Thursday, January 24, 2019

film review: Cold War (Zimna wojna)



Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
Written by Pawel Pawlikowski and Janusz Głowacki with Piotr Borkowski
  
ChinoKino score: A-

Review by Allan Tong

One of the best films of 2018 is Cold War from Poland. Sure, act three takes a few questionable turns, but Cold War boasts the best cinematography I have seen in a long time, shot in gorgeous black-and-white by Lukasz Zal and unusually framed in 4x3. The film is also driven by strong performances by Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot.

They play turbulent lovers in postwar Poland after Wictor (Kot) hires Zula (Kulig) to sing and dance in a folk music ensemble that crosses Communist Europe. They spark at first sight. Zula is emotional and impulsive. The stoic and handsome Wictor flees to Paris at the height of the Cold War and waits for Zula to join him. What happens after that is unpredictable and is satisfying depending on whether you believe the choices the lovers make (not entirely for me).

Kulig burns up the screen. Her Zula is fiery and mercurial, and commands the screen. Wictor stands by her over 15 years of dizzying ups and downs, though sometimes I wondered why. Holding everything together is the music--ranging from Polish folk to American jazz--and a mesemerizing romance. Again, the cinematagraphy is stunning. It is pure pleasure to watch Cold War.  The Parisian nightclub scenes are the film's highlights, both musically and visually.

 
Cold War's Pawel Pawlikowski won Best Director at Cannes last spring, and I can see why.  He plays it cool on screen, relying on old-school film techniques, including long wide shots and slow cutting to sensitively convey the volatile romance of Zula and Wictor. Their story is loosely based on his own parents.

I don't know if Cold War will beat Roma at the Oscars (also shot in black and white, but less effectively), but it should catch the eye of North American filmgoers. Cold War is haunting and beautiful.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

IDS 2019: bigger but better?



Story by Allan Tong / Photos by Sally Warburton

IDS, the Interior Design Show, returns to frosty Toronto this week (through January 20), in the bigger south building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This year's IDS absorbs IIDEX, the beloved design and architecture expo. As usual, IDS kicked off with a party Thursday night complete with DJ, dance floor, food stations and bubbly pouring from various booths. The food, while delicious, was harder to find in past years, because it was spread out more, though there was no shortage of champagne, beer and wine.

 Despite a snowstorm hammering Toronto on Saturday, crowds were decent throughout the afternoon, as seen with capacity audiences listening to interior designers such as Ryan Korban (above). Overall, the quality of design at this year's IDS 2019 remained high. Here are some works that caught our eye:

Black Arts


Hands-down, Evoke Flooring had the best display, complete with DJ and faux-vinyl LP bins

Guild Design Gallery

Lumas

Meyer's eco-friendly household soaps and cleansers

Michelle Vella's wide-eyed art

Back from last year is SMEG

Tat Design

W Studio

Wallumination
Chris Briscoe was among the many DJ's spinning tunes to create the dance party vibe

Two of the Beautiful People enjoying the opening night party

W Studio

Designerstone translucent panels over Dimplex electric fireboxes. No, that doesn't hurt.

Falafels by Tabule were among the food vendors scattered throughout the opening party

Turntable by Thales