Another top ten list for 2013

Here is the list of my ten favourite 2013 narrative films that were not eligible for the Oscars. I am excluding documentaries; will probably do a separate list of those. Most of these were foreign films that I saw at VIFF.

1. I Belong / Som du ser meg (dir. Dag Johan Haugerud)

2. The Lunchbox (dir. Ritesh Batra)

3. A Hijacking / Kapringen (dir. Tobias Lindholm)

4. Like Father, Like Son (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda)

5. Big Bad Wolves (dirs. Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado)

6. Burning Bush / Hořící keř (dir. Agnieszka Holland)

7. Upstream Color (dir. Shane Carruth)

8. I Am Yours / Jeg er din (dir. Iram Haq)

9. The Exam / A vizsga (dir. Péter Bergendy)

10. Trapped / Darband (dir. Parviz Shahbazi)

The Oscars

With the Oscars tonight, I thought I would post some shallow lists and comments, my opinions on some of the films that were, and were not, nominated.

Of the nine nominees for Best Picture, I've seen only six. I have no interest at all in seeing Philomena, and I never got around to seeing Captain Phillips or Nebraska (I don't usually love Alexander Payne films). I am hoping for 12 Years a Slave to win; I would be particularly unhappy if either Her or The Wolf of Wall Street receive any statues.

There are a few categories in which I've seen all the nominees: Best Production Design (I won't predict a winner here); Best Live Action Short Film (I will predict Aquel No Era Yo, which I thought was incredibly powerful; incidentally it's surprising that none of the films nominated in this cat are American); and Best Animated Short Film (my favourite was Room on the Broom but I think it's very unlikely to win).

Several of the best films of 2013, in my opinion, were not nominated for the Oscars, either because they weren't eligible, or they were eligible but nobody “campaigned” for them. Frankly, it’s kind of weird that campaigning would even work, sometimes I think, well, if you are a member of the Academy, why wouldn't you see 150 movies a year, that's only three a week, and then form your opinion, without needing to be influenced by ads in trade publications (“For your consideration”) or screeners sent out to be watched at home.

There were 289 feature films eligible for the Best Picture nomination this year (as well as most of the other categories: acting, cinematography, and so forth, excluding the special categories with their own rules, such as foreign-language film). Of those 289, I have seen 41, and here are my top ten:

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. The East

3. Gravity

4. American Hustle

5. Trance

6. Mud

7. The Spectacular Now

8. Prisoners

9. In a World...

10. Still Mine

In my next post, I will give my list of favourite 2013 movies that were not eligible for Oscar nomination.

Why everyone is wrong about senatorial-election legislation

Introduction

The Canadian Senate is an unelected body. Senators are chosen by the prime minister. Under the Constitution, the Governor General appoints Senators, but by the constitutional convention of responsible government, the Governor General must take the prime minister’s advice concerning Senate appointments.

Amending the Constitution to make Senators democratically elected would require the participation of provincial legislative assemblies under the 7/50 formula. But can Parliament, by an ordinary statute, provide for the election of Senate nominees? In my view it can.

Questions 2 and 3 of the Senate Reform Reference ask the Supreme Court of Canada for its opinion whether the schemes of senatorial elections set out in Bill C-20 and Part 1 of Bill C-7 are valid. Neither of those bills would require the appointment of the winner of the election. Rather, the legislation can be read as suggesting that the PM recommend the election winner to the Governor General, for appointment to the Senate. Under both bills, however, the PM retains the power to recommend someone other than the election winner, and the Attorney General of Canada argued in court that because of this, the legislation is valid as an ordinary statute.

In my view, the legislation would be valid even if it did require require the PM to recommend the election winner for appointment to the Senate. (I would therefore go further than any of the participants in the reference case before the SCC.) Collapse )

Senate Reform reference case — background

Introduction

The Supreme Court of Canada heard a case last month whose result will affect the next century of Canadian history. The issue is the interpretation of Part V of the Constitution Act, 1982, the procedures for amending the Constitution of Canada.

The six questions to be decided in this reference case relate to Senate reform. The SCC is being asked whether certain proposals for Senate reform can be implemented by the federal Parliament unilaterally (Questions 1 to 4), and whether the Senate could be abolished under the “7/50 formula” (Questions 5 and 6). But the SCC’s opinion will have ramifications on any major future constitutional amendment proposal (not just Senate reform), because this case will determine the interpretive approach toward the constitutional amendment procedures that were added to the Constitution in 1982. The federal government argues that the Court’s interpretation of Part V should stick close to the plain meaning of the text. Most provincial governments and other participants in the case are arguing that the Court should consider the constitutional history and the entire context, including “unwritten principles” of our constitutional system, thus giving effect in its interpretation to the underlying purposes of Part V.

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Kurt Gödel and Constitutional Amendment

In the Supreme Court of Canada hearings on the Senate Reform reference this week, one of the lawyers was asked how Canada could be transformed into a dictatorship, would it require unanimity of all the provinces, or just seven of them. (In the video, via CPAC, watch the interchange from time 71:00 to 76:20.)

This reminded me of the story about the logician Kurt Gödel studying the U.S. Constitution before his citizenship exam. Gödel (known for Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, the most important result in the philosophy of mathematics) concluded that under the Constitution, it would be legally possible to transform the U.S.A. into a dictatorship. His friends Albert Einstein and Oskar Morgenstern accompanied Gödel to the citizenship exam in 1947. As recounted in Rebecca Goldstein’s excellent biography Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel:
     ...it turned out that the judge, whose name was Philip Forman, was the very one who had administered the oath of citizenship to Einstein some years before and he ushered the three men into his chambers immediately.
     Einstein and Forman chatted for a while and Gödel, sitting quietly and biding his time, seemed all but forgotten. Eventually, though, Forman got on with the business of the day.
     “Up to now you have held German citizenship.”
     Immediately, Gödel corrected the judicial error: Austrian citizenship.
     Duly corrected, the judge continued.
     “In any case, it was under an evil dictatorship. Fortunately, that is not possible in America.”
     This was just the opening the logician had been waiting for.
     “On the contrary,” he objected, “I know precisely how it can happen here,” and he began to launch into his account of the flawed Constitution. Forman, Morgenstern, and Einstein exchanged meaningful glances and the judge called a halt to Gödel’s exposition, with a hasty, “You needn’t go into all that,” and steered the conversation round to less dangerous subjects.
Goldstein says it is unknown what Constitutional flaw Gödel had in mind. Probably he was simply referring to Article Five, the amending process. If Congress passes a joint resolution, with a two-thirds majority in each house, proposing a constitutional amendment that would cancel all elections and install a president-for-life, and the amendment is then ratified by 38 states, it would take effect as the supreme law of the land. That could happen next week, but it’s rather unlikely. (Though for Gödel, who saw Germany “legally” become a dictatorship after Hitler was elected, maybe it wasn't purely theoretical.)

In Canada, a plain reading of Part V of the Constitution Act, 1982 would allow the elimination of federal elections, turning Canada into a dictatorship, under the 7/50 formula. (The amendment would repeal sections 3 and 4 of the Charter, and provide that members of the House of Commons be chosen by the prime minister and serve at the prime minister’s pleasure.)

The dictatorship hypothetical is extreme but still could be important in the Supreme Court’s reasoning. In questioning counsel at the hearing, some of the judges have pondered whether they should interpret the amending procedures by looking at the underlying principles of the Canadian constitution, and then deciding which amending formula applies to a certain amendment based on how much, in their opinion, the amendment would alter those underlying principles. Some of the provincial attorneys general (most of them, in fact) advocated that approach in argument. Counsel for the federal attorney general argued no, you don't need to go to the underlying principles, the words in the Constitutional amending provisions already take account of those principles, so you should determine the applicable formula based on the text alone.

The question we must confront is this: since the “plain meaning” interpretive approach would let Canada’s form of government become a dictatorship with the consent of only seven provinces rather than all ten, should we therefore reject the plain meaning approach as fundamentally flawed?

The answer is no.

We may think there should be a monotonic relationship between the magnitude of a proposed amendment and the difficulty of the applicable amending formula: that is, it appeals to our sense of order if minor amendments fall under “easier” amending formulas while the most major amendments fall under the most difficult amending formula (i.e. unanimity). But it is dangerous for courts to say, okay, this monotonicity seems to be the underlying logic of Part V, therefore we should disregard the text of Part V when we think it deviates from the monotonicity principle.

If Part V were drafted in open-ended language, then it would be justifiable for the courts to take a contextual approach to interpreting it. For example, if section 41 said “unanimity is required for amendments that alter fundamental characteristics of Canada, such as (a) the office of the Queen...” and so forth, then it would be clear that the specific matters listed in section 41 were just examples of types of amendment requiring unanimity, and it would be up to the courts to decide whether other types of amendment (not mentioned in Part V) also require unanimity.

But that is not the scheme of Part V. In section 41 five matters are listed, amendments in relation to which require unanimity. The list of five matters is not preceded with “such as”, “in particular”, or “for example”. There is just no basis for a court to add to this list matters that it believes are similar.

The drafters of Part V were aware that the number of imaginable amendments is infinite. They could have written Part V to empower the courts to choose which formula would apply to some future amendment proposal that had not been contemplated in 1982. But instead, they consciously drafted the provisions of Part V such that the unanimity formula would be limited (to the five matters set out) but the 7/50 formula would be the “general procedure”, covering all types of amendment not otherwise provided for — including amendment proposals that nobody contemplated in 1982, no matter how radical.

Some of the provincial attorneys general (including Ontario’s AG) cautioned against “formalism” in interpreting the amending provisions. But there is good reason for courts to be formalistic when looking at the amending provisions as compared to other parts of the Constitution. The reason is, constitutional amendment is the last resort for elected officials to overturn decisions of appointed judges. Considering the democratic rights guaranteed in the Charter, what if a future court interprets those provisions in a way so unpopular and unworkable that the public feels a constitutional amendment is warranted to reverse the court decision? Should it then be open to the courts to say, “well, even though the text of the Constitution doesn’t say that the unanimity formula applies to alter democratic rights, we will impose our opinion of what the amending formula should be.” The courts would be making it impossible to change their own interpretation of the democratic rights in the Charter, even if most of the country strongly disagrees with that interpretation.

The 7/50 formula is difficult (albeit not as difficult as unanimity). It is unrealistic to think that seven provinces, comprising 50% of the population, plus the House of Commons, would ever agree on a radical amendment proposal that would get rid of democracy in Canada. Such an amendment is considerably more difficult now, under the 7/50 formula, than it was before 1982, when Canada could legally have been transformed into a dictatorship by an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament.

Senate Reform Reference case: chart of the participants’ positions on each issue

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear a reference case about the procedures necessary to effect Senate reform. This is the first time the SCC will take an in-depth look at the meaning of Part V of the Constitution Act, 1982, which sets out the procedure for amending the Constitution of Canada.

What follows is a chart of the position taken on each question, by each participant in the reference case, based on the written arguments (factums) filed with the Court. The Court retained John Hunter, Q.C., and Daniel Jutras as amici curiae (friends of the court); they submitted a joint factum but, as noted below, took different positions on one of the points in issue. The other participants are: the attorneys general of all provinces and all territories except Yukon; Senator Serge Joyal; Senator Anne Cools; the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA); and the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick Inc. (SANB).

The reference case was initiated by the federal government, which submitted six questions to the Supreme Court of Canada for its opinion. In the chart below, I have put my own abbreviated paraphrase of each question; the complete questions can be found here (or if you prefer a PDF: English / French).

The oral argument will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (November 12 to 14, 2013) and the live webcast should be available here.

In a later post I will have further explanation and commentary.


Q1 [Whether section 44 of Part V (amendments enacted by Parliament unilaterally) authorizes various types of amendment concerning senatorial tenure]


Yes on all subquestions


No on all subquestions


Yes on (a), (b);
No on (c);
Mixed on (d);
Yes, with proviso, on (e), (f), (g)


Yes on (b);
No on the other subquestions


No on (a), (b), (c), (d);
Takes no position on (e), (f), (g)


Takes no position

AG Canada

Amici curiae

AG Nfld & Lab

AG PEI

AG Nova Scotia

AG New Brunswick

AG Manitoba

AG Alberta

AG BC

AG Nunavut

Serge Joyal

Anne Cools

FCFA

AG Ontario

AG Sask

AG Quebec

AG NWT

SANB



Q2 [Whether Parliament may enact legislation for consultative non-binding senatorial elections, as in Bill C-20]

Q3 [Whether Parliament may establish a framework for provincial legislatures to hold consultative non-binding senatorial elections, as in Bill C-7]


Yes on both Q2 and Q3


No on both Q2 and Q3


Takes no position

AG Canada

One amicus curiae

AG Sask

AG Alberta

One amicus curiae

AG Nfld & Lab

AG PEI

AG Nova Scotia

AG New Brunswick

AG Quebec

AG Ontario

AG Manitoba

AG BC

AG Nunavut

Serge Joyal

Anne Cools

FCFA

SANB

AG NWT



Q4 [Whether section 44 of Part V allows repeal of the $4,000 property qualifications for senators]


Yes


Yes, with a proviso about subsection 23(6)


No, with respect to subsection 23(6)


No


Takes no position

AG Canada

AG PEI

AG Nova Scotia

AG New Brunswick

AG Ontario

AG Manitoba

AG Sask

AG BC

Amici curiae

Serge Joyal

AG Quebec

AG Nfld & Lab

AG Alberta

AG Nunavut

AG NWT

Anne Cools

FCFA

SANB



Q5 [Whether an amendment under section 38 of Part V (the 7/50 formula) can abolish the Senate]

Q6 [Whether section 41 of Part V (the unanimity formula) applies to an amendment abolishing the Senate]


Yes on Q5


No on Q5;
Yes on Q6


No on Q5;
Yes on Q6 with a proviso


No on Q5;
No on Q6


Takes no position

AG Canada

AG Sask

AG Alberta

AG BC

Amici curiae

AG Nfld & Lab

AG Nova Scotia

AG New Brunswick

AG Quebec

AG Ontario

AG Manitoba

AG Nunavut

Anne Cools

FCFA

AG NWT

Serge Joyal

AG PEI

SANB

Note: I have AG NWT and Senator Serge Joyal listed together under the heading “No on Q5; Yes on Q6 with a proviso” but the two participants do not have the same proviso in the answer to Question 6. The Northwest Territories AG gives this answer to Question 6: “YES, with the added condition that the federal government must consider and represent the best interests of the Northwest Territories.” Senator Joyal gives this answer: “yes, but only after accommodating the interests of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.”

TIFF 2013

This is my roundup of the 26 films I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. First, here are my five favourites:

1. Gravity (dir. Alfonso Cuarón). I generally avoid the Hollywood blockbusters at TIFF (because why waste a film festival ticket on something that will be released within a few weeks) but this year I admit, sheepishly, that Gravity was more exciting, by a wide margin, than anything else I saw at the Festival. This is a tour de force by Sandra Bullock — George Clooney has just a supporting role and other actors are hardly seen at all. The visual effects are more impressive than any other 3D movie, ever. Gravity is easily the most provocative, and engaging, depiction of space travel since 2001: A Space Odyssey.

2. The Past [Le Passé] (dir. Asghar Farhadi). I thoroughly enjoyed this follow-up to A Separation, set in France.

3. I Am Yours [Jeg er din] (dir. Iram Haq). Norway’s submission for the foreign-language Oscar, a moving and engaging depiction of a single mom (played by Amrita Acharia of Game of Thrones) whose life spirals out of control.

4. Ilo Ilo (dir. Anthony Chen). Singapore's submission for the foreign-language Oscar (although much of the dialogue is in English, so it might be disqualified), Ilo Ilo showcases great performances by Koh Jia Ler as a ten-year-old boy and Angeli Bayani as his nanny.

5. Amazonia (dir. Thierry Ragobert). I am in awe of this achievement; I have no idea how the filmmakers obtained such a great performance from the lead “actor”, a capuchin monkey. Humans have just a minute or two of screen time in this stunning 3D story of a circus monkey stranded alone in the wild. Perhaps comparable to The Incredible Journey or The Bear, we have a coherent narrative consisting of encounters with all sort of animals I have never before seen on film, and still don’t know what they are called. You can see this film just for the astonishing 3D nature cinematography, but the story is also compelling.

Other films I saw at TIFF that I liked (alphabetically):
  • Ain’t Misbehavin’ [Un voyageur] (dir. Marcel Ophüls). Film-lovers in particular will like this autobiographical documentary about Marcel Ophüls (known in particular for The Sorrow and the Pity) and his father, Max Ophüls (known for La Ronde and many other classic European and American movies).

  • Blue Is the Warmest Colour [La Vie d’Adèle chapitres 1 & 2] (dir. Abdellatif Kechiche). Although not nearly as good as Kechiche’s The Secret of the Grain [La Graine et le Mulet], his latest film, Blue Is the Warmest Colour, which won the Palme d’Or and attracted some controversy because of explicit lesbian sex scenes and some public sniping between the director and actors (clarified today), is worth seeing primarily for Adèle Exarchopoulos’s great performance. The plot is engaging enough but not memorable; the sex scenes are mostly boring.

  • The Dinner [Het Diner] (dir. Menno Meyjes). I tried to finish the novel before seeing the movie, but didn’t quite make it and finished the book afterward. The movie is okay, but the novel is much better. The movie falls back on using voice-over to read some of the best lines in the book, and omits some of the subplots that make the book so interesting.

  • Exit Marrakech (dir. Caroline Link).

  • Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story (dir. Barry Avrich). The only Canadian film I saw at TIFF this year, this documentary about the publisher of Penthouse was pretty interesting for a while, especially in its characterization of Penthouse as Pepsi (in relation to Playboy as Coke).

  • Friends From France [Les Interdits] (dirs. Anne Weil and Philippe Kotlarski).

  • Night Moves (dir. Kelly Reichardt). I thought that Peter Sarsgaard had finally broken out of his typecasting in Blue Jasmine, where he played a character that doesn’t turn out to be evil, but he sort of returns to it in Night Moves where he plays a domestic terrorist along with Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning.

  • October November [Oktober November] (dir. Götz Spielmann).

  • Of Good Report (dir. Jahmil X.T. Qubeka). A highly successful experimental thriller, Of Good Report was originally banned in its native South Africa for sex, but in fact it is more notable for its violence. I’m not saying the violence is gratuitous; just avoid this if you have a weak stomach for gore. Otherwise I strongly recommend it for the originality of its filmmaking style.

  • Sex, Drugs & Taxation [Spies & Glistrup] (dir. Christoffer Boe).

  • This Is Sanlitun (dir. Róbert I. Douglas). Mockumentary that takes place in Beijing but is mostly in English. The premise basically is, what if Ricky Gervais's character from The Office went to China to sell a hair-growth product. Watch the trailers.

The remaining films I saw at TIFF (alphabetically):

2012 documentaries — top ten list

My favourite documentaries of 2012; most of these seen at DOXA or VIFF.

1. Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present (dir. Matthew Akers). Completely engrossing portrait of performance artist Marina Abramović.

2. Street Dogs of South Central (dir. Bill Marin). Dramatic and engaging, this great little documentary brings us into the world of ownerless dogs who must provide for themselves and each other on the streets of Los Angeles.

3. Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (dir. Brad Bernstein). A visually stunning documentary detailing the life of outcast illustrator Tomi Ungerer from his childhood in Alsace during the Second World War to his career in New York.

4. Sex Crimes Unit (dir. Lisa F. Jackson). An amazing look at the lawyers who prosecute sex crimes in New York City, one of the standouts at the DOXA festival this year because of the deft way the film tells the history of the justice system's attitude toward rape while following real cases through the courts and letting the personalities of the lawyers and complainants emerge.

5. Side by Side: The Science, Art and Impact of Digital Cinema (dir. Christopher Kenneally). The voiceover narration by Keanu Reeves is a bit dry but the interviews he conducts are surprisingly engaging, we get the views of various directors and cinematographers (including Danny Boyle and Martin Scorsese), set beside a chronological history of digital cinema, particularly the period from 2002 to 2008. I saw this the first day of VIFF and it was one of the best at the festival.

6. Mr. Cao Goes to Washington (dir. S. Leo Chiang). Fascinating documentary about the congressional career of Joseph Cao, the first Vietnamese-American to serve in the House of Representatives, elected in 2008 as a Republican from a traditionally Democratic, poor, majority-African-American district in Louisiana. The film, which I saw at VAFF, is among other things an illuminating case study of the hyperpartisanship in modern U.S. politics.

7. Tectonics (dir. Peter Bo Rappmund). Rappmund's previous film, Psychohydrography, also screened at VIFF and was on my list of top 10 documentaries of 2010. His latest, Tectonics is similarly formed from thousands of still photographs, this time taken along the US-Mexico border.

8. Nuclear Savage (dir. Adam Jonas Horowitz). Fascinating, and often shocking, look at an incident in the Marshall Islands when local people were exposed to radiation from a U.S. nuclear test. The American government has always maintained it was an accident, but Horowitz argues that it was an intentional scientific experiment to learn the effects of radiation on human beings.

9. 56 Up (dir. Michael Apted). Props to Michael Apted for continuing this longitudinal documentary series, I remember watching 21 Up in high school and would never have thought I'd get addicted, needing a fix every seven years. Interviewed by Jian Ghomeshi, Apted said he would be directing 84 Up when he is 99. I saw this at Vancity Theatre in December 2012, I guess it premiered on British TV earlier in 2012 and has an American theatrical release in 2013.

10. The Light Bulb Conspiracy (dir. Cosima Dannoritzer). I'm usually very skeptical of conspiracy theories, but this film does make a good case that consumers have been cheated on a grand scale by corporate policies of planned obsolescence. Great visual style, a terrific narrative thread involving a printer that no longer prints, never a boring moment.

Honourable mentions: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry | The Ambassador | Birders: The Central Park Effect | The Castle | The Flat | Fruit Hunters | More Than Honey | Nuala | Stories We Tell.

TIFF Day 7

Key of Life (dir. Kenji Uchida, orig. title Dorobô no method). I loved this comedy, obviously a great premise — a down-and-out loser makes a spontaneous decision to steal another man’s identity, but then discovers he is impersonating a hitman — and then the film’s structure keeps ladling out surprises. The two male leads are terrific. 9

A World Not Ours (dir. Mahdi Fleifel). Generally an interesting documentary about a refugee camp in southern Lebanon that is a ”temporary” home for Palestinian families displaced six decades ago. This is a personal story where the director uses footage he shot himself over the last five or six years, combined with a large amount of home video from his family, dating back to the 1980s and ’90s. (The director‘s family roots are in the refugee camp but he spent most of his life in the UAE and Denmark.) I found the structure kind of confusing, however; I suppose he did not want to make it strictly chronological because then the first half of the film would be the older (and thus lower-quality) video. But in switching back and forth among various time periods, I couldn’t discern any logic to the structure. Worth seeing, however. 6

Beyond the Hills (dir. Cristian Mungiu, orig. title Dupa dealuri). So you need some patience to watch this 2.5-hour movie, the plot moves slowly, it is mostly shown with long takes and often strange camera angles, and it’s not a masterpiece like 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, but I still liked Beyond the Hills, found it very watchable and discussable. Unfortunately don’t have time to write more.7

TIFF Day 6

So, more than halfway through TIFF I’ve still only blogged about the first day. My favourite films seen here so far are Amour and Midnight’s Children. I will try to say a little about all the films I see at TIFF; for now here are the ones freshest in my mind (the scores on a scale of 0 to 10 are how much I like the film):

Byzantium. I don’t see a lot of vampire movies, haven’t seen Interview With the Vampire (also directed by Neil Jordan), haven’t seen or read any of Twilight, so I can’t make comparisons but just will say that I liked Byzantium, Saoirse Ronan was understated while her costar Gemma Arterton was not, and it worked wonderfully; entertaining throughout. 8

Birds and Viola. I had been looking forward to this pairing of a short with a mid-length film in the artsy Wavelengths programme (in prior years, these would likely have been in Visions, which this year was merged with Wavelengths). Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy either of these. Viola had perhaps an interesting idea (as explained afterward by the director), but the dialogue and editing was just stultifying. This is one film for which perhaps you need to know Spanish to appreciate; seeing Shakespeare performed in a foreign language with English subtitles was just confusing, but the real problem was the parts of the film where the characters are having dull conversations about each other’s love lives. 2

Just the Wind (orig. title Csak a szél). This was only the second film I’ve seen at TIFF this year projected on celluloid, which obviously is a pity, but one of the things you really notice are the imperfections, scratches and so on. I assume the film had been transferred to digital at some point and then transferred back, because there is one scene early on where a Romany song is subtitled into Hungarian, and those subtitles have the crisp digital look to them, even though the English subtitles throughout the film are done with old-style laser-etching. Bence Fliegauf is really a director to watch. I haven’t seen his earliest work but Womb (an English-language science-fiction film I saw at TIFF two years ago) was brilliant. In Just the Wind, he works with nonprofessional actors; often that sort of movie fails completely (e.g. The Forgiveness of Blood) but when it works, as here (and as in Gypsy, which I saw at TIFF last year) it is compelling. Inspired by true events, namely vicious attacks on Romany families in Hungary, the children in this film are so believable. There was no Q&A after the screening which was too bad, but the film easily stands by itself. 8