Monday, September 6, 2010

Montreal World Film Festival - Day 10

Horror thriller director Hideo Nakata’s (Japan) twist on Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians might be the best film I’ve seen so far. In The Incite Mill, ten participants are told they can earn as much as $1200 an hour for a job being offered – actually an “experiment” by a “foundation” - that lasts just seven days. They arrive at a remote bunker-like building and, descending a spiral staircase, are welcomed to a sumptuous feast. But things grow darker from there, as these innocents soon descend into rapacious creatures, fighting for survival, all shown live on the worldwide web. This is the only movie of 38 I've seen so far where I was glued to the screen every second.....Russia’s Casual Connection (d. Olga Stolpovskaya) is supposed to be a kind of surreal take on modern Russian. The lead character, a young woman (Sofia Kashtanova), wakes up every morning in a different location as if in a dream, and is seemingly the victim during the day of random unfortunate events. This disturbing movie is an allegory for the dysfunction of modern Russia and worth taking a look at.....The Last 56 Hours (d. Claudio Fragasso) is a well-made Italian drama about a rather bizarre hostage-taking. Luca Lionello as Paolo, a sort of renegade cop and looking uncannily like Al Pacino in Serpico, saves the day when a band of Italian army troops take as hostages staff and patients at a hospital. Their action is all for a good cause of course: Italian soldiers returned from fighting in Kosovo suffering the effects of radiation from depleted uranium in NATO ammunition. While the plot clearly depicts the soldiers as bad guys threatening innocent civilians, the film ultimately seems to treat them as heroes for bringing attention to their fellow servicemen’s plight. It's action-packed and very much like a Pacino film of an earlier era.....Meeting with an Angel (co-directed by France’s Yves Thomas and Sophie de Daruvar) is at once a story about dominance, disconnectedness and voyeurism between lovers Judith (Isabelle Carré) and Roland (Sergi Lopez). It is subtly told and almost under-the-surface in its revelations about the characters’ (especially Judith’s) motives. But, besides an only somewhat interesting story it’s hard to see what the film adds up to.....Bjarnfredarson (d. Ragnar Bragason, Iceland), based on a hugely popular Icelandic television series, has a cast of misfits led by none other than the lead himself. Just out of prison this social activist and what in America would have been called a red diaper baby (as in being brought up by Communist parents) Georg (Jón Gnarr) can’t seem to catch a break despite his best intentions. Perhaps if you’re Icelandic and liked the TV series you’ll love the film. But the characters didn’t win me over. One thing the movie does show, however, is that even in the tiny North Atlantic island, when it comes to the Sixties and left wing politics, nothing was different there from what occurred in North America.....Finally, a German film I actually didn’t like. Snowman’s Land (d. Thomasz Thompson) has a rag tag group of incompetent thugs meet in a remote forest villa. Needless to say nothing good comes of it. It would have been an easy film to have taken a pass on.

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