Thursday, October 28, 2010

WIFF 2010 - a trove of treats

Former WIFF programmer Otto Buj’s reported comments that management of the festival has got “boring” may or may not be true. I have no idea.....But what I will say is this year’s line-up (Nov 4–7) is anything but. Virtually everything on offer over the four days looks appetizing. The problem, as I thought with last year’s fest, is that screenings are limited. Most films don't repeat. So if you’ve missed one (perhaps because another overlapped with it) you’re out of luck. Also, all films are screened at the Capitol. Fine and dandy but, again, with the huge crowds the fest attracted last year, some additional screens (i.e., at the nearby Palace) would have been welcomed. But maybe it’s all part of a plan, right? In other words, hold the event at one complex, have only one screening per film, and generate demand. With this festival still in its growing stage (though in its sixth year) and perhaps still insecure that does make sense....From the schedule here is some of what caught my attention.....Louis Bélanger’s Route 132 is a classic road movie Quebec-style. I wrote about it in my reports from the Montreal World Film Festival this year. It’s much better than his earlier Gas Bar Blues.....I just caught Mike Leigh’s Another Year with a very strong cast headed by Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville and Ruth Sheen. A great character study of a tight knit family that focuses on the beginning of the – yes - twilight years of the Baby Boom generation..... Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl is about beat poet Allen Ginsburg’s iconic poem and the infamous 1950s obscenity trial over its publication. (I’m planning to see it tomorrow in Montreal.).....Stephen Frears’s Tamara Drewe (picture above) is a comedy of modern manners that looks deliciously fun about a country retreat,  writers, lust, a clash of characters, with unexpected plot lines and of course witty dialogue.....It’s Kind of a Funny Story with rising star Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover; he’s the stout bearded guy) seems to be the mental hospital version of Fast Times at Ridgemont High......I wouldn’t want to miss My Afternoons with Marguerite simply because Gérard Depardieu is in it.....A Film Unfinished looks like a terrific doc about the Nazis’ making a film about life in the Warsaw Ghetto, a glossed over version of course, for propaganda purposes. Some of the original footage is extraordinary.....Jeff Malmberg’s Marwencol has been receiving some stunning reviews as well as a laundry list of awards. At first glance it doesn’t strike me as that interesting – the subtext is how America treats its mentally ill – but it may be one of those films that’s an undiscovered gem..... Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy starring Juliette Binoche (a reason itself to see it) seems a nuanced journey through the Italian countryside and has been compared to films by Antonioni. If that’s the case, I’m in.....For those who loved The Triplets of Belleville Sylvain Chomet is back with The Illusionist, an animation about a struggling French illusionist in the late 1950s as his star declines amidst the rise of rock and roll. Based on a script by Jacques Tati it’s undoubtedly charming and bittersweet.....I’ve been intrigued by Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton, for a little while. The story is about an upper class Italian family whose surface veneer cannot hold.....Susanne Bier’s In a Better World looks like a typically crisp Scandinavian drama about family and, interestingly, coming to terms with the meaning of maleness.....And don’t forget this year’s spotlight on locally-made films with screenings of Tim Swaddling's The Arrow and The String; Ken Amlin's Moonlight Sonata and Jayme LaForest's Gods of Accident..... The kicker: many of this year’s films have won a string of awards. The selection is rich. We’re in for numerous treats.....(The Windsor International Film Festival's web site is

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