FILM REVIEWS:

INSIDE OUT 2 (USA 2024) ***½

Directed by Kelsey Mann

 

INSIDE OUT 2 has hard shoes toil.  The original 2015 film premiered at Cannes and went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.  It was directed by Pete Docter who served as producer for the sequel.  The film follows the same path as the origin; and can be described as a coming-of-age movie of Riley who now reaches puberty with making the hockey team the most important point in her life.  Nothing else matters - not even her friends.

In the mind of a young girl named Riley are a series of personified basic emotions that influence her actions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger.  Riley's experiences become memories that are stored as coloured orbs and are sent into long-term memory each night.  The aspects of the five most important "core memories" within her personality take the form of five floating islands. Joy acts as the leader; she has a new threat as Riley matures.  She has to deal with a new emotion Anxiety (Maya Hawke daughter of Ethan Hawke), one that causes Rile to behave irrationally as a teenager, as can be observed in one scene where for no reason she bursts out in anger at her parents.

Set one year after the last film, Riley (Kensington Tallman) has just turned 13 and is about to attend high school. Her emotions, Joy (once again voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Tony Hale replacing Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust, (Liza Lipira)  have since created a new section of Riley's mind called her Sense of Self, which houses memories and feelings that take up Riley's core personality. Riley goes to hockey camp so that she can apply for a hockey team at her designated high school, the Fire Hawks.  Wanting to make a good impression, the emotions use a mechanism Joy has created to launch any negative memories into the back of Riley's mind. On the night before she leaves, the emotion console sounds off a "Puberty" alarm. After the emotions get rid of the alarm, a group of mind workers barge into headquarters and cause a mess in the place while upgrading the console and warn the emotions that "the others" are coming.

All these lead to a secondary set of emotions led by Anxiety.  There is no evil villain in all this, except for perhaps Anxiety who really has the best intentions for Riley though going about it in the wrong way.  It does not take a prodigy kid to guess that Joy and Anxiety will at the end put their differences aside and become friends, as feel-good stories like this usually turn out.

Story aside, Disney’s Pixar animation is once again nothing short of astonishing, as can be obscured throughout the film, especially in the segment where the emotions led by Joy ride, like surfing the entire mount of coloured orbs.  The hockey scenes are also well executed mirroring the excitement of real matches.  There are also some neat fresh ideas in the plot, that should not be revealed in the review.

INSIDE OUT 2 opens in theatres on June 14th.

Trailer: 

KIDNAPPED: THE ABDUCTION OF EDGARDO MORTARA (Rapito)(Italy/France 2023) ****
Directed by Marco Bellocchio

 

KIDNAPPED is based on the Mortara case that became a cause célèbre in the 1850s and 1860s, capturing the attention of Europe and North America. 

The Mortaras are a Jewish family living in Bologna, which belongs to the Papal States where Pius XI (Paolo Pierobon) is Pope King.  In 1858, Papal soldiers burst into the Mortaras’ home and took away their six-year-old son Edgardo (Enea Sala, later played by Leonardo Maltese), claiming that he had been secretly baptized as a baby.  The Papal law is unquestionable.  The boy must receive a Catholic education.  While his parents (Ronchi and Fausto RussoAlesi) fight to get him back, the Pope says “non possumus” (“we cannot”). 

  Spanning 20 years, the story takes many twists – a trial, a confession, political changes and Edgardo’s last (and heartbreaking) conversation with his mother. 

The immorality of the kidnapping is effectively and emotionally demonstrated in a number of ways.  One is the child’s point of view and the other his parents.  When the child is kidnapped and in the process of travelling to Rome by boat, he wakes up one morning to witness a funeral procession with the cross held ahead of the procession.  The image of death is a frightening one, especially for a child seeing it for the first time.  He is then brought to Rome where he is, alone, faced with practices as strange and foreign as it is unbearable.  Fortunately, he is befriended by a fellow kidnapped boy named Rio, who shows him the ropes.  His father, with the relatives, drafted a letter to the Council of Constance.  The mother cries that words will not help, to which the father replies that so far, it is the only weapon they have.  In these times of colonization of native Indigenous children taken away and re-schooled, the tragedy is made even more current.

The villain of the piece is the Pope.  The Pope ignores all the pleas to free the boy, including those made by dignitaries like Napoleon III.  “I only answer to God,” the pompous Pope claims.

The film offers some shocking insights.  The kidnapped boy, similar to what is known as Stockholm Syndrome, grows to love his new lodgings - the routines including the mass, the warmth, the food and the other comforts.  The film also demonstrates the love the boy’s parents have for him, despite the fact that he is one of half a dozen children they have.

Director Bellocchio paints a bleak picture of the period.  Yet his camera still reveals a magnificent picture, often in pale and dark colours, of the Italian landscape, both of the countryside and the interior of the Catholic architecture.

KIDNAPPED is a film about survival, the survival of culture and religious beliefs, and the survival of individual rights in the face of systematic and prejudiced injustice.

The film is directed by Marco Bellocchio, a mainstay of Italian cinema for almost 60 years, who co-wrote the script with Susanna Nicchiarelli, in collaboration with Edoardo Albinat and Daniela Ceselli, loosely inspired by Daniele Scalise’s book Il caso Mortara, 

After premiering in Competition at Cannes 2023, the film went on to dominate the 2023 awards from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, winning Best Film, Director, Screenplay and Actress (Barbara Ronchi).  It opens June 14 in Toronto and Vancouver and opens throughout the summer in other cities.

Trailer: 

THE MYSTERIES OF THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS (UK 2024) ***½

Directed by James Tovell

 

From Netflix comes this impressive and well-made documentary fifty years after the Terracotta Warriors' discovery (the beginning shows a clip set in 1974) that unearths (pardon the pun) new secrets from China's first emperor's mausoleum and its 8,000 pottery soldier guards from China's first emperor's mausoleum and its 8,000 pottery soldier guards.

The Terracotta Warriors warriors represent the army that Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China will require in his afterlife.  The Emperor lived 300 years before Christ before Jesus’ birth, which is a very long time ago, and something almost impossible to fathom.  Times can be hard, but no one could imagine the hardships some of those under this cruel Emperor’s rule must endure.  This documentary through its clippings, interviews of archeologists and historians, and the videos of restoration and excavation delve deeper into the aftermath of Qin Shi Huang’s demise. It provides apt information that tells us about the happenings.  This documentary is comprised of clippings, interviews of archeologists, excavators and restorationists (mainly Chinese) and historians, re-enactments, as well videos of restoration and excavation that delve deeper into the aftermath of Qin Shi Huang’s demise.

This Emperor QChi Hunags is more well known in the East (Asia) as Shih Huang  Ti,  In Singapore where this reviewer comes from and is educated, all history books in primary Schools featured studies on this Emperor.  He is taught to be the First Emperor of China, the one to conquer and unite the 6 Kingdoms as mentioned in the doc, but also known to be the one to burn all the books in China, a fact that is not mentioned ninth film.  As a schoolboy, this made him kind of a hero, as this would mean no more staying if there were no more books.  Of course, the burning of books means the destruction of knowledge.  The doc shows the Emperor to be cruel, relentless, haughty, womanizing and an overall bad person, which means that this is a most intriguing subject for a doc, more intriguing than his Terracotta Warriors.

The directors are aware of this fact and devote a fair amount of screen time to the Emperor’s tactics as well as the politics of his rule, especially after his death when his youngest son usurped the throne.  All the information is obtained from scholastic historical records, which are verified by the archaeologists excavating the ancient tomb.

The film contains a fair amount of re-enactments, showing the workers toiling away to build the tomb as well as the conspiracy of the youngest son and the two ministers to usurp the Kingdom.  Here, the film looks like a period Chinese film - the type of sword-fighting sagas that Shaw Brothers used to make.

THE MYSTERIES OF THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS opens for streaming on Netflix on Wednesday, June 12th on Netflix and is worth a watch, especially for North Americans who might know little about Chinese History.  For those in the know, the fascination continues.

QUEEN RISING (USA 2019) **
Directed by Princeton James

The film is about the QUEEN RISING while keeping it together.  Keeping it together is what this film is all about.  Madison (Maddy)(April Hale) is struggling and has to make mortgage payments with difficulty.  She juggles teaching work with writing a book.  She has to contend with her past and the College Town Slayings she had to up with.  She has to keep it all together.

However, the title is derived from a memory Maddy has at the dinner table with her little sister, father and mother, after a recent incident with her sister Shauna at school when she was called the ’n’ word.  The father talks about protecting the homestead and tells Maddy that she will grow up to be a queen and that she is a QUEEN RISING.  This is an important scene not only because the title of the film comes from it but because this scene is shown in flashback as Maddy as a grown up tells Shauna that this is one of her best memories.

Queen Rising follows a young woman, Maddy, who's on the brink of losing everything. Struggling to make ends meet as a school teacher, Madison is approached with a life-changing opportunity: to turn her dark past into a thriller novel. Skeptically, Madison accepts, and dives into her history of a once terrorized community during the "College Town Slayings".

As her trauma unfolds, Madison discovers unsettling connections and soon realizes her past may not be as dormant as she once believed. With the spectre of danger looming over her, she must confront the demons to secure her future, navigating a treacherous journey of redemption and self-discovery where the line between fiction and reality blurs.

The film covers many important current issues, the most important one being racism.  Maddy’s ancestors were civil rights activists.  Issues of racism are also brought up at various points in the film.  Other topics covered include sibling relationships, therapeutic conditioning and the psychology of the killer instinct and of course, keeping it all together.

Through flashbacks, the audience sees Madison as she dates in college.  Darius follows Corey before she meets Ben.  Excepting his outburst of temper, Madison loves Ben but always has to calm him down.  Ben turns out to be a problem even slapping Madison at one point during his outburst.  This causes Madison (yes, this is quite laughable) to take up kick-boxing as self-defence,

The various topics and the film’s shifts of mood do not always work well.  The romance, mystery, drama and dance elements create a bit of a mess and the director’s confidence in the material causes her to overlook the film’s shortcomings, especially the twist at the end that reveals the killer of the College Town Slayings, resulting in a hard to believe story resulting in its tackiness. 

QUEEN RISING though made in 2018, is premiering on video on demand on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 as well as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, DirecTV, Vudu, XBox, Google Play and other leading platforms on June 19.

Trailer: 

QUEENDOM (USA/France 2023) ***
Directed by Agniia Galdanova

 

In defiance of Russia's anti-LGTBQ laws, a queer, 21-year-old artist risks his life performing in surreal costumes throughout Moscow. Jenna Marvin's radical public performances blend artistry and activism in this SXSW documentary.

This amusing light-hearted documentary that covers tough issues follows the celebrity Jenna Marvin also known as Gena Marvin.

Marvin is a Russian performance artist known for his surreal and creature drag, as can witnessed throughout the documentary.  His art focuses on themes of identity, self-acceptance, different forms of beauty, and the surreal.

Gena Marvin was born in Magadan, Russia.  Though not indicated in the doc, he grew up practicing drag makeup in secret in her parents' house.  He said he was bullied (understandably so, and still occasionally inched out as an adult) and tormented growing up in her small village. This, alongside the tale of Slender Man, would become a major inspiration for her artwork.  He attended two colleges and said she experienced homophobia at both.  He was expelled from the second college a year before graduating.

Marvin's art primarily consists of creature drag, and he often wears latex, gloves with exaggerated fingers, platform heels, and white face paint.  In the doc, much of his performance art is shown with the reactions of others to her appearance, mostly negative and bordering on aggressive un-acceptance.  

Director Galdanova stays her film away from a biopic of Gena.  As far as the audience knows, he is now living with her grandfather and grandmother.  The grandfather is understandably, upset at Gena’s behaviour in public, wishing him to etch out a life that can support himself.  Always on his case, Gena is always very adamant in his ways.  Yet, the grandfather still pays for Gena’s way, showing the power of familial relationships.

Although she performed in public in Russia, she has spoken of the danger she faces in doing so and has said she feels safer posting her artwork on social media platforms including Instagram and TikTok. One of her performances involved wrapping her body in tape, expressing her belief that Russia had "no freedom and where the freedom of my body was not permitted".

One scene illustrating unacceptable and aggression has the queen and his friend accompanied out of a supermarket store for him wearing a coat over lingerie.  “Your lingerie is showing, there’s kids and elderly in the store,” claims security,  For those in the know - like filmmakers, or those in the industry, or seasoned documentary goers, this scene could be a re-enactment clearly as one cannot have a real crew following the two around everywhere they go unless a camera crew is following the performance artist JENNA MARVIN at the point in time.

Gena has a difficult life because of the choice he has made in his life,  At the end of the film, after protesting Russia; 's invasion of Ukraine, he flees the country to Paris where he feels he can flaunt his wares on the streets without fear of violence.  

The film premiered at South by Southwest and won the Next: Wave award at Copenhagen's CPH: DOX and The Audience Award at the Camden International Film Festival. The film premiered in cinemas in the United Kingdom on 1 December 2023.  QUEENDOM opens in theatres and nationally on-demand June 14.

Trailer: 

RED FEVER (Canada 2024) ***
Directed by Catherine Bainbridge and Neil Diamond

 

The new documentary RED FEVER begins and depicts a positive and spirited view of the Red Indian indigenous people of North America.  Images of brave warriors standing proud or riding tall on horses and dressed immaculately in colourful attire bursts on the screen.  This is followed by the soundtrack of the Bee Gees Staying Alive from  SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER as the audience sees Neil Diamond strutting down the street in New York City very much like John Travolta did going to his job in a paint store in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, Diamond dressed in a bright red indigenous outfit.  The scene is intercut with scenes of old movies with stars like Jon Voight, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Lopez and even Elvis Presley all dressed in outfits from recognizable Western classics.

Diamond talks of the romanticized view the world has of the Indians.  When they first meet him, they are disappointed that he does not meet the standards that they have of the Indian.  The film demonstrates in a light and entertaining fashion, the history, and beauty of the Indian culture, and how it has affected the world in terms of fashion, beliefs and way of life.  All cowboy attire, the audience is told comes from them.

RED RIVER is co-directed by Indigenous filmmaker Neil Diamond (Reel Injun) and Catherine Bainbridge (Reel Injun, RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Masterful Storytelling).

RED FEVER follows Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond's (not the singer/songwriter)journey to the four corners of North America and to Europe to uncover why the world is so fascinated with Native Americans and why the same images persist year after year until today. The first chapter is titled ‘Fashion’ (Spirit).  Through iconic and entertaining pop culture images, and a rocking Native American soundtrack, Red Fever looks at the roots of how and why Native American cultures have been revered, romanticized, and appropriated -and in the process uncovers the truth about the profound impact of Indigenous peoples on western culture.

From fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi drawing inspiration from Nanook of the North to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School’s impact on the NFL, Diamond assembles a compelling collage packed with pop-culture references. Examples of appropriation are revisited by Indigenous scholars, artists and community members, who are revitalizing their cultures and dispelling the myths and lack of understanding that have persisted for more than a century. Clothing, sports, systems of government and agricultural practices all have clear lines to Indigenous ways of knowing and being. As a new generation of Indigenous Peoples draws strength from their ancestors and reclaims their rights, there’s hope for a future where credit is given where it’s due.

The film has an extended segment on American football, that is derived from rugby.  Bill Thorpe is one of the best, most fit and respected players and coaches as well and the doc shows how he changed the game.  These segments add excitement to the doc.

RED FEVER opens at the TIFF Lightbox with limited screenings JUNE 14-JULY 21.

Trailer:  

 

REVERSE THE CURSE (USA 2024) ***
Directed by David Duchovny

 

REVERSE THE CURSE is the new David Duchovny film starring and directed by him based on his novel entitled “Bucky F****** Dent”.  Dent plays baseball for the Boston Red Sox.  In the climax of the Fate movie, the mighty Bucky Dent hits his way into baseball history with the unlikeliest of home runs, this tender, insightful, and hilarious novel demonstrates how life truly belongs to the losers, and that the long shots are the ones worth betting on.

The main story is the father-and-son relationship of Marty (Duchovny) and Ted (Logan Marshall-Green).  One would think the sexy Duchovny from the X-FILES would play Ted, but the now 60-year-old plays the father instead.

Ted is a failed writer-turned-Yankees Stadium peanut slinger.  His meeting with the publisher makes the film’s funniest moments.  When Ted hears the news that his estranged father, Marty, is dying of lung cancer, he immediately moves back into his childhood home, where a whirlwind of revelations ensues. The browbeating absentee father of Ted’s youth tries to make up for lost time, but his health dips drastically whenever his beloved Red Sox loses. And so, with help from Mariana (Stephanie Beatriz_―the Nuyorican grief counsellor with whom Ted promptly falls in love―and a crew of neighbourhood old-timers (all of who regularly congregate at the local barbershop), Ted orchestrates the illusion of a Boston winning streak, enabling Marty and the Red Sox to reverse the Curse of the Bambino and cruise their way to World Series victory.

The inspiration for the story comes from director Duchovny’s own experience as a father.  When Duchovny’s daughter was 9 months old, she got her first cold, much as is recounted in this movie with Ted taking the place of the ill baby.  That is the autobiographical part of Duchovny’s story. A few days later, she was in intensive care, and her mother and he were terrified, in the midst of a nightmare.  The daughter is fine now —a vibrant and talented young actress.   But the psychological repercussions seemed endless, the fear that remained after she’d gotten better,  and moreover, the repercussions in the way of loving her after her illness—-overprotective, hyper-alert to any sniffle, not trusting that she was ever going to be okay.  That is the source of the father’s fear in this movie and the source of the son’s questioning of his father’s love as he understandably misinterprets his father’s discomfort with him as disapproval or lack of love in the story.

REVERSE THE CURVE is a story about losers, as director Duchovny confesses in the press notes.  Losers cannot change the ending to their stories, or even the facts of what happened.  Duchovny’s film changes the way the story is told so that the art of storytelling can empower the perspective of the change.

REVERSE THE CURSE opens in Theatre and On Demand on June 14, 2024.

Trailer: 

TUESDAY (UK 2023) ****
Directed by Daina Oniunas-Pusić

 

A mother and her teenage daughter (must confront Death when it arrives in the form of an astonishing talking bird.  From debut filmmaker Daina O. Pusić, TUESDAY is a heart-rending nightmarish fairy tale about the echoes of loss and finding resilience in the unexpected.

The film is called TUESDAY as Tuesday is the middle name of the terminally ill protagonist.  Lily Tuesday Markovich (Lola Petticrew), has been ill for years, wheelchair-bound at times (she is shown mechanically lifted from her bed to the wheelchair in a beginning scene) and is tended to by a young, observant nurse (Leah Harvey) while her mother, Zora Julia Louis-Dreyfus), engages in an elaborate game of avoidance, understands precisely what is going on when the bird enters her bedroom.  The mother and daughter also never mention or talk about reality.  Their life is a pretense that often explodes in loud and crude arguments.  But soon she’s given the macaw bird (Death) a reason, for the first time in countless years, to speak using actual words rather than his usual guttural grunts. She helpfully offers a bubble bath to solve the problem of the sticky goo covering his talons (contracted on a previous mission). In an enchanting sequence, Death shrinks to just an inch or two high and swoops into the sink to rinse off, eons’ worth of soot and grime released into the water as he swims.

Death has come in many forms in films.  The most common is the grim reaper wearing a dark cloak bearing a sickle as in serious films like Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL or even in hilarious comedies like MONTY PYHON’S MEANING OF LIFE.  At the beginning of TUESDAY, a film about impending death, death arrives in the form off a macaw as the audience sees a bird’s eye view of the planet Earth.  The last time death came from a bird’s eye view is that of a raven in the horror film OPERA by Dario Argento, the raven hovering over the opera performance before swooping down to pluck its victim’s eye.  TUESDAY’s death macaw is as weird as it can be, so the audience should be prepared for a wild ride.  But a wild ride that pays off in this surreal, insightful and very innovative look at death.

What is odd is that the time of death is bargained by Tuesday’s mother Zora.  In the process, Zora suffers some size-shifting moments.  At one critical discussion with death, Zora asks whether there is a God or if there is an afterlife.  If there is an afterlife, then she can be together with her daughter and look after her.  If not whatever.  Death informs Zora, in deadpan humour that there is no God.

Best performances are delivered by both principals Petticrew and Louis-Dreyfus,

Daina Oniunas-Pusić is a Croatian multi-award-winning writer and director based in London.  She learned her craft while studying film and television directing at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb before relocating to the U.K. to study at the London Film School.  She won the under 30 Best Filmmaker in Croatia which led to her first short THE BEAST.

The film is bookended by the macaws flying or looking down on the planet Earth before coming abruptly to an end.  TUESDAY is a magnificent nightmarish exercise in originality, though the not-so-adventurous audience should take caution.

TUESDAY opens in theatres on June the 14th.

Trailer: 

ULTRAMAN RIDSING (Japan 2024) **
Directed by Shannon Tindle

 

ULTRAMAN is an ultra-popular Japanese superhero that began as a TV series from Japan exported all over the world.  It was cheesy with a human wearing an Ultraman costume (typical for a Japanese film) fighting giant monsters saving Japan and the world.  Kids loved it and many of these kids who are now adults would still probably love Ultraman.  Fans will be delighted with the new ULTRAMAN RISING, a Japanese American co-production that is being simultaneously released on Netflix and in theatres,

There have been also multiple Ultraman series that have been made over the years.

It should be noted that there are two versions - the English and the Japanese versions  Christoper Sean voices Ultraman in the English version while Yuki Yamada does the same in the Japanese side.  The actor Sean is Japanese on his mother’s side and Latino on his father’s.

ULTRAMAN RISING is the new upcoming animated superhero film based on Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman franchise.  A Japanese-American co-production between Netflix Animation and Tsuburaya Productions, with animation by Industrial Light & Magic, it is the 44th film in the franchise.  Directed by Shannon Tindle (in his feature directorial debut), who co-wrote it with Marc Haimes, the film stars Christopher Sean as Ken Sato/Ultraman, alongside the voices of Gedde Watanabe, Tamlyn Tomita, Keone Young, and Julia Harriman.

The protagonist is Ken Sato, a famous but egotistical baseball player living a secret life as the giant superhero Ultraman.  He is forced to balance his career and hero duties while reluctantly adopting a baby kaiju after defeating her mother.

The film assumes the audience has some basic knowledge of Ultraman.  The kanji monsters are all creatures that appear without much explanation.  The origin of Ultraman is also omitted.  The KDF Organization also appears out of nowhere.  Compared to the TV series with humans in monsters and Ultraman suits, the film is complete animation.  The colours are chosen and the design is opted for a manga-type look.

This is a superhero movie that combines the family element.  The result is the film getting too sappy at times.  The part of Ken Sata looking after the kanji cutesy monster and how he learns both to become a father and an adult is a bit too much.  The film adds the component of a father-and-son relationship, with Ken having trouble speaking to his father.  His mother came to all of Ken’s baseball games as a kid while his father was always absent.

The film cannot decide whether it should be an action superhero movie, relationship drama or a family (family is everything is the message put across with decisions made to protect the ones we love) animation movie.  It is occasionally all over the place, even with swear words, though never spoken but implied with the ‘f’ sound occurring at various points in the film.

ULTRAMAN RISING opens at the TIFF Lightbox on June 14th.  The film also opens for streaming on the same date on Netflix.  ULTRAMAN is a Netflix is an original Netflix movie.

Trailer: 

ESPARANDO A DALI (WAITING FOR DALI) (Spain 2023) ***

Directed by David Bujol

 

Before one can dismiss this little unheard-of culinary comedy as a small-budget foreign forgettable, WAITING FOR DALI in its first 10 minutes proves that it is a film to be reckoned with.

It opens with a scene of the Franco riots framed by two walls where the action is seen from the alley before the rioters run into the alley towards the camera.  It is a well-shot, fresh, exciting and well-thought-out filmed process.  This is followed by one in a restaurant kitchen where the authoritative chef goes around bullying all the kitchen staff who can only respond with the words: “Yes, Chef!”  This follows with two of the staff taking away from the restaurant to work in another one far away to escape the police for their rioting.  The beach restaurant is owned by a ‘crazy for Dali’  owner, Jules who is first seen inviting Savaldor Dali to his restaurant for dinner.  His assistant says: “If you want to invite Dali to your restaurant, you have to pay 100,000 dollars to which he replies that he does not have that much money.  The assistant then advises him that he should have been a fisherman instead and tears up his invitation card.  Jule is obsessed with Dali and his dream is to have him dine at his restaurant which he christened El Surreal.

Fleeing political turmoil in Barcelona, the culinary duo of brothers Fernando and Alberto seek refuge in the enchanting seaside town of Cadaqués. Here, they land jobs at El Surreal, a whimsical restaurant run by Jules, a man with a consuming obsession for local resident Salvador Dalí.  Jules crafts quirky and extravagant gastronomic experiences, each a theatrical spectacle, hoping to lure the renowned artist to dine there.  Fernando's unparalleled culinary flair soon sees him rise to the helm of El Surreal's kitchen, when he begins to fall for Lola, Jules' fiercely independent daughter.

Despite El Surreal’s burgeoning fame and Cadaqués' alluring facade, shadows of political discontent loom large and tensions escalate between the tyrannical Lieutenant Garrido and the town's free-spirited hippies, joined by Alberto. Will these mounting pressures result in Dalí's eagerly awaited arrival at El Surreal?  WAITING FOR DALÍ is a fanciful tale of love, art, and revolution — all set against the backdrop of culinary genius and surrealism. 

Director Bujol possesses a sense of style and an almost perfect comedic timing.  There are hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments scattered throughout the film, and his weird placement of the camera all adds to the fun of the comedy.  The feel-good tone feels forced at times and the story is predictable with Dali finally dining at El Surreal.

ESPARANDO A DALI (WAITING FOR DALI) shot in both Spanish and French based on the real-life restaurant El Bulli is a deliciously hilarious comedy full of heart and emotion with a little political background that has rarely a dull moment from start to finish.  It is also well-shot and shows the stunning beach sights of the enchanting seaside town of Cadaqués.

ESPARANDO A DALI (WAITING FOR DALI) is available nationwide digitally (in the U.S. and Canada) on Tuesday, June 18 and also available to rent or purchase on all major digital platforms.

Trailer: 

 

Comments powered by CComment