Montreal Film Journal

2007 LOG (1)

(1 Jan) Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléôpatre (2002, Alain Chabat) [ review ] 70

(2 Jan) Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987, Todd Haynes) 67
[ Whoa, this is seriously fucked up! Shot on the cheap with Barbie dolls re-enacting the real-life tragic story of The Carpenters singer's battle with anorexia, the movie strangely but effectively blends wholesome pop music, melodramatic documentary narration and Cronenberg-style creepiness. And did I mention that all the characters are played by Barbie dolls? ]

(3 Jan) Angel-A (2006, Luc Besson) [ review ] 81

(3 Jan) Le Dernier combat (1983, Luc Besson) 66
(3 Jan) Subway (1985, Luc Besson) 69
(4 Jan) Arthur et les Minimoys (2007, Luc Besson) 62
(7 Jan) Le Grand bleu (1988, Luc Besson) 75
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(8 Jan) Jean-Philippe (2007, Laurent Tuel) 43
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(9 Jan) Miss Potter (2006, Chris Noonan) 57
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(10 Jan) Venus (2007, Roger Michell) 38
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(10 Jan) Stomp the Yard (2007, Sylvain White) [ review ] 24

(11 Jan) Nikita (1990, Luc Besson) 48
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(12 Jan) Alpha Dog (2007, Nick Cassavetes) 70
[ A criminal drama involving young folks, this is like "Brick" minus the film noir pastiche (but with a cameo from Lukas "The Pin" Haas), crossed with "Bully" minus Larry Clark's voyeuristic bullshit, with a strong dose of "Scarface"/"Reservoir Dogs"-style excess for good measure. The plot, based on actual events, is a bit too loose, but that's actually a blessing in disguise because while it defuses the suspense, it allows for a lot of hanging out and partying scenes (plus a sexy game of skinny-dipping Marco Polo!) during which the large cast gets to interact in all kinds of engrossing ways. All the actors are great, but I particularly enjoyed Emile Hirsh ("The Girl Next Door"), who confirms that he's a goddamn movie star, the wonderfully over the top Ben Foster (Russell from "Six Feet Under" - watch for his bar fight!) and Justin Timberlake (as a muscular, tattooed, pot-smoking thug!), who seems like questionable stunt casting at first, but ends up stealing the movie. "Alpha Dog" is a bit uneven, but for every misguided touch (the less said about Sharon Stone's fat make-up faux documentary monologue the better), you got something that truly works (every moment Bruce Willis and Harry Dean Stanton's older gangsters are on screen is gold). ]

(15 Jan) Pan's Labyrinth (2006, Guillermo del Toro) [ review ] 94

(16 Jan) The Hitcher (2007, Dave Meyers) 53
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(17 Jan) The Devil's Backbone (2001, Guillermo del Toro) 93
[ "What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber."

First off, I was surprised by the golden hues of the cinematography and the desert location, expecting this to be as oppressively dark and dank as the usual ghost stories. The ghost itself is a wonderful creation, both for the amazing special effects work and the more sad than scary context of the haunting. Beyond the ghost, there are great touches all around: the dud bomb in the yard, the doctor selling "limbo water", the headmistress' fake leg, the asshole guard looking for treasure, the kids' love of comic books... Speaking of which, del Toro truly has a way with children, being true to their feelings without idealizing them or making them into stupid movie brats. Set in an orphanage near the end of the Spanish Civil War, the film masterfully juggles fantasy/horror, political and personal drama and comes up with a powerful, multi-layered allegory of Resistance.

"You think that it'll all work out if we behave?"
"They have the rifle. They're bigger than us, and stronger."
"Yes. But there's more of us,"

(17 Jan) The Good German (2006, Steven Soderbergh) 77
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(18 Jan) Enfermés dehors (2007, Albert Dupontel) 35
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(22-23 Jan) Extras (2005, Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant) [ review ] 70

(25 Jan) because I said so (2007, Michael Lehmann) [ review ] 4

(25 Jan) Little Children (2006, Todd Field) [ review ] 82

(26 Jan) The Recommendations (2005, Owen/Perlmutter/Slutsky) 68
[ The local luminaries from the Automatic Vaudeville collective are the masters of the pastiche. Their sense of humor is often so deadpan that you can almost miss it - if you didn't know that this documentary about an alleged case of intellectual fraud in the world of Can-lit was fake, you might think this was a serious piece. Well, some of it is pretty damn silly, but so are a lot of pseudo-artists.! "The Recommendations" is infinitely better than the somewhat thematically similar "Rechercher Victor Pellerin", because it's much less muddy and self-indulgent. I particularly loved the performances, from Mark Slutsky as the deranged supposed victim of plagiarism to Seth Owen as a sleazy entrepreneur, Dan Perlmutter as a beloved children's author who unwittingly gets curbed (!) and even pony up!'s Laura Wills as an experienced ]

(27 Jan) Clerks II (2006, Kevin Smith) [ review ] 91

(29 Jan) Ma fille mon ange (2007, Alexis Durand-Brault) 33
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(30 Jan) Children of Men (2006, Alfonso Cuarón) [ review ] 92

December / February