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By Anne Brodie

Richard Gere stars in Longing, a romantic drama partly shot in Kitchener and Hamilton, with a peculiar bent. Adapted from writer-director Savi Gabizon’s own 2017 film, it’s a story of loss and hoped-for redemption. Gere is Daniel who meets his Canadian ex-Rachel (Suzanne Clément) for the first time in 20 years. She reveals that she had a son by him who recently died in a tragic accident.  Daniel is compelled to stay in Canada to learn more about Allen (Tomaso Sanelli). Seems his son had a sexual fixation on his high school teacher Alice (Diane Kruger), wrote a long, erotic love poem to her on the school wall, and was expelled for it. Daniel successfully argues with the school principal to reinstate his late son and add his picture to the graduating class because the graffiti was a declaration of love. Lillian (Jessica Clement) approaches him to say Allen was her boyfriend while acknowledging that he was obsessed with Alice. Another student asks for money to settle a drug deal in which Allen was involved.  At the gravesite, he meets Jacob who mourns the suicide of his young daughter; they decide to marry the two souls in a Taoist afterlife ceremony.  Daniel’s intrusions into people’s lives are not welcome, but they do his bidding as he seeks to fulfill his curiosity and feel what it’s like to be a father, as a man who scrupulously avoided it.  The situations are absurd like his power over others and the offbeat, unlikely details distract.  Theatres.

Jennifer Connelly is Lucy in Bad Behaviour and hers is the very definition of the term. Lucy’s at the end of her tether due to traumatic fallout from her career as a child star. She believes a healing retreat will fix her right up.  It’s run by a charismatic “spiritual leader” interestingly named Elon (Ben Whishaw) who crafts the character as tough to read; he could have negative or positive motives; he’s not an outright scam artist and never loses his cool with clients who look to him for instant fixes. His smiling charm and seductive psychobabble give him power over the broken individuals, including a suicidal supermodel. His rules are total silence, no socialising, smiling, or winking at each other.  Lucy’s daughter Dylan (Alice Englert) is a successful movie stunt performer working on a set in New Zealand; she’s action-forward, sensible, competent, and impatient with Lucy’s fragility.  Retreat exercises include babying wherein “mother” clients cuddle blanketed “baby clients” in silence. Lucy wails like a baby and from there, it’s downhill. A strange number written and directed by Englert, which operates on a jolts-per-minute schedule to create a florid camp with heapi’ helpin’ of doom. Yikes. In theaters and TVOD next week.

Netflix’ 8-episode docuseries Spy Ops, your best viewing best this week, unearths secrets of international espionage and it’s a real eye-opener. Interviews with elite international intelligence agents with an emphasis on the US’ CIA and Britain’s MI6 reveal how they operate from communicating with one another, like walking by eating a chocolate bar, using high tech gear and experience in their global missions as well as the massive risks they take to preserve world peace. Retired operatives, authors, scholars, international contacts, and officers in foreign allied services tell their stories. Operation Jawbreaker, the first episode, concerns a team of agents who landed in Afghanistan just days after 9/11 with an array of weapons and a suitcase with $3M in cash.  They were under orders from the top to bring back the head of Bin Laden, responsible for the attacks, in dry ice.  They searched impossible mountain caves and they succeeded.  Interestingly, one operative was delayed, stranded in Gander, Nfld, after the attacks and made it out. The team’s motive for taking on the dangerous mission in Afghanistan was personal – revenge. They worked like Mad Max meets Star Wars, fighting an ancient war with 21st-century weapons. and a powerful sense of purpose. The war lasted 20 years when sadly, the Taliban took control, one agent asks “Twenty years for what?”.  So, pluses and minuses, and that’s what makes these stories so interesting. We go behind the scenes of US efforts to depose Manuel Noriega, the plot to kill the Pope, Mossad versus Palestine, Taliban double agents, extracting a double agent from Moscow, and the crucial recovery of a Soviet submarine.

Camilla Before Charles now on CBC Gem is a puff piece of a documentary that tells us precious little about the decades-long relationship between the current King and Queen. Less a documentary, than a news release trumpeting how great everything is in the House of Windsor these days. We’re drawn in when told Camilla was a rebel with a “past”.  First up, she deflated the tires on Charles’ car and scrawled on the windshield while he was inside a London house supposedly having a tryst with a mutual friend. The rest is a superficial history of Charles and Camilla Shand (oddly Diana’s mother’s name was Frances Shand Kydd) beginning their pre-Diana affair.  While Charles was with the Navy overseas, Camilla became engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles. Charles married Diana Spencer and began to “crack” because he was unable to make her happy, according to the doc, and they divorced. When Diana died tragically in a Paris car chase crash, Camilla was there to comfort him. They wed, after 35 years, and she became the Most Hated Woman in Britain. Enter PR whiz Mark Bolland to rehab her and hey presto, these days people love her, helped of course, by the late Queen Elizabeth’s spoken approval. It offers next to nothing we don’t already know, an exercise in stating the obvious and summing up a complex history in 47 minutes.

Toronto’s Film Festival Season continues!  The thirteenth annual Toronto Japanese Film Festival at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre is underway now until to June 20. TorontoJFF featuring 23 films intends to showcase the rich diversity of its artists both at home and in the diaspora. 

The opening night film is North American Premiere of Hayato Kawai’s comic retelling of the 47 Ronin story Don’t Lose Your Head makes its North American premiere.

A special edition of Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winner The Boy and The Heron introduced by composer Joe Hisaishi, followed by a drawing session with animation director Takeshi Honda.

Kosai Sekine’s mystery drama Stay Mum with Anne Watanabe and Eiji Okuda and Toshiyuki Teruya’s feel-good comedy Kanasando signal the diversity of genres on offer. 

Alice Il Shin’s Landscapes of Home makes its world premiere and looks at Japanese Canadians as they rethink what home means after leaving war and loss to come here.  

Isao Yukisada’s anti-war action outing Revolver Lily features a memorable performance by Haruka Ayase as an assassin battling militarist factions inside the government.

Peter Michael Dowd’s Mr. Jimmy follows Akio Sakurai, the “Jimmy Page of Japan”

Sho Miyake’s All the Long Nights looks at friendship and mental health

(AB) Normal Desire from Tashiro Saiga is a musical comedy that plays out in the hot spring inns of the Kaga Onsen region.

Ninety-one-year-old Yoji Yamada presents his 90th film, Mom, Is That You?! (Ed. Note – wow).

Keisuke Yoshida’s Missing follows a mother played by Satomi Ishihara who sees media interest in her daughter waning and takes action.

And finally, Mitsuhiro Mihara’s foodie flick, Takano Tofu, concerns a family that manufactures tofu locked in a complicated succession bind.  It closes the festival.  

The Japanese Cultural Centre also offers Japanese food, art and historical exhibitions, martial arts practices, and a range of pre-screening musical performances, especially for the fest.

Tickets and info at



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