Capernaum (کفرناحوم)

The story of Zain, (Zain Al Rafeea), a 12-year-old Lebanese boy, is framed in court where he makes the stunning statement that he wants to sue his parents “for giving me life”. Zain is accused of stabbing a man. In flashbacks we see what was the life for young Zain. Living with his parents in the poorest section of Beirut, Zain is very aware of his precarious existence. Rather than go to school, he spends his time in the street running errands, some of them criminal, for his parents. To make money, his parents (Kawtar al Haddad and Fadi Kamel Youssef) sell clothes saturated with drugs to prisoners. Zain’s 11-year-old sister is sold in marriage to a man, despite Zain’s desperate attempts to save her. Having had enough, Zain runs away. He meets Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), an illegal emigrant from Ethiopia who works as a cleaning woman. Zain goes to live with Rahil and her baby in a small shed. In exchange for the food and the roof, Zain becomes the baby sitter when Rahil has to go out. When Rahil is arrested, Zain has to care for the boy by himself. There’s a local merchant that proposes to buy the baby to give up for adoption, he says. But Zain knows better. Zain grows desperate to feed himself and the baby. This is a devastating portrait of children living in poverty. It is done in a most realistic way. Shaky camera, with a cast of non-professional actors. Zain Al Rafeea, a Syrian refugee who moved to Lebanon in 2012, is basically playing his own life. He is literally carrying the film on his shoulder. Capernaum is a call to action for the children of the world as well as a very good film. It is a hard film to watch, at times unbearable, but with a resiliency that is ultimately winning. Compelling!

And the nominees are… Any other year Capernaum a great choice for Best foreign language film. But this year there’s  a phenomenon called Roma.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Plays at Ottawa’s ByTowne Cinema from February 8 – 18
https://www.bytowne.ca/movie/capernaum

Capernaum (کفرناحوم)

Directed by:
Nadine Labaki

Screenplay by:
Nadine Labaki
Jihad Hojeily
Michelle Keserwany
Georges Khabbaz
Khaled Mouzanar

Starring:
Zain Al Rafeea
Yordanos Shiferaw
Boluwatife Treasure Bankolé
Kawtar al Haddad
Fadi Kamel Youssef
Alaa Chouchniye
Nadine Labaki

121 min.

In Arabic and Amharic with English subtitles.

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91st Academy awards

There are no surprise with Roma‘s nomination for Best picture. But it is a pleasant one for Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira’s nominations. And between Cuarón’s nod as Best director there is Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski. And can you believe it’s Spike Lee’s first? That and Lady Gaga makes it exciting… maybe. Oscar night is February 24.

 

Best picture

 

Black panther (Kevin Feige)

BlacKkKlansman (Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele, and Spike Lee)

Bohemian rhapsody (Graham King)

The favourite (Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday, and Yorgos Lanthimos)

Green book (Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, and Nick Vallelonga)

Roma (Gabriela Rodriguez and Alfonso Cuarón)

A star is born (Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper, and Lynette Howell Taylor)

Vice (Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay, and Kevin J. Messick)

 

Best actor

 

Christian Bale (Vice)

Bradley Cooper (A star is born)

Willem Dafoe (At eternity’s gate)

Rami Malek (Bohemian rhapsody)

Viggo Mortensen (Green book)

 

Best actress

 

Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)

Glenn Close (The wife)

Olivia Colman (The favourite)

Lady Gaga (A star is born)

Melissa McCarthy (Can you ever forgive me?)

 

Best supporting actor

 

Mahershala Ali (Green book)

Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)

Sam Elliott (A star is born)

Richard E. Grant (Can you ever forgive me?)

Sam Rockwell (Vice)

 

Best supporting actress

 

Amy Adams (Vice)

Marina de Tavira (Roma)

Regina King (If Beale street could talk)

Emma Stone (The favourite)

Rachel Weisz (The favourite)

 

Best director

 

Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)

Yorgos Lanthimos (The favourite)

Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)

Adam McKay (Vice)

Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold war)

 

Best original screenplay

 

The favourite (Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara)

First reformed (Written by Paul Schrader)

Green book (Written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly)

Roma (Written by Alfonso Cuarón)

Vice (Written by Adam McKay)

 

Best adapted screenplay

 

The ballad of Buster Scruggs (Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)

BlacKkKlansman (Screenplay by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee)

Can you ever forgive me? (Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)

If Beale street could talk (Screenplay by Barry Jenkins)

A star is born (Screenplay by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters)

 

Best animated feature film

 

Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird, John Walker, and Nicole Paradis Grindle)

Isle of dogs (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, and Jeremy Dawson)

Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda and Yūichirō Saitō)

Ralph breaks the internet (Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, and Clark Spencer)

Spider-Man: Into the spider-verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Phil Lord, and Christopher Miller)

 

Best cinematography

 

Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)

Caleb Deschanel (Never look away)

Matthew Libatique (A star is born)

Robbie Ryan (The favourite)

Łukasz Żal (Cold war)

 

Best production design

 

Black panther (Production design: Hannah Beachler; Set decoration: Jay Hart)

The favourite (Production design: Fiona Crombie; Set decoration: Alice Felton)

First man (Production design: Nathan Crowley; Set decoration: Kathy Lucas)

Mary Poppins returns (Production design: John Myhre; Set decoration: Gordon Sim)

Roma (Production design: Eugenio Caballero; Set decoration: Bárbara Enrı́quez)

 

Best sound mixing

 

Black panther (Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor and Peter Devlin)

Bohemian rhapsody (Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin and John Casali)

First man (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee and Mary H. Ellis)

Roma (Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan and José Antonio García)

A star is born (Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder and Steve Morrow)

 

Best sound editing

 

Black panther (Benjamin A. Burtt and Steve Boeddeker)

Bohemian rhapsody (John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone)

First man (Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan)

A quiet place (Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl)

Roma (Sergio Díaz and Skip Lievsay)

 

Best documentary – Feature

 

Free solo (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes, and Shannon Dill)

Hale county this morning, this evening (RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, and Su Kim)

Minding the gap (Bing Liu and Diane Quon)

Of fathers and sons (Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, and Tobias N. Siebert)

RBG (Betsy West and Julie Cohen)

 

Best documentary – Short subject

 

Black sheep (Ed Perkins and Jonathan Chinn)

End game (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman)

Lifeboat (Skye Fitzgerald and Bryn Mooser)

A night at the garden (Marshall Curry)

Period. End of sentence. (Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton)

 

Best live action action film

 

Detainment (Vincent Lambe and Darren Mahon)

Fauve (Jérémy Comte and Maria Gracia Turgeon)

Marguerite (Marianne Farley and Marie-Hélène Panisset)

Mother (Rodrigo Sorogoyen and María del Puy Alvarado)

Skin (Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman)

 

Best animated short film

 

Animal behaviour (Alison Snowden and David Fine)

Bao (Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb)

Late afternoon (Louise Bagnall and Nuria González Blanco)

One small step (Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas)

Weekends (Trevor Jimenez)

 

Best original song

 

“All the stars” from Black panther (Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and Anthony Tiffith; Lyrics by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith and Solána Rowe)

“I’ll fight” from RBG (Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren)

“The place where lost things Go” from Mary Poppins returns (Music and Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman)

“Shallow” from A star is born (Music and Lyrics by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt)

“When a cowboy trades his spurs for wings” from The ballad of Buster Scruggs (Music and Lyrics by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch)

 

Best original score

 

Terence Blanchard (BlacKkKlansman)

Nicholas Britell (If Beale street could talk)

Alexandre Desplat (Isle of dogs)

Ludwig Göransson (Black panther)

Marc Shaiman (Mary Poppins returns)

 

Best film editing

 

BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown)

Bohemian rhapsody (John Ottman)

The favourite (Yorgos Mavropsaridis)

Green book (Patrick J. Don Vito)

Vice (Hank Corwin)

 

Best costume design

 

The ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres)

Black panther (Ruth E. Carter)

The favourite (Sandy Powell)

Mary Poppins returns (Sandy Powell)

Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)

 

Best makeup and hairstyling

 

Border (Göran Lundström and Pamela Goldammer)

Mary Queen of Scots (Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, and Jessica Brooks)

Vice (Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, and Patricia Dehaney)

 

Best visual effects

 

Avengers: Infinity war (Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl, and Dan Sudick)

Christopher Robin (Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones, and Chris Corbould)

First man (Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles, and J. D. Schwalm)

Ready player one (Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler, and David Shirk)

Solo: A star wars story (Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, and Dominic Tuohy)

 

Best foreign language film

 

Capernaum (Lebanon)

Cold war (Poland)

Never look away (Germany)

Roma (Mexico)

Shoplifters (Japan)

Shoplifters (Mabiki kazoku)

The latest film from Hirokazu Kore-eda, Shoplifters, won the Cannes festival Palme d’or. It presents an unusual family. We first meet Osamu (Lily Franky) and Shota (Jyo Kairi), a father and son team of shoplifters. While dad/Osamu creates a diversion, son/Shota takes food from the shelves. On their way home they see a little girl, Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), locked out outside on a cold night. From the house they can hear her parents fighting. Osamu decides to take Yuri home. The shed they call “home” is a dump. At “home” there is Osamu’s wife Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), Aki (Mayu Matsuoka), an aunt, and grandmother Hatsue (veteran actress Kirin Kiki who died in 2018. This was her last film.). Osamu tells a cynical Nobuyo, that they’ll only keep Yuri for super, but they keep her overnight and after they find scars and burns on the girl’s body, it becomes clear that they she’s there to stay. When news reports that police are looking for Yuri, they cut her hair and call her Lin. Although Nobuyo works for a laundry company and Aki in a hostess club, they too are stealing any time they can. And grandma is doing it as well, still collecting the pension from her deceased husband. I cannot say more, otherwise I would spoil it for some. Let’s just say that things are not what they seem, and that a “family” should be defined more by love than biological links. This a well done Comedy/drama, with Kore-eda’s usual knack for casting. He directs with what I would call a minimalist-realistic approach. Shoplifters is another of the Japanese director’s films about families. Those who enjoyed Like father, like son, Our little sister and After the storm are sure to like Shoplifters.

And the nominees are … Japan’s Shoplifters found its way among the five films in the Best foreign language film category. But it will be an almost impossible task to win against Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. But nothing is impossible.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Shoplifters (Mabiki kazoku)

 

Directed by:
Hirokazu Kore-eda

Screenplay by:
Hirokazu Kore-eda

Starring:
Lily Franky
Sakura Ando
Mayu Matsuoka
Kairi Jō
Miyu Sasaki
Kirin Kiki

121 min.

Rated 14A

In Japanese with English subtitles

If Beale street could talk

There’s talk of Oscar nominations for If Beale street could talk, Barry Jenkins’s follow up to Best picture Oscar winner Moonlight. Adapted from civil-rights activist James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, it is a love story between 19-year-old Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) and 22-year-old Fonny Hunt (Toronto born Stephan James). Their story is set in Harlem during the early 1970s. When Tish announces she is pregnant, her parents Joseph (Colman Domingo) and Sharon (Regina King in an Oscar worthy turn) are surprisingly supportive. They have more problem telling Fonny’s mom (an explosive Aunjanue Ellis) who is not one to mince words. But after they start living together, the couple has other problems. Fonny is falsely accused of rape and arrested by a racist cop. Tish knows that Fonny has an alibi, and she finds out that witnesses claim that a white man was the rapist. Worse, it seems that the victim has suddenly, and conveniently, moved back to her native South-American country. Desperate to help, Sharon flies there and tries to find her. Such is the plight of African-Americans, then and now. As he did with Moonlight, Jenkins chronicles the lives of American black communities. It seems to us that we are watching something new, innovative, and we are unprepared to see something so fresh, new and real. The emotional impact is coming from every directions at once. The production values are exceptional. From cinematographer James Laxton’s bright colors, to composer Nicholas Britell’s jazz infused score, there is not a wrong turn in the film. It has a perfect ensemble cast, headed by the brilliant Ms. King. But what that impressed me most is the screenplay. James Baldwin’s words (Oscar nominated documentary I am not your negro was about Baldwin and his writings) are treated with so much respect, spoken with such reverence, that it felt that the actors were reading poetry. As if Baldwin was a modern-day Shakespeare. That’s one of the best reason to see If Beale street could talk.

And the nominees are… I thought it could have been a very good Best picture nominee, but it only has three nominations. But there are only three: the Barry Jenkins screenplay, Nicholas Britell’s evocative score and Best supporting actress Regina King. I think King might get it.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

Plays at Ottawa’s ByTowne Cinema from February 18 – 20
https://www.bytowne.ca/movie/if-beale-street-could-talk

 

If Beale street could talk

 

Directed by:
Barry Jenkins

Screenplay by:
Barry Jenkins
Based on the novel by James Baldwin

Starring:
KiKi Layne
Stephan James
Regina King
Colman Domingo
Teyonah Parris
Michael Beach
Brian Tyree Henry
Ed Skrein

117 min.

Rated Parental Guidance

Roma

Alfonso Cuarón’s hommage to the women who raised him stars Yalitza Aparicio, an amazing performer in her first film, as Cleo, a live-in maid working for Sofia (Marina de Tavira) and Doctor Antonio (Fernando Grediaga). Roma is set in 1970 in Colonia Roma, a neighborhood in Mexico City. Four children and Teresa (Verónica García), Sofia’s mother, in addition to Adela (Nancy García), another maid, are living in the household. The workload is heavy. The house is a mess, and it’s up to the maids to make sure it doesn’t get worse. Cooking, cleaning after the two dogs, laundry (no machines, done by hand on the roof), taking care of the kids, including putting them to bed at night and waking them up in the morning and dropping them to and picking them from school. When the family goes on vacation or are invited to visit friends, they bring Cleo with them. On her days off Cleo goes to the movies with her boyfriend Fermín (Jorge Antonio Guerrero), Adela and her boyfriend. After having sex with Fermín, Cleo finds out she is pregnant. When she tells Fermín, he disapears and is nowhere to be found. Cleo confides in Sofia, and her employer is very supportive and wants to help Cleo. Antonio, who left to attend a conference in Quebec, has given the news that he met another woman and is not coming back. Sofia, the children and the maids go to a family friend’s hacienda for the New Year’s celebration. While there, a wildfire erupts in the forest. The guests are scrambling to put it out as the new year approaches. Back in town, while Cleo and Teresa are shopping to buy a crib for Cleo’s baby, they are witness to the 1971 Corpus Christi massacre, where 120 protestors were killed by Los Halcones, a clandestine paramilitary group. Among the Los Halcones, she recognizes Fermín. As a result of these events, and others, Cleo’s life is often shaken. Technically the film is most impressive. The sound quality, be it the wildfire, the protest or the sound of waves crashing on the beach, or the stunning black-and-white photography (with Cuarón acting as his own cinematography) are sure to get some awards. Roma is a realistic portrait of a maid’s daily routine. But apart from small dramas and the fact that Cuarón’s film takes place in 1970, Roma doesn’t have much of a story. One of my favorite Quebec entertainer is poet, singer, songwriter and humorist Clémence DesRochers. In one of her most celebrated songs, La vie d’factrie, DesRochers gives voice to a woman who has worked in a factory her whole life. The song ends with a dramatic exclamation. “Maintenant j’ai plus rien à vous dire/J’suis pas un sujet à chanson” (“Now I have nothing else to tell you/ I’m not a topic for a song”) Why can’t Cleo’s life be a topic for a film? Historians will tell you that it’s not only the Kings, Queens and politicians that make history. Ordinary people are, at the very least, witness to their times. Sometimes they put out wildfires, other times they help one another when times are hard. The film ends with a reassuring thought, Cleo is not only a maid, she’s a member of the family, she is loved. Her story is worth telling and seeing.

And the nominees are… Ten nominations for Roma, a lot for a foreign language film. Director Alfonso Cuarón has four nominations. Best picture, Director, Screenplay, cinematography.  Yalitza Aparicio has a Best actress nod and, very rare for a foreign film, Marina de Tavira a Best supporting actress. It probably will win some. Maybe Best picture. Surely Best foreign language film.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

Plays at Ottawa’s ByTowne Cinema from February 8 – 10
https://www.bytowne.ca/movie/roma

 

Roma

 

Directed by:
Alfonso Cuarón

Screenplay by:
Alfonso Cuarón

Starring:
Yalitza Aparicio
Marina de Tavira
Nancy García
Verónica García
Jorge Antonio Guerrero
Carlos Peralta
Marco Graf
Daniela Demesa

135 min.

Black & White.

In Spanish and Mixtecan with English subtitles

At eternity’s gate

At eternity’s gate is about the last years of Vincent van Gogh’s life. Living in France with Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac) at Auvers-sur-Oise, van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) shows early signs of mental illness. How do we know? We know because director Julian Schnabel’s camera is telling us in no subtle ways, by blurring and discoloring van Gogh’s point of view or overlapping images and dialogue tracks to imitate a sense of confusion (duh!). But he has other camera tricks. At eternity’s gate has the most unstable camera since The Blair witch project (remember?), and the cameraman seems unable to focus or keep his footing and takes extreme close-ups of van Gogh’s face, his nose, his mouth, his head and his scalp. (Oh no! It’s The Blair witch project part 3!) The painter’s disagreements with Gauguin seems to be the cause of all his anguish. He has a very loving relationship with his brother Theo (Rupert Friend) who helps him as much as he can. After spending some time in a mental institution, van Gogh is released and moves to Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône where he will spend his last 80 days and create 75 paintings. Yes Willem Dafoe is great, but his efforts are muffled by Schnabel’s patchwork approach to cinema. It’s annoying and a mess. Avoid!

And the nominees are… Willem Dafoe, who was nominated last year as Best supporting actor for The Florida project, is again nominated this year for Best actor.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

At eternity’s gate

 

Directed by:
Julian Schnabel

Screenplay by:
Jean-Claude Carrière
Louise Kugelberg
Julian Schnabel

Starring:
Willem Dafoe
Rupert Friend
Oscar Isaac
Mads Mikkelsen
Mathieu Amalric
Emmanuelle Seigner

110 min.
.
In English and French with English subtitles

Free solo

In its opening sequence new documentary Free solo is enough to induce vertigo. Husband and wife directing team Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s incredible film is about Free solo climber Alex Honnold and his attempt to climb El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park. Free solo (soloing) is the dangerous sport of climbing cliffs without the safety of ropes or harnesses. They use their bare hands and light climbing shoes, finding small crevices to hold onto. It looks like a crazy stunt or an impossible task to us mere humans. El Capitan stands at 3,000 feet and is the mother of all cliffs. Any fall will surely be fatal. If Honnold lives in his van it’s not because he’s poor. He’s a successful author and lecturer. He lives in his van because it’s more convenient. He can park his van near the mountains he plans to climb. We see him climbing El Capitan with ropes and a harness until he’s ready soloing. Now Alex Honnold has a new girlfriend. He met Sanni Mccandless at a book signing. So Alex has someone else beside himself to think about when he decides to climb El Capitan. Meru was an earlier documentary by Chin and Vasarhelyi and as we see in Free solo, their images are nothing short of spectacular. In its last segment Free solo becomes the best edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath documentary. Most impressive.

And the nominees are… Nominated foe Best documentary feature. Great!

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

Free solo

 

Directed by:
Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

97 min.

The wife

In The wife Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce are Joan and Joe Castleman. In the film’s opening scene, they receive the news that Joe has been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. As we look into Close’s piercing blue eyes, we’re not quite sure what Joan feels when she gets the news. Is Joan happy, angry, sad or just plain mad? All of the above at once and more. Soon the Castleman fly to Stockholm accompanied by their adult son David (Max Irons). David who has a highly dysfunctional relationship with his father, is also a writer. Journalist Nathaniel Bone (a miscast Christian Slater) is traveling on the same plane. Nathaniel wants to write Joe Castleman’s unauthorized biography in which reveal that all of Joe’s novel were the work of a ghostwriter. With that cloud, true or not, hanging over their heads, David’s temper tantrums, Joe’s attempt to cheat on his wife again for the nth time by seducing a young Swedish photographer (Karin Franz Korlof) and Joan seeking more independence, things are about to explode. There are some misguided flashbacks to their earlier years, but the only thing that we want and need is Close and Pryce together. Pryce hasn’t been a leading man in a long time and now he has found the right part and the right partner. Close and Pryce enjoy sinking their teeth into those juicy parts. And the moviegoers should also enjoy it!

And the nominees are… Glenn Close’s 7th nomination with 0 win. Maybe this time.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

The wife

 

Directed by:
Björn Runge

Screenplay by:
Jane Anderson
Based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer

Starring:
Glenn Close
Jonathan Pryce
Annie Starke
Harry Lloyd
Christian Slater
Max Irons
Elizabeth McGovern

101 min.

Rated 14A

First reformed

Paul Schrader is, for those who don’t know, the hard-hitting screenwriter of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi driver, Raging bull, and The last temptation Of Christ. As a director Schrader has been less successful. First reformed is probably his best film in a very long time. Ethan Hawke plays Reverend Ernst Toller, a newly appointed priest at the First reformed church in Snowbridge, New York He has started writing down his thoughts and feelings in a journal. Ernst has just come out of a very difficult time in his life. His only son, whom encouraged to enlist in the army, has been killed, and his marriage failed as a result. He drinks a bit too much, and although he has pains in the abdomen he won’t see a doctor. In other words: he’s a mess. Ernst is a soft-spoken man who rejects all of the bombastic over-the-top preachings heard at other evangelical churches. Because of that only a handful of people are attending mass at First reformed. But the 250th anniversary celebrations of the church are coming and some parishioners would like Ernst to adopt a more spectacular form of pulpit preaching. That’s when Mary (Amanda Seyfried) comes to seek Ernst’s help. Michael (Philip Ettinger), her husband, is a radical environmentalist who refuses to bring a child into the world and wants Mary to get an abortion. Ernst goes to talk to Michael but he remains convinced that there is no hope and that the world will come to an end. Ernst pleads with Michael to be hopeful even if things look desperate, but even he is not convinced that this is true. When Ernst shows up for a second meeting he finds Michael dead. He has shot himself. Among her husband’s belongings Mary finds a suicide vest, which Toller removes and takes with him to church. On Michael’s computer Ernst finds some proofs of the environmental disaster that Michael was predicting. His drinking gets worse and he gets more frantic as the 250th anniversary are approaching. This is a very strong screenplay by Schrader. In the words used, in the directing as well as the acting there is both a minimalism and an intense despair, a gentleness and a harshness. And Schrader has the perfect actor to play all the complexities and the contradictions of Reverend Ernst Toller. From film to film Ethan Hawke has been getting stronger, and here he espouses the life and the words of his character with such force that it kept me riveted to the screen. Perfect.

And the nominees are … Ethan Hawke won some awards this season, and there was talk about an Oscar win. Instead Paul Schrader was nominated for his screenplay.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

First reformed

 

Directed by:
Paul Schrader

Screenplay by:
Paul Schrader

Starring:
Ethan Hawke
Amanda Seyfried
Philip Ettinger
Cedric Kyles

108 min.

RBG

What I knew about Ruth Bader Ginsburg came mostly from Kate McKinnon’s impersonations on Saturday night live. RBG is a new documentary about the Supreme court justice, her life, her work on behalf of gender equality and exploring just how much of a bad ass she is still today at 85. She was born in 1933 and Celia, her mom, taught her to “Be a lady” and “Be independent”. At Harvard law school, where she enrolled in 1956, there were only 9 women among five hundred men. Later, even though she had graduated first of her class, it proved difficult for Ginsburg to find employment as no one would hire a woman. One thing is sure: she could not have asked for a more supportive husband. Tax lawyer Martin D. Ginsburg (deceased in 2010) was her biggest champion. In the 70s working with the American civil liberties union (ACLU), Ginsbur argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, winning five. She was nominated to the Supreme court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, where Ginsburg’s dissenting opinions called on Congress to successfully amend unjust laws. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a hero to many young woman. She has been nicknamed “The notorious RBG”, pictured as a super hero on magazine covers, tattoos, coloring book and t-shirts. She knows that the name comes from rapper “The notorious BIG”, she gloats. When she watches Kate McKinnon’s impersonation, although she does not think it looks like her, she finds it funny. She laughs and we laugh. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is fun, and so is this film.

And the nominees are… This documentary about the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg  is nominated for Best documentary feature and Best original song called “I’ll fight”. This is songwriter Diane Warren’s 9th nominations without a win.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

RBG

 

Directed by:
Julie Cohen
Betsy West

97 min.