New angst from Woody Allen, boxing by Jake Gyllenhaal and killer stories in 'The Look of Silence'

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We see him watching parts of the first film and sit stoically as he learns who killed his brother and gruesome details about how they did it. Then he goes to meet those men and ask them why and how they feel about it now. That took courage.


Those meetings are chilling. There are long silences between questions and answers, real-life dramatic pauses that say a great deal. The past is past, some say. Why open it up again? It’s the same issue that comes up in Holocaust discussions. In the most affecting scene, a daughter hears her father talk for the first time about what he did. “Forgive him,” she asks the interviewer vainly. One man says: “We should be rewarded. America taught us to hate the Communists.”  It wasn’t a big crime; just politics, says a politician. When they talked the first film hadn’t come out yet and re-opened that shameful history. The second film had to protect many who worked on it by listing them as simply Anonymous. (VanCity Theatre) 4 ½ out of 5 

THE TRIBE: We all want something new. Well, here it is. The story is reminiscent of many before — a young man arrives at a boarding school and gets involved with a bad crowd there. What’s new is the technique. The school is for the deaf and the story is all acted in sign language.


Even without words, it’s surprising how much we understand. The actors express so much with their faces and bodies that we’re drawn right in. Much of what’s in there is brutal and sordid. There’s a gang that mugs people on the streets at night and makes two girls work as prostitutes at a truckstop. A teacher seems to run the operation. When the young man falls in love with one of the girls he brings on heavy violence from the guys. There’s also a terribly uncomfortable scene with an abortion. You hear more than you see, but it’s hard to take. The film is from the Ukraine, by a new director named Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, and has been deservedly celebrated with awards. It’s dark, strange and powerful.  (Cinematheque) 4 out of 5          

THE WONDERS: Watching this film is almost as good as traveling. You learn what is going on out in the small Italian towns where the real people live through an emotional yarn about one family. Farming is fading. Tourism is the best hope for some people. The film by Alice Rohrwacher is both closely observant and wildly fanciful in telling us about it. She knows her stuff; she grew up in the very town where she filmed it.


A family of beekeepers carry on old traditions under the demanding rule of a patriarchal German father with an Italian wife (played by the director’s sister, Alba) and four daughters. New regulations are coming and may shut the operation down. The oldest daughter, played with quiet obedience and  stifled ambition by  newcomer Maria Alexandra Lungu, has an idea after a chance encounter with a reality TV crew and their host Monica Bellucci. If they enter her contest to find the best product still produced in the old ways and win, it might save the farm. Dad says no. He hates the phoney connection to an Etruscan history the show is pushing. His solution is to buy a camel. Really. That clash of cultures and practical solutions playing off against dream ideas drives a very engaging story. Watch for a startling trick the young Maria does with a bee on her face. (Cinematheque) 3 ½ out of 5

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