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Films about teachers and students are commonly inspirational melodramas about overcoming adversity inside and outside the classroom. The teacher is usually a newcomer to the school and initially dismissed by the students, but over the course of 90 minutes or so they wind up touching each other's lives and all that mushy stuff. It's a formula audiences are comfortable with. Writer-director Philippe Falardeau's Monsieur Lazhar breaks this mold and delivers a haunting look at grief, compassion, and boundaries through the eyes of both children and adults, while also examining the bureaucratic problems in contemporary teaching. Hit the jump for my review of Monsieur Lazhar on DVD. Based on the one-man play by Évelyne de la Cheneliere, Monsieur Lazhar begins with a shock. A boy named Simon (Émilien Néron) returns from recess to discover his teacher, Martine, has hung herself. Her swaying corpse is seen by one other student, Alice (Sophie Nélisse »
- Patrick Cooper
Writer and director Philippe Falardeau’s most recent film (in many books the Best Foreign picture runner-up), Monsieur Lazhar is a surprisingly tender reconnaissance of our current educational practices while plunging headlong into the psychology of dealing with death. It seems Falardeau feels that as a society we’ve become afraid of physical contact for fear of parental backlash, whether it be a warning slap to the back of a disruptive child’s head or a consoling shoulder-bound embrace in the wake of shocking tragedy. His film challenges this ideology by placing an Algerian immigrant of traditional values at the head of a class of youthful pupils who recently endured the suicide of their former teacher while he himself grieves over the loss of his wife and daughter.
Mohamed Fellag plays Bachir Lazhar, a warm, but secretive new instructor in a small Montreal public grade school. Lazhar has taken the »
- Jordan M. Smith
Chicago – When the Academy nominates a film before it’s even been released in America, they end up doing it a disservice. Once the film finally shows up on American screens, the Oscar nominations have already faded from memory. This method also allows the Academy to ignore all the great films that audiences have actually seen during the past twelve months.
Instead of nominating a widely praised gem like Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” which received a March 2011 U.S. release, for the 2011 Oscars, the Academy chose unknown pictures such as Philippe Falardeau’s “Monsieur Lazhar,” which didn’t receive a U.S. release until April 2012. But as Lou Lumenick recently reminded me via Twitter, critics can do whatever they want. Thus, I am declaring “Monsieur Lazhar” as one of the very best films of 2012, and the only one (so far) that has caused me to weep.
Blu-ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Canada's moving Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film; a horror flick from the guy that brought you "The Blair Witch Project"; The Who's classic rock opera; a cool and brutal Scandinavian thriller; and the latest comedy from the director of "The Big Chill." #1. "Monsieur Lazhar" For better or worse, the teacher/classroom genre is a Hollywood staple. From "Dangerous Minds" and "Freedom Writers" to "Mr. Holland's Opus" and "Dead Poets Society," these films tend to follow a standard plot formula (and often reap considerable box office and Oscar nominations anyway). Quebecois import "Monsieur Lazhar" -- fresh off an Academy Award nomination for foreign language film -- manages to transcend the genre with a moving, realistic take on student-teacher relations. Directed by Philippe Falardeau, the film follows Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), an Algerian »
- Nigel M Smith
Briefly described, Monsieur Lazhar sounds like a highly contrived movie. An asylum-seeking Algerian restaurateur, whose wife and family have been killed by terrorists, passes himself off as a teacher to help the staff and pupils of a francophone school in Montreal come to terms with the suicide of a troubled female teacher. In fact it is a serious, unsentimental film of real insight into loss, grief, guilt, exile and the true meaning of education. Fellag, a prominent Algerian actor now working in exile in France, imbues the compassionate, indomitably cheerful Bachir Lazhar with a deep humanity. Equally the French-Canadian director elicits excellent performances from the children.
Lazhar is a man of tact, probity and a rich sense of humour. His understanding of his mixed class of 11-year-olds and their problems is palpable, but there is no immediate or magical transformation, and the mutual healing process is gradual. The end sends »
- Philip French
It's rare to see teen-movie characters all grown up, and this illustrates the reason why: they just make us feel old. The gang's all here, reverting to their old non-pc habits even as they mourn their lost youth. It's patchy and often dodgy comedy, but there's still something heartening about Stifler's defiant idiocy and Jim's dad's middle-age second chance.
Triads, Russian mobsters, cops and everyone else in New York falls foul of Statham in another ludicrous but fast-moving actioner.
Two Years At Sea (U)
Extraordinary, otherworldly observation of a modern-day Scottish hermit.
Goodbye First Love (15)
Heartfelt study of a young teen's formative romantic fortunes.
The Lucky One (12A)
(Scott Hicks, »
- Steve Rose
Mohamed Fellag is glorious as an Algerian refugee turned primary-school teacher
Only the most obstreperous delinquent could fail to be charmed by Monsieur Lazhar, in which an Algerian refugee plays ramshackle Mary Poppins to the kids at a Montreal primary. This sweet, soulful drama plays out to the scrape of desks and the echo of voices, and showcases a glorious performance from Mohamed Fellag as the substitute teacher who is not quite what he claims. Lazhar gatecrashes the school in the wake of a tragedy. He flounders, he flourishes and is eventually found out. There is just time to deliver one final, moving life lesson before the bell sounds, and the past rolls in to claim him.
World cinemaDramaXan Brooks
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- Xan Brooks
Given its stellar competition at this year's Oscars, it's not surprising that Monsieur Lazhar did not take home the award for Best Foreign Language Film. But this quiet, deeply affecting Canadian import is no less deserving of the honor than the winner, Iran's A Separation. Set during a dreary Montreal winter that reflects the movie's tone in so many ways, Monsieur Lazhar is an astute commentary on the art of teaching, an exploration of the cyclical nature of life and a powerful meditation on loss and grief.
The film opens at the start of a typical elementary school day that delivers a shock to everyone: A teacher has hanged herself in a classroom, and two of her students, Alice (Sophie Nélisse) and Simon (Émilien Néron) are deeply disturbed after finding the body. The horrific event casts a pall over the school and leaves the stunned but stoic principal, Mme. Vaillancourt »
- Don Clinchy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This year’s Oscar-nominated Monsieur Lazhar is a film that some of our own politicians, teachers and school administrators could definitely benefit from seeing. That it is Canadian and spoken mostly in French does little to stifle a relevance sure to span education systems far and wide.
A teacher’s suicide at a Montreal elementary school is the film’s opening statement, providing writer-director Philippe Falardeau with the necessary berth to discuss a wide array of subjects, from death, to war, parenting and education to name but a few. As we observe how this shocking act affects a class of children, the school’s staff, and especially their new teacher Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Said Fellag), Falardeau’s film most prominently notes the pervasive nature of death, how it hovers like a spectre. It is a force which can render even the most sensible of us entirely irrational, »
- Shaun Munro
Chicago – “Monsieur Lazhar,” an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film that is now opening at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, deftly handles delicate themes in a way that saves them from the cliché they so often become in the cogs of the Hollywood machine. The set-up sounds like a ‘90s Robin Williams movie as a teacher helps an elementary class deal with tragic loss but this remarkably human, touching, brilliant film never succumbs to melodrama, finding something truthful in the complex relationship between adults and children forced to grow up too soon.
The title character is an Algerian immigrant who comes to a Quebec school after a teacher kills herself during recess. Two of the students, including one who had a tumultuous relationship with the teacher, see the body, but the ripple effect spreads far beyond just the pair. It’s a job no one wants but »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Film: Monsieur Lazhar (2011) Cast includes: Mohamed Fellag (L'ennemi intime), Sophie Nélisse, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx (C.R.A.Z.Y.), Brigitte Poupart (Congorama) Writer/Director: Philippe Falardeau (It's Not Me, I Swear!) Genre: Drama | Humor (94 minutes) French with subtitles The colors of Montreal's winter are "white, gray and dog piss yellow." In the snow-covered schoolyard, Alice reminds Simon, "Your turn for the milk." Simon goes ahead of the others, gets the milk and brings it around... but the classroom door is locked. Through the window, he sees the partially concealed body of Martine, their teacher. She's hanged herself from a pipe. In the moments before the other teachers have frantically herded the 6th graders back outside, Alice gets a glimpse, too. It'll be a long time before they get past the nightmares. The classroom is painted a different color. They bring in a psychologist to work with the kids. And Madame Vaillancourt is trying »
- Leslie Sisman
One of the most touching films of the year. A brilliant tragedy that transcends boundaries of age, country, race, religion and gender. Filmmaker Philippe Falardeau scored big with his emerging works .It's Not Me, I Swear!. and .Left Hand Side of the Fridge.. Nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the 2012 Oscars, Monsieur Lazhar is an adaptation of Évelyne de la Chenelière's stage play, and is produced by Luc Déry and Kim McCraw, the team responsible for the Oscar-nominated .Incendies.. Falardeau.s current film, .Monsieur Lazhar. features Mohamed Fellag playing Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant who has falsified his credentials to get a job, any job, in Canada. Fellag was born and raised in Algeria, moving to Paris during »
- Ron Wilkinson
Award-winning filmmaker Philippe Falardeau was recently included on Variety’s 2012 list of 10 Directors to Watch. Known for La Moitié Gauche du Frigo (The Left-Hand Side of the Fridge), Congorama, and C’est Pas Moi, Je Le Jure! (It’s Not Me, I Swear!), his fourth feature film, Monsieur Lazhar, is an adaptation of the play Bachir Lazhar by Montreal playwright Évelyne de la Chenelière. The film, which was a 2011 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, tells the story of an Algerian immigrant (Mohamed Fellag) who learns of the death of an elementary school teacher and offers his services as a substitute teacher. We sat down at a roundtable interview with Falardeau to talk about what inspired him to make a film set in a school community about children dealing with issues of loss and death. He told us why he thought the character of Bachir Lazhar was rich enough for a movie, »
- Sheila Roberts
Title: Monsieur Lazhar Director: Philippe Falardeau Starring: Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nelisse, Emilien Neron, Brigitte Poupart, Danielle Proulx A Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee from (French) Canada, “Monsieur Lazhar” is a psychologically perceptive, humanistic tale of adolescent grief, wayward adult yearning, and how emotional healing can often arrive from the most unexpected sources. Anchored by an award-winning lead performance, the understated movie develops slowly, like a Polaroid, into something greater than the sum of seemingly simple parts. After a grade school Montreal teacher shockingly commits suicide, Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag) shows up at the office of the beleagured principal (Danielle Proulx) and pitches himself as a replacement, with almost [ Read More ] »
We know that Vulture readers pride themselves on seeing a whole lot of the Oscar nominees every year, but there's one of the 2011 honorees you probably couldn't have caught until now: the acclaimed Canadian film Monsieur Lazhar, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and is opening in the U.S. this weekend. Mohamed Fellag stars as Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar, who manages to talk his way into replacing a middle school teacher who's committed suicide. The students are still recovering from the shock of their teacher's death, and slowly, Lazhar draws them in, but he's got his own secrets, as well as his own agenda for pursuing the job. In this exclusive clip, you'll get a hint of one of them: Lazhar conducts the class in French to cover for the fact that he doesn't speak English, but when he brings in an English instructor, his students try »
- Kyle Buchanan
For better or worse, the teacher/classroom genre is a Hollywood staple. From "Dangerous Minds" and "Freedom Writers" to "Mr. Holland's Opus" and "Dead Poets Society," these films follow a pretty standard plot formula time and time again (and often reap considerable box office and Oscar nominations anyway). But this weekend, Quebecois import "Monsieur Lazhar" -- fresh off an Oscar nomination -- transcends the genre with a moving, realistic take on student-teacher relations. Directed by Philippe Falardeau, the film follows Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), an Algerian immigrant who is hired to replace a teacher at a Montreal elementary school who kills herself. Honest and sincere in a manner rare to its Hollywood counterparts, "Lazhar" is a powerful little film that effectively takes on a multitude of issues permeating today's society. In honor of "Lazhar," Indiewire thought we'd offer 8 »
- Austin Dale, Steve Greene, Peter Knegt, Eric Kohn and Nigel M. Smith
When "A Separation" won the Academy Award for best foreign language film last month, I was thrilled -- Asghar Farhadi's splendid domestic drama is one of the best things I've seen in the past few years. But it also came as a genuine surprise, because I was convinced the Canadian film "Monsieur Lazhar" was going to win. Gentle and understated, Philippe Falardeau's film is a classy crowd-pleaser, the kind of mild effort that makes people shake their heads imagining what awfulness would be done to it in an American remake. It is also nothing to write home about, though it features a strong turn from Mohamed Saïd Fellag, who plays the title character, and some very good child performances.
"Monsieur Lazhar" is adapted from a play by Évelyne de la Chenelière about an Algerian immigrant, Bachir Lazhar, who's hurriedly hired at an elementary school to take the place of Martine, »
- Alison Willmore
ComingSoon.net has received an exclusive clip from Monsieur Lazhar , writer/director Philippe Falardeau's dramedy opening in theaters this Friday, April 13. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Monsieur Lazhar tells the poignant story of a Montreal middle school class shaken by the death of their well-liked teacher and trying to heal. Bachir Lazhar (Fellag), a 55-year-old Algerian immigrant, offers the school his services as a substitute teacher and is quickly hired. As he helps the children heal, he also learns to accept his own painful past. This moving film features exquisite performances by Fellag and a stunning ensemble of child actors. Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nélisse, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx and Brigitte Poupart star. »
Monthly Movie Preview – April 2012
Can you smell that? It’s the scent of “Almost Summer.” No, that’s not the name of a cheap fragrant candle, but the aroma multiplexes let waft when it’s almost the main season for blockbusters. But before we focus on mega movies like The Avengers in May, and The Dark Knight Rises in July, April has some unique choices for us, most of which are not based off comic books, or feature gluttonous budgets.
April is going to be an intimate month with a slew of romantic movies, some more comedic than others – American Reunion, The Lucky One, Think Like A Man, The Five-Year Engagement, and even the indie Darling Companion. Even the horror genre is going to see some unique spins, with movies like The Cabin in the Woods, Detention, and The Raven.
And of course, before we head off into the land of summer blockbusters, »
- Nick Allen
“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably.
There’s a good mix of work coming out in April and the posters do well to mirror such. I’m not quite sure how Rodrigo Cortés‘ could have his first film Buried possess one of the best poster series of 2010 and then return to big screens with the lackluster Vodka Creative sheet for Atm, but not everything can be perfect.
I can’t complain too much, however, since the month does bring some quality pieces of marketing material. And while Jack Black‘s creepy pedo-stash and Cardinal »
- email@example.com (thefilmstage.com)
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