Thursday, November 25, 2010

Trois nuits, trois films, en Montréal

Three nights, three movies, as I continue my late autumn sojourn in Canada’s most interesting city.....On Monday I took in Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (with French sub-titles, a first!), a movie generally disliked by critics, who called it a retread of all-too-familiar Allen themes of life and love by oh-so-modern characters. Particular complaints were that it was “joyless,” (one reviewer) and “empty, soulless” (another). So I was geared to be a little underwhelmed. But, after all, this is Allen. And even his worst efforts have some redeeming qualities. But the surprise was that I thoroughly enjoyed the film, hanging on to every moment. No, it was hardly Woody’s best. And, yes, the story is familiar. But did I care? Allen’s topics of love and romance have been favourites with all sorts of directors and writers down through time. But more important was that this movie dealt with the idea of illusion. In fact it’s a modern morality tale. There were good performances by British stalwart Gemma Jones (the film is another by Allen set in London), Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin and Antonio Banderas. And I even laughed at Anthony Hopkins’s rather stock Alfie character.....On Tuesday I visited the former home of the Montreal Canadiens, the Forum. And, yes, it is to shed a tear over what has become of the hockey shrine. Several years ago it was converted to make way for AMC’s 20-screen behemoth cineplex. Now the Habs play at the Bell Centre further downtown. Nothing against AMC. And the developers took some pains to preserve a few sections of old Forum seats outside the cinemas. There’s even a faceoff circle presumably where centre ice used to be, now used by neighbourhood break dancers. In any case, there I watched Copacabana (Marc Fitoussi) starring Isabelle Huppert as mom Babou and Lolita Chammah as daughter Esméralda. Much has been made about the usually dramatic Huppert putting a smile on her face and acting in a comedy. But, as is obvious in this film, she’s so talented she could be in any role. In fact I’d argue the film well captures her personality which is offbeat, irreverent and, yes, funny. But Copacabana is more dramatic than how it’s been portrayed. Babou is a Sixties flower child who remains a free spirit to her Gen X daughter’s conformity. Yes, the story has been done before. But the interaction between mother and daughter isn’t the highpoint. It’s more the film's character study of Babou herself.....Last night I returned to the AMC Forum to see Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (Alex Gibney, Who Killed the Electric Car?). This film has great effects sometimes seeming like a drama. And it was a surprise to see Spitzer cooperate in the making of it. I liked the fact the movie wasn’t overly politically partisan and showed Spitzer’s good points (caped crusader against Wall Street corruption as New York State’s Attorney General) and bad (deceiving his family by seeking out liaisons with a high-priced call girl). The most interesting part of it, though, were the questions raised about who put government investigators on to Spitzer, suggesting it was his Republican political enemies..... I’ll see no movie tonight as I have a family dinner out on the town.....But tomorrow I return to Cinema du Parc to catch the highly anticipated (for me) Enter the Void,  Gaspar Noé’s latest. I think Noé is the most interesting director working today as evidenced by his mesmerizing films I Stand Alone and Irreversible. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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