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).
-- QUEEN TO PLAY,
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.
YOU WILL BE MINE,
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.
THE CHILDHOOD OF ICARUS,
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.
A PIECE OF ME,
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
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.
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.
WARD NUMBER 6,
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.
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).
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.
THE MAIN THING IS TO STAY ALIVE,
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 .
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.
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
2.6 -- THE FACELESS DEAD,
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.
-- THE GREAT CONTEMPORARY
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.
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.
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
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.
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE,
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
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
BETWEEN THE SHEETS,
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.
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.
MRS. MOSKOWITZ AND THE CATS,
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
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,
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
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."
-- 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.
-- DRAFT DODGERS,
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.
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.
-- THE BEND,
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.
-- WORDS OF
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.
Melodrama focusing on how obsession and denial can blind
one to reality. Film manages to engage and is open to a
multiplicity of interpretations.
THE WILL OF GENGHIS KHAN,
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.
-- THE EXHIBITION,
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
2.7 -- FORMOSA BETRAYED,
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.
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.
-- WELL DONE ABBA,
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,
Family tragedy thriller as seen through the eyes of a 7-year-old
boy. Well acted and engaging story.
-- ANDRES DOESN'T WANT TO TAKE A SIESTA,
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,
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.
-- A STEP INTO
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.
WHEN THE LEMONS TURN YELLOW,
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,
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)
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.
-- SON OF THE
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
For 2008 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.