Sunday, May 18, 2008

Montréal, mon amour

This is InsideOut's selection of short films from "the next generation of québécois directors." [2ème accent aigu ajouté] As much Canadian film as we get in the Frameline (San Francisco) festival, I figured InsideOut (Toronto) would have québécois films I wouldn't otherwise see. As with any shorts program, though, it's a mixed bag, a potpourri of ecstasy and "can we please just get through this one and on to the next short?" On balance, the ecstasy carried, but here are my individual verdicts in brief:

Turning Point (La Sortie): A 17-year-old and his traffic reporter father are on the freeway shoulder, waiting for a tow truck. They have a conversation much deeper than "Can I borrow the car?" I could go on about the actors, the director, etc., but the summation is that it was spot on. Highly recommended.

A Marriage Like Any Other (Un Mariage comme les autres): Husband and wife are having (clearly, "yet another") argument. But then the neighbours, a lesbian couple, come up as a topic, more or less by the tortured argumentative logic of screaming, "I hate you! Why won't you stop screaming at me??" I felt, though, that the end of the film was a bit too abrupt; I wanted to see the emotional impact on the screen, but most of it was left to the audience's imagination. Still well worth seeing, though. Recommended.

Agnieska 2039: This is the sort of avant-garde crap that reminds me that there's always a nice slot to take a break from watching the screen. Pop down for a restroom break, get some popcorn [but not at the Isabel Bader Theatre], check my voicemail [from the lobby], or just "rest my eyes," as my mother likes to say. Imagine Eric Cartman's morphing psycho robot-from-the-future "Trapper Keeper®" notebook crossed with a psychotic interstellar mechanical sunflower. (Hello, Burning Man!) Toss in dreary scenes of post-communist Polish cities and downbeat music and you've got a summary. Look up dystopian in the dictionary, and you'll see a poster for this film — or maybe it's under bad acid trip. It's far from the worst short I've ever seen, but I've seen a helluva lot of shorts. AVOID.

Mirrors (Miroirs d'été): A family at a summer cottage by a lake. The teenage son is drawn to the neighbour's house. I thought it was a little long on symbolism, but the performances were good and I do highly recommend it.

DJ Frigid: Documentary about the genderqueer deejay who's all the rage on Montréal's queer scène (or was in 2004, at least, when the film was made). Well-done slice of the life of someone who is as skilled with a makeup brush as a turntable, with some wild couture. Recommended.

For a Relationship: Rapid-fire "slideshow" of photos of the filmmaker, with voiceover musings on the relationships in his life. Good film, interesting dialogue and an engaging visual feel, but I'd be a lot happier with the "flip-flip-flip" sound effect reduced by at least half. It should be background to the narration, not its competitor. Recommended.

Quality Time with the Family: The filmmaker is at dinner with his family of origin. We hear various relatives carping about being recorded at the table, but we see only him. If you want to see a visceral visual expression of the feeling alone in a crowded room, this'd be it. Highly recommended.

Montréal, mon amour, collection of short films

Turning Point (La Sortie), dir. Vincent Champagne, Canada 2007, 7 min. 16mm (on video), in French with English subtitles

A Marriage Like Any Other (Un Mariage comme les autres), dir. Anne De Léan, Canada 2007, 5 min. video, in French with English subtitles

Agnieska 2039, dir. Martin Gauvreau, UK 2007, 12 min. 35mm, no dialogue

Mirrors (Miroirs d'été), dir. Étienne Desrosiers, Canada 2007, 14 min. video, in French with English subtitles

DJ Frigid, dir. Catherine Rouleau, Canada 2004, 8 min. video, in French with English subtitles

For a Relationship, dir. Jim Verburg, Canada 2007, 4 min. video, in English

Quality Time with the Family, dir. Owen Eric Wood, Canada 2007, 6 min. video, in English

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