Monday, September 18, 2006

This is the penultiamate batch from Toronto, but do not fear, the New York Film Festival starts in about a week, and we'll have lots more stuff from there.


France, Masters

Written and Directed
by Benoît Jacquot

What is it about French cinema that makes it so infuriating? The film discussed here is a case in point. While one cannot say NOTHING happens, it certainly seems that way. That they went all the way to India to film part of this seems like a complete waste of time and money.

Jeanne(Isild Le Besco) is an actor on the brink of stardom. She’s doing one of those avante guarde plays when she finds out from her mother (Bérangère Bonvoisin) that her father is Indian and an "Untouchable" of the lowest social caste. Intrigued, and having been searching for identity quite a while, she tells her agent that she’s willing to do that sex scene in the trashy flick she’s been offered, and so she has enough euros to fly all the way to India to begin the search for her father.

When she gets to India, we get to see some very exotic architecture and some interesting people, unfortunately, we don’t see very much of them, there’s a fellow passenger who’s kidnapped, and a possible cousin (Parikshit Luthra), who’s to be her tour guide, plus various strangers who really do nothing. This is travelogue and a rather boring one at that. There is no character development, no real plot to speak of, in fact, no nothing. What a waste of celluloid!

Death of a President

Written and Directed
by Gabriel Range

Perhaps it was the happy dance. From the moment I heard about this film, there was controversy. There are a lot of people who want this to be the truth, at least the murder part. That Britain’s Channel Four would do a preemptive celebration of America’s pain is something that we in America didn’t expect. Yeah, there are lots of people in the British press who spent a lot of time and energy trying to suppress smiles and overt joy when the twin towers were attacked back on Sept. 11. “"American bond traders, you may say, are as innocent and as undeserving of terror as Vietnamese or Iraqi peasants? Well, yes and no…” said The New Statesman back then.

While many in Britain support the War on Terror, the chattering classes never did, and to them Bush is the antichrist. So we have Gabriel Range trying to imagine what might happen if his dream came true. It’s an interesting experiment.

Most of the action takes place on October 19, 2007. Revolution is in the air and no where is it more evident than in Chicago, where twelve thousand real radicals, with those “Drive out the Bush regime—NOW! “ signs and the like, screaming invective, they actually manage to overwhelm the cops and heroically scare Bush’s motorcade into taking an alternate route to his speech [the brutal coward is only there for a few hours as the masses threaten to overwhelm him]. American democracy is on the brink of collapse, HOORAY!!!! Bush makes his speech [as he did a few years back, this is archival footage], and upon leaving the hotel is shot to death on the handshake line. [Bush’s head is digitally grafted on an actor’s body].

The news spreads, that happy dance I mentioned at the beginning of this review is danced. With that bit of editorial chutzpa out to the way, the film changes to an investigation of who did it and why.

The ideology of the film makes it certain that we know who really did it and that justice will NEVER be served in America. The main suspect, a Syrian immigrant named Jamal Abu Zikri, who, despite the fact that there’s plenty of forensic evidence, cannot be really guilty, because that would make the US “the good guy.”

The use of archival footage is both expertly and ineptly done, the descriptions of the nation’s reaction just doesn’t play true [no one really cares that much—not even President Cheney]. Still the filmmakers do make an effort to do above decent propaganda. The problem is that this film could be used to excite the Republican base, and that might be why Newmarket is going to release the film just prior to the November election, even worse it might become a political version of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” where lefties go to jeer democracy in general and Bush in particular. It happened in Toronto, it could happen here.

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