Saturday, October 23, 2010

Festival of New Cinema, Montreal - highlights

Okay, so I’m in Montreal or the Festival of New Cinema ( I arrived late this year owing to work projects back home. But this is not that important a fest to me anyway. For many years I have never attended it. It is my “second” Montreal fest (after the Montreal World Film Festival in August). This is a smaller fest anyway with fewer movies and screens. But it has kept true to its 1971 roots – an edgy, avant garde, slightly underground event.....To my taste there is less to choose from. I’m not particularly into avant garde that goes over the edge and there’s a quantity of films here that do just that. But there is also stuff that is more mainstream.....Here are some notable mentions: Shit Year starring Ellen Barkin (above) (d. Cam Archer), a surreal black and white portrait of a retired actress (Colleen West) whose life is spiralling downhill fast. This is a good performance by Barkin but the pic suffers from the same plague it’s trying to portray – ennui – and is a little too abstractly drawn.....Preludio (d. Eduardo Lucatero). This is an impressive all-in-one-take 72 minute talking heads flic of a “prelude” to romance by a chance encounter of guy and girl who are early guests at a party.....La Belle Endormie (The Sleeping Beauty) (d. Catherine Breillat), a contemporary take on the children’s fairy tale. It’s inventive fun, mysterious, playful and feminist.....Raavanan (d. (Mani Ratnam). I’ve avoided Bollywood up to now. But I came across this my accident (it was the only available picture after I’d walked out on another). Tremendous – perhaps my fave so far! This 137-minute dramatic epic is larger than life with good and bad guys (no nuance here), thrills and spills (a la James Bond), fantastic landscapes, singing and dancing amidst looming violence. This is the kind of big scope picture Americans used to make. Bollywood is still serving it up – and pushing the genre.....Rammbock (d. Marvin Kren). What happens when zombies infiltrate your apartment complex in contemporary Berlin? Nothing much different than when zombies set about victimizing you anywhere (and we’re getting close to Halloween), though this is a fun thriller as the still unbitten try to outwit their mad assailants in apartment nooks and crannies.....Similar in a way to The Intruder (d. Thanadol Nuansuth). This Thai film has unlucky denizens of an apartment building fending off an attack of hordes of vicious cobras. A few scary bite scenes with of course (horror films usually have this) a lesson on human ethics.....All right, I’m off to another afternoon and evening of bon cinema.....J'espère!

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