The insult (قضية رقم ٢٣)

In The insult we see what can happen when two men let their ideological pride color the way they treat each other. Tony Hanna is a Lebanese garage owner. Tony (Adel Karam) is a staunch Christian party follower. His wife, Shirine (Rita Hayek), is pregnant with their first child. One day water from their drain pipe drips on Yasser Salameh (Kamel El Basha), a construction foreman doing some road repairs. Yasser is Palestinian refugee. Both men hate each other. After Yasser insults him, Tony demands an apology. Despite their wives, friends and family telling them that they should be kinder, words are exchanged and matters gets worse when Yasser punches Tony in the stomach. It escalates even more when Shirine is sent to the hospital. Both mother and child are in danger. That’s when Tony decides to sue Yasser. Tony has a team of lawyers, headed by veteran Wajdi Wehbe (Camille Salameh). As for Yasser, he is defended by a young female lawyer (Diamand Bou Abboud). In the courtroom or outside, Tony and Yasse have started a small civil war. For both men there is too much pain in the past, but maybe they could co to an understanding. At court it is discovered that the lawyers are father and daughter. Even though it’s a bit too formated, the film is still well constructed and well acted. Very good.

And the Oscar went to… The insult was Lebanon’s nominee for Foreign language film, but lost to A fantastic woman from Chile.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

The insult (قضية رقم ٢٣)


Directed by:
Ziad Doueiri

Screenplay by:
Ziad Doueiri
Joelle Touma

Adel Karam
Kamel El Basha
Camille Salameh
Rita Hayek
Christine Choueiri
Diaman Bou Abboud

Rated 14A

113 min.

In Arabic with English subtitles.


Loveless (Nelyubov)

Russian director Andrey Zyvagintsev’s previous film was Leviathan (2014), a film about political corruption in Russia. The dislike of Russia’s Minister of Culture did not preclude the film from being nominated for an Oscar as Best foreign language film. Now, Zvyagintsev is back with a no less damning look at modern Russian society. The first cue we get is from the music of Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine: An insisting, loud piano note is a sign of what to expect from Loveless. Alexey (Matvey Novikov), a 12-year-old boy comes home from school to find his parents fighting again. Boris and Zhenya (Alexey Rozin and Maryana Spivak) are about to divorce just as soon as they sell their house and each can go live with their new partners. In his bedroom, Alexey sobs uncontrollably as he hears his parents arguing about who will have to take care of him. The next morning Zhenya seems more concerned with her Instagram account than with her son. As he goes to school, she is spending the day with her new partner. They make love and she confesses that she had an unhappy childhood. Boris lives with his younger pregnant girlfriend. Zhenya comes home late at night and takes no care to have look in Alexey’s bedroom. It’s only the next morning when the school calls Boris that they realise Alexey is missing. When the police is first contacted, Boris and Zhenya are told that Alexey might be a runaway child and that he may return in a few days. The detective does not seem to have a very positive outlook. But when Alexey does not come back a search is organized in the surrounding woods and abandoned buildings. Zyvagintsev’s view of Russian society and bleak. The news (Vlademir Putin’s controlled media) seems to be on at all times, but is anybody really listening. No, it’s only background noises. Your Twitter or Facebook accounts seems more important than your family. In one telling scene the pregnant girlfriend calls Boris to ask him when is he coming home. Never mind that his son disappeared and that they are searching for him, she wants him home. Outside it’s winter, a bleak, gray winter. Andrey Zyvagintsev’s vision is uncompromising, it is slow-moving. But its passions and commitment are undeniable.

And the Oscar went to… Loveless lost Best foreign language film to the equally deserving A fantastic woman from Chile.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Loveless (Nelyubov)


Directed by:
Andrey Zyvagintsev

Screenplay by:
Oleg Negin
Andrey Zyvagintsev

Maryana Spivak
Aleksey Rozin
Matvey Novikov
Marina Vasilyeva

127 min.

Rated 18A

In Russian with English subtitles

Oscar nominated Animated shorts 2017

This year again Ottawa’s ByTowne Cinema programs the collections of Oscar nominated shorts compiled by Shorts international. Every year we can judge for ourselves the qualities of those short masterpieces.

Here are the five nominees:

Dear basketball, Directed by Glen Keane, U.S., 5 min.
Based on a letter Kobe Bryant wrote announcing his retirement from basketball. Bryant reads his letter while we see him as a child full of hope and dreams. It has everything going for it, even a classy John Williams score. Beautiful.

Garden party, Directed by Gabriel Grapperon, Florian Babikian, Victor Caire, Vincent Bayoux, Théophile Dufresne, Lucas Navarro, France, 7
Directed by students at an animation school in France. A few amphibians have taken over an abandoned mansion. Extremely well made, funny and disturbing short.

Lou, Directed by Dave Mullins, U.S., 6 min.
A creature made of items from the school’s lost and found box teach a lesson to a toy-stealing bully. From Pixar/Disney, but much less interesting than their earlier shorts.

Negative space, Directed by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, France, 5 min.
The sad relationship between a boy and his father, who is a traveling salesman. The father is often away on business, but he has taught his son the best way to pack a suitcase. Good animation.

Revolting rhymes, Directed by Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer, U.K., 28 min.
Adapted from a series illustrated books of poems from Roald Dahl. Fairy tale characters are modernized into a witty and amusing retelling. There is even a possible lesbian romance. Hey, this is 2018!

Additionally on the program there are these three more short films.

Lost property office, Directed by Daniel Agdag, Australia, 10 min.
At the Lost property office (meaning Lost and found) the custodian’s only friend is a toy robot and he spends the long hours listening to old records on his old gramophone. Hand–crafted stop-motion animated films is a bit of a bore. This film was on the Oscar shortlist, but was not retain as a nominee.

Weeds, Directed by Kevin Hudson, U.S., 3 min.
The short life of a flower on a hot sunny day. Clever but too short to have nay impact.
Achoo, Directed by Yuki Hirakawa, Japan, 5 min.
At a flame blowing contest for dragons, the littlest of dragons, blowing only tiny sparkles, doesn’t stand any chance.

And the Oscar went to…  Dear basketball won! Co-producer Kobe Bryant was there to accept the award.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Oscar nominated Animated shorts 2017


Various directors

Approx. 90 min.

A fantastic woman (Una mujer fantástica)

In A fantastic woman transgender actress Daniela Vega gives a stunning performance. Vega plays Marina, a young trans woman who works as a waitress and sometimes sings in a cabaret. She lives in Santiago, Chile with her lover, an older gentleman called Orlando (Francisco Reyes). One night, when Orlando suffers an aneurysm, Marina drives him to the hospital. Right from the start there are problems. Marina is looked at with suspicion and is treated with less respect that other spouses would. After Orlando dies, a female detective (Amparo Noguera), who claims to have worked on the street with other transgender, doesn’t seem to believe Marina’s version of events. Marina is forced to go through a humiliating medical exam. Some exam! Marina is asked to undress, while the doctor takes photos of her naked body. And then there is Orlando’s family. She gets along with Orlando’s brother, who is kind to her. But when she returns Orlando’s car to his ex-wife, Marina is called sick and depraved, and she’s told that she wont be allowed to go to Orlando’s funeral. She has to vacate Orlando’s apartment after his son threatens to throw her out. When against warnings Marina goes to the funeral to pay respect to her lover, she’s met with more threats and violence. It’s quite disturbing. But through it all, Daniela Vega shows us Marina facing society’s prejudice with dignity and defiance. A fantastic woman is quite suspenseful, as this reviewer sat on the edge of his seat for the entire film. When Marina, who has been studying classical singing, goes up on stage and sings Handel’s Ombra mai fu (Vega’s own voice) she is happy. A fantastic woman, indeed!

And the Oscar went to… A fantastic woman won the award for Best foreign language film. On the stage to accept the Oscar Sebastián Lelio introduced the stars of his film, Daniela Vega and Francisco Reyes. Later in the Oscar-cast, Daniela Vega presented the Best song nominee from Call me by my name.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


A fantastic woman (Una mujer fantástica)


Directed by:
Sebastián Lelio

Screenplay by:
Sebastián Lelio
Gonzalo Maza

Daniela Vega
Francisco Reyes
Luis Gnecco
Aline Küppenheim
Amparo Noguera

104 min.

In Spanish 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)

Call me by your name

And what I’m trying to say isn’t really new
It’s just the things that happen to me
When I’m reminded of you

Is it okay if I call you mine? from the film Fame (1980), music and lyrics by Paul McCrane

Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment,
Chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.

Plaisir d’amour (1784), music by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini, lyrics by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian

Awards season is near and one of the films that has been on everyone’s lips is Luca Guadagnino’s Call me by your name. Some people are hoping that Call me by your name is this year’s Moonlight (the film that was eventually named Best picture at the last Oscar cast following a screw up with the envelopes). Moonlight was the first LGBTQ themed film to ever win Best picture, and there’s talk of a repeat in 2017. But will it win? In Call me by your name, Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old Italian-American, lives in the Italian countryside with his parents. We are in the summer of 1983 and Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor of archaeology, has hired an American student to help him. Oliver (Armie Hammer), a handsome a 24-year-old man with golden hair, comes to stay with them at their beautiful villa in Lombardy. Oliver will sleep in Elio’s room. Although Elio spends some time with his girlfriend Marzia (Esther Garrel) and Oliver is seeing a local girl, it soon becomes clear that the young men are attracted to each other. It’s done in small details. When Oliver suddenly touches Elio’s shoulder during a ball game, the teenager’s reaction is to quickly withdraw. But when they are alone, it is Elio’s turn to touch, kiss and grab, and Oliver to hold back. They are both conscious and wary of their feelings. Oliver is ambiguous. He enjoys the game of seduction and the attention, but is also aware of the danger. But what should happen, happens. Call me by your name is actually not as explicit as screenwriter James Ivory originally conceived it. A lot of nudity (read full frontal) was removed at the request of the actors. And then there is a scene of Elio in bed with a peach (yeah, a peach!). There was Marlon Brando and butter in Last tango in Paris, now there is Timothée Chalamet and a peach in Call me by your name. Guadagnino is such an original filmmaker. In Call me by your name he is more concerned with the small gestures, the furtive glances and the tearful face than the long dialogue scenes that will spell everything out for the moviegoers. The way the part is written, it would be almost impossible to play Elio. There are too many things for a young actor to do, too many emotions at once. But Chalamet hits every nails with brilliance make it seems easy, no sweat, and at the end the audience feels emotionally drained. Armie Hammer is Chalamet’s perfect partner, accompanying him, and us in this intense love story. Hammer, like Chalamet, gives a most multi-layered performance. And as Elio’s dad Michael Stuhlbarg delivers a heartfelt speech to help his son cope with his sorrow. The beauty of the Italian landscapes is casually photographed by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom as we go along for a bike ride or for a swim in a river. He knows that however beautiful it is, there is nothing more beautiful than two young lovers.

And the Oscar went to… The safest bet for Call me by your name was James Ivory for his adapted screenplay. It was the film’s only Oscar. At 89, Ivory became the oldest-ever Oscar winner. One of many LGBTQ winners that evening, Ivory recalled his late partner Ismail Merchant (d. 2005).

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Call me by your name


Directed by:
Luca Guadagnino

Screenplay by:
James Ivory
Based on the novel by André Aciman

Timothée Chalamet
Armie Hammer
Michael Stuhlbarg
Amira Casar

132 min.

Rated 14A

In English, French and Italian with English subtitles.

The breadwinner

The breadwinner is an animated film about Parvana, an eleven-year-old girl living with her family in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. After her father is arrested, Parvana’s mother is having trouble feeding her children. Women are banned from going out in public without a man and at home there is only Parvana, her older sister and a little brother. So Parvana cuts off her hair and pretends she is a boy. She is then able to earn some money and buy food. One day she meets Shauzia, a girl who also dresses as a boy. Shauzia and Parvana become friends and help each other. At home, Parvana helps her family cope by telling them the story of a young boy named Sulayman who must confront his fears and fight a giant elephant. There are then two types of anination. The more realistic drawings for Parvana’s adventures, and the animation for the Sulayman fantasy tale. It looks like a paper collage, is more colourful, and can be very funny at times. Based on the popular children’s novel by Deborah Ellis, The breadwinner is really for adults and older children. It is beautifully made with a lot of careful details and respect. One more plus: the main character is a fearless girl. It has great artistic integrity and it is charming.

And the Oscar went to… The winner for Animated feature film was the more mainstream blockbuster Coco.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


The breadwinner


Directed by:
Nora Twomey

Screenplay by:
Anita Doran
Deborah Ellis
adapted from The breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

94 min.

Rated Parental Guidance

The square (Rutan)

The square, Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s masterpiece about the pretentious emptiness of modern art in a Swedish avant-garde museum. The story is build around Christian (Claes Bang), a Stockholm museum curator who is unable to deal with pressures of life or his job. In the first scene Christian is interviewed by American journalist Anne (Elisabeth Moss). When Anne reads him a quote from the museum’s web site and asks for its meaning, Christian seems to be unaware of the quote and since he does not understand it, he answers some platitudes that completely avoids Anne’s initial question. One day as he walks down a street, he tries to respond to a woman cries for help, and soon after finds out that his phone and wallet are missing. (That incident really happened to Östlund.) He tracks the whereabouts of his phone and tries to get the items back. He will be succesful, but not without costs. Outside the museum there are homeless people, Christian does not see them and rarely speaks to them or give them money. At a press conference, a man with Tourette’s syndrome keeps interrupting with obscenities. When Anne invites Christian to the apartment she shares with a chimpanzee. Anne and Christian have sex. After, Christian refuses to throw away his used condom and Anne deduces that he’s afraid she wants to steal his semen. The museum is featuring a new exhibition called “The square”: On the public place outside of the museum, there is an illuminated square with a plaque that reads “The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” While Christian is busy recovering his wallet and his phone, the young advertisers hired by the museum are planning to post a shocking Youtube video in wich a little blond girl enters “The square” and gets blown up. Of course, the video goes viral, the campaign is controversial, the young advertisers are overjoyed, but Christian has to resign. At the press conference, some journalists accuse Christian of exploiting violence, others of censorship. Scenes of increasingly disturbing natures create a pulsating feeling of doom and decay. The best, most memorable moment, will inevitably become a classic. During a fundraising reception, a performance artist impersonating an ape takes it too far. In his only short scene American actor Terry Notary gives an Oscar caliber performance. The impressive Bang is in almost every scenes in this 142 minutes film. It’s a cold and calculating turn that is both funny and dramatic and at times tragic. I got so invested in The square, I was surprised at Ruben Östlund’s imaginative cynicism. But also intrigued and amused. I hope you will too.

And the Oscar went to… The square lost Foreign language film to the equally marvelous A fantastic woman (Chile).

Rémi-Serge Gratton


The square (Rutan)


Directed by:
Ruben Östlund

Screenplay by:
Ruben Östlund

Claes Bang
Elisabeth Moss
Terry Notary
Dominic West

142 min.

In English, Swedish, and Danish with English subtitles.

Lady Bird

In her semi-autobiographical solo directorial debut, Greta Gerwig tells the story of a complicated teenage girl who, like the teenage Gerwig, lives in Sacramento, California in 2002. Her name is Christine (Saoirse Ronan), but wants to be called “Lady Bird”. Lady Bird hates everything. She hates the Catholic school her parents chose because they could not afford anything else. She’s constantly fighting with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). At school Lady Bird hangs around with her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) and starts a relationship with Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges). It is short-lived when she discovers his secret. Then Lady Bird meets musician Kyle Scheible (Timothée Chalamet) and has sex with him. She would like to go an art school in New York, but her dad (Tracy Letts) lost his job and Marion insists that a local Catholic college will be just fine. Lady Bird is mostly about the mother and daughter’s relationship, and this gives us Laurie Metcalf in the best work she has ever done. It feels like Oscar material. The Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan scenes are so real that you think they were improvised. It is clear that, although they fight all the time, Lady Bird and Marion love each other very much and that the possibility that one will get hurt is greater because of that. If I laughed so much during Lady Bird, is that I got myself caught by surprise by the appalling behavior of that teenager. It’s Gerwig’s originality as an actress, screenwriter and director that is apparent here. Of course I’ve seen other films about teenagers. But one so real, funny and touching? I don’t think so.

And the Oscar went to… No awards to Lady Bird.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Lady Bird


Directed by:
Greta Gerwig

Screenplay by:
Greta Gerwig

Saoirse Ronan
Laurie Metcalf
Tracy Letts
Lucas Hedges
Beanie Feldstein
Timothée Chalamet

93 min.

Visages villages (Faces places)

Agnès Varda, the French Nouvelle vague director is now 89-year-old. Her latest film is Visages villages, a documentary feature  she co-directed with 34-year-old photographer and visual artist JR. Together they travel through France in a small truck. Photos have been glued on the truck to make it look like a camera, with a big camera lens. As the tittle suggests, Varda and JR are going to French villages (places) and taking photos of the people living there or the workers at the local plants (faces). JR’s truck is a photo lab on wheels. There is a photo booth where people can sit and have their pictures taken. On the truck there is an opening through which giant prints of the photos are coming out, a bit like the old Polaroid. Once JR gets the giant photos, they are glued or pasted on houses, buildings, water tanks (fishes), trucks, trains (a giant pair of eyes) and anywhere really. Old photos of miners are glued on their empty houses before they get torn down. Janine, who is refusing to move out, has her face glued next to her front door. Her reaction when she first sees her face pasted on the house she will soon have to vacate is one of the highlights of this film. But there are others: the three wives of dock workers at the Havre, have their photos put up on a of pile of containers. The women sit in containers opened under each of their giant faces. The effect is spectacular. It is clear that Agnès Varda and JR enjoy each other’s company, even though Varda constantly teases JR that he ought to remove his sunglasses because she wants to see his eyes. Together, they are fun to watch. Visages villages shows that art and beauty does not only belong to museum and galleries. It can be done anywhere. It can illuminate every villages and that all faces and people are important. This charming film is one of my favorite this year.

And the Oscar went to… Visages villages lost Documentary feature to Icarus about the Olympic Russian doping scandal. Too bad!

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Visages villages (Faces places)


Directed by:
Agnès Varda

89 min.

In French with English subtitles