Les Etats-Unis d’Albert

18654510Les Etats-Unis d’Albert

André Forcier :: Canada :: 2005 :: 1h28

Young aspiring actor wanting to replace Valentino in the late 1920s, takes the cross country train from Montreal to Los Angeles to realize his dream. Unwillingly, he takes along the ghost of his love-sick veteran actress teacher. He meets the girl of his dreams on the train, a young mormon feminist, but fortune has a little more in store for him. A curious, theatrical, absurd plot filmed with a capable cast.

The challenge of the script has been well developed in the scenery, keeping up the tone, but there are some hiccups. The movie is funny, but not really, and naively superficial, despite being well filled. I admire the courage shown in taking on the project and it was enjoyable to watch, but none the less it misses that little bit extra which blends reality with absurdity to make it almost credible. Best served with a glass of wine, if that is not considered too outlandish for your local cinema.




Jean-Marc Vallee :: Canada :: 2005 :: 2h09

Coming of age in a 1960s to 80s Canadian family of five brothers, Zac struggles to find a place for himself in the world. Tuned to the rhythm of pop, the brothers all take on a role making them a portrait of an era, but do not be misled into thinking that is all. Zac’s development as a person and in his relationships to his parents are at times rudimentary and at times dealt with with sensitive detail. Because of the time span covered, life always seems to take on a certain epic proportion, and it is hard to be left untouched. It is funny to note that friendship, love and music are the only real life factors considered important, as when they study or work we are oblivious to its contents. None the less, the grand details (paths followed, relationships chosen) and small ones (mystical mother-son link, human reactions) render the tale credible, funny and moving. The importance of the seemingly silly title is explained … now only the poster …

(The Quebec dialect is strong, and subtitles sparse, so unfortunately can be hard to follow at times if unaccustomed.)

Les Invasions Barbares

Les Invasions BarbaresLes Invasions Barbares

Denys Arcand :: Canada :: 2003 :: 1h39 :: 2 Oct. 2003

We are presented with a picture of an idyllic death. In an era of post-ideology a man reaches his end. Thanks to a loving wife and a strong son, he does not die alone, but is surrounded by his friends. As any movie dealing with death, it is inevitable to be moralistic, to pose the big questions. The ‘what is really important’ question is shown through the contrast between the old promiscuous bon vivant professor and his City lifestyle, gentlemanly son. Similarly, his friends are contrasted with the youth.

It is hard to do justice to such a complex and masterfully made film. It is not only subdivided into ‘chapters’ but also into layers, leaving you with a matrix still to be untangled. We find threads of moral questions about the role of reason, ideology, of love, technology, and of the ‘choices’ of roles in society. We are shown a world in which the family members are spread out across the globe, and communicate as if they are neighbours – if they so desire. And that suffix, of course, is the crux.

As the chapters pass, each time the image fades out and back in again, each time as if it was your last breath. The emphasis on the in-determinability of your own death is contrasted with the determination to control, our lives and certainly our death. The son, who to some extend plays the main character even if it is not him who is dying, is the emblem of control. He has turned his video-playing youth into successful stock market playing adulthood. He has an unscrupulous instrumental vision of the world, even if he is not insensitive.

Verdict: complex, beautiful and funny movie, well worth seeing. You could consider the DVD though, so that you can pause it – it is rather packed to the rim. (Perhaps for the Canadian accent as well, should you be unaccustomed.)