By Anne Brodie
The emotionally charged story of love and sacrifice, Our Friend concerns grace, doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Dakota Johnson, a wife and mother of two diagnosed with terminal cancer and her husband (Casey Affleck) are overwhelmed by grief and domestic challenges. They accept the live-in help of their best friend, played by Jason Segel. He’s dealing with issues but realises they need help as much as he does. He might find redemption through service and familial love. Its reverberations heal and comfort them even as they can’t change the inevitable outcome. The heart-tugging examination of empathy in crisis is also unintentionally timely. Take your hankies, as this is a cleansing, rejuvenating experience. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite.
The hit Israeli TV series Losing Alice has landed on our shores via AppleTV+. Considered controversial on its release there for its non-traditional view of women, work, eroticism and morality, it shocks and surprises, and but with glossy authenticity. Alice (Ayelet Zurer), a famous film director is on the train home when Sophie (Lihi Kornowski) a seductive and aggressive aspiring screenwriter, corners and questions her about her life. Against her better judgement, Alice allows Sophie in; her husband David ( Gal Toren) is attracted to Sophie and Alice is smitten. They’re impressed by her screenplay and plans to shoot it. The director she hired goes missing, and the rush to get in on the opportunity has Alice questioning Sophie. Told in flashforwards and flashbacks, and set in that unique environment of filmmaking illustrates how we may compromise ourselves to get what we want. An interesting sidenote, rats invade their home, in more ways than one.
Inspired by the adventures of Arsène Lupin, a gentleman thief and master of disguise, Assane Diop sets out to avenge his father for an injustice inflicted by a wealthy family. French actor Omar Sy is Assane / Lupin who was raised by a loving father who gave him a thirst for literature and the arts before he was driven to suicide by his wealthy employers. That gave Lupin the need for vengeance. Built like a brick house, charming, handsome and elegant, he works as a janitor at Paris’ Louvre Museum where Marie Antoinette’s 200M dollar diamond necklace is on display. It’s owned by his father’s employers and he will steal it to right a wrong. He and his crew will do the deed and get away in seven minutes if all goes to plan. Lupin will also pose as the buyer. Next, he’s a food bike courier on a mission to prove his father’s innocence, necessitating his solid magic skills. Old fashioned fun based on the 1902 novel by French writer Maurice Leblanc. On Netflix.
TIFF fave Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time is Hungary’s non-pandemic Oscar entry for Best International Feature. Márta, a 40-year-old neurosurgeon is flying to her hometown of Budapest, leaving behind a brilliant 20-year career in New Jersey. Her motivation is a brief verbal encounter with a Hungarian man during a conference stateside. They planned to meet in Budapest and at the appointed time and place; she sees him, runs to hug him and he rebuffs her, saying he doesn’t know her. She collapses on the street. The hospital where he works is delighted to have a doctor with American experience and she’s hired immediately, and she can keep an eye on him. Márta tells her psychiatrist she thinks she made him up and can’t trust herself even as she stalks the guy to his home and family. He shows up in her street, watching her apartment and they begin a love affair. But is any of it real? It takes its time, in its moody, way without even a hint of commercial, conventional Hollywood cliche. Written and directed by Lili Horvát, starring Natasa Stork, Viktor Bodó, Benett Vilmányi. Watch on digital TIFF Bell Lightbox and next week on TVOD.
Topic‘s original series The Grave from Omri Givon is an eight-part mystery drama series, set in the aftermath of an earthquake. The heaving ground reveals three human skeletons in a pit in a northern Israel National Park. The forest ranger, (Nadav Netz) a widower, lives nearby with his young son and soon falls under suspicion. But forensic investigators are stunned when DNA samples taken from the remains are matched to three living people. The heat’s turned up on the ranger when his late wife’s wedding ring is found inside one of the skeletons.
A mentalist performer has visions of himself throwing a body over a bridge and into the pit. The young prisoner is released, two activists shoot each other in the lobby of an office building. The ranger takes his son to the grave of his mother and discovers a hard drive of himself he doesn’t remember taking. so whose DNA was found and how are these events related? The Grave is a complex story that doesn’t benefit from precis, but I promise, it’s a jaw-dropper.
What happens when a free-spirited New Zealander finds out she’s pregnant but hasn’t a single maternal cell in her entire being? and she still plans to travel to Canada to compete in the World Championships of Tree Climbing? and it’s funny? Plenty. Baby Done from Curtis Vowell and Sophie Henderson finds savant arborist Zoe (Rose Matafeo) in that position. She’s an independent spirited woman whose boyfriend Tim (Matthew Lewis) demands that she stop climbing and certainly forget about the Canada trip to protect their child. It doesn’t go down well, she seems singularly determined to ignore the fact that she’s going to have She draws up a bucket list of things she always wanted to do now that she sees her window of freedom closing. and she asks her beau what he wants, he blurts out a threesome with her best friend Molly. They try but it’s an hilarious bust. She runs off with a pregophile. Look that up. Zoe’s as charming and relatable as it gets but her blind spot is never explained, and her self-defeating behaviour continues unchecked. Good thing she’s so funny and the film’s so entertaining. TVOD
Gerard Butler stars in the actioner Greenland, so that tells you what to expect. Butler will stand up to an enemy and fight tooth and nail to protect his family. In this case, the enemy is extinction, via a massive asteroid dubbed Clark hurting towards earth that will wipe out the planet and all life on it. International news reports warn of the coming apocalypse, showing footage of burning cities, flattened and all of it, ashes. It’s coming to the US. The government has preselected certain citizens to leave their homes, head to a local military base and board a flight to a place where they will be safe. Really? I guess the asteroid is only so wide. Off they go, leaving shocked and angry neighbours behind. Thus begins a journey that makes us wish that asteroid was heading our way. It’s grim, ugly, violent and frustrating, mirroring how it makes me feel. can they outrun a fireball of doom? where can they hide? well, Greenland. can they get there? The film leaves a lot to be desired, but there is relevance in that the space rock subs for COVID 19, terrorising the world, causing outlandish behaviour and upsetting the natural order of things. On Amazon Prime Video.
HBO and HBO Max‘ new six-episode unscripted series Painting with John, starring musician, actor, director and painter, John Lurie is more character study than any attempt to teach or instruct how to paint. He’s an eccentric guy living in paradise, he owns some art materials and has a lot of thoughts, all of which he’s willing to share and share. Lurie says Bob Ross was wrong, not everyone can paint. “It’s just not true”. topics under one-sided discussion – parents as art nurturers, the art f drone flying and tire tossing, cancer treatment and curry and celebrity encounters. This is a guy who’s seen it all and all I can say is, good things he’s not espousing any healing or spiritual or political views, he’s dangerously seductive.
Uvagut TV Canada’s first all-Inuit Inuktut TV channel in the Inuit language launched this week. “Our” TV will broadcast 168 hours a week of Inuit-produced culture, arts, movies and information programming over Shaw Networks and Arctic Co-ops Cable subscribers in Nunavut and NWT. More outlets are being added, while www.uvagut.tv is currently available worldwide. Uvagut TV is the end result of forty years of work to create Inuktut television to Inuit audiences to preserve, promote and revitalize Inuit culture and language.
There’s a rich film industry in the far north, making international inroads, most notably through Zacharias Kunuk (Shaman’s Apprentice, One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, and one of my most loved films of all time Atanarjuat – The Fast Runner) and Alethea Aggiuq Arnaquq-Baril and Pauloosie Qulitalik. Kunuk says “Kunuk O.C., NITV co-founder and Head of Isuma, welcomes the historic breakthrough. “We’ve been independent from day one and after 35 years we finally have our own channel. Our ancestors survived by the strength of their wits and their community. These new ways of storytelling can help Inuit survive for another thousand years. People who turn on Uvagut TV any time of day or night will see our own stories in our own language.”
The picaresque comedy-drama The White Tiger is now on Netflix, following a limited theatrical release. A low caste Indian plots his way out of the slums and into the big city Big Time by sheer force of will. Adarsh Gourav is Balram, whose sweet smile and personality mask manipulation and crime. The film’s tonal changes follow his own, it begins and all is bright and happy, as the beloved member of a family subsisting in rural slums. Poverty hasn’t darkened his soul. His master, owner of the family’s lives, basically, has a son newly returned from America, the epitome of cool to a slum kid. Balram can’t drive but smiles his way into a job as the son’s driver; he experiences incredible new things, luxury hotels, gracious living, travel and status. He’s kept down, forced to sleep in an underground parking garage and occasionally he’s hit. He bows and scrapes while plotting his economic and personal revenge and he gets his chance. The story becomes very dark indeed. The stereotypical, western view of Indian poverty porn is ruthless, but the film has plenty of persuasive power. Gourav is impressive showing the dark recesses of human malevolence sparked by insecurity. Directed by Ramin Bahrani and co-starring Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao.