July 26, 2012 Heroes vs Superheroes. Movies Reviewed: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Posted in Art, Batman, China, Comics, Cultural Mining, 艾未未, Hotdocs, Movies, Super-heroes, Uncategorized, US, 中国艺术 by CulturalMining.com on July 27, 2012

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM,  looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, genre and mainstream movies, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference..

People like to watch superheroes and supervillains, whether its on the big screen or on the news screen – media gobble up anything in the news that seems horrific, and when it can be tied to movies or TV – like the recent shooting disaster in Colorado, it’s media gold. But what about a real hero? Those are harder to find. Do we give as much attention to heroes as villains, and what about real heroes vs comic book superheroes?

This week I’m talking about two action movies about superheroes trying to save Manhattan from being blown up, and a documentary about a real guy, an artist, who’s trying to stop China from imploding.

The Avengers

Dir: Joss Whedon

OK, NASA is building a machine called the tesseract that is powered by this bluish glowing cube about yea big. But a skinny goth with a glowing, golden sceptre — the Norse god Loki — puts the scientists under mind-control and zooms off somewhere to open a hole in the universe that would let an army of slimy metallic evil creatures from outer space take over the world.

So a group of people with special powers are brought together by a secret US government agency — SHIELD — to fight supervillain Loki. There’s Thor, the God of Thunder with a heavy hammer, Bruce Banner, the scientist who might turn into the Hulk at any moment, Ironman, a rich dude who’s also an inventor; Captain America, an earnest military guy from the 1940s who wears an ice-ballet stars and stripes leotard and carries a super-strong shield; and the black widow Natasha, a former Soviet spy who now fights bad guys everywhere. They all get loaded onto this mammoth airborne battleship the size of a small city. And, for some reason, Loki’s locked up into a glass cage on board.

Since they’re superheroes, they get into a bunch of fights: Thor vs Ironman, Hulk vs Thor, etc etc… until they finally get it together to fight the real baddies. But of course Loki and his hypnotized minions are going to stop them. Will the good guys beat the bad guys? Or will the earth crumble, taken over by Loki’s alien allies? Uh… guess.

This is a pretty goofy movie but it’s directed by Joss Whedon so you know it’s going to be watchable with lots of collapsing buildings falling apart just behind someone running full speed toward the camera. Cool. And the space aliens — who look like massive flying trilobite armadillos with sharp teeth – get in some amazing urban disaster scenes, smashing through glass office towers. The big stars – Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlet Johansen, Samuel Jackson, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki — all seem to be having a good time.

And the bits of sardonic humour thrown in here and there, helps it a lot. Not great fun, but at least good fun once all the fighting starts.

The Dark Knight Rises

Dir: Christopher Nolan

As in The Avengers, a super-villain, this one called Bain, — a big guy with a mask over his mouth — descends on Manhattan, aka Gotham City, because he wants to take over, seize Wayne Enterprises’ secret energy-generating device (with WMD potential), and then kill everybody. Why? Doesn’t really matter. Because he’s a bad guy, I guess.

But billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is in retirement, his company running dry, and the forlorn orphans he used to help are left abandoned. Meanwhile, in a French Revolution-style takeover, they storm the Bastille letting the world’s worst criminals out of jail, a Robespierre-type judge sentences everyone to death or exile, and the NYPD are all locked up in a collapsed underground tunnel. Who will save everyone? It takes the combined efforts of a tough, young cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a slinky cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) to finally get Batman out of his funk to fight the bad guy. But Bain locks him up in a pit in central Asia with no way out. Oh no!

I dunno about this one. Two hours and forty minutes later we get to see the ending, find out who will triumph and what is the villain’s secret. To be honest, this is a pretty stupid movie. The effects are good enough, but never seem to be justified – they’re evoked seemingly at random. Great actors — like Tom Hardy as Bain and Christian Bale as Batman – spend the movie masked, with distorted voices. Why bother? They could have meat puppets doing the same thing. What a waste. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne Hathaway are a bit better, as their characters actually get to develop, but in general, this movie was a humourless drudge. Good enough to watch, but not worth dying for (this is not meant to downplay the terrible shooting at the premier in Colorado).

Incidentally, the scariest part for me was when someone walked past my aisle seat, with a loud, sudden pattapattapatta clacking sound. Everyone jumped and stared and a security guard came running into the theatre to investigate, but it turned out to be just some guy spilling reese’s pieces all over the steps.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Dir: Alison Klayman

But what about a real hero?

Ai Weiwei (艾未未) is a Chinese artist and photographer who studied in NY in the 80s and 90s and is now an international art celeb. He helped design the Beijing Olympic stadium and his photography – he’s famous for giving the finger to all the world’s great buildings — and installations are widely known. And he has impeccable credentials: his dad was Ai Qing (艾青), the poet who was jailed by the Nationalists, and who joined the Communist Party and participated in Mao Zedong’s famous Talks on Art and Culture at Yen’an. That’s major historical creds in postwar China.

But Ai Weiwei doesn’t like everything going on in China these days. So when a poorly designed school building collapses in Sichuan, killing hundreds of kids, his art turns political – after painstaking research he creates a memorial listing all the names of the dead. But this is taken as a possible insult to the the authorities. He is arrested and beaten up by a violent cop known only by his badge number. So begins his odyssey, fighting the powers that be, and trying to get justice using his art, his writing, the media, lawsuits, fighting in court, and filming everything, everywhere he goes.

He is one of the signers of Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08, and generally makes a name for himself, not just as an installation and photographic artist, but as a leading dissident — a sort of a Chinese Michael Moore, but one with deep artistic and cultural capabilities.

This documentary (that opened this year’s Hotdocs) is very important as an historical record. While it may be a case of the filmmaker being in the right place at the right time – It’s mainly shot with a handheld camera allowed to trace and document his life: in the galleries, his encounters with the police, his family life, including time with his son (from an unseen mother, not his wife).

He comes across as a bit unlikeable – not a smiling panda, but an irascible, sometimes obnoxious stubborn man. But one who sticks to his principles (freedom of speech, freedom of expression, an independent judiciary, etc). AI Weiwei has had his studio destroyed by the government, he’s been thrown in a secret prison — allegedly for tax reasons – and fined millions of dollars, but he hasn’t stopped fighting. Really interesting and worth seeing if you’re interested in China, politics, or art.

The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises are playing now, check your local listings; and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry opens today in Toronto.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM, and on my website culturalmining.com.

Daniel Garber speaks with Argentinian director Ariel Winograd about his new film My First Wedding (Mi Primera Boda)

Posted in Argentina, comedy, Cultural Mining, Movies, Romance, Romantic Comedy, TJFF, Uncategorized by CulturalMining.com on July 20, 2012


Can a wedding succeed when surrounded by squabbling family members whose own marriages are falling apart? A new Argentinian film, My First Wedding, which opens today in Toronto, asks that very question. A screwball comedy, My First Wedding is about a wedding gone astray when the groom — who loses his fiancee’s heirloom wedding ring — is forced to come up with a way to delay the ceremony without the bride discovering why.

I speak with the Argentinian director Ariel Winograd about his film, Daniel Hendler, Natalia Oreiro, Judd Apatow, Ariel’s personal connection to the story, his views on comedy, his influences, and more…

Love, Romance and Passion. Movies reviewed: Trishna, My First Wedding PLUS Burlesque Assassins

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, genre and mainstream movies, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

In the heat of the night, Toronto has been boiling over with record hot temperatures and high tempers, tragic shootings and a bizarre machete mugging.

But hot nights can also lead to steamy romance, passion and ultimately to love. So this week I’m looking at two movies that deal with romance. One’s about a wedding that might lead to disaster; another where the lack of a wedding might ruin the relationship.


Dir: Michael Winterbottom

Jay (Riz Ahmed) is a confident Oxbridge toff touring India with his buddies. But when they see a young woman performing a dance at their hotel in Rajasthan Jay is smitten and decides to pursue her. And the dancer Trishna (Freida Pinto), notices him too — clearly the feelings are mutual. Jay’s father owns a palatial hotel in Jaipur, and since Trishna’s father’s accident (he was the jeep driver for the travelling Jay and his friends), her extended family has no income. So she takes him up on his offer and goes to work for the hotel, and study at the local college. All’s going well until she is accosted by some tuffs, rescued by her white knight Jay on a motorcycle and then taken back to the hotel, where they succomb to passion. But by the next morning she feels ashamed and what happens and flees home.

If this all feels like a Victorian novel, that’s because it is: it’s an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but set in modern-day India. Scooters instead of horses, jeeps instead of stagecoaches, but class is still the big divider. Trishna comes from a poor family, and although given a taste of the high life — a Bombay apartment as Jay dabbles as a Bollywood producer, or in Jaipur at the posh hotel — there’s a clear difference between Jay’s status and hers. He moodily shifts from boyfriend to employer, and the dynamics of their relationship also changes. He says in the Kama Sutra there are three types of women you can sleep with: a sophisticated woman, a servant or a courtesan. He doesn’t mention wife. Trishna wonders which one she is. There relationship could be a passing fancy for him, but for a disenfranchised woman it’s all she’s got.

Trishna is a very moving and realistic romantic drama, partly scripted, partly improvised — almost documentary like. Pinto and Ahmed are both great as the lovers, and the director, Michael Winterbottom is as experimental and surprising as ever. His movies range from 24 Hour Party People to A Cock and Bull Story (a comic adaptation of another British novel — in this case Sterne’s Tristram Shandy)

While he has no specific style – his style can change drastically from film to film — Winterbottom’s always an interesting director who constantly expands the boundaries of what you can call a movie. Trishna follows a traditional story, but by shifting the culture and language from 19th century England to 21st century India Winterbottom can take the age old story of poor girl meets rich boy and turn it into an entirely new type of film.

My First Wedding

Dir: Ariel Winograd

Adrian and Leonora are a happy couple, dressed up and ready for their country club wedding outside Buenos Aries. The wedding planner is organizing everything, family and friends are all arriving, and a rabbi and a priest are being driven out there to officiate. Adrian (Daniel Hendler) is Jewish, while Leo (Natalia Oreiro) is Catholic. But as they separately rehearse their wedding vows, Adrian panics when he loses Leo’s wedding band. She’ll kill him if she finds out. so, to postpone the wedding, he must send the Priest and Rabbi off on a wild goose chase, hide the truth from his bride, and find the ring (with help from cousin Fede).

The wedding planner recommends they go through the wedding in reverse order — party, dine, drink, and dance… and say the vows at the end instead of the beginning. Sort of an upside down wedding. But things get even more complicated. Leo’s snobbish mother, herself divorced, is disappointed in her choice, Adrian’s family are all quarrelling, his grandfather wants to smoke pot, and past lovers — Leo’s former professor, the dashing Miguel Angel (Imanol Arias); and Adrian’s second cousin who still likes him — all seem to be working hard to ruin the wedding. Angel announces that marriages are like cities under seige: everyone inside wants to get out, while everyone outside is trying to get in. With the divorces and collapsing relationships all around them, the title (My First Wedding) begins to make sense.

This is a funny, classic screwball comedy about what can go wrong at a wedding. The two leads are great as is the very large supporting cast. It’s a light enjoyable rom-com from Argentina, told from the groom’s perspective.

Trishna and My First Wedding both open today in Toronto, check your local listings. Also playing tonight (at the Bloor Cinema) is a neo-burlesque, cabaret style movie called Burlesque Assassins (directed by Jonathan Joffe), about some killer spies (with names like Roxi D’lite) who double as cold-war exotic dancers as they travel the globe to catch the villains. Lots of guns, 1950’s uniforms, and more cleavage than you can shake a stick at. Also on this weekend is the documentary “They Call it Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain” about Burma and its people. It’s showing free at the East Gallery, just across the street from the AGO on Dundas.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM, with podcasts and complete reviews available on my web site CulturalMining. com.


July 12, 2012. Indi-rama. Films Reviewed: Neil Young Journeys, Union Square, Fat Kid Rules the World, V/H/S

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, genre and mainstream movies, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

Spiderman, the Dark Knight, Avengers: there’s no shortage of superheroes right now – accompanied by super budgets and mega advertising campaigns. With the happy meal toys and non-stop TV ads, they’re getting way more publicity and reviews than they need. But what about the local heroes, the ones who make great films on a shoestring and whose movies end up showing on a single screen in one theatre? Don’t they deserve to be talked about, too? So this week I’m only reviewing indie productions that deserve to be seen – no big budgets or big studios. I’m talking about two dramas: one about a boy whose life might be saved by punk rock; another about a woman whose life might be ruined by a surprise visit; a concert film about a musician who goes back to his Toronto roots; and a horror movie made from handmade video tapes.

Neil Young Journeys

Dir: Jonathan Demme

I have to admit, one of my earliest memories of Neil Young was being woken up as a kid on a Saturday morning by someone playing Heart of Gold at full blast. I declared war on him for ruining my sleep. I despised his repetitive, simplistic lyrics, his plodding music, his high-pitched whiny voice. Hated him. Then, years later, something shifted in my brain… and I learned to love Neil Young.

If you’ve somehow never heard of the legendary Canadian you might go through the same process in viewing this movie. Neil Young’s Journey is a solo concert film of Neil Young at Massey Hall in downtown Toronto. He accompanies himself on guitar, piano, even an amazing rendition of After the Gold Rush on a pipe organ. The film alternates the music with a travelogue of a visit to his childhood home in Omemee, Ontario and the long drive into Toronto with his brother. The slow trip matches the relaxed pace of the film. Occasionally, Jonathan Demme gets carried away — with things like a baffling, five-minute extreme close-up of Neil Young’s grizzled lower lip and chin — but, on the whole, it’s a beautiful skillful, committed, and often moving record of a concert back in Toronto. He plays a selection of his hits from the 70’s and 80’s — like Ohio, Cinnamon Girl, and Out of the Blue – and newer songs from a recent album Le Noise. While visually it’s very plain, musically it’s sophisticated and satisfying. Just close your eyes, relax and enjoy it.

Union Square

Dir: Nancy Savoca

Jen (Tammy Blanchard), is a neat, pretty, quiet, and tidy anal professional, originally from Maine, living with he boyfriend in downtown Manhattan. She doesn’t drink or smoke, is a vegetarian, a yoga enthusiast, and runs a health food company out of her apartment. Her boyfriend and fiancé, Bill (Mike Doyle), is a generic-looking Stanford grad and runner who calls Jen “twig”. They’re happy. There lives are absolutely perfect.

But into this rarefied existence plops Lucy (Mira Sorvino), a loud-mouthed, gaudily dressed woman with a strong accent, who seems to know Jen for some reason. But it’s soon revealed that she’s her sister. She talks at twice Jen’s volume, interrupts her, laughs, shrieks, cries, and breaks hundred of house rules (no shoes, no pets, no cigarettes, no meat) even in her first few minutes in the apartment off Union Square. She’s a working-class, Italian-American from the Bronx! And that means Jen is, too. And guess who’s coming to dinner — Rob’s parents… even as Lucy camps out with her shopping bags on the couch. She has a magician’s bag of tricks, pulling out a depressed old dog named Murray, and a Miami Sound Machine ring tone. And as Lucy spreads herself out, Jen becomes increasingly tense.

Will Jen’s house of cards collapse as Bill discovers her real origins? Can she still “pass” as a suburban educated New England WASP? And will Lucy get a chance to tell Jen the news she brings?

Union Square (which Savoca shot in a friend’s apartment, with a naturalistic hand-held camera) functions like a tight, one-act-play, with revelations, gradual changes in character, and a final cathartic scene about what’s behind the two sisters’ fighting. Mira Sorvino and Tammy Blanchard are terrific as the sisters. Union Square is a short (80 minutes), sweet, tender — and really funny — family drama.

Fat Kid Rules the World

Dir: Mathew Lillard

Troy (Jacob Wysocki) is a depressed, self-loathing, overweight teenager who lives with his rigid disciplinarian single father, an ex-marine, and his obnoxious jock younger brother. He has a crush on a girl who doesn’t know he exists, was abandoned by his best friend when his mom died, and whose only contact is with anonymous game-players he meets online.

So he jumps in front of a bus to end it all… but just before it hits him, out of nowhere comes a homeless, drug-addicted punk drop-out (Matt O’Leary) who saves his life – and then asks for a few bucks for food! Gradually they get to know one another and he tells Troy they can form a punk band together: Marcus on the guitar, Troy on the drums, in exchange for a bed to sleep in or at least some food. Troy finds new status with the irresponsible but popular musician

Will the painfully shy Troy gain the self-confidence he needs to escape his depression? Will he bend his father’s hard heart? And will Marcus ever realizes he has to overcome his pharma-addictions if he ever wants a normal life?

Based on the teen novel, this is a great coming-of-age story by first time director Matthew Lillard (the iconic Generation X actor, who became a symbol of underground youth culture in movies like Scream, Hackers and as Shaggy in Scooby-Doo.) O’Leary and Wysocki have a great raport and dynamic and are great as the two main characters. They really carry the movie through.


This played at the recent summer series of Toronto After Dark. It’s found-footage horror at its best.

When a bunch of petty hoods are told to break into a home and steal a VHS tape they discover a cache of extremely creepy, violent and occasionally funny homemade snuff films. The movie consists of the burglers replaying those scary videotapes on an old TV set. There’s a travelogue shot in the southwest with an unknown visitor shooting more film at night; a captured skype conversation between two lovers with unusual things appearing in the background; a failed attempt at amateur porn by some guys who pick up two drunk women in a bar (but where the sexual predators might become the prey); a hallowe’en party gone awry; and a strange drive up to a remote cabin in the woods. They’re all different styles, but all really scary, and occasionally gory in the extreme – for true horror lovers. The short films were all complete stories but seemed sort of like six directors’ demos for later linger movies. But this compilation is definitely worth seeing on a scary rainy night – can I say it again? Extremely scary.

Neil Young’s Journey, Union Square, and Fat Kid Rules the World all open this weekend in Toronto, check your local listings, and I hope V/H/S/ will also show up a theatre someday soon. Also worth seeing is the New Zealand indigenous family drama, BOY – it opens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this weekend. And the Shinsedai film fest, chock-full of the best of Japanese pop culture is on now.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM, with podcasts and complete reviews available on my web site CulturalMining. com.

Interview: Daniel Garber talks with Ivan Cotroneo about his new film Kryptonite!

Posted in 1970s, comedy, Coming of Age, Cultural Mining, Drama, Italy, Movies, Toronto by CulturalMining.com on July 6, 2012

https://danielgarber.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/garberjune28-12-interview-2-unedited.mp3Ivan Cotroneo is a noted scriptwriter, novelist and translator, originally from Naples, whose first movie (as a director) Kryptonite! recently played at Toronto’s Italian Contemporary Film Festival. Kryptonite! is a coming-of-age drama about an innocent 9-year-old boy from a dysfunctional family in Naples in the 1970’s, who is thrown into the counterculture there by his young aunt and uncle.

I spoke with Ivan in detail about his new film (by telephone in Toronto).

Interview: Daniel Garber talks to Monica Nappo about her new films Kryptonite and To Rome With Love

Posted in 1970s, Acting, comedy, Cultural Mining, Italy, Movies, UK by CulturalMining.com on July 5, 2012

Toronto’s recent Italian Contemporary Film Festival showed a number of notable films including its opening night feature, Ivan Cotroneo’s Kryptonite!, and its closing film, Woody Allen’s To Rome, with Love.

But only one person appears in both of those films — noted Naples-born, London-based Italian film and theatrical actress Monica Nappo. I spoke with her by telephone in Toronto about working with two very different directors, the parts she plays in both movies, her acting style, her influences, her background as a stand up comic… and her experience with butoh!

July 6 2012. July Getaways. Movies Reviewed: To Make a Farm, To Rome with Love

Posted in Canada, comedy, Cultural Mining, documentary, Italy, Uncategorized, US by CulturalMining.com on July 5, 2012

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, genre and mainstream movies, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

When the days turn as swelteringly hot as they’ve been the past few days, you have to get somewhere cool. And what place is better than a movie theatre? So in the spirit of getaways, this week I’m talking about a Canadian documentary about urban and suburbanites heading back to the land; and an American comedy about tourists escaping to a nostalgic view of a mythical Europe.

To Make a Farm
Dir: Steve Suderman

A lot of people are feeling alienated and unfulfilled by life in the suburbs. There’s no there there. So a bunch of them from Ontario and Manitoba, after attending organic farms to learn the trade, set off on their own or in pairs to make a go of it in the countryside. Wes decides to build himself a place from scratch, look for a source of water and start growing stuff. Jeff and Leslie want to grow vegetables for subscribers who buy shares in their plot of land. Tarah branches out into animal-rearing.

“The food in a supermarket isnt vibrant, It’s uniform but it’s not gorgeous…” says one of the back-to-the-land farmers, reveling in the colourful mounds of just washed produce.

The farmers meet with varying degrees of success over the course of the year the film was shot, but they really seem to love it. Born into suburban homes they finally feel they’re actually at home, something they created and tended to.

They plow the fields, herd ducks, chickes and sheep, without sheepdogs or giant shepherd’s staffs; they really get into the whole thing. Of course, they’re funded by people who want the organic ir fresh-grown food but don’t have time t0 make it themselves.

Not everything works out right – they’re afflicted with late growth, potato blight, sick birds, flooding… but none of this seems to bother them – it’s live and learn. In To Make a Farm you get to see what it’s like to go back to the land.

There are some amazing scenes, like Tarah who is, how can I put it, in love with the pigs on her farm. I mean physically (though not sexually, of course) in love with them. Which makes you wonder what’s going to happen when they turn them into bacon…

It’s a slow paced but beautifully shot movie, so you almost feel you’re there, but without the 4 am wake-ups.

To Rome with Love
Dir: Woody Allen

To Rome With Love follows four separate storylines about how American concepts of success or fame — in movies, music, or financial world – are played out daily in Rome.

Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) is an unsuccessful and underpaid office worker who lives a dull life with his wife (Monica Nappo) and kids. But for unknown reasons he suddenly finds himself a celebrity with rabid paparazzi chasing him and observing the minute details of his life. He trades the water cooler for the red carpet and finds he’s suddenly considered attractive to beautiful young women. Can he survive his taste of La Dolce Vita?

Meanwhile, a retired American music exec (Woody Allen) and his wife fly off to Rome to meet the parents of their daughter’s new Italian boyfriend – who met her on the Spanish Steps. But Dad is soon entranced when he hears his daughter’s prospective father in law singing opera in the shower. Can he make the undertaker into an Italian Susan Boyle?

And a successful American architect (Alec Baldwin) thinking back to his student days in Rome 30 years earlier, runs into a budding architect (Jesse Eisenberg) living just as he remembers it. As an older and wiser man, he feels compelled to try to rewrite history and help his younger version avoid the mistakes he’d made – an ill-founded infatuation with a superficial actress (Ellen Page).

And finally, a naïve, young couple travelling from a small town to Rome to make connections with his relatives and set up his career, fall into trouble. She stumbles onto a movie set and falls into the arms of a star; while he is caught with his pants down in the arms of a voluptuous prostitute (Penelope Cruz) by his relatives and is forced to carry on the charade that she’s actually his new bride. Will they emerge unscathed from their screwball comic mix-ups?

Although this comedy’s cute and enjoyable, there’s something strange and unsatisfying about it. First, the four stories never interact – they merely cut from one story to the next then back again – some seemingly taking a few hours, others a week or two. I was expecting to see a clever story that somehow tied the four stories together, even tangentially, but was sadly disappointed. The Rome he shows is supposed to be the Rome of today – but where are all the West Africans, the Ethiopians, the Tunisians, the Albanians…? This version of Rome looks like a time warp to me.

But most disappointing of all, was, despite the big-name American and Italian cast and a few genuinely funny scenes, it just like a remake of a second-rate TV show from the 50’s or 60’s – without an original image or an up-to-date topic to be found amongst them.

To Rome, With Love, and To Make a Farm, both open this weekend in Toronto; Toronto After Dark is showing some eerie found-footage films next Wednesday, TAAFI, Toronto’s animated arts festival international, and the First Peoples cinema series – films about first nations, inuit and aboriginal peoples around the world — are both playing right now at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM, with podcasts and complete reviews available on my web site CulturalMining. com.

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