Friday, November 19, 2010

dec 3 | of gods and men | cinematheque

Sorry to be bossy, but you just can't miss this one. You're not allowed.

I happen to think the gospel is nothing but left-handed and handed-over, and this film is the essence of that gospel. And hey - when's that last time a movie about monks won the Grand Prix at Cannes, or did boffo box office in post-Catholic France? Definitely the Soul Food Movie of the year, and so far as we know, there'll only be this one showing in Vancouver, at the European Film Festival. (I'm not kidding: the last three Dardenne brothers flicks, two of which won the Palme d'Or, showed something like three nights each here. I love our city, it's an embarrassment of artistic and cinematic riches, but I swear sometimes... Philistines, we are.)

Of Gods and Men ("Des Hommes et des dieux" 2010, d. Xavier Beauvois, France)
Pacific Cinematheque
Fri Dec 3 | 6:45

A powerful, poetic work rendered with great grace and intelligence, Xavier Beauvois’s Of Gods and Men won this year’s Grand Prix at Cannes (the festival’s second-highest honour), and has just been announced as France’s official submission to the upcoming 83rd Academy Awards. “Beauvois recounts the harrowing true story of a brotherhood of French monks in the highlands of North Africa who find themselves threatened by Islamic extremists during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s. Starring a gifted ensemble cast led by the empathetic Lambert Wilson (as resident religious scholar Brother Christian), the film begins as a bucolic chronicle of these simple men of God and their gentle relationship with their Muslim neighbours, to whom they provide much-needed medical care and other services. When the insurgents arrive, they find themselves faced with an impossible decision: to flee, or to stand their ground and fulfill their spiritual mission. Magnificently photographed by cinematographer Caroline Champetier in compositions that suggest Renaissance paintings, Of Gods and Men is a poetic, austerely beautiful triumph” (New York Film Festival). “A tour de force of ensemble acting . . . Keenly observed, empathetic and exalting” (Nick James, Sight and Sound). Colour, 35mm, in French and Arabic with English subtitles. 120 mins.

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