(A note: some of the films screened at this year's Windsor International Film Festival are ones seen previously and have been reviewed in earlier posts; they won't be reviewed in festival coverage.)
My final four films at this year’s festival were The Square, Integral Man, Loving Vincent and At Worst We Will Marry…..First, Ruben Östlund’s The Square (pictured left), which won top prize at Cannes, and follows on his powerful and morally disturbing 2014 Force Majeure. Morally disturbing is this as well, though done in a series of farcical set pieces, all fascinating, though the viewer might wonder what it all adds up to. The film breaks new ground in attacking the pretentiousness of the art world, a subject on which few in the cultural industry dare tread. But the movie is really based around a series of incidents afflicting an art museum director, Christian (Claes Bang), who at turns is robbed, accused of using his power to seduce women, and becomes a lightning rod over a gross publicity campaign. And there is the frightening hilarity of the 11-minute human ape scene…..Integral Man (Joseph Clement) is about Toronto professor James Stewart, who made a fortune writing mathematical textbooks – “the most published mathematician since Euclid” – and his 2009-built Integral House in Toronto’s Rosedale neighborhood. The film is a paean to the house’s intricate and breakthrough design, though a viewer, as I did, might find its atmosphere cold and austere and wonder what the fuss is about. Stewart, who lived only briefly to enjoy the house before dying of a rare form of cancer, also was a classical violinist, and the house remains a space for chamber concerts and philanthropic fundraisers……Loving Vincent (Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela), thankfully, was not a regurgitation of the wonderfulness of one of the world’s best – and best loved - painters. Rather, it explores, in detective fashion, the premise (based on a 2011 book) that Vincent van Gogh did not kill himself but was the victim of an oafish prank by the town’s fool. For some reason, the artist claimed credit, perhaps for aesthetic nobility. Technically, the movie is a richer colored animation paint-over of filmed dramatic scenes than, say, Richard Linklater’s 2001 Waking Life; here 100 artists were involved. In fact, so realistic is it that it’s like watching an animated painting done by van Gogh himself……Finally, Quebec director Léa Pool’s At Worst, We Will Marry, also plays with murder and the heroic. In this case, 14-year-old Aïcha (Sophie Nélisse, an actor born in Windsor), a child of a broken home and sexually abused by her father, one day meets Baz, a man twice her age, and falls for him. He can’t dissuade her that there’s no future in their relationship, given the age difference. But, in a terrific and memorable performance as a very disturbed enfant terrible, she is incorrigible and haunts Baz, committing a crime for which he takes full credit. And that unlikely decision is the movie’s major flaw.