Montreal Film Journal

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