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. (KL)
Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau) 80
First of all, I have to say that I love Patrice Chéreau, and that’s why I bought a ticket for his new film “Gabrielle”. Chéreau is one of the best directors of France because he is very reliable – each of his films is different, but they’re always of a very high quality. To appreciate “Gabrielle”, you have to know that Chéreau also directs theatre and opera, because his new film is very theatrical. The action is set in a big house during the early 1900s and revolves around a couple that does not go well together. Gabrielle (played by the great Isabelle Huppert) leaves her husband by writing a letter to Jean (Pascal Greggory) and then she realises that she is making a mistake and wants to come back. Chéreau wrote a great script with beautiful dialogue. It’s so well written and the direction of Chéreau is as good as the script. He knows how to make his actors move and how to nicely compose images. At the end of the film, you can think easily ot the films of the great Italian director Antonioni, with the feeling of coldness, silence, things left unsaid, etc. Finally, if you want to see that film, go see it in a theatre because on your T.V. you will lose all the beauty of it. I’m already waiting for Chéreau’s next film.
Vers le Sud (Laurent Cantet) 70
After winning the grand prize at the FNC with the excellent “L’emploi du temps”, Cantet wanted to present his new film at the same festival. The big problem with “Vers le Sud” is that it was made after “L’emploi du temps”. So for sure “Vers le sud” suffers of that, but it’s still a very strong film, with a very strong casting. “Vers le sud” is the story of three depressed women in their 40’s and 50’s who don’t have love and affection at their own house, so they go to Haiti to relax and cruise little boys. So they receive unreal love and unreal affection, but they like that, they feel younger and more appreciated by life. The movie is based on three short stories by Dany Lafferière and it was a co-production with Canada. Cantet cast Louise Portal to play one of the three women, and she is really great. Maybe not as great as Charlotte Rampling, but still, she is close. As usual Charlotte Rampling is fantastic, she is just precise, loving and mean all at the same time. And of course I have to talk about the casting that was made on Haiti. Legba is a great character and Ménothy Cesar plays it with a real realism. Another thing that I like with the film is that it’s in French, English and Creole.
Le temps qui reste (François Ozon) 60
Last year, at the same festival, I saw “5×2” from Ozon. And yesterday, I saw at the FNC the new François Ozon. So every year we have the chance to see a new Ozon film and soon we will have to review his films regularly like we do with Woody Allen. So how was the new Ozon, well it was better than “5×2”, not as good as “Swimming Pool” and “Sous le sable”, but still a good little film. I really like to see a new Ozon each year, even if it’s not a great film, I always enjoy it, like I like to watch the new Woody Allen every year. So “Le temps qui reste” tell the story about Romain (handsome Melvil Poupaud), who is diagnosed with untreatable cancer. So he stops working, goes to see his grandmother, and tries not to fight with his sister. The story can be sad, but the problem is we don’t believe that Romain is sick, he is too good looking, too clean and too in shape for that to be possible. So it’s a big problem that we don’t believe the main story of the film. But there are still very nice moments, like when Poupaud visits his grandmother, played by the very talented Jeanne Moreau. That is the best part of the film, it’s very touching and well played by the two actors. But all the flashbacks of Romain when he was a child are cheesy and that bothers me, because those part are ruining the film.
Another thing I like about Ozon is that the audience is fully aware that he treats his actors like puppets and does whatever he wants with them. He always does that with his actors, like in “8 femmes” when Catherine Deneuve fell on Fanny Ardant. In “Le temps qui reste”, you feel that Ozon finds Melvil Poupaud cute, so he makes him do an erotic scene. A homosexual erotic scene, I might add. So if you like Ozon, go see his new film just because it’s him, but we are waiting for a better one next year. (AC)
Nuit noire (Oliver Smolders) 20
I went to see that film by knowing nothing about the director, the actor and the story. I only knew it was supposed to be a mix between Peter Greenaway, David Cronenberg and David Lynch. So, as a big fan of David Lynch I said to myself, why not give it a try. I got nothing to lose, and I read that the director did some great short movie. But after the viewing of the film “Nuit Noire”, it’s more a mix between David Lynch and some student of Université de Montréal trying to do a David Lynch film. I cannot tell you the story, because I’m not sure there is a story. But I can tell that I saw some strange characters, some insects and some boobies. Yes gentlemen, there is some boobies, a lot. So, after 90 minutes of nonsense, I thought right away of a student film that wants to be as cool as David Lynch. I have to admit that they are some very cool parts of dream, with some old men and some good art direction. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I love the idea that it’s always nighttime in the town. It’s only sunny for 15 seconds and they are announcing the venue of the sun in a microphone. So that was cool but that doesn’t make a film. (AC)
Manderlay (Lars von Trier) 40
The latest from von Trier is the second part of his American Trilogy. The first one was “Dogville”, one of von Trier’s greatest films, so I had some big expectations for the following film. Unfortunately my expectations were not reached at all. “Manderlay” is a big failure in my point of view. I don’t want to compare “Manderlay” with “Dogville”, but I have to because it’s the sequel and it’s made with the same Brechtian approach. I still like the style very much, and von Trier’s camera is always at the right spot at the right moment. So the technical part is very good, but it’s not enough to become a good film.
First negative point is the choice of the new Grace, played here by Bryce Dallas Howard. After Nicole Kidman’s unsettling performance in the role, the new Grace is just not good. Nicole Kidman was so good in “Dogville” that the new Grace is just boring to watch. Bryce Dallas Howard is not a great actress. The only good point I can find in the choice of Ron Howard’s daughter is that she is more American than Kidman. But that’s it for her. There is a big waste of talent in that movie, we only see Lauren Bacall 3 minutes, Chloe Sevigny only 10 minutes, and I think she only says one line in the film. I hope Lars von Trier will choose Sevigny for the final part in his trilogy to play Grace.
Like its predecessor, “Manderlay” is about an important subject, slavery. But with a theme like that I was hoping of a better film, especially from this director. The dialogue is weak, and you don’t feel the misery of those slaves. “Manderlay” is not as powerful as “Dogville”, but I hope “Wasington” will be. So please Mister von Trier, take your time to do the last one, because I feel you did “Manderlay” a bit too fast. Take your time to write powerful dialogue and replace Bryce Dallas Howard by an actress who can act. In conclusion, I have to say that the photo-montage for the end credits to the sound of David Bowie’s Young Americans works. But it was too late to bring some good idea. (AC)
Unlike Mr. Caron, I found Manderlay (92) to be pretty damn great. Of course it’s not as powerful as “Dogville”, but what is?
(KL : my full review)
Caché (Michael Haneke) 95
First of all, if you’ve never seen a movie by that director I have to tell you that it’s never an easy watch. But like his other films, you will remember your experience and just by the fact that I still talk about “La pianiste” and “Funny Games” makes those films very interesting. It’s the same thing with his new film, I will remember and talk about that film for a while. It’s been a long time since I saw a great new film, and that is the case for the new Haneke, it’s a great film. I love how he manipulates the audience just by using some simple tricks. I will not reveal those things because it will ruin your experience.
Haneke wrote a great script and he chose a great actor in Daniel Auteil, who is just fantastic as that journalist and Juliette Binoche as his wife is great too. The plot goes like this, the couple receive some videotapes at their home. On the tape you recognize the house of the couple, and see them go out, go into the house. So it’s a bit like David Lynch did in “Lost Highway”, but Haneke pushes the idea further than Lynch. With that, the spectators are plunged in a great thriller, without music, without someone hidden at the end of a street waiting for someone. And of course, because you’re in a Haneke movie, there is always big tension between characters, and you have the tension between races. You got tension between white and black people, between white and Arabic people, and you feel that tension very well. And you feel the difference between them, and Haneke does represent that very well.
I have to compare it with “Manderlay”, because they are both about racism. But Haneke does it much, much better than Lars von Trier. Because you feel the difference between the white, the black and the Arabic people. In “Manderlay”, you don’t feel that difference. Maybe it’s because Haneke’s dialogue is better put together. So if you want to see a great film that you will remember, go see that film, and don’t read too much about it, because you will spoil the movie. (AC)