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by Stuart Henderson

14 Sep 2012


To the Wonder
USA—Dir. Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick’s latest opus is a gorgeous, elliptical, dreamy collection of images, sounds and stray thoughts, murmurs of poetry and anguish, scenes of unrecoverable silence, all fitted into a loose-fitting narrative about a man (Ben Affleck), the two women he fails to love enough to make commitment work (Rachel McAdams and Olga Kurylenko), and a Priest who has lost his faith (Javier Bardem). A darkly thoughtful meditation on trust, loneliness, freedom, individuality, and the calamitous anxiety of doubt, all interwoven with suggestions of man’s inability to live in harmony with his environment, To The Wonder is brimming with an existentialist, Kierkegaardian spirit. “How should we live?”, indeed.

by Stuart Henderson

13 Sep 2012


Cloud Atlas
Germany/Hong Kong/Singapore/USA—Dir. Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer

The award for the most audacious film to play at the Festival this year would surely be handed to Cloud Atlas (if such a thing were to exist, which it totally shouldn’t). A vastly complicated, massive production spanning several hundred years, quoting liberally from genre films (Blade Runner, Soylent Green, Master and Commander, And Now For Something Completely Different, Parallax View) and featuring a small village worth of lead actors in multiple roles, this is not the kind of movie that typically gets green lit. Indeed, it likely occurred to many readers of David Mitchell’s visionary 2004 novel on which the film was based that an adaptation would be pretty much impossible. The complexity of the novel’s construction alone—six thematically linked stories, each set in a different time period ranging from the Victorian age up to the distant future, and each written in a time-specific vernacular, all interwoven into a grand braided narrative—should have been enough of a disclaimer against the idea. And yet, here it is.

by Stuart Henderson

11 Sep 2012


Midnight’s Children
Canada/UK—Dir. Deepa Mehta

I read Salman Rushdie’s much-admired, multi-award-winning masterpiece Midnight’s Children about 12 years ago while on a trip through Laos. I recall being stunned into a kind of page-turning reverie. This was a book that managed to overlay elements of political satire, magical realism, cultural history, religious parable, and human drama into a hugely entertaining (if enormous and complicated) mosaic. It is an experience you remember, reading that book. Such a shame that one cannot say the same for the film adaptation.

by Stuart Henderson

10 Sep 2012


Amour
France—Michael Haneke

A cheery octogenarian couple (Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant) return home from a night at the symphony. They chat, they laugh, they bicker. It’s adorable. And then, despite making what should have been the mood-shattering discovery that someone has tried (and failed) to break in while they were out, the husband gently tells his wife not to let it “spoil your good mood”. These are not the kind of people who let obstacles prevent them from moving forward.

by Stuart Henderson

23 Sep 2011


A DANGEROUS METHOD
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Sarah Gadon, Vincent Cassel
Country: Germany / Canada

David Cronenberg’s latest is a chilly study of the creative and competitive triangle between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), and the lesser-known Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly) in the early years of the 20th century. Christopher Hampton’s cunningly constructed script—he is the man behind Dangerous Liaisons and Atonement) paints the early history of psychoanalysis as a precarious moment, a time when brave innovators faced the collective disapproval of their peers for their forays to the edges of science. In many ways, this is a film about acceptance, about fitting in, and about the ways one muct repress one’s desires in order to do so.

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