15 March 2019.
Please take note, dear cinephiles – four out of five films this week are done by, with and about women. We’ve come a long way, baby…
Also try to catch the last days of the important and ambitious FIFDH – the Human Rights film festival in its 17th year in Geneva, ending on Sunday. Pick up their detailed catalog at the Grutli, the Salle Pitoeff or check them on ww.fifdh.org. Their illustrious guests include the brilliant young French/Moroccan novelist Leila Slimani who is on one of the juries, Israeli director Amos Gitai and the fearless Chinese artist Ai WeiWei, plus countless forums and films dedicated to furthering the rights of all humans. Impressive.
THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER ***1/2
Maggie Gyllenhaal is incredibly convincing in this small jewel of a story (inspired by a 2014 Israeli film https://youtu.be/QwvBw4AmyGk) about a New York teacher who becomes obsessed by one of her students. Little 5 year-old Jimmy seems to be a budding poet.
He has moments in class when bits of poetry just come out of him as he paces back and forth, in deep thought. His earnest and dedicated teacher recognizes the genius in him and feels a strong urge to nurture it. Especially as she has been taking poetry classes of her own with a charismatic young professor played by Gael Garcia Bernal.
She seems to be bored and disillusioned with her husband and two adolescents, while her fervor for the little boy may be taking her into deep waters. Here is a beautifully tense and multi-layered film that will leave you shaken by its intimacy and honesty. It won Best Director for Sara Colangelo at Sundance and the Public Prize in Toronto.
FEMALE PLEASURE *** (vo German, English, Japanese)
The title is unfortunate – it seems like an unnecessary come-on for the public, for the film is actually about female pain and displeasure. Or rather the struggle for justice and equality in sexual matters by five women from five different cultures:
An American Jew, a German ex-nun, a daring Japanese artist, an African woman fighting FGM (female genital mutilation), and an Indian militant against a rampant rape culture – all five women have their stories to tell through Swiss director, Barbara Miller’s documentary.
Brave, passionate and daring, these are women repeating – each in their own manner – that females should have the right to ‘respect and consent’. As simple and basic as that – respect and consent in all matters concerning their beings and bodies.
The Northern and Western countries have come a long way, but it’s the South and East that need to be brought to fairness and justice. I know, for I am from Iran, where there is a semblance of respect for women, but not yet the justice and freedom necessary for an egalitarian society.
REBELLES **1/2 (vo French)
This silly female action/comedy is so crazy that it might turn into a cult movie. Taking bits and pieces from Guy Ritchie’s early films, Hollywood trash and “Thelma and Louise”, Allan Mauduit has three female factory workers on a rampage after an attempted rape.
Due to an accidentally amputated member, all hell breaks loose for the three gutsy women. A bag load of cash, suspicious cans of ‘mackerel’, murderous mafia types, the police and family problems keep piling up and messing with their impromptu heist idea.
Mauduit has crammed too many angles into this wild romp, and you can’t figure out if it’s just awful or terribly funny. But with great actresses such as Cécile de France, Audrey Lamy and the always delightful Yolande Moreau, this may well turn into a feminist cult classic.
MON BÉBÉ *1/2 (vo French)
Here’s a quickly forgettable yarn about a single mother who is losing her youngest daughter to university over in Canada.
A sort of empty-nest syndrome attempt at family comedy. Sandrine Kiberlain is usually a fine actress – here she’s just an exaggerated mother figure who shouts a lot and loves too much…it doesn’t really gel. By the master (or mistress?) of corny French films of this genre, Lisa Azuelos.
INSULAIRE – (vo French and Spanish)
Such a useless, egocentric, boring documentary…who really cares about this desolate, remote island off the coast of Chile?
Should the public actually waste their time and money just because some eccentric Swiss aristocrat settled his family there generations ago? Now his course, dull remnants recount how proud they are to be his descendants. And it’s narrated by Mathieu Amalric …so what? You’ll even want to skip it on TV.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
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.