Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Montreal World Film Festival - Day 11

And now for the final day.....The first movie was the television epic La Très Excellente et Divertissante Histoire de François Rabelais (roughly The Very Excellent and Entertaining Adventures of François Rabelais (d. Hervė Baslė). Rabelais was a 16th century writer, scientist and doctor, perhaps France’s most famous Renaissance man. This four-hour drama may give one pause because of its intimidating length. But like last year’s festival’s similar four-hour epic from French television, L’ėcole du Pouvoir (d. Raoul Peck) - about a French finishing school for the country’s elites and a group of idealistic students’ influence on the socialist revolution of President François Mitterand in the 1980s - four hours need not be a burden if the movie is well put together. Though not as dramatic and complex as last year’s L’ėcole, Rabelais’s script is relatively spare and what’s in it is humourous and informative.....This happens to me every fest: I land in a screening that is entirely en Français. Sometimes it’s a result of the schedule having the wrong info about whether the movie has English subtitles (most do) and sometimes it’s my fault for not reading the program correctly. Yesterday it was my fault. I ended up in Michel Rodde’s Impasse du Dėsir (Swiss), sort of a black or tragic-comedy about a psychiatrist engaged in professional abuse for personal reasons. From just watching the film visually it struck me as rather silly and focussed on characters I didn’t really care about. But this may be unfair since I didn’t have the script to help elucidate.....Gianfrancesco Lazotti’s From the Waist On is yet another movie in this year's fest that dealt with disabilities or severe health issues, all of which shatter clichés about those who have them without being dry didactic message pictures. (Other films of the genre include Run if You Can, Oxygen and Stricken). This film is better than I thought but hardly of the calibre suggested in the official catalogue’s quote from the Hollywood Reporter that this is “one of those unexpected pleasures that festivals often promise but rarely deliver”.....Finally, the closing ceremonies and the heralded film - the second in the festival from France’s Bertrand Tavernier, The Princess of Montpensier. Excuse me, but my reading of this picture is that it took more than two hours to tell the story of the doomed love between Marie de Mèziėres and Henri de Guise in 16th Century France. The film's problem is: once we know of the romance essentially no new information is provided over a mind-numbing 120 minutes. Too bad this was the closure although obviously Tavernier is a big name. But the beforehand ceremonies, at which awards were presented (Oxygen by Hans Van Nuffel (Belgian-Netherlands) took top prize), were quite enjoyable.....For more on the prizes go to http://digital.montrealgazette.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

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