Author: Daniel Janvier

Review: The Notebook

Set in Hungary 1944, twin brothers (András and László Gyémánt) are sent to the home of their cruel grandmother – a small farm in the country where the boys’ parents believe they will be safe from the Nazis. Their new guardian, dubbed “the Witch” by the locals, refuses to feed the boys until they learn to work for their keep. Her abuse towards her grandchildren pushes them to abuse each other – to train themselves to withstand her punishments. Based on the book by Agota Kristof, Le Grand Cahier takes its title (The Notebook in English) from the journal...

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Review: Ida

Ida takes place in 1960s Poland as a novitiate nun, Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), prepares to take her vows. When told of her Aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), Anna is shocked that she even has a living relative, let alone one close enough to adopt her. Wanda drinks heavily, smokes constantly, and engages in casual sex — these are among the implied reasons she leads Anna to believe she never adopted her. An off-the-cuff remark from Wanda – a way to maintain distance –  reveals to Anna that she was born a Jew and that her true name is Ida. From that...

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Hot Docs 2014 Review: Jutra

Claude Jutra is a highly important figure in Quebecois film history. His feature Mon oncle Antoine (1971) is not only an treasure within the Canadian film industry, but has been listed amongst the greatest films of all time. Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre’s short form documentary Jutra uses archival footage and animated backgrounds to create a memorable, somewhat mystic portrait of the filmmaker’s work. Jutra is a documentary as enigmatic as its subject. Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre’s combined use of animation and archival footage pays more attention to Jutra’s filmography than to his personal life. Immensely engaging visually, the 13 minute documentary plays out...

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Hot Docs 2014 Review: Out of Mind, Out of Sight

Out of Mind, Out of Sight (2014) is John Kastner’s second feature to be developed from the 18 months he filmed at the Brockville Mental Health Centre; it follows NCR: Not Criminally Responsible (2013). This entry focuses on four patients of the aforementioned forensic psychiatric hospital. They have committed violent crimes and in such an institution can easily disappear from a public which views them with fear and anger. Kastner’s lens captures the experiences of these four patients in how they cope with rehabilitation. John Kastner’s documentary is a beautiful work of heartbreaking honesty. Each subject presents a unique...

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Trading Sports: Let’s make a movie!

The Longest Yard has been remade twice, both within a span of five years. All versions touch on themes of race, violence, and a bunch of other things that were covered effectively enough for one movie. That movie was the original, but money has to spent somewhere! There was the well-known 2005 Sandler-ized effort, which featured wet willies amongst all the violence. More interestingly there was the 2001 Britishization staring Vinnie Jones, Mean Machine. While I’m sure they swapped Football to Fóotball was because British-ness does that, I’m less interested in what actually happened. For the next three hundred...

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The Year in Movies: opinions I’ve had the pleasure of hearing

A movie is the combining audio and visual to tell a story. Often there is a message. They may serve to distract audiences with easily digestible material. Sometimes movies lead to discussions, boiling down to either “I liked it” or “I fucking hated it!” These are a few thoughts others related to me about movies I’ve seen this year. Star Trek Into Darkness was the awesomest/worst thing ever Immediately audiences and critics loved this flick. The negative reception came in the weeks following and because geeks harbour a rage unlike any other, it didn’t dissipate until the Blu-ray release. If...

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Review: Blood Brother

When Rocky Braat returns to Pittsburgh from an extended residency in India, his best friend and filmmaker Steve Hoover documents what becomes the biggest decision of Braat’s life. Hoover sees that his aloof friend has found his purpose in a care centre working with women and children living with HIV. When he joins Braat back to India, he becomes part of the story as he sees the deep connection his old friend has developed with these people and is embraced by this makeshift family himself. Upon Hoover’s first visit to the centre, he witnesses a dozen kids tackle his...

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