So Far Behind!

I still haven’t finished my film reviews from Toronto International Film Festival! Pretty sad when I let myself get distracted by Sarah Palin. Good Grief!

Back to films:

Maman est Chez Le Coiffeur – French

The sadly tender story of three children left to deal with their mother’s leaving the family. I’m not sure how believable it is to think that a mother, seemingly satisfied with living life at home with her children, when she learns her husband’s secrets she reacts by leaving husband and children to develop her own career. The kids are delightful — the oldest daughter with the beginnings of adolescent curiosities, a middle son who stays busy building a go cart/mini car with a lawnmower engine and the youngest boy with special needs. The husband tries to take over, the cause of the marriage meltdown is never addressed, and they all seem to bumble through, hoping that she will just appear again as if she’d never gone away. Most of the film follows the oldest daughter as she is working through her mother’s absence, telling the neighbors that “Mama is at the hairdresser’s” as well as adjusting to her father’s presence even though she knows, without understanding, at least part of his story. Set in the suburban ’60s, there is a poignancy throughout for innocence lost.

***

Great Doc!

Je Veux Voir — French

Excellent film documenting actress Catherine Deneuve’s trip to and through Lebanon to view the effects of the 2006 war with Israel.  Her guide from bomb-shocked Beirut through the devastated countryside is Lebanese actor Rabih Mroué.  There is a poignancy to the journey as Mroué gently shepherds Deneuve through the physical and emotional landscape.  This is as close as we can come, most of us, to the heartbreak of war without being shown images of screaming missiles, explosions and death.  We see what must have been a beautiful landscape now scarred by bomb craters and tank tracks; we see buildings where people just like us lived, worked, laughed that are now piles of shattered rubble; we see people trying to rebuild shell-shocked lives.  I won’t say that it leaves the viewer with a sense of hope, it doesn’t address the conflict, it merely shows what is left after war.  It made me ask, again, why do we do this to each other?

****

Before I Forget….

I thought I could do one film a day until I have posted all films I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival but the risk is that I’ll forget details, even though I’ve taken a few notes and I don’t want that to happen. So I’ll try to do at least two a day.

Under the Tree — Indonesia (Bali)

Self discovery and reconciliation are the themes of the very different, mystical stories of three young women that are interwoven through the film. Nicely told, the stories do not connect in any way other than that each woman is coping with the demons that haunt her, some through escape, denial and rebellion, others through a yearning search for love and understanding.

***

The Secret of Moonacre — U.K.

A young adult (early Harry Potter’ish) fable about pride. Good story for kids and could provide a great opportunity for parents to talk to kids about pride — what is it, how does it affect the individual and how does it affect relationships. Fun and fairytale-like. Acting was a bit sketchy, unfortunately.

**

TIFF ’08, Continued

I will be finishing up my film festival posts here in the near future, but will probably have to do them one at a time. Home again, I’m stretched thin by all the “home” responsibilities — family, work, house, yard, politics, etc. So here goes for today:

Dernier Maquis — French

The basic story of this film and the way it was put together was very good. Muslim immigrants, African and middle eastern, working at a pallet construction business who are dealing with a French Muslim boss who they don’t trust and the selection of an imam for their new mosque (which, incidentally, the boss built for them). I felt very “industrial” all the way through the film, no relief except one brief excursion into nature. Other than that very short escape on the canal, I felt somewhat imprisoned in the setting– mountains of pallets, the pit of the mechanic shop and the starkly functional new mosque. Anxiety with and the underlying distrust of the boss and frustration over the selection of the imam build and boil over as the individuals seek a voice. Everyone, no matter who they are or what situation they are in, needs to be heard and this film, to me, portrays that need.

This is not a pleasant entertainment film. It is a hard, harsh, abusive film. It is a film that shows the frustration of not only immigrants (regardless of their legal status) but of all human beings when their perception is that they are not being heard. In my opinion, it shows what can happen anywhere when people are not only NOT heard, but treated as though they don’t even have a voice with which to speak.

***

End of the Festival ’08

Home again after a great TIFF. I was so exhausted, physically and emotionally from seeing so many films that I think it will take a month to get my energy back. I decided that I need to watch something that is just crazy, weird, brainless hilarious that will be the steam release for all the heavy, emotional human stories that I saw in Toronto this festival — something like Clue, Waking Ned Devine or Mars Attacks! That oughtta do it, don’t you think?

I still have a number of films to catch up on from the festival but will only do one tonight.

Plus Tard, Tu Comprendras — French

A French man searches for his Jewish heritage even as he struggles with his mother’s silence about her Jewish family and past. He becomes increasingly frustrated and isolated with her determination not to speak to him about how her parents died.  His mother does not lock out his wife and children, however, as she realizes that she is losing her health and time and knows that if she doesn’t pass the information on it will be lost forever. Her story opens like an old trunk being aired, even as she continues to keep her son shut away from the past. This is a different, very personal way of looking at the holocaust and the longlasting effects of loss on people and families.

***

Friday Fish

One day to go! Wow! When the Toronto International Film Festival began it seemed like it was going to last forever and there is only one more day. The festival has been great. With the organization evident here, I’m sure that the bugs we all experienced at the new AMC venue will be worked out by next year, which is good. That has been the only inconvenience that I have experienced although other people I talked to had issues with their place in the random box selection. That, however, is what “random” means, isn’t it? You take your chances, people! I had to laugh at some of the complaints about not getting the 10 films they wanted and having to go to the box office and stand in line trying to get tickets. Try getting 50 films the first day of the festival and see how that goes for you! That is what I did and it, as you can see, has worked out just fine for me. If you want and will only be satisfied if you get the 10 films you have selected when you have over 300 to choose from you are severely limiting yourselves. There are some incredible films here and some of the best are the obscure, the “Kabuli Kid”s, the “Maman est chez le Coiffeur”s, the “Pandora’s Box”s. Why get all mad that you didn’t get your ticket to “Burn after Reading” or “Slumdog Millionaire” when they’re just coming to the theater next month anyway?! Good Grief, people, relax and enjoy the incredible festival that you have right here at home! I’m making reference here to actual conversations I have overheard either in line or sitting in the theater waiting for films to start. Yes, I listen to other people’s conversations.

By the way, since I’m on a rant, some people should NOT eat popcorn in movies!

Enough for the ranting, I’ll post only one film today:

Kabuli Kid — Afghanistan

A woman leaves her baby in a taxi in Kabul. The story then takes us on a cultural journey through the Afghan capital as the taxidriver searches for the baby’s mother. We look through a window into today’s Kabul and Afghan culture and see family life, living, and working in this war-ravaged country. The taxi driver takes the baby home to his family and we see his feelings gradually deepen as he is told the story of Solomon, the two mothers and the child and begins to better understand motherhood and realize the complexity of life and how a mother could “forget” her child. Motherhood and family on a canvas shadowed by war are the primary themes. A must-see for anyone interested in the human side of Afghanistan.

****

Thursday at the Theater

It’s after midnight, I am exhausted so I’m just putting up the bits I wrote while sitting in the theater waiting for the next film to start. It’s part catch-up and part of today.

Catch up:

Apron Strings — New Zealand

A film written and directed by New Zealand women, it examines two families, one white New Zealand, mother a bakery owner, live-in grandmother, a slug of a son and a daughter who has just left the father of her unborn child in London. The second family is equally dysfunctional, two grown, estranged Indian sisters, one a tv cook whose son is trying to connect with his Indian heritage, the other is a single, somewhat bitter Indian restaurant owner..Cultural and family issues, racism and forgiveness are important themes. Some of the relationships survive, some do not. This is a food movie as well so be prepared to eat after the film! The characters were well-developed and I wanted them to work things out. I did however feel very sad at the way they treated the grandmother. Again, a theme of mothers….
*****

Today:

Hooked — Romania

I left right after the hooker (Ana) regained consciousness after being run over by Miha (aka “sweetie”). Miha and Mihail are having a relationship and were going for a “pickneek” when the accident happened; they thought she was dead and were going to bury her out in the woods! I left because the characters were really irritating to me and I couldn’t get interested in the story.

no stars because I didn’t watch the whole thing so I’m not qualified to rate it.

Winds of September — Taiwan

A group of boys discover the complexities of friendship as they navigate relationships with girls, teachers and choices each individual makes. A LOT of bad language, sexual situations (including masturbation) and some male nudity. I didn’t stay for this one either.
Again, no stars.

Unmistaken Child — Nepal and Tibet — Israeli director

Documentary about the search for and determination of a reincarnated master lama. We follow the former companion of the deceased lama rinpoche as he is trained how to recognize and then travels to many countries stopping in unbelievably remote villages looking for the reincarnate. When he finds the boy and makes his own determination, other high lamas test the little guy and eventually the Dalai Lama gives the final approval. Very enlightening into this process. The film illuminates the sincerity of and faith in the process. This was even more interesting to me as the film was made by an Israeli director. Fascinating and visually stunning in its setting.

****
More from today tomorrow….