Reviews, Reviews & Reviews

Hereafter (PG-13) ★★

Clint Eastwood has done himself good as a filmmaker. Ever since his 1992 masterpiece Unforgiven, Eastwood's resume as director reads like a contemporary blackboard of flawed movie heroes/heroines, his newest one does not belong on a list that includes Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino. It's a real clunker that shows our man can't only do good. The difference here is that he doesn't have a script to accommodate his old school style. He concentrates on a variety of different stories, all involving death or the after-life without a sense of direction. Matt Damon is a psychic that wants to just find love and be normal, a french couple try to cope with the after effects of a natural disaster and a British boy loses his twin brother and tries to find a meaning to it all.

The opening sequence is astonishing as we see a tsunami wiping out an entire vacation resort and market. It's a powerful opening that sets the table for the after effects of an after life that is fascinates the characters inhabiting Eastwood's world of mystery. Too bad the rest of the film can't compete with the first 10 minutes and we are left with a hyperbole of sentimentality that negates what Clint is all about. It's a valid effort and I can see what he was trying to do but that does not mean it's a success. The reason why such an effort has turned into a dud is simple; As many filmmakers have found out over the years, it is an arduous and ambitious experience to translate the meaning of the after life on screen, just ask Robin Williams.

Soul Kitchen (R) ★★★½

German director Faith Akin has built his young filmmaking career over films that have had darkness in their souls. Head On and Edge Of Heaven were heavily subjected with black all over them, themes of isolation and death were the words of the day. With Soul Kitchen, Akin does a complete 360 in subject matter and films a comedy that is so silly yet so irresistible in content. Zinos -impeccably played by Adam Bousdoukos- owns a grungy restaurant that is quickly going down until he hires a crazy chef to take over the menu. The people start coming but Zinos feels a dissatisfaction with his life, it doesn't help his girlfriend has moved to Japan and his troubled brother has come out of jail and needs work. Worse, a scheming man with mob related ties is trying to steal away Zinos' restaurant to get more groundwork for his prostitution ring. I didn't believe a minute of it but it's all crazy, zany fun and Akin knows it. He makes the implausible plausible to our eyes and entertains us like no other Hollywood film can. I had a blast.

Never Let Me Go (R) ★★

Some are calling this one a sleeper. It isn't, then again if these people mean it could induce you to a nice, awesome sleep then yes it is a sleeper. Based on Kazy Ishiguro's masterful novel of the same name, it's a sci fi story unlike any other where cloning is done to have organ doning for human beings suffering of diseases such as cancer. It's a heavy subject that doesn't translate well on screen. If Ishiguro's novel had all the beautiful details right, the film version feels like one big messy edit. Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Alex Garfield play the clones that are guaranteed a short life span once their donations start. They try their hardest to bring out life to the surroundings but they can't ditto Mark Romanek's visionary eye, which can't help in the translation of this difficult and dark story.

Carlos (R) ★★★½

This is not a review of the 5 hour version which has been screened a bit everywhere around and has had its TV debut on IFC not too long ago. This is the reduced 160 minute version that nevertheless brings a real jolt to your nervous system. Director Olivier Assayas directs Carlos with an excitement that is near palpable. His telling of the renowned terrorist of the 70's and 80's, who shared an affinity for the Palestinian cause, has an urgency that you rarely see in film. Too bad most of it is disjointed due to the fact that it was cut in half for a normalized theatrical version.

There's an astonishing sequence that involves the hostage taking of OPEC members that can be described as a mini movie of its own. That very part of the film is its heart and soul as Assayas takes our breath away and induces pulse pounding intensity to what could have been a real drag to sit through. It zips along from room to room, plane to plane, country to country in a brazenly kinetic pace as Carlos tries to find a way out from his botched plan. Assayas' use of colors, lighting and camera stylization is breathtaking to behold. It's a 60 minute hypnotic ride to behold.

It's a real shame I didn't wait to just view the 5 hour cut, which from what I hear is just awesome. I'm gonna have to guess that that one is the inferior version of Carlos, which is why Assayas' film feels so disjointed and flawed in execution. Taking away close to 2 hours of time, the version I saw felt to me like it was missing character development and a sense of structure with its plotting. I'm recommending the version I saw solely based on the brilliant flashes that it possesses at its disposal - aka the Hostage sequence, a nifty, tense assassination at its beginning and an earth shatteringly great performance by Edgar Martinez as Carlos- but once I review the original cut I'll let you know how it really is and I'm sure it's even better.

My recap of the Film Fest

After close to 2 weeks of covering the local film fest, I'm completely movie'd out but I've had time to write about it through The Link and Awards Daily. You can read my thoughts over at Awards Daily by clicking HERE & The Link coverage HERE. If you're too lazy to click and can only scroll here's what I wrote on Sasha Stone's web site.

Montreal’s Le Festival Du Nouveau Cinema concluded its 39th edition on Sunday with Palme D’or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a mesmerizing journey into the nature of life and death. Its puzzling nature was a reassuring sight to see at a fest that was filled with disappointing efforts from the likes of Clair Denis and Catherine Breillat. Sadly, I wouldn’t bet on Weerasethakul’s film getting nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, it is too visionary and ahead of its time to likely get recognized. However, Japan’s official entry in the Oscar race, Tetsuya Nakashima’s Confessions won a deserved Audience Award which is a good sign for its chances come nomination time. Nakashima’s film was THE summer hit in Japan this season and is riding high as a crowd pleaser in festival circuits worldwide. Was it as good a movie as Uncle Boonmee? Of course not but Confessions has an accessibility that the academy will likely cuddle to, in its depiction of a high school teacher seeking revenge on the students that killed her daughter.

Canada’s official submission Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies will also most likely get recognized with a Foreign Film nomination, in fact it might just be a masterpiece & has been picked up by Sony Pictures Classic for a 2011 release. Take that in mind and the fact that it won Best Canadian Film at the recent Toronto Film Fest and you got a real contender. Meanwhile Mexico’s Official entry, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful got a rapturous applause at its screening more than a week ago. I dug Inarritu’s first three directorial efforts but thought this new one didn’t live up to them and was a slight letdown in its depiction of a dying man trying to leave his children a better future before he dies. Javier Bardem is guaranteed a Best Actor nomination and is the reason why the film is even worth watching. As Uxball, a man haunted by his past and worried about his future, Bardem infuses a raw and unforgettable grittiness to his role. The film, despite its exciting visual style, was too conventional to get me all excited.

Although Bardem impressed, Lesley Manville gets my award for Best Performance of the fest as an alcoholically depressed middle aged woman looking for love in Mike Leigh’s great Another Year. Just like Leigh’s other films, Another Year is an actor’s delight and something truly special. We should cherish the films this man gives us because not many people make them like this anymore, simple and wonderful. The film is worth watching alone for Manville’s master class in acting. She infuses the film with a comedic and touching gravity that will astound you from the get go. As far as I’m concerned she will be competing with Annette Benning for the critics’ awards come December, they might just boost her to a nomination.

As far as animated film goes, nothing came close to touching Sylvain Chomet’s follow-up to Belleville Rendezvous, The Illusionist. It’s a real shame that this year has been wonderful in terms of animation but If I were the Academy this would be a cinch for a nomination. Chomet’s breathtaking visual style is a wonder to behold and if The Illusionist might not be as Inventive as his first film, it’s still got more to give us than any other animated film this year, save for maybe Toy Story 3.

Other films that I dug at the fest were Gaspar Noe’s incendiary Enter The Void which, just like Uncle Boonmee, gave a new voice to how cinema could be told with its frenetic camera movements and trippy images that test the patience of its audience- It reveals a spiritual side that I never thought Noe had ditto Mathieu Almaric’s Tournee (On Tour), which won him a Best Directing prize at Cannes. It’s his ode to the American Burlesque performance and he directs the film like a true veteran, infusing hand held camera with a loose narrative to give a kind of cinema verite style to his film.

7 Days with Podz

7 Days (NR) ★★★

Quebec cinema has truly hit a boom the last few years and I do mean that both Commercially and artistically. I'm obviously concerned on the artistic side and director Podz -yep that's how he wants to be called- released earlier this year 7 Days, which is quite a gruesome experience. I wouldn't exactly call it a great movie but Podz' visual style is very assured and overcomes the scripts' lapses in sappiness towards its finale. This comes at at time when Denis Villeneuve's Incendies is storming Quebec and -I bet- will storm the world with recent news that it was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for a 2011 release and was also chosen as Canada's entry for the Best Foreign film Oscar. Back to Podz' film, it concerns a couple that have just lost their via a sick pedophiles murderous tendencies. The father decides to exact revenge on the pedophile buy torturing him throughout the film and those scenes are brutal but invigoratingly real and truthful.

The best thing I can say about this film is that it asks the question how far would you go to revenge a thing such as murder or sexual abuse, you begin to see the consequences and wonder if it is all worth it after all. I won't go into detail as to what I thought was right or wrong but suffice to say this is thought provoking stuff for the most part. For the most part. Meaning, I had a few minor quibbles with the direction the movie would take from time to time, instead of focusing on the two men, it would at times linger away to the police chief looking for them. Even worse there's a dreamlike sequence film's end that did not belong there and is the sort of sappiness I was referring to at the beginning. but really this is just good stuff and I recommend just for the curiosity factor. It premiered at Sundance earlier this year and might get some sort of release in the months ahead.

To dream the dream or nightmare

Le Festival Du Noueau Cinema Day (Day 6)

Mike Leigh, one of the greatest directors alive, has built a career over lower British class dreams and nightmares. His filmography reads like a master class in cinema (Naked, Secrets & Lies, Happy Go Lucky) and add his latest, Another Year, to that list of his best movies. It's a real treat to watch Leigh direct a film such as this one, cause there really isn't any other filmmaker that does movies like Leigh does anymore. His way of making movies is simple, yet affective. He gives us a slice of life in British society, a melange of characters and vignettes that are designed to be character and societal studies. Another Year is a character study of 3 main people. A couple in their 60's called Tom and Gerri (played by Jim Broadbent/Ruth Sheen) and Mary, an alcoholic, depressed, middle aged woman that works with Gerri in an office an has a thing for her son.

Lesley Manville plays Mary and it's a knockout performance that will likely get awarded by year's end. Manville, in her fourth decade of acting and a Leigh regular, might have just given the performance of the year with this one. Another Year rests on the shoulders of her character as its dramatic and comedic centerpiece. Don't get me wrong, Broadbent and Sheen are incredibly subtle and effective but Manville does Leigh proud in investing her heart and soul into a destructive and touching characterization of alcoholism and depression. I loved how she could change the expressions on her face so effortlessly, it's a performance that goes along well with Leigh's bravura filmmaking.

Another film that has gotten much buzz here is Jean Luc Godard's latest, Film Socialisme- which I can't really explain cause, well I didn't really understand it + the buzz is mostly coming from the name Godard alone. I guess that's the point Godard was trying to make in his attempt to put out themes and stories that are clearly in his head these days. What themes might you ask? well I guess that's what I'm trying to say, the themes are never pronounced very clearly but only hinted at in context. It's a mess of a film but will clearly get eaten up by folks that have liked some of his later career fare, I haven't necessarily cuddled up to those films just so you know my stance. It's a real shame that Godard has resorted to making movies such as this one because you can still see immense talent in the shots he gives us in this film, there is a visionary flair that has not been lost over the years by the Breathless director. His lack of plot or story is a real shame, he refuses to gives us anything straightforward because, as I understand, he has lost all hope in contemporary movie making and probably thinks it is a lost art. To each his own I guess.

Festival Du Nouveau Cinema (Day 4)

Gaspar Noe never seems to settle for a conventional narrative. His latest is called Enter The Void and runs at more than 160 minutes. It is long, flawed, repetitive but is also something I have never seen before in cinema and I do mean that as a good thing. If he shocked us all with a 10 minute rape scene in Irreversible, the shock is not as nasty here but he instead decides to resort to trippy psychedelia and images that represent an other worldly existence. His inspiration is clearly Kubrick, most notably the last 20 or so minutes of 2001 expanded into 2 hours. Although there is a story at hand here and a clear belief of an after life.

Taking place in Japan, the film uses the colorful scenery of the country to tell the story of two Americans -brother and sister- that are literally lost in translation. The brother, Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) has turned into a junkie that is hooked on the drug DMT (the chemical your brain unleashes when you're dying) and his sister Linda has resorted to stripping for money- she also has a semi creepy affair with her Japanese manager. The brother gets shot and basically waders around the entire film in an undisclosed life form going through flashbacks, present time and another dimension.

Talking about creepy, there's hints of Incest throughout the film although it never really is revealed what that's all about. Suffice to say, I dug this film quite a bit because of its visionary reaches and the way Noe tries to bring a new way of expression to a cinematic medium that has all but failed in inventiveness the last few years. There's no short of originality here, although I felt completely drained by the time the film had ended. It's an experience that you will likely not forget, to say the least.

Romanian cinema has just been boomin' the last few years, what with that incredible stunner 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days garnering worldwide acclaim in 2007 and of course The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu. I had high expectations for Radu Muntean's Tuesday After Christmas which explores infidelity with long takes and a retainment of emotions. So far, so good right? and for the most part it is but there's only so much you could do with the a story about adultery and with the limitations Muntean sets out. The man in the marriage is cheating on the family dentist's assistant. even worse, Christmas is around the corner and our old buddy is thinking of making a decision that will likely change his life in a major way. Starring Dragos Bucur as the husband, Maria Popistasu a the mistress and the brilliant Mirela Oprisor as the lost and bewildered wife, a memorable performance that sneaks up into you. A Pitch perfect ending helps the film hve a bit more of a groove near its conclusion. A bewildering film I will likely need to thoroughly think about.

Greg Araki's new film has not found a distributor since its auspicious debut at Cannes in early may, which kind of sucks considering I enjoyed many parts of it. It's just a plain old, goofy, stoner comedy with lots of female (and male) flesh. Kaboom will not change the world and will likely not get the cult or critical acclaim Araki managed to get with his last film (Mysterious Skin) but Kaboom has enough interesting bits that I'd recommend it for a night of good old debauchery. Its College humor is unlike any comedy out there- whereas its last 20 minutes are so ridiculous that you need to just uncheck your brain and go along with whatever is fed to you. It all has to do with these damn cookies our main protagonist devours at a party. Lesson of the day- NEVER EAT COOKIES YOU DID NOT BAKE YOURSELF.

Festival Du Nouveau Cinema (Days 2 & 3)

Not that I should complain much but Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's latest film is a real downer I tell you. Oh is it ever. Then again, his first 3 films (Amorres Perros, 21 Grams & Babel) wouldn't qualify either as feel good cinema. His latest is called Biutiful and it has an incredible lead performance from Javier Bardem. In fact, I'd shocked, just shocked I tell ya if he didn't get a Best Actor nomination. He plays Uxball, a man that has to take care of his two children because his ex-wife has lost custody since well, she's an alcoholic. To make matters worst, Uxball is dying of cancer and there are quite a few scenes in the film that umm show his symptoms in quite a direct, in your face manner (blood with urine). The man also makes a living with numerous jobs, most of them illegal such as helping out illegal Chinese and Senegali immigrants. Oh and he can see things too, by seeing things I mean he can actually SEE things, dead people and such- he gets payed by desperate families at funeral homes to try to relay messages from their loved lost ones.

All in all, it's an exhausting experience that definitely is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. What makes it worth seeing is Bardem, who's Uxball is slowly but surely losing his mind and disintegrating on screen, his weight lowering, his eyes getting sleepier and his lip moving less and less. Bardem never loses sight of his characters' fight to leave his children with a better life once the cancer has taken him down. The film's flaws are marked and noticed but Bardem fights them all at once with his knockout performance. Now I just wish Inarritu, a talented filmmaker, can make a fresher movie next time around, one that does not involve the predictable disintegration of a lead character ala 21 Grams or Babel. His pleasure in making films about suffering and death is starting to get to me. Then again it might just be like telling Peckinpah to stop making violent movies or Lynch to stop dreaming about dreams.

Another film that came into the fest with some heavy buzz is Claire Denis' White Material which recently screened at the New York Film Festival. Denis comes back to Africa with this one and casts Isabelle Huppert as a woman that resides in Africa with a Coffee Bean business at her disposal. Of course, Coffee has nothing to do with the picture. In fact, African Civil War is the layout of this excitingly tense and violent picture. Huppert's family is dysfunctional to say the least, her husband (played by Christopher Lambert) tries to negotiate a deal with the mayor, her father in law just wanders around the house like a lazy bum and her son, well let's just say her son goes crazy and wanders off in thin air, disappearing into the African night.

Compared to Denis' other films, this is conventional stuff. Then again, it is nevertheless an interesting piece of cinema done by one of the great filmmakers around. The violence that Denis shows us is brutal, as child soldiers roam on the streets, not scared to attack or kill a civilian. The setting is pitch perfect and brings back Denis to a childhood she clearly remembers in colonial Africa. There are scenes that are unforgettable here, yet the mystery that lingers in almost all her other films is missing. Instead she decides to tell her story in a conventionally paced manner and doesn't feel the need to bring a little more of her trademark nasty darkened mystery. This is a well recommended picture but clearly not one of her best.

Another picture I saw was Carl Bessai's Fathers And Sons and it is one of those movies that you see every once in a while at a film fest. I'm talking about the kind of movie that makes you wonder why it was picked to be in the damn program. Its interwoven story lines all have to do with, well guess Mr. rocket scientist, fathers and sons. There's an Indian family, a Jewish family, an Irish family and a black family. All this and maybe I should have just chugged that glass of wine to make the pain go away a bit. uggh next time.

Festival Du Nouveau Cinema (Day 1)

Le Festival Du Nouveau Cinema has been over the past decade, the best film fest in Montreal. Year after year, the organizers have practically outdone themselves in concocting a program that would satisfy the most fervent of cinema fans. Over the next 14 days, I will be cramming into my schedule close to 40 movies from more than 20 countries. You can call it a film geek's wet dream or you can call it overload. I'm looking forward to having a chance to visit the new world's of such masters as Britain's Mike Leigh, Mexico's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Romania's Cristi Puiu, Denmark's Thomas Vinterberg & French auteurs such as Jean Luc Godard, Clair Denis and Catherine Breillat. Serge Losique's Montreal World Film Festival has long been overshadowed by a film fest that has decided to overtake it in terms of creativity and substantial programming. If you are a fan of cinema and always think outside the box, Le Festival Du Nouveau Cinema is for you with its eclectic selection and all around satisfying vibe.

Portugal's Manoel De Oliveira is 102 years old, yet age has not been a factor for him to direct films in an almost yearly basis. The Strange Case Of Angelica -his 51st movie- has themes of love and death and an almost comatose structure. De Oliveira's movies have either been hit or miss the past 2 decades and there's no doubt in my book this one is a miss. The film talks about a strange young photographer that is given the task of photographing a dead girl, he grows a strange admiration for her as the days go by, an admiration that ultimately turns futile and scary as our photographer friend starts hallucinating and coming to terms with a breakdown. The film is beautifully shot and has an original way of telling things but it is also uninvolving to its viewer and not all that satisfying an experience. Oliviera has nothing to prove and thus has made a movie that is mostly for himself and nobody else- that's problematic and at the end quite disappointing.

Talking about strange. In a film fest that takes pride in its weirdness and originality, Bruce LaBruce's L.A Zombie might just take the prize for weirdest film. Clocking in at a mere 63 minutes, LaBruce's film is a strange gay porn gorefest that will likely puzzle and frustrate many at the fest. LaBruce wouldn't want it any other way. His film casts porn star Francois Sagat as a Zombie -or is he just a schizophrenic?- that goes around Los Angeles looking for dead male bodies to have sex with and literally bring back to life. Yikes. Talk about infuriating the masses. LaBruce doesn't care. His film has been categorized as a Queer Cinema Zombie Film, but it is more than just that. I saw a parallel and hidden metaphor to the AIDS epidemic. You don't necessarily have to think that much when watching LaBruce's film. It has practically no dialogue and lets the images speak for themselves. You will likely come out puzzled. I know I did.

French actor turned director Mathieu Almaric won the Directing Prize earlier this year at Cannes for his tour de force directorial debut, Tournee (On Tour). His film has an incredible atmosphere as it follows American Burlesque performers and their idiosyncratic French manager (also played by Almaric). Almaric's film and direction owes a big debt to the sprawling character driven epics of such American masters as Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese. There are well over a dozen characters to pay attention to here but Almaric's hand makes the surroundings incredibly vibrant and entertaining to watch. Miranda Colclosure gives an astonishing performance as one of the Burlesque ladies that has a peculiar friendship with Almaric's manager. In making the film, Almaric hired some of the best, most talented Burlesque performers in the States to portray his ladies. It worked, these non-professional actresses feel genuine and natural on camera. The film isn't perfect but the overall vibe Almaric creates is incredible and -like all great road trips- feels like an experience. Tournee confirms Almaric as a true talent of cinema, both in acting and directing.

Banksy takes on The Simpsons

Bansky has gotten some much needed ink this year, ever since that documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop made its way to cinemas across the country. Now here comes something that has already gotten 3 + million hits on Youtube and is surely the next big video online. It is Banksy's take on The Simpsons and -through the creators' consent- his own unique vision of the opening montage. Knowing this is Banksy, it's no surprise that his version of things is both nastiy funny and political to the bone. Enjoy.

Let The Right One In REDUX

2008's Let The Right One In
2010's Let Me In
Let Me In (R) ★★½

It's no surprise that Hollywood decided to remake 2008's Let The Right One In, a Swedish import that has garnered more than its fair share of fans during the past 2 years. The original, with its bracingly original story and flashy Gothic decors, had something that could please even subtitle deractors. The remake -directed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves- is surprisingly stale and has a few stunning surprises up its sleeves, it's a real shame that I was expecting almost everything coming in the way of plot (I mean it IS a remake after all). The problem is that Reeves doesn't try anything new or ingenious and instead decides to follow the same atmospheric hypnotics that made the 2008 movie so popular.

There's something very wrong in remaking a film that was already good in the first place. Don't get me wrong stuff like what Scorsese did with The Departed is great, there Scorsese took the source and twisted it upsid down to make well, a Martin Scorsese movie. I'm also lost for wods as to why critics have fallen for the remake so damn much, then again maybe they didn't have the chance to see the original and some film critics -more notably Lou Lumenick- have come out and stated their overall enjoyment with the fact that they didn't see the original source material.

The story, which is about a 13 year old vampire girl that starts a unique friendship with a bullied neighbourhood boy, is a real genre twister that re-invigorated the vampire genre, coincidentally the same year the first Twilight movie came out. You won't see any Bella or Edward sappiness in the original or -even- remake. There's no love triangle or high school dramatics. The stakes at here are real and the feelings psychological. I just think it is somewhat of a useless thing to remake such a film in an almost similarly told way. Reeves could have put his own spin and made something a bit more beneficial for both the fans of the original and newcomer, alas that does not happen at the least bit. If you've seen the original one, skip this one but if you haven't check it out or rent Let The Right One In.

The Link/Burning Water

The writing has been non stop for me, here's my thoughts on Burning Water, which comes out in limited release all across Canada but will likely not get one for the States. A shame considering there is a relevant subject matter here that touches more than just Canadian provinces. It's a slight, not very stylish documentary but its importance is immense and will likely change government stances on such issues. Review can be read if you click HERE.


Incendies (NR) ★★★½

With his fourth film, Denis Villeneuve has hit a new career high. Incendies -based on Wajdi Mouawad's stage play- is the firecracker I've been waiting for this fall. Political, angry and thoroughly engrossing, Villeneuve's film is one of the year's best. It's then no surprise that it is Canada's official selection for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2011. Don't be surprised if Incendies -brimming at a gripping 130 minutes- is one of the selected five nominees. Sony Pictures Classic has picked up the film for an early 2011 release & has put its hopes on a film that has garnered nothing but buzz since its current bows at the Telluride and Toronto film fest- where it won Best Canadian Film.

The film's central story takes place both in present day Montreal & in a Middle East filled with corruption and violence. Brother and Sister lose mother and then consequently find out that they have a father they thought was dead and a brother they never thought existed. Through flashbacks the story of their mother's ordeal is told and through current day events, the sister finds out things she never knew about her mother, a past filled with pain and sorrow. The torching and shooting of a Muslim filled bus by christian radicals is the centerpiece of this tough movie. It's a sequence breathlessly shot and horrifying to watch in its authenticity. Villeneuve means to shake us and he does.

Villeneuve proved with last year's Polytechnique that he hadn't lost the touch that gave him his reputation with Maelstrom more than 10 years ago. Here, his style is more low key as he pulls a kind of Aronofksy with this picture. This is his Wrestler. A film that has a more low key style that isn't substantiated for plot and is inspired by classical Hollywood cinema. The film had me hanging by every tread as it drew closer and closer to its conclusion. Villeneuve tries to manipulate time by going back and forth from past to present day to show us the similarities between mother and daughter in their quest to find a sibling.

The performances are extraordinary, starting with the mother played by Lubna Azabal- she brings a quiet intensity to her ordeal as a christian good girl gone rebel bad- in a shocking scene, she sets out to shoot a top political figure by working with him and teaching his son how to speak and write french. When the time to kill finally arrives, you feel every inch of nervousness she has at that moment. Notable kudos must also be given to Melissa Desormaux Poulin, who plays the daughter that tries to retrace her mother's every step and consequently finds out deep, impenetrable secrets her mother once had. This is a movie all about images and moments and Villeneuve invigorates his movie with everlasting images that will stay in your head.

The way Villeneuve tells his story is original and visionary, something missing in current day cinema. His middle eastern nightmare vision is a film that creeps up on you from its first frame to its last. I was also completely taken back by its final twisty revelation that only puts the icing on the cake. The film will more than likely find a comfort zone from both critics and audiences when it finally gets released in the States. Villeneuve hasn't really gotten the reputation he deserves south of the border and I think this film might just finally do it for him- it's a hell of a triumph an I couldn't be more proud it comes from Montreal.

The other Facebook movie

Catfish (R) ★★★

If a film like Catfish was able to give me the creeps then I guess anybody can make a movie with their hand held camera and hope for the best- didn't The Blair Witch Project prove that? Then again, the filmmakers of this finely tuned documentary hit a kind of gold mine with their story of a buddy -Lev Schulman- adding a "friend" on Facebook and forming an unlikely online bond with the entire family, including a hot stepdaughter that he ends up having online hookups with.

This being the Internet, I suppose there is always a downside to a story such as this one and boy is it ever a downside as our boy Lev finds out as the story goes along.The first 2/3 of the movie have a Hitchockian vibe that literally had me hanging on every word, then of course...well I won't spoil it for you but suffice to say that they try to put a moral to their story at its conclusion, that the film ends up falling apart and dragging its ass down to the final credits. Too bad cause I kinda dug the buildup that director Ariel Schulman -Lev's brother- brought to the surroundings.

You can call this the other Facebook movie -along with The Social Network- and because we live in a Facebook dominated society, the relevance brought in is justifiably suited for our needs and wants of the moment. Will it be this gripping 10 years from now? I really don't know but for the time being, at its best Catfish gives the viewer a real treat in trying to figure out its mysterious ways.

However, don't think of it as high art or resonant stuff- on the contrary, it's a movie that doesn't have much of a face and rather focuses on its highly interesting concept. Unlike quite a few people out there in the blogosphere, I do believe this was pure fact and the filmmakers didn't make up any bit of it but if only they did- its conclusion would have been slightly more interesting to watch unravel.

Guess The Movie?

This should be quite easy to figure out but I nevertheless wanted to relay this image out of a classic film from the 70s. Recently released for auction with a starting bid of close to 700 dollars. It's a hell of an image but I personally wouldn't dig out the dough and just resort to watching the film instead.

Lisbeth Salander kicks the Hornet's Nest and puts herself in a heep of trouble

Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest (R) ★★½

Coming out later this month is the final chapter of this trilogy that has basically swept up the entire world with its intriguing novels by Stieg Larsson and interesting films. If the first film, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, was an investigative drama and the second film, Girl Who Played With Fire, was a thriller, Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest is pure and simply a courtroom drama filled with spectacle and numerous speeches that basically tie up the knots left vacant by the first two films. Is is a good film? no doubt about it, We care so much about the characters because of the first two films that we cannot help but keep our attention throughout all the hokey courtroom drama that at times appears on screen.

The best of the series is without a doubt The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which -despite being 15 minutes too long- had the atmosphere and direction of a first rate picture and brought some much needed cinematic fervor to the surroundings. Hornet's Nest is a conventional way of ending the series, with its multiple speeches, climactic ambivalence and knot tying. I didn't however appreciate how the book's ending was somewhat changed in the film's final conclusion and resorted to a kind of weird inessential goodbye. In the novel, there is a final scene that is kind of expected -very anticlimactic- but also very satisfying and very appropriate for a series of novels about two main characters.

Which is not to say that there isn't an inch of excitement in director Daniel Alfredson's movie. From a hospital shooting to a final battle with a muscled giant, Lisbeth Salander's exciting persona rings true in every scene. Kudos must go to Noomi Rapace, who deserves a nomination for her portrayal of the femme fatale. I found her captivating throughout the series and -although I'm very much looking forward to it- almost irreplaceable in the American remake of the first film, coming out in 2011 and directed by maverick American filmmaker David Fincher. She's the heart and soul of the series and is the key reason to even watch the last two films directed by Alfredson. If you want something more effective check out the first film of the series, directed by Niels Arden Oplev.