Nurse Bob's Film Festival Reviews


4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS & 2 DAYS (Romania):  Set in the waning days of Ceausescu’s regime, this scathing yet subtle attack on the political apathy and self-centred mindset of Romanian society starts off slowly and quickly gains momentum.  A woman desperately tries to procure an illegal backroom abortion for her frightened friend.  As she gets deeper into debt to pay for the procedure she ends up suffering one humiliation after another, and receives some sobering revelations regarding those people she thought she could rely on for help.  The film ends in a scene of such muted rage I thought the celluloid would melt.....even though not one fist was raised, nor one unkind word spoken.  A true testament to the director’s art.

(Croatia):  Bittersweet road movie about an aging man with fading dreams who takes his taciturn son to Zagreb to audition for a coveted film role.  The son soon finds out that having to shoulder his father’s hopes and aspirations is a burden he is unable to bear.  The inevitable confrontation leads to a better understanding between the two men.  Not a masterpiece, but its slow pace and warm characterizations are a pleasure to watch.

(UK):  This gorgeous period piece set in England just before WWII tells the story of two young lovers whose lives take a tragic turn after an over-imaginative child makes a series of false accusations.  Magnificent performances are further enhanced by stunning sets and impeccable cinematography....including an amazing 3-minute single take along a beach strewn with soldiers and the machineries of war.  This is truly a filmmaker’s film, and the heartbreaking double twist at the end is sure to make this a cinema classic.

(Mexico):  On a dark and stormy night at a convent near the edge of Mexico City, a young nun believes she has the ability to bring about miracles simply by starving herself.  In a wealthy suburb across town, a plump little girl is terrorized by her anorexic fashion plate mother who assures her that being fat is the vilest of sins.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the mother, her husky husband is having a virtual smorgasbord of carnal delights with a fleshy Peruvian exchange student.  And all the while a rainstorm of apocalyptic proportions rages in the skies above...  This incredible movie tackles issues of faith......both sacred and secular......and the mental aberrations that arise when normal desires are fanatically repressed whether due to “God’s Will” or the importance of being thin and pretty.  Filmed in muted shades of blue and grey with the ever-present sound of rain on windows and pavement this gothic, hallucinatory film will stick in your mind for days.

THE BAND’S VISIT (Israel):  Warm little film about an Egyptian police band on its way to perform at an Arab cultural centre in Israel that accidentally ends up in a small town in the middle of nowhere.  The resulting culture clash, hampered by a language barrier (the band and townsfolk can only communicate with one another in broken English) makes for a very enjoyable and mostly apolitical comedy of errors.  Very well done.

BEAUFORT (Israel):  Claustrophobic and chilling, this story about the final days of an Israeli military outpost in southern Lebanon brings both the terror and outrage of war uncomfortably close.  While their comrades die around them, the remaining soldiers continue to receive conflicting orders from high command.......should they retreat or stay put?  With tempers at the breaking point and nerves frayed by daily bombings they begin to question their purpose in being there in the first place.  Great use of confined spaces and dim lighting to maintain an air of tension.....both physical and psychological......even at the quietest times.

BLISS (Turkey):  When a young woman is raped by an unknown assailant her father is compelled to have her killed in order to preserve the family’s good name.  Not wanting to arouse the suspicion of the local authorities (so-called “honour killings” are illegal), her relatives arrange for her to be escorted to Istanbul where the deed can be done in anonymity.  What happens when her appointed executioner develops feelings for her makes for an engrossing story of love, revenge and the true nature of righteousness.  The film succeeds by using gorgeous cinematography coupled with a believable script and the natural acting abilities of its main characters.

(Lebanon):  The individual stories of several women who work at a local beauty salon, as well as those of their customers, makes for a very enjoyable film.  Covering such topics as infidelity, fading youth and latent lesbianism this little movie goes from hilarious comedy to poignant drama in a heartbeat.

THE CHAMPAGNE SPY (Israel/Germany):  Well-done documentary about an Israeli secret agent who posed as an ex-Nazi playboy in Egypt during the early 60’s in order to obtain information on Arab military plans.  What happened when he took his role too far begins to sound like a psycho-thriller in itself.  A real head-shaker.

CONFESSIONS OF AN INNOCENT MAN (Canada):  Gripping documentary about Canadian Bill Sampson who, along with 3 other ex-pats, spent almost 3 years in a Saudi Arabian prison on false charges....even facing the death penalty.  Despite his accusations of ill treatment, torture and rape both the Canadian and British governments (he has dual citizenship) seemed to drag their feet.  As with all documentaries this one is obviously biased........but you can't help leaving the theatre believing that you just witnessed a story of gross injustice fuelled by some very shady political agendas.  Good use of dramatic reenactments including some fairly graphic torture sequences give this a sense of immediacy, as does Mr. Sampson's frank recollections of what he endured.

(UK):  This biopic of the life, and death, of Ian Curtis, lead singer for 80’s band “Joy Division”, is a well-acted and beautifully filmed drama.  His rise to fame and subsequent breakdown is captured in razor-sharp B&W imagery.......deftly avoiding cheap melodrama and instead delivering a street-level, working class tragedy.  Very well done.

(Austria):  Towards the end of WWII the Nazis hatched a plan to flood the world market with counterfeit American dollars and British pounds.  This was to serve 2 purposes:  upset the economies of those 2 nations; and provide funds for the Nazi war machine.  To this end they scoured the prisons and concentration camps in search of prisoners with the necessary skills and relocated them to a top secret printing factory.  In return for special treatment and the promise of freedom the prisoners were to begin churning out fake bills by the millions.  Therein lies the crux of the far are we willing to compromise our own principles and sense of ethics in order to survive?  Before long the counterfeiters are divided between those who will do anything to survive and those who refuse to help an evil regime.....even if that refusal leads to their own execution.  Gripping and challenging.

CRUEL BUT NECESSARY (Canada/USA):  One woman’s neurotic compulsion to secretly record the day-to-day minutiae of her unsuspecting family forms the backdrop of this fascinating and highly original work.  Alternately hilarious and chilling, it examines our modern obsession with voyeurism as a form of entertainment and the impact of technology on our ability to communicate openly with others.  Essential viewing.

(Indonesia):  A rollicking ghost story with some overt political overtones, a few scary moments and lots of campy fun.  A Bangkok police detective investigating a series of grisly murders begins to see a pattern taking shape.  Exactly who......or killing this group of seemingly unconnected victims and how is the government involved?  No great cinematic achievements here, no deep philosophical arguments.....just some good clean (if somewhat bloody) fun and an unintentionally hilarious ending that just screams “Asian girls kick ass!”

(France):  Based on the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of the French version of “Elle” magazine who suffered a terrible stroke at the age of forty-two.  The stroke left him with “Locked-In Syndrome” in which he lost the ability to speak or move any part of his body except for his right eyelid.  Despite this incredible handicap he was able to dictate his letter at a time.....using a system devised by his physiotherapist.  Based on those memoirs this story is told from a first person perspective.....often-using point-of-view camera angles.  Funny at times, thoughtful at others yet never wallowing too long in self-pity or anger.  Well done.

(Germany):  A delicately layered tale employing a talented international cast with action that alternates seamlessly between Germany and Turkey.  We are presented with separate storylines superimposed upon one another.....the Turkish prostitute working in Germany and worrying about her daughter back home; the aging pensioner who falls in love with her; the aforementioned daughter who heads to Germany to find her mother (and escape the authorities who want to question her regarding her radical politics); and Lotte, the German girl who befriends the daughter much to the dismay of her own right-leaning mother.  Avoiding an overt political agenda, the director instead gives us a rich human story filled with sad ironies and occasional flashes of redemption.  It is a story in which random acts of kindness can lead to tragedy, and forgiveness can be found in the most unexpected places.  The final scene at the edge of a sunlit sea approaches cinematic perfection.

EMPTIES (Czech Republic):  Smart and serene, this warmhearted comedy about an elderly    couple facing their autumn years is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  While he defies his advancing years by seeking challenges (and a possible affair), she quietly grieves for her lost youth and the passions she once felt.  As they fumble towards some sort of resolution the lives of everyone around them are impacted in unexpected ways.  A joy from start to finish including a beautiful ending that is quite uplifting...literally.

(Russia):  Savagely intelligent rumination on the Russian mentality and its role in shaping contemporary Russian society.  Presented as a doomed love affair between a mysterious stranger and the wife of an abusive alcoholic, this film incorporates imagery that is surreal and impressionistic; each scene becoming a gorgeous study in colour and texture.  “Euphoria” is both an intellectual challenge and a somber elegy to a hardy people that have always survived, often despite themselves.

(Australia):  Author Norma Khoun wrote a controversial book detailing the “honour killing” of her Moslem friend when she lived in Jordan.  As the documentary progresses, and the inconsistencies of her story become more apparent, you begin to realize that you are dealing with a pathological personality lost in a web of her own lies.  Fascinating treatise on consumer gullibility (the book became a bestseller) and the willingness of people to believe anything as long as it supports their pre-existing worldview.  Documentary filmmaking at its most professional.

FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO (USA):  Wonderful documentary showing how some fundamentalist Christian couples cope with having a gay son or daughter.  Often funny and heartwarming, and at other times tragic and infuriating.  Some intelligent talking heads from various denominations help to dispel the more rabid right-wing rhetoric.  An intensely human and compassionate foray into a highly divisive topic.

(Ireland):  Unhappy story about a terribly naive man working in a dead-end job at the local gas station whose attempts to forge a friendship with his new assistant, a 15-year old boy, are tragically misunderstood.  Already the butt of cruel jokes amongst the townspeople, it doesn’t take much to strip him of what few scraps of dignity he has left.  Painful to watch at times with a darkly transcendent finale.

GOD MAN DOG (Taiwan):  Poor mankind....always fluctuating between lofty altruism (gods) and baser animal instincts (dogs).  This marvelous film raises this age-old struggle to ecstatic  heights and was one of my favourites this year.  Although the characters are firmly anchored in modern Taiwan, their stories are universal.  Beginning with issues of abuse, neglect, loneliness, death, depression.....a virtual pantheon of human misery.....the director proceeds to suffuse his story with gorgeous images of everyday beneficence and petty infractions, showing us that gods (and dogs) are never very far away.  Absolutely amazing!

HANK AND MIKE (Canada):  Two mismatched roommates (ones a pot-smoking sex-obsessed slob, the other a spineless doormat) find themselves among the ranks of the unemployed when their company lays them off.  As they drift from one hilarious misadventure to another in search of gainful employment they slowly devise a scheme to get even with those responsible for firing them.  Very crude humour that never strays very far from boobs and bodily functions.....but with a surprisingly witty script that had the audience howling more than a few times.  Oh, and one more thing, they’re not exactly human.  They’re more like.......... ummm......... Easter bunnies....... sort of.

HEAR AND NOW (USA):  Engaging documentary about the director’s aging parents, deaf from birth, who decide to try and gain their sense of hearing by having “cochlear implant” surgery.  We follow them from the days prior to the operations up to their 1-year anniversary post surgery.  Funny, heartwarming and fascinating with a couple of unforeseen twists along the way.  Worth a look.

(Taiwan):  One of my favourites this year!  In contemporary Taipei the lives of a handful of disparate characters begin to intersect.....there’s the perpetually suicidal investor trying to offset his stock market losses by growing pot in his foreclosed condo......the plump female crisis counselor trapped in an empty marriage.......her gourmet husband who’d rather feed her than make love to her......and a bevy of sexy little girls selling betel nuts to passing motorists.....all of them lonely, all of them disillusioned with what life has offered them thus far.  What follows is a host of spiritual journeys full of cinematic metaphors and a rhapsodic beauty that had me mesmerized.  A small masterpiece.

HOTEL VERY WELCOME (Germany):  Anyone who has ever done any world traveling will fall in love with this hilarious comedy within the first 5 minutes.  It follows the misadventures of a motley crew of tourists as they try and navigate their way through various Asian countries without going completely insane and/or killing each other.  There’s the usual assortment of miscommunications, missed connections, and hotel horror stories.....all buoyed up by a very clever script and some sly directing.

(Germany):  Well made story about a lonely young man living in the country with his divorced father who befriends the deaf daughter of the local pub owner.  Suffused with a wonderful sense of humanity, this gentle story of an awkward first love combines droll humour with warm intimate moments. Wonderful cinematography that makes use of wintry landscapes and starry night skies.

(Japan):  A young man is unjustly accused of groping a schoolgirl on a crowded subway train.  Despite being told by both the police and his lawyer that it would be easier to simply plead guilty and pay a nominal fine he stubbornly proclaims his innocence.  What follows is a nightmare journey through Japan’s inefficient and corrupt legal system that leaves both him and his family drained and disheartened.  This is a well-acted courtroom drama that is crisply directed and flawlessly edited.  One of the festival’s highlights.

IMPORT EXPORT (Austria):  A scathing commentary  on the state of East/West relations in the new “unified” Europe.  Olga, a registered nurse and single mother from the Ukraine seeks gainful employment in Austria only to wind up in a series of menial dead-end jobs.  Meanwhile in Austria Paul, an unemployed security guard, seeks his fortune (and an escape from his creditors) on the mean streets of the Ukraine.  As one humiliation is piled on another both become disillusioned victims of Europe’s new social reality.  This is bitter, cynical filmmaking at its most bleak.....relentless, unforgiving and often difficult to watch.  Its cold sardonic images will linger in your mind long after you leave the theatre.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON (UK):  Interesting and uplifting documentary on the Apollo moon missions of the late 60’s.  Great archival footage, some never seen before, coupled with insightful and entertaining interviews with former astronauts who actually flew to the moon.  A great slice of American history back when the space program was still full of hope and wonder.

(Czech Republic):  Entertaining tale of one young opportunist’s attempts to become rich and famous.  In the years leading up to WWII our  protagonist, Jan----short, dumpy, penniless----begins his slow arduous rise to fame.  From maltreated bartender in a local dive, to headwaiter at an elite country club he never misses a chance to advance his career no matter who he has to step on.  When the Nazis occupy Czechoslovakia it’s just another golden opportunity for Jan who soon finds himself married to  a stolid Aryan wife and mixing with the German elite.  When the inevitable fall comes he finds himself somewhat disillusioned but never beaten.  A brilliant satire that casts a baleful eye on petty bourgeois greed and the amorality that often accompanies the quest for material success.

(Israel):  Wonderful little ensemble piece set in contemporary Tel Aviv. The film’s overlapping stories deftly encapsulate contemporary feelings of loneliness and dissociation while still leaving room for small flashes of everyday magic.  From the angry old woman resisting the help of her bewildered Filipino caregiver to the new bride who suspects her husband of infidelity, everyone seems to be floating aimlessly through life....helpless against the currents that buffet them.  Then one day a  mysterious little girl walks out of the sea...

(USA):  Interesting documentary about a group of people trying to rebuild their lives after being “rescued” from a religious cult in the eastern U.S.  I admit I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for adults who choose to enter these nuthouses.....but the stories of child abuse are heartbreaking.  A chilling look at how the “word of God” can lead people to the darkest places.

(France):  During WWII a young woman disguises herself as a man in order to journey into the heart of battle to search for her missing husband.  Her quest begins to take on supernatural overtones as she meets up with a small cadre of army deserters heading in the opposite direction.  Using mythical allusions (the story of “Orpheus and Eurydice” comes to mind) and flights of fancy......without warning the soldiers pull out musical instruments for sudden improvised song routines.......this film weaves a rich tapestry that culminates in a beautifully enigmatic conclusion.

LES 3 P’TITS COCHONS (AKA: “The 3  Little Pigs”)
(Canada):  Very  smart urban comedy with a poisonous sting.  Three estranged brothers gather at the bedside of their comatose mother.  As they begin to let their guards down we find out that 2 of the men are having affairs while the 3rd (and most successful) remains completely faithful to his wife.  Using a repetitive, circuitous approach to telling each man’s personal story we come to realize that things are not as simple as they first appear.......and the film’s final revelation is a real eye-popper.  Clever, savvy, and right on target.

(UK):  Fast paced thriller that catches you in the very first scene and doesn’t let you go until the final credits.  Why is a battered streetwise hooker and a 12-year old girl desperately trying to get out of London as fast as they can?  Why is her pimp obsessed with finding them?  And who is the smartly dressed sociopath that seems to be pulling everyone’s strings?  This is mainstream entertainment to be sure, but expertly directed with phenomenal performances and an aura of tension that never lets up.  A great Saturday night at the movies!

LUST, CAUTION (USA/TAIWAN):  Engaging period piece set in southern China during the Japanese occupation.  This story of a group of would-be resistance fighters using one of their own members as a femme fatale to lure a leading Chinese collaborationist into a trap borrows elements from both film noir and the American war movies of the 40’s.  Its heavy on atmosphere with lots of shadows and dark pastels against beautifully rendered backdrops of old Hong Kong and Shanghai.  Unfortunately its light on characterization that served to distance the audience and rendered the “incendiary” sex scenes strangely flat and unconvincing.  At 158 minutes it takes it’s time building to a conclusion full of quiet despair and emptiness.  Perhaps a bit ponderous at times but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

THE MATSUGANE POTSHOT AFFAIR (Japan):  This deadpan comedy serves up humour as dry as dust and darker than midnight.  What happens to the inhabitants of a decidedly eccentric town when two suspicious drifters take up residence in an abandoned house....  Rife with Freudian imagery one can view this as a metaphorical tale of one man's brush with madness.......or simply sit back and enjoy the macabre scenery.  I recommend this with reservations.

MISSING STAR  (Italy):  After his company sells a blast furnace to a Chinese factory, an Italian engineer travels to China to warn the new owners of a possible structural defect. Along the way he forms a tentative relationship with the young Chinese translator accompanying him.  Touching on issues of contemporary anomie, loneliness and the inevitable misunderstandings that occur when two cultures meet, this gentle film navigates some pretty deep waters.  The director presents us with some compelling thoughts coupled with quiet imagery but unfortunately fails to follow through.  Well worth seeing nonetheless.

(USA):  Engrossing documentary about a supposed child prodigy who, at the age of 5, was having her abstract paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars.  When her actual artistic abilities are called into question and people begin to suspect her father (also a painter) of helping her everything begins to fall apart.  The exploitative amorality of art dealers as well as the naive gullibility of art collectors is explored in great depth.  Furthermore the whole question of what constitutes “art”, especially in the area of abstract expression, is handled very well.  The interviews with her parents are difficult to watch while the gallery owner who latches onto the family is sleaze personified.

OUTSOURCED (USA/India):  When a young American executive is sent to India to train a group of telemarketers the resulting culture shock causes him to re-examine his priorities in this intelligently written and very enjoyable romantic comedy.  Issues of poverty, globalization, and outsourcing of jobs are touched upon but this remains a fluffy feel-good film and in that respect I found it a great deal of fun.  

PARANOID PARK (USA):  Gus Van Sant’s latest opus is a dreamy surreal story about a timid skater dude who gets caught up in a murder investigation.  As if that is not trouble enough he’s also thinking of breaking up with his girlfriend and his parents are in the middle of a messy divorce.  Yeah.  Right.  To watch a Gus Van Sant movie is to have your brain fucked with by a master.....things are never quite what they appear to be and reality is constantly coming in and out of focus.  This film unfolds like a slow languorous daydream full of long takes and trippy music......and an underlying smirk.  Keep your eyes and ears open or the joke will be on you.

PRICELESS (France):  A beautiful gold digger meets her match when she crosses paths with a charmingly inept hotel bartender in this fluffy romantic comedy set on the beautiful Cote d’Azur.  Irene is growing tired of her current sugar daddy when she mistakes penniless Jean for a playboy millionaire.  Thus begins a hilarious comedy of errors resulting in Irene being dumped and Jean being fired.  A year later Irene, with another sugar daddy in tow, and Jean, now working as a waiter, again cross paths only this time she teaches him the fine art of sponging off others.  It isn’t long before he’s snatched up by a wealthy widow.....but his heart still yearns for Irene.  Smart, funny and very French.

SAVIOUR’S SQUARE (Poland):  Relentlessly grim family drama in which a somewhat simple-minded young mother is driven to an extreme act of desperation by her overbearing mother-in-law and increasingly frustrated husband.  What could be seen as a television melodrama takes on greater significance when viewed as a microcosm of Polish society......and Eastern Europe in general.  Excellent performances and assured pacing raise this well above the level of soap opera fare.

SCOTT WALKER: 30TH CENTURY MAN (UK):  Interesting documentary on the reclusive artist whose “aural landscapes” have influenced the careers of such notable musicians as David Bowie and Brian Eno. Described as the “poet of the subconscious” his works have defied description.  Here we are taken into the studio to see him at work and given some insight into his artistry through interviews and recollections. Could have been edited by a few minutes as  all those talking heads begin to blur after a while but if the subject matter interests  you at all this will prove to be a minor problem.

(Scotland):  Filmed entirely in Gaelic and using the stark beauty of the Isle of Skye to full effect, this gentle family drama is wonderful to behold.  Young Angus finds his grandfather’s fantastic folk tales both fascinating and bothersome.  It seems that no matter what the occasion, including the tragic deaths of Angus’s parents, the old man has an appropriate yarn to spin.  It isn’t until years later, as his grandfather lies on his deathbed, that he is finally able to see the valuable life lessons beneath the fairytales.  Mixing reality and fantasy in just the right amounts the director creates a warm and inviting film full of frozen mountaintops and sunlit harbours where joy and sadness exist side-by-side and tears are soon forgotten.

(USA):  This deceptively simple tale of an escalating feud between 2 small-town families starts out like a low-keyed episode of “Trailer Park Boys”.  However, as each side seeks to exact a bloodier revenge on the other a full-scale vendetta erupts that threatens to destroy all involved.  Elements of Greek and Norse mythology as well as Shakespearean tragedy elevate this brilliantly played drama into the realm of the surreal.  Amazing.

(Switzerland):  When a long term care facility hires a beefy male nurse it isn’t long before romantic liaisons begin to develop in this bittersweet comedy.  Holger soon realizes, however,  that he can only play one woman against the other for so long before he gets his inevitable comeuppance.  An unexpected visitor from his past gives us a further glimpse into his rather troubled psyche.  The film incorporates some funny moments coupled with wistful fancy.....the mysterious band of musicians haunting the facility’s closets and hallways is a cinematic conceit used to good effect.  Underlying it all is a sense of melancholic longing and unrequited love, with occasional glimpses of hope.

SOO (South Korea):  A blood-soaked Greek tragedy disguised as a police thriller in which a man with a criminal past seeks vengeance on those responsible for his innocent twin brother’s death.  Assuming the role of his dead brother (a policeman) he gathers the necessary clues, teams up with a female partner, and watches the body count rise.  Over-the-top (some may say gratuitous) violence and relentless pacing makes this a treat for serious gore-hounds only.

THE STONE ANGEL (Canada):  An oscar-calibre performance by Ellen Burstyn highlights an otherwise unremarkable little film about an old woman lost in her memories as she comes face-to-face with her own mortality.  This is pretty much a kitchen sink drama with no great insights or profound words of why did I enjoy it so much?  Aside from Ms. Burstyn’s dynamic energy I guess I just got lost in the film’s slow rhythms and various small town tragedies.  Everyone else hated it.....sigh.

TIMES AND WINDS (Turkey):  Absolutely gorgeous meditation on the relationships between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, the small horrors of growing up, the legacy of domestic violence and the courage to try and break the cycle.  Using sparse dialogue and breathtaking visuals often bordering on the surreal this film speaks volumes......often with nothing more than light and silence.  The final scene of one young man's epiphany while perched on a hilltop between the rising sun and setting moon was one of those rare moments of cinematic perfection.

(Canada):  Fantastic and novel approach to telling the tale of one angry young woman’s downward spiral.  Eschewing a linear approach the director instead bombards us with a literal collage of split screens and overlapping dialogue, some of it objective reality, some completely subjective. The result is immediate and feel the story as well as observe it.  One of the most realistic portrayals of a hyperactive teenage mind ever shown on a screen.  Some may find the onslaught both disorienting and vertiginous but I found it exhilarating.

TWO EMBRACES (Mexico):  Beautiful multi-layered story about the intersecting lives of 4 people in contemporary Mexico City.  The search for intimacy.....or at least a connection with another human being......forms the heart of this well acted and superbly directed drama.  Using cinematic techniques that vary from gritty hyper-reality to the softly lit embraces of the title, this is a journey well worth taking.

WEIRDSVILLE (Canada):  I really wanted to dislike this slacker comedy from Ontario, but after the first 20 minutes I gave up and joined in the laughter.  It concerns two junkies who try and bury a body in the basement of a drive-in......but then they run into this Satanic cult who need to perform a human sacrifice......then there’s this army of militant midgets dressed like Vikings......well, you get the idea.  It takes a lot of brains to write something this stupid and actually pull it off.  Sure, this distinctly Canadian comedy could have used a bit of polish.....but then it would have turned into an American comedy.  A really funny little sure to stay for the final credits.

(UK):  As an old man lies dying, his adult son becomes lost in childhood memories.  It was a childhood of minor mortifications and small betrayals at the hands of his well-meaning yet maddeningly impulsive father.  As his dad’s life ebbs, he finally achieves some peace of mind in this tender tale of love and forgiveness that explores the sometimes-precarious bonds between fathers and sons.  A healthy dose of humour keeps things on track and avoids maudlin sentimentality.

YOUNG PEOPLE FUCKING (Canada):  Despite the unfortunate title this is a pretty mainstream comedy of sexual manners that manages to mix some hearty laughs with some uncomfortable truths about bedroom politics.  The story follows five disparate couples one evening as they prepare to get laid, starting with foreplay and ending with “afterglow”.  Some end up getting what they want, others end up somewhere they didn’t expect.  Not a masterpiece, just some good naughty fun.

YOU, THE LIVING (Sweden):  Roy Andersson delivers yet another bizarre apocalyptic collection of skits making merciless fun of contemporary paranoias......and makes you laugh all the way.  Strange and surreal.....from a traveling house to visions of nuclear Armageddon.....there is something here to delight/confuse/elate everyone.  Best seen when really stoned.


Mr. Big (Canada), Up The Yangtze (Canada), Salud (USA), Echoes of Home (Switzerland), We Are Together (UK), Losers and Winners (Germany), Ballerina (France), Toi (Canada), Mid-Afternoon Barks (China), Nomadak Tx (Spain), War Made Easy (USA), Alice’s House (Brazil), Mr. Cinema (Hong Kong), Samson and Delilah (Netherlands), Hollywood Chinese (USA), The Sun Also Rises (China), Radio Star (Korea), Secret Sunshine (Korea), Shattered (Canada), Iska’s Journey (Hungary), Strange Culture (USA), The Home Song Stories (Australia), Vacation (Germany)