28 December 2018.
MIA AND THE WHITE LION *** (vo English)
As a fictional story, this may seem simplistic and somewhat contrived, but as a feat of filmmaking it is truly phenomenal. For French director Gilles de Maistre (of such documentaries as “Le Premier Cri” and “The Quest of Alain Ducasse”) took a feisty young girl of 11 (the natural and gutsy Daniah de Villiers) and a lion cub, and had them grow up together as friends – with incredible complicity – in front of his cameras in this story of a South African family that runs a lion ranch.
Of course the conflict is the girl’s love for and devotion to her lion, the myth of a white lion that should return to its tribe, and the father’s dubious methods of selling the beautiful creatures.
This film is many things – a family drama, an adventure yarn and a condemnation of South African laws that still permit the shooting of lions in exclusive, enclosed enclaves. Scandalous laws that should not be. Go see it en famille, and be amazed at the connection between Mia and her lion.
RAMEN SHOP (LA SAVEUR DES RAMEN) ***1/2 (vo Japanese, Chinese)
Here’s a gentle Chinese/Japanese tale from Eric Khoo about the reverence for traditional cuisine overcoming conflicts. His young hero Masato, who lives in Japan and loves to cook, feels the pull of Singapore where his Japanese father and Chinese mother met years ago. So he travels there in search of his roots, the secrets of Chinese and Japanese cuisine, and the reasons for his mother’s early death and his father’s drinking and depression.
His culinary odyssey becomes our delight, revealing the myriad spices, ingredients and flavours that make up the rich, intricate cuisine of the Far East. It’s a delicate fable of a search for familial harmony through the power of old recipes and the continuation of family traditions. Even though the film may feel naive at times, it ends up enchanting us with its wise innocence, and its mouth-watering recipes and tastings, much like Ang Lee’s “Eat Drink Man Woman” or Naomi Kawase’s “Sweet Bean”. Soulful, indeed.
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.