2012 log (4)

(5 Apr) Another Silence (2012, Santiago Amigorena) 47
[ After suffering a personal tragedy, a rogue Toronto cop (Marie-Josée Croze) goes all the way to Argentina to track down the young thug (Ignacio Rogers) who shattered her existence. A self-serious B-movie, Another Silence is a slow, moody, quiet affair punctuated by brief bursts of violence. It’s elevated somewhat by the intense, haunted performance by Croze, the majestic landscapes of Argentina’s Jujuy province, the great score by Yves Desrosiers and the use of Lhasa de Sela’s What Kind of Heart as an emotional linchpin. But in the end, this sophomore effort from Santiago Amigorena (A Few Days in September) remains a rather generic revenge story marred by poor writing and an uneven supporting cast. ]

(5 Apr)   Titanic  (2011, James Cameron) [ review ] 91

(14 Apr)   Murder by Death  (1976, Robert Moore) 73
[  As cleverly written by Neil Simon, this film is an amiable spoof of old-fashioned murder mysteries, in which a group of thinly veiled send-ups of famous fictional detectives, naemly Peter Sellers as a Charlie Chan type, James Coco as a Hercule Poirot type, Elsa Lanchester as a Miss Marple type, David Niven and Maggie Smith as Nick and Nora Charles from “The Thin Man”, and my favourite, Peter Falk as Sam Spade and hard-boiled Humphrey Bogart characters in general. Also starring Alec Guiness, Nancy Walker and, incredibly enough, Truman Capote, who’s absolutely hilarious, “Murder by Death” is a killer comedy (terrible pun intended). ]

(5 Apr)  Sound of My Voice  (2012, Zal Batmanglij) 44
[    This ultra-indie quasi sci-fi film shares more than a few aspects with Take Shelter (which also premiered at Sundance 2011), starting with a truly intriguing premise and sustained narrative ambiguity. Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius star as a couple of documentary filmmakers who infiltrates a secretive L.A. cult led by Maggie (co-writer Brit Marling), a mysterious woman claiming to come from the future. But whereas Take Shelter always remained riveting thanks to awe-inspiring visuals and an amazing performance by Michael Shannon, Sound of My Voice suffers from flat direction by Zal Batmanglij and generally subpar acting. Brit Marling, for one, is nowhere near as charismatic as her character is supposed to be. ]

(18 Apr)  Young and Wild  (2012, Marialy Rivas) 65
[ Despite her evangelical, thou-shalt-not-fornicate upbringing (or maybe because of it?), 17-year-old Daniela (Alicia Rodríguez) indulges in various sexual adventures and fantasies, all of which she writes about in her blog. Chilean filmmaker Marialy Rivas neatly conveys this via crude, witty voiceover narration and flashes of the images, photos and porno clips the teenager posts online along with her diary entries. This makes for a rather dynamic, enjoyable watch, but Young and Wild (Joven y alocada) eventually grows a bit more rom-com conventional, even though the romantic triangle Daniela gets into involves a boy (Felipe Pinto) as well as a girl (María Gracia Omegna) who awakens “Sailor Moon horniness” (!) in her. ]

(21 Apr)  30° couleur  (2012, Lucien Jean-Baptiste & Philippe Larue) 60
[ 30° Couleur stars Lucien Jean-Baptiste (who also co-wrote and co-directed the film with Philippe Larue) as Patrick, a black intellectual who made his life in Paris but is forced to return to his native Martinique to visit his mother on her deathbed. There’s little time for melodrama though, as Patrick arrives right in the middle of the Mardi Gras carnival celebrations and is taken on a wild ride by flamboyant drag queen Zamba (Edouard Montoute). The whole thing is a bit formulaic and predictable (can you guess whether the stuck-up, humourless protagonist will learn how to loosen up thanks to these simpler, warmer, fun-loving people?), but it’s too festive, colourful and boisterous not to go along with it and have a good time. ]

(23 Apr) The Hat Goes Wild (2012, Guy Sprung) 2
[ In this thoroughly worthless feature, a group of Montreal teenagers go on a canoe trip in the Quebec backwoods and somehow get stuck in a violent mess involving a large amount of illegal drugs, all of which is immortalized by the camera carried by one of them. Coming off like a godawful student film version of a slasher flick (even though there is no slasher), The Hat Goes Wild features a cast of loathsome characters making a series of spectacularly dumb decisions. The screenplay offers nothing but juvenile bullshit, pseudo-philosophical platitudes and contrived exposition, the acting is rotten (even the usually solid Normand D’Amour embarrasses himself) and the production values are poor even by found-footage film standards. ]

(26 Apr) Habemus Papam (2011, Nanni Moretti) 71
[ This sumptuous Cannes 2011 selection takes us behind the doors of the Vatican during a papal conclave. It’s fascinating to get such access, even through the prism of fiction, and Nanni Moretti finds ample drama and humour in the proceedings, which don’t go as planned in his film. Moments before being introduced to the world, the new Pope (Michel Piccoli) cries out that he can’t do it, which is easy to relate to – who has never felt crushed by doubt and anguish in the face of great change and new responsibilities? It also leads to amusing situations, as the Church high-ups suddenly find themselves twiddling their thumbs, their precious ritual derailed. Habemus Papam stumbles a bit in the third act, but it remains a compelling watch, notably thanks to the extraordinary Piccoli. ]

(27 Apr)  The Avengers  (2012, Joss Whedon) [ review ] 93

(27 Apr)  The Five-Year Engagement (2012, Nicholas Stoller) 68
[  Like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, the previous romantic comedy Nicholas Stoller directed from a screenplay co-written with star Jason Segel, this is an often funny, insightful and lovely movie, even though it’s a bit ramshackle and it suffers from some pacing issues. What matters the most is that Segel and Emily Blunt are wonderful together, even when things aren’t going so great for their characters. I also loved the supporting cast, especially Alison Brie, Chris Pratt, Mindy Kaling, Chris Parnell, Dakota Johnson and Brian Posehn… A lot of folks, in other words, so the film is enjoyable more often than not. ]

(28 Apr) Living in the Material World (2011, Martin Scorsese) 90
[ In a similar fashion to what he did in “No Direction Home”, his Bob Dylan documentary, Martin Scorsese sets out to tell the story of George Harrison via abundant archival footage, photographs and audio recordings, much of it previously unseen or unheard, all of which is assembled with a great sense of storytelling and flow. Also featuring interviews with the late musician’s family and friends, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton, the film is divided into two parts. Part One offers a surprisingly fresh look at the Beatles years, focusing on George’s considerable contribution to the band’s artistry and showing how he tended to be the quieter, wiser, more spiritual member of the quartet. Yet he could also be funny or angry, he was a complex individual, like any other human being, with his flaws and his contradictions. (Just for fun, here’s how great a Beatles LP featuring only Harrison-written songs would have been: “Don’t Bother Me”, “I Need You”, “You Like Me Too Much”, “Think for Yourself”, “If I Needed Someone”, “Taxman”, “Love You To”, “I Want to Tell You”, “Within You Without You”, “Blue Jay Way”, “The Inner Light”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Piggies”, “Long, Long, Long”, “Savoy Truffle”, “I Me Mine”, “For You Blue”, “Something”, “Here Comes the Sun” – to think some folks still think Lennon-McCartney were the only geniuses in the group!) Part Two begins with the disassembling of the Beatles then segues into George’s solo career, beginning with the creation of the amazing Phil Spector-produced “All Things Must Pass” album. The film then touches on the romantic triangle between Harrison, Clapton and Pattie Boyd (which famously inspired the song “Layla”), the Concert for Bangladesh, the ex-Beatle’s forays into cinema (he notably produced Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” and Terry Gilliam’s “Time Bandits), John Lennon’s death, the formation of the Traveling Wilburys (a super group that also featured Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty), his marriage to Olivia Harrison, his relationship with his their son, that horrible time he got stabbed by a home invader, and finally his death from cancer. Granted, if you’re a fan, you knew most of this stuff already, but Scorsese keeps it captivating. And then of course there’s all the awesome music. ]

(28 Apr)  Angle mort   (2011, Dominic James) 13
[ Starting with a total rip-off of the opening scene of “Zodiac”, this unholy blend of crappy telenovela and grade-Z horror then becomes unintentionally funny as it attempts to develop the lead characters, a spectacularly dumb and obnoxious couple played surprisingly awfully by Karine Vanasse and Sébastien Huberdeau, who were a lot better in “Polytechnique”. Filled with lousy dialogue and idiotic plot twists that seem to have been improvised during the shoot (word is that this is pretty much what happened), “Angle mort” follows the couple on vacation to the fictional country of Santiago, where they cross paths with a ridiculous serial killer, portrayed by Peter Miller with a face full of rubber! This is so bad it’s almost worth watching.  ]

March / May