MATT'S 2012 BEST

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1.
The Tree of Life (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings. (139 mins.)
Director: Terrence Malick
“ TERRENCE MALICK, 5TH FILM IN 40 YEARS, A MASTERPIECE FILM CELEBRATING MOTHERHOOD IN MY OPINION, IMDB USER'S COMMENTS: Most people that don't get the movie are probably going to enjoy the next Transformers movie a lot more than this one. This movie does not have a religious agenda. It appeals to anyone who has ever wondered about our origin and I believe its purpose is to start conversations between us. I had a 2 hour conversation with a person I hadn't met before right after the screening and even though our belief systems are completely different, we both found many elements that actually brought us together as human beings and trivialized our religious upbringing. It's a film about all of us and whatever got us here. It doesn't reward the dumb viewer looking to be mindlessly entertained for over two hours. But it has ability to change one's perspective on life and death, nature and grace, and love and hate. Asking anything else from a film like this would be like asking for an "Idiot's Guide" to life itself. Watch it yourself. On a big screen if possible. It's too beautiful to watch on your not-big-enough TV. Form your own opinion. Start conversations with others about what the film did in you... ” - sharmatt
 
2.
The Whistleblower (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal. (112 mins.)
“ LARYSA KONDRACKI, CANADA/GERMANY, TIFF, EXTRA POINTS FOR POLITICAL/SOCIAL RELEVANCE, EXPOSING THE INHUMAN BEHAVHIOUR OF US FOREIGN COMPANIES IN FOREIGN THEATRES OF WAR! Human trafficking in postwar Bosnia, enabled by the United Nations workers sent there to maintain peace and order, is the sad subject of Canadian director Larysa Kondracki's harrowingly effective thriller, "The Whistleblower." While the scenario of a Western do-gooder fighting injustice abroad often makes for sanctimonious, hand-wringing issue cinema, this accomplished debut feature avoids most of the usual pitfalls, channeling its outrage into a tense, focused piece of storytelling with a powerful sense of empathy. Bleak, often unbearable subject matter.  ” - sharmatt
 
3.
Melancholia (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth. (130 mins.)
Director: Lars von Trier
“ LARS VON TRIER, DENMARK IN ENGLISH, It's the end of the world but also the start of something new for Lars von Trier, whose mind-blowing "Melancholia" offers perhaps the gentlest depiction of annihilation one could imagine from any director, much less the Danish provocateur. If "Antichrist" was the needle in the eye von Trier needed to shake a bout of pulverizing depression, then "Melancholia" serves as his unexpectedly lucid response, blending grand-scale Hollywood effects with intimate, femme-focused melodrama. ” - sharmatt
 
4.
Shame (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In New York City, Brandon's carefully cultivated private life - which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction - is disrupted when his sister arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay. (101 mins.)
Director: Steve McQueen
“ STEVE McQUEEN, MICHAEL FASSBENDER as sex addict, CAREY MULLIGAN, I PREDICT 4 OSCAR NOMS, Brandon is a 30-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon's world spirals out of control. From director Steve McQueen (Hunger), Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us. ” - sharmatt
 
5.
The Artist (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions. (100 mins.)
“ TIFF SP, FRANCE, HUGE APPROVAL FROM CANNES, TORONTO AND TELLURIDE THAT I PREDICT WORLDWIDE SUCCESS AND OSCAR CONSIDERATION. THE NAMES MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS, JEAN DUJARDIN, BERENICE BEJO WILL BECOME WELL KNOWN TO U.S.A. AUDIENCES. THEY ALREADY KNOW THE EXCELLENT JAMES CROMWELL AND JOHN GOODMAN. REMEMBER THIS FEEL GOOD FILM IS SILENT. ” - sharmatt
 
6.
Rebellion (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Dissidents in a French colony attack a police station and take hostages. (136 mins.)
“ FRANCE, THE FRENCH COLONIALISTS OF NEW CALEDONIA SUBJUGATE THE HUMAN CONDITION OF THE NATIVES. The incident in question centres on a group of local Kanak separatists who attack a French police post, killing three gendarmes and taking another twenty-six hostage. The French respond by sending their elite counter-terrorism group, the GIGN (National Gendarmerie Intervention Group), who operate under Captain Philippe Legorjus (Kassovitz). Arriving after a thirty-hour flight, Legorjus and his small band of men are horri­fied to discover that the French army has also been deployed in considerable force. The captain is determined to negotiate a peaceful and bloodless resolution to the crisis, but it soon becomes evident that numerous forces threaten to undermine him. An election in France that pits left against right, Mitterrand against Chirac, means that the hostage crisis half a world away gets turned into a political football. ” - sharmatt
 
7.
A Dangerous Method (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis. (99 mins.)
“ CANADA, A FASCINATING STORY OF EARLY PSYCHIATRY, AND AS USUAL FOR DAVID CRONENBERG, EXTREMELY WELL DONE. THIS FILM AND SHAME HIGHLIGHTS THE AMAZING TALENT OF MICHAEL FASSBENDER WHO I WOULD NOW GIVE HIM THE OSCAR FOR BEST PERFORMANCES OF THE YEAR. I AM AFRAID THAT HE WILL NOW BECOME THE INTERNATIONAL HEARTTHROB OF THE LADIES. KEEP YOUR WOMAN AWAY FROM HIM OR YOU A GONER. The premise of David Cronenberg’s lat­est effort will be familiar to his fans. A Dangerous Method is a brooding tale of dark desire and the dread that lurks behind genius, experienced by intellectual misfits in conventional society. Yet the director brings these recognizable obsessions to a new genre: the historical period piece. Set in Vienna on the eve of the First World War, the film explores the complex relationship between novice psychiatrist Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen, in his third consecutive collaboration with Cronenberg). Studying under the already well-established Freud, Jung practices his teacher’s methods while developing his own theories based on the clinical study of psy­chologically disturbed patients. When a sick young Russian woman arrives at the clinic, both Jung and Freud are fascinated by her case and spellbound by her vulnerable yet dangerous sexuality. ” - sharmatt
 
8.
Crazy Horse (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A cinéma vérité look inside Paris' Crazy Horse, a club that boasts the greatest and most chic nude dancing in the world. (134 mins.)
“ MISTER WEISMAN IS THE MASTER OF NON-NARRATIVE DOCUMENTARIES, For Crazy Horse, Wiseman turns to High-Definition video after four decades of shooting primarily on 16mm film. The format proves well matched for Le Crazy Horse’s colourful decor and flesh without flaws. Wiseman and cinematographer John Davey embed in this fantasy factory for eleven weeks to document all its components. During their stay, Le Crazy Horse choreographer Philippe Decouflé seeks to revitalize the repertoire. Even if an act like “Baby Buns” sounds silly, Decouflé takes his work very seriously. Like any theatre director, he yearns for more resources and strains against the company’s shareholders. ” - sharmatt
 
9.
Drive (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself trouble when he helps out his neighbor. (100 mins.)
“ NICOLAS WINDING REFN, VERY INTENSE FILM THAT HOLDS YOUR ATTENTION PROBABLY MORE THAN ANY OTHER FILM THIS YEAR. RYAN GOSLING DESERVES OSCAR CONSIDERATION. The laconic hero of "Drive" is known only as The Driver. That may give you some sense of this highly stylized, often beautiful and graphically violent action drama about a mechanic and part-time movie stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman. It will be an incomplete sense, though. Depending on the second-by-second circumstances, The Driver might also be called The Lover, Dreamer, Benefactor, Brute or Killer—he's actually all of those things in the time and space of a single elevator ride. Few actors working today could make emotional sense of such a protean character, but Ryan Gosling does so with calm authority. He's a formidable presence in a film that grabs your gaze and won't let go except for moments when you can't help but look away ” - sharmatt
 
10.
House of Tolerance (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Life in an elegant Parisian brothel in the early twentieth century. The madam essentially owns the women: their expenses exceed earnings... (122 mins.)
“ aka HOUSE OF PLEASURE, L'APOLLANIDE, FRANCE, TIFF, BERTRAND BONELLO, EXPLORES WITH GREAT TENDERNESS THE SISTERLY COMRADERIE AND HARDSHIPS IN A 19TH CENTURY FRENCH BORDELLOBertrand Bonello’s House Of Pleasures takes place at an elegantly appointed French country brothel at the turn of the 20th century, a setting so beautifully evoked that the perfume practically wafts off the screen. Stretching out over an appealingly hazy 125 minutes, Bonello’s film maintains a delicate tone that’s alternately elegiac and pitiless about life in the brothel, which has its seductions for worker and client alike, but isn’t free from the cruelties that have always attended the world’s oldest profession. In spite of the expensive dresses, the champagne baths, and the illusion of upper-class politesse, the realities of the job are often no different for these women than for 21st-century streetwalkers: They carry debts that only deepen over time. Moneyed clients are no less prone to shocking violence and abuse. And those who are victimized by disease or other physical ailments or scars are essentially doomed., ” - sharmatt
 
11.
Hugo (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton. (126 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
“ SETS ALONE ARE WORTH YOUR TIME, HURRAH FOR SCORCESE.... "Hugo" is unlike any other film Martin Scorsese has ever made, and yet possibly the closest to his heart: a big-budget, family epic in 3-D, and in some ways, a mirror of his own life. We feel a great artist has been given command of the tools and resources he needs to make a movie about ²movies. That he also makes it a fable that will be fascinating for (some, not all) children is a measure of what feeling went into this film. ROGER EBERT ” - sharmatt
 
12.
Young Adult (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now happily married and has a newborn daughter. (94 mins.)
Director: Jason Reitman
“ INSIGHTFUL EXPLORATION OF THE HUMAN CONDITION EXAMINING THE ANGRY NARCISSISTIC PERSON WHO IS NEVER HAPPY WITH WHAT SHE HAS, BUT UNHAPPY WITH WHAT SHE DOES NOT HAVE. FOREVER UNHAPPY AND ANGRY. "Young Adult" is a dark comedy that confirms Diablo Cody ("Juno") as a screenwriter of importance, eliminates the last shred of doubt that Jason Reitman is a major director and gives Charlize Theron her best showcase since "Monster." In fact, "Young Adult" is even better than "Monster," in that it's not a stunt movie requiring a Halloween-costume performance but one in which the actress gets to show brand-new skills and colors through her own familiar face. In a seemingly casual way, Theron does something remarkable. She takes a character who should be unsympathetic - a condescending, delusional, unpleasant, amoral woman with no grace or kindness - and makes us feel for her. She does this, with the help of Reitman and Cody, by keying into the character's pain, making us recognize a sadness that the character herself doesn't even see. MICK LA SALLE ” - sharmatt
 
13.
Higher Ground (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A chronicle of one woman's lifelong struggle with her faith. (109 mins.)
Director: Vera Farmiga
“ THIS FILM SPEAKS OUT TO RELIGIOUS OPPRESSION IN A VERY COMPASSIONATE WAY. AS YOU ALL KNOW, I AM TOTALLY INTOLERANT TO INTOLERANCE IN ANY FORM. SECULARISM SHOULD ALMOST ALWAYS TRUMP FUNDAMENTALISM. The same intelligence, wit and mature spirit that actress Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air") brings to her performances is richly apparent in her directorial debut as well, the inquisitive spiritual drama "Higher Ground." Based on Carolyn Briggs' memoir "This Dark World," and adapted by Farmiga with Briggs and Tim Metcalfe, the film depicts the journey of Midwesterner Corinne from godly wonderment to roiling dissatisfaction. As a teenager, literary-minded, curious Corinne (played in these scenes by Farmiga's youngest sister, Taissa) bristles at the disintegrating union of her mother (Donna Murphy) and father (John Hawkes). When her own blissful romance with a long-haired rock guitarist named Ethan (Boyd Holbrook) quickly settles into a workaday marriage, young parenthood and near-tragedy, the pair double down on their bond by turning to the Bible as a way to make sense of their changing lives. ROBERT ABELE ” - sharmatt
 
14.
Blackthorn (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
In Bolivia, Butch Cassidy (now calling himself James Blackthorn) pines for one last sight of home, an adventure that aligns him with a young robber and makes the duo a target for gangs and lawmen alike. (102 mins.)
Director: Mateo Gil
“ SAM SHEPERD MAKES THIS BUTCH CASSIDY STORY GLOW. THE DIRECTOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MAGIFICENT FILM "OPEN YOUR EYES" Playing the aging outlaw Butch Cassidy, Sam Shepard is the nominal star of “Blackthorn,’’ and he’s fine - grizzled and laconic in the best western tradition. He keeps getting upstaged by the cinematography, though. The movie’s an international coproduction that marks the feature directing debut of Spanish screenwriter Mateo Gil (“Open Your Eyes,’’ “The Sea Inside’’); he and director of photography Juan Ruiz Anchía filmed in the high country of Bolivia, and the thin mountain air seems to have seeped into the camera. Each frame is a crystalline jaw-dropper that places the smallish actions of men within a vast canvas of lush jungle, lunar salt flats, Andean snow, and desert sand. The result is a pretty good movie that almost looks better than it needs to. TY BURR ” - sharmatt
 
15.
Margin Call (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Follows the key people at an investment bank, over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the financial crisis. (107 mins.)
Director: J.C. Chandor
“ THIS FILM TO ME IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT OF THE YEAR AS IT REPRESENTS THE RABID DISHONESTY OF CURRENT SOCIETAL PURSUIT OF MONEY AT ANY COST! IT IS SO RELEVANT TO OUR CURRENT GREED CONCEPTS AND ITS IGNORING OF THE GOLDEN RULE. "Margin Call" takes ripped-from-the-headlines events and dramatizes them for all they're worth. Which turns out to be quite a lot. Starring a top cast including Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci and Paul Bettany, "Margin Call" returns us to where previous films, including the Oscar-winning documentary "Inside Job" and the HBO drama "Too Big to Fail," have gone before: the opening days of 2008's global financial crisis. But this time, it's different. It's different because this confident, crisply made piece of work does an expert job of bringing us inside the inner sanctum of a top Wall Street investment bank in extremis, giving us a convincing and coolly dramatic portrait of what it must have been like when titans trembled. That sharp sense of authenticity was honestly earned, courtesy of the experience of writer-director J.C. Chandor's father, who was an executive for Merrill Lynch for close to 40 years. That familiarity enabled his son to write clipped, to-the-point dialogue that sounds like talk the way it is talked when doors are closed and reporters are far away. KEN TURAN ” - sharmatt
 
16.
Pina (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A tribute to the late German choreographer, Pina Bausch, as her dancers perform her most famous creations. (103 mins.)
Director: Wim Wenders
“ TIFF, Wim Wenders' dance docu "Pina" reps multidimensional entertainment that will send culture vultures swooning. A tribute to Pina Bausch, one of modern dance's most groundbreaking choreographers, pic lets the artist's work speak for itself via big, juicy slabs of performance. ” - sharmatt
 
17.
Café de Flore (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A love story between a man and woman. And between a mother and her son. A mystical and fantastical odyssey on love. (120 mins.)
“ CANADIAN FRENCH, TIFF SP, JEAN-MARC VALLEE, PSIFF, . It is also the best fictional Canadian film of the year, thus far. Vallée follows the lives of four people in present day Montreal and 1969 Paris as their experiences with love and loss become intertwined. Antione Godin (Kevin Parent) is a jet-set living DJ with two kids from a previous marriage who are offended that he wants to marry his new girlfriend so soon after divorcing their mother, Carole (Hélène Florent), who has been experiencing crippling nightmares and an increased penchant for sleepwalking and silently screaming at night. Carole is experiencing visions of a woman named Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis) from Paris who is similarly going through pains of the heart. The father of her son wants nothing to do with the child because he has down syndrome. As her son ages, he falls in love with another similarly afflicted classmate at school and they become quite literally inseparable. ” - sharmatt
 
18.
Last Winter (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
(103 mins.)
Director: John Shank
“ AKA L'HIVER DERNIER, FRENCH, BELGIUM, JOHN SHANK(USA), TIFF CWC, John Shank, an American living in Belgium, has made a stark and beautiful feature debut that, though shot in a small farming com­munity in France, owes much to Steinbeck, Faulkner and countless other American writ­ers, artists and filmmakers who have placed the land at the centre of their work. This is a stirring homage to the people who work the earth despite countless natural challenges, and who also learn how difficult it is to sur­vive in the face of modern forces that have no truck with their values. ” - sharmatt
 
19.
The Turin Horse (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A rural farmer is forced to confront the mortality of his faithful horse. (146 mins.)
“ BELA TARR, A HUNGARIAN DISLIKED IN HUNGARY, THUS THIS IS A FRENCH PRODUCTION, VERY SLOW BUT BRILLIANT BLACK AND WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY, LIKE HIS WERKMEISTER HARMONIE AND THE MAN FROM LONDON, YOU WILL NEED GREAT PATIENCE TO SIT THROUGH THIS FILM AND WILL CONTINUOUSLY LOOK AT YOUR WATCH BUT THE IMAGERY WILL LAST A LIFETIME.

1889. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse while traveling in Turin, Italy. He tossed his arms around the horse's neck to protect it then collapsed to the ground. In less than one month, Nietzsche would be diagnosed with a serious mental illness that would make him bed-ridden and speechless for the next eleven years until his death. But whatever did happen to the horse? This film, which is Tarr's last, follows up this question in a fictionalized story of what occurred. The man who whipped the horse is a rural farmer who makes his living taking on carting jobs into the city with his horse-drawn cart. The horse is old and in very poor health, but does its best to obey its master's commands. The farmer and his daughter must come to the understanding that it will be unable to go on sustaining their livelihoods. The dying of the horse is the foundation of this tragic tale ” - sharmatt
 
20.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Kevin's mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined. (112 mins.)
Director: Lynne Ramsay
“ “ TIFF....LYNNE RAMSAY AND TILDA SWINTON ARE 2 OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY TALENTS IN CINEMA NOW. THIS FILM DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is about a nightmare on your street, not Elm Street. It's a domestic horror story that literally gets to us where we live, a disturbing tale told with uncompromising emotionality and great skill by filmmaker Lynne Ramsay. Working from Lionel Shriver's celebrated novel, Ramsay and her equally unflinching star, the mesmerizing Tilda Swinton, present a troubling, challenging examination of what Ramsay, speaking at Cannes, called "one of the last taboo subjects: You're meant to instantly love your baby from the moment he's born, but what if you don't?" And what if that baby grows into someone terrifying? If this were a just world, Ramsay's name would be more celebrated than it is. Her extraordinary debut, 1999's "Ratcatcher," won her the British Academy of Film and Television Arts prize for best newcomer in British film. Kenny Turan ” - sharmatt ” - sharmatt
 
21.
Attenberg (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Stuck in her boring factory town, twenty-three-year-old Marina is at the mercy of both her father's impending death and her distaste for other humans. (97 mins.)
“ FROM GREECE AND IF YOU DISLIKED DOGTOOTH....STAY AWAY....SAME FILM MAKER....WEIRD, BUT AT TIMES EXTREMELEY GOOD INSIGHTFUL CINEMA. Two young women, standing a foot apart, lean towards each other, tongues squirming out, touching, and then slithering into the other’s mouth: a hands-on tutorial between two friends. That’s the opening provocation in Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg, whose title derives from the name of natural history filmmaker Sir David Attenborough. Like Attenborough, Marina (Ariane Labed) observes, taking an anthropological view of life, especially when it comes to men. Humans are the animals on display here. But like last year’s outsider entry, Dogtooth, also from Greece, Attenberg keeps the viewer at bay, deliberately trying to raise eyebrows—Marina asks her father if he has ever imagined her naked; some things should remain taboo, his reply. He’s dying of cancer and wants his 23-year-old daughter to live outside her odd, insular bubble, and Marina begins taking tentative steps, clinically approaching her first sexual experience. (In exasperation, her partner/specimen pleads, “I beg you, stop describing what you’re doing.”) Maybe after Dogtooth’s transgressions, it’s a little harder to surprise us with eccentric behavior. Kent Turner ” - sharmatt
 
22.
Headhunters (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An accomplished headhunter risks everything to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary. (100 mins.)
Director: Morten Tyldum
“ “ NORWAY, TIFF, Intense and entertaining thriller packed with twists and based on award winning mystery writer Jo Nesbo's novel, Headhunters' stars Aksel Hennie (Max Manus) as an elite headhunter who finances his lavish lifestyle by stealing art from his own clients. Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) lives a fantasy life of the early twenty-first century variety. He’s a successful headhunter for Fortune 500 inductees and lives in an opulent modern home. Though he’s happily married to Diana, a statuesque art gallery owner, he spends his few spare moments with his enthusiastic mistress Lotte (Julie Ølgaard). The only problem is that Roger suffers from a crippling Napoleon complex. He’s so terrified of losing Diana that he continually lavishes her with absurdly extravagant gifts. He blows so much cash he’s been forced to moonlight, stealing rare artworks from his clientele. But this latest job uncovers something that could bring his frantically maintained lifestyle crashing down around him. ” - sharmatt
 
23.
Breathing (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Through his work at a morgue, an incarcerated young man trying to build a new life starts to come to terms with the crime he committed. (94 mins.)
Director: Karl Markovics
“ "Atmen" is an artistic triumph. Not only is the script brilliantly written, but it is also flawlessly executed. The direction seems almost effortless, as if Markovics was already an old master. He seems to know intentionally what to show when, he's got a great eye for frames and unagitated pictures, and, an actor himself, he naturally knows how to direct other actors. "Atmen" is a touching and believable movie about life and death, tight-lipped, but never boring, bleak, but in the end optimistic. It's very authentic in its depiction of Vienna, its depiction of a boy who hasn't been dealt the best cards in life. And, most of all, it's got its heart in the right place. This really deserves an Oscar win ” - sharmatt
 
24.
Superclásico (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Christian is a Copenhagen wine seller on the brink of bankruptcy. Equally unsuccessful in just about every other aspect of life... (99 mins.)
“ DENMARK, OLE CHRISTIAN MADSEN(PRAGUE, FLAME & CITRON), TIFF CWC, YOU WILL END UP LOVING ALL THE CHARACTERS IN THIS ROMANTIC HILARIOUS FEATURE. THE MAID WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITES. ” - sharmat And so Christian does what he feels is necessary when Anna sends him divorce papers so that she can marry her new lover. He packs up their son and heads off to convince her otherwise. It doesn't matter that she left because they weren't happy even when they were together. It doesn't matter that she's moved off to another continent and that her new lover is one of the most famous football players on the planet who he has zero chance of winning her back from. Life was better when she was with him and so Christian wants her back and off he goes.FF, PSIFF, ” - sharmatt
 
25.
A Separation (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease. (123 mins.)
Director: Asghar Farhadi
“ IRAN OSCAR NOM, PSIFF, TIFF, ASGHAR FARHADI, NOW IN IRANIAN PRISON FOR CENSORSHIP VIOLATION, TO ME IRAN IS ONE OF THE TOP 3 FILMAKING COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD, POLITICALLY THEY ARE OF COURSE REPRESSIVE WHICH IS THE ANGST THAT ELICITS THE BRILLIANT CREATIVITY, When Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" begins, a middle-class husband and wife in Tehran are arguing about her petition for divorce in front of an unseen judge. For a while the judge indulges their anger, which is compounded by hurt. "My finding," he finally says, "is that your problem is a small problem. Please sign here and good day." The judge is no fool. Neither is anyone else in this contemporary masterpiece from Iran; everyone has their reasons. But the couple's problem isn't small, at least not for them, and their ensuing separation opens up a succession of fissures, chasms and moral dilemmas that define an entire society. Thematic sweep and dramatic specificity are the movie's hallmarks, with the one always growing out of the other. The marriage is beset by fatefully conflicting circumstances. Simin, the wife, wants the family to seek a better life abroad for the sake of their 11-year-old daughter, Termeh. Nader, the husband, refuses to leave Iran; he's taking care of his father, who's impaired by Alzheimer's, and won't consent to Termeh living elsewhere with her mother. JOE MORGENSTERN, A Separation is a beautifully crafted, fascinating film, both as a portrait of modern Iranian society and as a drama involving intensely controlling men and supportive but also assertive women. The director has all of his characters withhold information as they make their cases — at times, directly to the camera — which makes A Separation a constant surprise, a film that captures the drama and suspense of real life as urgently as any picture released this year. (Recommended) BOB MONDELLO ” - sharmatt
 
26.
Omar Killed Me (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
In the summer of 1991 an elderly woman Ghislaine Marchal is found murdered in the basement of her home... (85 mins.)
Director: Roschdy Zem
“ MOROCCO, TIFF, PSIFF, An Arab worker becomes the scapegoat for a brutal murder in this gripping thriller based on one of the most shocking miscarriages of French justice in the last 20 years. Shining a revealing light on racism, class problems and prejudice, Omar Killed Me makes chillingly clear that justice for the powerful is different from that for the poor. Marseille, February 2, 1994. Omar Raddad, a Moroccan gardener is sentenced to 18 years for the murder of a wealthy widow for whom he was working. Numerous elements seem to indicate that the investigation has not been conducted properly, such as the alteration of the victim’s date of death, no fingerprints taken at the crime scene, and the disappearance of a witness who might have helped Omar. However, the legal system reveals itself as self-satisfied, incapable of admitting its own errors, and deeply prejudiced ” - sharmatt
 
27.
The Front Line (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A drama centered on the Korean War's final battle that will determine the border between north and south. (133 mins.)
Director: Hun Jang
“ KOREA OSCAR NOM, JANG HUN, Set on the Eastern front line, in an area of intense fighting between the North and South forces over a strategic hill, the film follows intelligence officer Kang Eun-pyo (Shin Ha-kyun), sent there to uncover the secret behind a Captain who died from friendly fire, whom his superiors believe was killed by a spy. Kang arrives and to his surprise, discovers his old friend Kim Soo-hyuk (Go Soo), who he thought was killed or captured years ago, now an officer fighting in the battle hardened Alligator unit. He also soon learns that the rules and the conditions out here are far different than what he expected ” - sharmatt
 
28.
Declaration of War (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
When their young son is diagnosed with a brain tumor, young parents Roméo and Juliette unite in the fight for his survival. (100 mins.)
“ FRANCE OSCAR NOM, PSIFF, Subject matter and style have rarely seemed so far apart as in Valérie Donzelli’s semi-autobiographical sophomore feature. That the story of a couple whose baby is diagnosed with a brain tumor is played in a quirky, funny, and life-affirming way is strange indeed, but even stranger is the fact that it all works beautifully. Donzelli and co-screenwriter Jérémie Elkaïm star as a young couple whose sick baby is revealed to have cancer. The formerly carefree bohemians begin the long slog through hospitals and doctors’ meetings, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst. The “declaration of war,” however, is not just on the tumor threatening their child—it is on the deadly serious but inevitably ponderous methods films usually employ when telling a story like this. Using the jump cuts, musical numbers, bright color palette, and low-budget enthusiasm one normally associates with the French New Wave filmmakers of the 60s, Donzelli infuses her tale with an energy and joie de vivre that make this an infectious delight. It is also profoundly moving–Donzelli is a unique and very gifted talent.  ” - sharmatt
 
29.
The Flowers of War (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety. (146 mins.)
Director: Yimou Zhang
“ CHINA OSCAR NOM, PSIFF, ZHANG YIMOU....MY FAVORITE CHINESE FILM MAKER, Having proven himself a top-flight purveyor of spectacle with the likes of House of Flying Daggers (and the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony), Zhang Yimou now reminds us that his films pack an emotional punch to rival their visual impact. With the Japanese Imperial Army rampaging through Nanking in 1937, missionary John Haufman (Christian Bale) defiantly refuses to flee the city. Taken with the plight of the schoolgirls and prostitutes who are being victimized by the invading troops, Haufman endeavors to help them escape the atrocities that history now remembers as the Nanking Massacre. Steven Spielberg has asserted that the central theme in Zhang's work is that “the conflict of man foretells the desire for inner peace,” and this latest feature is a splendid example of that fixation. While boasting the audacious set-pieces expected of a wartime epic, its narrative ultimately hinges on the internal conflicts and crises of conscience facing Haufman and other key players. War's abundant mayhem will certainly leave you rattled but it's the human drama that will linger with you long after the final shot has been fired. Zhang Yimou's visually stunning style is evident throughout his latest, and most ambitious film, The Flowers of War, an international production that represents China's most expensive ($90+ million) ever and stars Oscar winner Christian Bale as an American trapped with a group of women in Nanking during the invasion of the Japanese army in 1937. ” - sharmatt
 
30.
Footnote (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik are father and son as well as rival professors in Talmudic Studies. When both men learn that Eliezer will be lauded for his work, their complicated relationship reaches a new peak. (107 mins.)
Director: Joseph Cedar
“ ISRAEL OSCAR NOM, PSIFF, TIFF, JOSEPH CEDAR(BEAUFORT)
Following his Oscar-nominated, deeply moving anti-war film Beaufort (2007), director Joseph Cedar continues to raise his profile with Footnote (2011), a uniquely comedic exploration into issues of pride, sacrifice and jealousy through a fragile family dynamic which won him the prestigious best screenplay award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The story of a fierce rivalry between a father and son (both highly regarded academics specialising in the Talmud) Footnote skilfully mixes dry wit with high drama. The son has an obsessive thirst for the acclaim his work has awarded him, perhaps due to his father’s disdain for the modern and unscientific approach he has taken, offering him little paternal support or praise. CINEVUE, Subtly drawn and perfectly performed, Footnote was a deserved winner of the 2011 screenplay award at Cannes, as well as taking awards across the board from the Israeli Film Academy. And while the very substance of the film's plot might lead you to question the validity of such awards and ceremonial recognition, Footnote really is a refreshing original, expanding its apparently small-scale, pedantic concerns into an examination of truth itself, and of the aggression and violence which we will commit to defend our place within truth's walled façade. ANTON BITEL ” - sharmatt
 
31.
Simon & the Oaks (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Two boys come of age in Sweden during World War II. (122 mins.)
Director: Lisa Ohlin
“ SWEDEN, aka SIMON OCHA EKARNA, LISA OHLIN, A MAGNIFICENT PRODUCTION...CINEMATOGRAPHY, MUSIC, ACTING, NARRATIVE...WORTHY OF MY 10/10 "Simon and the oaks" is really a great movie visually. The first thing you encounter is the wide vistas of the cliffs by the sea and the great oak that Simon is sitting at, and it looks really good. Throughout the film, it is output on top with beautiful, contemporary surroundings and costumes. The music was written by Annette Fock is grand but beautiful and perfectly suited to enhance the mood of both slower and more dramatic scenes. The acting is the film's strongest side. Above all, the German actor Jan Josef Liefers who plays Reuben made a great impression on me. SWEDISH REVIEW ” - sharmatt
 
32.
My Best Enemy (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A dark WWII comedy about two friends, stolen artwork and an unfortunate case of mistaken identities, as a Jewish man switches places with his Nazi best friend in order to survive (109 mins.)
“ AUSTRIA, PSIFF, MANY RESPONSIBLE FOR OSCAR WINNING "THE COUNTERFEITERS CREATED THIS FILM, "My Best Enemy" is the story of a Jewish man who refuses to be victimized at a time when most of his friends and family are being murdered en masse in concentration camps. At the dawn of World War II, Victor Kaufmann (Bleibtreu) is the son of an art dealer in Munich — and he and his parents have some notion that wealth and prestige will see them through these dark times. Victor's buddy Rudi (Georg Friedrich), on the other hand, has no connections and is a pragmatist. He knows what's coming, and joins the Nazis to ensure job and personal security. JAPAN TIMES ” - sharmatt
 
33.
Le Havre (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
When an African boy arrives by cargo ship in the port city of Le Havre, an aging shoe shiner takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home. (93 mins.)
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
“ "Le Havre" is set much farther south, in the French port city where many of the cargoes are human: illegal immigrants arriving from Africa. The police find a container filled with them, and a young boy slips under their arms and runs away. This is Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), from Gabon, solemn, shy, appealing. The cops announce a manhunt. The film's hero, Marcel Marx (Andre Wilms), is fishing near a pier and sees the boy standing waist-deep in the water, hiding, and mutely appealing to him. He returns, leaves out some food and finds the food gone the next day. And so, with no plan in mind, Marcel becomes in charge of protecting the boy from arrest.This movie is as lovable as a silent comedy, which it could have been. It takes place in a world that seems cruel and heartless, but look at the lengths Marcel goes to find Idrissa's father in a refugee camp and raise money to send the boy to join his mother in England. "Le Havre" has won many festivals, including Chicago 2011, comes from a Finnish auteur, yet let me suggest that smart children would especially like it. There is nothing cynical or cheap about it, it tells a good story with clear eyes and a level gaze, and it just plain makes you feel good. ROGER EBERT ” - sharmatt
 
34.
Innocence (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The descent from the top of the ladder to the bottom of the barrel can be very quick. Sometimes just... (90 mins.)
Director: Jan Hrebejk
“ aka INNOCENCE, CZECH REPUBLIC, JAN HREBEJK, PSIFF, A POWERFUL FILM ON A COMMON 2012 SUBJECT, PRESUMED GUILT, WITH MAYBE A LITTLE OVER THE TOP SURPRISE ENDING, Tomas (Ondrej Vetchý, from Dark Blue World), a respected physician, finds himself embroiled in a scandal when Olinka (Anna Linhartová), a teenaged patient, accuses him of molesting her. While the disturbed girl has taken certain liberties with the truth in the past, there are some damning details contained in these allegations that make them impossible to dismiss. As his once-idyllic professional and personal lives descend into chaos, Tomas must also contend with an investigating police detective (Hynek Cermák) who has a very personal interest in putting him away. This marks a dramatic creative departure for director Jan Hrebejk and screenwriter Petr Jarchovsky, who've traditionally catered in thoughtful comedies such as the Oscar-nominated Divided We Fall. However, the long-time collaborators prove equally accomplished at genre filmmaking, crafting an unsettling thriller that's every bit as provocative as it is propulsive. Aided and abetted by an exemplary cast, they assemble a morally complex puzzle in which unearthing one answer only begets more troubling questions. Rest assured, Innocence is far more than just a guilty pleasure. ” - sharmatt
 
35.
Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
The story of Yonatan Netanyahu, commander of an elite Israeli army commando unit who was killed during Operation Entebbe...
“ WORLD PREMIER PSIFF, USA, JONATHAN GRUBER, THE TRAGIC SHORT LIFE OF A REAL ISRAELI SOLDIER IN THE ENTEBBE RESCUE, ALSO OLDER BROTHER OF BENJAMIN (BEBE), The story of the so-called Operation Entebbe by an elite squad of Israeli Defense Forces has been told numerous times, but perhaps never with the poignancy or insight of Jonathan Gruber and Ari Daniel Pinchot's new documentary Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story. The high-risk mission to save Israeli hostages held by Arab terrorists at the Entebbe, Uganda airport has been hailed as an almost miraculous success, but it’s sometimes forgotten that it was not without casualties. Gruber and Pinchot tell the story from the perspective of squad leader Yoni Netanyahu, older brother of the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The filmmakers masterfully tell the parallel narratives of the planning and execution of the raid alongside Yoni’s life story. Personal testimonials from family members (including surprisingly intimate and heartfelt words from Benjamin), Israeli leaders, and comrades add context to the gripping archival footage. But the words of Yoni himself, taken from his letters to family and the women he loved, are what give the story a poetical beauty, enduring power and universal truth. ” - sharmatt
 
36.
California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
CALIFORNIA STATE OF MIND tells the story of how one man rose against seemingly insurmountable obstacles and shaped the future of modern California...
Director: Sascha Rice
“ USA, W/D SASCHA RICE, GRANDDAUGHTER, MY LIFETIME FAVORITE POLITICIAN,CALIFORNIA STATE OF MIND tells the story of how one man rose against seemingly insurmountable obstacles and shaped the future of modern California. Rather than lionizing Brown as "the Architect of the Golden State," the film looks critically at Pat Brown's odyssey to build a "Super State," raising issues that transcend eras and geographic borders. As the Vietnam War shifts the nation's consciousness, Brown is caught in the middle of the cataclysmic 1960s, with the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, fiery race riots in Los Angeles, and the United Farm Workers Movement in the Central Valley. Brown's epic battle against capital punishment unleashes an international uproar. Finally, a telegenic Ronald Reagan steps onto the world stage promising to sweep all that away. Brown's tenure ends as a new "era of limits" begins. Told from his granddaughter's perspective, Brown's struggle to overcome humble beginnings reveals a dynamic American Dream story - a compelling journey that unfolds through interviews, archival footage, home movies, and cinema verite as the filmmaker wrestles with the inherited optimism of her grandfather's legacy. The issues Brown faced have urgent relevance now - in the West and nationwide: failing education, crumbling infrastructure, gridlocked traffic, and water threatening to become the next oil. This intimate portrait of Pat Brown has the power to ignite optimism and provide a template for what we can and should expect from leaders today. ” - sharmatt
 
37.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A union pensioner and his wife are robbed, but find that merely getting the assailants brought to justice is not enough for their consciences. (107 mins.)
“ FRANCE, PSIFF, UNIVERSAL RELEVANCE TO TODAYS SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RELEVANCE, Robert Guediguian’s familiar Marseille neighbourhood–the locale for almost all his work. Jean Pierre Darroussin is Michel, a veteran trade unionist who pulls his own name out of the hat when the men draw lots for forced redundancies. Friends and family rally round and come up with enough money to take Michel and Marie-Claire (Ariane Ascaride) on a vacation to Africa – but their plans are derailed when two masked men break in, tie them up and make off with the cash. Michel recognizes one of the assailants – but can a good socialist condemn a poor man for doing what he must to provide for his loved ones? Inspired by Victor Hugo’s poem “How Good Are the Poor?” (no better than they can afford to be, evidently), Guediguian’s film also brings to mind that old chestnut: a liberal is a conservative who hasn’t been mugged yet. Michel bucks that stereotype, but alienates his friends in doing so. This is liberal humanist cinema with steel as well as sentiment, but a real heart-tugger as well. ” - sharmatt
 
38.
Monsieur Lazhar (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed. (94 mins.)
“ FRENCH CANADA, OSCAR, TIFF, PSIFF, But it’s safe to say that few have had to deal with finding their grade school teacher’s lifeless body hanging from their classroom ceiling. That’s precisely what Simon (Émilien Néron) and Alice (Sophie Nélisse) are left to wrestle with in Montreal filmmaker Philippe Falardeau’s absolutely sublime Monsieur Lazhar, which charts the kids’ progress as they must grieve the death of their teacher, and adapt to the new schooling methods of Bachir Lazhar (Fellag), an Algerian immigrant who takes over the mourning classroom. Let’s not kid ourselves: the film has already become a bona fide festival darling. Prizes at Locarno, Namur, Toronto ” - sharmatt
 
39.
The Island President (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
After bringing democracy to his country, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, the lowest-lying country in the world, takes up the fight to keep his homeland from disappearing under the sea. (101 mins.)
Director: Jon Shenk
“ A global warming documentary that makes it point very well. WAKE UP DOUBTERS! After bringing democracy to an island nation that had suffered under dictatorship, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives faces a new challenge: if warming sea waters keep rising, his low-lying homeland will disappear under the Indian Ocean.
Jon Shenk’s documentary follows the plucky Pres as he takes this inconvenient truth to the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit in an attempt to convince superpowers to curb their carbon emissions.
Nasheed may be a small fish in a big geopolitical pond, but his enterprise and optimism are a welcome complement to eco doc doom and gloom. ” - sharmatt
 
40.
The Avengers (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Earth's mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity. (143 mins.)
Director: Joss Whedon
 
41.
End of Watch (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Shot documentary-style, this film follows the daily grind of two young police officers in LA who are partners and friends, and what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves. (109 mins.)
Director: David Ayer
“ This is not your usual cop buddy film. Please see it and get back to me. Roger Ebert gave it a 4 star: "End of Watch" is one of the best police movies in recent years, a virtuoso fusion of performances and often startling action. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are Taylor and Zavala, two Los Angeles street cops who bend a few rules but must be acknowledged as heroes. After too many police movies about officers who essentially use their badges as licenses to run wild, it's inspiring to realize that these men take their mission — to serve and protect — with such seriousness they're willing to risk their lives. SF CHRONICLE 5*: One is the pacing: You will not be bored. Another is the dramatic tension: it ratchets and rises and rolls. But the chief moving objects are the cameras, whether mounted on the dash, pinned to a chest pocket or carried around by Officer Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal). The shaky-cam footage documents his life on the force with his partner, Mike Zavala (Peña), as the two of them patrol the hood with good intentions and a startling courage that jostles close to recklessness.
One of the joys for me was the discovery of W/D David Ayer, whose youth was spent in South Central L.A. and is incredibly depicted in this film. He is a true cinematic talent. ” - sharmatt
 
42.
Robot & Frank (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Set in the near future, an ex-jewel thief receives a gift from his son: a robot butler programmed to look after him. But soon the two companions try their luck as a heist team. (89 mins.)
Director: Jake Schreier
“ A waste of talent. “Robot & Frank” isn’t sure whether it’s a comedy or drama, buddy movie or sci-fi fantasy, family melodrama or social satire. What is certain is that it’s a vehicle for Frank Langella (as Frank), a sadly underutilized Susan Sarandon (as Frank’s romantic interest), and a pitch-perfect Peter Sarsgaard (voicing the robot) to show how effortless acting can seem when the actors involved are as good as those three are. ” - sharmatt
 
43.
The Other Son (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Two young men, one Israeli and one Palestinian, discover they were accidentally switched at birth. (105 mins.)
Director: Lorraine Lévy
“ A marvelous film saluting the unconditional love of mothers and the silly frivolity of religious differences. Two babies are born at about the same time in an Israeli hospital. One is Israeli. The other is Palestinian. They're evacuated during a missile attack, accidentally switched and raised by each other's families for the next 18 years. That's the plot line. When the mistake is discovered, how do the families react? What disturbs them more: that their son has been raised as an enemy or that he has been raised in another religion? That's where "The Other Son" gets complicated. ” - sharmatt
 
44.
The Sessions (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest. (95 mins.)
Director: Ben Lewin
“ Oscar consideration for both Helen Hunt and John Hawkes. Mark is played by John Hawkes, who has emerged in recent years as an actor of amazing versatility. What he does here is not only physically challenging, but requires timing and emotion to elevate the story into realms of deep feeling and, astonishingly, even comedy. More than most movies, "The Sessions" depends on two actors if it is to work at all — and here Helen Hunt provides a performance of tact and delicacy. ” - sharmatt
 
45.
Flight (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
An airline pilot saves almost all his passengers on his malfunctioning airliner which eventually crashed, but an investigation into the accident reveals something troubling. (138 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
“ Oscar watch for Denzel. An insightful look into alcohol and cocaine addiction. After opening with one of the most terrifying flying scenes I've witnessed, in which an airplane is saved by being flown upside down, Robert Zemeckis' "Flight" segues into a brave and tortured performance by Denzel Washington — one of his very best. ” - sharmatt
 
46.
Life of Pi (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger. (127 mins.)
Director: Ang Lee
“ At times the amazingly beautiful cinematography made it a 10/10, Overall, however, it was a slow painful watch. ” - sharmatt
 
47.
Holy Motors (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the shadowy life of a mystic man named Monsieur Oscar. (115 mins.)
Director: Leos Carax
“ Yesterday, Lincoln was my favorite film of the year. Today 1 December 2012 HOLY MOTORS took its place. I am not sure how most of my readers will receive this film, but to me it was one of the most imaginative original films you will ever see. The narrative at best could be considered mystical and confusing. “Holy Motors,” an electrifying, confounding, what-the-hell-just-happened exercise in unbounded imagination, unapologetic theatricality, bravura acting and head-over-heels movie-love. Here, finally, was a film willing to take the kind of aesthetic risks of which we see all too few. Leos Carax is 1 of the top 5 auteur film makers working today. He is poetic and leans toward unrequited romantic films. His LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE with Juliet Binoche and Denis Lavant who is also in Holy Motors, is one of my top films ever. Definitely worth a see. Other outstanding films are BOY MEETS GIRL, POLA X, and TOKYO. ” - sharmatt
 
48.
Caught in the Web (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The story begins on a bus, when white-collar worker Ye refuses to give up her seat to a senior citizen... (117 mins.)
Director: Kaige Chen
“ Chen Kaige, from China, another elegant production on a very relevant contemporary subject, the misuse of the internet. Insignificant innocent behaviour transmitted to millions can create negative unwanted reactions. His work is masterful in every sense of the word. An example of cyber bulling and online voyeurism.

Chen Kaige was born in Beijing. His feature films Together (02) and To Each His Own Cinema (07). His other features include Yellow Earth (84), Farewell My Concubine (93), which earned him the FIPRESCI Prize and Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Temptress Moon (96), Killing Me Softly (02), The Promise (05), Forever Enthralled (08), Sacrifice (10 ” - sharmatt
 
49.
Capital (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The newly appointed CEO of a giant European investment bank works to hold on to his power when an American hedge fund company tries to buy out his company. (114 mins.)
Director: Costa-Gavras
“ Costa-Gavras has created another work of genius. His "Z" is one of my all time favorites. With CAPITAL he has tackled an issue of the moment, again not fearing controversy. His dissection of the current capitalist system holds nothing back. Since the 2008 bailouts bank scandals are still here and Gavras presents this scathing drama. the production values are of the highest order. The world locations alone are worth the price of your time and money.
Costa-Gavras was born in Greece. He studied at France’s Institut des hautes études cinématographiques and worked as an assistant director before directing his first feature, The Sleeping Car Murders (65). His other features include Z (69), The Confession (70), State of Siege (72), Missing (82), Music Box (89), Mad City (97), Amen. (02) ” - sharmatt
 
50.
To the Wonder (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
After falling in love in Paris, Marina and Neil come to Oklahoma, where problems arise. Their church's Spanish-born pastor struggles with his faith, while Neil encounters a woman from his childhood. (112 mins.)
Director: Terrence Malick
“ Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko star in the new film from Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), about a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart. Malick to me is the best filmmaker working today, and if you did not like my favorite film last year, TREE OF LIFE, then skip this one. This is the shortest period of time between films for Malick, sometimes up to 20 years.

"Malick studied philosophy at Harvard, and at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar; before he became a filmmaker, he translated Martin Heidegger. For all its visual poetry, his work shows a passionate interest in ideas. Where The New World and The Tree of Life open themselves to analysis of spirituality and ethics, To the Wonder continues that intellectual investigation into the realm of politics and faith. It is also, like The Tree of Life, gloriously engaged with cinematic form itself." TRANSCENDENTAL VISUAL POETRY by a true film making master.
Terrence Malick is an award-winning director-writer-producer whose prolific career has spanned over four decades. His feature film Days of Heaven (78) earned him the Best Director award at Cannes and The Tree of Life (11) won last year's Palme d’Or. His other features are Badlands (73), The Thin Red Line (98), The New World (05 ” - sharmatt
 
51.
Rhino Season (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Kurdish-Iranian poet Sahel has just been released from a thirty-year prison sentence in Iran. Now the one thing keeping him going is the thought of finding his wife, who thinks him dead for over twenty years. (88 mins.)
Director: Bahman Ghobadi
“ Acclaimed Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi (A Time for Drunken Horses) directs Monica Bellucci and Iranian superstar Behrouz Vossoughi in this haunting, dreamlike love story that spans three decades. Monica Bellucci has never been better, and be it not for Kurdish language should be considered for an Oscar. An absolutely beautiful film that is probably the best unrequited film ever made. A haunting love story that spans three decades, Rhino Season is based on the tragic story of a Kurdish poet and family friend of Ghobadi’s who was unjustly incarcerated during Iran’s Islamic Revolution. The victim of a personal vendetta, Sahel (Iranian superstar Behrouz Vossoughi) is thrown into prison along with his devoted wife Mina.
Bahman Ghobadi was born in Baneh, Iran, and studied filmmaking in Tehran. His feature film debut A Time for Drunken Horses (00) won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes. His other features are Marooned in Iraq (02), Turtles Can Fly (04), Half Moon (06), No One Knows About Persian Cats (09). DRUNKEN HORSES & TURTLES are classics that should be seen by my cinephiles. Netflix has them. ” - sharmatt
 
52.
Pieta (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother. (104 mins.)
Director: Ki-duk Kim
“ In the new film by controversial Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk, a brutal man in the employ of a loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle when a mysterious woman appears claiming to be his long-lost mother. But, as his attachment to her grows, he begins to discover the gruesome and tragic secret that made her seek him out. He is far and away the best Korean filmmaker, as his The Isle (00), Address Unknown (01), Bad Guy (02), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring 03, are all outstanding films.
"Kim’s intense, violent images — eels sliding down a staircase in the throes of imminent death, trails of blood on an empty street at dawn — hold primal significance, searing the retinas and generating a disturbing awe. The frightening beauty of Kim’s extreme storytelling colours each impeccably composed frame." ” - sharmatt
 
53.
The Patience Stone (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In a war ridden country a woman watches over the husband reduced to a vegetable state by a bullet in the neck, abandoned by Jihad companions and brothers. One day, the woman decides to say things to him she could never have done before. (102 mins.)
Director: Atiq Rahimi
“ aka THE PATIENCE STONE, If those idiots burning and bombing American embassies over a trailer of a USA film saw this film from Afghanistan, they would go bananas. This was a very unflattering view of the Muslim world, yet they know nothing of it, so rallies of protest occur over something from the free world yet ignore their own films MAKES NO SENSE TO ME!
A woman in an unnamed, war-torn Middle Eastern country delivers an engrossing, emotional monologue to her comatose husband, in novelist and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi's poetic and politically charged allegory based on his award-winning novel.
With this beguiling work, Rahimi has given all faceless and speechless Muslim women an opportunity to share what is going on behind their veils and in their minds. Unable to respond, the woman’s husband has no opportunity to talk back and reassert his dominance. He must listen — listen as we do, intently, fascinated by this release of long-repressed emotion. The Patience Stone is a magnificent corrective to years of silence. ” - sharmatt
 
54.
In Another Country (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A three-tiered story centered on a trio of French tourists visiting the same seaside resort. (89 mins.)
Director: Sang-soo Hong
 
55.
The Master (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader. (144 mins.)
“ This is an unpleasant film to watch, however its craftsmanship is of the highest order. If you are looking for a joyful cinematic experience, then skip this one. Even though I appreciate another genius effort from Paul Thomas Anderson (MAGNOLIA, BOOGIE NIGHTS, HARD EIGHT...) as well as Oscar performances from Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix the prolonged PSYCHOBABBLE almost sent me to the exit.
Ken Turan: "The Master" takes some getting used to. This is a superbly crafted film that's at times intentionally opaque, as if its creator didn't want us to see all the way into its heart of darkness.
It's a film bristling with vivid moments and unbeatable acting, but its interest is not in tidy narrative satisfactions but rather the excesses and extremes of human behavior, the interplay of troubled souls desperate to find their footing. ” - sharmatt
 
56.
Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The story of the love affair between FDR and his distant cousin Margaret "Daisy" Suckley, centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of the United Kingdom visited upstate New York. (94 mins.)
Director: Roger Michell
“ A for sure oscar nom for Bill Murray, maybe supporting nod to Bertie the king. Anchored by a thoroughly delightful performance by Bill Murray, the film shows President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrestling with two problems as World War II looms in the spring of 1939.
The far weightier one is considerable sentiment against Great Britain by an American public that fears our World War I ally will drag the US into another costly worldwide conflict — one the president knows is absolutely necessary to stop Adolf Hitler. History tells us this was one of the biggest public relations coups of FDR’s career, convincing the American people that the English were “like us’’ and deserving of support when World War II erupted just two months later. ” - sharmatt
 
57.
Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Los Angeles' Skid Row is home to one of the largest homeless populations in the United States. And we found... (77 mins.)
“ Homelessness and all that represents is unsolvable problem, but this film gives insight into its many dimensions. ” - sharmatt
 
58.
Quartet (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi's birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. (98 mins.)
Director: Dustin Hoffman
“ This is the perfect DATE MOVIE for couples over 60. the movie, which features Dustin Hoffman in his freshman role as director. One is the idea that in a romantic comedy, two people who have raised barriers to their intimacy will get together in the end. The other, in this case, is that a literal prima donna must be convinced to perform at a gala annual concert in order to raise enough money for residents to continue their lives in a posh retirement home...very touching ending. With Bill Connolly as Wilf, serving as the community’s dirty old man and equally fine as the funniest member thereof, the residents of the home and would not surprise me if he gets a supporting nod. ” - sharmatt
 
59.
Barbara (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A doctor working in 1980s East Germany finds herself banished to a small country hospital. (105 mins.)
“ In 1980 East Germany, Barbara, a doctor, is reassigned to a small rural hospital as punishment for trying to find work in the West. Biding time until her lover can help her defect, Barbara begins to suspect that her new boss knows of her plans.

Christian Petzhold of Germany has created another masterful film. Messages galone, storytelling at its best with minimal predictability and happily without a hollywoodized saccharinized ending that left much to your own imagination. The leading actress Nina Hoss is a tremendous talent worthy of oscar consideration for this performance, and she has collaborated successfully before with Petzhold. I was very impressed with her talent in WOMAN OF BERLIN which should be on your BUCKET cinema list if not already seen. Why she has not yet been seen in English language productions is a mystery to me.
I hate saying this, but the Stasi East German repressive government leads me to ask is our own country moving more in that direction with the Christian coalition and the Tea party lobbying our legislators to ignore human rights. ” - sharmatt
 
60.
White Elephant (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
While working alongside his long-time friend and colleague in building a hospital for the residents of a Buenos Aries shantytown, a troubled priest finds solace in a young, atheist social worker. (105 mins.)
Director: Pablo Trapero
“ aka WHITE ELEPHANT, a powerful well made film with a strong secular fundamentalist message.
Two Catholic priests must contend with drug lords, corrupt cops and their own demons as they seek to care for the residents of a Buenos Aires slum in this gripping drama from acclaimed Argentinian director Pablo Trapero (Carancho). ” - sharmatt
 
61.
The Hunt (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie. (115 mins.)
“ Mads Mikkelsen won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his performance as an innocent man accused of child molestation in this ferociously powerful new film by Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration). Steve Gordon's all time favorite film. I think Mads' performance deserves Oscar consideration. Certain to be one of the year's defining and most controversial films, The Hunt is an intelligent and disturbing dissection of Danish society
Thomas Vinterberg was born in Copenhagen. He made his feature debut with The Biggest Heroes (96). His second feature, The Celebration (98), won numerous awards worldwide, including the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. His other features are It's All About Love (03), Dear Wendy (05), When a Man Comes Home (07), Submarino (10) and The Hunt (12). Strongly associated with Dogme 95 film construction. ” - sharmatt
 
62.
Love Is All You Need (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A hairdresser who has lost her hair to cancer finds out her husband is having an affair, travels to Italy for her daughter's wedding and meets a widower who still blames the world for the loss of his wife. (116 mins.)
Director: Susanne Bier
“ Danish director Susanne Bier made her international reputation with a series of stirring, powerful dramas, from Open Hearts to Brothers to the Academy Award®–winning In a Better World. But this remarkably accomplished filmmaker has always had a lighter side as well, as evidenced by her breakthrough film The One and Only, which initiated Bier's long collaboration with her frequent star Paprika Steen. Steen returns alongside Trine Dyrholm and Pierce Brosnan in Love Is All You Need, a sparkling romantic comedy that revives the spirit of Bier's earlier work. ” - sharmatt
 
63.
Beyond the Hills (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The friendship between two young women who grew up in the same orphanage; one has found refuge at a convent in Romania and refuses to leave with her friend, who now lives in Germany. (150 mins.)
Director: Cristian Mungiu
“ Winner of the most prestigious film award is slow, but brilliant. Another insightful study of women on the verge of a nervous breakdown from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, Beyond the Hills exhibits the same remarkable formal control as his Palme d’Or–winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Like that film, Beyond the Hills is a story about women living under an authoritarian regime: a remote Orthodox monastery in the Moldavian wilderness, where archaic beliefs still regulate the life of the community. ” - sharmatt
 
64.
Amour (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested. (127 mins.)
Director: Michael Haneke
“ Bring at least 1 box of Kleenex to this not to be missed film, especially if you are over 50. Both protagonists deserve the best of Oscar.

Precision, calculation, and refinement are the words that spring to mind when describing the work of Michael Haneke. But if his past work has been described by his critics as cool and clinical, Amour, which won Haneke his second Palme d’Or at Cannes, will surely put those feelings to rest. Never has this modern master been in such superb control as in this examination of a couple struggling with mortality — a subject that, in the hands of another filmmaker, could have veered toward sentimentality, cliché and bathos. ” - sharmatt
 
65.
4Some (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Two middle-aged couples are linked by more than just a lifelong friendship. While relaxing on a Caribbean island, they get an unconventional idea to enrich and, as a result, complicate their sexual lives. (78 mins.)
Director: Jan Hrebejk
“ aka 4SOME a stupid rename for PSIFF???? Czech Jan Hrebejk, who brought us the amazing DIVIDED WE FALL now brings us a light hearted couples comedy. it is fun, and most of you will be entertained, some will find the themes perhaps a little unnerving.

Marital fidelity can wear you down, and Ondra (Hynek Čermák) and Vitek (Jiří Langmajer) are certainly suffering from a case of serious fatigue. Working side by side and living next door to each other, it doesn’t take long before these two long-married middle-aged pals start comparing sex notes, and it’s plain to see their latest scores have fallen far below what they would have hoped. ” - sharmatt
 
66.
A Royal Affair (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A young queen, who is married to an insane king, falls secretly in love with her physician - and together they start a revolution that changes a nation forever. (137 mins.)
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
“ This sumptuous historical drama from writer-director Nikolaj Arcel (screenwriter of the original version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) chronicles the scandalous love triangle between a queen (Alicia Vikander), her German doctor (Mads Mikkelsen), and the mad King of Denmark (Mikkel Følsgaard). Mikkelsen and Vikander are electrifying as the ill-starred lovers, and their palpable chemistry, combined with Arcel’s assured direction and the film’s fine art direction and costume design, create both a sweepingly romantic and subtly nuanced portrait of this infamous episode in Denmark’s history. At once intimate and epic, A Royal Affair is one of the finest, most well-crafted period dramas in recent memory. A grand period drama with a lusty, beating heart, A Royal Affair displays all the talents and charms of its star, Mads Mikkelsen. ” - sharmatt
 
67.
Fill the Void (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A young Hasidic Jewish woman is pressured into an arranged levirate marriage to an older widower. (90 mins.)
Director: Rama Burshtein
“ An excelllent human drama. The youngest daughter of an Orthodox Hassidic family living in Tel Aviv, eighteen-year-old Shira (Hadas Yaron) is thrilled about her upcoming arranged marriage to a promising young man from a good family. But, on the verge of realizing her dream, Shira has her world shattered: her twenty-eight-year-old sister, Esther (Renana Raz), dies on the Jewish holiday of Purim while giving birth to her first child. Deep in mourning, the family postpones Shira’s wedding and struggles to deal with their crushing grief. However, circumstances arising from this tragic event force them to make painful decisions. Even though he feels it is far too early, Esther’s husband Yochay (Yiftach Klein) bows to pressure from his family to remarry. A potential match is arranged with a widow from Belgium, who refuses to move to Israel — which means that Yochay would have to move, taking his infant son with him. Desperate to keep her grandchild, the only thing that remains of her beloved daughter, in the country, the girls’ mother makes a startling proposition — one that will force Shira to choose between her obedience to her family and her heart’s desire. ” - sharmatt
 
68.
The Third Half (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Determined to build the best football club in the country, Dimitry hires the German coach, Rudolph Spitz, to galvanize his rag tag team but - when the first Nazi tanks roll through the city and Rebecca, the beautiful daughter of a local banker, elopes with his star player, all Dimitry's plans must change. (113 mins.)
Director: Darko Mitrevski
“ This wonderful film of Jewish interest was created from the Spielberg Shoah foundation. The filmaking is probably worth an 8/10 in production value, but the story is worth a 10/10. Be sure and go to the film's website to see the Shoah interview of Neta Koen. ” - sharmatt
 
69.
The Last Sentence (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A story based on the life of journalist Torgny Segerstedt, who alerted the Swedish public to the threat of Fascism in the 1930s. (126 mins.)
Director: Jan Troell
“ Looking at this film, one thinks that Ingmar Bergman has been reincarnated. why? I do believe Jan Troell began his career as an assistant to 1 of the greatest film makers of all time, Ingmar B. Every frame in this exquisite achievement is meticulously created. In each visual, the lighting, shadows, focus.....to say nothing of the psychological depth of the characters. The acting was nothing short of what Ingmar would have wanted. An excellent companion film to this would be LIV AND INGMAR, also here at the 2013 PSIFF. ” - sharmatt
 
70.
Marie Krøyer (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
The story of the marriage between the painters Marie and P.S. Krøyer. (102 mins.)
Director: Bille August
“ Thank God, Mr August is back in Denmark where he belongs. Less money for him, but much higher quality cinema.
This exquisite-looking period romance is the first Danish feature film in two decades by the Oscar-winning director Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror; The Best Intentions). Regarded as the most beautiful woman in Denmark in the early 20th century, Marie was a muse for her husband, the renowned (but mentally ill) painter P.S. Kroyer. They lived in remote Skagen where numerous artists gathered, attracted by the exceptional light and natural scenery. ” - sharmatt
 
71.
Liv & Ingmar (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The 42 year long relationship between legendary actress Liv Ullmann and master filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. (89 mins.)
Director: Dheeraj Akolkar
“ I have been smitten with Liv for many decades, so no surprise that this film receives such a high rating. Another huge plus was that Ingmar Bergman was to me one of the the greatest film makers ever. To a true cinemphile this film is an absolute gem in that it explores not only their relationship but many clips from his excellent filmography. This is a very intelligent film that is a must for the film lover. ” - sharmatt
 
72.
Purge (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A tormented young woman is given a hiding place by an elderly lady and soon they are reminded of their mutual horrendous past. (125 mins.)
“ Puhdistus (aka Purge) is a well executed drama based on a book by Sofi Oksanen. It pictures the torments of the people of Estonia in the soviet era without being a historical drama. It tells a story of two sisters, of their love to a same man which leads to a deception and ultimate disappointment. A young woman who is brought back by a coincidence is also connected to their past in the beginning. ” - sharmatt
 
73.
In the Shadow (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
In the former Czechoslovakia, 1950s, police captain Hakl investigates a jewelery robbery. An opened safe deposit leads to a known burglar... (106 mins.)
Director: David Ondrícek
“ CZECH, film noir genre. Set in Prague in 1953, this suspenseful crime drama follows honest police captain Hakl (Trojan) and his investigation of a seemingly mundane robbery at a goldsmith’s shop. In a fraught political climate, this incident is seized on by the Communist authorities, who require a smokescreen for their own, far grander, deception. ” - sharmatt
 
74.
After Lucia (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Alejandra and her dad Roberto have just moved to town. She is new at school, he has a new job. Starting over is sometimes complicated when you have left so much behind. (103 mins.)
Director: Michel Franco
“ Showing in the Un Certain Regard section at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, Michel Franco's After Lucia (Después de Lucía, 2012) is a devastating and harrowing look into high school bullying. Following the death of her mother in a car accident, teenager Alejandra (Tessa Ia) and her father Roberto (Hermàn Mendoza), a successful high-end chef, move to a new town. Her father, however, is in a deep depression and oscillates between complete disengagement with the world and impatient anger, though never directed at his daughter.
Roberto's relationship with his daughter is one of adoration and she seeks to protect him as much as possible. At first, she seems to have settled into her new school with remarkable ease. She befriends some rich kids and soon finds herself invited to parties as part of the group. However, things take a turn for the worse when Alejandra has sex with Juan. He films it on his phone and soon the video has gone round the school. Labelled a slut, she is soon considered fair game and all her friendships either vanish or her ostensible friends turn against her. ” - sharmatt
 
75.
The Deep (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Based on actual events, a fisherman tries to survive in the freezing ocean after his boat capsizes off the south coast of Iceland. (95 mins.)
“ A minimalist true human drama that was magnificently shot and directed. One of the most anticipated Nordic films of the year, Baltasar Kormákur’s The Deep recounts a modern myth that just happens to be true. In 1984, a fishing boat goes down miles off the coast of Iceland’s Westman Islands in some of the most forbidding seas on the planet, leaving the fishermen at the mercy of frigid and turbulent waters. Miraculously, one of the crew, Gulli (played with quotidian charm by Festival favourite Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, best known as Egill Elvis in Country Wedding and the rabble-rousing best man in Kormákur’s marvellous Chekhovian update White Night Wedding), manages to survive, despite being exposed to temperatures in which most people wouldn’t have lasted a few minutes. ” - sharmatt
 
76.
Kon-Tiki (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal's epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsawood raft in 1947, in an effort to prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. (118 mins.)
“ Norway, Slowly drifting across the Atlantic ocean on a raft and finally getting to Polynesia can be grueling, but has its moments. A bold and inspiring epic, Kon-Tiki features extraordinary photography by Geir Hartly Andreassen (who also shot Max Manus). The visuals are suffused with a palpable sense of awe at the beauty of the natural world; seldom has a film made the night sky look so full of possibility or the ocean surface seem so teeming with life. The episodes when the crew must deal with sudden thunderstorms, a shark attack, and an encounter with a playful whale that escalates into a near catastrophe, are breathtakingly executed. Kon-Tiki is one of those rare movies that restores our sense of wonder. ” - sharmatt
 
77.
Sister (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A drama set at a Swiss ski resort and centered on a boy who supports his sister by stealing from wealthy guests. (97 mins.)
Director: Ursula Meier
“ Although it will aggravate you through most of the film, it finally reveals a telling love strory between mother and son. Twelve-year-old Simon has hit on a grand scam. For the price of a season’s lift pass, he has access to some of the best alpine skiing in Switzerland – and to other people’s skis, gloves and goggles too, anything he can pick up quick and easy while the rightful owner is taking a break. The small stuff he stashes in his backpack. The skis he humps back down the mountain when he can. ” - sharmatt
 
78.
The Hypnotist (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
A detective pairs himself with a famous psychologist on a case involving a traumatized young witness to a crime. (122 mins.)
“ TOO EXCITING from beginning to end, a wonderful Swedish film noir crime drama, similar to THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO. Lasse Hallström succeed with the hypnotist an exciting film adaptation in the style of Scandinavian thriller culture. The story is framed by a total cessation of the wintry Christmas Stockholm and embedded therein. She also serves as the establishment of the place of action, and action-final adjustment. ” - sharmatt
 
79.
Ginger & Rosa (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A look at the lives of two teenage girls - inseparable friends Ginger and Rosa -- growing up in 1960s London as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, and the pivotal event that comes to redefine their relationship. (90 mins.)
Director: Sally Potter
“ From the beginning of her prolific, multidisciplinary career, writer-director Sally Potter has been an avowed provocateur. Iconoclastic and sensual, her films straddle the divide between narrative cinema and the avant-garde. Ginger and Rosa can be seen as Potter's return to the era during which her politics and aesthetics took shape. Like her heroines, both born on the day that the atom bomb fell on Hiroshima and coming of age during the first stirrings of the sexual revolution in early 1960s London, Potter was of the postwar generation that welcomed radical social upheaval. Ginger and Rosa plunges us into that heady moment when change seemed just around the corner — but also offers a sobering look at the toll that this radical age took on the lives of its young idealists. ” - sharmatt
 
80.
Goltzius and the Pelican Company (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Hendrik Goltzius, a late sixteenth-century Dutch printer and engraver of erotic prints, seduces the Margrave of Alsace into paying for a printing press to make and publish illustrated books. (128 mins.)
Director: Peter Greenaway
“ A terrible film from one of my favorite auteur directors. Now 70, iconoclast Peter Greenaway has lost none of his contrarian spirit. “Whether you’re Godard or Almodovar or Scorsese, it’s text, text, text,” he recently lamented to the Guardian. “Everything begins with the text and this is a source of great anguish to me. So please let cinema get on with doing what it does best, which is expressing ideas in visual terms.” No surprise then that his latest work is profoundly, stunningly visual. Awash in sexually provocative imagery, this 16th-century tale of duplicity focuses on Goltzius (Ramsey Nasr), a Dutch engraver who runs afoul of the authorities when his reenactments of lustful scenes from the Old Testament—staged under the auspices of F. Murray Abraham’s local nobleman—are deemed to have gone beyond the pale in their carnality. ” - sharmatt
 
81.
Hannah Arendt (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A look at the life of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. (113 mins.)
“ BARBARA SUKOWA's performance to me was far and away the best female performance of the year, but alas, this German film will not even be seen by the Academy voters. Margarethe von Trotta's impressive oeuvre attests to her fascination with great women of all kinds, from twelfth-century Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen to Marxist firebrand Rosa Luxemburg. With her new film about the German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt (1906–75), von Trotta undertook a particularly difficult challenge. While Arendt's life was hardly lacking in drama — a harrowing escape from Nazi Germany, friendships and affairs with giants of the intellectual world, and involvement in some of the great political controversies of the day — her renown rested less on actions than on her influential body of thought, perhaps not the most innately cinematic of subjects. But beyond its historical and human drama, Hannah Arendt is an attempt, in von Trotta's words, to transform "thought into a film." The great Barbara Sukowa stars in Margarethe von Trotta's fascinating biography of the influential philosopher and political theorist, whose reporting on the 1961 trial of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann led to her famous concept of the "banality of evil." ” - sharmatt
 
82.
Allez, Eddy! (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
The eleven year old cycling talent Freddy is the son of a butcher in an idyllic village in no man's land... (100 mins.)
Director: Gert Embrechts
“ Belgium production. Prepare to walk out of this film with a smile from ear to ear. The eleven year old cycling talent Freddy is the son of a butcher in an idyllic village in no man's land. His isolated life is turned upside down completely in 1975 when the first supermarket in the village opens its doors. To mark the opening the supermarket organizes a cycling race and the winner of that match will meet Eddy Merckx. Freddy's father is a fervent opponent of the supermarket and the competition, but Freddy subscribes behind his back. By participating in the race a new world opens, not only for Freddy, but also for all those around him. ” - sharmatt
 
83.
A Fierce Green Fire (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
An exploration of the environmental movement - grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. (101 mins.)
Director: Mark Kitchell
“ A very well done and powerful environmental documentary that should be seen by EVERYONE WHO LIVES ON THIS PLANET. If I were king, it would be mandatory. Narrated by Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Ashley Judd, this forceful and comprehensive documentary charts the advent of modern environmentalism and its increasingly urgent evolution. Academy Award-nominated director Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties) carries us from the early conservation causes of John Muir to the formation of landmark organizations like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Kitchell's wide net captures the growing threats of pollution, climate change, overfishing, and mass deforestation and their effects on both ecology and society. ” - sharmatt
 
84.
More Than Honey (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An in-depth look at honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, China and Australia. (95 mins.)
Director: Markus Imhoof
“ A fascinatin docu. More Than Honey has all the hallmarks of a great nature documentary. It employs the latest in filmmaking technology to observe phenomena undetectable by normal eyesight; and leaves us with a sense of wonder and awe mixed with alarm and urgency over the fate of the world's bees. In recent years, several documentaries have taken on the crisis of the declining bee population (including Colony, which screened at the Festival in 2009), so it takes an extraordinary film to stand out and More Than Honey fits that bill. Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Markus Imhoof narrates with a personal perspective as the grandson of a professional beekeeper in Switzerland. He travels the world from Europe and the United States to Australia and China, photographing epic agricultural landscapes where bees do their work, and the microscopic honeycombs where they live. ” - sharmatt
 
85.
Nuala: A Life and Death (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
In her late 50s Nuala O'Faolain wrote a memoir that sold a million copies and shocked the Irish public... (90 mins.)
“ In her late 50s Nuala O'Faolain wrote a memoir that sold a million copies and shocked the Irish public with its revelations of her sexual history and the bizarre manner of upbringing. She was a woman of many, contradictory parts: the enthusiastic heterosexual whose most lasting relationship was with a radical lesbian activist; the feminist who adored a father who openly betrayed her mother and neglected his family. In 2008 she transfixed Ireland again when, ravaged by cancer, she turned to her friend and radio host Marian Finucane to talk frankly about her impending death. 'Nuala' is Finucane's journey of discovery into her friend's life as well as a raw and vivid testimony to the enduring power of friendship ” - sharmatt
 
86.
La cinquième saison (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
In a scenic Belgian village, nature is turning its back on man. How will the locals cope with this new reality? (93 mins.)
“ aka THE FIFTH SEASON, FLEMISH BELGIUM, I give it a 10 for its incredible visual poetry. Humour, tragedy, beauty and horror are all present here, sometimes mixed together in the same scene. During a festival in which the word 'poetic' has been used too often to cover a paucity of ideas, The Fifth Season has the power of the best poetry in that it presents powerful resonant images whilst having something genuine to say. Part-fable, part-stark warning, this is a haunting work of exceptional cinema. ” - sharmatt
 
87.
The Angels' Share (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Narrowly avoiding jail, new dad Robbie vows to turn over a new leaf. A visit to a whisky distillery inspires him and his mates to seek a way out of their hopeless lives. (101 mins.)
Director: Ken Loach
“ not up to Loach's usual excellence. Fate seems unwilling to afford Robbie a second chance but when Harry introduces him to the joys of fine malt whisky, he discovers a talent for spotting the subtle nuances of the drink and subsequently embarks on a caper that could allow him to escape the shackles of the past. The Angels’ Share is almost a film of two halves with the first half unsparing in its depiction of Robbie and his temper. A scene in which he is confronted by the victim of his crime is amongst the most powerful and moving in the film. ” - sharmatt
 
88.
A Caretaker's Tale (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
Harsh and bitter, apartment caretaker Per despises everyone and everything around him until he comes... (88 mins.)
“ This provocative parable centers on the bitter custodian of a grim housing complex and the mute, naked woman with healing sexual powers he discovers in an empty apartment. Playing far better than it describes – and not without humor – this is a controversial drama with exceptional performances that won’t be to all tastes but which is certain to generate conversation. You will not love it, but you may hate it. ” - sharmatt
 
89.
Snow White (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A twist on the Snow White fairy tale that is set in 1920s Seville and centered on a female bullfighter. (104 mins.)
Director: Pablo Berger
“ Started before and to me even better than THE ARTIST which recently enjoyed a huge success. If The Artist is a love letter to the heyday of Hollywood silent cinema, then Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves (the Spanish name for "Snow White") is an homage to the sumptuous European silent melodrama. Relocating the Grimm fairy tale to a romantic vision of 1920s Spain and working in atmospheric black and white, Berger takes full advantage of the silent film’s expressive potential to depict the golden age of toreros with gory, Goyaesque violence. Young Carmen (played as a child by Sofía Oria, and later by Macarena García) is our Snow White, daughter of once-renowned matador Antonio Villalta (Daniel Giménez Cacho), crippled in the ring and grieving for his wife, who died during childbirth ” - sharmatt
 
90.
The Intouchables (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver. (112 mins.)
“ A gloriously entertaining and unusual human drama, finding the best in what we have. A VERY HAPPY FILM from a trying condition. ” - sharmatt
 
91.
Dormant Beauty (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A mosaic of several intertwined stories questioning the meaning of life, love and hope, set during the last six days in the life of Eluana Englaro, a young woman who spent 17 years in a vegetative state. (115 mins.)
“ The Eluana Englaro case became a cause célèbre in Italy, sparking a national debate about the thorny issue of euthanasia. Injured in a car accident, Englaro lived in a vegetative state for seventeen years while her father fought a series of court battles to have her feeding tube removed. No stranger to controversy — his brilliantly offbeat films about the Aldo Moro kidnapping (Good Morning, Night) and the rise of Mussolini (Vincere) have both played at the Festival — Marco Bellocchio uses the Englaro case as a point of departure for this compelling drama. A multi-faceted examination of a divisive and endlessly controversial subject, Dormant Beauty offers a fictional exploration of the case’s effects and implications across a broad spectrum of social thought, action and belief. ” - sharmatt
 
92.
Call Girl (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A young girl is recruited from the bottom rung of society into a ruthless world where power can get you anything. (140 mins.)
“ Mikael Marcimain’s debut feature is a fascinating policier inspired by the prostitution scandal that threatened to bring down Sweden’s Social Democratic government in the 1970s. Not surprisingly, the real world is a lot more disturbing than anything a pulp novelist can dream up. ” - sharmatt
 
93.
Nosilatiaj. La Belleza (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Set in the north of Argentina. Yolanda, a young girl of Wichi origin, tells in her native language (Wichi Lhämtes)... (83 mins.)
“ aka BEAUTY, The fate of an adolescent servant's lovely long hair becomes a potent metaphor for Argentina's treatment of its native population in "Nosilatiaj -- Beauty." Scribe-helmer Daniela Seggiaro's deceptively simple debut feature poses as a small-scale domestic drama but contains a subtle yet harsh critique of Argentineans' ignorance and dismissal of the marginalized Wichi people. Like Peruvian helmer Claudia Llosa, whose "The Milk of Sorrow" copped Berlin's Golden Bear, Seggiaro reps a strong new female voice from South America. ” - sharmatt
 
94.
Sadourni's Butterflies (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
(87 mins.)
Director: Darío Nardi
“ aka Las Mariposas de Sadourní, My number 1 film of this year's PSIFF, even with its fractured narrative, it was so visually impressive, every frame a masterpiece. This film maker is definitely someone to watch. This was to me, the most impressive cinematic discovery of 2012. First-time feature director Dario Nardi’s Sadourni’s Butterflies is a labour of love that he started as far back as 1998. It took some time to find a producer willing to risk financing a stylized, surrealistic melodrama about a circus dwarf jailed for a crime of passion; released early for good behavior, he finds work dubbing fetish films and quickly becomes besotted with a beautiful fellow voice-over ariste and dreams of the operation that would make her attainable. (The right fairy godfather did come along eventually: Don Ranvaud, the man behind City of God, Central Station and Farewell My Concubine.) ” - sharmatt
 
95.
Curling King (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Curling skip Truls Pålsen's team has to make a come back after suffering from psychic problems with oversizing details. (90 mins.)
Director: Ole Endresen
“ aka KING CURLING, worth 10 for humour, 8 overall, When asked why he loved curling so much, a Canadian friend deadpanned, “It’s the only sport where you can keep your beer cold just by putting it down.” The country’s different but the underlying sense of the absurd is the same in Norwegian Ole Endresen’s hilarious debut, a comedy about sweeping and throwing rocks that knowingly turns the tropes of the “sports comeback” movie on their collective heads. Some critics have even mentioned The Big Lebowski and the films of Wes Anderson as points of comparison ” - sharmatt
 
96.
7 Boxes (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Víctor receives an unusual proposal, to carry 7 boxes of unknown content through the Market Number 4 but things get complicated along the way. (105 mins.)
“ Making atmospheric use of the squalid, massively overcrowded labyrinth of Asunción’s outdoor bazaars, this auspicious first feature by Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori is a brilliantly down-market homage to the Hollywood suspense-action genre, where racing cars and squealing tires are replaced by wooden wheelbarrows executing harrowing chase scenes. As Victor and his adversaries clash in a frantic tug-of-war over his dangerous payload, the dizzying cinematography and hammering electronic score drive us toward an explosive, nail-biting finale ” - sharmatt
 
97.
A Place at the Table (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A documentary that investigates incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, and proposed solutions to the problem. (84 mins.)
“ the 49 million Americans who often don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Their stories are interwoven with insights from experts including sociologist Janet Poppendieck, author Raj Patel and nutrition policy leader Marion Nestle; ordinary citizens, teachers and activists, all coming together to present a rock-solid case that this social blight is something that must be addressed, and indeed, is quite easily solvable. Presented by Participant Media, the company responsible for Waiting For Superman, An Inconvenient Truth and Food, Inc. ” - sharmatt
 
98.
This Life (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
The true story of the Fiil's a family of innkeepers who during Nazi-Germany's occupation of Denmark took up arms against the German occupiers. But in the fight for freedom, some must die so that others may live. (122 mins.)
“ Germany occupies Denmark on April 9, 1940. Although the Danish government decides to cooperate with the occupying forces, some citizens actively resist. Based on fact, This Life tells the story of the Hvidsten group, comprised of ordinary men and women from a village in eastern Jutland who received and hid agents and supplies dropped by British aircrafts ” - sharmatt
 
99.
The End (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  
A group of old friends gets together for a weekend in a mountain cabin. Years have gone by and yet nothing seems to have changed between them... (88 mins.)
“ aka FIN, As the film begins, a group of friends who have not seen each other for twenty years meet up for a weekend at a remote cabin. Fond reminiscences soon turn to bitter recriminations, however, as the former friends volley blame at each other for an incident long past that none has been able to forget. The tense atmosphere becomes more ominous when they discover that this impromptu reunion has been engineered by the one member of the group who has not shown up: a friend they once referred to as "The Prophet," whom most of the group abandoned when he went into treatment for psychiatric problems. ” - sharmatt
 
100.
Chicken with Plums (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Since his beloved violin was broken, Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most renowned musicians of his day, has lost all taste for life. Finding no instrument worthy of replacing it, he decides to confine himself to bed to await death. (93 mins.)
“ AKA CHICKEN WITH PLUMS, FRANCE, TIFF SP, MARJANE SATRAPI, VINCENT PARONNAUD, MATHIEU AMALRIC, MARIA DE MEDEIROS, AND NEW BEAUTIFUL GOLSHIFTEH FARAHANI, Nasser-Ali, a talented musician, loses the will to live after his wife breaks his beloved Tar (Iranian Instrument similar to a violin) during an argument. He searches for a replacement, and finding none that sounds quite the same, he vows to die. Eight days later, he does. This is the story of his last week of life, where we see flashbacks and flash forwards of his previous life and his children's futures. We also see appearances of a nude Sophia Loren as well as the angel of death, Azarel. As we see his life, we realize exactly why he chose to end it and the profundity of this choice. ” - sharmatt