In the fade (Aus dem Nichts)

I was hoping that Fatih Akin’s In the fade, Germany’s selection for Foreign language film at the Oscar would be nominated. It made it to the 9 films short list, but was not among the five nominated films. Diane Kruger stars as Katja Sekerci, a woman who sees her life shattered when her husband, Nuri (Numan Acar), and their 5-year-old son, Rocco (Rafael Santana), are killed in a terrorist attack. It seems the whole world is against her. First the investigators are focusing on Nuri’s Kurdish background and on his criminal record as a drug pusher. He served his time in jail and he was reformed, Katja claims. To calm herself and release the pain she asks her friend and lawyer, Danilo (Denis Moschitto), to lend her some drug. When the investigators finds the drug, they infer that Nuri was still dealing drugs. But Katja tells them it was a neo-Nazi attack. Shortly before the attack, she saw a young blonde woman leaving a bike in front of her husband’s business office. As her family leave amid accusations and finger-pointing that she or Nuri did something wrong, Katja feels more and more isolated. Then the news comes that it was effectively a neo-Nazi terrorist attack (There’s been a rise of racist attacks in germany.), and that the woman who Katja saw (Hanna Hilsdorf) and a male accomplice (Ulrich Brandhoff) have been arrested. The trial is extremely hard for Katja. Her lawyer, Danilo does the best he can to reassure and comfort her, but he will have a lot to do to counter against a harsh defence lawyer (Johannes Krisch). A compelling psychological thriller, a tragic story very well told by director Akin. Diane Kruger, who is in every scenes, gives a tour-de-force performance. A virtuoso act. Edge-of-your-seat type of film.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


In the fade (Aus dem Nichts)


Directed by:
Fatih Akin

Screenplay by:
Fatih Akin

Diane Kruger
Denis Moschitto
Johannes Krisch
Ulrich Tukur
Numan Acar
Samia Chancrin
Hanna Hilsdorf
Ulrich Brandhoff
Rafael Santana

106 min.

in German with English subtitles.


90th Academy awards winners

An evening without much surprises. Not much suspense! And they opened all the right envelopes. A bit boring, but a classy job from host Jimmy Kimmel. The winners are in red.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Best picture

Call me by your name (Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, and Marco Morabito)

Darkest hour (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten, and Douglas Urbanski)

Dunkirk (Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan)

Get out (Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr., and Jordan Peele)

Lady Bird (Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, and Evelyn O’Neill)

Phantom thread (JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupi)

The post (Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg, and Kristie Macosko Krieger)

The shape of water (Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale)

Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonagh)


Best actor

Timothée Chalamet (Call me by your name)

Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom thread)

Daniel Kaluuya (Get out)

Gary Oldman (Darkest hour)

Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)


Best actress

Sally Hawkins (The shape of water)

Frances McDormand (Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)

Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)

Meryl Streep (The Post)


Best supporting actor

Willem Dafoe (The Florida project)

Woody Harrelson (Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Richard Jenkins (The shape of water)

Christopher Plummer (All the money in the world)

Sam Rockwell (Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri)


Best supporting actress

Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)

Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

Lesley Manville (Phantom thread)

Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Octavia Spencer (The shape of water)


Best director

Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom thread)

Guillermo del Toro (The shape of water)

Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

Jordan Peele (Get out)


Best animated feature film

The boss baby (Tom McGrath and Ramsey Ann Naito)

The breadwinner (Nora Twomey and Anthony Leo)

Coco (Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson)

Ferdinand (Carlos Saldanha)

Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart)


Best original screenplay

The big sick (Written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani)

Get out (Written by Jordan Peele)

Lady Bird (Written by Greta Gerwig)

The shape of water (Written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro)

Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Written by Martin McDonagh)


Best adapted screenplay

Call me by your name (James Ivory)

The disaster artist (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber)

Logan (Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold)

Molly’s game (Aaron Sorkin)

Mudbound (Virgil Williams and Dee Rees)


Best cinematography

Roger Deakins (Blade runner 2049)

Bruno Delbonnel (Darkest hour)

Hoyte van Hoytema (Dunkirk)

Rachel Morrison (Mudbound)

Dan Laustsen (The shape of water)


Best production design

Beauty and the beast (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer)

Blade runner 2049 (Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola)

Darkest hour (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer)

Dunkirk (Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis)

The shape of water (Production Design: Paul Denham Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin)


Best sound mixing

Baby driver (Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis)

Blade runner 2049 (Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth)

Dunkirk (Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo)

The shape of water (Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier)

Star wars: The last jedi (David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson)


Best sound editing

Baby driver (Julian Slater)

Blade runner 2049 (Mark Mangini and Theo Green)

Dunkirk (Richard King and Alex Gibson)

The shape of water (Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira)

Star wars: The last jedi (Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce)


Music (Original song)

“Mighty River” from Mudbound (Music and Lyrics by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq & Taura Stinson)

“Mystery of Love” from Call me by your name (Music and Lyrics by Sufjan Stevens)

“Remember Me” from Coco (Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez)

“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall (Music by Diane Warren; Lyrics by Lonnie Lynn & Diane Warren)

“This Is Me” from The greatest showman (Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul)


Music (Original score)

Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk)

Jonny Greenwood (Phantom thread)

Alexandre Desplat (The shape of water)

John Williams (Star wars: The last jedi)

Carter Burwell (Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri)


Documentary (Feature)

Abacus: Small enough to jail (Steve James, Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman)

Faces Places (Agnès Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda)

Icarus (Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan)

Last men in Aleppo (Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed and Søren Steen Jespersen)

Strong island (Yance Ford and Dan Cogan)


Documentary (Short subject)

Edith+Eddie (Laura Chekoway and Thomas Lee Wright)

Heaven is a traffic jam on the 405 (Frank Stiefel)

Heroin(e) (Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon)

Knife skills (Thomas Lennon)

Traffic stop (Kate Davis and David Heilbroner)


Short film (Animated)

Dear basketball (Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant)

Garden party (Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon)

Lou (Dave Mullins and Dana Murray)

Negative space (Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata)

Revolting rhymes (Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer)


Short film (Live action)

DeKalb elementary (Reed Van Dyk)

The eleven o’clock (Derin Seale and Josh Lawson)

My nephew Emmett (Kevin Wilson, Jr.)

The silent child (Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton)

Watu Wote (All of us) (Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen)


Film editing

Baby driver (Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos)

Dunkirk (Lee Smith)

I, Tonya (Tatiana S. Riegel)

The shape of water (Sidney Wolinsky)

Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Jon Gregory)


Costume design

Beauty and the beast (Jacqueline Durran)

Darkest hour (Jacqueline Durran)

Phantom thread (Mark Bridges)

The shape of water (Luis Sequeira)

Victoria & Abdul (Consolata Boyle)


Makeup and hairstyling

Darkest hour (Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick)

Victoria & Abdul (Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard)

Wonder (Arjen Tuiten)


Visual effects

Blade runner 2049 (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover)

Guardians of the galaxy Vol. 2 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick)

Kong: Skull island (Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus)

Star wars: The last jedi (Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould)

War for the planet of the apes (Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist)


Foreign language film

A fantastic woman (Chile)

The insult (Lebanon)

Loveless (Russia)

On body and soul (Hungary)

The square (Sweden)

Au revoir là-haut (See you up there)

Albert Dupontel’s explosive adaptation of Pierre Lemaitre’s Goncourt-winning novel makes you think you are either watching a film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, The city of lost children, Amélie, and most blatantly A very long engagement) or reading a comic book (AKA graphic novels). The film’s early scenes are a good cue of we are to expect later. In the World War I trenches, we meet Albert Maillard (Albert Dupontel) and Édouard Péricourt (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart). The sadistic and murderous Lieutenant Pradelle (Laurent Lafitte) orders an assault and sends his soldiers to battle. What follows is one of most beautifully choreographed war battle. Maillard almost dies but is saved by Péricourt, just before he is hit himself by an explosion. At the hospital, with Maillard at his bedside, Péricourt discovers that he has a gaping hole where his mouth used to be. Unable to sustain the pain and wanting to escape, Péricourt asks his friend to get him some morphine. Maillard steals the morphine anywhere he can. Péricourt is an artist who was disowned be his rich father (the always marvelous Niels Arestrup). He pretends to be dead and spends his days creating a series of colorful and campy masks to hide his disfigurement. To make money Maillard and Péricourt plan to sell phony war monuments to honour the dead soldiers. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Pradelle is back and he is as mean as ever. This is a spectacular film with excellent production values. Nahuel Pérez Biscayart spends most of the film behind masks with his voice only coming in growls and grunts. This is impressive mime acting. Au revoir là-haut is not to be taken too seriously and is a lot of fun to watch.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Au revoir là-haut (See you up there)


Directed by:
Albert Dupontel

Screenplay by:
Albert Dupontel and Pierre Lemaitre
Based on the novel by Lemaitre

Albert Dupontel
Nahuel Pérez Biscayart
Laurent Lafitte
Niels Arestrup
Heloïse Balster
Mélanie Thierry
Émilie Dequenne

117 min.

In French with English subtitles

God’s own country

The last film I saw in 2017 was Luca Guadagnino’s Call me by your name and my first film of 2018 is God’s own country, two gay films about young men falling in love. Call me by your name has been sold as a possible Oscar contender and a follow-up to last year’s Moonlight. But I think that God’s own country is the much better film. It takes place in present-day Yorkshire, England where twenty-something Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) lives on a sheep farm with his father, Martin (Ian Hart) and his grandmother, Deirdre (Gemma Jones). His father suffered a stroke and Johnny has to work long hours alone to keep things going. He spends his evening drinking at the local pub with occasional gay sex in public washroom. Having been drinking all night, the next day becomes even more of a burden. Some of the work is not being done and Martin and Deirdre chastise him. But what can they do? They have all inherited an unpleasant situation. Johnny is terribly unhappy and lonely. Then the decision is taken to hire some help for the lambing season. Enter handsome Romanian hired hand Gheorghe Ionescu (Alex Secareanu). Initially, Johnny resents Gheorghe’s presence at the farm. They have to spend several days camping nearer to where the animals have moved. Whatever happens during these few day will change their lives. They have sex, but unlike Luca Guadagnino with Call me by your name, director
Francis Lee and his actors seems unafraid to show sex between men or male nudity. It’s raw (don’t worry nothing explicit or pornographic) and it feels real. And Lee has wisely defined the relationship between the two men with an earlier detail. In his previous encounters, Johnny won’t kiss his male partners, but he kisses Gheorghe. But it’s more than that. Gheorghe has a love and appreciation of the beauty of the country, and for Johnny the love of a man and of the country is the only thing that can save his life. After some misstep, Johnny decides that he needs Gheorghe if he wants to be happy. God’s own country has a lot of similarities with Ang Lee’s Brokeback mountain. The two lovers in God’s own country are also masculine men of few words, the movie is raw and rough. O’Connor’s expressive star making performance is riveting. The painful expression of the depressed and unhappy Johnny is heart wrenching. Alex Secareanu’s Gheorghe is an intriguing composition, making him, in Johnny’s eyes, impossible to read. He is forceful and tender all at once. They are well supported by Ian Hart and Gemma Jones, who play characters more concerned with the daily chore and small gestures than the long conversations. Joshua James Richards’s cinematography is most important here. Like a painter, he carefully uses touches of grays and blues for the Yorkshire skies, and browns, oranges and ochre for its trees and leaves. Josh O’connor has said “I loved that this was an unforgiving, bleak view of someone’s life, but which had hope. You don’t see that in any cinema, let alone LGBT.”

Rémi-Serge Gratton


God’s own country


Directed by:
Francis Lee

Screenplay by:
Francis Lee

Josh O’Connor
Alec Secareanu
Gemma Jones
Ian Hart
Harry Lister Smith

104 min.

Rated 18A

2017’s Top Ten

Again this year, all the films on my list of my favorite 2017 movies are films I have seen at the ByTowne Cinema in Ottawa. As I look the lists of other reviewers, I notice that I have no action, super hero or horror movies on mine. I don’t see any of the big blockbuster films, and frankly I don’t miss them. Most the films on my list have very little use for Computer Generated Images (CGI), if any. What they have instead is a lot of inventiveness and a surprising and sometime shocking way of challenging us. Those films demand that we look elsewhere than the big explosions to move us. Even though this is not a bad year, there are no Boyhood or Carol here, films that would shot themselves to the top of the list and remain there unchallenged. Many of the films this year are about art and artists and their importance in our society. I put a link to the full review under each titles. Happy new year!

Rémi-Serge Gratton

1. Frantz by François Ozon

2. A ghost story by David Lowery

3. 120 battements par minute (Beats per minute) by Robin Campillo

4. Dawson city: Frozen time by Bill Morrison

5. Lost In Paris (Paris pieds nus) by Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon

6. The square (Rutan) by Ruben Östlund

7. Visages villages (Faces places) by Agnès Varda and JR

8. Paterson by Jim Jarmusch

9. Call me by your name by Luca Guadagnino

10. The big sick by Michael Showalter

120 battements par minute (Beats per minute)

Robin Campillo’s 120 battements par minute opens with a shocking scene. During an intervention by ACT UP Paris at a pharmaceutical conference, the key speaker is splashed by a balloon filled with fake blood and handcuffed. At the next meeting held in a college lecture classroom, those events are discussed and some are pointing fingers at Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, the film’s most accomplished performance), the young man who threw the balloon with fake blood. But Sean is unapologetic, his health is declining and there is no time for diplomacy. At the meetings there are many HIV-positive (called “poz” by the members) gay men, concerned lesbians, straight women and a mother and her poz son. They all have different positions about how to force government and big pharma CEO’s to listen to them. For a while 120 battements par minute feels like a procedural. In addition to the lively meetings, we also witness some interventions/protests. In one of them, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to unleash power) take over the offices of a pharmaceutical company, they confront the employees and spray fake blood on the wall. In another one they go to a school with pamphlets and condoms and demand to speak to the students and even stage a kiss-in. This is the early 1990’s and there was no cure for AIDS yet. So we forget how in-your-face ACT UP was. But some people were dying and there was no time to waste being nice. And then the film gradually veers to the more intimate and personal love story between Sean and Nathan (Arnaud Valois, a young handsome actor who, with Biscayart, is the film’s pulsating heart), a new member of ACT UP. In a long bedroom scene, that is the film’s centrepiece, they make love, they talk about their first love as we flashback to those moments, and they also talk about sex and love. Theirs is a tragic story, and there have been plenty in our collective memories since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. There are some stunning moments of pure magic beauty. During a scene at a disco club, Campillo and Jeanne Lapoirie, his director of photography, let the camera focus on the dust dancing on the dance floor. The dust become cells dancing under the microscope. Or in that extended love-making scene where the camera concentrate on the beautiful naked bodies of two young lovers. If 120 battements par minute can be at times didactic, it is never pretentious. It is a passionate, gut wrenching film about love and death.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

120 battements par minute (Beats per minute)


Directed by:
Robin Campillo

Screenplay by:
Robin Campillo
Philippe Mangeot

Nahuel Pérez Biscayart
Arnaud Valois
Adèle Haenel
Antoine Reinartz

140 min.

In French with English subtitles.