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

2005 log (1)

(1 Jan) The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977, William A. Graham) 36
[ I was not as wowed by “The Aviator” as most, but I was intrigued enough by the Hughes story to want to check out this TV movie in which he’s personified by Tommy Lee Jones, himself a Texan. He looks and sounds more like the late billionaire than DiCaprio, but it’s kind of a boring performance and the film itself is not as spectacular and stylish as Scorsese’s, obviously. Still, it’s interesting to see the rest of Hughes’ life, after “The Aviator” ended. ]

(1 Jan) Anchorman (2004, Adam McKay) [ review ] 85

(4 Jan) Singles (1992, Cameron Crowe) [ review ] 91

(5 Jan) Jerry Maguire (1996, Cameron Crowe) [ review ] 84

(5 Jan) Almost Famous (2000, Cameron Crowe) [ review ] 92

(6 Jan) Claude Sautet ou La magie invisible (2003, N.T. Binh) 77
[ This documentary about the late great French filmmaker features the usual talking-head segments with his wife, friends and various collaborators, but it’s driven by Sautet’s own recollections, heard in voice-over taken from audio interviews he gave in 2000 before his passing. It’s filled with fascinating insights about how his work related to his passion for music, sculpture and other arts, about recurring themes like unspoken desire and anger hiding sensibility, etc. Then there are the films themselves, which are amply sampled throughout, making you want to experience (or re-experience) them in full. ]

(6 Jan) Another Woman (1988, Woody Allen) 55
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(7 Jan) Million Dollar Baby (2004, Clint Eastwood) [ review ] 79

(9 Jan) Les choses de la vie (1970, Claude Sautet) 51
[ The stunningly shot car accident, the nostalgic music by Philippe Sarde, the timeless beauty of Romy Schneider, Michel Piccoli’s voice-over… Lotsa things to love here, but this story of past regrets and regrets in the making is pretty boring nonetheless. ]

(9 Jan) Alias 4.1 – 4.2 (2005) [ review ] 73

(9 Jan) Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989, Woody Allen) 80
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(10 Jan) Garden State (2004, Zach Braff) 87
[ Been hearing about this one since last year’s Sundance, positively or negatively, but somehow I never got around to seeing it. What finally convinced me is last night’s Nick at Night, in which Nick Digilio and the eFilmcritic.com kids were all like, whoa, defining movie of this generation, etc. So what’s so cool about the flick? Clever visual gags, great sense of flow and snappy edits, perfect music cues, pretty girls (One day, Amy Ferguson will be mine. One day) Braff-the-actor starts out passive, almost zombie-like, but that’s the idea. A generation of slackers, stoners, beautiful losers… Braff’s a wannabe-actor/waiter in L.A., Peter Sarsgaard is a gravedigger, Natalie Portman’s an office worker, but they’re really all, like, lost. This is a pretty astonishing directorial debut, probably the most quirky/adorable Portman’s ever been and… OK, I’m crying now… But they’re, like, happy tears, the kind that make you wanna make something of yourself. Like, write and direct that film, find that girl, you know, be happy! “Garden State” can be a little too precious, a tad melodramatic, but fuck it, if you’re 25 in 2005, you should definitely check it out. ]

(12 Jan) Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001) 75
[ This one-man show has Eric Bogosian ranting for 75 minutes about God’s capricious nature, American arrogance, shallow pop culture, sloppy biker sex and bullshit-slingers from all sides. Like Lenny Bruce before him, Bogosian isn’t all that funny-ha-ha, but he’s an endlessly inspired and incisive writer (see also his plays “Talk Radio” and “Suburbia” and their great film adaptations) and a riveting performer. Not much laugh-out-loud stand-up comedy here, but plenty of thought-provoking social commentary. ]

(14 Jan) Elektra (2005, Rob Bowman) [ review ] 18

(14 Jan) In Good Company (2004, Paul Weitz) [ review ] 64

(15 Jan) Alice (1990, Woody Allen) 69
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(15 Jan) The Iron Giant (1999, Brad Bird) [ review ] 92

(16 Jan) Wake up, Ron Burgundy (2004, Adam McKay) [ review ] 68

(16 Jan) Alias 4.3 (2005) [ review ] 63

(17 Jan) Le Goût des jeunes filles (2005, John L’Ecuyer) [ review ] 67

(17-18 Jan) Curb Your Enthusiasm – Season Three (2002, Robert B. Weide) 90
[ People are so stupid, I wish I was like Larry David and could just yell common sense at them! I also get his thing about being bored with social obligations, yet enjoying company – on your own terms. Most of all, the show is more hilarious than ever. Clearly the cast has grown comfortable with each other and their comic timing is just flawless. ]

(18 Jan) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004, Rawson Marshall Thurber) zzz
[ How dumb is this movie? I started watching the video out of curiosity, but I bailed after half an hour and only one weak chuckle (“All-Male Car Wash!”). I’m sooooo tired of Ben Stiller. ]

(20 Jan) Solitary Fracture (2005, Deniz Michael) [ review ] 61

(20 Jan) William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996, Baz Luhrmann) [ review ] 89

(21 Jan) Bedazzled (2000, Harold Ramis) [ review ] 75

(22 Jan) Shadows and Fog (1991, Woody Allen) 77
(23 Jan) Husbands and Wives (1992, Woody Allen) 90
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(23 Jan) Alias 4.4 (2005) [ review ] 72

(27 Jan) Hide and Seek (2005, John Polson) [ review ] 39

(28 Jan) Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001, Ashutosh Gowariker) 74
[ Part of Michael Dequina’s Bollywood Starter-Kit ]

(29 Jan) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry) [ review ] 94
Third viewing, bawled throughout. What a perfect film.

(30 Jan) Alias 4.5 (2005) [ review ] 67

December / February

2004 log (12)

(1 Dec) Comme les cinq six doigts de la main (1978, André Melançon) 67
[ Everyone knows André Melançon’s “La guerre des tuques” and “Bach et Bottine”, but fewer remember this earlier family film, even though it’s every bit as delightful. It follows five Montréal children as they consider letting a new kid into their gang, but only if he goes through a series of tests: being rolled down a hill in a tire, stealing a trophy from Ti-Pit’s gang, spying on a Portuguese neighbour… What’s wonderful about Melançon’s movies is that he shows kids really being kids, not cutesy tiny adults. These boys and girls are unkempt, mischievous, grumpy… And funny, too! ]

”I’ll suck your cock for $1000.”
(1 Dec) The Big Lebowski (1998, the Coen brothers) [ review ] 93

(2 Dec) Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne) [ review ] 88 [ first viewing: 77 ]

(3 Dec) closer (2004, Mike Nichols) [ review ] 54

(6 Dec) Mariages ! (2004, Valérie Guignabodet) 31
[ “Love is blind, marriage gives it its sight back.” On Benjamin and Johanna’s wedding day, some of their guests re-evaluate their own marriages. The groom’s parents haven’t had sex in 15 years, the father of the bride shamelessly flaunts a young date, the best man wants to leave his wife, the bridesmaids are having affairs… It sounds cynical as hell, but this is actually a nice little movie, with nice little characters and nice little laughs. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, and nothing you’ll remember ten minutes afterwards, but while it plays it’s nice enough. ]

(7 Dec) De-Lovely (2004, Irwin Winkler) 35
[ This is a pretty odd duck: part biopic, part musical, part “unconventional” love story… And framing the whole thing, the Archangel Gabriel (!) and an old Cole Porter ten seconds away from dying discussing his life and the movie itself. Pretty odd. Kevin Kline’s pleasant as the great songwriter and Ashley Judd’s ok as his wife (who’s surprisingly understanding about the fact that her hubby’s gay!), but the movie never truly comes alive. The song and dance numbers performed by Robbie Williams, Alanis Morissette, Elvis Costello, Lara Fabian (!) and others are enjoyable but, again, they don’t “pop” like the classic MGM musicals did. ]

(7 Dec) Radio Days (1987, Woody Allen) 63
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(7 Dec) Collateral (2004, Michael Mann) [ review ] 66

(8 Dec) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004, Wes Anderson) [ review ] 57

(10 Dec) C’est pas moi… C’est l’autre ! (2004, Alain Zaloum) 25
[ Vincent Papineau, a “petty thief trying to make an honest living” (!), finds himself in hot water after stealing than losing 230 grands from the Marseille mob. Then through a contrived case of mistaken identities, he finds himself posing as a Montreal policeman and he decides to use his new status to scam up some cash. Roy Dupuis, in a rare comedic performance, is amusing as the crook/cop, but the rest of the cast doesn’t fare as well. As Dupuis’ partner, Lucie Laurier is at a loss trying to make sense of her character’s constant mood changes, Luck Mervil is bamboozled into a homeboy role and the French actors playing the bad guys couldn’t be more annoying and less funny if they tried. ]

(10 Dec) Ocean’s Twelve (2004, Steven Soderbergh) [ review ] 43

(14 Dec) House of Flying Daggers (2004, Zhang Yimou) [ review ] 93

(15 Dec) Mar Adentro (2004, Alejandro Amenábar) [ review ] 90

(16 Dec) As Tears Go By (1988, Wong Kar-Wai) 67
(16 Dec) Days of Being Wild (1991, Wong Kar-Wai) 62
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(17 Dec) Spanglish (2004, James L. Brooks) [ review ] 56

(18 Dec) Chungking Express (1994, Wong Kar-Wai) [ review ] 93

(20 Dec) Tristan (2004, Philippe Harel) 39
[ Mathilde Seigner stars as a grumpy lady cop who’s distracted from following a Bulgarian connection when she stumbles upon the strange case of a serial killer whose preys take their own life after he’s made them fall desperately in love with him. This is sort of a French twist on those Ashley Judd vehicles, but less glossy and a little more grounded. Philippe Harel’s film is still not particularly incisive, but it does keep us guessing and the interaction between Seigner and the Udo Kier-type who plays “Tristan” is interestingly ambiguous. ]

(20 Dec) Ashes of Time (1994, Wong Kar-Wai) ???
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(21 Dec) September (1987, Woody Allen) 67
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(22 Dec) Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright) [ review ] 90

(23 Dec) Strictly Ballroom (1992, Baz Luhrmann) 87
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(24 Dec) Hero (2003, Zhang Yimou) [ review ] 93

(25 Dec) The Aviator (2004, Martin Scorsese) [ review ] 50

(25-27-30 Dec) The Simple Life 2 (2004) 54
[ That’s hot. Do you love it? Oh, the show’s obviously staged, as fake as Paris and Nicole themselves, but it’s pretty funny. And hot. Do you love it? ]

(28 Dec) Wake up, Ron Burgundy (2004, Adam McKay) [ review ] 68

(29 Nov) Nez Rouge (2003, Érik Canuel) [ review ] 57

(29 Dec) Sessions for Robert J (2004, Stephen Schible) 83
[ Robert Johnson only lived to be 27, he grew up poor, black and lonely, had much, much trouble with women and, according to legend, met the Devil one night at the crossroads and traded his soul for the extraordinary guitar skills we know him for. Eric Clapton is pushing 60, he’s a rich British man who’s had considerable success and happiness through his life… He couldn’t be more different than Johnson, except that he’s also a guitar god. Yet through this DVD, which chronicles a series of sessions in which Clapton and some guest players recreate the songs of the late great bluesman, there are times where all the weathered soulfulness of Robert J seems to possess Eric C’s hands and voice. A must-see for all music lovers. ]

(31 Dec) Fearless (1993, Peter Weir) 70
[ I vaguely remember seeing this back when it came out on video, but not in any detailed way. What inspired me to revisit it is seeing that it topped Nick Digilio’s Best of the ‘90s list. Jeff Bridges stars as a man who, after walking away uninjured from a plane crash, starts thinking he’s unbreakable. His wife (gorgeous Isabella Rosselini) and therapist (John Turturro) don’t understand him, but he connects deeply with fellow survivor Rosie Perez, who also feels drawn apart from her spouse (Benicio Del Toro). There are some powerful ideas in “Fearless”, it’s well directed and Bridges is awesome as always, but it’s hardly the best film of the ’90s or anything. “You’re not dead.” ]

November / January

2004 log (11)

(1 Nov) Comment devenir un trou de cul et enfin plaire aux femmes (2004, Roger Boire) 11
[ Louis, a needy loser with the worst taste in clothes, has just been dumped again. His ex wants them to remain friends, but he’s had enough of being the “nice guy” and decides to become an asshole instead, since this is what women want. The whole movie revolves around such misogynistic ideas. They’re not necessarily wrong, but they’re definitely unhealthy. Embarrassing sex scenes and godawful musical numbers fill out this unpleasant picture, which is even more amateurish than a Simon Boisvert film. ]

(2 Nov) Feux Rouges (2004, Cédric Kahn) 53
[ This adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel depicts the tension that builds between a married couple as they drive to a summer camp to pick up their kids. The generous amounts of alcohol the husband consumes before and during their road trip certainly don’t help, but things go even worse when they cross paths with a dangerous escaped convict. “Feux Rouges” is sometimes frustratingly slow, but it can also be harrowingly intense and Jean-Pierre Darroussin makes us feel all the despair of his character. ]

(2 Nov) Interiors (1978, Woody Allen) 18
(4 Nov) Stardust Memories (1980, Woody Allen) 87
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(5 Nov) The Incredibles (2004, Brad Bird) [ review ] 60

(6 Nov) A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982, Woody Allen) 73
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(8 Nov) Finding Neverland (2004, Marc Forster) [ review ] 66

(8 Nov) Zelig (1983, Woody Allen) 75
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(9 Nov) Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne) [ review ] 77

(10 Nov) The Polar Express (2004, Robert Zemeckis) [ review ] 74

(11 Nov) Broadway Danny Rose (1984, Woody Allen) 60
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(12 Nov) Undertow (2004, David Gordon Green) [ review ] 64

(15 Nov) Nouvelle-France (2004, Jean Beaudin) [ review ] 8

(16 Nov) Mensonges et trahisons et plus si affinités… (2004, Laurent Tirard) 72
[ Raphaël (Edouard Baer), a ghost writer of celebrity autobiographies, compromises his relationship with tactless but inspiring architect girlfriend Muriel (our own Marie-Josée Croze, convincing as a Parisian) when he starts spending time with Claire (Alice Taglioni), an old infatuation who happens to be dating the star foot player (Clovis Cornillac) whose life story Raphaël is currently working on. This first film from Laurent Tirard is funny, clever and sincere, too. It doesn’t reinvent the romantic comedy genre, but the characters are well written and Tirard’s direction is dynamic and playful. ]

(16 Nov) Freeway (1996, Matthew Bright) 79
[ This is so tits! I’ve seen Reese as a cute kid, in pink, as a nerdy girl, in a British period piece, etc. But I had yet to see her all foul-mouthed, badass and slutty! The movie itself is outrageous and dirrty, “Little Red Riding Hood” by the way of “Monster”, with Kiefer Sutherland as the serial killing Big Bad Wolf. Tits, I tell you! ]

(17 Nov) Kinsey (2004, Bill Condon) [ review ] 70

(18 Nov) Chanel No. 5 (2004, Baz Luhrmann) 88
[ Sure, it’s only a commercial, but what a gorgeous one it is! Nicole Kidman looks magnificent, especially with Baz recreating some of the “Moulin Rouge!” magic around her. ]

(19 Nov) Licks Around the World – Live from the Olympia (2003) 69
[ I’m not into arena shows much, so it’s nice to see the Stones taking it down and playing a theatre set. I’ve heard “Start Me Up” enough for a lifetime, but it’s still an explosive opener, and I love how they go back to lesser known tunes like “No Expectations”, with Ron Wood on slide, or “Worried About You”, with Mick’s gloriously ridiculous falsetto. Also putting foot to ass is “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”, covers of The Miracles’ “Going to a Go-Go” and The O’Jays’ “Love Train” and, of course, Keith’s lead-vocals one-two punch of “The Nearness of You” and “Before They Make Me Run”. Mick’s French isn’t bad either! ]

(20 Nov) The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985, Woody Allen) 91
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(23 Nov) le petit Jésus (2004, André-Line Beauparlant) 70
[ In her follow-up to “Trois Princesses pour Roland”, art director turned documentary filmmaker André-Line Beauparlant once again turns her camera towards her relatives to try and make sense of some of their most difficult memories. In this case, she interviews her parents, siblings and friends of the family about how her handicapped little brother Sébastien (now deceased) affected their lives. This “story of a miracle that never happened” is filled with sadness, naturally, but there’s also anger at why this happened to them even though they were practicing Catholics who fervently prayed and went to church. Heartbreaking stuff. ]

(23 Nov) Some Kind of Monster (2004, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky) 47
[ Metallica, who has sold over ninety million albums since 1981 and was the top concert draw through most of the 1990s, have been floundering in the past few years. They still have diehard metalhead fans, but whatever crossover appeal they once had is gone. What we learn in this documentary is that the band almost broke up recently. Bass player Jason Newsted left, lead singer James Hetfield went into rehab, drummer Lars Ulrich pissed off a lot of folks by shutting down Napster… Tensions grew so much between the members of the band that they had to hire a group therapist! Too much ego and too much money turned angry young men into pretentious old farts. They’re rich, they’ve done it all; they don’t need this shit and it shows. I guess it’s courageous of them to bare it all in front of the cameras, but it’s mostly embarrassing. Metallica’s like a humourless Spinal Tap! Some kind of monster indeed. ]

(24 Nov) Ma vie en Cinémascope (2004, Denise Filiatrault) [ review ] 31

(25 Nov) Life is a Miracle (2004, Emir Kusturica) [ review ] 84

(25 Nov) Hotel Rwanda (2004, Terry George) [ review ] 68

(27 Nov) All About Eve (1950, Joseph L. Mankiewicz) 93
[ Part of the AFI list (#16) ]

(27 Nov) The Girl Next Door (2004, Luke Greenfield) [ review ] 80

(28 Nov) The Silent Flute AKA Circle of Iron (1978, Richard Moore) 36
[ Conceived by Bruce Lee before his death, this story captured his vision of martial arts and the Zen philosophy he lived by. The actual movie made from it is not that much less silly or much more spiritual than your average ‘70s kung fu flick. In fact, it’s mostly just weird. You got your beefcake He-Man hero (Jeff Cooper), a mysterious blind man (David Carradine), a monkey man (David Carradine), a harem master (David Carradine), Death (David Carradine), a guy who’s been in a tub of oil for ten years hoping for his genitalia to melt off (!), the Keeper of the Book (Christopher Lee)… There’s some fun stuff here, but the fights are nowhere near as good as they would certainly have been had Bruce Lee lived to make the film. ]

(29 Nov) The Office Special (2003, Ricky Gervais) [ review ] 93

(30 Nov) One of Many (2004, Jo Béranger & Doris Buttignol) 35
[ “After the residential school opened and the beer parlour got built, people were lost.” As you might have guessed, this NFB documentary is about the Indian condition. We know about past injustices like how the First Nations’ land was taken from them, but what isn’t as well known is that there are still systematic attempts to assimilate them. Just forty years ago, governmental initiatives were implemented to take Indian kids away from their community and put them in white schools. “One of many” is about a woman’s journey back into into her personal history, which ties into a whole generation’s experience of being stripped away of its identity and culture. This makes for a depressing film, full of people feeling sorry about themselves, with reason, but in no constructive way. The resentment is clear, but the ideas aren’t. ]

October / December

2004 log (10)

(1 Oct) I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978, Robert Zemeckis) 32
(1 Oct) Used Cars (1980, Robert Zemeckis) 23
(2 Oct) Romancing the Stone (1984, Robert Zemeckis) 61
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(5 Oct) Ryan (2004, Chris Landreth) 84
(5 Oct) clean (2004, Olivier Assayas) 46
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage ]

(5 Oct) A Life Less Ordinary (1997, Danny Boyle) 51
(5 Oct) vacuuming completely nude in paradise (2001, Danny Boyle) 79
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(7 Oct) Demi-Tarif (2004, Isild Le Besco) 37
(7 Oct) The Fuccons (2001, Ishibashi Yoshimasa) ???
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage ]

(7 Oct) La mygale jaune (2003, Jean Leclerc) 68
[ For the better part of 15 years, Jean Leclerc was Jean Leloup, John the Wolf, Quebec’s most original and iconic rocker. Part poet, part guitar hero, Leloup galvanized a whole generation with his music and touched them with his words. Last year, though, he decided to call it quits, not for the first time but allegedly for the last. This film depicts the last days of his larger than life public persona. We see him on stage for a final performance, hear him talk about why he wants to leave this lifestyle (with his usual irreverence, natch) and witness the Viking funeral of his guitar, which he sends upon a burning raft on the Yamaska river. Technically, this isn’t much of a movie: shots are often shaky or out of focus and the editing is messy. Then again, Leclerc/Leloup is an always enjoyable presence, funny and oddly moving at times, and his songs are amazing. ]

(8 Oct) mémoires affectives (2004, Francis Leclerc) 63
(12 Oct) Childstar (2004, Don McKellar) 26
(14 Oct) Vera Drake (2004, Mike Leigh) 70
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage ]

(14 Oct) Baadasssss! (2004, Mario Van Peebles) 22
[ When Melvin Van Peebles made “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”, it revolutionized the way African-Americans are represented in movies. Sidney Poitier had already cracked the door open, but Van Peebles blew it out of is hinges! Getting there was a struggle, no doubt, and this is an interesting subject for a film, but “Baadasssss” doesn’t deliver. It’s marred by choppy storytelling, over-reliance on narration and (fake) talking-heads segments, unfunny attempts at humor and flat dramatics, caricatural depiction of ‘60s counterculture and simplistic views on race. Most damning is how boring the flick is. This is a great story, but we never feel it. In fact, the little “The Birth of Black Cinema” featurette on the DVD is more compelling than anything in the actual movie. ]

(15 Oct) Team America: World Police (2004, Trey Parker) [ review ] 92

(16 Oct) Swimming to Cambodia (1987, Jonathan Demme) 76
[ Spalding Gray is a truly amazing storyteller, able to make the littlest things like the most complex fascinating. This live stage performance has him talking about being cast in “The Killing Fields”, which leads to a passionate exposé about the secret American bombings of Cambodia and the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge, followed by Gray’s account of his adventures in Thailand in search of the “perfect moment”. These tales are sometimes funny, sometimes moving, always compelling. ]

(18 Oct) La Lune viendra d’elle-même (2004, Marie-Jan Seille) 15
[ Aimée (Isabelle Leblanc) is losing her struggle with AIDS and her boyfriend (the Artist formerly known as Jean Leloup) has abandoned her, but she still has her friend Francine (France Castel) accompanying her until the end. Here’s another film with a heavy subject it isn’t able to transcend. Writer-director Marie-Jan Seille spells things out too squarely and her attempts at symbolism fall flat. Castel breathes compassion, but Leblanc is insufferable in her long, slow, boring agony and the movie offers no greater insights than “Dying’s a bitch, eh.” Thanks for the heads-up, now can I have my 2 hours back? ]

(18 Oct) Young Adam (2004, David Mackenzie) 57
[ The sounds around the barge, the Dave Byrne score, the sharp cinematography, the Scottish accents… Me likey. Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton and Emily Mortimer, sexual tension and tense sex… Me likey a lot. The plot’s not great and the pacing’s on the slow side, but this is a pretty hot film overall. “You know what you can do with your custard?” ]

(19 Oct) Sign Ø’ the Times (1987, Prince)
[ The “dramatic” sequences intercut through this concert film are more silly than anything, but the live stage performance is awesome. Prince is an outrageous showman and a musical genius, his band is on fire and this is a spectacular production full of contagious enthusiasm. Why isn’t it on DVD? ]

(19 Oct) The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2004, Asia Argento) 62
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage) ]

(20 Oct) Stand by Me (1986, Rob Reiner) 77
[ This Stephen King adaptation is short on horror but full of character and period detail. In 1959 Castle Rock (oddly transposed from Maine to Oregon), four kids go on a trek to find the body of a missing teenager. Featuring early performances from Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, Kiefer Sutherland and the late River Phoenix, this is a touching coming of age story full of exciting twists. ]

(20 Oct) Take the Money and Run (1969, Woody Allen) 71
(21 Oct) bananas (1971, Woody Allen) 64
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(21 Oct) Tarnation (2004, Jonathan Caouette) [ review ] 90

(23 Oct) Palindromes (2004, Todd Solondz) 48
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage) ]

(24 Oct) Mean Girls (2004, Mark S. Waters) [ review ] 71

(25 Oct) Comme une image (2004, Agnès Jaoui) 36
[ Agnès Jaoui’s second directorial effort follows a bunch of miserable bourgeois French artists as they go to restaurants, parties and weekends in the country. Everyone’s always bitching about everything, especially Jean-Pierre Bacri’s novelist character, but at least he’s funny doing it, maybe because as co-writer of the film, he’s given himself all the good lines. The rest of the cast only take his casual condescension, then complain about it behind his back. Whiniest of all is his fat daughter, increasingly self-conscious because of her father’s inconsiderate ways. Why this won the Best Screenplay award at the last Cannes festival escapes me. ]

(26 Oct) Birth (2004, Jonathan Glazer) [ review ] 41

(26 Oct) Ripoux 3 (2004, Claude Zidi) 33
[ Twenty years after making the original “Les Ripoux”, Claude Zidi brings us the third film in the cult series. While former dirty cop François (Thierry Lhermitte) has apparently become clean, his former partner René (Philippe Noiret) is still a “flambeur” always looking for a good scam. Through a contrived plot involving mistaken identities, the two old buddies and police rookie Julien (Lorant Deutsch, once Jessica Barker’s sidekick in “Les Intrépides”!) will somehow be brought together for the climactic heist. “Ripoux 3” is a mixed bag. Noiret and Lhermitte still have chemistry, but the film could have done without the racist Chinese stereotypes, the cheesy score by Francis Lai (who also composed the music for “Emmanuelle”, unsurprisingly) and the odd sentimental streak that makes the comedy feel like an afterthought. ]

(27 Oct) Everything you always wanted to know about sex* But were afraid to ask (1972, Woody Allen) 40
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(28 Oct) 7 ans de Mariage… (2004, Didier Bourdon) 22
[ Didier Bourdon (who also wrote and directed the film) and Catherine Frot are a bored married couple experiencing the infamous seven year itch. On the advice of a sex therapist friend, Bourdon decides to shake things up by sharing his sexual fantasies with his wife and bringing her to swingers clubs, unaware that he’ll awaken a sexy beast he might not be able to handle. This sounds risqué, but the movie is actually boring and unadventurous. A little less conversation and a little more action might have helped, but Bourdon’s suburban idea of perversion is the real problem here. ]

(28 Oct) i ♥ huckabees (2004, David O. Russell) [ review ] 69

(29 Oct) Ray (2004, Taylor Hackford) [ review ] 78

(29 Oct) Sleeper (1973, Woody Allen) 65
(30 Oct) Love and Death (1975, Woody Allen) 89
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

September / November

2004 log (9)

(1 Sept) Predstava Hamleta u Selu Mrdusi Donjoj (1974, Krsto Papic) 62
[ Part of our FFM coverage ]

(1 Sept) Schizopolis (1997, Steven Soderbergh) 85
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(2 Sept) The Passion of the Jew (2004, Trey Parker) 77
[ After seeing “The Passion of the Christ”, Kyle realizes that Cartman was right all these years when he badmouthed Jews, and after seeing the film 34 times, Cartman now wants to go further than that and begin “the cleansing”. Achtung! Meanwhile, Stan and Kenny think the movie sucks ass and try to get Mel Gibson himself to given them their money back, but the Hollywood star won’t cough up the cash unless they torture him. “Mel Gibson is fucking crazy, dude!” I actually thought “The Passion” was a great picture, but give it to South Park to spoof it and the ridiculous controversy that surrounded its release so shamelessly and hilariously! ]

(3 Sept) Purple Rain (1984, Albert Magnoli) 83
[ The quintessential ‘80s musical, jam-packed with synth-pop, guitar solos, puffy hair, ridiculous clothes and at the center of it all, that most flaming funkmaster rock star, Prince! The story is somewhat inconsequential and the acting isn’t great, but the song and dance numbers will make you want to jump out of your seat and go crazy. All the Revolution tracks (Let’s Go Crazy, The Beautiful Ones, Darling Nikki, I Would Die 4 U, When Doves Cry, the all-time great title song…) are killer, of course, but Morris Day and the Time also deliver tasty grooves and while I wouldn’t call Apollonia talented, she’s as slutty a performer as any Britney or Christina. And ultimately, as cheesy as it can be, “Purple Rain” ends up being oddly moving. ]

(3 Sept) Underneath (1995, Steven Soderbergh) 71
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(6 Sept) Les choristes (2004, Christophe Barratier) 56
[ Part of our FFM coverage ]

(6 Sept) Son frère (2003, Patrice Chéreau) 80
[ This naturalistic, quasi-Dogme drama deals with the difficult relationship between a homosexual man and his brother, who suffers from a severe blood disease. Most of the film is devoted to the back and forth between the two siblings, played with raw emotion and intensity by Bruno Todeschini and Eric Caravaca. Having a brother myself from whom I’ve grown distant, even though we were as close as it gets as kids, this story deeply moved me. Disease is also a sad and scary thing, all the more to make “Son frère” a wrenching experience. ]

(8 Sept) mon fils sera arménien (2004, Hagop Goudsouzian) 73
[ This powerful NFB documentary depicts filmmaker Hagop Goudsouzian’s journey back to Armenia, on the traces of the 1,5 million of his ancestors who were massacred or forced into exile by the Turkish between 1915 and 1923. This isn’t as well known as it should because many countries still won’t recognize this genocide. Goudsouzian takes with him a group of Montrealers of Armenian descent (including TV personality Patrick Masbourian) to the land of their forebears in search of the survivors of the genocide, whose number diminishes each year. They are all over 90 years old today, but they still feel the pain of fleeing Turkish assassins as kids and so do we listening to them. ]

(9 Sept) Kafka (1991, Steven Soderbergh) 68
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(9 Sept) Alias 3.1-3.2 (2003) [ review ] 77

(10 Sept) King of the Hill (1993, Steven Soderbergh) 75
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(10 Sept) Alias 3.3 (2003) [ review ] 72

(11 Sept) Alias 3.4-3.6 (2003) [ review ] 80

(12 Sept) Alias 3.7-3.8 (2003) [ review ] 84

(13 Sept) When Will I Be Loved (2004, James Toback) [ review ] 55

(14 Sept) Les Aimants (2004, Yves Pelletier) [ review ] 91

(14 Sept) Alias 3.9-3.11 (2003) [ review ] 85

(15 Sept) Alias 3.12 (2004) [ review ] 78

(16 Sept) A Dirty Shame (2004, John Waters) [ review ] 13

(16 Sept) Epidemic (1987, Lars von Trier) 67
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(16 Sept) Alias 3.13-3.15 (2004) [ review ] 75

(17 Sept) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004, Kerry Conran) [ review ] 33

(17 Sept) Alias 3.16-3.18 (2004) [ review ] 71

(18 Sept) Alias 3.19-3.21 (2004) [ review ] 79

(19 Sept) Alias 3.22 (2004) [ review ] 85

(21 Sept) L’amour en pen / De mémoire de chats (2004, Manon Barbeau) 70
[ Manon Barbeau’s latest documentaries both display acute sensitivity, discovering truth and beauty in unlikely places. “L’amour en pen”, which has prisoners talking about the great love of their life, is surprisingly moving, maybe because it’s so rare to see men (convicts or not) open up and be vulnerable. “De mémoire de chats” explores Montreal’s countless back streets, taking in quiet beauty and sad decay, clothespins and heroin needles, gardens and dumpsters… Barbeau finds lyricism in the urban jungle, getting off the main roads and into the heart of the city. ]

(21 Sept) Tip of the Tongue (2003) 64
[ “It happened so quickly… One minute you can’t get laid, and the next minute there’s 3000 chicks throwing their panties at you!” Ah, the life of the rock star. Some actually manage to bitch about it, but not the Rolling Stones. They know they’re lucky, they know all these years of sex, drugs and r’n’r should have killed them. To still be going strong at 60 is extraordinary. You look at Mick and Keith and Charlie and Ron, they seem to genuinely like each other and enjoy playing together. Good for them. ]

(21 Sept) Magnolia (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson) [ review ] 100

(23 Sept) Coeur à bout (2004, Marcel Simard) 9
[ This Canal Vie-ready documentary takes a look at people who, after a heart attack, refuse to observe the doctor’s recommendations. What soon becomes apparent is that they don’t realize that this is a medical condition. Instead, they whine on and on about all their problems, convinced that their heart is in bad shape because of their sad experiences and not because they won’t stop smoking and eating junk-food. This makes for an obnoxious movie, mixing melodramatic navel-gazing with what feels like an educational infomercial. ]

(23 Sept) Licks Around the World – Live from Madison Square Garden (2003) 66
[ Sure, they’re old, arenas are impersonal, and rock and roll with a 12 piece band feels overblown. Mick isn’t very convincing anymore singing that he’s a “Street Fighting Man”, and he’s too busy doing silly “Monkey Man” dances to recapture the emotion of “Angie”. Then again, when the Stones are on, they’re ON! The 10 minute jams around “Midnight Rambler” and especially “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” blow the roof of the joint and Keith does manage to make the Garden feel intimate when he croons “Thru and Thru”. ]

(27 Sept) Les Aimants (2004, Yves Pelletier) [ review ] 91

(28 Sept) Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, Robert Zemeckis) 77
(28 Sept) Death Becomes Her (1992, Robert Zemeckis) 24
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

August / October

2004 log (8)

(2 Aug) Premier Juillet, le film (2004, Philippe Gagnon) [ review ] 47

(2 Aug) Kill Bill Double Bill! (2004, Quentin Tarantino) 95
Vol. 1 [ review ]
Vol. 2 [ review ]
[ This was a great idea on Cinéma du Parc‘s part, too bad they didn’t chop off the closing credits of “Vol. 1” and the opening titles of “Vol. 2” to create a truly uninterrupted “Kill Bill” experience. ]

(3 Aug) Rushmore (1998, Wes Anderson) [ review ] 71

(4 Aug) RRRrrrr!!! (2004, Alain Chabat) 9
[ At the Dawn of Man, the Clean-haired and the Dirty-haired tribes are waging a war over the recipe for shampoo. Meanwhile, the Clean-haired must investigate the first ever crime spree. This is the debut feature of the Robin des Bois, who are kind of the French Monty Python, except that they’re painfully unfunny. “RRRrrrr!!!” is an endless 95 minutes of bad puns, flat slapstick and stupid nonsense, with not a single laugh in the lot. This is worse than a Flinstones rerun, worse than the Flinstones movie, even worse than the Flinstones movie sequel! ]

(6 Aug) The Village (2004, M. Night Shyamalan) [ review version 2.0 ] 85

(6 Aug) Collateral (2004, Michael Mann) [ review ] 66

(7 Aug) Election (1998, Alexander Payne) [ review ] 91
[ Trivia note: Payne uses the same Morricone track as sort of a Tracy Flick theme that Tarantino used for the Bride/Elle fight in “Kill Bill” Vol. 2. ]

(8 Aug) Predator (1987, John McTiernan) [ review ] 92

(11 Aug) The Set-Up (1949, Robert Wise) 65
[ “Don’t you see, you’ll always be one punch away.” Washed out boxer Stoker’s manager is paid off to have him take a dive but doesn’t tell him, figuring he’ll lose anyway like he always does. Or will he? The film takes place in real-time, counting down the minutes as Stoker watches the other palookas on the evening’s program waltz in and out of the locker room with their dreams and disillusions, then we go right into the ring with him for the fight. Crisp B&W cinematography and crisper dialogue make for a minor yet effective entry in the film noir genre. ]

(12 Aug) Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004, Sara Sugarman) 17
[ This won’t come as a surprise: I enjoy me some Lindsay Lohan. Still, I know suck when I see it. Lindsay’s nice to look at and she’s got a pretty good singing voice, but the shrill Disneyfied high school girliness, unfunny slapstick and lame visual gimmicks make this the most misguided teen comedy since “Get Over It”. Just watch Lohan’s That Girl music video on a loop and you’ll be fine. ]

(13 Aug) Alien Vs. Predator (2004, Paul W.S. Anderson) [ review ] 22

(14 Aug) 13 Going on 30 (2004, Gary Winnick) 64
[ A dorky 13 year old girl magically flash-forwards from 1987 to 2004, when’s she’s grown into a “thirty, flirty and thriving” 30 year old fashion magazine editor who looks like Jennifer Garner! This is an obvious “Big” knock-off, but Garner’s winning persona, her sweet romance with Mark Ruffalo and the ‘80s pop soundtrack make this a fun little movie anyway. ]

(15 Aug) Roxanne (1987, Fred Schepisi) 70
[ Whenever you’re tempted to dismiss Steve Martin as a hopeless sell-out, you have to go back to the movies he’s written himself like this charming modern retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. Martin plays a big-nosed fireman who falls in love with an astronomy student (Daryl Hannah) but winds up courting her through the dumb hunk she thinks she loves. “Roxanne” isn’t as funny as “Bowfinger” or as romantic as “L.A. Story”, but it’s still one of Martin’s best films. Fred Willard as the mayor is a nice touch, too. ]

(16 Aug) Alias 1.1-1.3 (2001) [ review ] 91

(17 Aug) Alias 1.4-1.11 (2001) [ review ] 85

(18 Aug) Elles étaient cinq (2004, Ghyslaine Côté) [ review ] 27

(18 Aug) Alias 1.12-1.13 (2002) [ review ] 90

(19 Aug) La Vida que te espera (2004, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón) 42
[ Part of our FFM coverage ]

(19 Aug) Alias 1.14-1.16 (2002) [ review ] 73

(20 Aug) Alias 1.17-1.19 (2002) [ review ] 84

(21 Aug) Alias 1.20-1.22 (2002) [ review ] 86

(22 Aug) Alias 2.1-2.2 (2002) [ review ] 71

(23 Aug) Je t’aime… moi non plus (2004, Maria de Medeiros) 63
[ Part of our FFM coverage ]

(23 Aug) Alias 2.3-2.6 (2002) [ review ] 76

(23 Aug) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry) [ review ] 94

(24 Aug) Trilogia – To livadi pou dakrizi (2004, Theo Angelopoulos) 55
[ Part of our FFM coverage ]

(24 Aug) Alias 2.7-2.8 (2002) [ review ] 77

(25 Aug) Forrest Gump (1994, Robert Zemeckis) [ review ] 100

(27 Aug) Alias 2.9-2.14 (2003) [ review ] 79

(28 Aug) Alias 2.15-2.17 (2003) [ review ] 72

(29 Aug) Alias 2.18-2.21 (2003) [ review ] 85

(30 Aug) Vanity Fair (2004, Mira Nair) [ review ] 37

(30 Aug) Alias 2.22 (2003) [ review ] 91

(31 Aug) sex, lies, and videotape (1989, Steven Soderbergh) 64
(31 Aug) Gray’s Anatomy (1996, Steven Soderbergh) 80
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

July / September

2004 log (7)

(2 Jul) Legend of Eight Samurai (1983, Kinji Fukasaru) [ review ] 34

(3 Jul) South Park – Season 4 (2000, Trey Parker & Matt Stone) 83
[ The exquisite voice work, the wonderfully cruddy animation, the subversive satire… “South Park” is so sweeeet, I love these little bastards, and I love the whole 4th Grade thing with More Explosions, Mrs Choksondik and of course, TIMMY! ]

(4 Jul) Elvis Gratton XXX: La Vengeance d’Elvis Wong (2004, Pierre Falardeau) 6
[ Pierre Falardeau has never been known for his subtlety, but here he reaches a new low in moronic farce. Two decades after his creation, Elvis Gratton is more pathetic and less funny than ever. The boorish “p’tit gars de Brossard” is now the head of a giant media conglomerate, concerned only with profits and promoting Canadian unity. This allows Falardeau to hurl bile at politicians, journalists and intellectuals but, even if you agree with his opinions, they’re too crudely thrown into this cinematic cesspool to register as more than the whining of a frustrated old man. ]

(5 Jul) Camping Sauvage (2004, Sylvain Roy & Guy A. Lepage) [ review ] 18

(6 Jul) Le Bison* (et sa voisine Dorine) (2003, Isabelle Nanty) 14
[ When very pregnant Dorine’s no-good husband walks out on her and their four kids and a half, careless neighbour Louis Le Bison reluctantly finds himself involved in their troubles. Isabelle Nanty not only stars but is also making her directorial debut here. She’s got a light touch behind the camera, but the story is uninspiring and her writing is too mannered. Her shrill overacting quickly grows tiresome and so do the cloying child actors surrounding her. ]

(6 Jul) The Last Picture Show (1971, Peter Bogdanovich) 67
[ Is there a more beautiful sight than young Cybill Shepherd? You might be stuck in a flat and empty Texas town, wasting away in high school, but to be around young Cybill Shepherd, aaww… In black & white, too! Bogdanovich’ bittersweet 1950s slice of life also features a young Ellen Burstyn, a young Randy Quaid and a young Jeff “His Dudeness” Bridges but really, it’s all about the Cybill. ]

(7 Jul) The Door in the Floor (2004, Tod Williams) [ review ] 56

(7 Jul) Killer’s Kiss (1955, Stanley Kubrick) 73
(7 Jul) The Killing (1956, Stanley Kubrick) 85
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(9 Jul) Ginger Snaps Unleashed (2004, Brett Sullivan) [ review ] 68

(10 Jul) Before Sunset (2004, Richard Linklater) [ review ] 90

(10 Jul) Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004, Grant Harvey) 34
[ Part of our FANTASIA coverage ]

(11 Jul) Spartacus (1960, Stanley Kubrick) 87
(11 Jul) Paths of Glory (1957, Stanley Kubrick) 65
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(11 Jul) Last Life in the Universe (2003, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang) 71
[ Part of our FANTASIA coverage ]

(12 Jul) Les 11 commandements (2004, les Réals de Madrid) 29
[ Part of our Comedia coverage ]

(12 Jul) Lolita (1962, Stanley Kubrick) 70
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(13 Jul) Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004, Danny Leiner) [ review ] 78

(13 Jul) Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, Stanley Kubrick) [ review ] 97

(13 Jul) One Point O (2004, Jeff Renfroe & Marteinn Thorsson) 54
[ Part of our FANTASIA coverage ]

(14 Jul) Barry Lyndon (1975, Stanley Kubrick) 86
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(15 Jul) Going the Distance (2004, Mark Griffiths) 23
[ Part of our Comedia coverage ]

(15 Jul) Memories of Murder (2003, Bong Joon-ho) 57
[ Part of our FANTASIA coverage ]

(15 Jul) Breakfast with Hunter (2004, Wayne Ewing) [ review ] 24

(16 Jul) Anchorman (2004, Adam McKay) [ review ] 85

(16 Jul) Je Reste! (2004, Diane Kurys) 20
[ Vincent Perez is always off building bridges around the world while Sophie Marceau stays at home and takes care of their son. Marceau’s long-suffering character is necessarily more sympathetic than Perez’s one-note jerk, and we understand her when she leaves him for a screenwriter played by Charles Berling. But then the film becomes about the selfish husband’s attempts to win his wife back and we’re supposed to root for him? Bollocks. This is a handsome production and Marceau’s a peach, but I’m growing impatient of movies about improbably beautiful and rich married couples who still find ways to be unhappy. ]

(17 Jul) Blueberry (2004, Jan Kounen) 58
[ Part of our FANTASIA coverage ]

(17 Jul) Anchorman (2004, Adam McKay) [ review ] 85

(19 Jul) Le coût de la vie (2003, Philippe Le Guay) 62
[ A film about money and the way different characters relate to it sounds like it will be cold and distant, but Philippe Le Guay’s ensemble picture is actually warm, touching, even funny at times. It follows various mostly unrelated characters: a neurotic programmer (Fabrice Luchini) who pinches every penny, a restaurant owner (Vincent Lindon) who’s so generous he’s approaching bankruptcy, a young heiress (adorable Isild Le Besco) who wants to be liked for more than her fortune… Their financial situation is what ties the film together thematically, but it truly serves as a catalyst to reveal their feelings. ]

(20 Jul) Six Feet Under 2.1, 2.2 (2002) 80
[ Oh, I’m glad to be with these great actors/characters again and the writing/direction is still great, it just feels like the show is spinning its wheels. Hopefully the season will kick into gear soon. ]

(21 Jul) La Planque (2004, Alexandre Chartrand & Thierry Gendron) 60
[ After stealing millions of dollars of heroin from their boss, two thugs nervously wait in a disaffected factory for their contact to show up. This ballsy huis clos shows that you don’t need a big budget, elaborate technique or a shooting permit (!) to make an effective movie. Using a couple of DV cameras, natural lighting and only general scene outlines, co-directors Thierry Gendron and Alexandre Chartrand follow actors Martin Desgagné and Pierre-Antoine Lasnier in long uninterrupted takes, allowing much tension to build up. The film is understandably a little rough around the edges, but it really works. ]

(22 Jul) Six Feet Under 2.6- 2.8 (2002) 85
[ Wow, only season #2 and they’re already bringing in new characters? But hey, I’m not complaining, not when it’s the goddess Patricia Clarkson as a kooky hippie aunt! The tears are starting to flow, too. ]

(25 Jul) Six Feet Under 2.3-2.5 (2002) 82
[ I wish I didn’t have to watch these all out of order like this, but I can hardly ever get my hands on one of these DVDs at Boîte Noire so I get my fixes however I can. So now I’m catching to the great mid-season stretch I previously watched, which is odd but still effective. I find myself relating to practically every character in the show – only Federico somehow doesn’t fit in for me. But in a scene like the closer to this episode, when a broken down Claire deals with Nate, David and Keith, every one’s every reaction is interesting and touching and understandable… Good stuff. ]

(27 Jul) La Comunidad (2000, Alex de la Iglesia) 30
[ When a rich old man who lived holed up in a trashy apartment finally croaks, his neighbours go looking for his hidden fortune but it’s found first by a pesky real estate agent (Carmen Maura). This Spanish import flirts with black comedy, but the attempts at burlesque are not particularly funny and the Hitchcock-style thriller elements eventually overshadow everything else. The visuals are interesting, but the score is distractingly derivative of Danny Elfman, the movie is erratically paced and it’s needlessly violent. The voyeur in the Darth Vader suit is a nice touch, though. ]

(29 Jul) Six Feet Under 2.9-2.11 (2002) 71
[ Ooh, more Lili Taylor. I love her so much, why don’t we see more of her, not just on the show but in movies and stuff? All the way back to “Say Anything”, she’s been beautiful and heartbreaking, always wearing her emotions on her sleeve… Other than that, this stretch is a little off. Every episode can’t be a winner, I guess, what with the different writers and directors alternating… You still get a funny or touching or clever moment once in a while, which is more than you can say about most TV (or movies), but I’m starting to doubt the show will ever top the brilliance of Season One. ]

(30 Jul) The Village (2004, M. Night Shyamalan) [ review ] 85

(31 Jul) Six Feet Under 2.12-2.13 (2002) 89
[ Here we go. Two more hours and then that’s it, at least until sometimes in 2005 when HBO decides to release Season 3. I haven’t been as passionate about Year Two as I was with the first 13, but I do still love these characters. When this show works, it REALLY works, and these two episodes are just gravy. 2.12 is, like, the best Federico episode ever and Brenda’s “cunt from hell” routine finally climaxes with Nate. The “opening death” gimmick is getting old, but 2.13’s one of the most effective yet. Then you’ve got a hilarious “Flashdance” send-up, more Lili Taylor (always a good thing), great stuff with Ruth, one mofo of an intense Keith/David clash… Awesome stuff, really, but the cliffhanger is a b-i-aaatch – I can’t believe I gotta wait a whole year to find out what happens next! ]

June / August

2004 log (6)

(1 Jun) Before Sunrise (1995, Richard Linklater) 87
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(2 Jun) Tokyo Godfathers (2003, Satoshi Kon) 66
[ After “Perfect Blue” and “Millennium Actress”, Satoshi Kon seriously tones down the mind-fucking to tell a simple fable about a homeless man, a heartbroken transvestite and a runaway girl who find a baby in the trash on Christmas eve and attempt to find her parents. This is all quite melodramatic, but the characters are quirky and the animation is wonderful. ]

(2 Jun) The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, David Lean) 62
(2 Jun) Chinatown (1974, Roman Polanski) 88
[ Part of the AFI list (#13 & #19) ]

(3 Jun) Slacker (1991, Richard Linklater) 76
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(4 Jun) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004, Alfonso Cuaron) [ review ] 67

(5 Jun) Tape (2001, Richard Linklater) 69
(6 Jun) The Newton Boys (1998, Richard Linklater) 28
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(7 Jun) Les égarés (2003, André Téchiné) 32
[ Emmanuelle Béart and her kids are amongst the many driving out of 1940 Paris when the road is bombed by German planes. A mysterious teenager takes them into the woods, then into an abandoned mansion where, out of thought and time, they wait. Clips of black & white wartime footage and ominous music hint that the war will find them no matter what, but it never adds up to much. The relationship between Béart and the young stranger feels contrived, and the less said about the gratuitous anal sex scene the better. ]

(8 Jun) Fantasia (1940, Walt Disney) 90
(9 Jun) The Searchers (1956, John Ford) 64
(9 Jun) Tootsie (1982, Sydney Pollack) 35
[ Part of the AFI list (#58, #96 & #62) ]

(9 Jun) O (2001, Tim Blake Nelson) [ review ] 83

(10 Jun) Viva Chiba! THE BODYGUARD (1974, Simon Nuchtern) [ review ] 29

(11-12 Jun) Curb Your Enthusiasm – Season Two (2001, Robert B. Weide) 88
[ Larry David says the darndest things:
“I got a job… I’m selling cars!”
“Don’t say I have an ass fetish!”
“I do hate myself, but it has nothing to do with being Jewish.”
“Maybe in retrospect I should have said pussy
“He knows about the whole thong thing!”
Larry David brings the best out of people:
“You murdered my uncle for 5000$!?!”
“Where’s the fucking head?!?”
“Next time you’re in a hurry, why don’t you write me a buncha shit for free.”
“See? That’s my name. If it were yours, it would say Fucking Douchebag.”
“Seems to me, there was an indication that you were gonna do what you wanted, when you wanted because you feel, because of your celebrity, somehow you can do things without consequences.”
Ah! As if! There are ALWAYS consequences for Larry David, even when he hasn’t done anything! ]

(13 Jun) The Station Agent (2003, Tom McCarthy) 85
[ Fin McBride is a dwarf, there are no two ways about it. Everywhere he goes, people stare and snicker, yet he maintains a strong, quiet dignity. Still, when he inherits an abandoned train station in a small New Jersey town, he’s happy to go isolate himself there, unaware that he’ll have to reluctantly befriend a talkative Cuban a saddened artist. This is pure Sundance (it won the Audience Award last year): deliberately paced, quirky, heartfelt… The visuals have a casual elegance, the score is appropriately bittersweet and Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale and Patricia Clarkson are all endearing. This is truly a wonderful little film (no pun intended). ]

(15 Jun) Nathalie… (2004, Anne Fontaine) [ review ] 70

(15 Jun) The Stepford Wives (2004, Frank Oz) [ review ] 17

(16 Jun) Shogun’s Ninja (1980, Norifumi Suzuki) [ review ] 55

(17 Jun) RoboCop 2 (1990, Irvin Kershner) [ review ] 83

(18 Jun) RoboCop 3 (1993, Fred Dekker) [ review ] 16

(19 Jun) Moulin Rouge! (2001, Baz Luhrmann) [ review ] 98
Tenth viewing, still crying. The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return…

(21 Jun) cette femme-là (2004, Guillaume Nicloux) 44
[ Guillaume Nicloux’s latest is as stylish as “Une affaire privée”, but it’s brought down by an overuse of cheap tricks. Whereas his previous feature was a film noir homage, “cette femme-là” goes all the way into gloomy surrealism. Josiane Balasko plays a cop who’s experiencing insomnia and suicidal thoughts as the anniversary of her son’s death approaches. On top of that, she’s investigating a bizarre case that starts to get confused with her nightmares. It makes for an intriguing character study, but the way the movie keeps jerking us around with horrors that turn out to be just dreams gets tiresome. ]

(22 Jun) Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004, Michael Moore) [ review ] 80

(23 Jun) Lady Snowblood (1973, Fujita Toshiya) 92
[ “Yuki… You were born for vengeance.” And how! As deadly as she is beautiful, the woman in white will make all her enemies spray red. This classic Samurai tale of female revenge clearly inspired Tarantino’s “Kill Bill”, which uses its theme song The Flower of Carnage, is also divided into chapters out of chronological order, Lucy Liu looks just like Lady Snowblood at the end of “Vol. 1”, and then there’s all the blood pissing about! I adore old martial arts flicks, but I generally accept that clumsy craftsmanship and stupid nonsense go with the territory. Not the case here. This is so gorgeously shot, so thematically bleak… This is genre filmmaking as an art form. ]

(25 Jun) The Terminal (2004, Steven Spielberg) [ review ] 63

(26 Jun) Spider-Man (2002, Sam Raimi) [ review ] 85

(28 Jun) Nackt (2002, Dorie Dörrie) 22
[ Three couples: one happy, one unhappy, one broken up. One stupid bet: would they be able to recognize their better half while blindfolded, using only their hands? This German import tries to say it all about relationships but, while the characters do argue up a storm, there are no great insights behind the verbosity. In bringing her play to the screen, writer-director Doris Dörrie tries to enliven it with hipster bourgeois music, gratuitous song numbers and forced bits of whimsy, to little avail. The actors are appealing enough, but the ponderous writing weighs them down. ]

(29 Jun) Go Further (2004, Ron Mann) [ review ] 61

(29 Jun) Spider-Man 2 (2004, Sam Raimi) [ review ] 88

May / July

2004 log (5)

(2 May) Jules et Jim (1962, François Truffaut) 33
[ I don’t get this, just as I didn’t get “Les 400 coups”. Whereas I can see the attraction in early Godard, this melodramatic Nouvelle Vague slice of life left me indifferent. Jules’ a bore, Jim’s a bore and Jeanne Moreau does little more for me. The B&W cinematography is nice to look at and the score is great, but I still didn’t care much for this ménage-à-trois story. ]

(2 May) Frankenstein (1931, James Whale) 65
[ Part of the AFI list (#87) ]

(3 May) Le bonheur c’est une chanson triste (2004, François Delisle) [ review ] 36

(5 May) Shrek (2001, Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson) [ review ] 77

(5 May) New York Minute (2004, Dennie Gordon) [ review ] 51

(7 May) Van Helsing (2004, Stephen Sommers) [ review ] 38

(8 May) Medea (1988, Lars von Trier) 90
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(10 May) The Simple Life (2003) 46
[ Hotel heiress (and sex video star) Paris Hilton and Commodore daughter Nicole Ritchie star in this reverse Beverly Hillbillies “reality” show, in which these spoiled party girls go spend a month on a farm in the middle of nowhere without any of their L.A. perks. Out of touch and out of control, Nicole and Paris clearly can’t work 9 to 5 jobs and fit in a small redneck town, but that’s the fun of the endeavour, I guess. And, oddly enough, these shallow little teases are sort of sweet, in a bitchy kinda way. ]

(11 May) The Element of Crime (1984, Lars von Trier) 68
(11 May) Europa (1991, Lars von Trier) 87
(11 May) The Idiots (1998, Lars von Trier) 53
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(12 May) A Walk to Remember (2001, Adam Shankman) 60
[ My ex-girlfriend looooved this, and so did most gay dudes I know, but I never got around to watching it until now. I’m a big softie fond of teen pop stars, after all, so I might looove this too, right? Well, more or less. Shane West plays a “bad boy” who’s redeemed by a preacher’s daughter played by Mandy Moore. She’s like a von Trier “Heart of Gold”, a perfect selfless saint who takes all the abuse thrown her way (by schoolmates and by God) and only comes out more caring and compassionate. It’s all predictable and trite and ridiculously naïve, and West and Moore’s acting is serviceable at best, but damn it if it didn’t yank a few tears out of me. ]

(15 May) Troy (2004, Wolfgang Petersen) [ review ] 85

(15 May) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001, Chris Colombus) [ review ] 62

(17 May) Nos enfants chéris (2003, Benoit Cohen) 54
[ A cellist, his wife and their baby go to the countryside for a quiet vacation but when his ex-girlfriend, her new beau and their own kids drop by, quiet goes out the window! This is a very, very French comedy in which the characters do nothing but eat, have sex and, of course, talk each other’s ears raw. It’s nothing we haven’t seen a million times and the film offers no great insights into relationships or parenthood, but the cast members make the most of broad characters and their interaction is lively and amusing. ]

(19 May) Shrek 2 (2004, Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury & Conrad Vernon) [ review ] 61

(19 May) One-Eyed Jacks (1961, Marlon Brando) [ review ] 79

(20 May) The Office – Season 1 (2001, Ricky Gervais) [ review ] 90

(21 May) Walt Disney – On the Front Lines (2004, Leonard Maltin) 88
[ Say what you will about Disney (they screwed Michael Moore, stupidly drove Pixar away, nearly ruined their legacy with sub par cartoons, etc.), but they played a huge part in the history of pop culture, as this wonderful “Treasures” DVD series proves over and over. Most of those are anthologies of Mickey, Goofy or Donald shorts, but this is something else. You see, in 1941, the Disney Studios were taken over by the US Army and spent the rest of WW2 producing propaganda and training films. One would understand Disney for downplaying this not-so-magical era, so more kudos to them for releasing these telling historical documents. “Donald Gets Drafted”, Pluto becomes “The Army Mascot”, Goofy learns “How to Be a Sailor” and destroy Japan’s navy fleet, the Three Little Pigs encourage audience members to buy war bonds to protect themselves from the Big Bad NAZI Wolf (!), a tomato is thrown in “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, a German boy gets an “Education for Death”… It’s all as fun and creative as you’d expect from golden age Disney animators, but there’s that whole military agenda running throughout that’s really fascinating. Also included in the 2-disc set is the feature-length “Victory Through Air Power”, a combination of stunning animation and lecture segments by Major Seversky that allegedly convinced President Roosevelt to invest in the long-range bomber planes that won the war. This collection is truly a must-see. ]

(21 May) 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle (1967, Jean-Luc Godard) 2 or 3
[ Obtuse socio-political discourse in whispered voice-over, loud industrial machinery, inexpressive actresses spouting pseudo-profundities directly at the camera, long scenes that go nowhere… I love Godard’s irreverent early films (“À bout de soufflé”, “Bande à part”), but before long he started believing that every of his brain-farts was genius, hence masturbatory pretentious hogwash like this that makes you want to fly to France and punch old Jean-Luc in the gut. ]

(22 May) Nighthawks (1981, Bruce Malmuth) 47
[ Sly Stallone (with a beard and a perm) and Billy Dee Williams (with a mustache and a mini-mullet) are badass New York cops who must stop a Eurotrash terrorist played by Rutger Hauer. It’s easy to mock the synth-heavy soundtrack, the ridiculously macho posturing, the cheesy ‘80s fashion or Stallone’s cross-dressing scenes (!), but the movie’s “There is no security” climate of terror feels more actual than ever. ]

(23 May) The Office – Season 2 (2002, Ricky Gervais) [ review ] 93

(24 May) 100 Girls (2000, Michael Davis) 46
[ Yeah, I’m running behind on my chefs d’oeuvre and my AFI 100 and I haven’t done a Directors Series in a while but what the hell, let’s watch another stupid teen comedy. “100 Girls” is sort of a cross between “American Pie”, “Mallrats” and “Cinderella” – i.e. a gawky young guy who lost his virginity to a stranger during a black out trying to find her with a pair of panties she left behind as his only clue. So he has to go through the underwear drawers of every girl in the dorm, 100 of them (hence the title). Nipple-twisting combat, strip foosball, cross-dressing and endless raunchy dialogue ensue. Michael Davis’s screenplay is alternately insightful and uninspired, sensitive and misogynistic, and his direction is mostly generic, but “100 Girls” is still pretty damn watchable. ]

(26 May) The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003, Peter Jackson)
The Fellowship of the Ring [ review ] 93
The Two Towers [ review ] 94
The Return of the King [ review ] 95

(28 May) The Day After Tomorrow (2004, Roland Emmerich) [ review ] 60

(30 May) Curb Your Enthusiasm – Season One (2000, Robert B. Weide) 81
[ Larry David’s a genius. An angry, bitter, neurotic genius. This mostly improvised HBO series is another show “about nothing”, with Larry David more or less playing himself and a blend of real and fictional friends surrounding him. But unlike “Seinfeld” (which David co-created), this isn’t network TV so there are no limits to Larry’s sense of humor anymore. Joking about dead relatives, the disabled, race, incest survivors or Ted Danson shouldn’t be funny, but damn it if it isn’t! ]

April / June