Monday, April 30, 2007

French Film Festival

I finally made the trip out to the second oldest movie theatre in Alberta for the annual Cinemagine film festival. I was only able to attend one of the three days and catch only 3 of the total 8 films shown. Of the remaining 5 films that I missed, I had only seen the charming Congorama. This beautiful 1912 theatre was a perfect venue to enjoy three films on a beautiful Sunday and was worth a 3 hour drive (round trip).

Je vous trouve très beau (2005, France, Director Isabelle Mergault):

It was a good thing that I read the story beforehand because as it turned out this French film had no English subtitles even though it was advertised as having them. Apparently, there are no prints in Canada with English subtitles. Still, besides missing some of jokes, I managed to get the essence of the story. An aging farmer finds himself to be more lonely after his wife dies in a bizarre accident. In order to find a companion, Aymé tries to get help from a marriage agency. The marriage agency specializes in Romanian brides and the colorful agent drags Aymé to Romania. He manages to pick out the simple beauty Elena because of her honesty. All the other girls kept telling him that he was very beautiful and were more keen to head for the wild Parisian life (for them France was all about Paris and Moulin Rouge).

It is a cute romantic comedy about how these two different people find comfort with each other. Since I didn’t get most of the dialogues, I focused more on the actor’s expressions. Both the leads acted perfectly and their precise expressions carried the movie. Well worth watching and after a while, I forgot I could not understand the language.

Ma fille, mon ange (2007, Canada, Director Alexis Durand-Brault): Rating 9/10

A very interesting film that ended up being the best watch of the day. The film starts off in flashback from a murder scene leading up to the crime itself. We get the story from the perspective of the two people in question – the father and daughter. The father likes to visit porn sites and on a particular visit, he is shocked to see a video of his 19 year old daughter on the site. His daughter is not doing anything in the video clip but she announces that her premier action video will be shown live in a few days time. Confused and distraught, the father heads to Montreal to bring his sweet daughter home.

Now, the murder mystery is slowly unfolded and we are given enough clues as to guess what really transpired. But what makes the film so powerful is the story of the daughter landing into the porn business. The film shows how sometimes even smart girls can fall into a trap and be seduced by money and power. There are some moments of dry humour as the story also shows how the online porn business is more sophisticated than people think and in some cases, it manages to exploit legal loop holes.

Guide de la petite vengeance (2006, Canada, Director Jean-François Pouliot): Rating 8.5/10

On first glance this appeared to be another film about a disgruntled employee taking revenge on his evil boss, a la Swimming with the Sharks. But this film is an unexpected pleasure. Bernard’s life is falling apart because of his cruel manipulative boss, Mr. Vendôme. One day, he comes across Robert, an ex-employee who was driven insane by Vendôme as well. As it turns out, Bernard took over Robert’s job. Robert helps Bernard see the light and urges him to take revenge. Together, the two plot a perfect crime. But there are plenty of surprises that Bernard had not taken into account, especially Robert’s real identity.

This is a fun filled film which is a real treat to watch. The biggest surprise that this film threw is something not related to the movie itself. As the last twist in the final scene was about to be shown, the film caught fire and one could see the reel being burned on screen. I had never seen a film catch on fire in a theatre before and because I had seen the Grindhouse a few days ago, I was able to recognize the symptoms. So I have to admit that some use came out of seeing Rodriguez’s Planet Terror after all. To quote a line from that film: "At some point in your life, you find a use for every useless talent you have." Well I have to say that all those useless talents from Planet Terror certainly made me understand the events of a Québécois film in a 1912 theatre in a historic old town!

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