Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 3 at FNC: four films, four winners

Four films, four winners in day three at Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (FNC)….The first, Beautiful Youth (Jaime Rosales, 2014) is a film about two Spanish twentysomethings ravaged by their country’s recent economic woes. To make money they have to act in a porn film. There are absolutely no regular jobs and after Natalia has a child their unemployment becomes a crisis. The viewer could be forgiven for intruding on the private lives of Natalia (Ingrid Garcia Jonsson) and Carlos (Carlos Rodriguez), so subtle is the acting as to make the relationship seem so real…..Foreign Bodies (Mirko Locatelli, 2013), from Italy, was my favourite of the day. In the film, Antonio (Filippo Timi) takes his youngest son Pietro to Milan to undergo cancer treatment. Staying in a dormitory Antonio encounters a family of Arabs and complains to his wife back home about how they talk and smell. When one tries to befriend him he can barely conceal his contempt. But unlike where many films would have gone, such as creating violent confrontation or outright racist incidents, Foreign Bodies is highly nuanced as Antonio tries to come to terms with these unfamiliar human others……Canadian filmmaker François Girard is acclaimed for his Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993) and The Red Violin (1998). In Boychoir (2014), shown at the festival (and where he was introduced before the screening by director Atom Egoyan), Girard brings together veterans Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates with newcomer Garrett Wareing, who plays Stet, a troubled pre-teen who has astonishing singing talent. Hoffman is the gruff choirmaster who tries to harness the boy's talent in a famed choir’s boarding school. The movie starts off slowly but eventually grips the viewer for a solid if predictable outcome…..Finally, Japanese cult director Shinya Tsukamoto got a rousing ovation after receiving an award in person prior to the screening of his latest film Fires on the Plain (2014) (picture above left). This movie is Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998) on steroids. A lost Japanese soldier on a Philippines island during the Second World War walks through his own valley of death as a survivor of a vanquished army. Sick from tuberculosis and starving the temptations of cannibalism are all around. The horrors of war have seldom been so gruesomely and realistically depicted, all to an accompanying harrowing score.

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