Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FNC Montreal wrap - too much chaff

The Festival of New Cinema (FNC) is over and I’m disappointed. Partly this is of my own making. I arrived late and missed screenings such as Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void and Miguel Coyula’s Memories of Overdevelopment. And admittedly this fest is more experimental and less mainstream than my tastes. Nevertheless only about 50 per cent of what I saw I enjoyed. My faves were the Bollywood Raavanan and Mike Leigh’s Another Year. Other notables were mentioned in my Oct. 23 post. Add to these the retrospective of films by Pierre Étaix, perhaps alone worth attending the festival for. The FNC had screened newly restored prints of this amazing French comic, whose films spanned the Sixties. Movies like Rupture, Le Soupirant and Tant Qu’on a La Santé are absurd takes on the frustrations of daily life or small events, and uproariously funny…..This was the festival wheat. There was a lot of chaff.....Wang Bing’s The Ditch was as expected an all too slow study of life circa 1960 of a Communist Chinese labour camp in the Gobi Dessert. Bing, who started making feature films in 2003, had several other flics in the festival and also held a master class. ....Pepperminta (Pipilotti Rist – Swiss-Austria) (above photo) is a dazzling psychedelic take on Pippi Longstocking and the subversive power of colour to undermine an authoritarian black and white world. Great idea. And tonnes of effort obviously went into making it judging by the fast-cut gazillion shots of talented actress Ewalina Guzik in any number of contortions with her comic book/fairytale friends. But the film was all frosting and no cake.....Quebec documentary DATA attempts to be a subversive polemic against oppressive capitalist employers. I do understand it was part of the FNC’s “lab” or experimental section. But it was physically hard to watch. The sound was over modulated pulsating static, which was a turnoff from the first minute. Yes, I got the huge headlines continually splashed across the screen. But it was all a little much. Converting the workers? You won’t with this.....Doman Seman (Go Shibata) attacks capitalism (what else?) by grafting a bizarre assortment of everyday characters on to the cosmology of Japan’s Heian period (8th to 12th centuries). Again, lots of energy went into the film’s shooting. But this “experimental” effort left me underwhelmed not least because it looked so contrived......Then there was Danish film Submarino (Thomas Vinterberg). Yet another film about down-and-outers (aka losers) from a contemporary director. Spare me. Or, I spared myself and walked out.

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