Thursday, October 09, 2008

Black Sheep @ the 2008 Festival Nouveau Cinema

If I were 37 years old, you wouldn’t be calling me old (at least I hope you wouldn’t) but you certainly wouldn’t be looking at me like something new either. Somehow though, after 37 years of existence in Montreal, the Festival Nouveau Cinema still warrants its title. Year after year, the festival offers Montreal filmgoers a variety of fresh films that range in style and genre and are anything but ordinary. This year is certainly no different and I am fortunate enough to have the whole week off to drift in and out of the dark cinemas as I please so that I can report back to you about all the wonders I was privileged to see. The following are the Top 5 titles I am most excited about …


This is actually the festival’s closing film selection and what a fantastic selection it is. Laurent Cantet’s adaptation of Francois Begaudeau’s novel was the surprise winner of the Palmes d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film is a hybrid of documentary style and activist thinking, told in a loose narrative form. Begaudeau plays himself, a French teacher in what could simply be described as a difficult Paris classroom but that would be a gross understatement. A lesson needs to be learned and I’m sure by the film’s close, we will have learnt just as much as the kids in class.


After years of being laughed out of Hollywood for uh, poor, acting attempts, Madonna has finally gotten the point. People don’t want to see her in front of the camera. So in taking a lesson from filmmaker hubby, Guy Ritchie, she has decided to try her hand at directing instead. It may have received mixed reviews from its Berlin film festival premiere earlier this year but the curiosity factor is just too great to resist.


I am extremely excited for this much talked about Jonathan Demme picture. This is primarily because I’ve already seen it and cannot wait to get married again. I caught this film at its North American premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and cried frequently throughout the film when I wasn’t in awe of how surprisingly visceral it was. When I left the screening, I was disoriented, stunned. This is rare for someone who sees a lot of movies, let me tell you. That said, I will not say too much about the film because it just needs to be experienced.


I am not the richest guy around so even though I would love to take a short trip out to Vegas to catch the Beatles’ highly acclaimed Cirque de Soleil show, LOVE, I simply cannot. For now, I will have to settle for the closest thing to it, Adrian Willis’s behind the scenes documentary, ALL TOGETHER NOW. Willis has lensed a number of Cirque shows prior so he is no stranger to capturing the remarkably magical experience that only the Cirque de Soleil can create. And even though it isn’t the same as being there, there are advantages to this experience. If I was fortunate enough to find myself a seat at the show itself, I’m fairly positive I would not be privy to Paul McCartney’s reaction to this unexpected interpretaton.


This is another film that has yet to connect with audiences in its festival run from earlier this year. It has been touched up though and the world will finally get to see how the mind that penned the genius works, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, will approach directing his first feature. To call Charlie Kaufman unique is too facile. His way of thinking is just far enough beyond the masses so as not speak above them but to present them with situations they can understand but could never have imagined themselves. Given that SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK seems to be about a giant reconstruction of the city within an immense airplane hanger, I would say we’re in for another mind melt.

The Festival Nouveau Cinema is on now and take it from me, you need to get your tickets right away. I was thinking that being accredited for the festival meant I could just waltz in to whatever film I wanted but not so. Apparently you still need to get a ticket and I was rejected from my first film already. Good times. No, but seriously, there are some serious good times to be had. For a complete list of films, please visit the Festival Nouveau Cinema web site. And be sure to check back on Black Sheep throughout the festival as I report back on these films and a dozen others (from MAN ON WIRE to ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO and more!)

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