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The Accompanist-Movie Review 11/06/2012

Posted by Films to consider in César Awards, Drama, FIPRESCI Award, Istanbul International Film Festival, National Board of Review, World War II.
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The Accompanist (French) 1992
L’accompagnatrice

Directed by Claude Miller
Starring Richard Bohringer, Elena Safonova, and Romane Bohringer

NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Sound; Most Promising Actor (Julien Rassam), César Awards, France
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize; also Special Prize of the Jury (both Claude Miller), Istanbul International Film Festival
WINNER, NBR Award – Top Foreign Films, National Board of Review, USA

During the winter of 1942-43 in wartime France, while some people are starving, the musical crowd still indulges. Sophie (Romane Bohringer), a young woman who is a skilled pianist, is hired to accompany Irène Brice, a famed opera singer. Brice’s husband Charles (Richard Bohringer) is a businessman who collaborates with the Germans. Spending so much time in the company of the kind and caring Irène, the reserved, somewhat naive, but observant Sophie learns about love.

Notice that there are two Bohringers–father and daughter in real life–listed in starring roles; I just found that Richard Bohringer, who was also a director and singer, passed away two days before this post on Nov. 4, 2012. Romane Bohringer was especially suited for the role of Sophie, who has much in the way of talent herself, but is so understated in her personality compared to the crowd she becomes exposed to.

This film is from the early 1990s and I happened to watch it on a VHS tape, but the DVD is available (both are listed below). The music is absolutely outstanding; I believe there is an accompanying CD, but I couldn’t find a link to it.

102 min. Rated PG.

 

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Alamar-Movie Review *** 11/25/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Cartagena Film Festival, Film Movement, FIPRESCI Award, Highly recommended, Mexican/Spanish language film, Movies, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Toulouse Latin America Film Festival.
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Alamar (Mexico) 2009 ***
To the Sea

WINNER, Grand Jury Prize, Ibero-American Competition (González-Rubio), Miami Film Festival
WINNER, Feature Film Competition Award; Audience Award, Morelia International Film Festival
WINNER, Tiger Award (González-Rubio), Rotterdam International Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize (González-Rubio), Toulouse Latin America Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best First Work (González-Rubio); Best New Actor (Natan Palombini); Best Sound, Silver Ariel Awards, Mexico
NOMINATED, Golden India Catalina, Best Film, Cartegena Film Festival

From Film Movement

Directed by Pedro González-Rubio
Starring Jorge Machado, Natan Machado Palombini, Nestor Marin Matraca, and Roberta Palombini

This is one of the loveliest and most touching films I’ve seen in a while. Five-year-old Natan (Palombini) leaves his Italian mother to visit with his father Jorge (Machado) in Mexico. They travel by sea to the Chinchorro Reef off the Mexican coast where Jorge helps Natan become familiar with his Mayan heritage. Jorge’s father is a fisherman and the growing bond between the three generations is beautiful to see.

And the reefs, it goes without saying, are absolutely stunning. For more information about this protected area, click here.

Highly recommended.

73 min. Not rated. Suitable for older children.

Also highly recommended is the short film, No Corras Tantos (Take it Easy) that is on the same DVD. It is a five minute animation that uses sand as the medium. The music and lyrics are exceptional as well. I watched it once for the animation alone and the second time to read the lyrics (it was too hard to do both the first time around).

 

The Outskirts-Movie Review 11/04/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Dark Comedy, Dark Drama, FIPRESCI Award, Movies, Political Thriller, Pyotr Lutsik, Russian language film.
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The Outskirts (Russian) 1998
Okraina

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Don Quixote Award (Lutsik), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize, (Lutsik), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Philip Morris Award (Lutsik), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
WINNER, Jury Prize (Lutsik), Sarajevo Film Festival

Directed by Pyotr Lutsik
Starring Yuri Dubrovin, Nikolay Olyalin, and Aleksei Pushkin

A group of neighbors leave a collective farm and trek across the countryside to find the person who sold much of the land to oil interests and bring him to their brand of “justice.”

A very dark comedy that’s also listed as a political thriller. In fact, the darkness of the DVD itself (as the liner mentions) is literal, and you will probably have to turn up the brightness of your television. The film is shot in black and white, adding to the drab and often depressing landscape and interiors.

I came across this DVD accidentally, and its deadpan humor might not appeal to everyone. There is likely humor that gets lost in the subtitles, and political references that would not be understood. The director received several prestigious honors. Worth a try if you like to see something a little different; it certainly wasn’t predictable!

95 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children.

 

Ben X-Movie Review 10/28/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Drama, European Film Awards, Film Movement, FIPRESCI Award, Flemish language film, Greg Timmermans, Movies, Nic Balthazar.
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Ben X (Flemish) 2007

OFFICIAL ENTRY, Best Foreign Film, Academy Awards
WINNER Grand Prize; Audience Award for Most Popular Film; Ecumenical Jury Prize, Montreal World Film Festival
WINNER FIPRESCI Award, Istanbul International Film Festival
WINNER, Audience Award; Directors Choice Award, Sedona International Film Festival
WINNER, Heineken Red Star Award, Palm Springs International Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION, Berlin International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Audience Award (Balthazar), European Film Awards

From Film Movement
Directed by Nic Balthazar
Starring Greg Timmermans, Marijke Pinoy, Pol Goossen, and Laura Verlinden

Ben is a high school student who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that affects his ability to communicate. Ben lives in a world of rituals that serve to allay his anxiety, and he is severely ostracized in school. He spends much of his spare time in an online computer game world, where he befriends Scarlite. When Ben reaches his limit because of the bullying at school, Scarlite helps him come up with the perfect way for him to resolve the situation.

An award-winning debut film for director Nic Balthazar and a moving performance by Greg Timmermans in his first role after graduating from film school.

93 mins. Unrated. Suitable for teens.