Montreal Film Journal

2003 LOG (10)

(1 Oct) Nô (1998, Robert Lepage) 80
[ 1970. In Japan, a French Canadian theater company is performing at the World Fair. Back home in Quebec, terrorists are fighting for national independence while the Canadian government overlooks civil rights and sends the army into Montreal streets. Lepage is clearly a formally brilliant artist, but his work can be cold and too clever for its own good. Here, though, his style serves a screenplay that's as fun as it is clever, and the movie is propelled by an absolutely hilarious and poignant performance by Anne-Marie Cadieux. ]

(2 Oct) Shaolin Soccer (2001, Stephen Chow) 27
[ No one can beat the "Evil Team" of Hung (!), the bastard who 20 years ago arranged to cripple then star player "Golden Leg", but when "Leg" coaches a bunch of washed out Shaolin brothers into using their kung fu skills on the soccer field, it's a whole new game... Here's an endlessly silly and corny and campy flick , but it's not unenjoyable, I guess. Actually, it's pretty damn stupid and it does little more than beat the same joke into the ground for 90 minutes, but it's not unenjoyable. I guess. ]

(3 Oct) The School of Rock (2003, Richard Linklater) [ review ] 85

(4 Oct) Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino) [ review ] 100

(5 Oct) Bande à part (1964, Jean-Luc Godard) 77
[ Crediting yourself as "Jean-Luc CINÉMA Godard" is pretentious as hell, but damn it if Godard isn't making pure and glorious Cinéma! The B&W cinematography, the loungey score, the coffee shop conversations, the wonderfully superfluous narration, the minute of silence, the out-of-the-blue dance sequence, the car rides, the Rimbaud quotes, the run through the Louvre, beautiful Anna Karina talking or singing into the camera... Everything feels both natural and ever so cinematic, like we're watching movie characters acting like real people, or maybe real people acting like movie characters. There's a story about a botched robbery in there, but the characters don't seem to care about it, Godard clearly doesn't care, and neither do we. This is a hanging-out movie, about nothing and going nowhere, and that's the beauty of it. ]

(6 Oct) Bowling for Columbine (2002, Michael Moore) [ review ] 79

(7 Oct) Get Over It (2001, Tommy O'Haver) 16
[ What's worse, a teen comedy that just goes through the motions, or one that's constantly breaking into flashy flourishes? "Get Over It" makes a good case for the show-offy ones being the most obnoxious. I mean, there are plenty of badly written, badly acted teen flicks, but this one actually manages to suck all the charm out of both Shakespeare and Kirsten Dunst, smothering them under lousy songs, lame visual gimmicks, desperately unfunny gags and an epic battle for craptacular acting supremacy between Martin Short and Sisqo. ]

(8 Oct) Le Samouraï (1967, Jean-Pierre Melville) 44
[ John Woo calls it "the closest thing to a perfect movie that [he has] ever seen", and Melville is said to be the "spiritual father" of Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs". Huh. I don't see it. Oh, there's a certain atmospheric elegance and Alain Delon's lone wolf hit-man looks good in his trenchcoat and fedora, but perfection? "Le Samouraï" might have come before, but Woo's "The Killer" is a much more stunning riff on this noir tune. ]

(8 Oct) La Loi du Cochon (2001, Érik Canuel) 70
[ Here's a ballsy, stylish French Canadian thriller most notable not for its flashy visuals and hard-boiled confrontations but for the strength of the writing. Characters that could easily feel cartoonish are actually believable and interesting, be it Isabel Richer's down-on-her-luck pig farmer, her very pregnant sister, the bourgeois couple whose baby she's carrying or the two thugs holding them all hostage. It's not "Fargo", but it's in that vein – at least Sylvain Marcel and Jean-Nicolas Verreault are certainly doing their best Buscemi and Stormare. ]

(9 Oct) Mystic River (2003, Clint Eastwood) [ review ] 54

(9 Oct) Kill Bill (2003, Quentin Tarantino) [ review ] 93

(10 Oct) Intolerable Cruelty (2003, Joel Coen) [ review ] 61

(12 Oct) What to do in case of fire? (2002, Gergor Scnitzler) 65
[ When a bomb they set in the late ‘80s explodes 12 years later, the former members of a West Berlin anarchist group reunite to try and fix this mess, since most of them have long abandoned their youthful ideals of bringing imperialist pigs down. Part irreverent comedy and part heist flick, this is most of all an insightful character piece about friends growing apart and attempting to make up for lost time. It's well crafted, well acted, well worth discovering. ]

(13 Oct) Bend it like Beckham (2002, Gurinder Chadha) zzz
[ Another Big Fat Ethnic sitcom bore, this time with Indians instead of Greeks and a bunch of MTVed soccer scenes and girl-power hogwash. I gave it 15 minutes, then it was thanks but no thanks. ]

(14 Oct) Bon voyage (2003, Jean-Paul Rappeneau) 78
[ Isabelle Adjani plays a popular actress with whom every man falls in love, including a young writer (Grégori Derangère), an English journalist (Peter Coyote) and a politician (Gérard Depardieu) who bends over for her like he does with the Germans who are occupying 1940 Paris. Part old-fashioned melodrama, part bittersweet comedy, this entertaining, superbly crafted wartime story is France's entry for Best Foreign Film at the next Oscars. ]

(14 Oct) Mon Oncle d'Amérique (1980, Alain Resnais) 90
[ Part of Les Chefs d'oeuvre ]

(15 Oct) la petite lili (2003, Claude Miller) 67
(15 Oct) Amelia (2003, Édouard Lock) 44
(15 Oct) Zatoichi (2003, Takeshi Kitano) 29
[ Part of our FCMM coverage ]

(16 Oct) Kill Bill (2003, Quentin Tarantino) [ review ] 93

(16 Oct) Dogville (2003, Lars Von Trier) [ review ] 95

(18 Oct) The Street Fighter (1974, Shigehiro Ozawa) [ review ] 92

(19 Oct) Hero (2003, Zhang Yimou) [ review ] 93

(22 Oct) Il est plus facile pour un Chameau (2003, Valéria Bruni Tedeschi) 34
[ Federica is an Italian woman living in Paris off her parents' considerable wealth and feeling guilty about it, especially with her beloved father on his dying bed. First-time director Valéria Bruni Tedeschi is charmingly ditzy as Federica, but her film is a self-indulgent semi-bummer. Every other scene revolves around bad singing, dancing lessons or various other forms of fluff, yet the underlying feeling is one of uninspired desperation. ]

(22 Oct) La Face cachée de la lune (2003, Robert Lepage) [ review ] 82

(23 Oct) Amarcord (1973, Federico Fellini) 79
[ Part of Les Chefs d'oeuvre ]

(23 Oct) Dancer in the Dark (2000, Lars Von Trier) [ review ] 92

(24 Oct) Scary Movie 3 (2003, David Zucker) [ review ] 56

(27 Oct) Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003, McG) [ review ] 59

(29 Oct) The Matrix Reloaded (2003, Andy & Larry Wachowski) [ review ] 58

(30 Oct) Le cabinet du Docteur Ferron (2003, Jean-Daniel Lafond) 60
[ Writing prescriptions with one hand and novels with the other, Dr. Jacques Ferron observed and expressed the pains of his patients, his relatives and of the "uncertain country" of Quebec, maybe in an attempt to understand his own desperation. Aptly blending re-enactments and talking-heads segments, this documentary is an interesting and touching exploration of the life and work of the late Ferron. ]

(30 Oct) Koyaanisqatsi (1983, Godfrey Reggio) 90
[ In the right corner, nature in all its glory, in the left, Man's technology in all its frenzy. Things seem pretty clear-cut in this impressionistic documentary, but it actually manages to find beauty in urban landscapes as well as in the wide opens spaces. This might be "life out of balance", but it makes for a riveting and affecting experience, propelled by stunning cinematography and a majestic score by Philip Glass. ]

(30 Oct) Nashville (1975, Robert Altman) 76
[ Part of Les Chefs-d'oeuvre ]

September / November