VIFF may have come to an end, however the last four movies I’ve seen have resonated with me. They’ll be released to theatres Nationwide November/December. Here are the reviews:
La Belle Époque
This French movie (with English subtitles) was chosen for the closing gala. I had no idea what to expect and ended up loving it! I had just come from watching the fast-paced Ford vs Ferrari at the Playouse and was not sure whether I wanted to stay or not as I was leaning towards the later second viewing and the first showing ended late. As patrons made their way out of the theatre (Centre for the Performing Arts) I could not help but notice everyone’s big smiles. I asked the question before entering – “Is the movie worth staying for?” A resounding “Yes you must stay, it’s excellent.” So stay I did.
The movie centers around Victor (a cartoonist played by Daniel Auteuil) and his marriage to vivacious Marianne (Fanny Ardant) which is turning into a disaster. His son has a friend who has embarked on a new venture “Time Travellers” – a troupe offering clients the chance to go back in time to any moment they wish complete with a team of actors and technicians to guarantee a completely realistic version of whatever era is chosen. Victor decides to go back to 1974 – the day he first met Marianne to relive the moment and the woman he first fell in love with. What follows is very entertaining. The film is witty and original. Highly recommended.
Ford vs Ferrari
James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) directs Matt Damon and Christian Bale in this high-speed biographical drama that pits an underdog team of American automotive engineers against Ferrari in the 1966 “24 Hours of Le Mans” endurance race. He tells the tale of real-life superheroes Carroll Shelby (Damon) who wins France’s prestigious Le Mans race in 1959, a rare feat for an American, and Ken Miles (Bale), a brilliant driver who runs an auto shop.
This is a gripping true story that will keep you on the edge of your seat even if like me, you’re not really a fan of racing. Excellent. Coming to theatres in December.
Pain and Glory
This film is in Spanish with English subtitles. Pedro Almodóvar is the Director and that alone made my decision. Julieta, Volver, All About my Mother, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown…….no further explanation needed. Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz star in this complicated, bittersweet movie within a movie which is apparently autobiographical.
This film also marks a 35 year reunion between Almodóvar and Banderas who started his career in an Almodóvar film called “Laberinto de pasiones” (1982; Labyrinth of Passion).
I think this paragraph written by Peter Bradshaw (Guardian) sums it up best:
“As ever, Almodóvar has made a film about pleasure, which is itself a pleasure, witty, intelligent and sensous. It is about love, memory, art, mothers, lovers and most of all it is about itself…the film within a film, the story within a story, the dream within a dream.”
The Two Popes
The following review was written by my friend Paul H. LeMay who accompanied me to the screening. I too was pleasantly surprised by this film. His summary may appear in other publications.
Despite such an unassuming title, “The Two Popes” is anything but bland. Rather, it is a penetrating biopic about German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (excellently played by Anthony Hopkins), and Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, (equally well played by Jonathan Pryce), at a momentous turning point in the Catholic church’s history.
The film’s opening is filled with the sumptuous visual grandeur of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel during a conclave of the Cardinals after the death of Pope John-Paul II.
In real life, the event represented a veritable historical showdown between the church’s more conservative traditionalist Catholic viewpoints – as were championed by Pope John Paul II – and more reform-minded liberal ones, as had been previously championed in the early 1960s by Pope John XXIII. In this more contemporary story however, this same struggle is personified in these two aforementioned figures, who were each prominent papal candidates in their own right. Each effectively represents one of the two prominent psychological poles that continue to define our political divides today.
Yet despite the great philosophical gulf that separates their respective views about Christ’s teachings, we get to see how each man was able to bridge that gulf. What works so beautifully is how we penetrate beneath the outer appearances of their respective white and black cassocks to get a rather intimate glimpse of these two mortal men who are both intent on resigning from the burdens of their respective high status clerical roles, for as we discover, neither wants the onerous responsibility or power that comes with their offices. In this desire for self-surrender, we see their humanity shine through. The fact these two men were able to bridge their own huge philosophical orientation gaps and actually become good friends in real life, demonstrates we can attain no less. In effect, each really did come to love his enemy. The enduring feel good message that comes through in the end is that we are here to help one another, not to control or take from one another. On this score, this substantive film scores 10 out of 10 in my books.
AND in between all the above, I managed to see
starring Renee Zellweger who was absolutely superb as Judy Garland and deserves to win the Oscar.
Many people have no idea about the star’s struggles surrounding the last few years of her life. And then again, many younger people today have no idea who she is period. This movie is a must for those who know and especially for those who do not. It’s a close-up look into the life and loves of one of the most talented women in showbiz who was sadly and unfairly taken advantage of.
OK now back to regular movie going….
Seen any good movies lately?