Promoted as a French comedy in the spirit of In The Loop and Veep, Quai d’Orsay is a very enjoyable watch, full of wit and fun. Based on the graphic novel of the same name written by Antonin Baudry (under the pseudonym Abel Lanzac) and based on his own experiences, the film follows a young politico (Raphael Personnaz) navigating his way as a speechwriter for the French foreign minister (Thierry Lhermitte). Nearly blindsided by the hurdles of his new position, Arthur Vlaminck (Personnaz) works through no to little guidance, some in-office saboteurs, and the slamming doors and blown away papers that mark the minister’s coming and going (to the chagrin of the office cat).
‘Relax, I’m From the Future’ Movie Review: does a lot with little in a funny yet heartfelt short film
Relax, I’m From the Future Written and Directed by Luke Higginson Canada, 2013 Time travel is a concept that has been explored in numerous movies throughout history, with varying results both commercially and critically. While the real-life technology for the endeavour remains a pipe dream, the exploration of its ramifications and effects has yet to …
Those Happy Years Written by Daniele Luchetti, Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli and Caterina Venturini Directed by Daniele Luchetti Italy/France, 2013 In 2007, Daniele Luchetti garnered international attention with My Brother Is an Only Child, a nostalgic look at a pair of brothers in 1960s and 1970s Italy who find themselves on opposite sides of the …
Until Paradise: Love premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Austrian director Ulrich Seidl was a relatively unknown figure in the film world. Since then, he has released two more films which follow Paradise: Love to make up a trilogy: Paradise: Faith and this year’s Paradise: Hope. With the release of the three films, Seidl has quickly propelled himself into art cinema stardom earning comparisons to venerable filmmakers such as his fellow Austrian Michael Hanneke.
Dallas Buyers Club is an important film. Not because it tackles AIDS or bigotry or pharmaceutical companies or preservatives, although it does all that and more. It’s important because it shows one man who manages to overcome a 30-days left to live prognosis and makes a positive difference, all the while still being a real jerk, to put it politely. Based off of a true story, the material could have easily fallen into a Lifetime movie or docu-drama or a redemption story, but instead Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club is a compelling film about a real antihero, an alcohol and drug-abusing, flaming heterosexual Texan who contracts H.I.V. and lives to help himself and those around him, in that order.
The Last of Robin Hood depicts the last romance of Errol Flynn’s life from the not-so-tender age of 48 until his death. Who was the lucky girl? Beverly Aadland. One person’s definition of luck is most people’s definition of statutory rape—something that Flynn had some trouble with before—as Miss Aadland was under 18 at the time. This is the crux of the conundrum behind this story and what would regularly confound a filmmaker in bringing it to the screen—even Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita screenplay was rejected and reworked by Stanley Kubrick. Fortunately for the audience, Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland are no regular filmmakers (see Grief, The Fluffer, Quinceanera). They have written and directed a film about three protagonists (Beverly Aadland, her mother Florence, and Errol Flynn) with a vague outward antagonist—society, perhaps? And somehow, through the grace of such strong characters and writing, it works.
Every detail matters in the films of Claire Denis. Her latest, and unquestionably her darkest film yet, Bastards, contains a wealth of information in its first few shots: a man on the verge of what we learn to be a suicide, pacing about his office with the rain crashing down outside, a naked girl, wearing only heels, slowly inching her way down a darkly lit street. We re-visit the latter of these shots later in the film, but under a completely different and disturbing context. Denis is back working in full L’Intrus mode, and while Bastards isn’t nearly as impenetrable as the aforementioned 2004 film, it’s an elliptically charged work that challenges and seduces with its wide gamut of unsettling images and sounds.
Thanks to the likes of James Wan, paranormal horror is all the rage. From Paranormal Activity to Insidious and The Conjuring, audiences are irretrievably hooked to tales of nuclear families being bloodlessly menaced by only-fleetingly-visible entities of malicious intent. What’s remarkable about Mike Flanagan’s Oculus, which follows his no-budget wonder Absentia, is how it manages to wring genuine dread from a beyond-worn subgenre simply by paying close attention to the realities of its deeply troubled characters. Oculus functions equally well as a tragic psychodrama as it does a horror film.
The chronic, seemingly unsolvable Israeli/Palestinian conflict provides the perfect backdrop for narrative storytelling, as all the pieces are in place for a tense, personalized historical rendering. In fact, two other films this year have already addressed the issue: The Attack, from Lebanese director Ziad Douerir, and Zaytoun, from Israeli director Eran Riklis; each look at the personal toll caused by war. Inherently polemical discourse rarely makes much of an impact on the opposing side, and while bridge-gapping is sometime present in films dealing with this Middle Eastern crisis, it’s understandable when a more hardened approach is taken. Such is the case with Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar, a well-made Palestinian film that presents the experience with little interest in broaching peaceful dialogue
Gerontophilia, or the sexual preference for the elderly, is the eponymous subject of the new film by Bruce LaBruce, iconoclastic Canadian director of subversive narrative porn such as The Raspberry Reich and Hustler White, among others. Given what goes on in other LaBruce films, amputee sex, “terrorist chic” sex, zombie sex, etc., the subject matter of his newest didn’t necessarily alarm the way it would for nearly other living filmmaker, Lars von Trier being a potential exception.
Labor Day is far darker and perilous than writer/director Jason Reitman’s previous fare. Illness, broken hearts, and tragedy take center stage. Characters are not coddled and nothing feels ironic. Judging from this outing, drama may suit Reitman better than the snappy, sardonic exchanges we’ve gotten used to from him. Kate Winslet plays Adele, a woman long ago drained of love for the world, raising a son that wants to believe that a pure, transformative and truly supportive love exists for his mother. Into their lives enters Frank (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict who takes them hostage and back to their home to wait out the heat from the cops. Brought together by circumstance, what develops between the three of them is something surprising, rich, and strange.
The TIFF programmer introducing the new film from South Korean master Hong Sang-soo mentioned that because Hong is so prolific (he’s currently shooting another film) he couldn’t be at the premiere of his own film. It’s not uncommon for filmmakers to miss their own premieres, even at world-renowned international film festivals.
‘The Double’‘Joe’ Movie Review – crams three films’ worth of ideas into 93 minutes, for better and worse
Better to have an ungainly surplus of ideas than none at all; that seems to be Richard Ayoade’s philosophy behind The Double, a wild, uneven, but never dull sci-fi black comedy that purports to tackle Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name, but is at least as interested in pilfering visual ideas from films gone by while marrying them to Ayoade’s winningly dry comic sensibility.
With the timing of a well-orchestrated heist, the latest screen adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel closes this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Given his recent passing and the well-deserved plaudits from various luminaries of pen and screen, his rap sheet has been celebrated over the past few weeks. Based on Leonard’s novel The Switch, writer and director Daniel Schechter has managed to embezzle a fine addition to the long list of lean Leonard works. Although it doesn’t quite hit the jackpot, it does manage to purloin some fine criminal characters and a gutsy group of belly laughs to boot.
Director David MacKenzie (Young Adam, Mister Foe) brings us a bloodily fresh film about a young upstart condemned to a lengthy prison sentence who thinks that he can’t be contained by the system or gangs. Upon arriving he encounters his long lost father who is also incarcerated. They are both unable to express their extreme emotions without it coming to violence.
What separates life on the fringe of society from being outside of society entirely? It’s that line of demarcation that fascinates Kelly Reichardt, whose particularly American take on “slow cinema” collides with our own expectation of the requirements of the thriller genre in Night Moves, which cleverly cloaks its true thematic concerns in familiar story tropes.
‘Abuse of Weakness’ Movie Review – chronicles Breillat’s real-life difficulties with unsparing honesty
How can you dramatize real-life events you were a party to, but don’t fully understand yourself? In the case of Catherine Breillat, you do your very best to communicate the depth of your own lack of comprehension. Surely one of the least vain openly autobiographical films ever made, Abuse of Weakness is repetitive and infuriating – but deliberately so, and to its complement.
‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’ Movie Review – An entertaining thriller buoyed by strong performances
The crime thriller is not an easy genre to tackle. The cinematic landscape is littered with movies that were unable to illustrate stakes worth caring about, characters worth emotionally investing in, or stories worth following. Good additions to the genre, however, are always fascinating to watch, as they show a side of things that very few people see otherwise, and put people in situations that reveal a lot about them.
Welcome to our “12 Years a Slave” Reviews. Review #1 12 Years a Slave Written by John Ridley Directed by Steve McQueen USA, 2013 With Hunger and Shame, Steve McQueen crafted two highly divergent, yet equally distinctive character studies of men whose respective physical existences are defined by extremity. Hunger’s Bobby Sands stays true to his political convictions in …
Jodorowsky’s Dune Directed by Frank Pavich USA, 2013 Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, Frank Herbert, Chris Foss, H.R. Giger, Moebius, Magma, Pink Floyd, Dan O’Bannon, David Carradine, Mick Jagger, Amanda Lear, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dali. Yes, that’s quite an array of figures, isn’t it? Frank Pavich’s historically illuminating and expertly constructed documentary on one of …
The Last of the Unjust Written and directed by Claude Lanzmann France/Austria, 2013 Anyone who has ever experienced the full 9-hour version of Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah is likely humbled by such a powerful and riveting document, a witness statement culled from the incomprehensible and unendurable recollections of the victims and perpetrators of the unfathomable horror of the …
With this weekend’s Total Recall cashing in on a trend we could conceivably never see the end of (at least in this lifetime), the question I’m posing refers to what we have to look forward to, but not from bombastic, shallow-minded “anti-auteurs;” we look instead to the distinguished festival elite. Putting aside the innumerable trademarks …
We Need to Talk about Kevin Written by Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear (novel by Lionel Shriver) Directed by Lynna Ramsay UK & USA, 2011 Hidden at the back of our mind is the darkness that roams the labyrinth. The minotaur becomes the unspeakable evil, the figure with the body of a man and the …