Netflix review: ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ is a breathtaking epic.

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

17-year-old Paul and his young comrades enthusiastically join the Western Front in 1918 under the guise that they will return to a hero’s welcome. The reality they are about to enter is far from ticker tape parades and medals. It is the unforgiving and bloody trench warfare of WWI. German director Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front is a breathtaking retelling of the classic 1928 novel by Erich Maria Remarque.

The unfiltered brutality of war, shocking imagery, nothing is sugarcoated. Felix Kammerer stars as our young lead Paul. The film follows his journey from enlisting by lying about his age to the day the war officially ended. Fear is the dominant feeling that runs through the narrative. The class and rank of soldiers is a striking contrast, highlighted by scenes of prideful general sitting safe in high mansions while young men and boys get slaughtered. The film opens with some of the bluntest scenes of warfare that left my jaw on the floor.

In its nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime, the film has little dialogue. Not a wasted word in the trenches with shouted orders, a kind word of encouragement shared for survival, and the cast genuinely connects on a personal level. Of course, once you become attached to anyone, they are just as quickly ripped away. Kammerer is the star of this film, no doubt about that. His ability to fully embrace the chaos grabs you by the throat. His eyes speak volumes.

James Friend‘s exquisite cinematography encompasses stunning framing, detailed close-ups, and natural lighting. The choice to do hand-held places the audience on the ground with the cast. It’s dizzying at times, but that’s the point. In the still moments, I found myself saying out loud, “Wow, this is beautiful.” The score is its own entity. Jarring, often electronic-sounding horn melodies and sharp state drum rhythms usher impending menace. It will be a travesty if it doesn’t get noticed during awards season.

All Quiet On The Western Front may be the most extensive war epic ever filmed. The fight choreography made my palms sweat. I don’t care how hard you think you are. This story will break you. The cyclical nature of war will crush your soul. There is a reason All Quiet On The Western Front is Germany’s Oscar entry. It’s essential viewing for any history buff or cinema lover and a stark warning to men in power.


Streaming Now on NETFLIX


 

NYFF60 review: ‘SHE SAID’ is retraumatizing and revitalizing. It’s a must-see.

SHE SAID

Sex, lies, power, and scandal, SHE SAID wowed audiences into silence at NYFF60. We all think we know the story behind the takedown of Harvey Weinstein. This new film, based on the explosive investigative reporting from New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, gives us an inside look at the delicate process of relationship building and the truth. She Said is directed by Maria Schrader, with a screenplay from Rebecca Lenkiewicz based on the 2019 book by Kantor and Twohey of the same name. The film depicts two colleagues coming from two different places in their personal life; Kantor, the mother of three children, and Twohey enduring PPD after the birth of her first child. The film opens brilliantly, with Twohey addressing the infamous Access Hollywood tape. We all know what happened after that, and any sane human can agree it was a disaster for women and the entire world. Once payouts for sexual allegations became a headline, and after the firing of Bill O’Reilly, the NYT floor was abuzz with thinking. How far does this problem go?

The legwork done by these women is mindblowing. The all-hours phone calls, the messages, the threats, and the intimate and honest way they approached anyone connected with Miramax and The Weinstein Company. The film conveys the emotional exhaustion of it all. Story after story of similar allegations and subsequent NDAs sucker punch you, over and over. As these cases now play out in real-time, it is fascinating to witness how to reach a victim and what compels an enabler. One particular detail I found interesting was Weinstein’s obsession with whether the team had spoken to Gwenyth Paltrow. It comes up three to four times at Harvey’s behest. I am dying to know what that story entails because it was clear from the voice reenactments Harvey feared her in a way he did not fear others. Seeing Ashley Judd play herself was undeniably powerful. I can only imagine the feelings of catharsis that must come with that decision. 

Andre Braugher as NTY executive editor Dean Baquet gives a standout performance. He is a no-nonsense fighter, and the entire audience loved him. Braugher represents what every female employer needs in their corner daily. He is spectacular. Jennifer Ehle is heartbreaking as Laura Madden, one of the first women to agree to go on the record. Samantha Morton is an absolute ass-kicker playing Zelda Perkins, who handed over the negotiations from her NDA. She brings the fiery energy that skewers Miramax.

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, respectively. Chasing down uncooperative leads and racing against Ronan Farrow, while balancing personal turmoil and home life, Mulligan and Kazan perfectly balance one another. Mulligan brings a similar edge that we saw in Promising Young Woman. Do not for a minute think this is a one-note performance. Never doubt Carey Mulligan’s ability to be soft and vulnerable. Kazan plays Kantor with an elegant passion and determination to reveal the truth. Together, they support one another from scene to scene. Some of my favorite moments occurred when only the two of them played opposite one another. While these were generally brief, believe it or not, they were magnetic together. I would watch seven more films about Twohey and Kantor’s work as long as Mulligan and Kazan do them justice. 

Ultimately, SHE SAID is both retraumatizing and revitalizing. The work continues. We can thank two brave and tirelessly devoted women for letting us into a world we did not want to admit ruled supreme for far too long. SHE SAID will undoubtedly be on everyone’s lips as we keep our fingers crossed that men like Harvey Weinstein, and anyone who enabled his behavior, are held accountable. Survivors demand it, and allies demand it. Something has got to give. Let the dominoes fall, and let them rot in jail.

She Said – Only In Theaters November 18.

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Film lovers unite! TIFF 2022 is upon us. Here’s what we’re excited to see. #TIFF22

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022 has arrived! This year there is a little bit (or a lot) for everyone, from In Conversation With Taylor Swift and a screening of All Too Well: The Short Film on 35mm, Viola Davis in The Woman King, to the Midnight Madness world premiere of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. TIFF never disappoints and this year, in its 47th edition, the stars come out to entertain the masses. With so many options, here are a few titles we’re keeping our eyes on.


CHARCOAL (PLATFORM SECTION–WORLD PREMIERE)

Brazil, 2022. In a remote area in São Paulo’s countryside, a rural family who lives beside a charcoal factory accepts a proposal to host a mysterious foreigner. The home soon becomes a hideout as the so-called guest happens to be a highly wanted drug lord. The mother, her husband and child will have to learn how to share the same roof with this stranger, while keeping up appearances of an unchanged peasant routine.

Writer-director Carolina Markowicz has had many of her short films play the festival. This will be her feature debut and I cannot wait to experience her storytelling in long form.


BONES OF CROWS (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)

 

Unfolding over 100 years, BONES OF CROWS is a feature film told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch Aline Spears as she survives a childhood in Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism, and sexual abuse.

We’re all aware by now of the horror stories of the children forced to live in Canada’s residential schools. So much so that the Pope apologized for the abuse the children endured after innumerable graves were discovered on the former grounds. Bones of Crows is a vastly important story.

*This program contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.

Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools, child abuse, emotional trauma, and racism. The national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.


BROTHER (Special Presentations, World Premiere)
Propelled by the pulsing beats of Toronto’s early hip hop scene, BROTHER is the story of Francis (Aaron Pierre) and Michael (Lamar Johnson), sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men. Director Clement Virgo expertly tackles themes of masculinity, identity and family as a mystery unfolds during the sweltering summer of 1991, and escalating tensions set off a series of events that change the course of the brothers’ lives forever.

Writer-director Clement Virgo brings TIFF audiences a tale more relevant today than ever. A study in grief, Brother is bound to impact viewers is a visceral manner.


DALÍLAND (Gala Presentation, World Premiere, **Closing Night**)
Mary Harron’s DALÍLAND is both a coming of age story and a searing, funny and sympathetic portrait of crisis in the late life of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Experienced through the eyes of young gallery assistant James Linton (Christopher Briney) as he is invited into a glamorous new world, audiences will uncover the true Dalí (Sir Ben Kingsley) – the complex, flawed, and deeply human man behind the brilliant paintings, wild theatrics, and iconic mustache and explore his especially tempestuous relationship with Gala (Barbara Sukowa), his wife and muse.\

Sir Ben Kingsley releases Dali from an enigmatic caricature and humanizes the genius, his life, and his work.


THE PEOPLE’S JOKER (Midnight Madness, World Premiere)
After years numbing herself with irony and an inhalant called Smylex, an unfunny aspiring clown grapples with gender identity, first love, and old foes all while founding an illegal comedy theater in Gotham City. It’s a queer coming-of-age Joker Origin story. Completely unlicensed by DC and Warner Brothers. Starring and directed by Vera Drew (“Beef House,” “Who Is America”) and featuring the work of 200 independent artists on three separate continents, all made during a global pandemic!

A queer coming-of-age satire and multi-media extravaganza, this mashup of fandoms I never knew I needed.


MY SAILOR, MY LOVE (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)
MY SAILOR, MY LOVE is a heart-warming drama on timeless love and forgiveness. Howard (James Cosmo) is a retired sailor and widower, his daughter Grace (Catherine Walker) hires a caregiver Annie (Bríd Brennan). Reclusive and stubborn, Howard rejects Annie’s company, but eventually opens his heart and gives final love a chance.

A raw and compelling family drama, My Sailor, My Love is teeming with complexity and outstanding performances.


THE WOMAN KING  (World Premiere — Gala Presentations)

Synopsis: The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for…

Listen, if you tell me that Viola Davis is starring in a film, my butt is in a seat. Based on a true story? Well, that’s solidly in Davis’ wheelhouse, but really what isn’t? This is one highly anticipated film already.


ALLELUJAH (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

This glorious reunion of Oscar winner Judi Dench and director Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) is a spirited homage to the idiosyncrasies of old age and the noble fortitude of health-care workers everywhere. Adapted by Heidi Thomas from Alan Bennett’s stage play, Allelujah assembles a stunning ensemble of veteran British actors, including Jennifer Saunders, David Bradley, and Derek Jacobi.

There is every chance this will be an absolute crowd pleaser. The premise alone has me making up scenarios in my head of pure shenanigans. With a hell of a cast, Allelujah cannot go wrong.


FIXATION (Contemporary World Cinema)

Maddie Hasson (Malignant) plays a young woman committed to an unorthodox institution by a pair of enigmatic doctors (Genesis Rodriguez and Stephen McHattie).

Another feature debut from a female filmmaker, Mercedes Bryce Morgan brings to life an ambitious physiological thriller that will mesmerize with wild production design. I don’t think any of us are ready for such treatment. (pun intended)


LIVING (CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA)

In this exquisitely realized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru, director Oliver Hermanus teams with Nobel- and Booker Prize–winning author Kazuo Ishiguro to renew a classic. LIVING is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful – into one he can say has been lived to the full

The magnificent Bill Nighy helms this film about humanity and mortality. With Mothering Sunday vets, cinematographer Jamie Ramsay and production designer Helen Scott, Living will undoubtedly be a feast for the eyes.

THE LOST KING (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: In the archaeological find of a century, the remains of King Richard III — presumed scattered over 500 years ago — were discovered beneath a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. The search had been conceived and motivated by an amateur historian, Philippa Langley, whose passion and unrelenting research were met with skepticism. THE LOST KING is the inspiring true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on Britain’s most eminent historians, forcing them to rethink the legacy of one of the most controversial kings in England’s history. A tale of discovery, obsession, and stolen glory (both then and now), THE LOST KING is a magical adventure illuminated by one woman’s growing sense of purpose.

My husband and I are history nerds. We’ve seen the documentary of this very story and it was nothing short of fascinating. For those who may not know the vile things said about King Richard III, it’s rather shocking. Sally Hawkins is the perfect choice to capture Philippa Langley‘s determined journey to uncover the truth.

MOVING ON (GALA PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in this fusion of audacious comedy and bracing drama about estranged pals who are reunited when a beloved mutual friend dies, leaving her widower the target of a revenge plan.

Perhaps some of the most notable chemistry we’ve seen between two women in years bounds off the screen when Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda work together. These two powerhouse ladies bring heart and humor to a story much more complex than at first sight. TIFF audiences are bound to cheer for Moving On.


ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE (Discovery)

Based on the book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, two teenage Mexican-American loners in 1987 El Paso explore a new, unusual friendship and the difficult road to self-discovery.

Another female director’s feature debut (in case anyone is counting and cheering along with me), Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is more than a queer coming-of-age story. You’d never guess Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales were first-time leads. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins a powerhouse team of producers after narrating Sáenz‘s audiobook in 2013 and then reading writer-director Aitch Alberto’s screenplay. He knows a little something about quality writing, so his seal of approval is huge.


TIFF 2022 runs from September 8th to the 18th.

For more information on the fest, visit tiff.net


A Disney+ Day premiere, ‘PINOCCHIO’ will launch September 8, 2022, exclusively on Disney+.

Academy Award® winner Robert Zemeckis directs this live action and CGI retelling of the beloved tale of a wooden puppet who embarks on a thrilling adventure to become a real boy. Tom Hanks stars as Geppetto, the woodcarver who builds and treats Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) as if he were his real son. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Jiminy Cricket, who serves as Pinocchio’s guide as well as his “conscience”; Academy Award® nominee Cynthia Erivo is the Blue Fairy; Keegan-Michael Key is “Honest” John; Academy Award® nominee Lorraine Bracco is Sofia the Seagull, a new character, and Luke Evans is The Coachman. Also in the cast are Kyanne Lamaya as Fabiana and Jaquita Ta’Le as her marionette Sabina, Giuseppe Battiston as Stromboli and Lewin Lloyd as Lampwick.


A Disney+ Day premiere, “Pinocchio” will launch September 8, 2022, exclusively on Disney+.

Tom Hanks as Geppetto in PINOCCHIO, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The screenplay for “Pinocchio” is by Robert Zemeckis & Chris Weitz. Andrew Miano, Chris Weitz, Robert Zemeckis, and Derek Hogue are the film’s producers, with Jack Rapke, Jacqueline Levine, Jeremy Johns, and Paul Weitz the film’s executive producers.

Pre-Save/Pre-Add the brand new Pinocchio Soundtrack Now: https://presave.umusic.com/pinocchio-… Disney+ Day is an annual celebration of the Disney+ global community that debuted in 2021 and features content premieres from the streaming service’s marquee brands, special experiences and offers for subscribers and fans, and more.

This year, Disney+ Day returns on Thursday, September 8, leading into D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event presented by Visa in Anaheim, CA.