Inside Out LGBT Film Festival 2017

(The Fabulous) TORONTO LGBT FILM FESTIVAL 2017

The May 24 long weekend marks the arrival of Toronto LGBT Film Festival.  This year, the festival is fortunate to get the already critically acclaimed British gay piece GOD’S OWN COUNTRY.  Among the gems screened are a documentary on Allan Carr, the Hollywood producer most famous for GREASE and a neat little doc recounting the history of fabulous West Berlin.

For the complete program, ticket prices and venue, please check the Inside Out website at:

www.insideout.ca

It all started in 1991, when Inside Out celebrated its first film and video festival with a small community of people who yearned to see film and video created by and about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people.  Over the next two decades, the Festival grew in scope as well as attendance, becoming the largest event of its kind in Canada and one of the top five LGBT film festivals in the world. 

Taking place over 11 days, the Festival will draw crowds of close to 35,000 to screenings, artist talks, panel discussions, installations and parties that highlight more than 200 films and videos from Canada and around the world.  In 2009 Inside Out welcomed RBC Royal Bank as the Presenting Sponsor for the Festival and in 2011, the Festival moved its screening to the state-of-the-art TIFF Bell Lightbox, increasing its attendance, media coverage and industry presence and solidifying Inside Out's reputation as an international leader in the presentation of queer film.

Over 70 filmmakers and special guests are expected to present their films at this year’s Festival including actor/director/YouTube personality Max Emerson, Canadian comedian Caroline Rhea, soap stars Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia, comedians Fawzia Mirza and Shawn Hitchins, LGBTQ icon Jewel Thais-Williams and more. As previously announced, YouTube Personality Tyler Oakley will also be attending this year’s Festival as a part of Inside Out’s Youth Day.

This year, Inside Out will be introducing expanded industry programming which will include the inaugural edition of the Inside Out Film Finance Forum as well as panels on topics such as Trans Representation in Media moderated by activist Tiq Milan with actress Jen Richards and filmmaker/writer Chase Joynt as well as the Queer Sights and Queer Sounds panel with award-winning singer-songwriter T. Thomason and the multi-talented creator of That's My DJ, D.W. Waterson participating in the discussion.

Capsule Reviews of Selected Films:

THE FABULOUS ALLAN CARR (USA 2017) ***
Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz

Those who remember the fabulous documentary TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL screened at Inside Out two years back can expect the same fabulousness in director Jeffrey Schwarz’s new documentary of another Hollywood larger-than-life figure.  The subject is gay producer and promoter Allan Carr (before known as Alan Solomon).  Carr is a short, fat little man but did not let his non-fabulous features stop him from being the celebrity and everyone’s darling party organizer.  Carr has to his credits, the films GREASE (the highest grossing film of 1978), CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES and also the infamous Snow White at the 1989 Academy Awards.  But the film also traces his disastrous flops like GREASE 2 and WHERE THE BOYS ARE.  Schwarz captures all the glamour of Hollywood and its stars, from the eyes of Carr who narrates a fair part of his autobiography.  The film contains lots of nostalgia with lots of film clips from oldies and goodies like GREASE with a few archive footage of the old Hollywood gay scene.  But most important is the fact that the film also tells the truth about the real Carr - warts and all of his, as his personal assistant describes, his Jekyll and Hyde behaviour.

Trailer: (unavailable)

HANDSOME DEVIL (Ireland 2016) ****
Directed by John Butler

 

One would never tie a gay film with the sport of rugby with the climax of the film being the crucial rugby match.  HANDSOME DEVIL is the new sweet little Irish film that addresses both the topics of coming out and coming-of-age.  Though coming out is a well-worn theme in gay films, Butler introduces a few neat approaches.  “It does get better,” is the advice a gay adult

gives to the gay lad who is facing trouble after trouble about his coming-out.  The film’s setting is a rugby-mad boarding school.  An unlikely friendship develops between a dashing new roommate, the HANDSOME DEVIL, Conor (Nicholas Galitzine) of the title and the bullied kid, Ned (Fionn O’Shea).  Ned’s voiceover claims that the most embarrassing thing he ever did in life is the best thing that ever happened to him.  With this notion, Butler’s feel-good film is a real surprise.  It would be difficult to dislike this one.  Openly gay actor Andrew Scott (he played “C” in SPECTRE) delivers a spirited and commendable performance as the English teacher.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j1i94L8PMk

 

THE HANNAS (DIE HANNAS) (Germany 2016) **
Directed by Julia Kaiser

The Hannas are Hans and Anna, a long married couple who have been together so long that they are basically the same person.  Friends refer to them as THE HANNAS rather than calling them by their individual names.  But there is trouble in paradise as each falls victim to cheating on each other, Anna for Kim (a lesbian relationship) while Hans for Nicola.  Nicola is later revealed to be Kim’s sister.  There are more twists in the relationship of the 4, revealed as the film progresses.  Everything in this story turns out too well than in real life.  Hans and Anna are too forgiving and loving, and in real life it doesn’t happen that others will give up everything for someone who is already married.  The film has a more feminine point of view being directed by a woman, such as more emphasis on Anna than on Hans.  Anna is shown at work as a massage therapist while little or nothing is shown of Hans at work.  The film has a good start but eventually Kaiser’s quirky film tends to be more annoying (like her characters) than funny.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzuIHmyYTU8

HEARTSTONE (Iceland 2016) ***
Directed by G. Anar Guðmundsson

HEARTSTONE is the dramatic story of two pre-teens, Thor and Christian who are so good friends that others around think that they might be gay.   As homosexuality is looked down upon in the small fishing village setting, things get to a boil.  It does not help that Christian has an abusive often-drunk father and Thor, two older bullying sisteirs and a single mother who becomes the talk of the village when she starts dating again.  A big plus of HEARTSTONE is its Icelandic setting.   The landscape and photography are nothing short of stunning.  For example, when the from door opens in once scene where  Christian bolts out of the house, one can see the sea and mountains in the background.  As the film progresses, Thor begins to attract the attention of a local girl while Christian wrestles with his new unfound feeling towards Thor.  The film begins happily in summer where the boys are mainly playful and ends with the arrival of winter when they have to face the realities of adulthood and their sexual feelings.  Guðmundsson captures the complexity of youth, showing more of the pains and hurt than the joys of youth in his earnest feature.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9Tcw-_SrcA

HOOKED (USA 2017) **
Directed by Max Emerson

In the United States, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. (In Toronto, the estimate is anywhere from 20 to 40 percent.)   Max Emerson’s crowd funded film HOOKED as in Hookers) aim at two goals.  The first is to make a relevant film on the subject and the second to reach out to people for funds to help the LGBT homeless.  His film has the subject of an 18-year old hustler called Jack.  Jack and his boyfriend Tom are an item, close and very much in love with each other.  Otherwise, Jack is impulsive and explosive with few redeeming qualities.  A married man, Matt who has not come out of the closet takes Jack from NYC to Miami with the intention of helping him.  The trouble with this well intentioned but terrible film is that it is laden with cliches such as Matt’s unforgiving wife to his unfunny priest offering ridiculous advice.  At worst, Emerson’s film is preachy to the point of annoying with the the story leading to a predictable climax when the film ends asking unashamedly for donations.  Every male in the film appears to have hard and beautiful bodies, a fact so terribly false, in the real world.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfLodk5fH7w

MY WONDERFUL WEST BERLIN (Germany 2017) ***
Directed by Jochen Hick

MY WONDERFUL WEST BERLIN charts the gay activities between the end of WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall, looking from the point of view of West Berlin, which was a melting pot of political activists, partygoers, hedonists, club owners, musicians and fashion designers.  These are the stories of their lives, existing in gay communes and surviving the AIDS crisis.  This trip down memory lane is not all nostalgic and joy.  West Berlin is shown for all the ugliness and its gay history from the fights of the gay movements, the raids and arrests in gay establishments, the abolishment of paragraph 175,  to the destruction of lives though A.I.D.S   Shot mostly in back and white with extensive use of archive footage and home mvies, the audience is offered a ‘treat’ that still keels a relative light mood over the events.  Celebrities that have visited West Berlin include Iggy Pop and David Bowie, stressed for heir use of drugs.  Many older residents reminisce of the past from the youth to the present.   There is nothing really new revealed in this documentary, but it is still an informative and entertaining watch.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/218045422

PROM KING, 2010 (USA 2017) **

Directed by Christopher Schaap

PROM KING 2010 is a teen movie directed, written and starring a teen, Christopher Schaap.  The story has a loose narrative that follows protagonist Charlie (Schaap) through his college dating days.  Charlie comes across on screen as a princess with Nancy boy mannerisms who cannot decide but thinks he knows what he wants and cries any time he cannot get it.  There are flaws in the film but one should also give the the young director some credit.  Schaap does bring his little world into focus,  realistic as it is, seen though one would find it difficult to sympathize with his character.  What he goes through, puppy love, infatuation and the need to have a boyfriend and the need to be accepted are all the actual things young gay boys go through.  Schaap obviously idolizes Woody Allen from the poster of Allen’s MANHATTAN pinned up in his room.  For a film about a boy in college, there are hardly any scenes on campus grounds or on him having to study or take exams.  In the end, Schaap’s film goes nowhere though one would expect at least to have some of his insight as in Woody Allen’s MANHATTAN.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/203858177

WOMAN OF FIRE (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Julia Sokolow

Woman on Fire follows Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter in New York City.   At the start of the film, Brooke tells the audience, while looking in the mirror to follow your heart.  Well, Brooke did follow her heart to become a woman, the gender he/she was comfortable with.   As a third-generation firefighter, Brooke has a passion for heroism that runs in her blood.  Her father George is a respected lieutenant and 9/11 survivor with a 35-year legacy in the FDNY.  The film shows Brooke transitioning from male to female in her father's workplace, as it poses not only a challenge to a macho profession, but also to the customs of the people she cares about the most - her traditional family.   The film also charts Brooke's boyfriend of two years, Jim, struggling to come out to his family.  A wise-cracking Air Force veteran, Jim still hasn't told his mother that Brooke is a transwoman.   But besides the transgender issue, the film also reveals the life of a firefighter and their sacrifice for society.  A film that proudly celebrates diversity!

(Trailer unavailable)

 

 

Cinefranco Special Quebec 2017

CINEFRANCO SPECIAL QUEBEC 2017

This year’s “Cinefranco Special Quebec” will be taking place the weekend of April 21 – 23 at the Carlton Cinemas.  A total of 6 films will be screened during the 3 days.  Capsule reviews are provided for three of these films.

The full Cinefranco will take place later part of 2017.  We will keep you posted.

Price for each fi is $10 cash.

More details of the festival is available at the Cinefranco site at:

(The 6 films - titles and screening dates/times can be found at the cinefranco site below.  Please clink on the link:

http://2017.cinefranco.com/en/?option=com_content&view=article&id=125

GUESTS ATTENDING to date are:

Actor:   Émilie Bibeau, Fri April 21, 7pm screening of  Ça sent la coupe.

Director:  Benoit Pilon, Sat April 22, 7pm screening of Iqaluit.

CAPSULE REVIEWS OF SELECTED FILMS:

LA CHASSE AU COLLET (THE SQUEALING GAME) (Canada 2016) ***

Directed by Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr’s suspense drama is an odd one in that it sneaks in political messages as well.   The females like the wives have their say; a psychologically affected daughter gets her comeuppance.   The owner and CEO at a web ad agency, Eric is finally expecting to make it big, as he is launching a new discreet dating site for married people- for those who want to cheat on their spouses.  However, this type of venture comes at a cost; a moral one.  The film also centres on a young and troubled dental hygienist, Elyse, struggling to overcome her repulsion of intimate relationships with men.  When she overhears Eric's interview on the radio: “The best of both worlds. Have an affair!”, she decides to take steps that she hopefully thinks, would led to her redemption.  Paul Doucet, not exactly the typical leading man, plays the CEO.  Not totally a satisfying thriller, the film has its moments in bing different from the typical Hollywood slasher movie.

Trailer (sans sous-titres; without subtitles): 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llLvL6J5ujM

MISERICORDE (Canada 2016) ***1/2

Directed by Fluvio Bernasconi

A mystery drama with the theme of redemption that also takes on the issues of the indigenous Indians.  Thomas (a Swiss in Quebec) has to settle his conscience by doing right on finding the killer of a boy, Muk, hit and killed by a hit-and-run truck river. Thomas is escaping trial in his home Switzerland after accidentally killing his baby after shaking it to death.  The driver is remorseful on the deed.  A retired officer who knocked all the teeth out of a suspect also does his bit for his conscience.  An assured and compelling drama that has the audience not taking sides of the guilty or the innocent.  A good moral tale with a good story and suspense (Thomas has to find the driver before the Quebec cops arrest him to extradite him back home) to go with it.  Veteran actress Marthe Keller has a supporting role in the film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Bo59fBH5Vg

PRANK (Canada 2016) *

Directed by Vincent Biro

The film PRANK must be a prank of some kind.  The no-brainer film is about 3 guy losers and a loser girl that go about town playing pranks of various kinds.  Stefie (Étienne Galloy) is a bored, awkward teenager with giant train tracks, a mouth that's constantly agape, no apparent friends, and nothing better to do than throw a tennis ball listlessly against a schoolyard wall.  Enter older pranksters Martin (Alexandre Lavigne) and Jean-Se (Simon Pigeon), who con Stefie into collaborating on a YouTube ruse.  One might include dancing on a bridge until someone comes long when he will be told to f*** off.  This prank is not at all funny, nor are the other pranks nor the film itself.  This is a small budget Quebec film that serves no purpose.   The film that makes the film JACKASS look like a masterpiece.

(No need to bother with a trailer here!)

Hot Docs 2017

HOT DOCS 2017 - Toronto

Hot Docs Toronto is supposedly the largest documentary film festival in North America.  It begins April 27th.  Though a single regular ticket is pricey at $17, there are good deals in more are bought in packages.  Seniors (60+) and students are given a deal.  They see free - for screening before 5 pm.

For more information such as schedule of films and list of films by category, click on the link below:

https://www.hotdocs.ca/p

Here is the ticket information:

Hot Docs 2017 tickets, passes and packages are now on sale.

CraveTV Hot Docs Box Office

605 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M6G 1K6

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: 416.637.5150

March 21 - April 26: 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM (week days), 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM (weekends)

April 27 - May 7: 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM

FESTIVAL TICKETS

Regular Tickets: $17

Premium Tickets: $22 - $24

FIND FILMS

FREE Daytime Screenings

Courtesy of documentary Channel

Seniors (60+) and students with valid ID can take advantage of free admission to films that start before 5:00 p.m. Pick up your tickets at the screening venue’s box office on the day of the screening, subject to availability.

CAPSULE REVIEWS of selected documentaries:

78/52 (USA 2017) ****

Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe

78/52 offers an unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO - the "man behind the curtain" and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema.  The famous shower scene - the opening and closing of the bathroom door; the water streaming from the shower; the curtain slowly pulling apart; the repeated stabbing; the blood flowing down the bath; the door bathroom door slamming shut.  The entire scene’s storyboard with the script is read aloud (and also the pages of the novel of the same name by Robert Block, illustrating the differences) to the audience as the scene, unfolds one step at a time, offering a fresh insight.  The contribution of both Edward Hermann to the music and George Tomasini to the sound effects are detailed in the film, providing more insight and pleasure to the cineaste.  The film includes clips of films that have been influenced by Hitchcock.  Director Philippe (DOC OF THE DEAD) has done thorough and detailed research on Hitchcock and the shower scene and it shows.  The result is one of the best and most insightful documentaries on the techniques of the Master of Suspense.

Clip: http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/208152/sundance-2017-new-7852-clip-goes-psycho-shower-scene/

ASK THE SEXPERT

Directed by Vaihali Sinha

The sexpert of the film is the columnist a 91-year old retired gynaecologist, Dr. Watsa of the Mumbai Times who has a column for years running that answers questions about sex.  Despite sex being a taboo topic in that country, the column’s brand of non-moralistic advice and humor has emboldened many to write in with their questions, the vast majority of whom seek basic information.  Director Sinha follows the doctor often at work, as he sees patients or while he sitting by his computer dishing out often comical advice.  The film diverges to sex education in India and how Indians should be taught sex.  There will be objections - those for the sex education curriculum and for Dr. Watsa’s column.  It is not surprising that the angry people are always women.  Sinha keeps her film light and flavourful.  While entertaining, ASK THE SEXPERT opens eyes on sex education in the huge continent of India.

Trailer: https://youtu.be/1yRR1_VU1cQ

A CAMBODIAN SPRING (UK 2017) ***1/2

Directed by Chris Kelly

There are serious docs and and there are hilarious docs at HOT DOCS 2017.  A CAMBODIAN SPRING is one of the more serious docs of the festival dealing with one of the most serious issues facing people today - human rights and human rights in a country that is corrupted, inhuman and cruel.  The country is Cambodia and writer/producer/director/editor Chris Kelly gives his audience an intimate and unique portrait of three people (among them a monk and a resident of a home around a lake stolen by the Government) caught up in the chaotic and often violent development that is shaping modern-day Cambodia.   The film, shot over six years, charts the growing wave of land-rights protests that led to the ‘Cambodian spring’ and the tragic events that followed.  This film is about the complexities – both political and personal, of fighting for what one believes in.   The film educates the world to the real Cambodia.  There are unforgettable images on display here - like children taking to the streets and a bloodied injured old woman.

 

DO DONKEYS ACT? (United Kingdom/Canada/Ireland/United States 2016) ***

Directed by Ashley Sabin and David Redmon

It has to happen eventually - a documentary on donkeys from the donkey’s point of view.

The film’s ethno-poetic-animal-fiction takes its playfully self-reflexive cues from Jean Rouch and Chris Marker.  Encouraging the audience to respect a major language barrier the audience might not otherwise consider––the mystery and intrigue of donkey utterances––DO DONKEYS ACT? invites the audience to "step into their shade, listen closely" as we attune to a series of dramatic performances in which one’s eavesdrop on donkeys speaking amongst themselves.  Narrated by Willem Dafoe, this tactic is amusing but sometimes, simplicity is the key.  Though it might seem trivial to learn more about donkeys, curiosity eventually has its day in this occasionally fascinating portrayal of the neglected animal who is still part of God’s animal Kingdom.  Everything you wanted to know that happens inside a donkey sanctuary.  The film was shot in several docket sanctuaries including the one in Guelph, Ontario.  Present during Hot Docs will be Co-Director David Redmon.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/200043031

INTEGRAL MAN (Canada 2016) ***
Directed by Joseph Clement

As this reviewer teaches mathematics at a college in Toronto, it is expected that INTEGRAL MAN be selected as a documentary to be reviewed.  The human subject of INTEGRAL MAN is Jim Stewart, the most published mathematician since Euclid, a man of unparalleled ambition.  His books are sold the world over.  But this man is also a music lover.  Stewart set out to create one of the most renowned pieces of residential architecture in North America and succeeded, demonstrating the perfect match between client and architect.  The other subject of the film is this residence, overlooking a ravine in Rosedale, Toronto which the film spends more than half the time showcasing.  Unbeknownst to Jim however, an unexpected turn of events is set to unfold.  He is diagnosed with cancer.  The film is a worthy tribute to a man who has devoted his life to music and has paid back his dues to that art from.   Beware!  The film is full of glorified decadence!

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/209647946

LET THERE BE LIGHT (Canada/France/Italy/Switzerland/USA 2017) *** 

Directed by Mila Aung-Thwin & Van Royko

This documentary attempts to answer the question: Can mankind create a small sun on Earth?  The purpose, to develop a clean, safe and unlimited power, has been an obsession for scientists and inventors for centuries, and an underlying preoccupation for society as a whole.  For decades, fusion has been delayed and thwarted by failure, miscalculation, fraud and politics. But today, fusion is being pursued with a renewed zeal.  The film explains the process of fusion, as simply as possible to the audience, assumed to know nothing about Physics.  But as the film progresses, the doc gets bogged with the details of scientists explaining all the different processes  involved in the collaboration, that according to the directors is taking place among 37 countries.  At times, the film plays like an educational piece slotted for schools.  Still, the doc is educational, even if not always entertaining.   The funniest segment involves a 40-year old native of Bowen island (Canada) working alone on his fusion reactor in his garage.  Director Aung-Thwin and Royko do their best to get her audience to identity with the subject.  Attending Hot Docs will be director Mila Aung-Thwin and Physicist Michel Laberge.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/205254516

PACmen (USA 2017) ***
Directed by Luke Walker

Not to be confused with Pacman the video game, PACmen is a group, as introduced at the start of the film that has access to almost unlimited funds.  This observational documentary called PACmen, directed, producer, and written by Luke Walker, follows the people behind the Super-PACs that persuaded Dr​. ​Ben Carson to run for President.​ ​  This is all true and Ben Carson is seen often in debate with now President of the United States Donald Trump, who was then just a competitive candidate.  This makes the film more interesting though the audience now knows who won the Presidency.  Believing Carson can save the Republican Party, they successfully draft him to run, raise​ ​millions of dollars and catapult him to the top of the polls.​ ​ However, as Carson’s political inexperience begins to show (he know nothing about the Middle East, which is really sad), his constant media gaffes make​ ​fundraising increasingly difficult.  Donors and voters abandon Carson’s campaign as wallets​ ​close, hearts open and faith is tested.​ ​ As Trump inexplicably rises, the campaign descends into chaos and the PACmen begin to​ ​wonder… did they pick the wrong saviour?  Walker’s documentary would be more relevant if the PACmen picked a winner instead of a loser.  This is an example of the luck of the draw.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/205346326

PECKING ORDER (New Zealand 2017) ***

Directed by Slavko Martinov

Witten and directed by Slavko Martinov, PECKING ORDER is literally about the pecking order of chickens.  The setting is Christchurch, New Zealand - the 148-year old Christchurch Poultry , Bantam and Pigeon Club.  The subject is competitive poultry pageantry as a highly entertaining hobby—it’s an obsession.  For members of Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in New Zealand, it’s also way of life.  Among the members are Seniors Beth Inwood and President Doug Bain who have tasted the glory of raising perfect rosecomb cockerels and rumpless pullets.  Most of the members are old.  But Martinov injects some fresh blood into the film with newbie teenagers Rhys Lilley and Sarah Bunton (though they do not impress me as the brightest of kids) enjoying the fun.   But there appears to be trouble in paradise.  Feathers start to fly when infighting breaks out in the club during the run-up to the 2015 National Poultry Show.  The film traces the change of presidency while highlighting the chooks National Show as its climax.  Still the film is totally fun, shallow that it appears to be, but perhaps some of life lessons can be learnt from watching these chicken lovers.  There is always something amusing when one hears chicken clucking.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyqrX4ySvKg

SHINERS (Canada 2017) ***1/2

Directed by Stacey Tenenbaum

SHINERS in this documentary are the men and women who make their living cleaning our shoes.  Director Tenenbaum takes her audience from New York to Tokyo and beyond including La Paz in Bolivia.  Toronto is also included.  Before you can dismiss shoe shining as a degrading menial job or the film as an irrelevant one, SHINERS is surprisingly one of the brightest and happiest docs on show.  It is akin to the satisfied face of a customer after seeing his footwear clean and shiny for the first time.  The film also demonstrates the different cultures with reference to shining.  In Bolivia, these shiners cover their faces so as not to be recognized.  In Japan, one shiner dresses in a suit charging his customers as much as $25 a shine, but a beer is included in the deal.  The film also shows the reasons these people are doing this job - be it the freedom, supporting their families or just being happy, as one college educated lady shiner confesses.  Guaranteed!  You will never look at a shoe shiner the same way again!  The most important thing about the film is that the film teaches respect for every human being.  The smile on the face of Vincent, the shoeshiner in Toronto featured in the doc at the end says it all.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/209651375

 

 

 

Film Review: Frantz

FRANTZ (France/Germany 2016) ****

Directed by Francois Ozon

What would be another year without another film from French director Francois Ozon?  Ozon’s last two films were JEUNE & JOLIE and LA NOUVELLE AMIE and my favourites are SITCOM and LES AMANTS CRIMINELS.  Ozon’s films have often been about twisted love.  FRANTZ is no different.

At one point in the film, the protagonist is given the message to live and love life.  The advice is more easily said than done.  Ozon’s entire film is devoted to prove the fact.

FRANTZ is Ozon’s (which he co-write with Phillippe Piazzo) elegant tale of love and remembrance set in a small German town in the aftermath of World War I (1914-1918).  A young woman, Anna (Paula Beer) mourning the death of her fiancé, Frantz forms a bond with a mysterious Frenchman who has arrived to lay flowers on her beloved’s grave.  The mourning is representative of a larger national mourning where many Germans (and French) soldiers lost their lives.  The question immediate to ones mind is who the Frenchman is and why he is laying the flowers.  With Ozon, an open gay director, the best guess (and mine too) is that the Frenchman is Frantz’s gay lover and that the gay relationship was kept from the family.  That would have been too obvious.  This is not the case.  The secret is revealed and only revealed about the half way mark of the film.

Anna’s German home town are just beginning to emerge from the shadow of horrendous war.  Frantz's parents are shattered over their son's death.  The stranger reveals himself to be Adrien (Pierre Niney) who knew Frantz in the pre-war period, when the two of them became fast friends over their shared love of art and, in particular, music.   But there is much more to the story, which is revealed a bit at a time in Ozon’s carefully calculated though slow moving tale of redemption.  

Anna is convincingly portrayed by 21-year old Paula Beer.  Pierre Niney, famous for his lead role in YVES SAINT LAURENT shows off his magnificent (despite the artificially inserted made up war wounds) male body, basking in the son, reminding the audience that this is a film by Ozon.  Ernst Stötzner and Marie Gruber are also excellent playing Frantz’s parents Doktor Hans Hoffmister and Magda Hoffmeister.

A bit of needed tension is provided by the village’s hatred for the French.  Whenever Adrien walks about alone or at night, there is fear that he might be killed or badly beaten.

There are many issues on display in this post World War 1 drama.  The most important is the individual’s search for happiness.  This is seen not only from Anna’s point of view but also from her suitor, Frantz’s parents and also from the much oder Mr. Kreutz (Johann von Bülow) who wishes Anna’s hand in marriage after hearing of Frantz’s death.

This is Ozon’s most emotional and sombre film, again meticulously crafted and though might be tedious to some, succeeds in the very end.  The film is shot in both German and French, black and white and in colour.  Ozon reportedly drew his inspiration from the Ernst Lubitsch's 1932 drama BROKEN LULLABY, with stunning visual references to painter Caspar David Friedrich.  His next film L’AMAMT DOUBLE with his regular Jeremie Renier and Jacqueline Bisset should be something to look forward to.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO_z5BRsFnM

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