Saturday, March 20, 2010

Film Reviews from Susan Murray

Der Weisse Band / The White Ribbon

Former CASLIS Toronto executive member Susan Murray has provided us with her annual film festival reviews. This year, in addition to reviews from the Toronto Film Festival, she has provided us with reviews from two more festivals in Montreal. Enjoy!

Astrid Lange
Listserv and Publicity Coordinator, CASLIS Toronto

To: Film Fans Everywhere
From: Susan Murray - send comments to
This year I started a new job at McGill University in August. So my film reviews are for films that I viewed at the Festival des films du monde, Montreal (August 27 – September 7, 2009), the Toronto International Film Festival (September 10-19, 2009), and Cinemania (November 5-15), a festival of French films screened in Montreal.

TIFF - Toronto International Film Festival
FFM - Festival des films du monde
CINEM - Cinemania

Here are my recommendations:

Amores Locos / Mad Love (Spain, 2009), Beda Docampo Feijoo FFM
Lush treatment of a young gallery assistant seeking psychological help because she believes that she appears in a 17th century painting with her lover.

Animal Heart – see Coeur animal

L’armée du crime (France, 2009), Robert Guédiguian CINEM
True story of 23 foreign-born patriots in German-occupied Paris in 1941 who combat the Nazis. Robert Guédiguian – most known for his stories about Marseille – recreates the mood of Vichy France in this film.

The Army of Crime – see L’armée du crime

Art of the Steal (USA, 2009), Don Argott TIFF
Thrilling and tragic recounting of how the Barnes Collection (fabulous 20th century art collection located in Merion, Pennsylvania) was sold out due to grudges and jealousy, contrary to the founders’ wishes.

L’autre (France, 2008), Patrick Mario Bernard, Pierre Trividic CINEM
Hallucinatory and powerful examination of the obsessive jealousy of a middle-aged woman and her young lover. Tour de force performance by Dominique Blanc.

Be Good – see Sois Sage

Bright Star (United Kingdom/Australia, 2009), Jane Campion TIFF
Recounts the love affair of two very different people: the untutored, fashion-conscious Fanny Brawne and the penniless poet, John Keats.

Change of Plans – see La code a changé

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (France, 2009), Jan Kounen CINEM
Stylish saga of the tempestuous love affair of the great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and the unconventional and elegant French dress designer Coco Chanel. Starring Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen and the sultry Anna Mouglalis (also seen in J’ai toujours rêvé d’être un gangster / I Always Wanted to Be a Gangster).

La code a changé (France, 2009), Danièle Thompson FFM
Delightful, delicious comedy about eight friends meeting for dinner with undercurrents of constraint and secrets.

Coeur animal (Switzerland / France, 2009) Séverine Cornamusaz FFM
An emotionally-stunted bully who treats his wife worse than the livestock, becomes consumed with jealousy when a young, Spanish hired hand shows her affection.

Le concert (France / Belgium / Italy / Romania, 2008), Radu Mihaileanu CINEM
Lush music and humour combine in this story of a Communist-banned conductor bringing the Bolshoi orchestra to Paris to make old wrongs right. Cast includes Mélanie Laurent – seen as the female terrorist in Inglorious Basterds – and Miou-Miou.

The Concert – see Le concert

La dernier pour la route (France, 2009), Philippe Godeau CINEM
True, emotionally moving story of a journalist’s struggle with alcohol addiction.

Eden à l’ouest, (France / Italy /Greece, 2008), Costa-Gavras CINEM
Cost-Gavras (who was at the screening!) recounts a personal journey of a young immigrant risking everything for a new life in France.

Eden is West – see Eden à l’ouest

Envoyés très spéciaux (France, 2009), Frédéric Auburtin CINEM
Zany tale of two French correspondents who when they misplace their funds to go to Iran on a story, concoct a scheme to fake reports of the war.

Fais-mois plaisir! (France, 2008), Emmanuel Mouret CINEM
Harkening back to slapstick 1920’s comedies, a young. clumsy Parisian man finds himself in a series of unusual situations when he woos the daughter of the French president.

Fish Tank (United Kingdom, 2009), Andrea Arnold TIFF
Portrait of a working class teen’s dreary existence in a British housing project that is made bearable by her love of dancing and the arrival of her mother’s caring boyfriend.

The Forest (India - United Kingdom, 2009), Ashvin Kumar FFMWhen an urban couple working on their flawed marriage retreats to a secluded rest house in the forest, the wilderness unlocks dark secrets.

Giulia Doesn't Date at Night – see Giulia non esce la sera

Giulia Non Esce la Sera / Giulia Doesn't Date at Night (Italy, 2009), Giuseppe Piccioni TIFF
Ill-fated romance between a married novelist and his daughter’s swimming instructor who has a mysterious past.

Gravity – see Schwerkraft

I Always Wanted to Be a Gangster - see J’ai toujours rêvé d’être un gangster

J’ai toujours rêvé d’être un gangster CINEM
Screwball black comedy (filmed in black & white) of an inept hold-up man whose life intersects with a sexy waitress and several aged bank robbers looking for their last heist.

Je vais te manqué (France, 2008), Amanda Sthers CINEM
Several lives collide in this teary tale of a dying woman on a journey home to Quebec who meets a disillusioned writer, a divorced father sending his young daughter to see his ex, a young woman looking for Mr. Right, and aged lovers who are meeting after many years. Starring the luminous Carole Bouquet.

Korkoro (France, 2009), Tony Gatif FFM
Most-acclaimed film of the Festival des films du monde in Montreal. Examines the journey of a Gypsy family in France during WWII who chafe under a law that bans being nomadic. Stars Canadian actress Marie-Josée Croze .

Liar – see Menteur

Mad Love – see Amores Locos

Mademoiselle Chambon (France, 2009), Stéphane Brizé CINEM

A simple, hard-working mason meets his son’s artistic teacher and taps a part of his feelings he didn’t know he possessed.

Menteur (Belgium, 2009), Tom Geens FFM
A younger son under the shadow of his favoured, high-achieving brother pretends he has attained a managerial position after being laid off.

Nang Mai / Nymph (Thailand, 20090), Pen-ek Ratanaruang TIFF
Surrealistic story of a young, fragmented couple who encounter the paranormal on a country outing.

Nymph – see Nang Mai

One For the Road - see La Dernier Pour la Route

The Other One – see L’autre

La Pivellina (Austria, 2009), Tizza Covi , Rainer Frimmel TIFF
A young, abandoned child is taken in by a middle-aged circus couple.

Please Please Me! – see Fais-mois plaisir!

Un Prophête / A Prophete (France, 2009), Jacques Audiard TIFF
Riveting story of a young, illiterate Muslim who learns to survive and succeed in the French penal system

Schwerkraft (Germany, 2009), Maximilian Erlenwein FFM
A mild-mannered bank clerk who witnesses a suicide embarks on a life of insider burglaries, throwing him on a violent and resolute path.

Secret Defensé (France, 2008), Philippe Haïm CINEM
Smart. fast-paced spy thriller about a beautiful young woman recruited to foil a terrorist plot.

Secrets of State – see Secret Defensé

Sois Sage (France / Denmark, 2008), Juliette Garcias CINEM

Moody, nuanced tale of a young woman who settles in a small provincial village in obsessive pursuit of a man from her past.

Sólskinsdrengurinn / The Sunshine Boy (Iceland, 2009), Fridrik Thor Fridriksson TIFF
Upbeat documentary about an Icelandic family’s quest to find treatment for their autistic son.

Special Correspondents – see Envoyés très spéciaux

The Sunshine Boy – see Sólskinsdrengurinn

Der Weisse Band / The White Ribbon (Germany /Austria /France /Italy, 2009), Michael Haneke TIFF

Disturbing tale of unexplained violent incidents in a small German village on the eve of World War I. Examines the effect of children instilled with absolutist values and the consequences.

Welcome (France, 2008), Philippe Lioret CINEM
A swimming instructor befriends a young, illegal immigrant who dreams of rejoining his girlfriend in London by swimming across the English Channel.

The White Ribbon - see Der Weisse Band

You’ll Miss Me - see Je vais te manqué

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