I can’t say I saw a really bad film at this year’s Montreal festival with the exception of one – Up There (Zam Salim, United Kingdom) about a guy who dies and tries to adjust to the afterlife. It’s a cute premise. The only problem is that the afterlife seems a lot like the real world and the plot does nothing to elevate it, if you know what I mean....One of my two festival favourites (I mentioned Hemel in the last post) was Hostage of an Illusion (Eliseo Subiela, Argentina) (picture left). In the film Pablo (Daniel Fanego), an acclaimed novelist, getting on in years, rediscovers his inner spark when a former student, Laura (Romina Ricci), shows up at his door. They carry on an affair. To Pablo this is not just any woman but someone whose insights into life are knowing, often magical, and captivating. The film has overtures of the notorious Dirty War of the 1970s, when the country’s former dictatorship kidnapped thousands of dissidents and killed them, their bodies never found. The festival also had a film Vanishing Landscapes by this same director. It’s about a fictitious old time movie director (Fernando Birri, who actually is known as the “Father of the New Latin American Cinema”), whose views on movies – and life – could have been written by one of the great philosophers.....Other notable films were Shifting the Blame (Lars-Gunnar Lotz, Germany) about victims of crime and the limits of forgiveness; Cherry on the Cake (Laura Morante, France) about a woman’s commitment phobia tied to her myriad complaints about men; Blind Man (Xavier Palud, France), a fast-paced cop film that delves into political corruption and the War in Afghanistan; and The Talk (Sergey Komarov, Russia), a Kafkaesque story about a man who finds himself in a jail cell and can’t recall why he is there.....I only saw 34 feature films of the more than 200 on offer. No doubt I have missed a few other decent ones if not gems. C'est la vie au festival!