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Jerzy Skolimowski (#110 of 4)

Toronto International Film Festival 2015 Office and 11 Minutes

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Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Office and 11 Minutes

Milky Way Image Company

Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Office and 11 Minutes

Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To has long been adding balletic touches to both his gunslinging action movies and his wild romantic comedies, which made the prospect of his first outright musical—in 3D, no less—one of the most exciting selections in this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. But even hardcore fans could scarcely anticipate what a major departure Office is for the director. To arranges the film around a gigantic, blacked-out set filled with the skeletal outlines of consumerist life: Subways constructed of nothing more than winding, orange pipes carry workers to a corporate office of endless computer desks encased in glass. On the building’s bottom floor, the work environment opens imperceptibly into a department store, further limiting the parameters of the film’s world and presenting a closed ecosystem of money that resembles Playtime by way of Dogville.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2011: Underwater Love, Medianeras, & The Skin I Live In

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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2011: <em>Underwater Love</em>, <em>Medianeras</em>, & <em>The Skin I Live In</em>
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2011: <em>Underwater Love</em>, <em>Medianeras</em>, & <em>The Skin I Live In</em>

It’s silly to complain about anything when spending time in the company of Pedro Almodóvar, Jerzy Skolimowski, Wim Wenders, and other auteurs, but with the exception of today’s off-and-on nice weather, it’s been unusually and unpleasantly cold here ever since the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival started. One of the fest’s famed specialties is two-layer circular wafers sandwiching a thin layer of chocolate, coconut, or whatever. You can buy them warmed up, which helps with the cold.

Cinequest ‘11: Midnight Son, New York Decalogue, Madly in Love, Sodankyla Forever, & The Glass Slipper

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Cinequest ‘11: <em>Midnight Son</em>, <em>New York Decalogue</em>, <em>Madly in Love</em>, <em>Sodankyla Forever</em>, & <em>The Glass Slipper</em>
Cinequest ‘11: <em>Midnight Son</em>, <em>New York Decalogue</em>, <em>Madly in Love</em>, <em>Sodankyla Forever</em>, & <em>The Glass Slipper</em>

Cinequest recently wrapped its 21st year. I attended the festival in its last few days, which is the equivalent of eating the frosting of a 10-layer cake. I didn’t see enough films to be able to make broad conclusions about the festival, but the small taste I did get enables me to say that this festival has one again, just as it always does, stuck to its promise of programming the new and uncharted in cinema. Though some of the films playing the festival, like Potiche, have built their reputations at places like Cannes, Berlin, Venice, etc., for the most part this is a festival whose programming is doggedly dedicated to bringing films to the screen that in many cases, up until their CQ premiere, are not on any one’s radars (films from first-time filmmakers and those that haven’t gotten much exposure outside of their home country or at other festivals).

Toronto International Film Festival 2010: Potiche, Essential Killing, & Cave of Forgotten Dreams

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Toronto International Film Festival 2010: <em>Potiche</em>, <em>Essential Killing</em>, & <em>Cave of Forgotten Dreams</em>
Toronto International Film Festival 2010: <em>Potiche</em>, <em>Essential Killing</em>, & <em>Cave of Forgotten Dreams</em>

Potiche: More like Pastiche. Back in kitschy-feminist 8 Women mode, François Ozon channels Jacques Demy (pink umbrellas and all) for this plush hymn to the fabulosity of all things Catherine Deneuve. The campy tone is set in the opening sequence, as French cinema’s knowing empress is introduced in a jogging tracksuit and tasteful curlers, cooing at fawns and winking at squirrels. It’s 1977 and she plays the docile wife of a right-wing, openly unfaithful industrialist (Fabrice Luchini). When her husband is hospitalized after a clash with striking workers, she dons her best pearls and furs and heads out to run the factory with her adult children, reactionary Papa’s girl Judith Godrèche and queer-eyed artist Jeremy Renier. Though larded with lines like “Paternalism is dead” and “The personal is political,” Ozon’s romp is less interested in charting a bourgeois wife’s private revolution than in doting on feathery coifs, split-screens, and geometric wallpaper. Deneuve does plenty of elegantly funny swanning, and works up iconic poignancy with Gérard Depardieu (as her unionist-turned-mayor ex-lover). It feels churlish to carp when a star is having so much fun, though I wish the material didn’t play like a Gallic remake of Mamma Mia!