12 items from 2017
The Toronto International Film Festival may be known more as a platform for fall season movies than a market, but there are plenty of strong films in each year’s lineup looking for U.S. distribution. While films ranging from the Margot Robbie vehicle “I, Tonya” to Louis C.K.’s “I Love You, Daddy” landed sturdy deals during Tiff, many other highlights remain homeless. Here’s a look at a few of them, presented in the hopes that distributors will take note.
If Eminem got a PhD in English without sacrificing his hip-hop talent, he might have turned out something like Adam (Calum Worthy), the scrawny white hero of Joseph Kahn’s “Bodied.” Kahn’s long-awaited follow-up to his snarky teen slasher comedy “Detention” is a hyper-stylized rap satire that plays out like Scott Pilgrim stumbling into “8 Mile” and stealing the spotlight. Set in an assaultive world of underground »
- Eric Kohn, David Ehrlich and Anne Thompson
The Shape Of Water: 'The right mix of aesthetics, heart and sheer technical mastery' Photo: Fox Searchlight Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape Of Water has taken home the Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival.
"I believe in life, I believe in love and I believe in cinema," said the director as he picked up the award for his film about a mute cleaning woman who falls for a fish-man (Doug Jones). He added: "If you remain pure and stay with your faith, whatever you have faith in, in my case it's monsters, eventually things go right."
The Silver Lion Grand Jury prize went to Samuel Maoz's satire Foxtrot, starring Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler, while Xavier Legrand saw his domestic abuse drama Custody pick up the Lion of The Future and Silver Lion for best director.
The best actress award went to Charlotte Rampling for her role »
- Amber Wilkinson
The discovery of fresh, bold voices in cinema has always been one of the great joys of visiting film festivals. And this year in Venice, probably no film in competition surprised more for its original touch and sheer vitality than Samuel Maoz’s Israel-set drama Foxtrot.
After an unexplained opening shot looking out from inside an anonymous moving vehicle, we soon meet Daphna Feldmann (Sarah Adler), whose son Jonathan (Yonathan Shiray) with husband Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) serves in the military. Meeting might be overstating it in this instance, as Daphna only looks into the camera for a split second and, without even hearing a word from her unseen visitors, faints. Her reaction is one of such utterly debilitating grief, it tells you right away who she finds at her doorstep and what they’re about to say. Indeed, it’s the worst nightmare of any soldier’s mom incarnated: grim-faced »
- Zhuo-Ning Su
The Lebanon director’s unflinching family tragedy, set in a surreal Israel where loss and pain are randomly distributed, offers an urgent and witty picture of futility
Foxtrot, by the Israeli film-maker Samuel Maoz, is a compelling family tragedy played out in three acts; a nightmarish triptych of loss, waste and grief that is nonetheless arranged with such visionary boldness that it dares us to look away. Maoz won the 2009 Golden Lion here at Venice with Lebanon, his last film but one, which pundits suspect may count against him this time around. And yet Foxtrot makes a mockery of that kind of received wisdom and formal protocol. The world, it tells us, is random and inept – as likely to kill you by mistake as on purpose. I’m not sure the film sees this as amusing, exactly. But it has the wherewithal and wit to manage the odd hollow laugh. »
- Xan Brooks
“Foxtrot” spends its first half hour as a bleak drama about distraught parents mourning their dead son, and then it becomes something entirely different. Israeli director Samuel Maoz’s brilliant followup to his debut “Lebanon,” which took place within the confines of a tank, deals with a very different kind of confinement — being imprisoned by an ambivalent world, and forced to deal with whatever random tragedies it chooses to dish out.
Yet despite its dreary overtones, Maoz pierces his milieu with flashes of perceptive satire, an animated interlude, and a touching, romantic finale, all of which adds up to a wonderfully unexpected hodgepodge of insights into intergenerational Israeli frustrations.
But the first act belies the depth in store. Starting out as a straightforward plunge into deeply tragic events, the movie begins with middle-aged couple Michael (the ever-reliable Lior Ashkenazi) and Daphna (Sarah Adler, in a fiery turn) being visited by »
- Eric Kohn
“Lebanon” director Samuel Maoz went in a risky direction by making a film as different and daring as “Foxtrot,” and his boldness pays off in ways that make one reach for superlatives. Not content to merely confront the unspeakable grief of parents who lose a child, Maoz uses the film’s tripartite structure to encompass a devastating litany of Israeli attributes that run the gamut from machismo to racism to a past subverted by the Holocaust and then back again to grief. Just as no novel can tackle a mother’s fear of learning her soldier son is dead without being compared to David Grossman’s stunning “To the End of the Land,” so no film will be able to deal with a similar subject without being weighed against “Foxtrot.” Brilliantly constructed with a visual audacity that serves the subject rather than the other way around, this is award-winning filmmaking on a fearless level.
- Jay Weissberg
A short teaser trailer has debuted for the new film from Israeli director Samuel Maoz, titled Foxtrot. This film is premiering at the Venice Film Festival (tomorrow) and is also playing at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, meaning it is definitely something impressive and the buzz will start to hit hard right away. Maoz is the director who made the fantastic entirely-inside-a-tank film Lebanon a few years ago, and this is his latest feature. Foxtrot is about a family who must face the facts when their son is killed at a desolate military outpost. Starring Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler. Even though there's not much this will give you a good idea of what's going on. So far so good, I'm looking forward to seeing it in Venice. Watch below. Here's the first festival trailer (+ poster) for Samuel Maoz's Foxtrot, direct from Tiff's YouTube: And here's another full »
- Alex Billington
Exclusive: Venice and Toronto berths for Golden Lion winner’s drama.
The Match Factory will launch sales in earnest this autumn on Samuel Maoz’s Venice and Toronto drama Foxtrot, the writer-director’s anticipated follow-up to his 2009 narrative debut Lebanon, which won Venice’s Golden Lion and four Israeli Academy awards.
In Foxtrot, Michael and Dafna are devastated when army officials show up at their home to announce the death of their son Jonathan.
Michael becomes increasingly frustrated by overzealous mourning relatives and well-meaning army bureaucrats.
While his sedated wife rests, Michael spirals into a whirlwind of anger only to experience one of life’s unfathomable twists which rival the surreal military experiences of his son.
The Israeli title, which has already drawn unannounced buyers, will get its world premiere in competition on the Lido before heading to Toronto »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Andreas Wiseman)
Alexander Payne's Downsizing, starring Matt Damon with Kristen Wiig, Laura Dern, Neil Patrick Harris, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Udo Kier, and Margo Martindale will open the 74th Venice International Film Festival. Three other world premières include Human Capital director Paolo Virzi's The Leisure Seeker (Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland); 45 Years director Andrew Haigh's Lean On Pete (Chloë Sevigny, Travis Fimmel, Steve Buscemi); and Lebanon (Golden Lion winner in 2009) director Samuel Maoz's Foxtrot, starring Sarah Adler and Lior Ashkenazi (Joseph Cedar's Norman: The Moderate Rise And Tragic Fall Of A New York Fixer).
- Anne-Katrin Titze
Pastry dough is far from the only thing that requires — and duly receives — delicate handling in “The Cakemaker,” a tender, tactile and just-sweet-enough story of hidden love, challenged faith and unwittingly shared grief that marks an auspicious feature debut for Israeli writer-director Ofir Raul Graizer. Tracing with exemplary sensitivity the unlikely bond formed between a gay German baker and the Jerusalem-based widow of the man they both loved, Graizer’s film works a complex range of social and religious tensions into its heartsore narrative, without ever feeling sanctimonious or button-pushing. This moving, broadly accessible blend of old-school melodrama, contemporary identity politics and buttery gastroporn should sell like, well, hotcakes on the international festival circuit following its Karlovy Vary premiere — with Lgbt-oriented distributors hungry for a crossover hit first in line.
- Guy Lodge
A forbidden love story takes a wholly unexpected — but richly rewarding — turn in Ofir Raul Graizer’s upcoming Karlovy Vary premiere, “The Cakemaker.” The film follows shy Berlin baker Thomas (Tim Kalkhof) who embarks on a passion and special affair with Oran (Roy Miller), a businessman visiting from Jerusalem who falls for both Thomas and his delicious baked goods.
Their story is cut short, however, when Oran is killed in a car accident and a devastated Thomas cooks up a plan to help his grieving family (and maybe his own broken heart) by traveling to Jerusalem and offering up his expertise to Oran’s widow Anat (Sarah Adler), who owns a struggling cafe. Of course, Thomas can’t explain who exactly he is or what he knows about Oran, and his nationality adds another layer to his evolving relationship with Anat. What will be revealed? And what will happen once those secrets are told? »
- Kate Erbland
Star of Joseph Cedar's Footnote and Norman: The Moderate Rise And Tragic Fall Of A New York Fixer, Lior Ashkenazi, spoke with me on growing up seeing Kirk Douglas, Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman movies with his father, Burt Lancaster in Robert Siodmak's The Crimson Pirate being his first, shooting Eytan Fox's Walk On Water at Berlin's Tempelhof airport, meeting Son Of Saul director László Nemes at the Cannes Film Festival, and performing a silent scene with Richard Gere.
Lior's upcoming films include Julie Delpy's My Zoe (with Gemma Arterton, Richard Armitage, Daniel Brühl); Dragos Buliga's The Wanderers (Armand Assante); Eran Riklis's Refuge (Golshifteh Farahani, Neta Riskin), Samuel Maoz's Foxtrot (Sarah Adler), and José Padilha's Entebbe (Rosamund Pike, Brühl), where he portrays Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
12 items from 2017
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