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My Donkey My Lover and I, Home, The Perfect Candidate, and more to watch this weekend

published14 days ago
9 min read

Hello there,

This is the free version of our weekly newsletter. The premium version has 14 excellent recommendations, on top of these, of what to watch at festivals, virtual cinemas, VOD, and via streaming. We also spotlight several virtual film festivals worth catching worldwide, featuring films we love that have yet to secure distribution (so this may be your only chance to see them!).

In our premium newsletter for members this week, we recommend more virtual film festival screenings, plus additional VOD, virtual cinema, and streaming recommendations. If you become a member now, shoot us an email, and we'll be happy to send you these recommendations, too!

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This weekend, catch the fab French comedy My Donkey, My Lover, and I at the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival (available worldwide). Meanwhile, TIFF favourites Home and The Perfect Candidate are now streaming. Plus, Final Account is now on Netflix US!

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Celebrate Oslo, August 31st's 10th anniversary

Our #1 film of the 2010s, Oslo, August 31st had its 10th anniversary last week, and we celebrated with a FULL week of content on the film every day, including new interviews with the director, lead actor, and production designer all looking back at the making of the film.

Click here to read all the articles.

Joachim Trier reflects back on making Oslo, August 31st

Here's an excerpt from the intro to my interview with director Joachim Trier:

Oslo, August 31st is a risky film,” Joachim Trier told me. “Every film you make, you have this anxiety version in the back of your mind: what if we fail, and it’ll turn into this.” Trier, co-writer Eskil Vogt, and lead actor Anders Danielsen Lie all echoed this sentiment, this fear that the film would be ninety boring minutes following a self-centred, depressed person. It’s a very internal film, yet every frame is full of life and you feel like you’re going on this existential journey with the character of Anders played by Anders Danielsen Lie. Trier elaborated, “What I’m most proud about with Oslo is that it’s pretty hard core in spending time close to this person in this extreme sense of loss of self. That’s something I keep exploring. I think that’s interesting. In cinema, there aren’t that many people who [do this].”
Ten years ago, I saw Oslo, August 31st for the first time at the Toronto International Film Festival. Like so many others, it was the way I discovered Trier’s work. The film hit me hard; it felt incredibly personal to me, and perhaps, that’s partly because it’s a film that’s clearly so personal to him and to everyone who worked on the film. It also felt unlike anything I’d seen before, with this very internal journey through the psyche of a very smart but depressed person amidst an existential crisis. Nothing much happens in the film — he goes to a job interview, meets some friends, goes to a party — and yet you feel like you’ve learned so much about Anders and gone through the emotional wringer with him. At this point, I’ve seen the film more times than I can count, and yet I still have to gear up emotionally to watch it. I can certainly understand why Anders Danielsen Lie has not rewatched it since.

Read the full interview.

How to watch the film

Canada: Stream on Kanopy; rent or buy on iTunes
US: rent or buy on Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay, or iTunes
United Kingdom: rent or buy on Amazon, Chili, iTunes, or Curzon
France: Stream on Mubi until August 31st; stream on Canal+ FilmoTV
Click here to find the film in your country

Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival - Worldwide

My Donkey, My Lover, and I - until Sept 12 - worldwide

Caroline Vignal’s Antoinette dans les Cévennes (My Donkey, My Lover, and I) is a mid-life coming-of-age comedy starring the great Laure Calamy. It's a total delight but hasn't gotten US distribution (it's already on VOD in the UK and will be by the end of the month in Canada). If it hasn't already come to where you are, catch it!

Here's an excerpt from my review:

We first meet Antoinette (Laure Calamy) in her classroom, where she has her elementary school students, counting, heads down on their desks, while she changes into a silver dress at the back of the class. It’s for a class concert where she starts belting out a tune with such fervor that she starts to eclipse her dressed-in-black students as the centre of attention. It’s also the first sign that Antoinette falls somewhere on the bananas scale from zero to Sibyl (who, of course, is 100% bananas), and that the film is going to be a gentle comedy slightly at the expense of Antoinette’s shenanigans.
Soon after the concert, Antoinette is making out with the married father of one of her students, and finding out that their romantic getaway is being cancelled. He’s going on vacation to the Cévennes with his wife and daughter. So she decides she’ll take the same vacation, a six-day hike with a donkey, without telling him, without training, and hoping that she’ll just happen to run into him. When she arrives at her hostel, she very quickly gets needled into revealing the story of her trip to all of the other hikers, so her reputation precedes her at every destination along the hike.

Read the full review.

Click here for tickets.

Now on VOD

Souterrain - Canada and the UK

Sophie Dupuis's second feature is thoughtful about the emotional lives of working class men in rural Quebec, and features another dynamite performance from Théodore Pellerin.

Here's an excerpt from my review:

Between Chien du garde and Souterrain, Québécois writer-director Sophie Dupuis has proved herself an adept observer of the inner lives of men confined to misogynistic or patriarchal spaces. While Chien du garde followed a Montreal crime family through ridiculous antics, it was grounded by a sensitive performance from Jean-Simon Leduc as a reluctant enforcer, playing off a jittery, unhinged performance from Théodore Pellerin as his younger brother. In that world, brawn always trumped brains, and the ability to process and show emotion was discouraged. With her second feature, Souterrain, Dupuis delves even deeper into male relationship dynamics by looking at a group of gold miners in rural Quebec. With a more realistic premise, Dupuis’s knack with actors and for navigating how men perform masculinity — and are hindered by it — is on full display here.
In Souterrain, Joakim Robillard stars as twentysomething miner Maxime, whose father runs the mine. Maxime is struggling to start a family with his girlfriend, and to keep up his friendship with Julien (the always excellent Théodore Pellerin who gave one of the best performances of the decade), whose traumatic brain injury has prevented him from returning to work at the mine. The film opens with a crisis in the mine where some of the miners have gone missing, some died, and Julien has been called in as part of the rescue team to help. He attempts to disobey orders so that he can try to save the missing men, and then the film flashes back to two months prior to help us understand what made Maxime so insistent on this ill-advised if compassionate course of action. That day, he has to be physically stopped from running deeper into the mine to find the victims.

Read the full review.

Now streaming

Home - Mubi Canada, VOD Canada/US/UK

A highlight of the first year of TIFF's Platform competition, Fien Troch's Home is a smart story about teenagers, asking us to empathise first and judge second.

Home, Fien Troch

Here's an excerpt from my review:

In Fien Troch’s Home, misbehaving adolescents are only the plague of society on the surface. They look like adults and are expected to act like adults, but with no autonomy, teenagers are effectively helpless and at the mercy of their parents and other authority figures. If you come from a supportive, functional home like Sammy (Loïc Belleman), the world is your oyster. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of an unjust world where compassion is the last thing ever extended to you.
While adults in the film are willfully blind and quick to jump to conclusions, Troch always gives her young characters the benefit of the doubt. When the film opens, we meet Lina (Lena Suijkerbuijk) while she’s waiting for the principal, looking calm and seemingly normal. We size her up before we see her scolded and sentenced. Similarly, we know John (Mistral Guidotti) is communicating with his mother rather than merely skipping class to text — though he gets a scolding for it. While the teachers and authority figures don’t skip a beat before upbraiding the teenagers in their charge, Troch asks us to empathize first and judge second.
When Kevin (Sebastian Van Dun) returns to town after a stint in prison, he’s banished from his family home and asked to stay with his aunt Sonja (Karlijn Sileghem)— who barely tolerates him — and her family, including her son Sammy. Given a makeshift room in the basement, with empty walls and white sheets, Kevin never gets to feel at home during his coming home. But there’s an expectation that he show his gratitude even when he’s extended no affection. Although he pals around with Sammy, it’s Sammy’s friend John with whom Kevin really bonds. We learn that Kevin and his father used to argue violently, and we wonder if the violent act Kevin committed was his way of blowing off steam from their relationship. John is no stranger to abusive parents: his mother is volatile, alternating between brutally cruel and tenderly vulnerable.

Read the review

The Perfect Candidate - Criterion Channel Canada/US, Prime UK

One of our favourite films of 2020 is now streaming!

From our interview with Haifaa Al-Mansour by Orla Smith:

“I needed to go home," Al-Mansour told me. "I wanted to tell stories about people that I know inside out." The Perfect Candidate sees the filmmaker in her element, working with non-professional actors, and telling a story rooted in home. It’s a highly political film: small-town doctor Maryam (Mila Al Zahrani) almost accidentally applies to run for local office. It’s extremely rare to see a women in politics in Saudi, so Maryam initially has drawbacks. She goes ahead only because winning would mean she can fix the road in front of the hospital, which is currently so damaged that ambulances aren’t able to reach the entrance. Through the process of her campaign, Maryam finds there’s more and more she’d like to change about the way her community is run, and she becomes excited at the idea of gaining power and having her voice heard.

Read the full interview.

Final Account - Netflix US, VOD Canada/US

This excellent but harrowing doc is now streaming on Netflix US. Luke Holland’s Final Account introduces us to the last living generation of Hitler’s Third Reich to explore how they feel about their actions.

FINAL ACCOUNT by director Luke Holland, released by Focus Features. © 2021 PM Final Account Holdings, LLC. Courtesy of Focus Features LLC. Still of a member of the Third Reich in her home, looking out the window at the landscape.

Here's an excerpt from my review:

Luke Holland’s final documentary, Final Account, introduces us to the last living generation of Hitler’s Third Reich to show us how evasive and in denial these people still are about their culpability in the Holocaust. Holland interviews former SS officers, many of whom still talk about serving in the elite unit as an honour, as well as regular citizens who collaborated with and were complicit in the Nazi regime. For example, we meet a woman who was a nanny to an SS family who proudly recalls getting her teeth fixed by concentration camp inmates. We meet several former SS officers who deny that the Holocaust actually happened. And we meet an accountant who worked at the concentration camp but felt no responsibility for her work there.
Throughout the film, Holland’s subjects are keen to reveal precise details of what happened in the Holocaust, but are sketchy about how they happen to know these things. With prodding, he often discovers that not only were they merely witness to atrocities, but most were active participants, too. Repeatedly, his subjects claim they didn’t know what was really happening in the Third Reich, and then, hypocritically, also proclaim their intimate knowledge of the minutiae of the administration. If they can admit that the Holocaust was an atrocity, they will find a way to absolve themselves of complicity. And not everyone makes it quite that far.
Throughout, Holland paints a picture of country that has continued post-Holocaust almost as if it never happened. The concentration camps are still there, if now memorials to the dead, and so many of the perpetrators are still living normal lives in their comfortable, suburban homes. Holland reminds us of this reality by interviewing his subjects in their homes, where signs of a full, uninterrupted life tell us that they simply never had to face their culpability in any real way. Similarly, he intercuts shots of the sites of major Nazi atrocities — the camps, the railroads, the rail stations, and more — to remind us that the infrastructure that enabled this is still very much present, despite convenient cultural amnesia. Meanwhile, archival footage reminds us how normalized Nazi politics were, as we see people do the Nazi salute while giddily playing on the beach or watching a parade.

Read the full review.


Best,

Alex Heeney, Editor-in-Chief

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