5 November 2015.
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.
Not to be missed
Starting this Friday 6 November and running until 14 November 2015 is the Geneva International Film Festival, Tous Ecrans. It is Geneva’s own “into-the-future” film fest that covers all possible screens, from the wide screen at the brand new, state-of-the-art Empire Cinerama ( 72 rue de Carouge), to TV screens and digital technology. You can discover it all at the Theatre Pittoeff (52 rue de Carouge), which will be their hub for the duration of the festival, with screenings, stars and nightlife. Click here for a complete program.
LE FILS DE SAUL **** (vo German, Hungarian)
I have not seen any film as devastating as this since Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List”. You are in the gas chambers of Auschwitz from the first instant of the story, right next to or behind Saul – a Sonderkommando – a prisoner who is forced to herd the inmates to their death, and then clear up their corpses. There is no pathos, no sentimentality, only horror. This Hungarian film is not easy to take, but its uber-reality, both in the painful scenario and the acting, is heartbreakingly brilliant. Having won the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes, director Laszlo Nemes and actor Geza Röhrig are simply incomparable.
THE LOOK OF SILENCE *** (vo Indonesian)
This documentary by American director Joshua Oppenheimer, who is based in Denmark, is a quasi-cousin to the above film. For it is about another genocide, this time in Indonesia, and the systematic killings of countless Communists in the mid-1960s. It is incredible that a descendant of the victims is actually interviewing the various perpetrators of the killings, listening to their boastful accounts of the murders. These past killers still hold important positions in the villages and cities of Indonesia and seem to have no fear of any retribution. The whole subject seems so matter-of-fact that as an audience we sit dumbfounded at the arrogance of a ruling elite that is oblivious to any justice or remorse. For his in-your-face clarity and courage, Oppenheimer’s documentary has won almost every prize possible in festivals around the world.
THE WALK (Rêver plus haut) ***1/2
Frenchman Philippe Petit is the high-wire artist best known for his walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. He managed the feat on an early August morning in 1974, before the Towers were officially opened. A superb, award-winning documentary, “Man on Wire”, was done a few years ago about that event.
But director Robert Zemekis wanted to go beyond that happening and delve deeper into the life of this performer and how he came to that mind-blowing 45-minute walk across the Towers, crossing the wire 8 times. His past films such as “Back to the Future”, “Forrest Gump” or “Cast Away” are fantastic tales about exceptional men, and he is known as a supreme visual storyteller who excels in digital effects. In fact, what he has done in recreating the walk and the Twin Towers is reason alone to run to the film.
But beyond the visual artistry, there is this story of a man driven by his dream, done with great feeling. Joseph-Gordon Levitt brings passion to his character (but what’s with the wig?), and the grandly versatile Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”, “Schindler’s List”, “Hugo”) is both poignant and amusing as his mentor.
Here is a fine tribute to a man and his accomplishments that are bigger-than-life, and a homage to those buildings that were.
BURNT (A vif!) **
A bad-boy Michelin-starred chef who will do anything to get his third star, a sleek London with its top restaurants, and an array of gorgeous-looking dishes done in MTV-express style. Actually the whole yarn is in express mode. Here is a Weinstein Co. attempt at another runaway hit, but the problem with this film is that the main man, played by Bradley Cooper, is not a very appetizing character. Nor do any of the other players really develop into actual human beings. It’s all glitz and clichés about wanting it all and wanting it now. The only one who conveys any reality is the consistently excellent German actor Daniel Brühl (“Goodbye Lenin”, “Inglorious Bastards”), who portrays an employer hopelessly in love with a myth. This is lightweight entertainment that evaporates like a whiff of the new-fangled chemical cuisine.
If you’re really hungry for a great foody film, catch the 2001 German movie with Martina Gedeck called “Mostly Martha”.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars