PSIFF 2012

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1.
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
 
2.
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
 
3.
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
 
4.
The Kid with a Bike (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Abandoned by his father, a young boy is left in a state-run youth farm. In a random act of kindness, the town hair-dresser agrees to foster him on week-ends. (87 mins.)
“ TIFF MASTERS, BELGIUM IN FRENCH, JEAN-PIERRE AND LUC DARDENNE, THE PROMISE, ROSETTA, LORNA'S SILENCE, L'ENFANT...AND OTHERS THAT ARE ALSO EXCELLENT. THESE BROTHERS ARE TWO OF THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS ALTHOUGH POORLY KNOWN IN U.S. ” - sharmatt
 
5.
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
“ FRANCE, ANOTHER RUSH TO JUDGMENT WITH TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES. What if you woke up one day and found the police at your door? What if they told you that the woman you had always thought of as a mother was murdered and that, moments before she died, she wrote in her own blood that it was you who killed her? Those were the bewildering facts presented to Omar Raddad (Sami Bouajila) on June 23, 1991, when the body of a rich widow — 65-year-old Ghislaine Marchal (Liliane Nataf) — was found brutally stabbed and beaten to death in the basement of her villa in the south of France. Marchal’s gardener Omar, a young Moroccan who spoke little French, was immediately arrested for the crime. Despite a complete lack of forensic evidence and gaping holes in the investigation — one of the only clues was the inscription “Omar m’a tuer,” written in incorrect French with the blood of the victim — Omar was ultimately convicted of the murder and sentenced to eighteen years in prison ” - sharmatt
 
6.
Rose (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A harrowing tale of survival centers on Rose, a Masurian woman, whose husband, a German soldier, was killed in the war... (90 mins.)
“ POLAND, WOJCIECH SMARZOWSKI, Smarzowski’s harrowing tale of survival centres on Rose, a Polish woman, whose husband, a German soldier, was killed in the war, leaving her alone on their farm. A single woman had no defence against Russian soldiers who raped as a form of revenge, nor against plundering Poles who found themselves in desperate straits. The law of the jungle had replaced the rule of law. Help arrives for Rose in the form of Tadeusz, a former officer in the Polish Home Army who survived the Warsaw uprising and is attempting to hide his ident ” - sharmatt
 
7.
The Woman in the Fifth (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
A college lecturer flees to Paris after a scandal costs him his job. In the City of Light, he meets a widow who might be involved in a series of murders. (85 mins.)
“ FRANCE/POLAND/UK PRODUCTION IN FRENCE AND ENGLISH, D-PAWEL PAWLIKOWSKI(THE LAST RESORT, MY SUMMER OF LOVE), with KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS, ETHAN HAWKE, Ethan Hawke plays Tom Ricks, a novelist who comes to Paris to be closer to his young daughter. Robbed upon arrival, he sets out with nothing to his name to find a place to stay. To add insult to injury, his estranged wife turns her back on his plight. Eventually Tom finds himself installed in a small, dingy hotel, whose owner offers him a job so he can pay his way. Events begin to take another turn when Tom falls into the clutches of the beguiling Margit (Kristin Scott Thomas). She seems eager for distraction, and Tom is keen to make friends, but life becomes even more complicated when the voluptuous young hotel chambermaid starts to turn her attention to the by now genuinely confused American. ” - sharmatt
 
8.
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
 
9.
O Abismo Prateado (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
(83 mins.)
Director: Karim Ainouz
“ aka THE SILVER CLIFF, BRAZIL, KARIM AINOUZ, Crushed, Violeta experiences a catharsis, by way of a nocturnal ramble through Rio, as she comes to terms with her abandonment. From its nightclubs to its bustling avenues to the breaking waves on Copacabana Beach, the cityscape provides a distinctive backdrop to accompany her on her journey. Brought further to life by a gorgeous colour palette that highlights the textures and natural beauty of Rio, The Silver Cliff has a strong visceral impact. Sparse dialogue, precise camera work and Negrini’s standout performance add vitality to this poignant tale about the tempestuous nature of human relationships. ” - sharmatt
 
10.
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
 
11.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A group of men set out in search of a dead body in the Anatolian steppes. (157 mins.)
“ AKA BIR ZAMANLAR ANADOLU'DA, TURKEY/BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVNIA, TURKISH LANGUAGE, NURI BILGE CEYLAN IS ONE OF THE VERY BEST OF THE CURRENT WORLD AUTEUR FILM MAKERS. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT HE MADE THREE MONKEYS WHICH MOST OF MY CINEPHILES HATED WITH THE EXCEPTION OF HOWARD VOGEL, MAYBE ALSO LINDA. A VERY SIMPLE MURDER CASE IS EXPLORED ONE NIGHT IS THE NARRATIVE. ” - sharmatt
 
12.
Lena (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Lena is a lonely, plump adolescent girl. Much to her surprise she gets a relationship with the popular but unreliable Daan. Lena moves in with Daan and his strange father Tom and is willing to do a lot for his love. More than a lot. (119 mins.)
“ BELGIUM, TRULY A PERF FILM....Driven by a telling performance by Emma Levie in the title role, Christophe Van Rompaey’s Lena follows its heroine as she struggles to find a place in the world despite a cross-addicted mother who considers her nothing more than a burden and constantly berates her about her weight. Lena’s only outlets are dancing and sex until she meets Daan, whom she rescues as he’s running from the police. But is Daan really all he claims to be? Lena thoughtfully and powerfully examines divides of class, gender and body type. ” - sharmatt
 
13.
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
 
14.
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
 
15.
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
 
16.
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
 
17.
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
 
18.
Volcano (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Hannes is an old man who has grown apart from his children. Recently retired when his wife gets ill he tries to reconcile with them and to atone for his cold demeanor in the past. (99 mins.)
“ ICELAND, PSIFF, A gruff, working-class retiree relearns what makes life precious in the small but heartrending "Volcano," the feature debut of Icelandic helmer Runar Runarsson. With well-rounded characters and an overall tone reminiscent of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, the realist drama shows that tender sex is not incompatible with senescence. Although witnessing the indignities of aging and infirmity won't be everyone's cup of tea, the poignantly performed pic strikes grace notes that feel both universal and uniquely Icelandic. ALISSA SIMON ” - sharmatt
 
19.
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
 
20.
Miss Bala (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
After entering a beauty contest in Tijuana, a young woman witnesses drug-related murders and is forced to do the gang's bidding. (113 mins.)
Director: Gerardo Naranjo
“ MEXICO OSCAR NOM, TIFF, PSIFF, GERARDO NARANJO, With the blistering firecracker that is "Miss Bala," next-gen Mexican director and AFI grad Gerardo Naranjo delivers on the promise of such well-respected early pics as "Drama/Mex" and "I'm Gonna Explode," revealing them as dry runs for this "Scarface"-scary depiction of south-of-the-border crime run amok. Presenting an explosive gang war through the eyes of a beauty pageant contender haplessly sucked into its morass, the pic could easily land Naranjo his choice of Hollywood projects -- assuming he cares to head in that direction -- as well as distribution in the U.S. and abroad. With the blistering firecracker that is "Miss Bala," next-gen Mexican director and AFI grad Gerardo Naranjo delivers on the promise of such well-respected early pics as "Drama/Mex" and "I'm Gonna Explode," revealing them as dry runs for this "Scarface"-scary depiction of south-of-the-border crime run amok. Presenting an explosive gang war through the eyes of a beauty pageant contender haplessly sucked into its morass, the pic could easily land Naranjo his choice of Hollywood projects -- assuming he cares to head in that direction -- as well as distribution in the U.S. and abroad.With the blistering firecracker that is "Miss Bala," next-gen Mexican director and AFI grad Gerardo Naranjo delivers on the promise of such well-respected early pics as "Drama/Mex" and "I'm Gonna Explode," revealing them as dry runs for this "Scarface"-scary depiction of south-of-the-border crime run amok. Presenting an explosive gang war through the eyes of a beauty pageant contender haplessly sucked into its morass, the pic could easily land Naranjo his choice of Hollywood projects -- assuming he cares to head in that direction -- as well as distribution in the U.S. and abroad. Peter Debruge ” - sharmatt
 
21.
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
 
22.
Sonny Boy (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Forbidden love. (130 mins.)
Director: Maria Peters
“ NETHERLANDS OSCAR NOM, MARIA PETERS, The true story of the relationship between Waldemar Nods, a 19-year-old student from Suriname, and Rika van der Lans, a married Dutch woman in her 40s, and mother of 4 children. The pair meet in the 1920s, fall in love, and Rika becomes pregnant soon thereafter, causing a scandal with far-reaching consequences, leading up to World War II ” - sharmatt
 
23.
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
 
24.
The Rumble of the Stones (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Delia survived a river-flood ten years ago. She's trying to rebuilt her life but she soon discovers danger is over her two sons. But hope of reconstruction is possible, because the force of love,despite all, keep them united. (100 mins.)
“ VEDelia is a young woman who survived a river-flood ten years ago among her mother and her two sons. The have been forced to live in a poor neighborhood of Caracas. She works hard trying to rebuilt their lives, but she soon discovers that her sons, William (17) and Santiago (11) are exposed to the violent and dangerous environment they live in. And Raiza, the grandmother is the living image of hopelessness. The four characters will show us that the hope of reconstruction is possible, because the force of love, despite all, keep them unitedNEZUELA, PSIFF, ” - sharmatt
 
25.
Apartment in Athens (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
(95 mins.)
Director: Ruggero Dipaola
“ aka APARTMENT IN ATHENS..ITALY..with LAURA MORANTE...Set against a backdrop of the German occupation of Athens in 1943, this taut drama introduces us to the Helianos family, whose life undergoes a profound change when their apartment is commandeered by an exacting German officer with a strict and inscrutable attitude. The officer, Captain Kalter (Richard Sammel, Inglorious Basterds), essentially treats the family as indentured servants, expecting them to cater to his every whim. While the father, to protect his family, falls into a habit of doing the Captain’s bidding without protest, his young son is altogether less acquiescent, and his wife and daughter display their own ambivalent feelings about their unexpected intruder. Survival instincts being what they are, the family soon establishes a routine of going about daily life as if things are normal. But when their unwanted guest abruptly leaves for Germany, then returns as suddenly as he left, things take a turn for the unexpected.... Winner: Young Italian Filmmaker Award, Rome Film Festival. ” - sharmatt
 
26.
Black Bread (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
In the harsh post-war years' Catalan countryside, Andreu, a child that belongs to the losing side, finds... (108 mins.)
“ SPAIN OSCAR NOM, PSIFF 2011 2012, TIFF, Since Agusti Villaronga’s compelling film had its North American Premiere at last year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival, it has gone on to win 9 Goya Awards. It is the official Spanish submission for the 2011 Academy Awards®, the first time that a Catalan-language film has represented Spain at the Oscars®. In the harsh post-Civil War years in rural Catalonia, a shockingly vicious attack takes place. Ten-year-old Andreu comes across the victims, a father and son. Leaning over the dying boy, Andreu hears him whisper “Pitorliu”—the name of a monster supposedly haunting the village.When Andreu’s father is wrongly accused of the murder, the boy sets out to find the real killers and brings to light long-hidden secrets. Villaronga keeps the story moving relentlessly to dark and sinister places with breathtaking cinematography and a brilliant ensemble cast, led by Francesc Colomer as Andreu and Nora Navas as his mother. Though the film contains a scene that may offend those with a heightened sensitivity regarding cruelty to animals, no animals were harmed during the shooting of the film.  ” - sharmatt
 
27.
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
 
28.
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
 
29.
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
 
30.
The Good Son (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
(88 mins.)
Director: Zaida Bergroth
“ FINUsing handheld lensing and kinetic editing to Dogma-esque effect, "The Good Son" builds small moments into key narrative developments, and stokes seemingly trivial tensions toward the realization that something is seriously wrong here, not stopping short of potential violence or mental illness. These 87 minutes never feel rushed or contrived, and every moment counts in setting up a resolution that might easily have seemed over-melodramatic.
All perfs are tops, with Knihtila thoroughly milking Leila's brat comedics while still limning a fully rounded character; Niittymaki is exceptional in a difficult role whose roiling emotions are almost entirely expressed nonverbally.LAND, TIFF, PSIFF, ” - sharmatt
 
31.
Starbuck (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
As his lover announces her pregnancy, a fortysomething slacker receives other life-changing news: 142 people, all of them the result of artificial insemination, have filed a class action lawsuit against him, their biological father. (109 mins.)
Director: Ken Scott
“ FRENCH CANADA, PSIFF,Middle aged David Wozniak has been a screw-up all his life. He works as a delivery man (self-admittedly not a very good one) for his family's butcher business, he is $80,000 in debt which he owes to less than sympathetic crime lords, he is trying unsuccessfully to grow pot plants to pay off that debt, and his girlfriend, a police officer named Valèrie, despite being pregnant with his child, wants to break up with him for not being there for her in any respect. She doesn't want him involved with the child after it's born since she believes the child is better off without him in its life. He vows to change his life around for her and the baby's sakes. Concurrently, he is informed by a lawyer representing a fertility clinic that between 1990 and 1992, when he made multiple sperm donations under the pseudonym "Starbuck" in order to earn some money (as the clinic paid $35 a donation), the clinic, in an error, used only his sperm, which has resulted in 533 children who are biologically his offspring. One hundred forty-two of them have filed a class action lawsuit demanding that his name be revealed to them. That lawyer and David's best friend, a not so adept lawyer wannabe who advises David on the matter, are the only people who know of David's unusual situation. With a file folder in hand with the names and profiles of those 142, David, as that symbolic act to prove to himself that he is indeed turning his life around, decides to be their guardian angel in an individual by individual basis without telling them who he is. As David inadvertently gets more involved in their collective lives than he was planning, he is torn between wanting to do right by his biological offspring, doing right by Valèrie and yet unborn offspring number 534, and doing right by his family, all without divulging his previous identity as Starbuck, the story of which has taken on a life of its own as it hits the medi ” - sharmatt
 
32.
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
 
33.
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
 
34.
The Rumble of the Stones (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Delia survived a river-flood ten years ago. She's trying to rebuilt her life but she soon discovers danger is over her two sons. But hope of reconstruction is possible, because the force of love,despite all, keep them united. (100 mins.)
“ PSIFF, VENEZUELA, OSCAR NOM, Delia, a young woman living in a slum in Caracas, Venezuela, struggles to rebuild a life for herself, her mother and her two teenage sons. They are survivors of the Vargas tragedy, a flood that killed tens of thousands of people, including Delia’s daughter, in the Vargas state of Venezuela in 1999. The sound of rumbling stones that preceded the tragedy is one of their most vivid and terrifying memories. Delia now faces a new crisis as her sons start to get involved in gangs and crime. A heartfelt and compelling portrait of the enduring power of a mother’s love against the backdrop of the real social problems of modern day Venezuela, The Rumble of Stones features powerful performances by Rossana Fernández as Delia, and Cristian González and Juan Carlos Nuñez as her two sons. It has won numerous awards, including Best Picture at the 2011 Festival del Cine Venezolano.The Rumble of the Stones is Venezuela’s official submission for the 2011 Academy Awards® ” - sharmatt
 
35.
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
“ CZECH, JAN HREBEJK(DIVIDED WE FALL, KAWASAKI'S ROSE, BEAUTY IN TROUBLE), I find this movie really interesting. I was really well surprised how great Czech movie can be.

This movie grabs your attention at the very beginning and it won't let it go till the end. You are trying to understand but as it goes also in real life, you just don't see everything. You have to listen carefully to every single word in this movie. I mean you don't HAVE TO. You just do. Because every word is there for a reason. Thoughts are so deep that they make you start thinking about you and world around you

Really great unexpected end which is the biggest win for a movie these days. When movie can make viewer think they know what is the movie about and then at the end suddenly the viewer is lost and gladly confused what make them think about the movie, then that movie deserves 10* ” - sharmatt
 
36.
Baikonur (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Iskander, a young man living on the Kazakh steppes, finds French astronaut Julie after her capsule crashes. Julie now has amnesia, but Iskander convinces her they are engaged. (Russian with English subtitles) (95 mins.)
Director: Veit Helmer
“ KAZAKHSTAN/GERMANY/RUSSIA, PSIFF, Charming, delightful, funny, and romantic, this winning comedy from Veit Helmer (Absurdistan) uses as its guiding principal an old Kazakh proverb that says: “Whatever falls from heaven, you may keep.” For the inhabitants of a small Kazakh village, especially the youthful Iskander (Alexander Asochakov), living just downwind from the Baikonur Cosmodrome means that what “falls from heaven” is actually valuable space debris from the Russian rockets launched there. Nicknamed “Gagarin” after the Soviet space pioneer, Iskander uses his radio expertise to follow launches and calculate where to find the cast-off space metals that provide his village with its livelihood. After seeing a photo of the young French woman Julie (Marie de Villepin), due to become the latest space tourist, he is smitten. When something goes wrong and Julie plunges to earth in a capsule, Iskander is there to rescue her before the authorities do. And she has amnesia…. Peopled with wonderful nonprofessional actors and set against the majestic beauty of the Steppes, Baikonur is an enchanting modern fairtytale as light and graceful as it is affecting.  ” - sharmatt
 
37.
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
 
38.
Die Unsichtbare (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Fine suffers from not being seen but she also does her best at not being noticed, even though she is an acting student... (113 mins.)
“ aka CRACKS IN THE SHELL, GERMAN, BEST ACTRESS @ KARLOVY, PSIFF, Fine suffers from not being seen but she also does her best at not being noticed, even though she is an acting student. At night, when her mentally handicapped sister Jule cannot get to sleep and stereotypically bangs her head against the wall, Fine turns the recorder on and gives a firework of singing, acting and dancing. However in the acting school she lacks self confidence to uninhibitedly storm the stage. After the well known director Kasper Friedemann invites Fine for an audition, she convinces him with her acting. But he also sees in Fine an injured being (vulnerable personality) that matches his vision of Camille, the main character in his next play. Fine gets her first big part that she in no way wants to lose. She slips into another identity. As Camille, she awakens to her femininity, but through Camille, Fine also loses her own strengths that she shows every day in dealing with her sister Jule.. ” - sharmatt
 
39.
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
 
40.
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
 
41.
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
 
42.
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
 
43.
Escort in Love (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Alice lives in a beautiful villa. She has a husband who makes a lot of money, a nine-year-old son and three servants who happen to be immigrants... (95 mins.)
“ ITALY, PSIFF, CLICHED, SILLY, MILDLY ENTERTAINING, And yet despite this predictable routine spilling over into cliché at the expected moments, Escort in Love (literally translated as Nobody Can Judge Me) is not a total train wreck. Some of the jokes and one liners, thanks mostly to a semi-rich vein of admittedly absurb provincial humour, manage to raise a smile if not an audible guffaw. To damn it with faint praise I’ll say that the film is indeed highly ‘watchable’; that's to say, cheesy but amiable entertainment, made with an eye to very commercial gains in the short term rather than an appeal for long-term appreciation. For a non brain-expanding night out Escort in Love just may fit the bill. ” - sharmatt
 
44.
The Clown (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Father and son work as clowns Puro Sangue/Valdemar and Pangare/Benjamin in a circus in the Brazilian countryside. Benjamin decides to follow a different path and meets several people on the way. (88 mins.)
Director: Selton Mello