2006 log (5)

(1 May) Tout pour plaire (2006, Cécile Telerman) 3
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(1 May) Gilmore Girls 2.17-2.19 (2002) [ review ]

(3 May) South Park 10.7 (2006, Trey Parker) 64
[ CARTMAN – “Okay! I’m sorry I handcuffed Billy Turner’s ankle to a flagpole and then gave him a hacksaw, and then told him I had poisoned his lunch milk and that the only way he could get to the antidote in time would be to saw through his leg.”
CARTMAN’S MOM – “That’s very naughty, Eric.” ]

(4 May) The Aristocrats (2006, Paul Provenza) 69
[ Scat, incest, bestiality, ultra-violence… You know, shit’n’giggles. Hard to pick favorites in this marathon telling of the same dirty joke by dozens of comedians, but the mime is hard to beat! Also love the versions by Trey Parker, Sarah Silverman and Gilbert Gottfried. “Of course she’s gonna be bleeding!” ]

(5 May) Mission: Impossible III (2006, J.J. Abrams) 67 [ review ]

(6 May) Beyond the Sea (2004, Kevin Spacey) 70
[ I’m not sure why I didn’t see this before, as an unabashed fan of musicals, but the hilarious glimpses of Kevin Spacey in the “Superman Returns” trailer made me hunger for more Spacey goodness. What better than an all singing, all dancing Spacey as crooner Bobby Darin – and, bonus, Kate “Lois Lane” Bosworth as Sandra Dee. The movie itself is pretty damn cool, deconstructing the biopic genre (this is more of a candy-colored fantasy than a straight life story) while running through all the hits. “Give her the real thing!” ]

(8 May) The Warrior (2005, Asif Kapadia) zzz
[ Kind of a Hindi version of “Shogun Assassin” (feudal enforcer goes rogue, faces his former partners’ wrath, etc.), this has some nice cinematography, a moody score and a strong lead performance by Irfan Khan, but it feels plodding even though it lasts only 86 minutes. This might be the most passive and bloodless film with “warrior” in the title ever. ]

(8 May) Gilmore Girls 2.20-2.22 (2002) [ review ]

(9 May) Art School Confidential (2006, Terry Zwigoff) 73 [ review ]

(10 May) Just My Luck (2006, Donald Petrie) unlucky 13 [ review ]

(11 May) Commando (1985, Mark L. Lester) [ review ] 100

(13 May) Back to the Future (1985, Robert Zemeckis) [ review ] 95
Those TVA classics, man… 1985! Next, I gotta buy the box set again (gave the first one to my dad) and watch part 2 and 3!

(15 May) Back to the Future part II (1989, Robert Zemeckis) 69
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(16 May) Maria Candelaria (1943, Emilio Fernandez) 72
(16 May) Rio Escondido (1948, Emilio Fernandez) 81
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(17 May) Cars (2006, John Lasseter) 63 [ review ]

(18 May) The Da Vinci Code (2006, Ron Howard) 65 [ review ]

(20 May) Over the Hedge (2006, Tim Johnson & Karey Kirkpatrick) 83 [ review ]

(22 May) On a Clear Day (2006, Gaby Dellal) 49
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(22 May) Gilmore Girls 3.1 (2002)
Haven’t decided yet if I’m gonna keep blurbing those…

(23 May) X-Men: The Last Stand (2006, Brett Ratner) 90 [ review ]

(25 May) Fetching Cody (2006, David Ray) 77
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(25 May) Lady Vengeance (2006, Park Chan-wook) 72
[ A bloody tale of female revenge, which jumps back and forth between the time its protagonist spent in jail and what she gets up to once she’s released. “Lady Snowblood” meets “Out of Sight”? This sounds like kind of a mess, and it is. Oh, the storytelling is skilful (at least in the first half), the visuals are striking, it makes great use of classical music and dry, black humor, and Lee Yeong-ae is absolutely brilliant (and gorgeous) in the lead. Where the film goes a bit wrong is after the big reveal. In “Oldboy”, it occurred about 15 minutes before the end, but here there’s a whole hour of diminishing tension after said reveal. There are still powerful moments after that, but it’s hit and miss, and the ending is underwhelming at best. ]

(29 May) Back to the Future part III (1990, Robert Zemeckis) 80
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(31 May) A History of Violence (2005, David Cronenberg) [ review ] 93

April / June

2006 log (4)

(1 Apr) Gilmore Girls 2.11 (2002) [ review ]

(3 Apr) Lucky Number Slevin (2006, Paul McGuigan) 45
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(4 Apr) Take the Lead (2006, Liz Friedlander) 59
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(4 Apr) South Park 10.2 (2006, Trey Parker) 62
[ “You’ve gotten so smug that you love the smell of your own farts!” ]

(4 Apr) Kinky Boots (2006, Julian Jarrold) 34
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(5 Apr) South Park 10.3 (2006, Trey Parker) 70
[ “You hear me, Kyle? Compare me to Family Guy again and I will kill you where you stand!” -Cartman ]

(7 Apr) Un fil à la patte (2006, Michel Deville) 61
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(8 Apr) Brick (2006, Rian Johnson) 67
[ This high school film noir might be too clever by half, it’s stylish but not that stylish, and the cast is not quite as turned on as it should be, though Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes a damn fine melancholy/cynical (self-proclaimed) detective. The story of a misanthropic teenage loner who investigates the mysterious death of his ex-girlfriend, who’d gotten involved with a clique of dope dealers, “Brick” is kind of a cross between “The Rules of Attraction” and “Memento”, or maybe a less comedic “The Big Lebowski”. The labyrinthine plot, snappy dialogue, shady characters, femmes fatales and sudden bursts of violence all work on their own, but the sum is somehow not as great as its parts. I could equally see people making this into a cult film or being annoyed by it. Favorite scene: the high school twist on the classic hand-in-your-gun-and-badge scene, where the vice-principal played by Richard Roundtree threatens Gordon-Levitt with being suspended from school if his investigation keeps drawing heat. ]

(8 Apr) Cigarette Burns (2005, John Carpenter) 69
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(11 Apr) Gilmore Girls 2.12 (2002) [ review ]

(11 Apr) Punch-Drunk Love (2002, P.T. Anderson) [ review ] 94

(12 Apr) South Park 10.4 (2006, Trey Parker) 72
[ CARTMAN – “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”
BART SIMPSON – “I stole the head of a statue once.”
CARTMAN -“Wow, that’s pretty hardcore. Geez. That’s like this one time, when I didn’t like a kid, so I ground his parents up into chili and fed it to him.” ]

(13 Apr) Gilmore Girls 2.13-2.14 (2002) [ review ]

(14 Apr) The Wild (2006, Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams) 24
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(16 Apr) Les siamoises (1999, Isabelle Hayeur)
[ Anti-establishment psycho-sexual feminist sci-fi philosophical drama… Whoa. And a teenage Isabelle Blais acting all kinds of fucked up (along with split personality Jessica Barker)… Double whoa. ]
Full disclosure: Isabelle Hayeur is an acquaintance, so it wouldn’t be really appropriate to rate the movie.

(16 Apr) Gilmore Girls 2.15 (2002) [ review ]

(17 Apr) Stagecoach (1939, John Ford) 73
[ Part of the AFI list (#63) ]
[ Part of Les Chefs-d’oeuvre ]

(18 Apr) Gentlemen prefer Blondes (1953, Howard Hawks) 70
[ Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe are two showgirls who sail off to Paris looking for good times, gentlemen and, of course, diamonds (cause diamonds are a girl’s best friends). This is a bouncy, bubbly, sexy musical comedy, as light as air but fun fun fun. Viewed today, some of the sexual attitudes feel wildly old-fashioned, misogynistic even but hey…

“I might as well warn you, flattery will get you anywhere.”
“If we can’t empty his pockets between us, we’re not worthy of the name Woman.”
“I won’t let myself fall in love with a man who won’t trust me no matter what I might do…”
“He never wins an argument, does anything i ask, and has the money to do it with. How can I help falling in love with a man like that?”
“Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?”
“I can be smart when I need to be.”
“Remember, honey, on your wedding day it’s alright to say yes.” ]

(19 Apr) The Sentinel (2006, Clark Johnson) 28 [ review ]

(19 Apr) Stick It (2006, Jessica Bendinger) 47 [ review ]

(19 Apr) Cidade de Deus (2003, Fernando Meirelles) [ review ] 92
Man, CBC keeps showing these GREAT movies in the middle of the night… You stumble upon them and you just can’t stop watching.

(20 Apr) South Park 10.5 (2006, Trey Parker) 80
[ “Shut up, you miserable old cow or, so help me, I’ll blow your brains out! I want a chopper, you got that, and a jet waiting at the airport!” -Oprah’s minge ]

(21 Apr) Silent Hill (2006, Christophe Gans) 73
[ Love the Radha Mitchell, hottie lady cop, lots of atmosphere, quasi-industrial score, the feel of a nightmare, crane shots, snowing ashes, sleepwalking, Boromir, burning babies, Ring of Fire, religious fanatics, more motion than emotion, like a videogame, mindless assailants, cockroaches, Pyramid-Head Dude with a big-ass knife, “What the fuck is going on?”, boring exposition, Japanese horror little girls, the zombies from the Thriller video, the Reaper, barbed wire! ]

(22 Apr) Lost: “Pilot part 1 & 2” (2004, J.J. Abrams) 90
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(24 Apr) les Amateurs (2006, Martin Valente) 46
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(24 Apr) RENT (2005, Chris Colombus) [ review ] 83

(25 Apr) No Day But Today (2006, Jeffrey Schwarz)
[ This full-length documentary about how Jonathan Larsen created his musical theatre masterpiece is almost as moving as RENT itself. It’s painfully ironic how he spent the last years of his life perfecting a show about how you must live lift to the fullest because each moment could be the last then suddenly died the very night before the premiere… ]

(25 Apr) Gilmore Girls 2.16 (2002) [ review ]

(27 Apr) The Promise (2006, Chen Kaige) 54
[ This latest sprawling martial arts epic goes all out into overblown fantasy, making “House of Flying Daggers” look like a realistic intimate drama. The Shakespearean tragedy of the love triangle story and the gravity-defying fight sequences are very similar to those in Zhang Yimou’s masterpiece (and its companion piece, “Hero”) but, while Chen Kaige pulls off the romantic stuff pretty well, the action scenes are rather poor, especially those that rely on ridiculously bad CGI. ]

(27 Apr) South Park 10.6 (2006, Trey Parker) 51
[ “Dude, did Cartman just crap treasure?” ]

(29 Apr) United 93 (2006, Paul Greengrass) 90 [ review ]

March / May

2006 log (3)

(1 Mar) La classe de Madame Lise (2006, Sylvie Groulx) 65
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(1 Mar) Gilmore Girls 2.7-2.8 (2001) [ review ]

(4 Mar) Ultraviolet (2006, Kurt Wimmer) [ review ] 19

(6 Mar) The Libertine (2006, Laurence Dunmore) 21
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(7 Mar) Lord of War (2005, Andrew Niccol) 66
[ Here’s a movie that’s mostly entertaining and insightful, if rather derivative – think “Goodfellas” meets “Syriana” meets Ordell Robie’s AK-47 speech in “Jackie Brown”. And while I like my Nic Cage, his character is kind of a blank and his relationships with model wife Bridget Moynahan, fuck-up brother Jared Leto and ATF nemesis Ethan Hawke aren’t very involving. Sorry, Jean Carlo. ]

(8 Mar) Yojimbo (1961, Akira Kurosawa) 83
[ Toshiro Mifune is the mother of all badass antiheroes. Sonny Chiba, Clint Eastwood, Uma Thurman… They should all bow down to Sanjuro, bodyguard to whoever can afford his services, loyal to none. Behind the camera, Kurosawa is equally merciless, never wasting a shot, just like Mifune never draws his sword unless it’s for a kill! This isn’t as epic as “Seven Samurai” or as formally groundbreaking as “Rashomon”, but it’s still pretty damn great. ]

(9 Mar) Next: A Primer on Urban Painting (2006, Pablo Aravena) 62
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(10 Mar) Gilmore Girls 2.9 (2001) [ review ]

(13 Mar) De ma fenêtre, sans maison… (2006, Maryanne Zéhil)
intentions: great /// execution: not so great
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(14 Mar) V for Vendetta (2006, James McTeigue) [ review ] 90

(16 Mar) La rage de l’ange (2006, Dan Bigras) 68
[ Dan Bigras, comme Lucien Francoeur avant lui, navigue sur un courant artistique très particulier, quelque part entre le joual et la poésie, la hargne de fond de taverne et une sensibilité à fleur de peau, une vision un peu petit-gars des choses et une grande sagesse. Il y a un fossé assez spectaculaire entre les préoccupations de Bigras et la façon dont il les exprime. Son Show du Refuge, par exemple, met en vedette des chanteuses qui rejoignent plus les banlieusards que les jeunes marginaux pour qui l’événement est organisé. Semblablement, La Rage de l’ange est dur à vous arracher le coeur, mais tombe parfois dans la caricature et le fleur bleue. Malgré ces réserves, on ne peut remettre en question la force émotionnelle du film. Les anges enragés imaginés par Bigras sont immédiatement attachants, ce qui rend leurs destinées d’autant plus bouleversantes. Dès la petite école Francis, Lune et Éric sont entourés de violence et ne trouvent la quiétude qu’entre eux. Lorsqu’on les retrouve, à la fin de l’adolescence mais encore bien loin de l’âge adulte, leurs blessures demeurent vives. Lune revit les abus sexuels de son enfance dans ses cauchemars et avec les clients qui achètent son corps. Francis, hanté par les coups de son père, joint un gang de rue et use de ses poings à la moindre contrariété. Et Éric, dont les parents adoptifs acceptent mal l’homosexualité, se drogue et s’accroche à l’idée de retrouver sa mère biologique. Dans les rôles principaux Alexandre Castonguay, Isabelle Guérard et Patrick Martin sont criants de vérité, exprimant parfaitement la vulnérabilité et la résilience qui habitent leurs personnages. On croit moins aux personnages secondaires un peu trop colorés, que ce soit Pierre Lebeau en Pape, Nicolas Canuel en Deux Faces (oui, comme le méchant dans Batman) ou David Loiseau en vendeur de pot qui fait du kick-boxing. Ils n’arrivent toutefois pas à diminuer la force du trio central, impeccable. Bigras sait de quoi il parle et brise beaucoup de préjugés qu’on peut avoir sur les jeunes de la rue. Son film, quoique occasionnellement didactique, réussit à nous faire ressentir la déroute de ses protagonistes écorchés par la vie. La Rage de l’ange est comme une “toune” parlée de Francoeur: ça sonne drôle, mais le message passe. ]

(17 Mar) She’s the Man (2006, Andy Fickman) [ review ] 71

(17 Mar) V for Vendetta (2006, James McTeigue) [ review ] 90

(17 Mar) L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson) [ review ] 92

(18 Mar) Gunner Palace (2004, Michael Tucker) 77
[ Disturbing, shocking, depressing, saddening… A year in Baghdad with young Americans living in a bombed-out palace, risking their lives for shady reasons, “liberating people” who aren’t too happy about it, raiding houses and arresting Iraqis for shady reasons… But these guys are also rapping, laughing and reminiscing… Further proof that in spite of what some *cough*jeancarlo*cough* say, documentaries can get at things that just wouldn’t have impact if it was fiction. When these soldiers kill or get killed, it’s not merely dramatic, these are real lives being ended by this war. ]

(18 Mar) Why We Fight (2006, Eugene Jarecki) 79
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(20 Mar) Omagh (2006, Pete Travis) 81
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(20 Mar) Gilmore Girls 2.10 (2001) [ review ]

(21 Mar) Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story (2006, Michael Winterbottom) 66
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(23 Mar) Voici l’Homme (2006, Catherine Hébert) 43
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(23 Mar) South Park 10.1 (2006, Trey Parker) 67
[ “I’m gonna make love to your assholes, children!” -Chef? ]

(23 Mar) Six Feet Under 5.1 (2005) [ review ]

(24 Mar) Sisters in Law (2006, Kim Longinotto & Florence Ayisi) 70
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(24 Mar) Six Feet Under 5.2-5.4 (2005) [ review ]

(25 Mar) Six Feet Under 5.5-5.7 (2005) [ review ]

(27 Mar) Ice Age – The Meltdown (2006, Carlos Saldanha) 64
[ Les conséquences du réchauffement de la planète se font sentir de plus en plus et les habitants d’une vallée en bol risquent d’être inondés par les eaux montantes si les barrages qui les entourent cèdent. Sommes-nous devant un documentaire sur le désastre environnemental ayant frappé La Nouvelle-Orléans l’an passé? Étonnamment, ceci est en fait la prémisse de la suite d’Ice Age, le dessin animé à succès de 2002. Alors que dans le premier film, les animaux devaient s’adapter à un monde envahi par les glaciers, ils doivent maintenant faire face au problème contraire: les glaciers fondent à vue d’oeil et la vallée où ils vivent sera bientôt un lac. Le mammouth laineux Manny (voix de Ray Romano), le tigre à dents de sabre Diego (Dennis Leary) et le paresseux Sid (John Leguizamo) sont donc à nouveau forcés de partir en exil pour échapper au déluge. De plus, divers problèmes personnels les tracassent durant leur périple. Diego tente de vaincre sa peur de l’eau, Sid en a marre d’être le souffre-douleur des autres et Manny déprime à l’idée qu’il est le dernier de son espèce jusqu’à ce qu’il rencontre Ellie (Queen Latifah), une mammouth femelle. Le hic, c’est qu’elle croit être un opossum! Ice Age – The Meltdown est superbement animé, avec des décors de glace et d’eau spectaculaires et des personnages joliment détaillés et très expressifs. Contrairement à beaucoup de dessins animés où la majorité de l’humour passe par le dialogue, le film de Carlos Saldanha est souvent purement visuel. On n’a qu’à penser à la continuation des amusantes aventures de l’écureuil/rat Scrat, éternellement à la poursuite d’une noix insaisissable, comme le Coyote après le Road Runner. Il y a aussi un véritable sens du danger dans le récit, qui s’apparente parfois à un film-catastrophe. Deux ou trois numéros musicaux allègent l’atmosphère, notamment une hilarante scène où un groupe de vautours fait une chorégraphie à la Busby Berkeley en chantant Food, Glorious Food, tirée d’Oliver!. Riche en rebondissements et en moments cocasses, Ice Age – The Meltdown est supérieur à son prédécesseur et ravira sans doute les enfants. Les plus vieux y trouveront aussi leur compte, dénotant les échos sinistres de désastre écologique qui donnent à ce film apparemment bien léger un petit côté allégorique. ]

(27 Mar) Six Feet Under 5.8-5.12 (2005) [ review ]

(27 Mar) My Best Friend’s Birthday (unfinished)
(1987, Quentin Tarantino)
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(28 Mar) Thank You For Smoking (2006, Jason Reitman) 69
[ Les meilleures satires sont celles qui tirent de tous les côtés. C’est facile pour un film de s’en prendre aux méchantes compagnies de cigarettes et aux lobbyistes sans scrupules qui revendiquent le “droit” de vendre un produit qui tue la majorité de ses consommateurs. Il est plus délicat, mais aussi plus satisfaisant, de ridiculiser tout autant les politiciens opportunistes, les journalistes hypocrites et les extrémistes anti-tabac. Thank You For Smoking prend le pari de suivre un protagoniste qui défend l’indéfendable et d’aller jusqu’au bout de cette idée. Un moindre film aurait inévitablement ramolli le personnage en lui faisant avoir une crise de conscience et changer son discours au troisième acte. Heureusement, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) demeure un charmeur arrogant à la morale flexible du début à la fin. Porte-parole de l’Academy of Tobacco Studies, Naylor va à la télévision et dans les assemblées et prétend en toute mauvaise foi que rien ne prouve que la cigarette est vraiment nuisible à la santé et que, même si c’était le cas, ce n’est pas la responsabilité des gouvernements de protéger les gens d’eux-mêmes. Ces déclarations enragent le sénateur Finistirre (William H. Macy), qui veut mettre des têtes de mort et l’inscription “poison” sur les paquets de cigarettes, et valent même des menaces de mort à Naylor. En revanche, il peut toujours compter sur le support de ses collègues du M.O.D. (“Merchants of Death” Squad), d’une lobbyiste de l’industrie de l’alcool (Maria Bello) et d’un défendeur des fabricants d’armes (David Koechner), et sur celui de son fils (Cameron Bright), qui admire sa capacité à argumenter de n’importe quoi à son avantage. Porté par une distribution uniformément excellente, qui inclue aussi JK Simons, Robert Duvall, Rob Lowe, Sam Elliott et Katie Holmes, le film est aussi incisif que divertissant. De toute évidence, Eckhart et les acteurs qui l’entourent s’amusent beaucoup à agir en parfaits salauds et à réciter les dialogues percutants du scénario, adapté du roman de Christopher Buckley. Le seul reproche qu’on peut faire à ce premier long-métrage de Jason Reitman (fils d’Ivan) est de manquer de progression dramatique. Car si la constance du ton est admirable, le récit est un peu trop linéaire et anecdotique. Malgré cela, Thank You For Smoking demeure délicieusement politiquement incorrect. ]

(28 Mar) Heat Vision and Jack (1999, Ben Stiller) 86
[ This failed TV pilot stars Jack Black as a super intelligent renegade astronaut (“I know EVERYTHING!”) and Owen Wilson as the voice of his trusted motorcycle, Heat Vision! Schlocky FX, Tom Jones songs and Ron Silver playing himself add to the goofiness. This is the stuff of legend. ]

(29 Mar) Basic Instinct 2 (2006, Michael Caton-Jones) [ review ] 22

(31 Mar) Marock (2006, Laïla Marrakchi) 74
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

February / April

2006 log (1)

(1 Jan) Amadeus (1984, Milos Forman) 84
[ Part of the AFI list (#53) ]

(2 Jan) MASH (1970, Robert Altman) ???
[ Part of the AFI list (#56) ]

(3 Jan) Hostel (2006, Eli Roth) [ review ] 52

(4 Jan) François Girard en trois actes (2006, Mathieu Roy) 80
[ Entre octobre 2004 et janvier 2005, François Girard a mis en scène trois spectacles distincts dans trois villes, soit une pièce de théâtre à Montréal (Le Procès), un oratorio moderne à New York (Lost Objects) et un opéra à Toronto (Siegfried). Mathieu Roy l’a accompagné au cours de ce marathon créateur, captant les variations de la vision du réalisateur du Violon rouge. Plutôt que de se contenter de simplement enfiler les témoignages de Girard et de ses nombreux collaborateurs, Roy et son monteur ont effectué un travail hallucinant de composition visuelle et sonore. Le résultat est un film dont la forme s’avère aussi stimulante que le sujet. Particulièrement intéressante, cette façon dont, au fur et à mesure que Girard passe d’un projet à l’autre, la réalisation s’adapte en conséquence. ]

(9 Jan) Ballets Russes (2006, Dan Geller & Dayna Goldfine) 71
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(10 Jan) Hoodwinked (2006, Cory Edwards) 17
[ Little Red Riding Hood by the way of “Shrek” and “Rashomon” (no shit), with cheap-o computer animation, lame songs and not particularly funny gags. There’s a lot of bright moving colors so little kids should like it – I myself was mildly bored. ]

(11 Jan) Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (2006, Albert Brooks) 14
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(13 Jan) Caché (2006, Michael Haneke) [ review ] 78

(15 Jan) Le chemin d’eau (2006, Jean-Claude Labrecque) 60
[ Good little docu about life on the Basse-Côte-Nord amongst the snowmobiles in communities coping with isolation, unemployment and potential extinction. ]

(16 Jan) Guy X (2006, Saul Metzstein) 26
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(17 Jan) Le Révolutionnaire (1965, Jean Pierre Lefebvre) 68
[ “N’essaie pas de comprendre, c’est inutile.” B&W, almost silent slice of “abstract poetry” about a bunch of pre-FLQ revolutionaries. Akin to the Nouvelle Vague or more accurately the cinéma direct of Jutra and Groulx, this oddity is most memorable for a scratched celluloid sequence that retells the history of the Nouvelle France in five goofy minutes. “Au Canada, il y a deux cultures: la culture française et celle des pommes de terres.” ]

(17 Jan) Les Maudits Sauvages (1971, Jean Pierre Lefebvre) 66
[ Again, Lefebvre walks the thin line between absurd nonsense and thought-provoking symbolism. On the one hand, this is a stunning allegory for how the Indians got a raw deal from the white man, with magnificent cinematography from Jean-Claude Labrecque and effective use of Vivaldi’s music. On the other hand, this presqu’historique film that simultaneously unfolds in 1670 and 1970 is spectacularly goofy, with long scenes of Pierre “Fardoche” Dufresne drunkenly wandering around and rambling incoherently while his Indian concubine frenetically dances topless. ]

(18 Jan) The New World (2006, Terrence Malick) [ review ] 72

(18 Jan) Le Jour “S” (1984, Jean Pierre Lefebvre) zzz
[ As is often the case, the Me Decade wasn’t kind to even a filmmaker as unconcerned with current trends as Lefebvre. This is like Quebec’s answer to “Le Rayon Vert”, all about a most uninteresting character going through his most uninteresting daily routine. Riding the bus. Eating a hotdog. Running into a bunch of women, all played by Marie Tifo. Was Pierre Curzi a sex symbol in the 80s? ]

(23 Jan) Histoire de famille (2006, Michel Poulette) 51
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(25 Jan) Le Golem de Montréal (2004, Isabelle Hayeur)
[ Children movies often get a bad rep because of all the silly crap targeted to kids. But when a filmmaker respects his audience, whatever their age, we’re blessed with films that the young and old alike can enjoy. This is such a film, somewhere between the unglamorized look at Québécois brats of “La Guerre des Tuques” and the sentimental fantasy of “E.T.”, with a nicely dark touch of Jewish mythology. ]
Full disclosure: Isabelle Hayeur is an acquaintance, so it wouldn’t be really appropriate to rate the movie.

(26 Jan) Propp & Berta (2001, Per Fly) 65
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(27 Jan) Threat (2006, Matt Pizzolo) ???
[ To love or to hate “Threat”? I loved: the stylish DIY filmmaking (mixing color, black&white, animated sequences and other visual effects), the natural and compelling cast, the biting dialogue. For most of its running time, this is kind of like a cross between Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” and Richard Linklater’s “Slacker”, with various characters having conversations in a comic book store, a bar, etc. So far so good. I hated: violence as an all-purpose solution. Drunk drivers? Stomp their ass before they get to their car. Perverts grab your ass? Slash them to death with a hook. Some asshole pours beer on your head? Kick his ass. Someone’s kicking your homie’s ass? Pull out a piece and shoot him. Shoot back. Cut their throat. Bash their head with a pipe. Kill, kill, kill. Not so good. I can’t dismiss all of “Threat” because of the 20 minutes of carnage that closes it, but I can question its validity. Films like “La Haine”, “Menace II Society” or “Fight Club” also portray people raging against the machine, but they ultimately show that violence doesn’t solve anything. Whereas Matt Pizzolo’s flick openly glorifies murderous revolt, literally telling the audience to go out and beat up random people, just because. In the press kit, co-writer Katie Nisa says that “It was to show that we shouldn’t be fighting each other. We should be fighting [those] who pits us against each other.” How about not fighting at all? ]

(27 Jan) Brokeback Mountain (2005, Ang Lee) [ review ] 47

(28 Jan) Gilmore Girls 1.1 (2000) [ review ]

(29 Jan) Gilmore Girls 1.2-1.3 (2000) [ review ]

(30 Jan) Gilmore Girls 1.4-1.6 (2000) [ review ]

(31 Jan) Imagine Me & You (2006, Ol Parker) [ review ] 41

(31 Jan) Gilmore Girls 1.7 (2000) [ review ]

December / February

2006 log (2)

(1 Feb) Corpse Bride (2005, Tim Burton) 46
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(2 Feb) Gilmore Girls 1.8 (2000) [ review ]

(4 Feb) Curious George (2006, Matthew O’Callaghan) 40
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(4 Feb) La Saison des amours (2006, Jean-François Caissy) 48
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(6 Feb) Que Dieu bénisse l’Amérique (2006, Robert Morin) 42
[ What a letdown. I usually love Morin’s work and there are some enjoyably grotesque touches here, but overall this feels like a bad episode of Vice Caché, with a muddled whodunit and a half-assed 9/11 metaphor thrown in. ]

(6 Feb) Gilmore Girls 1.9-1.13 (2000) [ review ]

(9 Feb) Escape to Canada (2006, Albert Nerenberg) 57
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(9 Feb) Gilmore Girls 1.14 (2001) [ review ]

(11 Feb) Gilmore Girls 1.15 (2001) [ review ]

(13 Feb) Pollux – Le manège enchanté (2006, Jean Duval) 63
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(13 Feb) l’avion (2005, Cédric Kahn) 29 [ first viewing: w/o ]
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(13 Feb) Gilmore Girls 1.16-1.18 (2001) [ review ]

(14 Feb) Spymate (2006, Robert Vince) [ review ] 44

(14 Feb) Gilmore Girls 1.19 (2001) [ review ]

(15 Feb) Gilmore Girls 1.20 (2001) [ review ]

(16 Feb) Gilmore Girls 1.21 (2001) [ review ]

(17 Feb) West Side Story (1961, Robert Wise) [ review ] 95

(20 Feb) Gilmore Girls 2.1-2.4 (2001) [ review ]

(21 Feb) Sin City (2005, Robert Rodriguez) [ review ] 92

(23 Feb) Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages (2005, Michel Ocelot) 65
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(23 Feb) Gilmore Girls 2.5-2.6 (2001) [ review ]

(24 Feb) Tsotsi (2006, Gavin Hood) 84
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(25 Feb) Madea’s Family Reunion (2006, Tyler Perry) 27
[ You know, this wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t good, mind, but it wasn’t quite the abomination I expected. The Madea character (played by writer-director Perry in drag) is spectacularly unfunny and there’s a lot of boring soap opera melodrama, sappy rom-com and pseudo-Christian “family values” preaching. So what wasn’t so bad already? Well, I liked the soul soundtrack and the two resourceful lead actresses (Rochelle Aytes and Lisa Arrindell Anderson), who do what they can with the random tonal shifts. It’s certainly better than “Bringing Down the House”, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, etc. ]

(27 Feb) These Girls (2006, John Hazlett) 31
(Caroline Dhavernas, as always: 100)
[ Read my interview with Caroline in Voir! ]

(28 Feb) Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2006, Michel Gondry) 82
[ Part of the Directors Series ] and
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

January / March

2005 log (12)

(1 Dec) South Park 9.13 (2005, Trey Parker) 61
[ “Save the whales, motherfucker.” ]

(2 Dec) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005, Alex Gibney) 74
[ Very well done documentary about the greedy bastards who screwed their company, the stock market and the energy industry out of billions of dollars. This is a comprehensive and dynamic film, with clever music cues and cutting title cards (“Useful idiots”, “Ask why, asshole”). Essential viewing to see how wrong capitalism can be. ]

(2 Dec) Batman Begins (2005, Christopher Nolan) [ review ] 90

(4 Dec) Melinda and Melinda (2005, Woody Allen) [ review ] 93

(5 Dec) Pride & Prejudice (2005, Joe Wright) [ review ] 51

(6 Dec) Brokeback Mountain (2005, Ang Lee) [ review ] 47

(7 Dec) Kirikou et la sorcière (1998, Michel Ocelot) 88
[ God bless the French. Who else would make a kids movies with a badass talking baby, a man-easting sorceress and more breasts on display than in a Russ Meyer flick? With colourful traditional animation and catchy songs by Youssou N’Dour, this is great fun for the young and old alike. “Kirikou n’est pas grand, mais il est vaillant!” ]

(8 Dec) Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages (2005, Michel Ocelot) 65
[ Less a sequel than a bunch of deleted scenes from the original story, this new film doesn’t have the power-of-myth of the first episode, but it’s still pretty fun. ]

(8 Dec) South Park 9.14 (2005, Trey Parker) 63
[ “A chick bleeding out her vagina is no miracle. Chicks bleed out their vaginas all the time.” -Pope Benedict XVI ]

(9 Dec) Da Ali G Show – Da Compleet Second Seazon (2004) 90
[ Oh. My. God. I watched Season One a while back and thought it was funny enough, but this is hi-la-ri-ous. This is satire of the highest order, sending up American society through some of the most gloriously ridiculous (fake) TV personalities ever imagined: outrageously ignorant hip hop doofus Ali G, outrageously shameless Kazakh bigot Borat and outrageously gay Eurotrash queen Brüno. I don’t know what’s the most amazing, that Sacha Baron Cohen (who plays all three characters) manages to never crack up while saying and doing the most over the top and politically incorrect stuff, or that people are so clueless that they he’s screwing with them? In any case, this is pure comic genius. ]

(9 Dec) Syriana (2005, Stephen Gaghan) [ review ] 66

(12 Dec) The Family Stone (2005, Thomas Bezucha) [ review ] 68

(12 Dec) Cheaper by the Dozen (2003, Shawn Levy) 42
[ I got appointed to review “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” later this week so, professional that I am (in addition to being ignorant, incoherent and just like George W. Bush), I reluctantly set out to watch this first instalment, which I’d successfully avoided until now. Surprise, surprise, it’s not half bad! Between this and “Big Fat Liar”, I’m finding Shawn Levy to be just about the best working director of middlebrow family movies, Steve Martin is funny enough here (certainly more than in “Shopgirl”), Hilary Duff and Piper Perabo are pretty adorable, Ashton Kutcher’s his doofus self… Okay, we still have to suffer through a lot of slapstick, obnoxious child actors and mawkish sentimentality, but next to, say, the unwatchable “Yours, Mine & Ours” remake, this is a freakin’ masterpiece. ]

(13 Dec) Capote (2005, Bennett Miller) [ review ] 91

(14 Dec) King Kong (2005, Peter Jackson) 67
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(15 Dec) Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005, Adam Shankman) 5
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(16 Dec) The Constant Gardener (2005, Fernando Meirelles)
[ review ] 81

(19 Dec) Good Night, And Good Luck. (2005, George Clooney) [ review ] 70

(20 Dec) Mrs Henderson Presents (2005, Stephen Frears) 63
[ A widow gets to have hobbies, like embroidery, charities or, say, produce a nude musical revue. “Oh, the pussy!” This movie is an odd duck. It’s very theatrical, which makes sense considering the subject, then again director Stephen Frears isn’t fully committed in doing an all-out stage spectacle. I loved the old-fashioned numbers sung by Will Young (making a great impression in his first film performance), but too often we only see 30 seconds bit of them, we cut away to something else, they’re jammed into a montage, etc. In the press kit, Frears insists that “this isn’t Singin’ in the Rain“. Why the hell not? Okay, so you’d rather develop the characters and the historical background? Well, the film is rather loosely plotted and the dramatic weight of World War II isn’t really felt through, even when England is being bombed by the Germans. At least we get to see a lot of breasts, right? “Isn’t that delicious?” Indeed, and it’s amusing how, to persuade London’s official censor (Christopher Guest, nicely cast against type) that the nudity is “artistic”, the girls have to stand perfectly still, like living tableaux. There’s also enjoyment to be taken from the back and forth between cheeky Judi Dench and grumpy Bob Hoskins. So this is a fun film, no doubt, even if it doesn’t perfectly balance spectacular spectacular entertainment and historical drama. ]

(20 Dec) The Abyss (1989, James Cameron) 68
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(20 Dec) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005, Ken Kwapis) [ review ] 84

(23 Dec) Munich (2005, Steven Spielberg) [ review ] 90

(25 Dec) 9 songs (2005, Michael Winterbottom) zzz
[ 69 minutes of badly shot live performances of indie rock bands (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Franz Ferdinand, etc.) intercut with two not particularly attractive Brits fucking, licking and tying up each other, with a little bit of dull dialogue and duller narration for good measure. If this was a student film, you’d yawn and forget about it. Coming from respected filmmaker Michael Winterbottom, it’s a little more puzzling. So you’re puzzled, then you yawn and you forget about it. Heh. ]

(26 Dec) Crash (2005, Paul Haggis) [ review ] 72

(27 Dec) From Justin to Kelly (2003, Robert Iscove) [ review ] 65

(29 Dec) Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967, Stanley Kramer) 91
[ Part of the AFI list (#99) ]

(29 Dec) a lot like love (2005, Nigel Cole) 63
[ Hey, if my top critic (Lavoie’s more of an essayist) calls it the best film of the year, of course I’ll check it out, alright? Right away, I liked Ashton Kutcher cast against type as a timid geeky guy – this isn’t quite Jim Carrey in “Eternal Sunshine”, but same ballpark. Likewise, there’s only one Kate Winslet, but Amanda Peet does lovable wild gal pretty damn well. Then there’s the 1990s nostalgia thing (with nods to 90210, the Internet boom, Bon Jovi, etc.), which is ridiculously premature (ooh, remember the 1990s?), but not unenjoyable. Also, the filmmakers are clearly riffing on “When Harry Met Sally…”, which works nicely enough. All in all, good little movie. ]

(31 Dec) Giant (1956, George Stevens) 79
[ Part of the AFI list (#82) ]

November / January

2005 log (11)

(1 Nov) Strangers on a train (1951, Alfred Hitchcock) 91
[ “Wanna hear one of my ideas for a perfect murder?” Naughty boy Bruno wants to get rid of his father, tennis player Guy needs his wife out of the picture but she won’t give him a divorce. Killing them would help, but they’d be caught right away – they have the motive. But what if they swap murders? Adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel, this noirish Hitchcock thriller is subversively clever and darkly humorous. Particularly engrossing is how Bruno, smarmily played by Robert Walker, keeps revealing new layers of batshit insanity. The merry-go-round climax is pretty insane, too. ]

(2 Nov) South Park 9.10 (2005, Trey Parker) 79
[ MRS. GARRISON – “You can’t get married, you’re FAGGOTS!”
MR. SLAVE – “Aw, Jesus Christ!” ]

(5 Nov) L’annulaire (2005, Diane Bertrand) 53
[ Part of Voir’s Cinemania coverage ]

(7 Nov) pur♥ (2005, Jim Donovan) 70
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(7 Nov) L’équipier (2005, Philippe Lioret) 46 (Émilie Dequenne: 100)
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(8 Nov) Lifeboat (1944, Alfred Hitchcock) 88
[ Hitch shows you he means business right from the opening shot, a long pan over the sea littered with debris and floating corpses. A ship going from New York to London has been torpedoed by a German U-boat, which was then sunk itself. Few have survived, but we eventually get to a lady sitting pretty in a big lifeboat, with her luggage (!), smoking a cigarette and pointing her camera at the surrounding dismay. She is soon joined by various other folks who swim up to or are picked up, including crew members, a nurse, a black steward, a millionaire, a woman and her baby… and the Nazi captain from the U-boat that shot them down.

“Throw the Nazi buzzard overboard!”
“That’s out of the question, it’s against the law.”
“Whose law? We’re on our own here, we can make our own law.”

The brilliant plotting, deft characterizations and sharp dialogue of “Lifeboat” come from renowned American author John Steinbeck, who crafts a survival story crossed with a morality play that can be darkly humorous or sometimes just dark, with everything from suicide, amputation, the elements, thirst, hunger and madness weighing down on the people in the boat. Add to that striking B&W cinematography and strong performances (especially from Tallulah Bankhead as the pretentious and bitchy photojournalist and John Hodiak as proletarian badass Kovac) and you’ve got another truly great picture from Hitchcock. ]

(9 Nov) South Park 9.11 (2005, Trey Parker) 71
[ Fancypants can scoff at me all they want for loving “South Park”, but Trey Parker is and remains a genius. Every goddamn episode I’m amazed at his capacity to use line delivery, music cues and the such so perfectly in service of satire or plain silliness. This fall in particular, every new episode seems to rely really heavily on warping film clichés, but with goofy twists. This episode, for instance, is like a horror movie story, except with red-haired kids – “gingers”!

CARTMAN – “Guys, don’t forget, Kyle is a daywalker. Daywalkers are half-ginger themselves. Make no mistake, ginger kids are evil. Remember who was ginger? Judas. And what did Judas do? He got Jesus killed, that’s all.” ]

(11 Nov) Paradise Now (2005, Hany Abu-Assad) 78
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(11 Nov) kiss kIss bAng banG (2005, Shane Black) [ review ] 59

(11 Nov) The Big Lebowski (1998, the Coen brothers) [ review ] 93

(14 Nov) Walk the Line (2005, James Mangold) [ review ] 67

(15 Nov) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, Mike Newell)
[ review ] 71

(15 Nov) Casino (1995, Martin Scorsese) [ review ] 92

(16 Nov) South Park 9.12 (2005, Trey Parker) 65
[ “Dad! Tom Cruise won’t come out of the closet!” ]

(17 Nov) Grizzly Man (2005, Werner Herzog) [ review ] 90

(19 Nov) The Beautiful Country (2005, Hans Petter Moland) 34
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(20 Nov) Les fautes d’orthographe (2005, Jean-Jacques Zilbermann)
[ Fat kid gets picked on in boarding school, does les 400 coups, etc. I didn’t hate the film, didn’t love it. I saw it, I won’t remember it in a week. Can’t even find the will to grade it. Moving on. ]

(21 Nov) Match Point (2005, Woody Allen) [ review ] 78

(21 Nov) Yours, Mine & Ours (2005, Raja Gosnell) 13
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(22 Nov) No Direction Home (2005, Martin Scorsese) 85
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(24 Nov) Cake (2005, Nisha Ganatra) 61
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(28 Nov) RENT (2005, Chris Columbus) [ review ] 83

(29 Nov) Désobéir (2005, Patricio Henriquez) 62
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(29 Nov) Madagascar (2005, Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath) Madagascar 26
[ This is smug and shrill and little more than a showcase for bad celebrity voice-overs: Ben Stiller’s witless lion, Chris Rock’s unfunny zebra, David Schwimmer’s annoying giraffe, Jada Pinkett Smith’s boring hippo… The animation’s pretty good, but so what? This should have lasted 10 minutes, with the lion eating all his friends as soon as they hit the wild. That woulda been cool. ]

October / December

2005 log (10)

(3 Oct) The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, Nick Park) [ review ] 75

(4 Oct) A Conversation with Lars von Trier (2005, Eva Ziemsen)
[ To meet the director of “Dogville”, Eva Ziemsen was ready to fly to Denmark even though her interview demands had been refused. When she’s turned down again at Zentropa studios, she offers to conduct the interview naked! Ziemsen’s resilience is admirable, but von Trier ultimately doesn’t have anything new to say. ]

(4 Oct) Un homme sans histoire (2005, Pierre Maillard) 28
[ Part of Voir’s Nouveau Cinéma coverage ]

(4 Oct) Petit Pow! Pow! Noël (2005, Robert Morin) 90
[ Robert Morin is a video virtuoso, we already knew that, but with this incendiary new falsely (?) autobiographic yarn à la “Yes Sir! Madame”, he punches us in the gut once more. With nothing more than a voyeuristic camera and an accusatory voice pacing around an elderly man in a hospital room, Morin delivers an ultra dense, dynamic, sometimes funny but mostly disturbing film. Morin is an incredible storyteller and a fiercely clever filmmaker and it’s endlessly impressive how he manages to keep us hanging to his every word. All that time, the objective is pointed at objects, photographs, objects, body parts, the TV or out the window, punctuating the discourse with seemingly banal images that become evocative. “Petit Pow! Pow! Noël” is the story of a man who visits his dad on Christmas with the intent of making him suffer and eventually die for his crimes against his family. The catch is that whatever torture (psychological or otherwise) he inflicts on the old bastard, it pales in comparison with the daily pain and humiliation of having to be fed, washed and get your diapers changed. Even though the protagonist is motivated by hatred, the evident loss of human dignity on display makes a striking pro-euthanasia case. Morin’s movie takes a situation often seen in Québécois cinema, the neglected son who confronts his father on his deathbed (see also: “Les invasions barbares”, “La vie avec mon père”), but here it’s devoid of superfluous flourishes, romanticism or pretension. “Petit Pow! Pow! Noël” is a thought-provoking, unforgettable real-life horror tale. ]

(5 Oct) Musicals Great Musicals (1996, David Thompson) 72
[ This documentary retraces the history of the Arthur Freed unit at MGM, back when musicals were the biggest thing in Hollywood. With plenty of numbers from “Meet Me in St. Louis”, “Singin’ in the Rain”, “On the Town”, “An American in Paris”, “The Wizard of Oz” and other classics, featuring such wonderful stars as Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney and Fred Astaire… What a glorious feeling! ]

(9 Oct) Alias 5.2 (2005) [ review ] 61

(9 Oct) Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Stanley Donen) [ review ] 100

(10 Oct) November (2005, Greg Harrison) 55
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(11 Oct) Domino (2005, Tony Scott) [ review ] 33

(11 Oct) Danny the Dog AKA Unleashed (2005, Louis Leterrier) 46
[ Bob Hoskins is a bastard loan shark who uses Jet Li, whom he’s raised as a raging dog, to beat some sense in folks who won’t pay what they owe. The early scenes are pretty brutal and intense, if maybe a bit too darkly lit and frenetically cut. Then the movie switches to sentimentality, as a blind pianist and his stepdaughter take Li into his home and teach him to be human again. Corny, but with Morgan Freeman in the kindly mentor role and the very cute Kerry Condon as the girl, it goes down easy enough. You’ll guess that the good times won’t last and Li will have to put foot to ass again, etc. So nothing much to see here, just another Luc Bresson-written action flick, but a little better than you’d expect. Worth a rent. ]

(14 Oct) Elizabethtown (2005, Cameron Crowe) [ review ] 90

(15 Oct) Demetan (1973) whaaaa?
[ Man, the Japanese are weird- even their kiddie shows are screwy! Maybe it’s my outlook that’s skewed, but I only watched two episodes and it just didn’t agree with me. You got all those victimized frogs struggling against these total seafood assholes, and it’s harsh, violent even! Freakin’ genius theme song, though. ]

(17 Oct) Zimandco (2005, Pierre Jolivet) 67
[ Part of Voir’s Nouveau Cinéma coverage ]

(17 Oct) Main Hoon Na (2004, Farah Khan) 84
[ Part of Michael Dequina’s Bollywood Starter-Kit ]

(18 Oct) Avanim (2005,Raphael Nadjari) 11
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(18 Oct) Manderlay (2005, Lars von Trier) [ review ] 92

(19 Oct) South Park 9.8 (2005, Trey Parker) 78
[ “If you’re so caring, Kyle, why don’t you share your Jew-gold with the people caught in the flood?”
They say comedy is tragedy plus time, but the South Park motto seems to be, why wait? New Orleans isn’t nearly dry yet and they’re already spoofing Katrina. It’s so wrong… but funny! ]

(21 Oct) Thumbsucker (2005, Mike Mills) [ review ] 70

(21 Oct) Wag the Dog (1997, Barry Levinson) 86
[ Hadn’t seen this since it was released in theatres, and it’s still as clever, funny and prescient as ever. David Mamet’s screenplay perfectly satirizes both politics and show business, with Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro at the top of their form as the go-to guys when it comes to “producing” a war to divert the public attention. Anne Heche, Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson and Kirsten Dunst are also amusing in smaller parts. ]

(24 Oct) Elizabethtown (2005, Cameron Crowe) [ review ] 90

(24 Oct) Saw (2004, James Wan) 37
[ This horror flick starts out with a wickedly brilliant set-up: two strangers in a filthy bathroom, chained to the walls for reasons unknown, are put through a series of potentially lethal puzzles. But instead of going for a Hitchcockian claustrophobic thriller all the way, the movie keeps cutting to cops investigating some of the Jigsaw Killer’s other set-ups, CSI-style, or like a cross between David Fincher’s “Se7en” and “The Game”, but with diminishing returns. Still worth checking out if you’re into the bleak stuff and don’t mind bad acting and plot holes too much. ]

(25 Oct) Saw II (2005, Darren Lynn Bausman) 53
[ Comme c’est souvent le cas avec les films d’horreur, les producteurs de Saw pensaient faire une suite avant même que le premier volet sorte en salles. Ce qui est inhabituel, c’est que Saw II se révèle supérieur à son prédécesseur, malgré l’effet de surprise qui n’y est plus. On retrouve les mêmes emprunts à David Fincher, du tueur en série moralisateur de Se7en aux épreuves mortelles de The Game, mais l’intrigue est mieux ficelée et les exécutions, plus sanglantes que jamais. Après un prologue offrant une variation de la trappe à ours inversée du film précédent jumelée à un hommage à Un Chien andalou, nous faisons connaissance avec le détective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg, ex-New Kids on the Block recyclé en acteur de série B). Ayant réussi sans grande difficulté à arrêter Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), il réalise rapidement que sa capture fait partie du plan du meurtrier psychopathe. Ce dernier a en effet déjà enfermé huit autres personnes dans l’une de ses chambres de torture, y compris le fils de Matthews. Avec ses personnages stéréotypés (la blonde qui braille, le latino qui gueule, etc.) qui ne représentent que diverses façons de gérer la peur et la souffrance, Saw II propose des transitions plus fluides entre la lutte pour leur survie des prisonniers et l’enquête de la police. Qui plus est, la tension demeure constante. Somme toute, l’ensemble se révèle plus linéaire et plus conventionnel que son prédécesseur, mais aussi plus efficace. ]

(26 Oct) Douches froides (2005, Antony Cordier) 55
[ Part of Voir’s Cinemania coverage ]

(26 Oct) Shopgirl (2005, Anand Tucker) 31
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(27 Oct) La première fois que j’ai eu 20 ans (2005, Lorraine Lévy) 17
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(27 Oct) South Park 9.9 (2005, Trey Parker) 64
[ BUTTER’S MOM – “Nooo! Noooooooooo! My son is dead!!!”
CARTMAN – “Nice.” ]

(28 Oct) Touch the Sound (2005, Thomas Riedelsheimer) 66
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(31 Oct) je préfère qu’on reste amis… (2005, Éric Toledano & Olivier Nakache) 32
[ Part of Voir’s Cinemania coverage ]

September / November

2005 log (9)

(2 Sept) La rue zone interdite (2005, Gilbert Duclos) 63
[ Review / Interview for Voir ]

(3 Sept) Filles Perdues Cheveux Gras (2002, Claude Duty) 76
[ A cheapie but lively contemporary musical about three depressed young women looking for themselves. The electro-pop songs are beyond campy (but catchy as hell) and the blend of melodrama and silliness doesn’t always work, but the actresses are amusing, especially the adorable Marina Foïs as an alcoholic hairdresser mourning her cat. This is clearly not for all tastes but I loved the stupid thing. ]

(5 Sept) Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962, Agnès Varda) 70
[ Stunning B&W cinematography, a dense soundtrack and sparse existential dialogue and narration make up this Nouvelle Vague slice of life about a woman coming to terms with her seemingly imminent mortality. Unfolding in (almost) real time, this is a tale about nothing and everything: hanging out in cafés, riding in cars, meeting with men, singing songs, walking through Paris on the first day of summer… ]

(6 Sept) Sans toit ni loi (1985, Agnès Varda) 67
[ Sandrine Bonnaire plays a drifter whose body is found frozen in a ditch one morning. No one really knows who she was or where she was from, but we get glimpses of what she’d been up to in the winter months leading to her lonely death through the recollections of the various people she briefly encountered on her journey to nowhere. Whereas “Cleo de 5 à 7” was a slice of life, this is a whole sliced bread. Instead of sticking with a woman for two hours, she’s seen through a multiplication of points of view, little moments out of context, like in life. Incidentally, this brisk catching up to Varda’s oeuvre makes me wonder why, in all the recent Gus Van Sant articles I’ve read, there wasn’t any mention of the First Lady of French cinema as an influence. “Sans toit ni loi” in particular is very similar in style and tone to Van Sant’s “Last Days”. ]

(6 Sept) Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (2000, Agnès Varda) 82
[ Less a documentary than an essay on film (video, actually), this has Varda exploring the world of gleaners, i.e. those who pick up vegetables or other things that have been left behind or thrown away, by gleaning around herself. As if on a spontaneous scavenger hunt, she goes from one place to another and meets various people, following fascinating strands of thought. Her theme is clear (waste vs. recycling), but she’s not prisoner of it – much of the film’s pleasure comes from how it often goes off course and becomes more about poetry than information. ]

(7 Sept) Le Mouton enragé (1974, Michel Deville) 75
[ A seemingly mild-mannered banker (suave Jean-Louis Trintignant) date-rapes a young woman (an amusing Jane Birkin), who falls in love with him anyway, then he seduces the wife (the extraordinary Romy Schneider) of a college professor and various other women. Much sex ensues, and even more talk about it. Trintignant’s character is coached through this -and issues of money and society- by a mentor (played by Jean-Pierre Cassel), in a dynamic somewhat reminiscent of the ones in “Swingers”, “Fight Club”, “Roger Dodger”, etc. Make no mistake, this is a French film, so it comes down to a lot of sex and even more talk about it, but the energetic camerawork and often nervous editing keep things goings at an exciting pace. ]

(8 Sept) MARRON la piste créole en Amérique (2005, André Gladu) 64
[ Review / Interview for Voir ]

(8 Sept) Nuit d’été en ville (1990, Michel Deville) 47
[ More sex, more talk, more Saint-Saëns music, Marie Trintignant instead of daddy Jean-Louis – Deville is quite consistent, it seems… Except that this later film is much less dynamic, taking place entirely in an apartment, where Trintignant spends the night sexing and talking with one night stand Jean-Hughes Anglade. This sounds staged, claustrophobic and potentially boring, and it kind of is, but I liked the way the camera kept exploring the lovers’ naked flesh and how they gradually covered themselves and put clothes back on as they got to know each other more. ]

(12 Sept) Barmaids (2005, Simon Boisvert) 51
[ Right from the opening minutes, one can see a huge improvement from the poor production values of Boisvert’s previous films. Maybe it’s the fact that Diana Lewis isn’t directing (she spends half the film in the swimming pool instead), but “Barmaids” has surprisingly decent cinematography, with actual exteriors, more appealing sets, a few flashy editing tricks… This feels like a real movie, not an episode of Virginie! Boisvert once again plays a jerk who casually cheats on his girlfriend, with barmaids this time. The screenplay offers some good insights into relationships and the way men and women respectively behave, generally not knowing what they want and being rather hypocritical about it. The acting is still a bit rough around the edges, but the actresses are hot and often undressed and the flick kept me involved throughout. ]

(14 Sept) The Cross and Bones (2005, Paul Carrière) 65
[ In the Alberta Badlands, three camps neighbour each other in the rocky Drumheller valley: paleontogists digging for dinosaur bones, an amateur theatre troop rehearsing the Passion of the Christ and 3000 bikers holding their annual rally of drunken debauchery. Through this improbable juxtaposition, director Paul Carrière pieces together a rather original documentary that dives right into the Evolution Schmevolution debate between creationists and scientists. On top of that, the film presents a series of colourful characters that would feel at home in a Christopher Guest movie. The Remax realtor whose business card shows him in full crucified Jesus regalia in particular is as ridiculous as anyone in Waiting for Guffman. ]

(15 Sept) Quand la vie est un rêve (2005, Charles Gervais) 62
[ De l’époque de l’esclavage à la misère actuelle, en passant par dictatures et catastrophes, Haïti ne l’a jamais eue facile. Narré par Frédéric Pierre, ce documentaire retrace les circonstances historiques ayant mené aux problèmes accablant toujours les Haïtiens. Le film donne la parole à des intervenants de toutes les classes sociales, du jeune de la rue au chef d’entreprise, et capte (souvent par caméra cachée) certaines des pratiques par lesquelles les plus désespérés tentent d’échapper au chaos ambiant, que ce soit l’exil, la prostitution, les milices révolutionnaires ou les rituels vaudou. Le film n’offre aucune solution valable pour Haïti, mais beaucoup d’autres se sont aussi butés à ce problème depuis 200 ans. ]

(16 Sept) Niagara Motel (2005, Gary Yates) 48 (Caroline Dhavernas: 100)
[ Après avoir interprété avec brio une jeune femme confuse travaillant dans une boutique de souvenirs de Niagara Falls dans la télé-série injustement avortée Wonderfalls, la jolie Caroline Dhavernas demeure en terrain connu en tenant le rôle d’une jeune femme tout aussi confuse qui est serveuse dans un resto de Niagara Falls. Un maquereau sans envergure (Kevin Pollack), un concierge alcoolo (Craig Ferguson) et une mère de famille (Wendy Crewson) songeant à devenir prostituée sont quelques-uns des autres personnages dont les destinées s’entrecroisent dans cette comédie de mœurs de Gary Yates, qui aspire clairement aux sommets atteints par les films de Robert Altman (Nashville) et Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia). Malheureusement, une surabondance de longueurs et de ruptures de ton freine les ambitions du réalisateur canadien ]

(16 Sept) Just Like Heaven (2005, Mark Waters) [ review ] 64

(17 Sept) L’ennui (1998, Cédric Kahn) 69
[ A philosophy professor tries to rationalise why he’s so obsessed with a big-titted teenage girl (the incredibly sexy Sophie Guillemin) even though she’s deeply boring and dim-witted. The film cleverly and entertainingly gets to the bottom of that eternal mystery of how man often desires something even though he knows it’s wrong for him. ]

(18 Sept) Roberto Succo (2001, Cédric Kahn) 67
[ Another pretty teenager (Isild Le Besco) unwisely gets involved with an obsessive, potentially dangerous man. No philosophy here, but lots of crime and violence. I’m not sure what I think of the film on its own, but taken with Kahn’s previous (“L’ennui”) and next (“Feux Rouges”) movies, it makes for a rather remarkably cohesive thematic trilogy with enough unhealthy relationships and feelings to make Hitchcock queasy. ]

(19 Sept) an unfinished life (2005, Lasse Hallström) [ review ] 54

(19 Sept) Scrap Heaven (2005, Lee Sang Il) 46
[ Un secrétaire suicidaire prend en otages les passagers d’un autobus de nuit: Shingo, un policier poltron, Tetsu, un concierge anarchiste, et Saki, une pharmacienne borgne. Ces trois inconnus se recroisent par la suite dans diverses circonstances tournant autour d’étranges tentatives de déclencher une révolution à partir d’un cabinet de toilette. Fort d’un scénario aux nombreux rebondissements et d’une mise en scène tape-à-l’œil, Scrap Heaven se veut un genre de Fight Club japonais, avec ses bastons déchaînées et ses actes de terrorisme plus ou moins acceptables. L’extrême violence est tempérée par l’humour absurde qui se glisse entre les moments plus dramatiques, mais le film s’essouffle en fin de parcours et son propos sociopolitique n’est pas très clair. ]

(19 Sept) Hormigas en la boca (2005, Mariano Barroso) 39
[ À sa sortie de prison, Martín, un voleur de banques espagnol, se rend à La Havane pour retrouver son ancienne complice et petite amie qui s’est enfuie avec leur butin dix ans auparavant. L’oncle de cette dernière lui annonce qu’elle est morte, mais Martín est toujours déterminé à récupérer son argent. Il se retrouve alors impliqué malgré lui dans un violent conflit entre une veuve assoiffée de vengeance et un sénateur corrompu. Ce film noir moderne est plutôt bien ficelé et bénéficie de l’atmosphère décadente du Cuba d’avant la révolution. Par contre, le récit non linéaire n’arrive pas à conserver notre intérêt et les motivations des personnages ne sont pas toujours convaincantes. Et si Eduardo Fernandez interprète Martín avec intensité, Ariadna Gil n’impressionne pas dans le rôle de la femme fatale. ]

(19 Sept) A History of Violence (2005, David Cronenberg) [ review ] 93

(21 Sept) Inside Deep Throat (2005, Fenton Baily & Randy Barbato) 64
[ An equally insightful and entertaining documentary in the vein of “The Legend of Ron Jeremy”, this film borrows much of the soundtrack and visual style of “Boogie Nights” to recall the infamous history of “Deep Throat”, allegedly the most influential porno of all time – or at least the one that got the most mainstream attention. With interventions from the likes of Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner, John Waters and Dr. Ruth, “Inside Deep Throat” exposes the hypocrisy of the American people, who consume billions of dollars of porn every year but support politicians and courts that strike down on obscenity. The money shot (Linda Lovelace performing the titular sex act) comes a little too early, but the movie remains interesting enough throughout. ]

(23 Sept) l’avion (2005, Cédric Kahn) w/o
[ From sex (“L’ennui”), violence (“Roberto Succo”) and alcohol (“Feux Rouges”) to a kiddie flick? Interesting. Or not, as the case may be. For a couple of reels, I figured there might be entertainment value in the Freudian subtext of a young boy discovering the magical pleasures of playing with a phallic-shaped toy plane, but the brat child actor is so obnoxious and the film is so touchy-feely that I had to d’angelo out of the almost empty FIFM representation. ]

(23 Sept) Saints-Martyrs-des-damnés (2005, Robin Aubert) 57
[ You have to appreciate a film that can both quote Rimbaud (“Je me crois en enfer, donc j’y suis.”) and milk a three-breasted girl joke for all its worth. For his first feature, Robin Aubert set out to make a film that reflects how he sees himself, hard to connect with but open to it. The result is a film capable of greatness, but often self-indulgent. The story of a Weekly World News-like tabloid reporter (François Chenier) and his best buddy photograph (Patrice Robitaille) who are sent to a small town where mysterious disappearances have been occurring for decades, “Saints-Martyrs-des-damnés” is a supernatural thriller sometimes verging on self-parody, yet sometimes seeming to be taking its cheap trick scares too seriously. Typically great cinematography by Steve Asselin and music by Yves Desrosiers go a long way in keeping this from feeling like a B-movie, but the constant sudden appearances of Creepy Ghost Bride with accompanying loud orchestral thumps get tiresome. Still, there are some memorably grotesque touches (the serveuse sexée and her trisomic teddy bear-carrying son, the masked mechanic, etc.), and the achingly beautiful Isabelle Blais is worth the admission price by herself, even though she does little more than play slide guitar to cows. Diehard fans of Lynchesque nonsense, doppelgangers and giant mutant brain thingies will probably like the flick more than I did, but one way or another, this is a promising debut. ]

(24 Sept) In Her Shoes (2005, Curtis Hanson) [ review ] 82

(26 Sept) AMNÉSIE! l’énigme James Brighton (2005, Denis Langlois) 6
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(26 Sept) Brødre (2005, Susanne Bier) 70
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(27 Sept) Separate Lies (2005, Julian Fellowes) 58
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(28 Sept) Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (2005, Pete Michels) meh
[ “Family Guy” has always been hit and miss, but usually they throw so many gags at you that some of them are bound to be funny. For this straight-to-DVD feature, though, they slowed down the pace, stretching jokes way too much and repeating themselves quite a lot. There are maybe a dozen good laughs, which would be great if this was a regular 22 minute episode, but it’s not a very impressive ratio when spread over 90 minutes. For diehard fans only. ]

(29 Sept) Alias 5.1 (2005) [ review ] 65

(30 Sept) Pretty Persuasion (2005, Marcos Siega) 69
[ “Election” meets “Mean Girls” meets “Wild Things” meets “In the Company of Men” meets… Okay, this is not exactly an original film, but who cares? Irreverently multiplying racist, sexist, homophobic and downright inhuman “jokes”, this merciless satire is actually not that much worse than what’s really going on through America these days. Ultimately less funny than tragic, “Pretty Persuasion” is most notable for how it gives Evan Rachel Wood another chance (after “Thirteen”) to show how seductive, disturbing and moving she can be as an actress. “I don’t know how to be sexy! I mean, I’m only fifteen!” ]

August / October

2005 log (8)

(1 Aug) Haute Tension (2005, Alexandre Aja) [ review ] 44

(2 Aug) La Dernière Incarnation (2005, Demian Fuica) 36
[ While bird-watching in the woods, dorky accountant Marc-André (Gilbert Turp) witnesses the arrival of a naked woman (Catherine Florent) in a burst of electricity, placenta and puke. He takes her home and soon realises that he didn’t find her, she found him. She is Mirah, an extraterrestrial being who keeps reincarnating herself across the universe. She hasn’t been on Earth since 5000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, where she made a mistake that involved Marc-André in a previous life. Now she’s back to fix things, digging out the dumbfounded Banque Nationale employee’s third eye and guiding him in the use of supernatural powers he didn’t know he possessed. This sounds really bizarre and complicated, but I have barely touched upon the surface of the incomprehensible but intriguing inter-dimensional mythology against which the action is set. “La Dernière Incarnation” is a thoroughly independent local production that doesn’t always works but that is admirable for its originality and ambition. It could be more tightly plotted and the way it randomly swings between taking itself seriously and going for camp is puzzling, but the special effects are surprisingly decent and most of the performances are entertaining. Leonardo Fuica is imposing as the Lovecraftesque villain, Emmanuel Auger and Dominic Darceuil play well off each other as mysterious men in black sent to investigate the goings-on and Catherine Florent is a lot of fun as Mirah, who spends the whole film getting use to her (gorgeous) new body, kind of like Jeff Bridges in Starman. As for Gilbert Turp, I’m not sure if he’s a bad actor or if it’s the characters he plays that are supposed to be this offbeat, but that fits with the overall strangeness of the movie. Your enjoyment of “La Dernière Incarnation” will vary depending on your tolerance for long “mind battles” in which actors make mean faces and hold out their hands like mimes while being blown at by wind-machines. ]

(2 Aug) Doctor Zhivago (1965, David Lean) 70
[ Part of the AFI list (#39) ]

(4 Aug) San-Antonio (2005, Frédéric Auburtin) 8
[ Starring Gérard Lanvin as the titular character, who might get more tail than James Bond but whose detective work makes Inspector Clouseau look like Sam Spade, and Gérard Depardieu at his most loafish as his partner, “San-Antonio” is a dumbfounding succession of moronic gags, feeble action scenes and random oral sex and ass-grabbing. I haven’t read a single title in the San-Antonio series, but if the best they could squeeze out of 175 books worth of material is this irrevocably awful picture, I can’t imagine how painful it must be to go through thousands of pages of this crap.

The contempt the flick inspired in the French press is pretty funny, though:

Studio Magazine
Adaptation ratée de Frédéric Dard (…) En confondant truculence et vulgarité, le film passe à côté de sa cible.
Ciné Live
Frédéric Dard n’aurait pas aimé la sale blague, dans cette adaptation où les mots d’auteur s’écrasent comme des étrons.
Une bonne interprétation, mais une intrigue en toc qui ressemble à une parodie fauchée de James Bond. Ca lasse.
Un package commercial où il est difficile de s’amuser à moins d’avoir forcé sur le rosé.
Le Figaro
Un film creux : les répliques sont grassement vulgaires, l’action part dans tous les sens, les situations sont ridicules.
Les Inrockuptibles
Face à un Lanvin minaudant, Depardieu compose un Bérurier éructant et pelotant à tout va dans cette grosse production franchouillarde.
Rien ne va dans ce film : scènes d’action ruineuses pour les jeunes, tirades supposées salaces pour les vieux… Le film ne cesse de se zapper lui-même.
Film de culte
La femme selon “San Antonio” n’est destinée qu’à deux choses: lécher ou se faire lécher. Et si elle prend une baffe, ce n’est pas grave du moment qu’on l’aime… ]

(4 Aug) Heaven (1998, Scott Reynolds) 63
[ Produced then shelved by Miramax, “Heaven” ended up going straight to video, but not before playing at the 1999 Fantasia Festival, winning the Best International Film Award and catching the eye of a Comic Book Guy who, years later, heartily recommended this unknown little flick to me. Following a gambler who must deals with his ex-wife trying to get sole custody of their son, a psychic stripper chick with a dick and a bunch of double-crossing assholes, it’s less interesting for the story than for the way it’s told. Non-linear chronology is nothing new (Kubrick was at it already in 1956’s “The Killing”), but it’s particularly cleverly used here, certainly better than in the other “post-modern” crime flicks that followed in the wake of Tarantino’s re-actualisation of this storytelling style. “Heaven” is still pretty derivative and the uneven acting doesn’t help, but I can see what got the Fantasia crowd and Comic Book Guy excited. ]

(5 Aug) Last Days (2005, Gus Van Sant) [ review ] 77

(7 Aug) Bonnie and Clyde (1967, Arthur Penn) 69
[ Part of the AFI list (#27) ]

(7 Aug) The Asphalt Jungle (1950, John Huston) 65
[ Herr Doctor’s got a plan for a caper, but he needs a financier, a box man, a getaway driver and a hooligan. And when you’re doing a heist, the most people get involved, the most double-crosses and finking are likely to happen. Like “The Maltese Falcon”, Huston’s earlier film noir, “The Asphalt Jungle” has stark B&W cinematography, snappy dialogue, tough guys and knockout dames (including a young Marilyn Monroe), but it sorely lacks a Bogart-strong leading man. Nonetheless, this twisted and morally ambiguous yarn about the greed and treachery of men kept me engrossed. ]

(8 Aug) Villa Paranoia (2005, Erik Clausen) 52
[ A depressive failed actress is hired by a depressive chicken producer to take care of his depressive elderly father. This is a grey, overcast, very Scandinavian melodrama, but it’s occasionally quite humorous. Sonja Richter’s character is kinda kooky, like a Danish “Amelie”, pretending to be a pyromaniac or a bank robber for fun. Director Erik Clausen is slow getting to his point, but it does pay off sentimentally. More instantly rewarding is Manuel A. Codina’s “Emilio”, a cool short film being shown before “Villa Paranoia”, starring Mario Saint-Amand as a giant cat. ]

(9 Aug) Boudu (2005, Gérard Jugnot) 21
[ Between “Oui, mais”, “Monsieur Batignole” and “Les Choristes”, Gérard Jugnot might just be the most sympathetic working French actor. What’s the idea of building a whole film around the constant abuse and humiliation of his character and expecting it to be hilarious? Maybe I’m too sensitive, but watching poor old Jugnot made to feel like the biggest loser in the world for 90 minutes was an extremely depressing experience. Boudu has Jugnot playing Christian Lespinglet, an art dealer who saves a man trying to commit suicide and kindly takes him home, then realizes that getting rid of the guy is impossible. This is almost exactly the same premise as “Après Vous”, released earlier this year, except that the lost soul is a fat smelly wino (a typecast Gérard Depardieu). Lespinglet understandably wants to get rid of the big slob, who soon proves to be not only ungrateful but clearly psychotic, but his bored childless wife (Catherine Frot) insists that they should keep taking care of him. The ensuing scenes follow the beats of a rollicking farce, with the characters constantly exchanging quips and slaps and every other scene ending with someone slamming the door. But as mentioned, these proceedings feel more cruel than funny. Christian is just a nice guy trying to get along, and all he gets for it is having his home and his wife taken away from him by a disgusting stranger. Worse, the crazy homeless jerk is glorified by the film, which expects us to learn valuable lessons from this supposedly free and charming wild child who’s never worked a day in his life. How much liberal guilt do you need to come up with such hogwash? What’s wrong with being educated, earning a living and having good manners? ]

(9 Aug) Ice Princess (2005, Tim Fywell) 80
[ Science geek Casey (Michelle Trachtenberg) is brilliant but unpopular, her feminist mother (the GREAT Joan Cusack) wants her to pursue this great academic career, but what she really wants to do is figure skate.
“You can’t do this, Casey. You’re giving up your dream.”
“No, mom. I’m giving up your dream. I’m going after mine.”
It ain’t easy being a teenage girl… But why am I identifying so much with this? I shouldn’t be moved to tears by corny Disney tween flicks, but here I am, desperately rooting for Casey to follow her dream, give the bitches their comeuppance, win her mom’s approval and get it on with the Zamboni driver! Whatever critical objectivity I have left can see that this is just a string of sports movie clichés and girly pop montages, but I’m loving it so much! There’s actually some good satirical stuff about high school athletes and the pressure their parents put on them, and Trachtenberg pours so much pathos mixed with good spirit into Casey that we can’t help but be with her every step of the way. YMMV, etc. ]

(12 Aug) Broken Flowers (2005, Jim Jarmusch) [ review ] 38

(14 Aug) Sealab 2021 – Season One (2000) 63
[ A sly spoof of old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, “Sealab 2021” is filled with non sequiturs, absurdity and political incorrectness. The voice actors are particularly funny, the cruddy animation is oddly charming and the theme song is as catchy as it gets. “It’s like a koala bear crapped a rainbow in my brain!” ]

(15-19 Aug) Six Feet Under – Season Four (2004) [ review ]

(19 Aug) The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005, Judd Apatow) [ review ] 74

(19 Aug) The Hamster Cage (2005, Larry Kent) 66
[ The latest from the unheralded godfather of independent Canadian cinema is all about hatred, murder and incest. And it’s a comedy! Needless to say, this is an odd duck. At first I thought it was hilarious, then when it got really heavy and amoral, it made me feel uneasy and I didn’t know what to think anymore… I slept on it, then the next morning, it was still on my mind and the more I reflect on it, the more fascinating it seems… Interviewing Larry Kent (for VOIR) added even more layers to the experience. “I blew a Nobel Prize winner. Freaky!” ]

(22 Aug) The Constant Gardener (2005, Fernando Meirelles)
[ review ] 81

(24 Aug) Wahrheit oder Pflicht (2005, Jan Martin Scharf & Arne Nolting) 49
[ A high school twist on “L’emploi du temps”, it revolves around a German 18 year old who, afraid to let her parents know she’s been kicked out of school because of her bad grades, pretends she’s still going to classes when all she actually does is hang out in an abandoned bus and get caught in a screwed up love triangle. Credibility is not one of this film’s strong points, and neither are cohesiveness or character depth. Still, it’s got a nice Dogme-like looseness to it and Katharina Schüttler is touching enough in the lead. ]

(24-25 Aug) Curb Your Enthusiasm – Season Four (2004) [ review ] 82

(25 Aug) Sweet Memory (2005, Kyriakos Katzourakis) 4
(27 Aug) La pharmacie de l’espoir (2005, François Gourd) 68
(28 Aug) Looking for Angelina (2005, Sergio Navarretta) 22
(28 Aug) Devaki (2005, Bappaditya Bandopadhyay) 70
[ Part of Voir’s FFM coverage ]

(30-31 Aug) Sealab 2021 – Season Two (2002) 65
[ What a stupid show… yet I can’t stop watching! Bizarro. You’ll wish you had less fun. Uh oh. ]

July / September