2005 log (2)

(1 Feb) Les Guerriers (2005, Micheline Lanctôt) 70
[ Part of our RVCQ coverage ]

(2 Feb) Bullets Over Broadway (1994, Woody Allen) 88
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(3 Feb) Louis 19, le roi des ondes (1994, Michel Poulette) [ review ] 41

(4-5-6… Feb) Wonderfalls : The Complete Viewer Collection (2005) [ review ] 85

(6 Feb) Devdas (2002, Sanjay Leela Bhansali) 77
[ Part of Michael Dequina’s Bollywood Starter-Kit ]

(7 Feb) Maman Last Call (2005, François Bouvier) 56
[ Nathalie Petrowski has long been one of the most respected – and feared – social commentators in Quebec. Also a former movie critic, she’s now jumping the wall with this adaptation of her 1995 “autofiction” bestseller. The film was actually directed by François Bouvier (from Petrowski’s screenplay), but there’s no mistaking that it’s her voice that resonates through “Maman Last Call”. As the title suggests, this is the story of a 37-year-old journalist (Sophie Lorain) who must deal with an unexpected pregnancy. Even though her biological clock is ticking and she has a most understanding boyfriend (Patrick Huard), she’s worried that having a baby will compromise her career and her drinking time with her buddies (Stéphane Demers and hilarious scene-stealer Anne-Marie Cadieux). This is an interesting premise, especially as we don’t see that many movies where the guy wants to start a family and it’s the woman who’s afraid to commit. It’s a bit self-indulgent how Petrowski always gives her alter-ego the best zingers and the last word, thankfully the character’s potential smugness is softened by Lorain’s natural charm. The subplot about a girl who wants to get an abortion doesn’t play into the overall picture as effectively as intended and the last-minute sentimental turn doesn’t feel quite earned but that’s ok, you can only go so far with cynicism. ]

(8 Feb) Manners of Dying (2005, Jeremy Peter Allen) 53
[ Part of our RVCQ coverage ]

(10 Feb) Vipère au poing (2005, Philippe de Broca) 64
[ Jean Rezeau and his brother’s idyllic life in the French countryside is disturbed when their grandmother’s death brings their parents back from Indochina. Their mother, a heinous bitch right out of a Grimm tale, rules the household with an iron hand while their father is apparently too intimidated to intervene. Jean won’t have it, though, and a war begins between his mom and him, driven by mutual hatred and misused Catholicism. Based on Hervé Bazin’s memoir, Phillippe de Broca’s final film is excessively melodramatic but entertainingly so. Catherine Frot makes a memorable villainess and little Jules Sitruk holds his own surprisingly well. ]

(10 Feb) 2046 (2005, Wong Kar-Wai) [ review ] 68

(13 Feb) Mighty Aphrodite (1995, Woody Allen) 46
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(13 Feb) Alias 4.6 (2005) [ review ] 51

(14 Feb) Agents secrets (2005, Frederic Schoendoerffer) 33
[ French secret agents go to Casablanca to sabotage an arms trafficker’s operations. Everything goes well until they realize that their superiors’ motives might be questionable. This is generic spy stuff, from the bland characters to the unnecessarily complicated shots (yeah man, let’s zoom down from outer space to a dude on a boat!) and improbable action beats. Even the moral ambiguity is predictable. There’s some small enjoyment to be taken from Vincent Cassel’s graceful physicality and Monica Belluci’s breasts, always willing to be gratuitously exposed, but both these things are also in the much superior “Le Pacte des loups”. Better rent that than bothering with this blasé “Mission: Impossible” knockoff with no third act. ]

(15 Feb) Turtles Can Fly (2005, Bahman Ghobadi) [ review ] 90

(17 Feb) 5×2 (2005, François Ozon) 27
[ François Ozon’s eight feature offers five snapshots of a relationship between two characters, Marion (luminous Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and Gilles (obnoxious Stéphane Freiss). Beginning with a counselor reading them the terms of their divorce agreement and ending with their first meeting on a sunny Italian beach, the movie supposedly aims to go back to what made these people get together initially, but what we really gather is that they were doomed from the get-go. The reverse-chronology gimmick has been used many times, most recently in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, but whereas the characters in that film grew more complex and moving as their love story backtracked, the protagonists of “5 X 2” are one-dimensional bores from start to finish (or finish to start). Gilles is an inconsiderate prick who falls asleep on his wedding night, deliberately misses the birth of his child and ends up raping his wife after driving her to leave him. Marion’s a peach, but it’s hard to care for a woman who naively puts up with such abuse. There’s an attempt to somewhat even the deck by having her commit an indiscretion of her own, but she clearly remains the victim. I didn’t know Ozon had such a routine and forgettable picture in him. He manages to plug in a few of his trademarks, notably kitschy pop music and people with flexible sexual boundaries, but these scenes from a marriage don’t add up to anything profound. Spouses cheat, lie, hurt and, eventually, break up. Stop the presses! ]

(20 Feb) Deconstructing Harry (1997, Woody Allen) 86
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(20 Feb) Alias 4.7 (2005) [ review ] 69

(21 Feb) Bride and Prejudice (2005, Gurinder Chadha) [ review ] 65

(23 Feb) l’arbre aux branches coupées (2005, Pascale Ferland)
[ For two old men who gave most of their life to the military in the Soviet regime, painting is the only thing that brightens their humble existence. Communism didn’t work, but the current system is hardly better. Russia is a rich country full of poor people, and the elderly feel particularly abandoned. Like “L’immortalité en fin de compte”, Pascale Ferland’s new documentary focuses on proletarian art, but that’s only a gateway to a wider social portrait. It’s an interesting subject, but it could certainly have been less dry and heavy. “l’arbre…” is being presented with “Après le déluge”, an oddly moving short showing painted rocks being rained over. ]

(24 Feb) À la petite semaine (2005, Sam Karmann) 63
[ Jacques just got out of jail and doesn’t intend to go back, but his old hoodlum buddies want to pull him back in. That’s exactly the same premise as “Carlito’s Way”, but don’t expect much flash and Pacino-style shouting here. Gérard Lanvin’s performance is intense but understated, like the whole picture. This is a low-key character study, the characters just happen to be criminals. Jacques Gamblin’s Francis would rather do theatre, even though it’s more unnerving than a robbery, and Clovis Cornillac’s Didier is a knucklehead just too lazy to work instead of stealing and gambling. I wish director Sam Karmann understood that you can do gritty without using twitchy handheld camera for every shot, but Désir Carré’s more or less autobiographic screenplay and the ensemble cast hit the right notes. ]

(24 Feb) Battle Royale (2000, Kinji Fukasaku) 90
[ You gotta love the Japanese. No one else could get away with such an incendiary film. 42 teenagers are kidnapped, taken to a deserted island, provided with weapons and told to kill each other until only one survives. Hilarity ensues. Oh, it doesn’t sound funny? Well it’s not… but it is. It’s in Takeshi Kitano’s hilariously droll performance as the kids’ mean mustard of a teacher, the inappropriately upbeat instructional video, the oddball ways some of the students take to the situation, etc. “Battle Royale” also works as a straight horror thriller or an action movie, but the violence is so extreme that sometimes you have to laugh or it would be too depressing. The kill-or-be-killed thinking that’s at the center of the film makes for a pretty damning metaphor for similarly selfish and cruel attitudes swarming in high schools, and through society in general. Scary. ]

(25 Feb) Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001, Karan Johar) 68
[ Part of Michael Dequina’s Bollywood Starter-Kit ]

(28 Feb) 7:35 in the morning (2004, Nacho Vigalondo) 80
[ An awesome short film, nominated at last year’s Oscars, about a dude who stages a musical stunt that’s equally romantic and insane. Brilliant idea, wonderfully executed, and the song is catchy as hell. Watch it 735am.com ]

January / March