The Postman’s White Nights (Konchalovsky, 2014)

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DARIA GAMLIEL for Cinetalk.net

Words like banal, uneventful and repetitive are normally viewed as having negative connotations. However, in Andrei Konchalovsky’s The Postman’s White Nights, they describe a life most modern iPhone and Android addicts wouldn’t understand. There are no game consoles; no fidget spinners. On these small Russian islands, one would be hard pressed to find a vehicle other than a fishing boat. Life by Kenozero Lake has its own rhythm and routine. As much as there are mundane daily tasks, there are also warm camaraderie and a familiarity between neighbors and colleagues that modern society lacks.

The region’s postman (Aleksey Tryapitsyn) deals with personal demons (or, more specifically, a mysterious grey cat) as he tends to his daily chores. Not only does he deliver mail to the villagers, but also checks in on them and brings them groceries. He even temporarily adopts a young boy to keep him entertained and enriched. Otherwise what would the child do all day while his mother takes secret lovers in the back room of their house? Possibly the best parts of The Postman are the Continue reading

Chuck (US – 2016) – Short Review

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for Cinetalk.net

Chuck (it was titled the The Bleeder when shown at TIFF in September)is based upon the real life story of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner who had a shot at glory in 1975 facing Muhammad Ali in the ring and making it to the 15th round.

Directed by Philippe Falardeau (The good lie) it stars Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, X-Men), Naomi Watts and Ron Perlman (Hellboy). It is said that Wepner’s story was influential in the Making of Rocky (1976). At least that is what he wants us to believe.

We are witnesses to the preceding, then the fight and the ensuing downfall. The depiction of 1970’s era is honest, the performances are enjoyable, especially Perlman as the manager. A colorful manager is a must to any boxing film.

Chuck is a pedestrian ride narrated with with a great dose of narcissism, but in such a self-deprecating way it ultimately becomes sympathetic. Chuck is much about trusting the word of the one telling the story…

I, Daniel Blake (UK – 2016) – Short Review

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for Cinetalk.net

When I, Daniel Blake won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, Ken Loach entered a highly select group of directors who took home the award twice. Much has been written about it since (it comes late on our Canadian screens as Cannes 2017 edition is already at the Gates) people even suggesting the jury’s top recognition had more to do with the overall body of work – Loach is already 80 – than the film itself.

So what?

I, Daniel Blake  bears Ken Loach (and screenwriter’s Paul Laverty) signature all along. It depicts the despair of a 59-year-old worker, Blake, who, after a heart attack, must apply for social care. Mr Blake contributed a whole life to a system soon to discover it doesn’t really work both ways as Continue reading

The Lost City of Z (US – 2016)

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for Cinetalk.net

James Gray’s new film, The Lost City of Z, is a drama- adventure based on the real life character of 1910-20’s British explorer Percival Fawcett, following him on the trail of a mythical city lost in the Amazon. It stars Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Robert Pattinson (Twilight).

As opposite as it can be from more poetic art house adventure on similar subject, such as Werner Herzog’s Aguirre- The Wrath of God (1972), it is nonetheless effective and exotic, if conventional. It relies plenty , of course, on the artistic output provided by highly gifted cinematographer Darius Khondji (Seven, Fight Club, Amour, etc), fully capturing the essence of lights, shadows and movements.

The Lost City of Z basically aim, Continue reading

Powidoki / Afterimage (Poland, 2016)

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for Cinetalk.net

Powidoki (Afterimage, 2016), master filmmaker Andrzej Wajda’s final film, his testament, is about another master, Polish Avant-garde painter Wladyslaw Strzeminski. It could be seen as part of a cycle of late Wajda, or post Oscar recognition films (he was honored for his career spanning five decades – at that point – in 2000), historical Films, like Katyn (2007) and Walesa (2013), to rectify some facts and thoughts about Poland history.

Wajda and co-screenwriter Andrzej Mularczyk concentrate on Strzeminski postwar World War 2 period when he was a teacher at Łódź School of Plastic Arts and design. It’s the beginning of the taking over by the communists and his liberal views and style get him in trouble. He will never recover.

The tone is set Continue reading