Friday, September 22, 2017

INTERVIEW: Ruben Östlund and Terry Notary


On the basis of his first 4 features, writer-director Ruben Östlund has established himself as one of the most exciting voices of world cinema. His work is often mischievously satirical, giving him a reputation as the “Master of Discomfort.” With his latest film “The Square“, he soars to new heights with a brilliantly absurd comedy centered around the world of modern art. In celebration of the film’s TIFF premiere and its recent selection as Sweden’s Oscar submission, I sat down with Ostlund and actor Terry Notary for a discussion on pretension in art, the value in making mistakes and the gratifying feeling of awards recognition. Below is an edited version of our conversation:

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INTERVIEW: Sebastián Lelio


It feels like every few months we get an article decrying the paltry numbers of speaking roles for women in contemporary cinema. With his recent string of in-depth portraits of a diverse range of heroines, Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio, therefore, feels like a rebel against the status quo. True to form, he brought not one, but two unconventional female-centric films to the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. In “A Fantastic Woman“, a transgender woman copes with an intolerant society in the traumatic aftermath of her boyfriend’s untimely death. For “Disobedience” he made his English-language debut, with Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams starring as Jewish women harboring mutual feelings of forbidden love.

Read more at The Awards Circuit

Sunday, September 17, 2017

TIFF: In The Fade


When we first meet Katja (Diane Kruger), the protagonist of “In The Fade” she seems to have it all. Living a comfortable lifestyle in Hamburg with her loving husband and son, she has no worries. In the blink of an eye, all that is taken away in this gut-wrenching revenge thriller from Fatih Akin.

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TIFF: Wajib & Sheikh Jackson


In a pair of TIFF films set in the Arab world, the tensions between Eastern and Western culture take on personal implications. Both are Oscar submissions for their respective countries, with “Wajib” and “Sheikh Jackson” representing Palestine and Egypt respectively. They also share similarities in their focus on father-son relationships, through which they discuss cultural differences surrounding religion, ancient traditions, and individual freedom.

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TIFF: Racer and the Jailbird


Film history has given us such memorable pairings as “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. For his latest film, Michaël Roskam sought to emulate these dynamic duos with his own take on love, crime, and punishment. The result is “Racer and the Jailbird“, a flawed but ambitious film starring Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos.

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TIFF: The Disaster Artist


After receiving his first Oscar nomination for “127 Hours”, James Franco hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations of that honor. Though he remained incredibly prolific and acted in a few hits, his place on the A-list became precarious. Most noticeably, he made a foray into directing, which resulted in a slew of underwhelming indie experiments that almost became a running joke for their consistent inclusion at major film festivals.

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TIFF: Disobedience


Not content to bring just one award-winning film ("A Fantastic Woman") to TIFF 2017, Sebastián Lelio doubles up this year with another engrossing female-led drama. Starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, “Disobedience” marks his English-language debut. And more significantly, it is arguably his most impressive directing achievement to date.

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TIFF: A Fantastic Woman


Movies about “triumphs over adversity” have long been a staple of cinema throughout the history of the artform. Unfortunately, that ubiquity can lead to predictable clichés. But every so often, a film like “A Fantastic Woman” comes along that breaks the mold. Directed by Sebastián Lelio, this aptly titled drama features a uniquely inspiring protagonist, showcased through the perceptive eye of a brilliant filmmaker.

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TIFF: You Disappear


In the opening scene of Peter Schønau Fog’s “You Disappear“, a man (Frederik, played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas) recklessly joy rides his family car – with terrified wife and son inside – to a potentially deadly crash. Moments later, as the family exits the car to catch their breath, he falls off a ledge at the side of the road. When he’s taken to the hospital, the family gets unexpected news. A tumor has been found in his brain, explaining his erratic behavior. But there’s an even more troubling revelation to come in this challenging Danish drama.

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TIFF: Tulipani: Love, Honour and a Bicycle


With a title like “Tulipani: Love, Honour and a Bicycle“, you’d be correct in assuming this comedy-drama from Mike van Diem is not a simple story. Indeed, this cross-cultural, decades-spanning yarn is at its heart, a showcase for the art of storytelling. Whether you are narrating or being told a story, it can be a joyous experience, as shown with this highly entertaining film.

Read more at The Awards Circuit