Sunday 20 October 2019
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Oprah! And Wunderkind Deric McCabe, Fun Times in Mexico, Mina Shum’s Gem, and wait Till You See Mr. Bean Transformed!

Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay’s hotly anticipated film adaptation of the bestselling science fantasy novel for children A Wrinkle in Timeis a marvel. Not many films, let alone children’s films, dare to take on spirituality and philosophy, literature and mythology, and non-ironic travel to new dimensions. Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kahling in her best performance to date are three “Mrs.” sent to guide the children of a scientist who invented a way to travel in time and space. He left to explore but never came home. The children along with their outrageous new female guides set off to find him and bring him home. It’s a dangerous mission but in the circle of Mrs., they feel safe and embark on a magical mysterious tour of new galaxies. They witness incredible sights, energies, flora and fauna but face terrible disasters meant to keep them separated from their father. Good versus evil, illusion versus reality and the power of love move the story in almost mystical terms. And a young girl, played with heart by Storm Reid saves the day! DuVernay melds childlike wonder with adult common sense and wisdom and it’s a new cinematic world totally in sync with today’s female empowerment movement. Co-stars Levi Miller, Chris Pine as the missing father and the delightful Deric McCabe (see our interview) as the boy prodigy.

If you’re itching for a fun, darkly comic and twisted crime drama, your search is over. Nash Edgerton’s Gringo starring the director’s brother Joel, David Oyelowo, and a trash talking Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton, and a nearly unrecognizable Sharlto Copley more than fits the bill.  BTW here’s Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris in her first film role.

Story goes like this – a man’s role in an international business is puppet to his unethical and wily boss. The boss has partnered with his lover to scam the company out of money and that means going to its Mexican factory and knocking a few heads together. They care little about upsetting the local drug cartel. The meek businessman doesn’t show for the flight home so he’s reported missing and that’s covered by insurance. And if he’s dead, the payout is even better. A former black ops mercenary turned international care worker is hired by his brother, the boss, to find him and cash in on the insurance, one way or another.  Layers on layers of characters and agendas set the pace for this lighting fast, witty, and satisfying romp. And it’s loaded with irony. Gringo will blast away the winter blues.

Vancouver filmmaker Mina Shum’s delightful Meditation Park celebrates a cocooned woman shedding her skin to renew herself, a universal story told with love and humour. An elderly wife and mother, played by Pei-Pei Cheng, (a major star in China) lives in a Chinese community in Vancouver rarely leaves the house. She is dedicated 110% to her husband; she has no friends, no money and doesn’t speak English; she is completely dependent. Her grown daughter (Sandra Oh) has her own family and she’s exasperated by her mother’s traditional lifestyle and lack of selfhood.  One morning, mother discovers an orange thong in her husband’s trousers and throws it in the garbage. But she retrieves it and puts it back, not knowing how to proceed. She decides to get a job parking cars (her rival parker is a desperate Don McKellar) and learn to ride a bike. And then she throws herself into a new identity, private detective, seeking out “the other woman” and the truth about her husband. What she’s really investigating is her own ability to grow. Wonderful!

READ: Mina Shum on Meditation Park 

Forrest Whittaker and Eric Bana star in the fact-based The Forgiven about Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s (Whitaker) meetings with imprisoned racist serial killer Piet Blomfield (Bana).  Blomfield is as devilish a character as we’ve seen onscreen, filled with bottomless rage and capacity for violence. He seeks amnesty following a Truth and Reconciliation Committee ruling that those who committed atrocities against humanity during apartheid could receive clemency if they confessed.  Tutu, the South African Anglican cleric and Nobel Peace Prize winner professed non-violence in his activism against apartheid. Blomfield attacks Tutu repeatedly, intent on destroying his idealism, but it doesn’t work. Each time, Tutu surfaces and opens himself to Blomfield. It’s extraordinary, horrifying and profound. Tutu says of it “The film is a tribute to the remarkable and healing power of forgiveness and the outstanding compassion and courage of those who offered love and forgiveness as an antidote to hate and inhumanity… a paean of hope to humanity at large.” Vince Vaughan had originally been cast as Blomfield. Available on VOD and digital.

Charlotte Rampling is so vulnerable in Andrea Pallaro’s Hannah that she’s almost transparent; she’s so skilled that we seem almost able to see beneath her skin to her soul. Hannah lives in poverty and regret. Once used to the finer things in life, she’s now living in poverty, her husband is in prison and she must fend for herself at her advanced age.  She works as a cleaner and comes home to emptiness and regret; acting lessons and swimming are her only joys. She’s’ estranged from her children; her son blames her for her husband’s fate.  Even so, she bakes a painstakingly elaborate cake for her grandson’s birthday but when she comes to his house, she’s brusquely sent away and told not to come back.  The long sad silences as Hannah arranges flowers, cries, realises that she’s in trouble are soul sucking as you wonder how someone’s life got to this point.  If youre feeling vulnerable, don’t go!!  Otherwise, Rampling is astounding. She won Cannes’ Volpi Cup Best Actress award. Available on VOD and digital.

Johannes Roberts The Strangers: Prey At Night was too scary for me to see! Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson star in this horror outing about a family staying in a secluded mobile home park for the night when three masked psychopaths show up.  I couldn’t even watch the trailer. Here, you try.

Britbox has a new version of a beloved old series but its star may come as a bit of a shock. Rowan Atkinson, whose absurdist alter ego Mr. Bean has given us so much comic joy over the decades continues to amaze; now starring in a renowned dramatic role. He is Jules Maigret, the brilliant French Chief Inspector created by Georges Simenon working the mean streets of 50’s Paris. As in previous British shows, Wallander and Zen the action takes place in a foreign country, with foreign signs and lifestyle, but all characters speak English with an occasional word nod to the setting, a fun artistic jape. The gentle mystery, lack of gore and focus on intellect and insight makes it a nice before bed treat, and Atkinson is terrific. Nice production values and shots of Paris.

Why is fully forty percent of food grown for human consumption never used?  Easy.  We waste it. That’s the conclusion in a CBC Passionate Eye documentary March 10 and 11thWasted! Tells us something we already know. That we don’t manage food properly, we buy more than we need and think nothing of tossing still viable foods. Meanwhile, 800 million people on this planet starve. Anthony Bourdain, Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura and Danny Bowien looks our bad habits, steps to take to change the picture and feed more people, curb environmental damage from greenhouse gases emitted by food garbage, use tech and business for change and improving health worldwide. Canada’s already habitual green garbage practices and the growing popularity of composting helps, but this needs a big fix.

TIFF’s annual International Kids Festival is on now, and it’s a heck of an action packed week down at TIFF Bell Lightbox.  Film workshops, screenings, parties and interactive stations promise entertainment and information.  Here’s a quick look at the lineup:

Recommended for ages 3 and up

Maya the Bee – The Honey Games |dirs. Noel Cleary, Sergio Delphine |Australia/Germany | English

Anchors Up – Boats to the Rescue | dirs. Semen Alsvik, William John Ashurst | Norway | English

Gordon and Paddy | dir. Linda Hambäck | Sweden | Swedish

Recommended for ages 4 and up

The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear |dirs. Philip Einstein Lipski, Jorgen Lerdam, Amalie Næsby Fick | Denmark | Danish

Recommended for ages 6 and up

The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island | dirs. Daniel Chuba, Mark Dippé, Wonjae Lee |USA/South Korea/Colombia/Guatemala | English

Recommended for ages 7 and up

Nelly & Simon: Mission Yeti | dirs. Nancy Florence Savard, Pierre Greco

Next Door Spy | dir. Karla Von Bengtson | Denmark | Danish | Canada, French

Recommended for ages 8 and up

Supa Modo | dir. Likarion Wainaina | Germany/Kenya | Swahili

Children of Genghis | dir. Zolbayar Dorj | Mongolia | Mongolian

DHH | dir. Manish Saini | India | Gujarati, Hindi

Lotte & Luise: Twins on Board | dir. Lancelot von Naso | Germany | German

Recommended for ages 9 and up

Double Trouble |dir. Marta Karwowska | Poland | Polish

The Famous Five And The Valley Of Dinosaurs |dir. Mike Marzuk | Germany |

The Witch Hunters |dir. Rasko Miljkovic | Serbia/Macedonia | Serbian

Rosie & Moussa | dir. Dorothée van den Berghe | Belgium | Dutch

Ballad from Tibet |dir. Zhang Wei | China | Chinese, Tibetan

Recommended for ages 10 and up

Zoo |dir. Colin McIvor | Ireland/United Kingdom | English

The Breadwinner |dir. Nora Twomey | Canada/Ireland/Luxembourg | English

Rock My Heart |dir. Hanno Olderdissen | Germany | German

Recommended for ages 12 and up

Almost Famous | dir. Marco Carmel | Israel | Hebrew

Zombillenium | dirs. Arthur de Pins, Alexis Ducord | France/Belgium | French

Plus themed shorts as follows:

Where I Fit

Siblings |dir. Michael Chiang | Canada | English

French | dir.Josza Anjembe | France | French

The Language of Ball | dir. Ramón Rodríguez | USA | English, Arabic, Spanish

Pride & Prejudice | dir. Mirjam Marks | Netherlands | Dutch, French

Adventures from Around the World

Inclusion Makes the World More Vibrant | dir. Genevieve Clay-Smith | Australia | English

HADIA (The Gift) | dir. Sinem Sakaoglu | Germany/Turkey | Arabic, Turkish

Dear Henri | dir. Matthew Sandager | USA | English

B F F | dir. Roopa Rao | India | English, Kannada, Tamil

Doctor of Monster | dir. Gustavo Teixeira | Brazil | Portuguese

Coin Operated | dir. Nicholas Arioli | USA | No dialogue

Sherbert Rozencrantz, You’re Beautiful | dir. Natalie van den Dungen | Australia | English

Strawberries |dir. Alessandro Sasha Codaglio | Italy | Italian

The Wishing Cranes | dirs. Kaiya Telle, Ellen Arnold, Thomas Anderholm | USA | English

Shoot For The Moon | dirs. Lauren Hoekstra, Doug Turner | USA | English

IRL (In Real Life)

I Am Black and Beautiful | dir. Hawanatu Bangura | Australia | English

Beauty | dir. Christina Willings | Canada | English, French

Kendis | dir. Bibi Fadlalla | Netherlands| Dutch

Hold My Hand | dir. Alexandre Lefebvre | Canada | French

It’s All Relative

Changyou’s Journey |dir. Perry Chen | USA | No dialogue

The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm | dir. Amy Schatz | USA | English

Iron Hands | dir. Johnson Cheng | USA/China | Chinese

Footsteps | dir. Hannes Þór Arason | Iceland | Icelandic

Stardust | dir. Aldo Sotelo Lázaro | Mexico | Spanish

Bachir in Wonderland | dirs. Evelien Vehof, Els Duran | Netherlands | Arabic, Spanish

Rise Up

Songs of Wild Animals | dir. Mara Weber | Mexico | Spanish with

You are my Sunshine | dir. Jun Jie Huang | Taiwan | Mandarin

Blues | dir. Maria Eriksson | Sweden | Swedish

Shadow Boxer |dir. Andreas Bøggild Monies | Denmark | Danish

Fragile Ground

Rupture |dir. Yassmina Karajah | Jordan/Canada | Arabic, English

Gold | dir. Abbe Hassan | Sweden | Arabic

TV in the Fish Tail | dir. Iesh Thapar | India/USA | English, Hindi

Towards the Sun | dir. Monica Santis | United Kingdom/USA | Spanish, English

Out of this World

Scrambled | dir. Bastiaan Schravendeel | Netherlands | No dialogue

The Door | dir. Adrià Guxens | Spain | Spanish

Amelia | dirs. Maribeth Romslo, Cristina Pippa | USA | English

Afloat | dir. Kristina Mileska | Canada | No dialogue

Bui | dir. Inga Lisa Middleton | Iceland | Icelandic

Stella1 | dirs. Roberto D’ippolito, Gaia Bonsignore | Italy | Italian, English, Japanese

Scrap Dolls | dir. Aude Cuenod | USA | English

Me, My Way

New Boy | dir. Norman Tamkivi | United Kingdom | English

Elen | dir. Andy Newbery | United Kingdom | Welsh

Pastel | dir. Mariel Cortés | Mexico | Spanish

The Glass Pearl | dir. Tommi Seitajoki | Finland | Swedish

Mrs. McCutcheon | dir. John Sheedy | Australia | English

Home Away from Home

Hello Salaam | dir. Kim Brand | Netherlands | Dutch, English, Farsi

Antouni | dir. Alik Tamar | Armenia | Armenian

The Children’s Mayor | dir. Susan Koenen | Netherlands | Dutch

The Line | dir. Alessandro Stevanon | Italy | Italian

Bismillah |dir. Alessandro Grande | Italy | Italian, Tunisian

by @annebrodie

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