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Recap from Toronto Film Festival

Attended the famous Toronto Film Festival last week and thought I would give a run down of some of my favorite European/travel themed movies I saw at the festival. Look out for them on Netflix/Amazon or your local art cinema:

Parisenne-Set in late 80s Paris, it's about a young Lebanese university student trying to adopt to life, culture shock and romance in France. Excellent film notable in that the director cast the lead from doing a search on Facebook for a 20 something Lebanese girl living in Paris. The star never had any previous acting experience yet gives an award winning performance! (she appears in every scene in the movie).

Victoria- The best film I saw at the festival and one of the best films I've seen ever! It's a 2.5 hour film shot in one continuous take in the streets of Berlin. About a Spanish University student who befriends a group of guys at a night club and for the first half of the film wanders the streets of the city to discuss life and other topics like in "Before Sunrise" Then the film totally shifts gears and organically turns into a bank heist. At this point you are so totally immersed into the characters that you actually feel like you are a part of the heist and the ensuing police chase. It left me breathless at the end. Even though neither the director or any of the cast were in attendance at the screening, it got a standing ovation at the 1500 seat theater!

Franofonia-From Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov who previously did an excellent film called "Russian Ark" about Hermitage in St Petersburg. Very similar to Ark but this time he focuses on the Louvre in Paris and how the Minister of Culture "collaborated" with Nazi occupiers during WWII to save the Museum from destruction under Hilter's orders.

Kind Words-An Israeli film about a group of Jewish siblings who discover their biological father is an Arab in living in France. A good chunk of the film takes place in Paris and Marseilles in their quest to track him down.

Youth- English language film from Italian writer/director Paolo Sorrentino. He won the academy award for best foreign language film in last years in "The Great Beauty". Starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and soccer legend Diego Maradona it's set at a five-star resort in the Swiss Alps and ponders the effects of aging. Wonderfully photographed and great performances from the ensemble cast.

Return of the Atom-Documentary about Finland's love affair with nuclear power and it's controversial construction if the world's largest reactor complex.

Where to Invade Next-Michael Moore's latest documentary. Title makes it seem like it's going to be about the US militarism. Instead it's a mostly humorous profile of Europe's social welfare systems compared to what little we get in the US. Should generate a lot of discussion in the US when it's in wide release.

Homesick-Norwegian film set in Oslo. Bittersweet drama about long lost separated step-siblings who discover each other in adulthood and engage in a love affair. According to the director it's a very real phenomenon that occurs in real world.

Legend-The only big budget wide release Hollywood studio film on this list. Red-hot actor Tom Hardy plays both Kray Brothers, in this biopic about the infamous London mobsters. Excellent film and performance by Hardy. Also good slice of life about 1960s London.

Un Plus Une-My second favorite film at the festival. From legendary French director Claude Lelouch and starring Jean Dujardin (The Artist), this romantic film takes place mostly in India, about a French Composer who travels to work on a Bollywood film and falls in love with the French Ambassador's wife. Excellent chemistry and dialog between the romantic interests, with the added bonus of fantastic photography of the Indian countryside.
The critics were cool on the film but was quite popular among attendees at the fest.

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Thank you, Michael. Your mention of the film made in Berlin is of interest because as I write this my step-daughter and her friend are on bicycles in Berlin. As they are both in the film industry in LA I'm sure the film Victoria will be of special interest and not likely to be widely shown in North America.

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Thanks Michael for taking the time to recap these movies for us. It's nice to get opinions from an ordinary viewer rather than a paid critic. I see a few on your list that I will try to track down.