Caught up. Movies Reviewed: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, Leviathan

Posted in Corruption, Cultural Mining, Farsi, Movies, Russia, Uncategorized, Vampires, Yakuza, 日本电影, 日本映画 by CulturalMining.com on January 22, 2015

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

There aren’t many blockbusters released in January, so it’s a good time to catch up on less commercial films. So this week I’m looking at movies about people caught in a bad place: an art-house indie horror,  an over-the-top comedy/horror/musical, and a serious drama.  There’s an Iranian guy caught between a drug dealer and a vampire, a Japanese filmmaker caught between rival yakuza gangs, and a Russian caught by corrupt politicans.

A_Girl_6A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Dir: Ana Lily Amirpour

Bad City is a place for lost souls. It’s a desert town filled with oil rigs and refineries, separated from the rest of the world by a row of distant mountains. The streets are deserted except for a few people. Arash (Arash Marandi) is a Persian James Dean, who works as a gardener at a rich woman’s mansion. And at home he takes care of his dad, Hossain. Hossein (Marshall Mannesh) is depressed and slowly committing suicide by using drugs. Then there’s the track-suited, A_Girl_2tattooed drug dealer and all-around asshole; the sex worker who peddles her wares in dark alleys, and a little kid with a skateboard who observes it all. And finally there’s a girl who walks home alone at night (Sheila Vand).

A_Girl_1The girl – who is kept nameless – wears the conservative Iranian chador – an outfit that covers her head and body in an unbroken shroud. But hidden underneath the chador she’s like Marjane Satrapi in the graphic novel Persepolis, with black eye liner and a striped French jersey. She dances to Emo dirges at home, and only ventures outside at night to wander the dark streets… and look for human blood to drink. She’s a vampire.

Arash owns nothing but his treasured sports car and loses that to the thug. But due to a strange turn of events he suddenly finds himself A_Girl_4surrounded by money, power and drugs. He ends up at a costume party dressed in the cape and collar of Dracula. And in an ecstasy-induced haze he encounters the nameless girl who walks home alone at night. Is it true love? Or will she eat him?

This is a cool — though somewhat opaque — indie film, shot in beautiful black and white. It’s filled with sex, drugs, rock and roll – all in farsi. It takes place in a limbo world caught somewhere between the American Southwest and Iranian oil fields. It’s a slow moving mood piece, like Jim Jarmusch directing a Becket play, but from a feminine perspective. Interesting movie.

47_jigoku_sub3_5MBWhy Don’t You Play in Hell? (地獄でなぜ悪い)
Dir: Sono Sion

A team of aspiring college film geeks called the “F*ck Bombers” vow to make a real movie, starring one of their own – a Bruce Lee lookalike. But 10 years pass and still no luck. Meanwhile, two rival yakuza gangs are in a permanent state of war. The Muto gang dress in Godfather suits and carry guns, while the Ikegami gang wear classic kimono, armed with genuine Samurai swords.

Teenaged Mitsuko – the daughter of the Muto gang boss — is famous 49_jigoku_sub5_5MBfor a jingle she sang as a child on a TV toothpaste ad. And the Ikegami boss still has a deeply-buried crush on her (they met in a bloodbath 10 years earlier). Her yakuza dad is bankrolling a film starring his reluctant daughter. But things start to unravel when the famous director quits in disgust. Who can make a movie produced by organized criminals? Especially when a gang war is about to erupt. Confusion, violence and mayhem ensues.

46_jigoku_sub2_5MBIn walks the Movie Club members to the rescue… maybe they could take over the movie? But would rival gangs ever agree to let film geeks record a bloody and violent showdown on 35 mm film… as it happens?

My bare-bones description does not do justice to this fantastic musical45_jigoku_sub1_3M comedy – including an unbelievably blood-drenched, 30-minute-long battle scene. It has to be seen to be believed, and the film is finally opening on the big screen in Toronto. Sono Sion is one of my favourite Japanese directors. His movies are outrageous and shockingly violent but also amazingly sentimental, earnest and goofy at the same time: an odd, but oddly pleasing combination.

05ff2dc3-382c-446d-93f1-6646a6b29db8Leviathan
Dir: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Kolya (Alexey Serebryakov) is a mechanic who lives in northern Russia by the sea. His family has lived there for three generations and Kolya built his home with his own two hands. His son Roma is a bit spoiled but doing OK at school, and his beautiful second wife works at the fish cannery. Their marriage is going well.

But there’s trouble at City Hall. They want to seize his house and land6002bf07-aaaf-4f30-8420-9d038fba9d3f to build something… municipal. Kolya is furious and he’s not going to take this lying down. He’s a real hothead. He’s sure the Mayor is up to no good – just wants to build himself a mansion. So Kolya calls his army buddy in Moscow to give him a hand. Dima (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov) is a lawyer. He comes to town fully loaded with files on the very corrupt mayor Digital Fusion Image Library TIFF FileVadim. The man has “blood on his hands” he says, and he has the documents to prove it. This should stop the mayor in his tracks.

So things are looking up. The trial looks promising, and if not, he can always file an appeal. And there’s a picnic and shooting party to look forward to. A local cop has invited the whole gang, family and friends, to head out to the cliffs to shoot a few bottles with their rifles and AK47s. And boy do these guys have a lot of empty vodka bottles to 2e8da8fe-7cf4-40ce-a66f-5252e16ad79dshoot!

Meanwhile Vadim, the criminal mayor (Roman Madyanov) is plotting Kolya’s downfall. He’s an incredibly arrogant, abusive and greedy politician, a raging alcoholic, and he doesn’t care who knows it. He has the judges, the police, even the local church on his side. This sets off a series of unforeseen events that turn Kolya’s life into a Jobean ordeal of despair.

Digital Fusion Image Library TIFF FileLeviathan is a fantastic movie, a slice-of-life look at modern Russia. Breathtaking, stark scenery, really great acting. But it’s also a devastating indictment of corruption and how it affects regular people there. The story starts slow, but gradually grows, driving toward an unexpectedly powerful finish. It’s also relevant: It’s nominated for an Oscar – best foreign film – but just last week Russia’s Culture Ministry threatened to censor this movie. That would be a real shame, because it’s a great film.

Leviathan, Why Don’t You Play in Hell, and a Girl Walks Home Alone at Night all open today in Toronto: check your local listings. Also opening is Still Alice, starring Julianne Moore as a professor with early-onset Alzheimers – I’ll talk about this next week – and the 50 Year Argument, a documentary about the New York Review of Books.

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

Hard Choices. Movies Reviewed: Two Days, One Night, Escobar: Paradise Lost

Posted in Belgium, Clash of Cultures, Crime, Cultural Mining, Depression, Drama, drugs, Family, Movies by CulturalMining.com on January 16, 2015

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, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

What do you do when faced with an impossible choice? We all face hard decisions, so this week I’m looking at two such dramas: a woman in Belgium whose co-workers’ choice could change her life, and a young man in Colombia whose choice could end someone else’s life.

6bd2ac3a-afd4-48f5-9461-2f221f64c7ebTwo Days, One Night
Dir: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Sandra (Marion Cotillard) is depressed. She lives in Belgium with her daughter and her husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione). At night she bakes tasty tarts for her family in her beautiful house. And during the day she puts on her white uniform to start work at a solar panel factory.

But yesterday something terrible happened and today she is deeply depressed. She had just gone back to her job after recovering from a long illness. And almost immediately her boss asks her coworkers to make a fatal decision. They’re told either Sandra keeps her job or they each get a 90aa5301-67b8-456d-b524-d70e008bedff1000 Euro Christmas bonus. One or the other. Which one would you choose?

So she gets fired. But without her income her family might lose their home… and move into public housing.

After a short conversation, her boss agreed to have a second vote on Monday at work. So her husband and a conscientious workmate tell Sandra what she must do. That weekend, visit each of your workmates and plead with them, one by one, to change their vote, and let her keep her job. And she only has two days and one night to do it. It’s a simple ff5e49a1-586f-44a2-ae2f-5226388ad008story, and. to be honest, a dull one. Sandra attempts to connect with all of her diverse workmates over one weekend: recent immigrants, locals, old and young, single and married, kids / no kids.  The interesting part is the unexpected responses she gets when she talks to them – some sympathetic, others shockingly hostile. And it follows the lead actress, the great Marion Cotillard, as she reacts to them: one moment she’s elated, the next her hopes are crushed into the dirt, as she visits them one by one. Along with a few dramatic surprises.

I liked this heartfelt drama.  It’s shot in that European style of stark hyper-realism, and looks like the Dardennes’ other movies: I’m used to it. It’s the characters and acting that make it watchable. Especially Marion Cotillard, the main reason for seeing this movie: she gives a fantastic performance.

PL-D02-IMG_0732Escobar: Paradise Lost
Dir: Andrea Di Stefano

Nick (Josh Hutcherson) is a young Canadian who follows his brother down south to Colombia. He wants to camp with him on a beautiful beach near Medeillin. It’s a secret paradise with palm trees, sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. Well, one day he meets a pretty woman with raven hair and beautiful smile. And smart too. Her name is Maria (Claudia Traisac) and they hit it off. Maria wants Rick to meet her uncle Pablo. He’s so nice, he’s like a father to her. What does he do? A local politician, and he brings schools and medical care to the poor people in this area. They love him.

So off they go to Uncle Pablo’s estate. He seems to be a nice, thoughtful PL-D09-IMG_4449and very religious guy.He says he’ll Nick like his own son. But most local politicians can’t afford massive swimming pools, enormous mansions, horse stables and pet elephants. Nick wonders how did he earn his fortune? Oh, says Maria, it’s cocaine. The locals have been cultivating coco leaves for centuries. Uncle Pablo just helps export an important national product. And his last name? He is Pablo Escobar, the world-famous drug lord.

After this, Nick, or Nico as Escobar like to call him, starts to notice PL-D17-IMG_9462strange things. Like when he tells Escobar they’re being harassed by local thugs on the beach the problem suddenly disappears… and so do the three thugs. And on Escobar’s estate, Nick sees people in clothes dripping with blood… human blood. But Nick is spared most of the violence until a big turning point. Escobar, who is at war with the central government, makes a deal to turn himself in. But first he calls in his most trusted family members – including Nick – and PL-D14-IMG_0732henchmen, to help him safely hide his vast riches while he’s out of the game. But, soon enough, Nick realizes there’s more to it than that. He might have to murder someone to keep Escobar safe. Is Escobar a father figure or a cold-blooded killer? Can Nick escape from this spiral of crime and death? And what about his fiancée? How do you PL-D44-IMG_4388solve a problem like Maria?

Escobar: Paradise Lost is a gangster pic with a twist. Nick is a peaceful, naïve outsider who finds himself embroiled in Escobar’s criminal enterprises. It’s part biopic drama, part thriller. The biopic part is just so-so. Luckily the thriller part is the final third of the movie, and by far the most interesting. Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, The Kids are Alright) is a good movie star to watch – -sympathetic and believable as Nick: mainly bland and chill, heating up near the end. But Benicio Del Toro gives a nuanced portarayal of that super-sketchy mountain of flesh known as Escobar. Not bad.

Ingrid Veninger The Animal ProjectTwo Days, One Night opens today in Toronto, and Escobar: Paradise Lost also opens today in theatres and on VOD: check your local listings. Also, tonight only, at the newly re-opened Innis Town Hall, at Innis College there’s a free screening of The Animal Project. And a talk and Q&A by Screenwriter-in-Residence Ingrid Veninger, and the cast as well, so don’t miss it. And if you’re curious to learn more about the situation Charlie Hebdo, long before the massacre, check out the 2008 documentary by Daniel Leconte, C’est dur d’etre aime par des cons or Its Hard Being Loved by Jerks. It’s free online: go to myfrenchfilmfestival.com .

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for CIUT 89.5 FM and culturalmining.com

 

 

Sleeping and Dreaming. Movies Reviewed: Selma, Winter Sleep

Posted in Cultural Mining, Drama, Movies, Protest, Turkey, Uncategorized by CulturalMining.com on January 9, 2015

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, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

Dark winter is a good time to catch up on your lying down. To sleep, perchance to dream. But if you’re sleeping you’ll miss all the good movies. Aye, there’s the rub. This week I’m looking at two dramas. One from Turkey is about a rich man in a sleepy town. The other is an American historical drama about a man who had a dream.

10351815_525480020927675_3324277747508183543_nSelma
Dir: Ava DuVernay

It’s 1964. The civil rights movement is in full swing. LBJ’s in the White House, Democrat and die-hard segregationist George Wallace is in the Alabama governor’s mansion and J Edgar Hoover is in the FBI, spying on everyone. But on the street, leading the protests is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo). He has led a series of successful, non-violent actions. The bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. The desegregation campaign in 10456099_511775325631478_5522343266601578699_nBirmingham. And then in Selma, Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey) attempts the unthinkable. She applies to register to vote. But the Jim Crow laws are still in full force, making it virtually impossible to vote… unless you’re white.

King had just won the Nobel Peace Prize and is allowed to talk directly to 10882341_519526858189658_7896291437479059800_nLBJ (Tom Wilkinson). But his call for election reform is firmly rejected by the White House. So King and his confreres set off for Selma, Alabama to bring the protest home. As a preacher King is dedicated to non-violent resistance, modeled on Gandhi’s principals. But the local police have no such restrictions, clubbing, whipping, and even killing the unarmed protesters. But because the sheriff, mayor and governor are elected by a basically all-white electorate, the police can kill blacks with impunity. This makes the voters rights movement all the more important.10304498_516263568515987_3469586445239309478_n

So the protests evolve into a series of actions, culminating in a march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama. They are sure it will capture the nation’s attention if they are able to do it? But will the powers that be allow it to happen? King wonders why America can send soldiers to Vietnam, but not to Alabama where Americans are being attacked.

10425078_516816565127354_731155393230546598_nThe movie covers the months surrounding the protests in Selma, the contributions of the other protesters, including a competing student movement operating out of the same town. It also delves into the personal lives of Martin and his wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo). And subtly woven into the story is the fact that the FBI was bugging and spying and harassing on the whole movement, punctuated with late-night phone calls and constant surveillance and intimidation.

This is an engrossing and exciting film. There was some odd miscasting, things like Tim Roth who I love as an actor, but doesn’t make it as George Wallace. He just doesn’t achieve that good-old-boy feeling. And some of the side characters are prone to speechifying everyday conversations. But that doesn’t matter. Oyelowo is fantastic as Martin Luther King, both in his speeches and as a believable character. And it gives an intimate look at the behind-the scenes organizing of the civil rights movement. Its an historical drama but educates and excites the viewers at the same time.

(As an aside, I recommend you stay through the closing credits as the music plays. You’ll hear a recording from Selma in the 1960s that will forever alter how you think of the song Kumbaya.)

874882c8-50e1-4819-a38a-eb9944263924Winter Sleep
Dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) is a former actor and now a well-to-do landlord. He lives in Cappadocia in Turkey, known for its lunar landscape, where people live in homes carved straight out of volcanic ash. Wild horses roam the nearby fields. He owns a small hotel, and delights in chatting with tourists from Japan, and young adventurous travelers.

Aydin spends his time writing snooty columns about unimportant things for a local paper. And he earns money from the people who live in the nearby homes inherited from his father. But he doesn’t handle the “little”724aeafa-61b5-4bfd-973a-c8dcc5a1bcd1 things like rent collection. So he’s shocked when, going out for a drive, a schoolboy Ilyas throws a rock straight at his car breaking a window! What is the meaning if this?

Back at home, he shares the dinner table with his beautiful young wife Nihal (Melisa Sözen), and his recently divorced sister Necla (Demet Akbag). They keep their conversations civil and intellectual, but filled with hidden, barbed invectives and sly, hidden insults. Afterwards, they each retreat to their own wing of the house.

29efeb47-8756-4bbf-86ed-4bcd8e236852But gradually, as winter comes, the quiet easy life he lives begins to unravel. Nihal devotes her time to a fund-raising project that Aydin dismisses as a silly project. And his sister’s own anger also leads to friction among the three. Aydin is distracted by side ventures – such as taming wild horses after a chance comment by a motorcycle-riding adventurer. Meanwhile, despite the pleading of an imam, the poorer people, including one of his tenants, are ignored… with troubling results.

Winter Sleep is a long, subtle — but never-boring — look at its characters. The beauty of the scenery and photography and the impressiveness of the film comes from the way you follow the emotions, as the stories slowly revealing themselves over the course of conversations: feelings of love, guilt, envy and jealousy, gradually rise to the surface. Subtlety triumphs which makes the sudden surprises all the more shocking. I like this movie.

Winter’s Sleep and Selma both open today in Toronto, check your local listings. And the Canada’s Top Ten series continues at the TIFF Bell Light Box with great Canadian films like The Price We Pay, Corbo, Mommy, and In Her Place.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for CIUT 89.5 FM and culturalmining.com

Daniel Garber talks to Canadian director Clement Virgo about his miniseries The Book of Negroes

Posted in Africa, Canada, Cultural Mining, Drama, TV by CulturalMining.com on January 9, 2015

The Book Of NegroesHi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

It’s the late 18th century. Aminata Diallo, a young girl in West Africa, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the American colonies. Later, during the Revolutionary war, the British crown promise freedom to all blacks who fight on their side. The British lose the war, but afterwards the loyalists are allowed to emigrate to Nova Scotia. But they face being re-enslaved unless they can prove their identity. So the multilingual Mina Diallo is enlisted to record the loyalists names in a crucial ledger so the men and woman can hold on to their hard-won freedom. The book where she writes the names is titled The Book Of Negroes.

The Book of Negroes is also the name of a new, epic drama now airing on CBC television. Based on the novel by Laurence Hill, it traces the story of Mina, tossed and turned by the vagaries of slavery and war across three continents, as she struggles to establish herself as a free woman and a woman in love. The miniseries is directed and co-written by award-winning Toronto filmmaker Clement Virgo, known for his films on boxing, sex, and identity.

I spoke to Clement in Toronto by telephone. He talks about the series’ characters, Roots, The Pianist, slavery, the Holocaust, women, war, The Wizard of Oz, Black Loyalists, Nova Scotia, the “N” word, empowerment, South Africa, Someone Knows My Name, and more.

Old and New. Movie reviewed: The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, PLUS Best movies of 2014

Posted in Best Picture, Cultural Mining, Horror, Movies, UK, WWII by CulturalMining.com on January 2, 2015

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, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

Happy New Year! It’s a time to look ahead at what’s coming and back at what we did. So this week I’m talking about something new a scary movie from the UK, and something old, my choices for best of 2014

WOMAN IN BLACK 2The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

Dir: Tom Harper

It’s London, during the Blitz. German bombs keep falling, reducing streets to rubble, but Miss Parkins, the indefatigable school teacher, (Phoebe Fox) vows to carry on, and keep the aspidistra flying. The strict headmistress (Helen McRory: Harry Potter) keeps things orderly and on time. The dozen or so boys and girls face new losses each day. Especially little Edward (Oaklee Pendergast) who stops speaking at all when both his parents are killed in an air raid. So they all breathe a sigh of

WOMAN IN BLACK 2relief when the school is relocated to the countryside out of harms way. (Or so they think…) And on the train ride out, pretty Miss Parkins meets handsome RAF pilot Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine: War Horse) who is from the very town they’re heading.

Everything seems fine until they arrive at their new home, a crumbling, decrepit mansion. The headmistress is aghast when she sees the peeling WOMAN IN BLACK 2paint, dusty floors, and broken furniture. This is unacceptable! she says, but there’s nowhere else to go. So they’re all stuck on the seacoast, on a spooky island. It’s separated from the nearby town (home to various creepy locals) by a causeway that is flooded each day during high tide. So Miss Parkins decides to make the best of it. It’s just an old house.

But things seem different at night. Strange shadows appear, creaky noises, and fleeting images of a woman dressed in a black veil. The children – especially little Edward — are terrified because their bedroom is located directly below a dusty old nursery. And at night, when they look up they can see straight up into it a hole in the ceiling. It seems to be where all the bad karma is concentrated. And when people start to die, WOMAN IN BLACK 2one by one, surely something evil this way comes. The headmistress says its just rubbish – there’s no such thing as ghosts. But Miss Parkins, with the pilot’s help, wants to save them all from the diabolical forces. What happened in this house? Is it haunted? Will they ever find out the truth? And will little Edward ever speak again?

The Woman in Black 2 is of course the sequel to another movie with the WOMAN IN BLACK 2same title a couple years back that starred Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Same location, same spooky mansion, same mysterious woman in black who’s always searching for her missing child. Other than that it’s a totally different movie. It has some spooky parts but a lot of cheese, too. And in case ghosts and horror aren’t enough, they throw in psychological dimensions – all the main characters have hidden secrets from their pasts. As for the Angel of Death, if you’re looking for a storyline involving angels, or the Grim Reaper holding a scythe you’ll be sorely disappointed. There isn’t any. It’s really just a haunted house / horror movie set during WWII. The historical aspects are done very well, and the cast is uniformly excellent, including all the kids, but the movie itself wavers between scariness and goofy, clichéd silliness. Not bad, but clearly a “B” movie.

Now for some really great movies.

Over the past year, I saw and reviewed some really amazing films. The list only includes movies I’ve seen, reviewed and loved. There are other ones with great reputations that I haven’t had a chance to see yet (Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy), others that I saw and loved but haven’t been released yet (The Tribe, Phoenix), and others that I thought were great but just couldn’t fit in the list (Corbo, Heartbeat, among many others). And I angelique-horizontaldon’t include documentaries or made-for-TV movies.

Here are my picks for the Best movies of 2014 (in alphabetical order).

Angelique is bodice-ripping potboiler from France set in the time of the Three Musketeers. A lot of fun, and the sort of movie rarely seen anymore.

522e0321-d51a-46bd-a141-3a695a35b29aBoyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, is a remarkable movie that follows a boy from age five to adulthood, played by the same non-actor over a 12-year period.

Force Majeure is a quirky but hilarious Swedish comedy about a married forcemajeure_03couple and their kids on a ski trip to the Alps whose relationship starts to fray when the father, facing a disaster, does something terribly wrong that calls his Michael Fassbender in FRANK, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.masculinity into question.

Frank is a comedy about a man in a band whose charismatic lead singer never takes off his giant, bulbous papier-mache head.

Ida is a small but perfect film from Poland about an orphan girl raised in a ida-3convent who ventures outside for the first time to discover her real name, her real history and how she ended up there.

THE IMITATION GAMEThe Imitation Game is an amazing WWII thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, who broke German codes and invented the computer only to face persecution in England for his sexuality.

The Lunchbox is a movie from India about a long-distance relationship between two strangers who communicate via notes left in Bombay tiffin lunchbox_02boxes.

Mommy is Quebec’s Xavier Dolan’s look at the dysfunctional 62558-000060890018-mommy_aopilon1-creditphoto_shayne-laverdic3a8rerelationship between a highly sexualized mother and son, and the depressed teacher who lives next door. Shocking, funny and over-the-top.

The Notebook (Le Grande Cahier) is a stunning Hungarian film about identical-twin boys forced the-notebook-courtesy-sony-pictures-classics-a9b0f912-da11-4387-ac89-ef8ea0fde720to take care of themselves during WWII.

nymphomania-chapter_2_photo_by_christian_geisnaes_2Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac is a an extremely long, satirical sex-comedy about a young woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and the people she has sex with.

Under the Skin stars Scarlet Johansen as an enigmatic, not-quite-human scarlett-johansson-in-under-the-skin-courtesy-of-mongrel-mediabeing who pics up men in the Scottish highlands, has sex with them and then does something very strange to them.

Whiplash-5547.cr2Whiplash is an intense drama about a young drummer at a music academy who is asked to join their award winning jazz band. But doesn’t realize the band’s director is cruel and sadistic. A wonderful level of tension between the two characters played by JK Simmons and Miles Teller.bgndyy__wildtales_01_o3__8254116__1406599920

Wild Tales is a hilarious dark comedy from Argentina. It’s a series of short revenge stories about ordinary people who take it too far.

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death opens today. And these movies are now playing: Force Majeure, Whiplash, The Imitation Game. And starting today, be sure to check out the Canada’s Top Ten series now playing at the TIFF Bell Light Box. 10 movies for 10 bucks each, including Mommy, Corbo, Felix and Meira, In her Place, and Harold Crooks’ The Price We Pay. Go to tiff.net for details.

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

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