Smolker Letter No. 11 “Smolker Report on Best Movies Seen at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Part One” (September 29, 2012)

by Gary S. Smolker

September 29, 2012

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

TIFF took place this year (2012) in Toronto, Canada from September 6 through September 16.

More than 300 films from over 60 countries were presented as part of the film festival.  I viewed 23 of those films.

It is impossible for me to tell you which of those films was the best movie because best is a word with many meanings.

Best can mean excelling all others.  Best can also mean most productive of good, or of advantage, utility or satisfaction.

There are many categories of best.

Movies That Have the Effusive Distinction of Excelling All Other Movies

Four movies I saw at TIFF excelled all others: “Midnight’s Children,” “Twice Born”, “Argo”, and “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.”

“Midnight’s Children”

Midnight’s Children is an extraordinary movie.  Midnight’s Children achieves having the total engagement of the audience watching the film through its charm, its cinematography, and vivid back ground narration as it’s story is told and the performances of an enormous cast of actors plays out on the screen.  Without a doubt, Midnight’s Children is a world class film.

Midnight’s Children is not a documentary, it is a drama.  Although a narrator speaking in the background interjects outright social commentary into the story as the story is being told through the performances of the actors and the pageantry and music on display , Midnight’s Children is not journalism or propaganda.  Perhaps Midnight’s Children is political, perhaps not.

Midnight’s Children is an epic story full of romance and spectacle in which a narrator discusses the birth of India from the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, at the very moment India declared its independance from Great Britain.

Midnight’s Children does not deliver a political message.  Midnight’s Children delivers a social message.

Midnight’s Children is a story which dramatizes the social message,  “families are made, not born.”

Midnight’s Children immediately engaged and charmed me when it introduced the main character’s grandfather and grandmother — showing a very young physician in a row boat on his way to examine and treat a young unmarried female patient.

When the young doctor arrived at the patient’s home, he was greeted by the young woman’s blind father who told him the young woman has a stomach ache. The young physician was then escorted by the young woman’s blind father into a room. In that room, the young woman (the patient) was standing behind a piece of fabric serving as a screen to hide the young woman’s face and the rest of her body from the male physician.

A hole had been cut in the screen through which the physician was to examine the young woman’s abdomen, but not see any other part of her body.

Later, the young physician tells a man rowing the boat that is taking the physician to see the young female patient that he has fallen in love with a woman whose face he has never seen.

The boatman replies: “Don’t worry.  Some day you will see her face. Some day she will have a headache.”

The exotic condition under which the young man’s yearnings had blossomed into what he called love fully fascinated me.  I was intrigued.  I wanted to know what would happen next. From that point forward, I was fully engaged in anticipating how the “romance” this film promised would be told.

Midnight’s Children is not merely a story about the young physician’s journey from “yearning/love” to marriage or the couple’s intoxicating and romantic “exotic” male-female relationship.

Each principal character in Midnight’s Children is as interesting a character and has as interesting a story as the main character’s grandfather (the young physician) and grandmother.  The lives of each main character in the story takes many twists and turns as did the “real” history of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh shown in the movie through scenes dramatizing the overthrown of democratically elected President of Pakistan, the Indo-Pakistani War, the war between Pakistan and Bangladesh, and scenes portraying what happened in India during the rule of India by Indira Gandhi.

In 1975 Salman Rushdie began writing Midnight’s Children, which was not published until 1981.  In 1975, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was convicted of election fraud after she had declared a state of emergency and assumed tyrannical powers. In the same year (1975) Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Conservative Party and Sheikh Mujib, the founder of Bangladesh, was murdered; Bill Clinton married Hillary Rodham and the last Americans were evacuated from Saigon and Generalissimo Franco died.

Indira Gandhi did not like the book Midnight’s Children, and in 1984, three years after its publication, while she was Prime Minister again she brought an action against it claiming to have been defamed by following one single sentence in the book providing a brief account of her life: “It has often been said that Mrs. Gandhi’s younger son Sanjay accused his mother of being responsible through her neglect, for his father’s death; and that this gave him an unbreakable hold over her, so that she because incapable of denying him anything.”  

In her lawsuit, Mrs. Gandhi did not ask for damages.  She only asked for that one sentence to be removed from future editions of the book.

Unsurprisingly, that lawsuit never came to court. Rushdie agreed to her demand.

The reaction to the settlement in India was not favorable to the Prime Minister.

A few weeks after the settlement was announced  (on October 31, 1984) Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

Throughout the movie Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie narrates what is going on (historically) by providing social and historical commentary as the story unfolds on the screen.  After the movie ended, Deepa Metha (the director) came on to the stage with members of the cast to answer questions.  Someone in the audience asked her: How did you get Salman Rushdie to write the screenplay and to be the narrator in the movie?  Ms. Metha answered: Salman is good at listening to reason.

When Ms. Metha speaks, she fills the room (in my case I was listening to her in a movie theater seating more than a 1,000 viewers) with a lavish amount of brilliance, good-will, modesty, charm and positive energy.

In the Introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition of Midnight’s Children (copyright 2006 by Salman Rushdie), Rushdie reports that he worked for a year or so as a copywriter at the London office of the Ogilvy & Mather agency, “whose founder, David Ogilvy, immortally instructed us that ‘the consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.'”

If you are like me, viewing this movie will help you enhance your self-esteem, self-confidence and self-identity as a culturally rich individual with world-view by allowing you to capture the experience of living in India during the time periods the movie covers.

Midnight’s Children has an enormous cast, all of whom are great actors and each wears scene appropriate clothing in each scene in which they appear.

Each actor made me believe he or she was the character being portrayed on the screen.  The accumulation of  great performances made the movie a spectacle in which I fully engaged in the life of each character as the story unfolded in each scene.

Midnight’s Children is a demonstration of good photography, great cinematography, great costuming, and great story telling perfectly appropriate for telling an epic tale.   It was filmed in 62 locations.

While Midnight’s Children does not belong in a class unto itself, it is none the less a superb and extraordinary movie.

The 25th Anniversary Edition of Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children, which I purchased in Toronto, Canada, after viewing the movie, is 533 pages long.

It took the genius of Salman Rushdie to write the screenplay which condenses the story told in that 553 page book into a movie that takes only 148 minutes to view.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Production:

Hamilton-Mehta Midnight Productions Inc.: (T) 416-516-0899; info@hamiltonmetha.com

International Sales Agent:

FilmNation Entertainment: (T) 917-484-8900; info@wearefilmnation.com

Canadian Distributor: Mongrel Media: (T) 415-516-9775

“Twice Born”

Twice Born the most compelling story I saw at the film festival.

SPOILER  WARNING: THIS MOVIE HAS A SURPRISE ENDING.  I DISCUSS THE SURPRISE ENDING IN THIS REVIEW.  IF YOU DO NOT CARE TO LEARN THE SURPRISE BEFORE YOU SEE THE MOVIE, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNTIL  AFTER YOU HAVE SEEN THE MOVIE.

Twice Born is the story of a tempestuous love affair between Gemma (played by Penelope Cruz) and Diego (played by Emile Hirsch) and of the of the love and loyalty they give to a child whose birth was the results of their attempt to have a child together (through use of a surrogate mother) because Gemma was infertile.

Diego is a young and exuberant American photographer she hooks up with just before the Olympic games in 1984.

I have never seen a more “exuberant”, “happy” and “full of life” person than Diego, or anyone with as much positive energy or surplus of strength.

As the story develops to a climax (on the screen), we learn that Diego had kept secret from Gemma that the baby the surrogate gave birth to was not Diego’s child.  The surrogate had been raped by soldiers and never had sex with Diego.

The movie begins with Gemma catching a plane with “her” teenage son (who she believes is Diego’s son) to Sarajevo to visit an exhibition of photographs taken by Diego.

Gemma’s and Diego’s story is told through a series of flashbacks by Gemma has as she travels in Sarajevo with her teenage son.

Until the very end of the story/movie Gemma believed her teenage son was a child born as a result of Diego having sexual intercourse with a surrogate who she believed Gemma and Diego had paid (1) to have intercourse with Diego, (2) in order to become pregnant, (4) to carry the fetus/unborn child to term and (4) to deliver the new born child to Diego and Gemma when the child was born.

At the very end of the movie, we learn at that Diego left the the surrogate to go to the kitchen and was about to return when a band of soldiers broke into the building where the surrogate were laying in bed and had not yet had intercourse. The soldiers raped the surrogate while Diego was hiding in a closet by the kitchen.

Due to war related horrors occurring on a daily basis in Sarajevo — after their baby was born — it was unsafe for Gemma and Diego to stay in Yugoslavia.

Gemma escaped from Sarajevo with their new born baby.

Gemma took the last plane leaving Sarajevo back to Italy without Diego.  Diego couldn’t get on the plane because Diego didn’t have a passport.

Gemma never saw Diego again.

Payment had been made to the surrogate by Diego and Gemma when the new born baby was turned over to Diego and Gemma.

Throughout the movie Diego kept the rape of the surrogate a secret from Gemma.

During her return trip to Sarajevo to see an exhibit of Diego’s photographs, Gemma learned from a mutual friend (who had married the surrogate) that her teenage son was not Diego’s son.

That was the first time the audience learned that fact too.

Twice Born is an emotionally intense action packed film.

The director Sergio Castellitto did a magnificent job of directing the film.

The scriptwriters wrote a tight fast moving script that keeps the audience’s attention throughout the movie as the story moves from one scene to another.

During the question and answer period that followed the screening of this film at TIFF, one of the actors was asked what it was like to work under the direction of Sergio Castellitto.

In reply, that actor told the audience the following anecdote about the intensity of working as an actor in this film under the direction of screen-writer-director Sergio Castellitto.

Director Sergio Castellitto told the actors to look scared when soldiers wearing masks opened the door of a taxi cab while the actors were passengers in the taxi cab.

Director Sergio Castellitto was not satisfied with their acting in that scene.  A break was taken.

After the break, the actors acting as soldiers and the actors acting as taxi cab passengers came back to the set; a soldier opened a door of the taxi cab and roughed up the actor passengers.

The actor/passengers were scared to death and it showed in their expressions and body language.

The director was then satisfied with their acting in that scene.

After the scene was shot, the actor/soldier wearing the mask pulled off his mask.  It was the director of the movie, Sergio Castellitto.

Twice Born is a family affairThe screenplay for Twice Born is an adaptation of a best selling book in Italy, of the same name (Venuto al Mondo), written by the Director Sergio Castellitto’s wife Margaret Mazzantini.

The screenplay was written by the Director Sergio Castellitto and his wife Margaret Mazzantini.

The boy (Diego’s and Gemma’s love child) in this movie is played by the natural actual son (Pietro Castellitto) of Director Sergio Castellitto and his wife Margaret Mazzantini.

The masked soldier who roughed up the passengers in the taxi cab was played by Sergio Castellitto (himself).

By the way, Sergio Castelitto is considered one of Italy’s finest actors and his wife Margaret is a prominent novelist.

If you like heart rendering love affairs (Diego and Gemma built their world around their child), you will love this movie.

When I think about this movie I can’t stop thinking about Diego’s energy and Diego’s love for Gemma and their “love child” against the backdrop of the current “Right to Life” issues raging in the United States concerning when and if a woman has a right, or should have the right, to have an abortion.

I think the message being delivered in Twice Born is that families are made, not born.

I can’t imagine where Margaret Mazzantini got the idea, or ideas, for her novel Twice Born, or why she wrote her novel.

Likewise, I can’t imagine why her novel (“Twice Born”) was a “best seller” in Italy.

Also, I can’t imagine why she and her husband made Twice Born, a movie based on the story of Diego and Gemma and their child.

Perhaps I don’t want to know where the ideas for the story told in Twice Born came from or what concerns (if any) drove Margaret to write Twice Born.

Be that as it may, without a doubt, Sergio Castellitto and Margaret Mazzantini are compelling story tellers and influential film makers.

Watching their movie (Twice Born) helped me experience the world more fully.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Production:

Picomedia: (T) 39-06 323-4500; info@picomedia.it

US Sales Agent:

Creative Artists Agency: (T) 424-288-2000; info@caa.com

International Sales Agent:

Wild Bunch: 33-1-5301-4840; obarbier@wildbunch.eu

“Argo”

This is the most feel good movie I saw at the festival.

It is an edge-of-your seat thriller.

It is also a true story, a wholly incredible and unbelievable true story about how six Americans working for the State Department escaped to the Canadian Embassey, but were trapped in Tehran during the Iran Hostage Crisis, and were smuggled out of Tehran by a C.I.A. Agent (Ton Mendez).

The C. I. A. Agent who smuggled them out of Tehran in broad day light on a Swiss Air Jet Aircraft flying out of Tehran, refused to follow direct orders from the Director of the C.I.A. and the President of the United States to abandon and leave those six Americans trapped in Tehran.

Alan Arkin and John Goodman should be nominated for (and I predict they will vie to to the finish line to win) Academy Awards for their superb acting in this movie.  Alan Arkin plays veteran Hollywood movie producer Lester Siegel.  John Goodman plays the part of a Hollywood make-up artist extraordinaire.

The script for this ridiculous (but true) story was well and tightly written by Chris Terrio.  Mr. Terrio infuses intense life into each of the main characters.   Simultaneously, his script is testimony to his comic inventiveness.

The directing of the film, by Ben Affleck, was masterful.  The tension in the film never lets up.

Ben Affleck is also one of the producers of this film and plays the main character (Tony Mendez) in this film.

This film will win public acclaim and is going to be a big money making film.

However, Argo bravely sends the message that the Shaw of Iran was a mean despot, who came to power in a military coup orchestrated by the C. I. A. which overthrew the democratically elected President of Iran.

The introductory segment of this film (which takes place before Iranian students storm the American Embassy)  makes it very clear that the Shaw was legitimately and violently hated by his people.

Be that as it may, Argo keeps its audience on the edge of its seat for the entire movie.

Argo is the previously classified true story of a man working for the CIA (exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez) who refused to follow orders and who with the cooperation of the Canadian ambassador in Tehran saved the lives of six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis.

For having the good sense to not follow orders and the intelligence to understand to a greater degree than the President of the United States (Jimmy Carter) and to a greater degree than the Director of the C. I. A. what the decision to smuggle the Americans trapped in Tehran out of Iran was all about, after the fact, Mendez was awarded the highest medal awarded by the C. I. A. for Mendez’s daring exploit.

The story in this movie reminded me of the story David Packard (co-founder of Hewlett-Packer) tells/told of giving an award to an employee who had defied him:  Years ago at a Hewlett-Packard lab, they told a young engineer to give up work on a display monitor he was developing.  In response, he went on “vacation”, touring California and dropping in on potential customers to show them the monitor and to gauge their interest. The customers loved it, he continued working on it, and then he somehow persuaded his manager to put it into production.  The company sold more than seventeen thousand though of his monitors and reaped a sales volume of thirty-five million dollars.

Later, at a meeting of Hewlett-Packard engineers, Packard gave the young man a medal “for extraordinary contempt and defiance beyond the normal call of engineering duty.”  Similarly, Tony Mendez was awarded a message for defying the direct order of the President of the United States (Jimmy Carter) and defying the direct order of the Director of the C. I. A.

In the movie Argo, after the six Americans are home safe, and while the world still didn’t know that the C. I. A. was involved in rescuing them, Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck) is told by his boss that the C. I. A. is going to have an award ceremony [on such and such a date] at which he (Mendez) will be given the highest award (medal) the C. I. A. awards to its employees.

In the movie, Mendez (a divorced man) asks his boss to postpone the ceremony for a week so that Mendez’s young son can attend the ceremony.

Mendez’s boss replied: “We can’t postpone the ceremony or permit your son to attend the ceremony because the Award Ceremony will be a secret ceremony and the fact that you were awarded this award will be a secret.  It is a secret award.  Also, you can’t keep the medal the C. I. A. is going to give you.  Right after the C. I. A. gives you the medal we take it back.”

When Mendez’s boss sees Mendez frowning, Mendez’s boss tells Mendez: “If you wanted applause you should have joined the circus, not the C. I. A.”

Everyone is going to love this movie because the protagonists themselves are forced by circumstances to play a part in a serious dramatic life and death moment, which leads to rich comedy.

The wonderful thing about this movie (which is a true story) is that all the ridiculous and unbelievable things that happen in this movie actually happened.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Production, US Distributor and International Sales Agent: Warner Brothers Pictures

(T) 818-954-6649

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By the way, I repeat: the tension never lets up in this movie.  The Iran Hostage Crisis began on November 4, 1979 when a group of Iranian militants stormed and took control of the U. S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 embassy personnel hostages.  This movie tells the audience that the Iranian militants who stormed the American Embassy were rightfully outraged at the conduct of the U.S./C.I.A. for having orchestrated the overthrow of their democratically elected President in a military coup by the man who then became the Shaw of Iran.

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“The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a suspenseful thriller – much more suspenseful and exciting than most thrillers.

The director of the movie (Mira Nair) describes the story told in The Reluctant Fundamentalist as, “A searing and powerful account of a Pakistani in New York after 9/11.”

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is much more than that.

It is a story which explains what drives thinking people.

It is the story of one thinking man’s (Changez’s) need to live in dignity while being true to himself.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist follows the the life of a Pakistani man whose name is Changez from the time he was a fresh graduate from Princeton (in 2001) at a job interview seeking to be hired to work for the Wall Street firm that all ambitious business oriented college graduates wanted to work for, through the actions Changez took after he was hired by the most that highly prestigious Wall Street firm as he sough fame, money and glory on Wall Street.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist quickly transitions from depicting Changez’s early highly successful career on Wall Street to depicting how Changez was treated in the United States after the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11.

From that point forward the tension in the movie increases:

  1. First we are shown Changez being strip-searched by the cops at a big airport in New York.
  2. Then we are shown all the tires on Changez’s rented car have been cut while the rented car was parked in a company parking lot in the South while Changez was evaluating how that company did business.
  3. We are shown a man yelling at Changez that there is no place for Changez in America as that man drives away from that parking lot in a truck.
  4. The last straw for Changez occurs when his girl-friend (Kate Hudson) exhibits Changez featured as (in his mind) an object at an art show.
  5. Seeing his girl-friends pictures of himself at the art exhibit makes Changez think his girl-friend thinks he is an exotic object and does not appreciate him as a human being.

As Changez is transformed from an being an upwardly mobile businessman/investment banker to a perceived enemy and made to feel he is being scapegoated in America, Changez’s mental attitude and self image change.

Changez concludes that he can no longer work for the Wall Street Investment Banking firm where he has become a super star that employees him and that he can no longer live in America.

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Changez’s Job Performance As An Investment Banker Working for A Prestigious Investment Banking Firm on Wall Street:

In America, Changez worked on Wall Street at an investment banking firm where Changez brilliantly performed the task of “evaluating” how much companies he evaluated were worth and could  be worth if they changed the way they operated by adopting systems and procedures devised by Changez.

Changez was brilliant at finding inefficiencies in the ways companies operated and also at devising methods whereby companies would achieve higher output at lower cost and operate more profitably, often with less employees.

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Changez’s Identity and Self Identity:

After 9/11, Changez’s self-identity changed.

Changez felt he could no longer live with dignity in the United States.

Changez felt that being an investment banker thinking up ways to fire people to save money for companies was not what he is about.

Changez realized that he was not being true to his true self, to himself.

Changez saw himself as having become one of the janissaries.

Changez could not live with that.

Changez became totally disinterested in his work as an investment banker on Wall Street, quit his job on Wall Street and returned to Pakistan.

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist begins with the audience being shown a pedestrian being abducted in Lahore, Pakistan and then rapidly switches to a scene in which Changez is sitting in a cafe in Lahore, Pakistan, with a journalist, played by Liev Schreiber, who is actually/secretly a C. I. A. operative.

Liev Schreiber is trying to convince Changez to disclose the location of an American who has recently been abducted by persons unknown, whose abduction the audience was shown at the very beginning of this movie.

It is a very tense situation.The cafe is filled with young adults who probably hate Americans and America.

The C. I. A. (Schreiber’s boss in the C.I. A.) has ordered Schreiber to get out of the cafe and has made plans to forcibly extract Schreiber if Schreiber cannot get out safely on his own.

Schreiber tells his boss (in the C. I. A.) that it will take time to convince Changez to disclose the present location of the abducted American and asks his boss to hold off plans to forcibly extract Schreiber from the cafe.

Changez tells Schreiber that Changez realizes the Schreiber is C. I. A.

Changez tells Schreiber that he wants Schreiber to understand Changez by listening to Changez relate the experiences Changez had experienced in the United States.

Schreiber agrees to listen to Changez’s story.  As Changez tells his story, pictures corresponding to the story being told by Changez to Schreiber appear on the screen.

The story Changez tells Schreiber starts with Changez being a fresh Princeton graduate and proceeds through Changez being harassed in the United States after 9/11 and ends with the point in time (present) of Changez sitting in that cafe with Schreiber.

The story told in this film is believable.  The scenes shot in Pakistan are exotic.

Prominent actors are present in this film.  The actor who plays Changez’s boss at the Wall Street Investment Banking firm is Kiefer Sutherland.  Changez’s American girl-friend is played by Kate Hudson.

Before watching this movie I had never considered whether there would be psychological impact on Muslims either in the United States (such as the Changez character) or on Muslims in any other part of the world as a result of the way we (Americans) treat Muslims here in America, before or after 9/11.

That being said, the story told in this movie and in the book which was adapted to make this movie has profound implications.

In that regard, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an adaptation of a book by the same name written by Mohsin Hamid.

Mohsin Hamid is a Pakistani who grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and attended Princeton and Harvard.

Mr. Hamid now lives in London.

Why does Mr. Hamid choose to live in London rather than to live in New York or choose to live in some other city in the United States?

I now think about that question and think we should all think about that question.

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A bit of history:

The Janissary were an elite corps of Turkish troops who owed undivided loyalty to the Sultan.  The Janissary was composed of Christian boys forcibly taken by the Turks (Ottomans) from their families at a very young age under a system known as Devshirme (which means child-gathering).  These children were raised and trained in the Royal Palace of the Ottoman Empire (Topaki Palace).

The primary goal of the Devshirme system was to select and train the ablest Christian boys for leadership positions either as military leaders of high administrators to serve the Empire.  These Christian children were required to convert to Islam and were raised as Muslims.  As high administrators these formerly Christian boys would conquer and rule Christian domains for the Empire. 

The Janissary corps was organized in the 14th century and abolished in 1826.

For further information on the Janissary corp and the Ottoman Empire read Chapter 5 of the Pure Essence of Good Life “Food, Grandeur and Ways of Living” posted on the Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange Blog, http://www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, on March 19, 2012.

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CONTACT INFORMATION:

Production: Cine Mosaic

(T) 212 – 625-3797; Ldp@cinemosaic.net

US Sales Agent: Cinetic Media

(T) 212 – 204-7979; sales@cineticmedia.com

International Sales Agent: K5 International

(T) 44-203 286-5575; info@k5mediagroup.com

Movies That Will Be Most Productive of Good

I believe the following two movies I saw at TIFF 2012 will be most productive of good: (1) Zaytoun and (2) Hannah Arendt.

“Zaytoun” is a Arabic for “olive.” Zaytoun is a fictional story about a Palestinian boy who escapes from a Palestinian refuge camp in Beirut, Lebanon with an Israeli fighter pilot, who is his enemy, and travels to Israel/Palestine with the Israeli fighter pilot though war torn Lebanon to plant an olive tree and the relationship that evolves and binds them.

Hannah Arendt is a movie about an episode in the life of one of the most fascinatingly and deepest thinking women of the 20th century.

In Hannah Arendt’s real life (1906 – 1975), and also hinted at in the movie (where mention is made that she had affairs with intellectual giants of the world), Hannah Arendt is/was proof of the fact that the most sexy part of a woman is her brain.

Ms. Arendt is most famous as the author “The Origins of Totalitarianism”,  as the author of “Eichmann in Jerusalem – A Report on the Banality of Evil”, as the creator of the concept of “the banality of evil” and for reporting that less Jews would have been killed by the Nazis if Jewish leaders in conquered territories had not cooperated with the Nazis in effecting Hitlers “Final Solution.”

I will discuss Zaytoun and Hannah Arendt in “Smolker Report on Best Movies Seen at 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Part Two.”

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CONTACT INFORMATION FOR “ZAYTOUN”

Production: Zaytoun Productions Ltd.

(T) 33-1 7172 3305; themba.bhebhe@pathe.com

International Sales Agent: Pathe International

(T) 33-1 7172 3305; festivals@pathe.com

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR “HANNAH ARENDT”

Production: Heimatfilm GmbH, Heimatfilm GmgH + KG, Lichstrabe 50

(T) 49-221 977-7990; office@heimatfilm.biz

International Sales Agent: The Match Factory

(T) 49-22 1539-7090; info@matchfactory.de

MOVIES WITH THE MOST CLEVER AND SATISFYING DIALOGUE

“Silver Linings Playbook”

In Silver Linings Playbook Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence) tells her boyfriend’s father Robert De Niro why his son Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) should be practicing a dance routine with her (Jennifer Lawrence/Tiffany) instead of being with De Niro watching Philadelphia Eagle football games.

The speech Lawrence gave to De Niro is one of the most memorable “speeches” (perhaps the most memorable speech) I ever heard.  Let’s just say, she (Jennifer Lawrence) held her own opposite an iconic seasoned actor (Robert De Niro).  Her speech is way more memorable than the Gettysburg Address.

In Silver Linings Playbook De Niro plays the part of a die-hard Philadelphia Eagle football team fan who wants his son Pat home with him watching Philadelphia Eagle football games.

At the beginning of the movie, De Niro’s son Pat has recently been released from a mental institution/prison where Pat had been committed for eight months as part of a plea bargain deal arising out of Pat almost beating to death a man Pat found with his wife in the shower of his home when he came home from work.

De Niro’s son Pat manically wants to get back with his wife who has obtained a restraining order stating that Pat is not to contact her.

Jennifer Lawrence/Tiffany knows Pat’s estranged wife and doesn’t think much of her.  However, Tiffany wants to have a dance partner so that she (Tiffany) can enter a dance contest.

Tiffany offers to smuggle a love letter from Pat to Pat’s estranged wife if Pat will practice a dance routine with her/Tiffany and be Tiffany’s dance partner in the upcoming dance contest.

By the way, Silver Linings Playbook won the “People’s Choice Award” at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

The “People’s Choice Award” is given to the movie attendees vote as being their favorite film in the festival.  Over two dozen winners have gone on to receive Academy Award nominations: 10 have won for Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Picture or Best Documentary.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Production, U.S. Distributor, International Sales Agent: The Weinstein Company

(T) 212 – 845-8600

“In the House”

In the House was the most interesting and most clever movie I saw at the film festival.

In the House is a story about a high school student (Claude) whose French teacher (Germain) realizes that Claude has an extraordinary talent for writing after Germain reads writing assignments turned in by Claude.

Germain gives Claude a series of private tutorials in how to “write.”

In these tutorials (one on one lectures) Germain gives Claude the most brilliant guidance on how to write.

I would love to have a transcript of the instructions Germain gives Claude in this film.

In the House is an adaptation of Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga’s  The Boy in the Last Row by French screenwriter/director Francois Ozon.

At the question and answer period following the showing of this film, film maker Francois Ozon was asked how he cast 16 year old Claude.

Mr. Ozon answered: “In France a 16 year old girl is a woman and a 16 year old boy is still a boy.  I had to cast a 21 year old young man to play the 16 year old high school student Claude.”

I will discuss In the House in greater detail in “Smolker Report on Best Movies Seen at 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Part Two.”

To receive automatic notification that “Smolker Report on Best Movies Seen at 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Part Two” has been posted click on the “Follower” button at the bottom of this post.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Production: Mandarin Cinema

(T) 33-15 830-8030; mandarin@mandarin-bbf.com

US Distributor: Cohen Media Group

(T) 310-360-6409

Canadian Distributor: Entertainment One Films

(T) 416-646-2400

International Sales Agent: Wild Bunch

(T) 33-1 5301-4840; obarbier@wildbunch.eu

Most High Energy Movie

The most high energy movie I saw at 2012 TIFF was On the Road.

I will discuss On the Road in greater detail in “Smolker Report on Best Movies Seen at 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Part Two.”

To receive automatic notification that “Smolker Report on Best Movies Seen at 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Part Two” has been posted click on the “Follower” button at the bottom of this post.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Production: Film4

(T) 44-207 306-8548; sbrucesmith@channel4.co.uk

US Distributor: IFC Films

(646) 273-7336; info@ifcfilms.com

Canadian Distributor: Alliance Films

(T) 416- 309-4166; info@alliancefilms.com

International Sales Agent: MK2

(T) 33-1 446-7301; production@mk2.com

Good Food and A Movie

I had many delightful meals and saw many stimulating and entertaining movies while attending 2012 TIFF.

Some of the restaurants and cafes where I had a delightful meal while attending 2012 TIFF were:

I felt like I was in paradise while I was attending the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and enjoyed myself fully.

To be continued.

Gary S. Smolker

Copyright (c) by Gary S. Smolker 2012

About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at www.dudesguidetowomensshoes.com. I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail GSmolker@aol.com.

Posted on September 29, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Brilliant and obviously well thought out. I like your point of view and how you share various aspects of the films, how you related to the character developement and writer’s perspective, and the film makers process and result. Looking forward to the next part of your impressions. Bill is here drinking wine and eating chocolate listening to the crickets, peacefully. Love, Audie

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