Montreal‚Äôs Le Festival Du Nouveau Cinema concluded its 39th edition on Sunday with Palme D‚Äôor 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‚Äôt bet on Weerasethakul‚Äôs film getting nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, it is too visionary and ahead of its time to likely get recognized. However, Japan‚Äôs official entry in the Oscar race, Tetsuya Nakashima‚Äôs Confessions won a deserved Audience Award which is a good sign for its chances come nomination time. Nakashima‚Äôs 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‚Äôs official submission Denis Villeneuve‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Official entry, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‚Äôs Biutiful got a rapturous applause at its screening more than a week ago. I dug Inarritu‚Äôs first three directorial efforts but thought this new one didn‚Äôt 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‚Äôs great Another Year. Just like Leigh‚Äôs other films, Another Year is an actor‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôm concerned she will be competing with Annette Benning for the critics‚Äô awards come December, they might just boost her to a nomination. As far as animated film goes, nothing came close to touching Sylvain Chomet‚Äôs follow-up to Belleville Rendezvous, The Illusionist. It‚Äôs 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‚Äôs breathtaking visual style is a wonder to behold and if The Illusionist might not be as Inventive as his first film, it‚Äôs 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‚Äôs incendiary Enter The Void which, just like Uncle Boonmee, gave a new voice to how cinema could be told ditto Mathieu Almaric‚Äôs Tournee (On Tour), which won him a Best Directing prize at Cannes. It‚Äôs his ode to American Burlesque theatre 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. One a final note, Charles Ferguson‚Äôs Inside Job is everything a documentary should be and deserves all the praise it has been getting — the film got an enthusiastic ovation in its only screening near the beginning of the fest. His film like all the one‚Äôs just listed, was a rebel cry for change and reminded us all of the reason why art exists in the first place.