Rebelle (Kim Nguyen). This wasn’t my first choice for the time slot (the other film being sold out) but I was blown away by this picture, an extraordinarily authentic portrait of child soldiers in the deepest heart of Africa. Komona (Rachel Mwanza) is seized by rebel soldiers who attack her desolate village, forced to kill her parents, and then pressed into service as a child combatant, a life of constant abuse in the pitiless jungle. The feeling you take away from this film is one of immense heartbreak. The acting is superb coming from a mainly non-professional (indeed street children) cast. It’s Canada’s entry for the 2013 foreign film Oscar.
Barbara (Christian Petzold) is Germany’s entry for next year’s Oscar. German films are typically well made, from storylines to acting to directing, and this isn’t much different. My only problem with it is that the subject matter is becoming rather derivative. It has been more than 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down and German filmmakers still seem to have an obsession about the old East Germany, known as Ostalgie. There have been several films over the years about both the brutality of the former totalitarian regime and the bizarreness of that backward and now somewhat beloved consumer society. But these themes are getting a little long in the tooth.
The Imposter (Bart Layton) is a highly touted doc about a real life 1990s incident where a European imposter pretended he was the long lost son of a small town and naive lower class Texas family. The movie takes awhile to get going - for about the first 40 minutes I kept asking myself “who cares?”- until it starts opening up on the mechinations of Frédéric Bourdin, a career impersonator who takes on the challenging role of reinventing himself as the lost Nicolas Barclay, even if he’s “discovered” in far flung Spain. The movie depicts the strangeness of the case and if anything shows how gullible most of us are – including Barclay’s own family members! – when presented with someone or something which pretends to be true.
Celeste and Jesse Forever is really actress Rashida Jones’s vehicle, from coming up with the idea for the film and co-writing it, and of course starring against Andy Samber as Jesse. Jones, known for her TV roles including as Ann Perkins on Parks and Recreation, also has a huge show business pedigree and it has more than rubbed off. Her dad is composer Quincy Jones and her mom Peggy Lipton of the early-1970s show The Mod Squad. Jones was something of a kid showbiz genius and her true acting talents come out full force in this movie. She’s actually quite amazing in every scene no matter whether it calls for seriousness or sorrow, quirky humor, or slapstick.