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.