RIDM: our closing weekend picks

A disturbing glimpse at apocalyptic Americana through YouTube diary collage, and a poetic portrait of a fishing vessel, wrap up our coverage of Montreal’s documentary festival.



Pieces and Love All to Hell

Local filmmaker Dominic Gagnon makes collages out of video diaries removed from YouTube for inappropriate content, focusing on the theme of apocalyptic Americana. His latest, a follow-up to his earlier RIP in Pieces America, this time features (mostly) women talking about the impending end of days and what they’re doing to prepare.

Many of the women are enraged about the election of President Obama and America’s supposed slide into socialism (you can only imagine how they must feel now) and try to “wake up” their fellow Americans with their deranged ranting. Others concentrate on the nuts and bolts of post-apocalyptic survivalism, giving online tutorials in guns, DIY medical work and agriculture (one of the film’s interesting insights is the overlap between right-wing paranoia and lefty utopia in the form of organic gardening).

With no narration or framework, the film is deliberately left ambiguous as to its own position. From time to time you get the feeling that Gagnon may be mocking some of his subjects, although to be fair it’s occasionally hard not to laugh at some of the theories and personalities. A lot of the time, though, the film is deeply disturbing, both in its displays of blatant racism and antisocial views and in the clearly troubled mental health of many of the women onscreen.

As the film’s subjects frequently point out, the U.S.A. is in a profoundly screwed-up state. Some of them even make fair enough points about where the country has gone wrong, but none of them see their own attitudes as part of the problem. The combination of self-obsessed narcissism, paranoia and violence paints a depressing portrait of American society, but Gagnon’s sharp editorial eye makes it an intriguing work of art. (MF) Friday, Nov. 16, Cinémathèque Québécoise (335 Maisonneuve E.), 6 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 18, Excentris (3536 St-Laurent), 7:45 p.m.



Beginning with a quote from the book of Job, Leviathan could be a depiction of life if God smote us, with its terrifying, claustrophobic images and clumping, clanging soundscapes that one imagines would accompany a trip to the netherworld.

Bucking the convention of traditional nature documentaries, which go to great lengths to put a distance between viewer and subject, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel have created a dazzlingly innovative film by embedding their cameras inside a fishing trawler. The cameras go into impossible nooks and crannies, almost burying themselves in the tackle, impedimenta, blood and flying detritus housed deep within the boat’s belly.

More reminiscent of the staccato experimental films of Bruce Baillie or Stan Brakhage than the sweeping vistas of David Attenborough’s oeuvre, directors Castaing-Taylor and Paravel masterfully bring viewers to the brink of exhaustion, overwhelming us with visual and auditory clatter until it becomes almost unbearable and then deftly cutting away to the blissful submerged silence of an underwater scene, or the free air of the skies above deck.

Indeed, with almost no dialogue, or relief from the unrelenting “closeness” of the experience, this film will alienate some viewers. But as an experimental meditation on the intersection of man, machine and nature, Leviathan is a cinematic marvel. (AP) Saturday, Nov. 17 at Excentris (3536 St-Laurent), 9:15 p.m. ■

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