Making Thought Visual

A Review of Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt

Sherry Coman

Margarethe von Trotta has dedicated her life to illuminating the stories of women, both fictional and real. Her films about Rosa Luxemburg (Rosa Luxemburg) and Hildegarde von Bingen (Vision) are at opposite ends of my TIFF 30 year range of experience: I think it was Rosa Luxembourg that first introduced me to von Trotta in the mid-80s and I have followed her ever since. This year von Trotta is back with a biopic of the great German-American political theorist Hannah Arendt, in the film with that title. Continue reading

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The Ones Who Didn’t Make It

A Review of Benedek Fliegauf’s Film, Just the Wind

Emily Loewen

When thinking of the refugees who come to Canada every year, Europe likely isn’t the point of origin you would picture. But in 2011 the largest number of refugee applicants came from Hungary, and almost all of them are Roma.[1] Immigrating and building a life in Canada is not easy, and likely will get harder as Bill C-31 is implemented. But for many Roma, going back to the alternative in Hungary in unimaginable.

A new film, Just the Wind, which had it’s North American premiere at TIFF, follows the life of a fictional Roma family living in Hungary, waiting to join their husband and father in Toronto. Continue reading

A Strange Serenity

A Review of Xavier Dolan’s Film Laurence Anyways

Sherry Coman

Laurence Anyways is the story of a man who wants to continue a life-long committed soulmate relationship to a woman, while embarking on gender reassignment to become a woman also. It is about love that endures and also fails, even while the lovers cannot expunge each other from the soul. And I’m not sure which is more astonishing: the fact that at age 23, Québecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan has already made a third fine film, or that at age 23, he has already understood so much, and with such maturity, about the complexity of human relationships. Continue reading

Representations of Home

Jan Zabeil’s Film River Use to be a Man in Review

Jeffrey Metcalfe

River Use to be a Man stands at the crux of an unfinished conversation (and perhaps unfinishable) on the nature of representation. Which stories are we permitted to tell and in what kinds of places are we entitled to tell them? These are the sorts of questions that are inevitably asked when a film is depicted in the fragmented site of colonialism – more so when one who does not find that place his home authors that representation. This is both the narrative and the metanarrative of German film maker Jan Zabeil’s feature, where functioning as both author, director, and actor (and one might be tempted to add, character), he plays a listless German youth wandering Botswana, who is forced by circumstances beyond his control to journey on a boat down a river in search of his own life. This is a tale of existential and spiritual survival, a Heart of Darkness for a postmodern generation. Continue reading

Love’s Work in the Reel[1]

Julia Loktev’s Film The Loneliest Planet in Review

Jeffrey Metcalfe

In the midst of a multiplicity of choices, it is difficult to find a film these days whose images and narrative do not come with a short expiration date. For anyone who has ever been in love, The Loneliest Planet is such a film. It is haunting. By following a couple’s movements through the empty foothills of Georgia, it manages to capture that elusive spirit of love that is born out of struggle. As Bonhoffer criticized his culture for being a society in which grace was cheap, so too, our contemporary culture is a place were love comes too easily, and perhaps, not at all. Yet in her film The Loneliest Planet, Julia Loktev is able to portray love not simply as a feeling, but a work, an equivocal wrestling with naïveté, betrayal, self-doubt, self-hatred, and reconciliation that ends, if not joyfully, at least with a possibility of hope. Continue reading

Whose Religion? Which Cult? Seeing on the Margins

Sean Durkin’s Film Martha Marcy May Marlene in Review

Jeffrey Metcalfe

In a time when the greed of liberal capitalism has brought the global economy to the knife’s edge of utter collapse, it may seem frivolous to spend time at the movies. Indeed as the Occupy protesters continue their encampments, the often-heard criticism by the elite – the infamous 1% – is the hypocrisy of the protesters own positions. Are they not organizing their traffic stoppages on their iphones while they sip Starbucks lattes? Are they not themselves the very consumers who keep the death march of infinite protest going? How then can they make a legitimate critique of a system in which they are implicated? We can imagine the critics shouting: “let the hippies leave their communes and go home, let them get jobs and stop complaining about a system that supports them.”

Rather than feeling like you are handing over 30 pieces of silver for a pass to the cinemas this weekend, as Martha Marcy May Marlene hits theaters, few critics of capitalism could do better then to put their protest signs back in their yurts for a few hours (its okay, you will want to take them up again later) and head over to their local cinemas for Sean Durkin’s new film. Continue reading