Tuesday, September 04, 2007

toronto: foreign language crapola.


Written and Directed
by Bernard Émond

A woman is covered in blood and refuses to speak to the police inspector. There may have been a murder. So who dunnit?

International capitalism and globalization, of course! The woman, Réjeanne (Guylaine Tremblay) is a switchboard operator, and she and her truck driver husband, Gilles (Guy Jodoin), buy a beautiful house somewhere in the Montreal suburbs, and are about to live happily ever after when Giles has a stroke. They try their best to make ends meet, but the evil, heartless capitalists sell the company to another one, leaving Réjeanne and Gilles in a bit of a bind. Then he has another stroke.

We go back and forth in time between the inspector investigating and the sad decline and fall of our couple while we wait for her to do something really violent, which is why the film is so disappointing. There's little drama milked out of what is very fertile material. The thing plods along, and while Jodion does a serviceable job as a stroke victim, Tremblay and the rest of the cast just walk around in a daze, and that's when Tremblay isn't supposed to be doing that.

Emond just can't get the script to rise above the level of mediocrity, even though there's an actually interesting idea there. Oh, well.

CORROBOREE, (96', Australia)

Written and Directed
by Ben Hackworth

A dying theatre director hires a young man named Conor (Conor O'Hanlon) to visit him in a meditation retreat and perform scenes from the director's life. Why he does this is a mystery. But this is an obtuse art film, and auteur Hackworth isn't here to entertain but mystify us with his astounding intelligence and insight. He's clearly over our heads.

Now, Conor must visit different rooms over the weekend and in these rooms, and with five actresses who portray key women in the
director's life, live it, so when they actually encounter each other, Conor won't have to fake “compassion” for the old man. Hey, as long as the kid gets paid, why not? The conceit lets Hackworth film what has to be some of the worst acting ever put on film, or at least on film that made it to a major film festival. The women are far better than Conor, but that doesn't make them anything above mediocre.

The ending is out of left field, but it makes as much sense as the rest of the movie, which is none whatsoever. Exactly what is the great message here might never be known, but one thing is for sure, it's not even worth a look when it comes out on cable, assuming it ever does.


Written and Directed by
Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Apparently, somewhere in Bollywood, auteur managed to snag Nandita Das for her latest bomb. I'm sure that Ms. Das will survive.

This film is, in a word, horrible. Based on a quartet of short stories that, if the film is a guide, must all be less than a page long. The episodes are about half an hour long each, and they seem padded. Nothing happens at all through most of them (I walked out during the third one, so I can't tell if the last was any good) and the second one especially, where a groom spends half the episode eating food while everyone else looks on. Why waste the time and expense to film this?

The acting is horrible. India has a huge film industry, and there are plenty of excellent thespians running around. None of the people in the 2_ episodes I saw could emote. This was zombie city here, everyone sleepwalking through their lines, except for one guy in the second episode, and that was for about ten seconds. That doesn't help.

The chances of this actually getting a theatrical release in the United States is slim to none, so don't worry about this.


Directed by
Hana Makhmalbaf

Amidst the wreckage beneath the fallen historical statues of the Buddha blown up by the Taliban, a six-year-old Afghan girl named Baktay (Nikbakht Noruz) goes on a quest to get to school. She's convinced by her neighbor Abbas(Abbas Alijome) to go abandon her little brother, who's she's been watching for an absent mother, and procure school supplies.

No one really seems to care. This is Afghanistan, where nothing has been right since before the mother was born. The kids are all feral, and gangs of pretweens terrorize everyone else pretending to be the Taliban. It's clear to see what happens when a country is bombed back into the stone age. This is more sad than cute, and very exotic, although it's not all that interesting, but that's what makes Iranian cinema so endearing. This is about as far as they can go and not end up in the poky or in exile.

It's whimsical and has cute children, which are allegorical. However, as Freud famously said: Sometimes a “cigar is just a cigar.”

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