You asked for it, you got it. This documentary about the legendary love affair between Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen is a delicious, inspired blast of nostalgia for those of us who love Cohen and those who, remarkably, haven’t met him yet. Famously, the couple met on the sun-soaked Greek island of Hydra in a time when people actually believed in making love, not war. Director Broomfield, an insider who captures the fresh intimacy of those times, shows us how much that romance shaped the person who became an international phenomenon. Once a lover and muse, Marianne became the subject of at least two songs and countless poems, and her story finally shares a space in the great poet’s legend.
This is a richly shot, richly cast, and richly told film about the rich—and their questionable behaviour, of course. The cast is stellar and well worth the spectacle alone. Lots of twists and turns here, but the gist of it is that Michelle Williams plays a woman running an orphanage in India who is lured to a wedding planned by Julianne Moore’s character. We slowly find out why ‘after the wedding’ itself, but the run-up is full of hints and threads, diversions and teasing. The film is an adaptation of an earlier Danish version, with the gender roles reversed here. In a way, this is an old-fashioned movie which would have starred Bette Davis or Joan Crawford in its time. Everything is a bit over the top and people are always on the verge of losing it; in other words, this is a pleasant diversion for the not-so-idle rich.
This well-shaped and timely documentary about the late Nobel Prize winning author is worthy of the brilliant story-telling skills Toni Morrison possessed. Morrison herself fully participated in this intelligent study of her life and work, which makes all the difference. We’d rather hear from her directly, of course, and the film delivers generously. Readers of Morrison’s work will likely discover a lot more than they thought they knew about her path to international acclaim. No one tells it like Toni, but we do get further insight from friends and admirers—from Oprah to Jonathan Demme, Fran Lebowitz and Angela Davis—all of whom give us the insightful “pieces” of a person. More than a biopic, this terrific documentary illuminates the larger social forces at work that made a Toni Morrison happen.
Yes, we know them by their given names. Who else could they be? This is the story of how Sackville-West and Woolf met, fell in love, and carried on in the most modern and delightful way. The text is largely based in historical evidence—that is, the actual letters they wrote to express their ideas and feelings—while the legendary Bloomsbury group gave permission, more or less. We remain fascinated with the personal mental struggles Woolf endured, and it is so interesting to see where her art and life converge as the relationship developed. We also know that Woolf’s masterpiece, Orlando, evolved out of this experience, and so you might wish to revisit the novel after seeing the film. The chic boho fashion, by the way, is to die for, as you might expect.
Oh, how we love a furtive love story, especially when star-crossed lovers collide. Here the central focus is clearly on the woman—a widowed domestic helper—who has at once so little and so much to lose by falling in love with her master—sir. This should not be surprising because the director is a determined female filmmaker with her own story of making it in a tough male-dominated industry. Set in Bombay/Mumbai, the film stays largely indoors, in the domestic space where a relationship has a chance to breathe and find its way. But the exterior social world and all its class prohibitions is palpably present throughout. This is such a wonderfully told story, beautifully shot, and gracefully rendered by a talented filmmaker. Don’t miss it.
In collaboration with the 30th St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, we are bringing a gorgeous debut feature drama to this series, nothing less than a stunning visual pleasure of a story. After it premiered at Berlin earlier this year, the film has gone on to become a festival darling, and you will certainly appreciate why. First-time director Wang Lina dedicates this remarkable achievement to her hometown, Shaya, in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. She concentrates on two families, both Muslim Uyghur, who are confronting a rapidly changing nation. By focusing on change largely through the eyes of the children in the family, the director conveys the sense of what these youngsters will inevitably be saying farewell to—their language and traditional cultural practices, for sure. The high naturalism here is simply awesome. Shot entirely in the region with amateur actors, the film is marked by an intense purity of vision. Unforgettable.
Dolan remains a controversial director, a cocky phenom who grabbed big Cannes prizes at a young age, and who has since gone on to a love-hate relationship with critics and audiences, especially in France. This film, as many have wisely noted, roots him back in his homeland—Quebec—where he seems most comfortable. Maxime is played by Dolan himself, a guy on the verge of touring the world for a couple of years. Before leaving Canada, he sees good pals and agrees to star in a short film opposite an old friend, Matthias. They are directed to share a kiss—and, well, that changes almost everything. There are tender, funny moments here, as well as much lush visual storytelling, as Dolan, for once, takes a calm, lower-key approach to action in characters. We like it better like that.
Hard not to love this exuberant celebration of talent, a turned-on-its-head member of the underdog genre with a superb star-making performance. Irish actress Jessie Buckley is the titular wild rose, indee-- gifted, unpredictable, unfiltered, uncompromising, and totally unforgettable. Rose is a Glaswegian-born dreamer, something of a self-styled changeling who believes she belongs in Nashville. She’s not born yesterday either. She has two more or less neglected youngsters and a trail of broken promises, just as in all the c&w songs she croons. But she is so determined, feisty, and gut-driven real that she carries us along in spite of all the bad choices and uncertain chances. Among so many other good reasons, you just have to show up to hear Buckley’s voice as she belts out song after song, with help from some of the greatest female vocalists in the repertoire. See if you can hear them, hear if you can see them.
Anyone old enough to remember will recall respected UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash in 1961. Well, if you believe that was an accident, we have a huge power dam in Labrador to sell you. The filmmakers set out to find out what really happened and ended up following a number of threads related to Cold War politics and African decolonization. This is a primer for History students and conspiracy lovers in general, a totally gripping, acclaimed doc that puts you right on the edge of your seat. There is so much going on here you will want to take notes. Consider that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission following Apartheid uncovered much to reinforce the theory that Hammarskjöld’s plane was rigged to fall, just for starters. We won’t say more, but please give this gripping doc a chance. It was practically designed for an audience of MUN Cinema.
This is such a smart film, one that takes you on a surprising journey of self-discovery. The title figure is a dancer—a really good one. She is accepted into the prestigious l'Opéra de Paris only to have second thoughts. Lured by the exotic contemporary dancers upon whom she stumbles in her musings, she starts to pursue a decidedly non-traditional path to creative expression. When it screened at Cannes this year, VÉRA enthralled audiences. The lead actor is uncannily talented, and Chomienne, who comes from the same world of dance as the central figure, found the perfect actor/performer in Bonitzer. In this case, not knowing the dancer from the dance turns out to be a very good thing.
This has local talent splashed all over it. We are proud to be showcasing this original, feature documentary by some of our best award-winning artists. A maverick artist is rediscovered in Paris when his taboo-busting 1967 film resurfaces in the art world. Robert Cordier’s movie about medicine and the body made 20,000 people faint at the Montreal world’s fair. Ghost Artist unmasks it as an avant-garde work for the masses, inspired by collaborations with legendary artists like James Baldwin, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Jean Genet and Salvador Dalí. Ghost Artist is in the same documentary family as Searching for Sugarman and Finding Vivien Maier. This is a real treat for all of us and so please come out to see and hear what the filmmakers have to say. They’ll be around for a short Q&A after the film.
Still fresh from Cannes, there’s lots of Oscar buzz about Banderas’s performance and you’ll see why. Arguably, the most acclaimed film in this season’s series, Almodóvar’s latest triumph is thinly disguised autobiopic—and there’s nothing wrong with that. In the role of an aging, ailing director, Banderas is the gay Salvador. Expected to respond in a Q&A to a retrospective of his films, he reconnects with one of his actors and a former lover with whom he had a troubled falling out. The reunion leads to a lot of reflection and a chance for the filmmaker to reanimate his memories, many of which swirl around his idealized mother, played by the easy-to-idealize Penelope Cruz. There isn’t a wasted shot in this gorgeously rendered, intimate portrait of an artist coming to terms with his mortality.
We don’t like to take a pass on anything Huppert appears in. And NL residents are especially fond of actor Gleeson (The Grand Seduction) and so that’s at least two good reasons to see this families-in-conflict drama. She is Frankie and he is husband Jimmy. They show up in a charming European town for a reunion with their extended multi-culti clan -- and let the games/quiet encounters begin. This is a day-in-the-life slice of ensemble acting by some very talented performers. Low-key and slowly revealing, the film aspires to an unforced naturalism as the characters take on past grudges and embrace new possibilities with a kind of random lightness. It’s all very enchanting and nothing could be finer than to be in Sintra, Portugal, in December.