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NMFF: Day 2

A History of Violence

While this film looks more like a Tarantino insane murder spree fresco a la Kill Bill rather than a Cronenberg film, this is a pure feast for the extravagant and the exquisite just like Cronenber’s previous films. God knows how he does it, but Cronenberg has been attracting major commercial actors for his latest projects (Ralph Fiennes, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Don McKellar, …). This time it’s Viggo Mortensen (LOTR) and the sublime Maria Bello (Assault on Precinct 13) who play the lead roles and this casting choice couldn’t have been better. Their roles fit them like a glove and they make the perfect twisted Cronenbergian couple on the blood-shattered silver screen. Every second of this film is enjoyable; especially the few violent scenes that made the few women present at the screening react very loudly. Awesome.

Le Fil à la Patte (The Art of Breaking Up)

Speaking about excess and awesomeness, many of Michel Deville’s films are presented at the festival for a retrospective on his career. This includes his most recent film, Le Fil à la patte. This film is yet another gem in the 2005 programming of the NMFF. Without saying too much about the film, it’s a comedy which comical elements come from very intelligently inserted incongruities in the narrative and in the plot. For example, an actor in the film apologize to the cameraman (the ‘real’ cameraman of the film) because he’s in his way or, while the film seems to be set about 150 years ago, one character makes use of a very modern gadget. Those tricks aren’t new, but the manner in which they are mingled together in this film is quite brilliant and is likely going to make Deville neophytes watch more of his previous films.

Les Poupées Russes (Russian Dolls)

As a continuation to the critically acclaimed L’Auberge Espagnole, this film follows the same characters 5 years later who reunited once more for one of their friend’s wedding in Russia. Expectations were very high for this film but unfortunately, the film didn’t live up to the hype. The film is very entertaining, the story is well written and the film’s mise-en-scene/editing is very stimulating and is reminiscent of Jeunet’s films at times (Amelie). However, all these ingredients fail to create a film that stands out. Similar in many ways to Mensonges et trahisons et plus si affinities, Les Poupées Russes isn’t a failure by any means, but it certainly isn’t as charming as the first volume.

Le Courage d’aimer

Le Courage d’aimer … Lelouche. While Lelouche seems to go through difficult times in France as his films don’t sell very well (he even offered free screenings to his latest film for one day for the entire country), he still continues to make films, and very good ones. With this film, he proves once more that he his still the great master who directed many French cult films such as Une fille et des fusils (1964) and Un homme et une femme (1966). It’s fascinating to see how Lelouche’s aesthetics of his early films is still prevalent in his modern ones; it makes up for a very nice mix between the long gone era of the sleek 1960s French films and modern-ish commercial films. In addition, many scenes in the film like the complex mise-en-abime or the medium that tells the future by looking at people’s eyes are noteworthy and demonstrate, too, how brilliant Lelouche is.

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