Theatre of Life

Theatre of Life

Theatre of Life Feature documentary directed by Peter Svatek Starring: Massimo Bottura, Stefi and Marco, Fatou, Fawaz, Giorgio Massimo Bottura is one of the top chefs in the world and a man with a social conscience. At Milan’s Expo ’15, he decided to do something positive about food waste and homelessness. The master chef, whose renowned Osteria Francescana is consistently in the top five list of best restaurants in the world persuaded local authorities in Milan to fund his “Food for Soul” project. With the help of local artisans, chefs, the local church and other social activists, he created Refettorio Ambrosiano, a beautiful soup kitchen, which fed new immigrants, former drug addicts, political refugees, homeless and physically and social disabled people. Peter Svatek, a Montreal-based filmmaker heard of the project and with the help of the National Film Board of Canada and a Quebec production company, made a lovely doc about Massimo’s project. Theatre of Life is filled with Bottura’s wisdom and enthusiasm but Svatek is careful to also capture some of the colourful denizens of the Refettorio: the former drug addict and fascinating figure, Giorgio; refugees Christiana (Nigeria) and Fatou (Senegal); Jordanian-Italian Fawaz; and the feisty couple Stefi and Marco. Theatre of Life is a film with charm, passion, great food and a social conscience. Best of all, it’s real: Massimo and his Refettorio movement worked its wonders in Brazil during the Olympics and will soon be spreading to other cities. This is a film that is worth seeing about a movement worth supporting. Written by Marc Glassman Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series...
Things to Come (L’avenir)

Things to Come (L’avenir)

Things to Come (L’avenir) Mia Hansen-Love, director and script Starring: Isabelle Huppert (Nathalie), Andre Marcon (Heinz), Roman Kolinka (Fabien), Edith Scob (Yvette), Sara Le Picard (Chloé) Forget about the title of French director Mia Hansen-Love’s new film L’avenir (Things to Come). The big question should be: is it Isabelle Huppert’s year right now? The acclaimed actress, who is being touted for multiple awards for her performance in the erotic thriller Elle (which was reviewed favourably here two weeks ago) is back in another superb starring role. Here Huppert is Nathalie, a philosophy professor, whose self-satisfied bourgeois life slowly falls apart. Her husband leaves her for a younger woman and the publishers of her formerly successful books drop her. Worst of all, Nathalie’s relationship with her mother Yvette goes badly awry. When the delusional and suicidal older woman finally does die, even Nathalie abandons her sangfroid for a moment, perhaps realizing that their endless fighting was a masquerade for the love she felt for her mother. Yet, against all logic, Nathalie remains successful: still teaching, becoming a grandmother, keeping up an interesting friendship with her best former student. She refuses to lose. Huppert’s role in Things to Come bears some resemblance to the more salacious one in Elle. In both, she’s remarkably cool. Even when she’s raped in Elle or loses her husband in Things to Come, she doesn’t get upset. In fact, she reverses expectations throughout both films. Rather than play a victim, Huppert asserts her authority even in dire circumstances, always remaining in control of herself and the majority of the scenes she’s in. Things to Come won’t...
Rules Don’t Apply

Rules Don’t Apply

Rules Don’t Apply Warren Beatty, director and writer Starring: Warren Beatty (Howard Hughes), Lily Collins (Maria Mabrey), Alden Ehrenreich (Frank Forbes), Matthew Broderick (Levar Mathis), Alec Baldwin (Robert Maheu), Haley Bennett (Mamie Murphy), Candice Bergen (Nadine Henly), Dabney Coleman (Raymond Holliday), Steve Coogan (Col. Nigel Briggs) Ed Harris (Mr. Bransford), Martin Sheen (Noah Dietrich), Paul Sorvino (Vernon Scott), Taissa Farmiga (Sarah Bransford), Amy Madigan (Mrs. Bransford) There’s something marvelously macabre about Warren Beatty playing Howard Hughes. The notoriously eccentric millionaire had already destroyed RKO Pictures, the studio that had produced Citizen Kane and the Astaire-Rogers musicals and launched Robert Mitchum’s career, when the rising young Beatty discovered that Hughes was investigating his activities. This was the early ‘60s; Beatty never found out why Howard Hughes was interested in him. Now Beatty is the eccentric Hollywood legend, making a film because he still has the power to do so. In Rules Don’t Apply—a title that fits him and Hughes to a “t”—he not only casts himself as the older Hollywood legend, he decides to make him a figure in a romantic comedy. While Beatty nominally takes the lead, much of the romance in Rules Don’t Apply revolves around a much younger duo, Lily Collins a Hughes starlet, Maria Mabrey and Alden Ehrenreich as Frank Forbes, a chauffeur working for the great man who eventually becomes his personal assistant. Thrown together as a chauffeur and starlet, their paths continue to be entangled as both move up Hughes’ crazy hierarchy. Rules Don’t Apply shuttles back and forth between recycling old tales of how the increasingly crazy Hughes ran down RKO and the...
Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea Kenneth Lonergan, director and writer Starring: Casey Affleck (Lee), Michelle Williams (Randi), Lucas Hedges (Patrick, Joe’s son), Kyle Chandler (Joe, Lee’s brother), Gretchen Mol (Elise), Kara Hayward (Silvie), Matthew Broderick (Rodney) Watching the tough but compassionate drama Manchester by the Sea, with its emphasis on working class people trying to achieve equanimity in their lives, it’s hard not to think that Canadian filmmakers should take note of the tone and pacing of this beautifully wrought film. The setting and time of the year also contributes to the sense that this could be a Canadian production. Manchester by the Sea is a small town in New England and most of the story takes place in a very snowy winter. The men spend evenings drinking in bars, watching hockey games after work. Sound familiar? In the film, Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, who is working as a janitor in Quincy, Massachusetts (very near Boston) when he receives a call from his New England hometown, Manchester by the Sea. His brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died and, quite quickly, Lee discovers that he’s been named the guardian of his teenaged nephew Patrick. It’s a role that clearly makes him uncomfortable. In fact, he nearly panics when he hears it. Affleck’s performance and Kenneth Lonergan’s writing and direction set up audience expectations. We realise that something terrible has happened to turn Lee into someone with dead eyes, wound up so tight that his only release comes when he provokes barroom fights. If Manchester by the Sea was only about Lee and his silent suffering, it would be a very...
Elle

Elle

Elle Paul Verhoeven, director David Birke, script based on the novel Oh… by Philippe Djian Starring: Isabelle Huppert (Michele LeBlanc), Christian Berkel (Robert), Anne Consigny (Anna), Virginie Efira (Rebecca) Laurent Lafitte (Patrick), Alice Isaaz (Josie), Judith Magre (Irene) If there’s an actress in contemporary cinema, who seems incapable of making a misstep, it must be Isabelle Huppert. She’s been starring in films since the ‘70s, working with an impressive A-list of directors: Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Bertrand Tavernier, the Taviani brothers, Michael Haneke, Claire Denis, Rithy Panh, Benoit Jacquot, etc, etc. Huppert has won the best actress award at Cannes twice; she’s also garnered the BAFTA, England’s highest prize, two Volpi Cups in Venice; an award in Berlin, and been nominated for 15 Cesar prizes (France’s highest commendation), winning it once. She has great presence and can play a very wide range of roles convincingly. Still, her star turn in Paul Verhoeven’s film Elle, is an unexpected delight. Huppert plays Michele, the toughest of tough cookies, who survives—and almost seems to relish–the travails she has to endure. The film opens with the sounds (but not the visuals) of Michele being raped. She accepts the rape with equanimity, cleaning away her damaged wine glasses, having a bath, ordering food and, the next day, checking for sexually transmitted viruses. Michele doesn’t call the police—and we soon learn why. Her father was a murderer of children and when he was arrested, the young Michele was there, photographed in a way that made her look like his accomplice. This burden has been her albatross throughout her life and but she has endured the...
Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals Tom Ford, director and script based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin M. Wright Starring: Amy Adams (Susan Morrow), Jake Gyllenhaal (Edward Sheffield/Tony Hastings), Michael Shannon (Detective Bobby Andes), Armie Hammer (Hutton Morrow), Isla Fisher (Laura Hastings), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ray Marcus), Laura Linney (Anne Sutton) People who don’t sleep at night are nocturnal animals. In fiction, they’re often the subjects of nightmarish fantasies as if their unwillingness to sleep is an affront to normal society. In Tom Ford’s latest auteurist outburst Nocturnal Animals—a film replete with gorgeous creatures posturing in to-swoon-for surroundings–the woman seduced into enduring painful dreams is Susan Morrow (Amy Adams), an elegant Los Angeles art dealer suffering through a decaying second marriage. While soulless second husband Hutton is off trying to raise money for unnamed big deals, Susan receives a poisoned chalice, a novel from her first, Edward, whom she hasn’t seen in nearly two decades. The book, also titled Nocturnal Animals and dedicated to her, is a blood and thunder tale of murder and revenge set in redneck territory in West Texas. Watching the abuse of the urban Hastings family by cowboy Ray Marcus and his unsavoury friends feels like a replay of the recent presidential campaign with haughty Clinton supporters getting a terrifying awakening from an angry lot of Trump acolytes. But not everyone in West Texas is against the Hastings. Hard-bitten detective Bobby Andes (an inspired Michael Shannon) befriends Tony Hastings (Gyllenhaal, who also plays the first husband, writer Edward) and the two eventually crack the case—and then have to decide what to do with their knowledge. As this...