A Separation (in Persian: Jodái-e Náder az Simin, "The separation of Nader from Simin") is a 2011 Iranian drama film which won the 84th Academy Award for best foreign language film in 2012, becoming the first Iranian movie to win the title. The movie is written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, starring Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat and Sarina Farhadi.
It focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the intrigues which follow when the husband hires a lower-class caretaker for his elderly father. A Separation also received the Golden Bear for Best Film and the Silver Bears for Best Actress and Best Actor at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, becoming the first Iranian film to win the Golden Bear. It won the 69th Golden Globe Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film. The film was also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, a rare nomination for a foreign language film.
In Darkness is a 2011 Polish drama film directed by Agnieszka Holland. Based on a true story in German Nazi-occupied Poland, the film tells of Leopold Socha, a sewer worker in the former Polish city of Lwów (now Ukraine), who uses his knowledge of the city's sewers system to shelter a group of Jews from the Nazi Germans. It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards.
The film was also the first full-length film shown at the 23rd Polish Film Festival in America in Chicago on the Opening Night Gala. The film is dedicated to Marek Edelman. It is based on the book In the Sewers of Lvov (1990) by Robert Marshall; the only living survivor of the group, Krystyna Chiger, has also written a memoir of her experience, The Girl In The Green Sweater: A Life In Holocaust's Shadow (2009), which was published too late to be a source.
Needless to say, director Agnieszka Holland's Holocaust drama “In Darkness” is not an easy motion picture to watch. This is especially true as a result of some striking cinematography that will give viewers the worst cases of claustrophobia and achluophobia imaginable.
However, it will also give them hope in the existence of heroism in the unlikeliest of places. In “In Darkness,” which is now playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5, Robert Wieckiewicz plays Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Lvov – a Nazi occupied city in Poland. One day, Leopold encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto and agrees to hides them for money in the labyrinth of the town’s sewers beneath the bustling activity of the city above.
Bullhead (Dutch: Rundskop) is a 2011 Belgian drama film written and directed by Michaël R. Roskam and starring Matthias Schoenaerts. It tells the story of the young Limburgish cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille who is approached by an unscrupulous veterinarian to make a shady deal with a notorious West-Flemish beef trader. But the assassination of a federal policeman, and an unexpected confrontation with a mysterious secret from Jacky's past, set in motion a chain of events with far-reaching consequences. It is mainly spoken in Limburgish dialect.
As with most modern gangster pictures, the plot of the Belgian import Bullhead involves illegal drugs, though Michaël R. Roskam’s low-boil thriller (an Oscar nominee this year for Best Foreign Language Film) isn’t about pot or coke or meth. It’s about “the hormone mafia,” a Flemish criminal consortium that supplies big commercial cattle ranchers with shots that bring cows to full maturity in eight weeks instead of 10. Matthias Schoenaerts plays a ’roided-up beef-industry lackey who ordinarily has no trouble with the mafia, but takes issue with his uncle’s new business relationship with a known cop-killer, especially once he learns that one of the men he’ll be dealing with is Jeroen Perceval, a former friend. Schoenaerts doesn’t trust Perceval, because at a crucial moment when they were pre-adolescents, Perceval failed to come through for him, and Schoenaerts has been suffering the painful repercussions of that failure ever since.
Bullhead’s bovine milieu makes a familiar tale of posturing tough guys stand out, but it’s also crucial to the emotional texture of Roskam’s story. This is a movie about animal behavior: men butting heads with each other, looking to mate, and waving their literal and metaphorical genitalia around to prove themselves. Bullhead bears some similarities to the recent stylish crime sagas Bronson (in that it’s essentially a character study, driven by a volatile lead performance) and Animal Kingdom (in that it’s about a macho world in which everyone’s watching everyone else, trying to suss out weakness). But the movie has its own vibe, as Roskam and cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis work some remarkable effects with lighting, making Schoenaerts look simultaneously bulky and small, and as Roskam has his characters grunt at each other and move through sliding doors, on their way to the slaughter.
More Here. http://www.avclub.com/articles/bullhead,69419/
Monsieur Lazhar is a 2011 Canadian drama film directed by Philippe Falardeau. The screenplay was developed from Bashir Lazhar, a one-character play by Évelyne de la Chenelière. The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards. In Montreal, an elementary school teacher kills herself. Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant, is quickly hired to replace her while he is experiencing a personal tragedy of his own. His wife, who was a teacher and writer, died in a criminal arson attack with her daughter and son, a fire caused by targets (along with their associates) of the last book she wrote dealing with the social and economic shortcomings in present-day Algeria, from which comes the phrase eloquently said by Bachir: "Nothing is ever really normal in Algeria." He gets to know his students despite the cultural gap that is evident from the very first lesson. As the class tries to move on from their former teacher's suicide, nobody at the school is aware of Bachir's painful past, who could be deported at any time given his status as a refugee.
In the hands of a less talented filmmaker, Monsieur Lazhar could so easily have ended up a syrupy tear-jerker. But writer-director Philippe Falardeau’s adaptation of Evelyne de la Chenelière’s play avoids the maudlin at all costs, keeps things refreshingly understated and manages to deliver charming comic moments in the telling of what could have been a grim story. Produced by Luc Déry and Kim McCraw, the same duo behind last year’s Oscar nominee Incendies, this looks likely to follow in Incendies footsteps, winning over audiences here and nabbing much recognition beyond Quebec’s borders.
De la Chenelière’s play Bashir Lazhar featured only M. Lazhar himself on stage. For the big screen, Falardeau has necessarily widened his lens, pun intended, but not by all that much. It remains a surprisingly simple story in many ways and the power of the film comes from Falardeau’s decision to cut to the essence of this drama. There may be more characters than the original stage version but nothing is superfluous here.
More here. http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/Review+Monsieur+Lazhar/5617267/story.html
Teachers can inspire, but we already know that. At some point in our lives, we had at least one teacher who truly enriched our lives by helping us grow as human beings rather than just making sure we made it to the next grade level. But in movies, teachers can only be inspirational if they can somehow “reach the unreachable”. The great teachers are the ones who go to the bad neighborhoods, keep the kids out of gangs, and put on leather jackets to show they can relate to life on the streets. Monsieur Lazhar eschews this superhero-teacher in favor of one who has a class of kids who are ready to learn, but have also had a brutal lesson on death and betrayal far too soon. By turning attention away from big dramatic speeches in favor of strong, quiet performances and non-saccharine sentiment, Monsieur Lazhar isn’t just a nice movie about inspirational teachers, but a nice movie all around.
On his way to deliver milk to his classroom, 11-year-old Simon (Émilien Néron) peers through the door and finds that his teacher Martine has hung herself. While the other teachers try to shield all the other kids away from the classroom, Simon’s friend Alice (Sophie Nélisse) fights through the crowd and also sees their beloved teacher’s body hanging from the ceiling. Simon, Alice, and their classmates are not only traumatized by the event, but they’re not even sure how to express their emotions. After reading about the story in the paper, Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag) offers to teach the class until a replacement can be found. Having suffered a recent loss of his own, Monsieur Lazhar and the class help each other through their grief.
More here. http://collider.com/monsieur-lazhar-review/139482/
Footnote (Hebrew: He'arat Shulayim) is a 2011 Israeli drama film written and directed by Joseph Cedar, starring Shlomo Bar'aba and Lior Ashkenazi. The plot revolves around a power struggle between a father and son who teach at the Talmud department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The film won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Footnote won nine prizes at the 2011 Ophir Awards, becoming Israel's entry for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. On January 18, 2012, the film was named as one of the nine shortlisted entries for the Oscars. On January 24, 2012, the film was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Film.
Pungent, ironic and glib, Josef Cedar’s follow up to his award-winning Beaufort is a smart, well written and deftly executed confrontation between a father and son who may be more alike than they would choose to believe. Both are academics, both dedicated to the obscure and marginal field of Talmud research, each representing a different generation and approach but both terribly keen on recognition for their work.
Though possibly too ascetic for multiplex crowds and rather difficult to follow for audiences that are not that familiar with academic bickering and philological refinements, Footnote (Hearat Shulayim) should do well for Sony Classics, which has acquired the film in Cannes, particularly with selective audiences in US, and turn into natural art house fare and ideal festival fodder.
Eliezer Shkolnik (popular comic Shlomo Bar Aba, remarkable in an atypical role) is a grim, dedicated purist who has been preparing all his life an introduction to a much annotated version of the Jerusalem Talmud. For years he has been the ignored candidate in his field for the country’s highest honorary award, the Israel Prize, causing him an enormous amount of resentment, which he openly expresses in spitefully putting down the winners and their achievements.
His son, Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi in an unexpected but highly successful departure from his macho roles), followed in his father’s path, but is apparently far more communicative and easy-going in his contacts with the rest of the world. All the more reason for the father to consider his son is a lightweight in his profession, incapable of true and serious research.
More here. http://www.screendaily.com/reviews/latest-reviews/footnote/5027492.article
Iranian family drama A Separation defeated films from Israel, Belgium, Poland and Canada to win the country’s first Academy award in the foreign film category. The award has come at a time when the tensions between the Islamic republic and the U.S. are at its peak over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Directed by Asghar Farhadi, the film also won the best foreign film at the Golden Globes. Farhadi was nominated for a best screenplay Oscar. “At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy,” Farhadi said, reading from prepared remarks on a piece of paper on Sunday night. “They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, her rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”
“I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment. Thank you so much,” he added.
The film begins with two couple’s seeking divorce, which eventually goes onto explore themes of honour, love, lies and deceit.
The only other Iranian movie nominated at the Oscars was 1997’s Children of Heaven which lost to Life Is Beautiful from Italy.
The other films competing were Michael R Roskam’s Bullhead from Belgium; Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar from Canada; Joseph Cedar’s Footnote from Israel; and Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness from Poland.