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2018 FILM FEST

The Midwife

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Sunday April 15th 4:55 PM
France 2017
Director: Martin Provost
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot, Olivier Gourmet
Runtime: 117 minutes
Language: French with English Subtitles
Rating: PG

Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival: Best Actress, Catherine Deneuve; Globe de Cristal Awards Nominee: Best Actress, Catherine Deneuve

“While there’s plenty of wisdom about living in the moment and enjoying life, Provost and the Catherines dole it out subtly and without any mawkish aftertaste.”—Vikram Murthi, rogerebert.com

Catherine Deneuve gives a towering performance as Béatrice, a dying woman who looks back on her life and attempts to fix a couple of her very few regrets.

Her principal sorrow, aside from the brain tumor she can no longer ignore, is having abandoned Claire, the young daughter of her former lover, some 30 years before she returns to Paris to look for them both—presumably because she needs help in what’s coming.

Since Béatrice has lost touch with all the people from her past and doesn’t know Google from Gogol, she hasn’t heard that the dad died soon after she left. Or that Claire—played by the equally formidable Catherine Frot—is now a 50-something single mom with a son in medical school and a stern passion for her own work, as a midwife.

In France, Claire’s referred to as a sage femme, or wise woman—which also sums up her orderly, almost monastic life. She works in a standard hospital but her profession is under threat from more streamlined medical practices. And now her domestic world is upended by the long-lost stepmother, who manages to push in all fronts. None of this tug of war keeps Béatrice from smoking, drinking, eating like a queen, and gambling large bags of cash in dubious surroundings.

Given its naturalistic stylings, it takes time to notice how elegantly framed, shot, and edited The Midwife is. And with two Catherines this great, the labour is bound to go well.

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Novitiate

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Sunday April 15th 9:45 AM
USA 2017
Director: Margaret Betts
Cast: Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Dianna Agron, Julianne Nicholson
Runtime: 123 minutes
Language: English
Rating: 14A

Capri, Hollywood: Best Supporting Actress, Melissa Leo; Sundance Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, Margaret Betts; Black Reel Awards: Outstanding First Screenplay, Margaret Betts. one other win, 13 nominations.

“Novitiate, is as heated with ideas as it is with fire in the flesh. I particularly enjoyed Leo’s performance as fire-breathing tragic dragon, guarding a treasure that’s already been taken.”—Liam Lacey, original.cin

Unable to find her place at home or amongst her peers at school, Cathleen (Margaret Qualley, The Nice Guys;) finds solstice with the nuns at her school and decides to turn to the Catholic Church to find meaning in her life. However, her place in the Church is complicated as larger changes are on the horizon from the Vatican.

Cathleen is immediately struck by the peace and calm that she experiences attending her first Catholic mass. Despite the misgivings of her decidedly irreligious mother (an anomaly in their small 1960s Tennessee town), Cathleen wholeheartedly pursues her newfound interest in God, which provides her with the intellectual stimulation and calm sense of security she’s missing in her tense home.

Sure of her devotion, Cathleen dedicates herself to becoming a nun and joins a local convent, isolated from her family and the life she once knew. Encouraged by the camaraderie with her fellow postulants and the peaceful silence of her initial training under Sister Mary Grace (Dianna Agron), Cathleen moves forward with her training as a novitiate. However, as the Catholic Church finds itself on the verge of momentous change and her preparations increase in severity — bringing her in closer contact with the austere and demanding Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo, The Fighter) — Cathleen is forced to decide if the convent and her relationship with God can give her everything she needs.

Supported by outstanding performances, director Margaret Betts presents an assured and beautifully captured feature debut. Her skillful and nuanced exploration of the pressures facing young Cathleen brings a palpable kindness and universality to her story.

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Foxtrot

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Sunday April 15th 5:05 PM
Israel, 2017
Director:  Samuel Maoz
Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonatan Shiray
Runtime: 108 minutes
Language: Hebrew, Arabic, German with English subtitles
Rating: 14A

National Board of Review: Best Foreign Language Film; Venice Film Festival: Best Film; Palm Springs International Film Festival: Directors to Watch Award; 13 other wins, 13 nominations.

Brilliantly constructed with a visual audacity that serves the subject rather than the other way around, this is award-winning filmmaking on a fearless level.”

Jay Weissberg, Variety

Samuel Maoz’s debut feature, Lebanon, win­ner of the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Film Festival), was set during the 1982 Lebanon War, and shot almost entirely inside of a tank. Foxtrot, his second feature, steps away from that fevered claustrophobia to tell another maddening story of war and conflict, but this one on a much broader canvas.

Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) and Dafna (Sarah Adler) experience gut-wrenching grief when army officials show up at their home to announce the death of their son, Jonathan (Yonatan Shiray). Unable to find any solace in the well-meaning — if hollowly effusive — condolences of their extended family, or in the empty patriotic platitudes of bureaucrats, Michael spirals into anger only to subse­quently experience one of life’s unfathomable twists — a twist that can only be rivaled by the surreal military experiences of his son.

Foxtrot examines both the strength and the absurdity of military service from several points of view. Moving from the grieving par­ents’ apartment to the remote military post where Jonathan was stationed, Maoz shows us precisely how much damage can ensue when young soldiers, barely able to tell their toe from a trigger, experience boredom, priva­tion, and loneliness.

Although there is a terrible tragedy at the heart of the film, Foxtrot contains many moments laced with mordant humour, irony, and sincere emotional connection. Maoz once again brings us a powerful story, beautifully photographed and composed, about the lunacy of war, and its most immediate, as well as its most far-reaching impacts.

Their Finest

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Thursday April 12th 6:30
United Kingdom, 2016
Director: Lone Scherfig
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Helen McCrory, Eddie Marsan, Richard E. Grant
Runtime: 110 minutes
Language: English
Rating: 14A

Goteborg Film Festival: Best Feature Film; 5 other nominations.

“A World War II comedy that, despite its light hand, never compromises the grief and loss that lie at its core.”—Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Director Lone Scherfig (An Education) returns with this rousing romantic comedy set in Britain’s wartime film industry. Featuring a cast teeming with some of the UK’s most charismatic comedic actors, including Bill Nighy (Pride) and Richard E. Grant (The Iron Lady), Their Finest is about boosting morale during a period of national — and personal — crisis.

Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton, Tamara Drewe) is a “slop” scriptwriter, charged with bringing a female perspective to war films produced by the British Ministry of Information’s Film Division. Catrin’s artist husband looks down on her job despite the fact that it’s paying their rent, but her effort and talent are valued by lead scenarist Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin, United).

While on location in Devon, Catrin begins to come into her own and earns the respect of her peers, especially when she becomes the only crewperson that Ambrose Hilliard (Nighy) — a past-his-prime, yet nonetheless pompous actor — will talk to and take direc­tion from.

Based on the novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans, the film pops with witty banter and flows with lovely period detail. The characters are uniformly textured and the performances nuanced. Nighy is perfectly cast in his endearingly withering role, and Jeremy Irons turns up for a welcome cameo. However, Arterton ultimately steals the show, bringing subtlety, intelligence, and a range of beauti­fully gauged emotions to Catrin, whose path to self-renewal is an inspiring example of a talented woman forging her place in the world.
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Loving Vincent

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Sunday April 15th 5:00 PM
United Kingdom/Poland 2017
Rating:14A
Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Cast: Jerome Flynn, Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson
Runtime: 95 minutes
Language: English

Academy Award & Golden Globe Nominations: Best Animated Feature; Vancouver International Film Festival: Most Popular International Feature; Shanghai International Film Festival: Best Animated Film. 11 other wins, 47 nominations.
“A visually arresting and worthy tribute to a genius.”—Bruce Demara, Toronto Star
Lovingly is the way Loving Vincent was created. It took seven years to complete this look at Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh’s final days in a rural Paris suburb. Making their feature-directing debut together, Poland’s Dorota Kobiela and the U.K.’s Hugh Welchman started by filming live actors against green screens, and then had hundreds of animators and technicians add layers of oil-paint colour and texture to the footage, creating the impression of the artist’s famously thick brush strokes.

LOVING VINCENT TRAILER

They use many of his best-known paintings as starting points, and as backgrounds or transitions, for their own story. They focus on the nebulous circumstances of van Gogh’s suicide at age 37, in 1890. Douglas Booth plays Armand Roulin, a hard-drinking dandy in a yellow jacket who is tasked with delivering a posthumous letter by his dad, the muttonchop-whiskered postmaster (Chris O’Dowd) of Arles, in southern France, where the painter found his swirly, post-impressionist style.

Among latter-day friends and antagonists, there’s Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan and The Hobbit’s Aidan Turner, Helen McCrory (Penny Dreadful), and Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) as Dr. Gachet, a father figure with an ambiguous role in the manic ups and downs of the painter and his sickly younger brother, Theo.

Both van Goghs are played by Polish actors in black-and-white flashbacks. The visual approach is consis­tently compelling on-screen. Be sure to stay for the credits, to catch photos and sketches of the real-life characters, and to hear Lianne La Havas’s take on “Starry, Starry Night”. It’s a lovely book-end to a visually stunning movie.

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