Browsing: Film Reviews

Here’s a pithy pullquote for Godard Mon Amour’s posters and trailers: “Boy, it sure is French!” Its language, of course, is French, as one would expect from a biopic about Jean-Luc Godard and Anne Wiazemsky. Itsideology is French, whether the ideology orbits around politics or cinema. When characters argue about either, they argue with confidence that ignores rationality and passion that defies gravity. Most of all, the film’s emotional temperature runs French, in the sense that happiness and melancholy tend to be virtually indistinguishable from each other and anger is a dialect unto itself. Hell is being stuck in a car…

In more ways than one, “Ismael’s Ghosts” immerses us in the headspace of a gloriously undisciplined movie director. At the center of this sad, funny, sprawling and fragmented story is Ismael Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric), an unruly French filmmaker with a very strange family history. His latest picture is a thriller about a globe-hopping spy named Ivan Dédalus, a heavily fictionalized version of the younger brother he hasn’t seen in years. But the more glaring absence in Ismael’s life is that of his wife, Carlotta, who vanished 21 years earlier and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Complicating matters still…

Shahab Hosseini, who deservedly won recognition for his intense performance in Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman, offers a nuanced study in acting minimalism with this melancholy portrait of a man living in exile in London, never quite beyond the reach of his own troubled past. It’s a feature debut for Iranian artist-turned-writer-director Mitra Tabrizian, whose background in still photography perhaps explains the crepuscular cinematography. https://youtu.be/4ObR4sCxrBo Hosseini plays Gholam, a taciturn immigrant who works as a minicab driver by night and mechanic by day in a garage owned by kindly Mr Sharif (eminent Iranian actor Behrouz Behnejad). At the cafe run by his…

Wine helps the emotions flow, but so, apparently, does winemaking in Cédric Klapisch’s absorbing family drama “Back to Burgundy,” a film so rich and pleasurable you’d be forgiven if you thought about it each time you have a glass of red. Set in the picturesque winemaking region of France with a lot of time spent among the vines, the film recounts the uneasy reunification of three siblings after their father’s death, their efforts to keep the winery going under the threat of a hefty inheritance tax that might force them to sell. Jean (Pio Marmaï), who hated his father, has…

The amiable Omotenashi comes with an apt moniker: the Japanese term not just for hospitality, but for wholeheartedly striving to accommodate others. A blend of earnest drama, light comedy, workplace angst and yearning romance, the Kyoto-set effort endeavours to satisfy a broad audience with its tale of a struggling ryokan and the battle that arises over the inn’s future. From its picturesque lakeside imagery to its exploration of both generational and cultural clashes, the film’s quest to serve up something for everyone is evident in every good-natured frame — almost to a fault. One of two titles opening this year’s…

A Fantastic Woman, the Chilean drama that just won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, features an extraordinary performance in the lead role and a quietly convoluted story that prizes gradual revelations of character over any of the twists in its potentially melodramatic plot. The title character is a transgender singer named Marina Vidal, and she’s played by a transgender actress, Daniela Vega. Marina is immersed in a passionate affair with an older man, Orlando (Francisco Reyes), a textile executive who has left his family and moved into an apartment with Marina. The morning after a night of romance with…

Although “The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter” comes to us from director Jody Hill and actor/co-writer Danny McBride, the masterminds behind the exuberantly surly HBO sitcoms “Eastbound and Down” and “Vice Principals,” far too much of this wildly uneven Netflix-bound comedy (scheduled to launch July 6) plays less like a transgressive farce than an overextended “Saturday Night Live” sketch. And yet, even at its most puerile and pedestrian, the movie remains at least passably amusing because of Josh Brolin’s totally committed and unabashedly heartfelt lead performance as Buck Ferguson, a good-ol’-boy celebrity outdoorsman who communicates a boundless joy as…

The final image is striking: A woman in a “Russia” tracksuit furiously striding on a treadmill alone in the cold. Election meddling aside, it’s the perfect metaphor for life under Vladimir Putin, a self-absorbed tyrant determined to return his country to the bleak, totalitarian days of the former Soviet Union. It’s a perfect ending to a perfect movie. But that’s just the start of what makes Andrey Zvyagintsev’s aptly titled “Loveless” so rich in depth and meaning. Its scathing indictment of the Russian leader is so arresting, it’s a wonder Zvyagintsev wasn’t arrested himself by the FSB. But to the…

Guillermo del Toro, like most of his peers who’ve managed to make some sort of mark in Hollywood, owns a house in Los Angeles. While it is located in a relatively affluent neighbourhood, and wouldn’t draw a second glance from passers-by – it could be the home of the Dursleys, as far as the unremarkable suburban exterior is concerned – it is, on the inside, a veritable house of horrors. There are entire rooms dedicated to the Mexican auteur’s favourite genres, fantasy and horror. Life-size wax figures of Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft occupy opposite corners of one room…

The world probably would be a better place if we all kept our mouths shut. Or, at least that’s the takeaway from “The Insult,” (Winner of Cinema Without Borders’ Bridging The Borders Award) the Oscar-nominated courtroom drama from former Quentin Tarantino sidekick Ziad Doueiri. In it, the Lebanon native takes a harsh look at his homeland and the uneasy alliance between the ruling Christians and the ever-expanding Muslim population, many of whom are exiled Palestinians. Their distrust for each other reaches back decades to a brutal civil war that lasted 15 years and frustratingly ended without closure or reprimands for…

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