Claire Foy trades crown and apron for tats and guns in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the first outing of characters created by Stieg Larsson not written by him and the fourth in the Millennium series. There is a lot riding on Foy’s slim shoulders, the possibility of the franchise’ continuation with her and without Larsson and Foy’s challenge following Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara as hacker warrior Lisbeth Salander. Foy’s Lisbeth is somewhat tempered to appeal to a wider mainstream audience, in the superhero vein; she’s kind of relatable and likable, a different spin from the originals. Lakeith Stanfield joins the cast of mostly Eastern European actors in this espionage thriller seeded from a hack to expose The US National Security Agency, in which an autistic boy whose drawings provide valuable clues to a cyber war hit and a case of sibling rivalry.
Nicole Kidman and old pal Russell Crowe join forces onscreen for the first time in Boy Erased as parents of a young man Jared Eamon (Lucas Hedges) whose character is based on the experiences of author Garrard Conley on whose memoir the film is based. After breaking up with his girlfriend, Jared comes out to his parents and his father, a Baptist preacher forces him into a gay conversion programme where he is told God won’t love him the way he is. It’s run by sadistic staff and Jared witnesses and experiences abuses that threaten to break him. His mother comes to take him away as the leader, played by Joel Edgerton (who produces, writes and directs) attempts to stop her. Jared / Garrard writes a memoir about his time at the programme which has far-reaching consequences. Kidman says making the film nearly “broke” her.
Christian Petzold’s intriguingly mind-bending Transit requires the strictest attention and imagination. Its set in Nazi France, its characters wear modern dress, drive modern cars, so it bears a chilling resemblance to far right rallies south of us. In a nutshell, Nazi soldiers are shutting down Paris so Georg (Franz Rogowski) plans to escape to Marseilles. First he must make sure an impoverished young boy he has befriended is ok. He carries the ID papers of a murdered political writer and finally arrives in the northern city. Once there, a woman (Paula Beer) mistakes him for her husband, the very man he is impersonating. Events repeat themselves and meld into one another, collapsing ideas of the self and the world. Is she actually alive? Is he? The journey continues through claustrophobia places, sometimes the past, sometimes and the future and identities become as fluid as the ocean the woman wishes to cross to safety. Absolutely riveting. Based on Anna Seghers’ 1944 novel.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, a momentous moment as we prepare to celebrate Remembrance Day. A Canadian film called That Never Happened raises the spectre of Ukrainian internment camps that operated across Canada between 1914-1920. The War Measures Act of 1918 required 80 thousand Ukrainians to register and report to police monthly, while 5000 were held in barbed wire enclosures along with Serbs, Austrians and other “enemies”. The documentary looks at archaeological digs at the camp, gleaning information on living conditions, including slave labour, foiled attempts to escape and the hardships of starvation and Mother Nature. There is little knowledge about the camps, and PM Brian Mulroney denied their existence. Memorial sculptures are now standing in the camps, and grassroots movements are working to raise awareness. The film screened in Geneva in Sept. at the United Nations as part of their celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. It is in theatres across Canada with special free screenings for Veterans on Remembrance Day. It will also be available for digital download on Nov 13.
History presents 100 Days to Victory, a two part docudrama on the final days of WWI fleshed out in re-enactments and conversations with Canadian military historians Margaret MacMillan, Shane Schreiber and Tim Cook. The Allies were in a tough spot towards the end of the war as the massive German war machine moved westward. French Marshal Ferdinand Foch and British Field Marshal Douglas Haig asked Canadians General Arthur Currie and Australian General John Monash for help in breaking the impasse and defeating Germany. Thus began a new chapter of revolutionary battle plans and renewed confidence and power. That’s Sunday night at 9 and 11.
The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival Canada’s hugely popular pan-Asian festival, is on now offering its programmes Marquee, Vista, Pulse, Reel Asian X, Wee Asian and Reel Ideas. Sixty two features are on tap from sixteen regions including Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Trinidad and United States. The Centrepiece Presentation Inuyashiki, a masterful reinvention of the superhero genre based on the popular manga by Hiroya Oku.
House of the Rising Sons, chronicling the success of 1970’s Hong Kong pop sensations, The Wynners, co-written and directed by the band’s drummer, Anthony Chan, Mamoru Hosoda’s latest animation Mirai, a family film about new siblings, Tomorrow is Another Day, about a working-class woman’s unique struggles.
Eric Khoo’s latest film, Ramen Shop follows a man eating this way through Japan and Singapore and finding out the truth about his family.
And this is just one programme. Also on the menu is Wee Asian which invites children to experiment with moviemaking, taking place Saturday in the TIFF Bell Lightbox Green Room. This event is free. The Reel Ideas program provides local emerging talent, visiting delegates and established filmmakers an opportunity to connect with opening remarks American comedian, writer and podcaster, Hari Kondabolu. And that’s just a taste. Go to reelasian.com.
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