Archive for September, 2012

Postcard From The Zoo

September 30th, 2012 - admin

The second feature from the innovative Indonesian filmmaker, Edwin, who won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Rotterdam International Film Festival for his earlier ‘Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly’, takes us to South Jakarta’s Ragunan Zoo/theme park for a charming slice of magical realism that has something in common with Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s filmic sensibility but very much retains its own authorial stamp.

 

Edwin, who came to features via music videos, brings with it that striking visual hook necessary to grab the audience’s attention but tones it down here to a more subtle level without any loss of immediacy or vitality.  Playing with diegetic images and sounds, heightened by a quasi-surreal inflection, he evokes, in one moment, distant memories from our childhood and, then, in the next, transports us to mysterious places that become the postcards of the film’s title, stripped of any tourist idealism.  It is this fluid interplay of subjectivity between filmmaker and audience, the imperceptible shift from triggering a personal to a shared experience and back again, that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries, underlining his credentials as a real talent of note.

 

This ethereal film, resistant to the conventions and clichés of social realism, is a contemplation of those living on the margins of society; hinting at the complexities of the subject but leaving the audience to fill in the blanks.  It follows a young giraffe handler, Lana, abandoned by her father as a toddler, and now living amongst the drifters that have set up camp on the outer edges of the zoo.

 

Ladya Cheryl returns from ‘Blind Pig’ to play the lead, and gives her an air of secrecy, quietly embracing the ‘outsider society’ as her inner world.  She, in effect, becomes our guide, almost documentary style, wandering around and about the animal’s closures, oriental pedal-boats and the enchanting forest.  We see some wonderful moments of closeness between the animals and their handlers but never lose the sense that this is an artificial environment, remaining alien to animals yearning for their natural habitat.  When an adult giraffe slowly drifts around the zoo at night with a fascinating sagely knowingness, nodding stately gestures along the way, we look on with awe and unease as it reconstructs life in the wild, making the most of a bum deal.

 

The same occurs, almost in reverse, when Lana breaks out into the wider world but remains on the outside.  An enigmatic young stranger wearing fancy dress style cowboys’ gear – another drifter we assume – turns her head with magical lights that appear from nowhere and disappear as quickly as they arrived.  She becomes his magician’s assistant at cheap dives and a gangster’s den of iniquity until he vanishes without a trace during one of his tricks.

 

The fairy tale aura that accompanies her journey, weirdly continues when she works at a massage parlour, with limited extras, where mild sexual teasing renders the clients under her control.  There are obvious parallels with the zoo where sex addiction creates a parallel imprisonment from which her clients cannot escape and compels her to remain with few options or complaints.

 

Film style and narrative become interchangeable in the closing scenes for a symbolic reunification between her and the giraffe, a moment that Edwin tees up earlier in the film but neatly withholds.

 

Edwin regular, Sidi Saleh, returning from the debut feature and three earlier shorts, does a superb job negotiating the narrative shifts to retain a consistent cinematography across the film.

 

There is is only one gripe, albeit a minor one; Edwin’s ironic use of intertitles to make connections that are otherwise obvious from the film’s text hits an irritating false note.doxycycline costdoxycycline genericbuy doxycycline ukdoxycycline buy

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Camp 14 – Total Control Zone

September 30th, 2012 - admin

Can you imagine being born in a labour camp as a child of political prisoners, subjected to unimaginable torture and cruelty, escaping into a free world that you did not even know existed for the first twenty-odd years of your life and then having strong regrets about leaving this abominable living Hell ?  This is the reality for Shin Dong-Huyk; such was the dystopian-type conditioning of the brutal North Korean labour camp, almost a camp without a name, bureaucratically known as Camp 14, where punishment for failure to comply with every rule, regardless of how extreme or inhumane, meant certain death.

 

Experienced documentary filmmaker, Marc Wiese, pieces together the appalling story through a series of interviews with Shin, now in his late twenties, and astonishingly frank disclosures from two vile former camp guards of the kind that seem to think that they can refer to their former lives in the third person and relieve themselves of responsibility.  Powerful monochrome animations, giving some of these accounts visual form, and occasional snippets of priceless film footage shot in secret reinforce the talking heads in a harrowing unveiling of human rights violations that are so systemic and institutionalised in their scope and execution to subsume the atrocities as part of routine behaviour to the point of habit.

 

Watching Shin’s mental agony, grappling with words that describe experiences way beyond our comprehension, is close to being unwatchable as he takes us back to a ‘Russian roulette’ decision he faced as a scared witless young teenager.  Some kind of diabolical outcome seemed inevitable from the moment that he started to describe his mother’s ill-conceived plan to escape the camp with his brother, which, as he perceived it, at least, would have meant certain death for him and his father for failing to report a conspiracy.  He provides a remarkably detailed account of his balancing out of the various permutations, the seven months non-stop physical beatings that he suffered after telling a guard and his eventual release in time for compulsory attendance at his mother’s and brother’s barbaric public execution.

 

Equally unexpectedly, one of the guards, now living a comparatively ordinary life in Seoul, seems undaunted by the prospect of explaining himself to his own son.  Raising no more than a slight ironic smile of the type that hints at minor misdemeanours, he displayed an extraordinary confidence that his son would one day be old enough ‘to understand’.  This comes from a man who had just confessed to routinely raping women prisoners and killing them if they inconveniently became pregnant and sentencing others to death simply because he could.

 

Seeing Shin now with a semi-celebrity status that he does not understand, touring the world talking at conferences and other major events – receiving cheers from activists as he enters a room – he cuts a terribly lonely figure caught between two worlds that in their very different ways he clearly finds repulsive.  It may come as a shock to many in the West but this is what displacement looks like, and points towards the kind of difficulties Korea would encounter if it ever achieved reunification.  Wiese, a German filmmaker, seemed acutely aware of this reality when moulding this superb documentary.buy motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada

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Barbara

September 28th, 2012 - admin

A thoughtful and perceptive drama portraying the personal impact of state power abuse in the sixth feature from Christian Petzold, which takes us to East Germany during 1980 at the mid-point of Erich Honecker’s brutally oppressive reign.

 

The Soviet-led regime’s collapse was only a decade away, but there was no hint of it here.  This was a time when the Stasi had eyes on every street corner, workplace and public venue, always ready to pounce at the first sign of dissension and the power to do – well – anything.

 

Petzold regular, Nina Hoss, plays the title character, Barbara, a paediatrician summarily dismissed from her position at a prestigious Berlin hospital after committing the cardinal sin of applying for a visa to the West.  We find her in a remote rural post located near the Polish border where Hoss’ every expression and gesture hints at paranoia – a glance behind, a prolonged stare, an unexpected quick movement – but only enough to make us aware, paying serious attention to minute detail.

 

Barbara plans an audacious escape to join her lover on the other side of the wall but things become more complicated when she meets a handsome doctor; undoubtedly a Stasi informer but possibly of the unreliable kind who withholds and edits the info to keep his principals off the scent.  But can she trust him?  There is no way of knowing, which injects a very genuine tension into this quiet drama, giving a power to the understated that is far more effective than the more familiar dramatic arcs of less subtle filmmakers.

 

The grimy interiors and unmaintained surroundings contrast with open countryside where Barbara frequently rides her bike but these commonplace symbols of freedom form part of the tapestry of fear with the strong sense that Stasi officers are not far behind.  This fear becomes reality when they almost knock her off the road during a sudden arrest that concludes in an obligatory strip search, a particularly degrading process, which we witness again later in the film.

 

There are insights into an appalling labour camp when a teenage girl escapes, only to contract meningitis.  She forms a close bond with Barbara within the comparative safety of the hospital walls; a rare friendship in these parts that remains totally free of the usual mutual distrust.

 

This is a very different film from Florian Henckel von Dommersmark’s chilling masterpiece ‘The Lives of Others’, which deals with similar subject matter from the point of view of a Stasi agent with doubts.  Petzold’s positioning of the audience on the other side of the coin in the shoes of a victim provides an obvious counterpoint; a portrayal of the full horror of a surveillance that is only sometimes visible but is at its worst when unseen or not there at all – a rendering of what paranoia really feels like.buy motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada

 

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Venice International Film Festival 2012 (29 August – 8 September)

September 8th, 2012 - admin

A quick analysis of the recently completed high-profile features from leading auteurs not having world premieres at TIFF, usually provides a strong indication of the films heading for the main competition at Venice.  And so it turned out this year with Venice’s new artistic director, Alberto Barbera, confirming that new features from leading US filmmakers, Terrence Malick, Harmony Korine and Brian De Palma, would compete for the Golden Lion against such influential voices from world cinema as Olivier Assayas and Brillante Mendoza.

 

Last year’s career Golden Lion winner, Marco Bellocchio, best known for Vincere, returns in the main competition this time around with his keenly awaited Dormant Beauty, starring Isabelle Huppert.  The busy, Daniele Cipri, the cinematographer on both Dormant Beauty and Vincere, also competes with his latest film, E Stato il Figlio.  Francesca Comencini completes the Italian contingent with Un Giorno Speciale, the follow-up to her Venice hit of three years ago, Lo Spazio Bianco.

 

The Austrian filmmaker, Ulrich Seidl, who unfairly spent too many years in the shadow of Michael Haneke, follows his Palme d’Or nomination last May for Paradise: Love, with the next part of the trilogy, Paradise: Faith having a Venice competition berth.

 

There is also a competition screening for Venice regular, Kim Ki-duk’s potentially controversial Pieta, which has already encountered censorship complications in his native South Korea.

 

Xavier Giannoli’s intriguing Superstar could prove to be a dark horse for honours.  An ironic Post Modern take on that symbol of Post Modern simulacrum gone mad, the talentless celebrity, focuses on an ordinary man who suddenly finds himself famous for no apparent reason.

 

Main Competition:

 

The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson

 

Paul Thomas Anderson’s much discussed new film, ‘The Master’, was a late confirmation for the main competition due to technical complications with its 70mm projection.  It is Anderson’s sixth feature and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic religious leader, whose emergence in Fifties America has similarities with the rise to prominence of L. Ron Hubbard.  The world premiere, which has a prime Saturday slot, will represent the first time that Anderson has competed for the Golden Lion.

 

 

Something In The Air (Apres Mai)

Olivier Assayas (France)

 

Olivier Assayas semi-autobiographical follow-up to his Cannes hit, Carlos, takes place in the aftermath of the May 1968 French protests.  Clément Metayer, in his big screen debut, plays a young student conflicted between the political demands of his peers and his own artistic aspirations.  Acclaimed cinematographer, Eric Gautier (‘Into The Wild’, ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ & ‘Wild Grass’), is also on board.

 

 

At Any Price

Ramin Bahrani

 

Ramin Bahrani returns to Venice IFF where he won the coveted FIPRESCI Prize for his last film, ‘Goodbye Solo’, which screened in the Horizons’ sidebar four years ago.  His fifth feature, ‘At Any Price’, finds mainstream family values and the American Dream in conflict when an investigation into a farmer’s business threatens his son’s motor racing career.  Dennis Quaid leads a strong cast, which includes Heather Graham and Zac Efron.

 

 

La Cinquieme Saison

Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth

 

Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth collaborate on their third feature, ‘La Cinquieme Saison’, an apocalyptical nightmare of nature in chaos, set in the depths of the Ardennes forest.  No strangers to Venice, the pair won the Luigi De Laurentiis Award (best debut film) for their festival hit, Khadak, six years ago.  Flemish actor and dancer, Sam Louwyck (‘Ex Drummer’, ‘A Day In A Life’), stars alongside Aurélia Poirier (‘The Adopted’), best known for her work on the stage.

 

 

Dormant Beauty (Bella Addormentata)

Marco Bellocchio

 

Two of the world’s finest performers, Isabelle Huppert and Toni Servillo, star in Marco Bellocchio’s philosophical new feature, ‘Dormant Beauty’ (‘Bella Addormentata’). The real life case of a woman who remained in a vegetative state for 17 years provokes diverse reactions from the film’s characters, as they play out the debate on euthanasia.  A Venice regular, Bellocchio received the career Golden Lion at last year’s edition of the festival.

 

 

Fill the Void

Rama Burstein

 

Family complexities come to the fore in Rama Burstein’s debut film, ‘Fill the Void’, where a daughter must choose between duty and love in an arranged marriage drama.  Hila Feldman, who won best actress two years ago at the Jerusalem Film Festival for ‘…Be yom hashlishi’ stars alongside Razia Israeli (God’s Sandbox) and Yiftach Klein (Policeman, Noodle).

 

 

E Stato il Figlio

Daniele Cipri

 

Daniele Cipri, who is cinematographer on Marco Bellocchio’s high profile competition entry, ‘Dormant Beauty’, also competes with his latest film as director, ‘E Stato il Figlio’, starring Toni Servillo and Giselda Volodi.  Based upon Roberto Alajmo’s novel of the same name, state compensation for an accidental Mafia killing becomes the source of serious family strife.  It is Cipri’s first film in the director’s chair since ‘La vera storia di Franco e Ciccio’, which screened at Venice eight years ago.

 

 

Un Giorno Speciale

Francesca Comencini

 

Francesca Comencini returns to Venice where her previous feature, ‘Lo Spazio Bianco’, also competed for the Golden Lion.  Her new film, ‘Un Giorno Speciale’, has a young man driving an actress to an appointment when both are starting their first ever jobs.  Based upon Claudio Bigagli’s novel ‘Il Cielo Con Un Dito”, it focuses on their apprehension whilst embarking upon this crucial new phase of adulthood.  Filippo Scicchitano (‘Easy’) and newcomer, Giulia Valentini, star.

 

 

Passion

Brian De Palma

 

One of Hitchcock’s most celebrated successors, Brian De Palma, remakes Alain Corneau’s ‘Love Crime’, an erotic thriller, which, in turn, contains many Hitchcockian influences.  So, potentially, De Palma finds a new way of exploring Hitchcock, this time mediated via a third party.  Retitled ‘Passion’, Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace play the business women whose mind games spiral out of control.

 

 

Superstar

Xavier Giannoli

 

Xavier Giannoli’s ‘Superstar’, his first film to screen in the main competition at Venice, provides an ironic take on that symbol of Post Modern simulacrum gone mad, the talentless celebrity.  Kad Merad, best known for his performance in ‘Don’t Worry, I’m Fine’, stars as an ordinary man who suddenly finds himself famous for no apparent reason.  It is the follow-up to ‘In the Beginning’, which received a César Awards’ best film nomination.

 

 

Pieta

Kim Ki-duk

 

‘Pieta’ is Kim Ki-duk’s fourth film to compete for the Golden Lion but his first since ‘3-Iron’ won the FIPRESCI Prize eight years ago.  Starring Min-soo Jo and Jung-jin Lee, a woman confronts a ruthless debt collector claiming to be his mother.  ‘Pieta’ has already provoked controversy in Kim’s native South Korea where the local censorship board awarded it a 19+ rating.

 

 

Outrage Beyond

Kitano Takeshi

 

Kitano Takeshi won the Golden Lion for ‘Hana-Bi’ fifteen years ago and his latest feature, ‘Outrage Beyond’, is his seventh to screen in the main competition.  The sequel to ‘Outrage’, which debuted at Cannes, sees a serious escalation of organised crime warfare in familiar Kitano fashion.  ‘Outrage Beyond’, which stars Kitano himself alongside Ryo Kase (‘ I Just Didn’t Do It’) and Toshiyuki Nishida (‘Gakko’, ‘Tonkô’), opens in Japan on October 6.

 

 

Spring Breakers

Harmony Korine

 

Harmony Korine has been busy making shorts and segments, including his contribution to ‘The Fourth Dimension’, since ‘Trash Humpers’ three years ago.  His return to features, ‘Spring Breakers’, starring James Franco and Selena Gomez, has four college girls funding a spring vacation through crime before getting out of their depth with a drug dealer.  Korine’s debut film, ‘Gummo’, screened at Venice fifteen years ago and received a FIPRESCI Prize – Honorable Mention.

 

 

To The Wonder

Terrence Malick

 

As always, Terrence Malick’s new feature, ‘To The Wonder’, is shrouded in mystery but a few quasi-teasers along the way hinted at an experimental film with a conventional plot.  Ben Affleck plays an American man who marries a European and revives a friendship with a local girl after things fall apart.  The powerful connotations of the title, no doubt explain the essence of the film – in a ‘Tree of Life’ sort of a way – but only once we have seen it.

 

 

Brillante Mendoza

Thy Womb

 

Brillante Mendoza’s latest film, ‘Thy Womb’, provoked early discussion when the Metro Manila Film Festival surprisingly snubbed it.  The screening at Venice, though, will represent the second time this year that a major film festival has selected one of his features for its main competition with Berlin having given a world premiere to ‘Captive’ last February.  Both films are set in Mindanao; ‘Captive’ dramatising a true-life terrorist kidnapping and, in a change of pace, ‘Thy Womb’ focusing upon a Badjao midwife having to overcome her own infertility.  Mendoza attracted top actresses to each of the films; Isabelle Huppert for the first and Nora Aunor for the other.  It is the second time that Mendoza has competed for the Golden Lion after the nomination of ‘Grandmother’ (aka ‘Lola’) three years ago.

 

 

The Lines of Wellington

Valeria Sarmiento

 

Raúl Ruiz’s widow and experienced filmmaker, Valeria Sarmiento, continued with the Chilean auteur’s last project, ‘The Lines of Wellington’, following his death last year.  Set during the Battle of Bussaco, it explores the desperate resistance to the Napoleonic invasion from multiple perspectives.  Nuno Lopes (‘Alice’ and ‘Goodnight Irene’) and Soraia Chaves (‘Call Girl’), both of whom have won best acting awards at the Portuguese Golden Globes, lead an exceptional cast that includes John Malkovich as the Duke of Wellington.

 

 

‘Paradise: Faith’

Ulrich Seidl

 

‘Paradise: Faith’ is the second part of Ulrich Seidl’s trilogy exploring three women from the same family that take very different journeys loosely connected to the notion of paradise.  Seidl regular Maria Hofstätter, who won a special jury award at the Gijón International Film Festival for her performance in ‘Dog Days’, stars a Catholic missionary whose Muslim husband unexpectedly returns to her life.  The first in the trilogy, ‘Paradise: Love’, received its debut at Cannes earlier this year.

 

 

Betrayal

Kirill Serebrennikov

 

Russian filmmaker and theatre director, Kirill Serebrennikov, is likely to draw on both disciplines for his exploration of marital deception in his latest feature, ‘Betrayal’.  Two casual friends discover that their partners are having an affair in a plot that has some similarities with Pinter’s play of the same name.  Serebrennikov’s ‘Ragin’ won the East of West Award at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival seven years ago.buy motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada

 

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Queen Of Versailles, The

September 7th, 2012 - admin

Seldom has the neoliberal’s promotion of greed looked so absurd than in Lauren Greenfield’s latest documentary, which provides a superb snapshot of the changing fortunes of America’s filthy rich.

 

Originally intended as a fly-on-the-wall look at the obscenely extravagant lifestyles of so-called ‘billionaire’ David Siegel and his ex-beauty queen trophy wife, Jackie, it evolved into a full-blown account of their rich-to-rags debacle as Greenfield found herself in the right place at the right time.

 

Siegel had made a killing selling time shares at a huge profit in the sub-prime market on the back of unregulated cheap finance before the late noughties economic crash drove up the cost of borrowing for those fortunate enough to obtain it.  Caught in a vicious cycle of economic disaster, Siegel was no longer able to offer the deals that serviced the debt and, suddenly, he found himself at the mercy of desperate banks looking to foreclose on his company’s crown jewel, a state-of-the-art hotel in Las Vegas’ prime strip.

 

Amazingly, Siegel had saved nothing for a rainy day having ploughed his profits into building America’s largest house, a glitzy Hollywood-style remodelling of the Palace of Versailles that is even more tasteless than it sounds.  Being only half complete when his company collapsed, this farcical unmarketable asset left him well and truly up a river without a paddle to his name.

 

Jackie, thirty years his junior, does nothing by halves; eight children, far more pets and a taste for consumerism that could significantly boost America’s GDP and imports.  Raised in humble surroundings, she was living a mock-American dream, an unsustainable fantasy of glamour and Botox, blissfully ignorant of her husband’s business affairs.

 

The stage may be set for some smug gloating but Greenfield is far too experienced a filmmaker to allow her film to drift into unnecessary predictability.  Instead, we have a compassionate but candid exploration of two very different responses to the empire’s demise; Siegel making things far worse by failing to reset his ego and Jackie placing pride on one side with a huge plastic smile and childlike naivety that becomes more endearing as the film progresses.

 

In one astonishing moment, Siegel brags about winning the 2000 presidential election for George W Bush through actions that “may not necessarily have been legal”.  Perhaps we should take it with a pinch of salt but there is a sincerity in his manner that makes it hard to ignore.buy motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada

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Toronto International Film Festival (6-16 September 2012)

September 5th, 2012 - admin

Dramatic Features 

 

World Premiers (selected): 

 

Anna Karenina

Joe Wright

 

Joe Wright reunites with Keira Knightley for his film version of Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’ after the pair had collaborated in bringing ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Atonement’ to the big screen.  No doubt, it will be more of the same with a polished adaptation for the middle-aged middle-classes but little by way of innovation.  Aaron Johnson, Jude Law and Emily Watson star alongside Knightley in the title role.

 

 

Argo

Ben Affleck

 

A return to a time when the US was far more certain of its role on the world stage, Ben Affleck’s third feature in the director’s chair, ‘Argo’, is a dramatisation of the mission to free six American diplomats hiding at the Canadian Embassy in Khomeini’s Iran.  Affleck plays a CIA commissioned ‘extraction’ expert in a strong cast that includes Alan Arkin and John Goodman.  Expect a huge awards campaign with Affleck targeting both mainstream and art house audiences.

 

 

Cloud Atlas

Wachowski Bros and Tom Tykwer

 

Tom Hanks and Halle Berry lead a stellar cast that includes, amongst many others, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw and Susan Sarandon for an intriguing new collaboration between the Wachowski Bros (‘The Matrix’) and Tom Tykwer (‘Run Lola Run’).  Adapted from David Mitchell’s ambitious novel of the same name, one character changes identity over time ‘Orlando-style’ taking us from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future that exposes the dangers of a misconceived Social Darwinism.  The current release date of October 26, six weeks ahead of Warner Bros original schedule, now coincides with the beginning of the awards season, leaving a long stretch to the Academy Awards with the obvious risk that it could lose momentum.

 

 

Foxfire

Laurent Cantet

 

It had long been rumoured that Laurent Cantet’s adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, ‘Foxfire’, one of the most keenly anticipated films of the year, would receive its world premiere at Toronto.  Cantet’s seventh feature is a morally complex tale of teenage girls taking revenge on abusive men in 1950’s blue-collar America where the law is inadequate protection.  There is another young cast after he inspired outstanding performances from children in his previous feature, ‘The Class’, which bagged the Palme d’Or at Cannes four years ago.

 

 

Looper

Rian Johnson

 

Gangster and sc-fi genres merge in Rian Johnson’s time travel thriller,’Looper’, this year’s TIFF opener.  Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, mobsters from later this century send their victims to an assassin waiting in the past.  It is Johnson’s third feature and his first since ‘The Brothers Bloom’, which also debuted at Toronto.

 

 

Quartet

Dustin Hoffman

 

As one of the most perceptive actors of the last fifty years, it is surprising that Dustin Hoffman has taken so long in making the move to the director’s chair.  His debut feature, ‘Quartet’, based upon Ronald Harwood’s stage play of the same name, provides considerable scope for a thoughtful adaptation well suited to the big screen.  Set in a home for retired opera singers, it becomes a pretext for challenging preconceptions of old age against the backdrop of artistic temperaments that are very much alive and well.  With the added attraction of a fine cast, led by Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon, The Weinstein Company acted quickly to secure North American rights.  Peter Yates’ adaptation of another Harwood play, ‘The Dresser’, received five Academy Award nominations, including best film and director.

 

 

Song For Marion

Paul Andrew Williams

 

Paul Andrew Williams’ fourth feature, ‘Song For Marion’, closes this years TIFF, which The Weinstein Company will use as the launch for an award season campaign.  Terence Stamp stars alongside Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton, playing a bad tempered pensioner who changes his outlook on life after joining his wife’s choir.  Williams received a BAFTA most promising newcomer nomination for his debut film, ‘London to Brighton’.

 

 

Yellow

Nick Cassavetes

 

Nick Cassavetes’ follow-up to ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ has co-screenwriter, Heather Wahlquist, playing a bored teacher spiralling out-of-control when her real and fantasy world’s collide.  According to the pre-screening hype – and reading between the lines – the film’s form reflects the protagonist’s frame of mind in an explosion of Surrealist experimentation.  Let’s hope that it proves to be an inventive Modernist flourish rather than a complete mess.

 

 

Venice Titles (screening at Toronto):

 

The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson

 

Paul Thomas Anderson’s much discussed new film, ‘The Master’, was a late confirmation for the main competition due to technical complications with its 70mm projection.  It is Anderson’s sixth feature and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic religious leader, whose emergence in Fifties America has similarities with the rise to prominence of L. Ron Hubbard.  The world premiere, which has a prime Saturday slot, will represent the first time that Anderson has competed for the Golden Lion.  (Special Presentation)

 

 

Something In The Air (Apres Mai)

Olivier Assayas (France)

 

Olivier Assayas semi-autobiographical follow-up to his Cannes hit, Carlos, takes place in the aftermath of the May 1968 French protests.  Clément Metayer, in his big screen debut, plays a young student conflicted between the political demands of his peers and his own artistic aspirations.  Acclaimed cinematographer, Eric Gautier (‘Into The Wild’, ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ & ‘Wild Grass’), is also on board.  (Masters)

 

 

At Any Price

Ramin Bahrani

 

Ramin Bahrani returns to Venice IFF where he won the coveted FIPRESCI Prize for his last film, ‘Goodbye Solo’, which screened in the Horizons’ sidebar four years ago.  His fifth feature, ‘At Any Price’, finds mainstream family values and the American Dream in conflict when an investigation into a farmer’s business threatens his son’s motor racing career.  Dennis Quaid leads a strong cast, which includes Heather Graham and Zac Efron.  (Special Presentstion)

 

 

La Cinquieme Saison

Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth

 

Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth collaborate on their third feature, ‘La Cinquieme Saison’, an apocalyptical nightmare of nature in chaos, set in the depths of the Ardennes forest.  No strangers to Venice, the pair won the Luigi De Laurentiis Award (best debut film) for their festival hit, Khadak, six years ago.  Flemish actor and dancer, Sam Louwyck (‘Ex Drummer’, ‘A Day In A Life’), stars alongside Aurélia Poirier (‘The Adopted’), best known for her work on the stage.  (Wavelenghts)

 

 

Dormant Beauty (Bella Addormentata)

Marco Bellocchio

 

Two of the world’s finest performers, Isabelle Huppert and Toni Servillo, star in Marco Bellocchio’s philosophical new feature, ‘Dormant Beauty’ (‘Bella Addormentata’). The real life case of a woman who remained in a vegetative state for 17 years provokes diverse reactions from the film’s characters, as they play out the debate on euthanasia.  A Venice regular, Bellocchio received the career Golden Lion at last year’s edition of the festival.  (Special Presentation)

 

 

Fill the Void

Rama Burstein

 

Family complexities come to the fore in Rama Burstein’s debut film, ‘Fill the Void’, where a daughter must choose between duty and love in an arranged marriage drama.  Hila Feldman, who won best actress two years ago at the Jerusalem Film Festival for ‘…Be yom hashlishi’ stars alongside Razia Israeli (God’s Sandbox) and Yiftach Klein (Policeman, Noodle).  (Discovery)

 

 

E Stato il Figlio

Daniele Cipri

 

Daniele Cipri, who is cinematographer on Marco Bellocchio’s high profile competition entry, ‘Dormant Beauty’, also competes with his latest film as director, ‘E Stato il Figlio’, starring Toni Servillo and Giselda Volodi.  Based upon Roberto Alajmo’s novel of the same name, state compensation for an accidental Mafia killing becomes the source of serious family strife.  It is Cipri’s first film in the director’s chair since ‘La vera storia di Franco e Ciccio’, which screened at Venice eight years ago.  (Special Presentation)

 

 

Passion

Brian De Palma

 

One of Hitchcock’s most celebrated successors, Brian De Palma, remakes Alain Corneau’s ‘Love Crime’, an erotic thriller, which, in turn, contains many Hitchcockian influences.  So, potentially, De Palma finds a new way of exploring Hitchcock, this time mediated via a third party.  Retitled ‘Passion’, Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace play the business women whose mind games spiral out of control.  (Special Presentation)

 

 

Pieta

Kim Ki-duk

 

‘Pieta’ is Kim Ki-duk’s fourth film to compete for the Golden Lion but his first since ‘3-Iron’ won the FIPRESCI Prize eight years ago.  Starring Min-soo Jo and Jung-jin Lee, a woman confronts a ruthless debt collector claiming to be his mother.  ‘Pieta’ has already provoked controversy in Kim’s native South Korea where the local censorship board awarded it a 19+ rating.  (Masters)

 

 

Outrage Beyond

Kitano Takeshi

 

Kitano Takeshi won the Golden Lion for ‘Hana-Bi’ fifteen years ago and his latest feature, ‘Outrage Beyond’, is his seventh to screen in the main competition.  The sequel to ‘Outrage’, which debuted at Cannes, sees a serious escalation of organised crime warfare in familiar Kitano fashion.  ‘Outrage Beyond’, which stars Kitano himself alongside Ryo Kase (‘ I Just Didn’t Do It’) and Toshiyuki Nishida (‘Gakko’, ‘Tonkô’), opens in Japan on October 6.  (Special Presentation)

 

 

Spring Breakers

Harmony Korine

 

Harmony Korine has been busy making shorts and segments, including his contribution to ‘The Fourth Dimension’, since ‘Trash Humpers’ three years ago.  His return to features, ‘Spring Breakers’, starring James Franco and Selena Gomez, has four college girls funding a spring vacation through crime before getting out of their depth with a drug dealer.  Korine’s debut film, ‘Gummo’, screened at Venice fifteen years ago and received a FIPRESCI Prize – Honorable Mention.  (Special Presentation)

 

 

To The Wonder

Terrence Malick

 

As always, Terrence Malick’s new feature, ‘To The Wonder’, is shrouded in mystery but a few quasi-teasers along the way hinted at an experimental film with a conventional plot.  Ben Affleck plays an American man who marries a European and revives a friendship with a local girl after things fall apart.  The powerful connotations of the title, no doubt explain the essence of the film – in a ‘Tree of Life’ sort of a way – but only once we have seen it.  (Special Presentation)

 

 

Brillante Mendoza

Thy Womb

 

Brillante Mendoza’s latest film, ‘Thy Womb’, provoked early discussion when the Metro Manila Film Festival surprisingly snubbed it.  The screening at Venice, though, will represent the second time this year that a major film festival has selected one of his features for its main competition with Berlin having given a world premiere to ‘Captive’ last February.  Both films are set in Mindanao; ‘Captive’ dramatising a true-life terrorist kidnapping and, in a change of pace, ‘Thy Womb’ focusing upon a Badjao midwife having to overcome her own infertility.  Mendoza attracted top actresses to each of the films; Isabelle Huppert for the first and Nora Aunor for the other.  It is the second time that Mendoza has competed for the Golden Lion after the nomination of ‘Grandmother’ (aka ‘Lola’) three years ago.  (Contemporary World Cinema)

 

 

The Lines of Wellington

Valeria Sarmiento

 

Raúl Ruiz’s widow and experienced filmmaker, Valeria Sarmiento, continued with the Chilean auteur’s last project, ‘The Lines of Wellington’, following his death last year.  Set during the Battle of Bussaco, it explores the desperate resistance to the Napoleonic invasion from multiple perspectives.  Nuno Lopes (‘Alice’ and ‘Goodnight Irene’) and Soraia Chaves (‘Call Girl’), both of whom have won best acting awards at the Portuguese Golden Globes, lead an exceptional cast that includes John Malkovich as the Duke of Wellington.  (Special Presentation)

 

 

Feature Documentaries

 

World Premieres:

 

9.79*’

Daniel Gordon

 

Experienced documentarian, Daniel Gordon, best known for ‘Crossing the Line’, which competed at Sundance five years ago, takes us back to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and ‘the dirtiest race in history’ for his latest feature documentary, ‘9.79*’.  Gordon explores the 100-metre men’s final from multiple viewpoints when Ben Johnson sensationally shocked the world after testing positive for anabolic steroids following his Gold medal win.  Gordon’s objective approach to filmmaking may have opened doors that could have remained closed to a more judgemental director.

 

 

Artifact

Bartholomew Cubbins

 

Bartholomew Cubbins is Jared Leto’s pseudonym, which he uses for personal projects, including his feature documentary, ‘Artifact’, selected from 3,500 hours of material filmed when his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, made their ‘This is War’ album.  The band’s high-profile legal battle with Virgin at this time should ensure an appeal beyond fans and those interested in ‘industry insider’ revelations.  Within a film context, Leto is best known for his acting performance in ‘Requiem for a Dream’.

 

 

A World Not Ours

Mahdi Fleifel

 

Mahdi Fleifel’s first feature documentary, ‘A World Not Ours’, following four fiction shorts over a nine-year period, explores three generations living in exile at Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.  Blending historical footage and new material, Fleifel sets out to capture compelling insights into displacement as a living experience.

 

 

The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer

 

Mass murderers create fiction scenes to express themselves as an alternative to the usual talking heads.  This is the intriguing approach that Joshua Oppenheimer has adopted for his new feature documentary, ‘The Act of Killing’, an in-depth examination of those guilty of genocide in Indonesia.  Errol Morris, who is a long-term advocate of using unconventional documentary techniques, is on board as executive producer.  Oppenheimer is best known for his festival hit, ‘The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase’.

 

 

As If We Were Catching a Cobra

Hala Al-Abdallah

 

The latest wave of features exploring the resistance to state control following the Arab Spring finds an interesting form in Hala Al-Abdallah’s new documentary, ‘As If We Were Catching a Cobra’.  With cultural action taking many guises, she focuses on artists in Egypt and Syria and their use of caricature as a weapon of expression to challenge arbitrary censorship.  It is her third film and follow-up to ‘Hey, Don’t Forget the Cumin!’ four years ago.

 

 

First Comes Love

Nina Davenport

 

Experienced documentarian, Nina Davenport, returns to Toronto IFF with her latest feature documentary, ‘First Comes Love’, an intimate depiction without restraint of her own ‘husband-free’ pregnancy and her reactionary family’s response to it.  Davenport is best known for ‘Operation Filmmaker’, which won best documentary at AFI Fest five years ago.

 

 

How to Make Money Selling Drugs

Matthew Cooke

 

Matthew Cooke makes the switch from TV director and actor to documentary filmmaker for his debut feature, ‘How to Make Money Selling Drugs’.  A satirical documentary in the vein of Morgan Spurlock uses pop culture clichés to surreptitiously expose the inadequacies of US policy in the ‘war against drugs’.  Potentially insightful interviewees include the infamous and convicted drug trafficker, “Freeway” Rick Ross, rapper Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. 50 Cent and actress Susan Sarandon.

 

 

Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp

Jorge Hinojosa

 

Jorge Hinojosa’s ‘Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp’ does what it says on the tin and explores the complex life of Robert Beck, a.k.a. Iceberg Slim, who started life as a pimp before becoming a successful writer of Street Lit.  His books were an important influence on hip-hop and rap performers, including Ice Cube, one of the interviewees for the documentary.  Larry Yust adapted one of his novels, ‘Trick Baby’, for a blaxploitation movie in 1973.

 

 

Lunarcy

Simon Ennis

 

Simon Ennis follows his 2009 feature debut, ‘You Might As Well Live’, with a switch from comedy fiction to humorous documentary.  No stranger to Toronto IFF, which has provided world premieres to his three shorts, he now returns with the launch of ‘Lunarcy’, a warm look at various people that have dedicated their lives to idiosyncratic schemes associated with the moon.  Canadian documentary filmmaker, Ron Mann, for whom Ennis co-edited ‘Know Your Mushrooms’, is an executive producer.

 

 

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Alex Gibney

 

One of the most keenly anticipated documentaries of the year sees Alex Gibney return to the Toronto IFF with the world premiere of ‘Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God’.  Gibney once again takes on challenging subject matter, this time the thorny issue of paedophilia  in the Catholic church.  Known for his resourcefulness in digging way below the surface and presenting his findings in a particularly engaging manner, Gibney has made some of the most important documentaries of the last decade, including ‘Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer’ and the Academy Award winner, ‘Taxi To The Dark Side’.  In a mouth-watering prospect, his ‘Wikileaks Doc’ is currently in post-production.

 

 

No Place on Earth

Janet Tobias

 

When Chris Nicola was exploring Ukraine cave systems almost 20 years ago, he uncovered a rusty house key and other decaying domestic objects.  It was the start of a discovery that took him back to the Second World War and the remarkable story of five Jewish families who escaped the Nazis by living in the caves for a whole  year until Russian soldiers liberated the area.  Janet Tobias’s ‘No Place on Earth’ pieces together the story, which sees four of the survivors now returning to the caves for the first time.

 

 

Reincarnated

Andy Capper

 

Vice magazine editor, Andy Capper, makes his feature documentary debut with ‘Reincarnated’, which follows Snoop Dogg on a spiritual journey that changes his music and life.  The legendary gangster rapper, now known as Snoop Lion, heads off to cut a new studio album in Jamaica and embraces Rastafarianism, the island’s culture and everything Bob Marley.  Amongst the many multiple references, ‘Reincarnated’ is the name of the album.

 

 

Revolution

Rob Stewart

 

Eco-warrior and filmmaker, Rob Stewart, follows his surprise box office hit, ‘Sharkwater’, grossing over $1.1m worldwide, with another crusading Eco-doc of even greater ambition.  The strategically named ‘Revolution’ will launch the latest campaign from his United Conservationists designed to save the world’s ecosystems.  Its theatrical rollout will start in Canada this month.

 

 

Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out

Marina Zenovich

 

Four years ago, Marina Zenovich’s ‘Wanted and Desired’ revisited Roman Polanski’s 1970’s underage sex scandal and his evasion of the Californian criminal justice system by hastily fleeing the country.  The US’s failed attempt to extradite Polanski after his 2009 house arrest in Zurich has prompted Zenovich’s follow-up,’Odd Man Out’, an exploration of the legal battle and the impact of the scandal on the lives of both protagonists.  Zenovich is currently filming on her next documentary focusing on comedian, Richard Pryor.

 

 

Shepard & Dark

Treva Wurmfeld

 

In a throwback to earlier times when letter writing was an art form, actor and playwright, Sam Shepard, and his close friend, Johnny Dark, prepare to publish their correspondence covering a forty-year period.  Making her feature debut, Treva Wurmfeld shapes this intimate material into her documentary, ‘Shepard & Dark’, to provide a potentially insightful look into their lives from an unusual angle.

 

 

The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky

Barry Avrich

 

Twelve months ago, showbiz mogul, Garth Drabinsky, attended the Toronto International Film Festival for the world premiere of his latest production, ‘Barrymore’, starring Christopher Plummer.  Within three days, he was serving a five-year prison term after an Ontario court found him guilty of fraud in connection with the collapse of his theatrical empire.  In an ironic twist, he now  returns to Toronto for another world premiere but this time on the big screen as the focal point of the latest feature documentary from Barry Avrich, ‘The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky’.  There is no shortage of celebrities having their say but Drabinsky, who has collaborated with Avrich in the past, refused to participate.

 

 

State 194

Dan Setton

 

Dan Setton  had unprecedented access to the Palestinian leadership for his latest documentary, ‘State 194’, which followed  Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, in his campaign for UN recognition of Palestine statehood, the UN’s 194th state of the film’s title.  The film, in effect, becomes part of the campaign with Fayyad attending its world premiere on September 10 at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Setton is best known for his award winning ‘Mikdad: A Terrorist’s Account’ fourteen years ago.buy motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada

 

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Women Art Revolution

September 1st, 2012 - admin

This well intentioned but ultimately a mess of a documentary from (post) feminist artist and filmmaker, Lynn Hershman Leeson, is a missed opportunity.  Compiled from her own interviews with many leading women artists over a forty year period and some priceless footage of performance art and other political art gestures, Leeson clearly could not bring herself to make the difficult decisions in the cutting room necessary for a coherent feature documentary.  What could and should have been an insightful insider view of one of the most important art movements of the 20th century turns into a scatter gun blast; all too often concerned with repetitive reflections and irrelevant infighting rather than the art itself and its massive legacy.

 

A rather ham-fisted and clichéd intro hints at the history of modern art, which once categorised the ninety-odd years from the Impressionists to the 1960s Minimalists as a period of progressive reduction via Cubism, abstraction and other ‘isms’ that fitted the matrix.  It is an exaggeration to say that official art history excluded any other art movement or trend, but it would only accommodate alternative agendas if, as with German Expressionism, Dada & Surrealism, they drifted towards abstraction, albeit incidentally, in their departure from a concrete reality.  This incredibly elitist and exclusive position formed part of a wider notion – maintaining the spirit of the Enlightenment – that the arts should establish their own language independent of outside factors; a new emphasis on form that gave us stream of consciousness literature, absurd theatre, atonal music and abstract art but with nowhere to go thereafter.  Everything else fell massively beneath the radar with zero representation in major public galleries.

 

As the mainstream gradually took control of the avant garde via the art market, these once revolutionary forms became the preserve of white, bourgeois and male groups, which reached a kind of high point in Jackson Pollock’s extraordinary show of masculinity when creating his action paintings, an art performance in its own right.  Feeling excluded, invisible and irrelevant, American (post) Feminist artists, spearheaded by Judy Chicago, Yvonne Rainer and others, kicked back as part of a wider post modern demand for pluralism.  Employing an array of ironic and sardonic strategies, they set about exposing the inherent prejudices of modernism, reclaiming the lost/hidden history of women’s art and, in a fierce cultural battle, fighting for recognition in high profile public gallery space.  It is unfortunate that Leeson’s kaleidoscopic editing of this journey falls between two stools; insufficient context or structuring for those new to the subject and a failure to make thoughtful fresh observations or associations for those with prior knowledge.buy motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada
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