classmates engaging and humorous.

3.2 -- THE ESCAPE, Katherine Windfield
Multi layered, emotionally powerful, dramatic thriller involving a Danish journalist taken hostage in Afghanistan, who subsequently escapes with help from one of the terrorists. She becomes a media celebrity; he flees and heads for Denmark -- and thus, the perfect recipe for moral dilemma. Gripping script and powerhouse performances

2.6 -- THE FACELESS DEAD, Kishu Izuchi
Mystery that begins when 24-year-old Misaki Tagigawa receives a phone call informing her that a certain "Misaki Tagigawa" has been hospitalised. This mysterious woman turns out to be Misaki's former boss. Thus begins a search into finding out who this woman really is. Subtle humour throughout.

An investigative documentary on the great rise and subsequent crash in the financial value of contemporary art -- Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Mark Rothco etc. Style, formulaic and pedestrian notwithstanding interesting subject matter.

1.8 -- VORTEX, Gytis Lukfas
The story of the generation that lived through the Soviet occupation of Lithuania as told through the life of the protagonist from childhood to early adult. Fuzzy black and white cinematography, unclear subtitles and poor character developement marred what could have been a powerful historical drama.

2.4 -- REFRAIN, Tyler Gibb
Riya writes deeply felt songs in an attempt to deaden the pain of an abusive relationship. Will her music that represents her pain and confession ever get to be heard by others? The film takes too long to engage.

2.3 -- PENALTY, Tony Cimini
Account of a group of severely financially strapped families facing eviction from an abandoned oil refinery unless their soccer playing sons can win against the oil company's team. Humourous but short on conviction vis a vis the real situation on the ground.

2.0 -- WHAT YOU DON'T SEE, Wolfgang Fischer
Seventeen year old son goes on holiday with his mother and her lover to a cottage on the coast of Brittany. In a neighboring cottage are two mysterious teens. Exact nature of script and what director intended to put across was very confusing and unclear.

2.6 -- LUCKY COUNTRY, Kriv Sanders
Australian western set in 1902 involving living off the land, loyalties and the lure of gold. Beyond its obvious adventure quotient, the film was significantly lacking in direction and message.

1.7 -- BETWEEN THE SHEETS, Gustavo Nieto-Roa
Two strangers meet in a bar with intentions for a one night stand; but they fall deeply in love. Lacked credibility for those who still believe in fairy tales.

2.5 -- MOTHERLY, Philippe Blasband
An elementary school principal's estranged mother -- whom she has only seen twice since infancy -- dies and her ghost visits her. Commonplace subject matter but a pleasure to watch.

2.9 -- MRS. MOSKOWITZ AND THE CATS, Jorge Gurvitch
Retired French teacher finds herself convalescing in a hospital after a fall. There she meets new friends: a solitary woman along with a former soccer player. Emotions long buried resurface. Beautiful and credible performances.

2.4 -- THE POET, Michael Rothnecker
Mistaken identity . A mundane man is mistaken for a notorious perfmance artist and charged with murder. Average performances and script. Good poetry readings.

3.1 -- IODINE, Mike Stasko
John heads north to his father's cabin to investigate his disappearance. Once there he runs into his father's colleague. A deeply metaphysical and reflective film as expressed through gripping dialogue that unfolds in a surreal, existential, secluded wooded location.

3.3 -- WEAVING GIRL, Wang Quan'an
A culturally rich film about a textile worker in Xian Province who needs to come to terms with her mortality after being diagnosed with leukemia. Good use of Soviet revolutionary songs (sung by textile choir), especially "The Weaving Girl." Masterful performances.

2.8 -- LITTLE SOLDIER, Annette K. Olesen
A young soldier returns home from a mission and begins to work as a chauffeur for her father's illicit call-girl business. A well crafted film with top notch performances. Plight of the call-girls (all illegals) not as well handled as with "The Silence of Lorna" by Dardenne brothers.

3.4 -- DRAFT DODGERS, Nicolas Steil
Set during Nazi annexation of Luxembourg addressing a dilemma faced by many in times of war: to be drafted to fight at the front and be killed, or to become a draft dodger and face uncertain hardships (including criticisms from loved ones.) An original, thought provoking concept in the context of a small European countryl.

2.6 -- GUILT, Vassillis Mazomenos
An allegory centering on Cyprus from 1959 to present day. A former gun dealer undergoing an operation revisits crucial moments in his life. The viewer's appreciation of the film will to a significant extent depend on his/her knowledge of Cyprus's history.

2.4 -- THE BEND, Jennifer Kierens
Afraid that bipolar disorder can be hereditary, Jason attempts to recreate that fateful prom night a year ago when his brother Mike died. Potentially powerful coming of age film proved to be too much to handle re. making that first turn in the road called life.

1.8 -- WORDS OF LOVE, Thomas Bourguignon
Intent of director was to put himself in the situation of someone suffering from Alzheimers. Despite considerable research, the result was unconvincing, unfocused and rambling.

2.7 -- LEFT OUT, Fabiomassimo Lozzi
Melodrama focusing on how obsession and denial can blind one to reality. Film manages to engage and is open to a multiplicity of interpretations.

3.5 -- BY THE WILL OF GENGHIS KHAN, Audrey Borisov
Sweeping historical epic detailing one of the legends behind Genghis Khan. High production values featuring epic battles scenes and expansive shots of Mongolian steppes. Exquisitely detailed with top notch performances.

2.5 -- THE EXHIBITION, Lino Pujia
Sculptor wants to resume exhibiting his work after an eight year hiatus because his latest work has significantly changed. Highly personal work where director fictionalizes his family who play the parts. An unexpectedly affecting film.

2.7 -- FORMOSA BETRAYED, Adam Kane
In the early 1980s, an F.B.I. agent is assigned to investigate the murder of a respected Taiwanese professor -- now a US citizen -- on American soil. He uncovers an international web of intrigue. Eye opening both historically and politically. Non-linear editing disrupted flow of film.

2.1 -- THE AMBULANCE, Goran Radovanovic
A chronical of Serbian society from 2000 to 2008 through the development of a local ambulance service. Director's intention was "to serve as a metaphor for the awareness that social erosion can only be stopped through mutual understanding." The film failed to deliver.

2.7 -- WELL DONE ABBA, Shyam Benegal
Delightful Bollywood flic about a widowed chauffeur explaining to his boss why he took three months off rather than just one as he had promised. A humorous look at local bureacracy and corruption when chauffeur decides to dig a well in his garden. Replete with typical Bollywood song and dance numbers.

2.8 -- THE PHYSICS OF WATER, Felice Farina
Family tragedy thriller as seen through the eyes of a 7-year-old boy. Well acted and engaging story.

2.2 -- ANDRES DOESN'T WANT TO TAKE A SIESTA, Daniel Bustamante
Set in Argentina in the 1970s about a boy dealing with the death of his mother. Unclear as to the specifics involved.

1.9 -- LAST VIEWING, Ronaldo Bertubin
Single mother who works as supervisor at a crematorium loses her 6-year-old old autistic daughter while shopping. Overacted, stilted story-line, emotionally unconvincing.

3.4 -- A STEP INTO DARKNESS, Atil Inac
Powerful portrayal of how the vicious cycle of hatred for our fellow man is often cloaked in righteousness. A young Turkmen girl (northern Iraq) who had just survived a raid on her village sets out to find her brother. She eventually finds herself in the clutches of a charismatic religious leader -- lambs prepared for slaughter. Haunting music throughout.

3.1 -- WHEN THE LEMONS TURN YELLOW, Mohammadreza Vatandoost
Poetic and pastoral Iranian drama about an injured war vet coping with taking care of her farm and her sick father by herself. Inspired fusion of imagery and poetic dialogue.
0.5 -- CONCERNS OF AN OBESE, Pluton Vasi
Veteran TV journalist is commissioned to do a documentary on "Personalities in Albania" and it becomes personal. Result is a total mish-mash -- everything in the kitchen cupboard dumped into the stew. Only the music saved it from being a total disaster (0.0)

2.7 -- FORTRESS, Shamil Najafzada
In a remote mountainous village in Azerbaijan there stands a fortress of great historic significance. A film crew has arrived to shoot sweeping epic about a past war. Then a real war arrives, and the universal enigma: does art reflects life or does life imitate life? The setting could be anywhere, any time. Beautiful local and natural performances.

2.4 -- SON OF THE SUNSHINE, Ryan Ward
A young man with tourette's syndrome is trying to cope with a hard life and a mixed up family environment. Above paar acting; average script; choppy editing. Nonetheless, a promising first feature.

For 2008 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.

  = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting
Montreal World Film Festival
Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 10-21st, (514) 844-2172
Festivalissimo Film Festival - Montreal
2008 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL (Montreal) North America's Premier Genre Festival July 3-21
CINEMANIA(Montreal) - festival de films francophone 1-11 novembre, Cinema Imperial info@514-878-0082: featuring Bernard Tavernier
2009 FIFA International Film Festival
Montreal Jazz Festival
Armand Vaillancourt: sculptor
Available Ad Space
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis