The best that cinema has had to offer since 2000 as picked by 177 film critics from around the world.…
A song for freedom
A cattle herder and his family who reside in the dunes of Timbuktu find their quiet lives -- which are typically free of the Jihadists determined to control their faith -- abruptly disturbed. A look at the brief occupation of Timbuktu by militant Islamic rebels.
Of all the films as of late that attempt to depict an unfocused atmospheric portrait of some faraway country’s cultural idiosyncrasy or oppression, Timbuktu is probably the best, because it finds the delicate line between shock and satire, between heavy emotions and an impromptu joke or two and between barbarism and touches of humanity. For a film with little story, time flies as the viewer is shown a quick succession of subtly interwoven pieces on maintaining a certain everydayness under Jihadist rule. It never feels Islamophobic, nor does it leave a very sour taste afterwards; watching it may get uneasy during some scenes, but the camera doesn’t linger in an exploitive fashion, whilst it does linger to capture the passive…
tiff 2014 film #10
This film struck me like no other at TIFF.
If you want to know what it is like, really like, when your world gets taken over by regimes or fanatics that haphazardly impose their will over yours, this is the film to see. If you want to know what it is like to be helpless, truly helpless, the way many communities are in the world, this is the film to see. If you want to see the results of fanaticism, not in the big headline-worthy way (although that too) but in the insidious way it manifests itself in your daily life, this is the film to see.
Director Abderrahmane Sissako takes his time, he takes care…
TIFF 2014 film #10
Reason for pick: Buzz from Cannes
Director Abderrahmane Sissako frames his story of the occupation of Timbuktu by Islamic fundamentalist rebels with a perfect first scene. A jeep filled with men carrying machine guns races across the plane chasing a gazelle. Several rounds are fired, and we hear a voice yell out “ no! no! we don’t want to kill him, we just want to wear him out.”
Aside from this opening shot, the extremists are not painted as banshee screaming gun firing boogymen. No, their quiet insinuation into the lives of the residents of Timbuktu is much more insidious. With Sharia law imposed, hands can be chopped, daughters taken against their and their parents will…
Do not miss this great film when it comes to a theater at a major metropolis near you at the end of the month. It has its imperfections, but they pale in significance to its elegiac sense of will. After what happened yesterday in Paris, and especially for those confused about the ties between Islam and terrorism or operating under the mistaken belief that Charlie Hebdo's provocations weren't necessary, the film's searing, lucid depiction of innocents rightfully, righteously fighting fundamentalism from within will grip you in horrified empathy.
Powerful, evocative & thoroughly engrossing, Timbuktu is a riveting portrait of life under the regime of terror that brilliantly illustrates the absurdity of extremist mentality in a sardonic manner while also showcasing the hypocrisy of the Jihadists who themselves are unable to live up to the rules they so blatantly like imposing on the general population.
Timbuktu covers everyday life in the titular city of Mali which is under the occupation of Islamists & covers the harsh life its residents are forced to live for all leisurely activities are forbidden. The plot centres on a cattle herder & his family who live on the outskirts of the city and are typically free from those terrorists' interference but an unexpected incident abruptly changes their…
I get kind of annoyed whenever I hear Americans saying with all the pride in the world that they live in a free country. Mostly because that expression is commonly used in defense of questionable acts, but also because they say it like freedom was an exclusivity of the US. Fortunately, films like this exist and make me value every bit of liberty and democracy we have, as much as they're flawed.
The movie itself is superbly directed, the desolate and beautiful scenery is exquisitely explored, tightly edited and features some huge performances. Some sequences are definitely sticking to me for a long time, like the ball-less football and the woman singing while getting punished for it.
I don't use the word that often, but that's a picture that deserves it: Essential.
Firstly the photography of the desert location is 10/10 .
There are scenes that will remain in the memory for quite a while - particularly the enactment of the spearing of GPS (the cow) and consequently the photographing of the lake crime scene.
The main plot involves trigger happy invaders with guns being in the right and issuing edicts (petty for most people) to those without guns (the locals) and doing so on a regular Big Brother basis.
Although they are in the right they still need to overcome opposition through theological arguments from the local Imam, defiance mainly from the female villagers and outright disdain from the La Chanteuse.
Although there are many bitter scenes (it proves you don't…
Bright precise desiccated visuals, subtly composed and beautiful. Scene by scene this film is truly exceptional, and all together it is a profound insight into a fractious situation.
With a narrative throughline in which violent extremism starts off as risible, absurd, bureaucratic and ends up devastating, this films best moments often take place in the spaces around that narrative. With a series of scenes that range from one-off vignettes to short narratives, Timbuktu has a tremendous sense of community. Moments like a group of youths passing the time by miming soccer in lieu of a ball or small hypocrisies from the Islamic State-aligned invaders provide detail on what is really being lost here. The whole thing is absolutely stunning to look at with wonderful naturalistic performances throughout.
I recall after seeing this for the first time at the NZ International Film Festival, I remarked I was breathless and heartbroken. Breathless at the beauty of the images that Sissako brings on screen and heartbroken by the ultimate fate of Ibrahim Ahmed's Kidane, leading a simple yet seemingly idyllic life but undone by one mistake.
On second viewing, it is these contrasts which stand out in the film - between the militant jihadists and the dogma which they impose on the populace and the teaching of the holy men of the city, where forgiveness, not punishment is held higher. The petty subjugation of anything that suggests pleasure (singing/playing football) against the obvious pleasure many of the militants take in…
Timbuktu is not an especially manipulative film, but it strives to complicate and confuse the primal emotions provoked by its knowing imagery. Director Abderrahmane Sissako begins with acts of bullying savagery: armed members of Ansar Dine, crammed into a pick-up truck that’s flying the ISIS flag, chase down a helpless impala as it skitters across the desert flats. Next, they fire a hail of bullets at a row of priceless Malian artifacts, obliterating fragile wooden figures that they could probably have broken with their bare hands. When the armed men trot out a blindfolded hostage, the film seems tilted towards becoming an illustrated laundry list of extremist barbarism, but Sissako suddenly muddies the water...
Immensely touching, wise and beautiful meditation on faith, love, and family.
The plight of Africa in the global age of motorbikes, cell phones, rap, Lionel Messi, and clashing cultures. Do you speak Bambara, Tamasheq, English, French or Arabic? Do you kill beauty, music, youth in the name of Allah?
Sissako shouldn't have held back his rage. He portrays ISIS as a bunch of confused and regretful dudes that really don't know how they got there.
The best of the movie's the visuals of a recreated Timbuktu.
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!