Thursday, September 2, 2010

Montreal World Film Festival - Day 6

Some days very little goes right at the festival. Yesterday was a case in point. I showed up for the 2.40 pm screening of La Très Excellente et Divertissante Histoire de François Rabelais, Hervé Baslé’s four-hour epic for French television about the life of the Renaissance writer, doctor and humanist. I arrived a few minutes late thinking there would be no problem getting in. Only one other theatre had been sold out since I’ve been here and the overall festival attendance seems less than in other years. And what masochists would want to sit through a four-hour movie, right? But the theatre was “complet” or full. Wow! Perhaps people were attending for movie endurance bragging rights. I had chosen this film because only it and another period piece, René Féret’s Nannerl, Mozart’s Sister, held any interest for me on Wednesday’s schedule.....With hours now my hand I settled for the movie I Heart Regina, 13 vignettes about the otherwise undistinguished prairie city whose only claim to fame seems to be that it is geographically located in the centre of North America. Most of the short films by 14 Saskatchewan-based directors were amusing in this take off of movies like Paris Je T’aime and New York, I Love You, with lots of jokes about surviving the city’s winter Arctic conditions and its bland flat terrain. But of course charm can be found anywhere, right?.....Killing some more time I went to see Venice, Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski’s meditation on Poland’s 1939 invasion by the Nazis. Eleven-year-old Marek’s family trip to Venice is interrupted. So he concocts a fantasy of his beloved Italian city as his family takes refuge with the war going on around them. This type of picture (a boy, the countryside, the focus on only one or two characters at a time, the locations all shot in one area) has been done umpteen times. It’s boring. When I first read the movie’s description I thought the reason for the plot line was that it was cheaper to film in Poland than Venice. I wonder how many in the well-attended screening actually thought they would see images of the Italian city.....Finally, the second period piece of the day I actually wanted to see, Nannerl. Now this was a picture one could sink one's teeth into. It’s about not the famous Mozart, Wolfgang, but his older sister, Nannerl, also a prodigy as musician and composer, perhaps more talented than Wolfgang. She came across as charming and more intellectually astute than her child brother who at one point is described as a genius in the music department but an idiot in every other aspect of life. So why don't we know about her? Check the gender. Marie Féret, the director’s daughter, plays in the starring role.

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