The 48th annual Festival du Nouveau Cinéma runs through Oct. 20. Here are our reviews of films screening (for the first time) today:
One of the world premieres at this year’s Festival du nouveau cinéma, Bidzina Kanchaveli’s 1000 Kings lives up to the strange and magical reputation of the Les nouveaux alchimistes section. Abstract and experimental, the film is about 1,000 people suspended in a purgatorial space. All other details are insinuated rather than spelled out. Colourful and bewildering, the film’s narrative remains obscure. Those searching for relatable characters or a story to hold onto may be disappointed, but if you are looking for a singular and unusual vision, 1000 Kings will likely be worthwhile.
The mileage of what you will get out of the film will likely be on your emotional response. The movie channels unusual psychedelic imagery that is wholly unlike most examples of conscious-broadening imagery we’re used to seeing on the screen. The sound is equally thunderous, and music guides the experience nearly as much as the trippy visuals. Closer to animation than live-action, the film builds on strange rhythms as it seems to reach for primal truths. It feels like an ayahuasca trip about the birth of the universe and our driving survival impulses. The whole experience has the effect of mass hypnosis and is as horrifying as it is revelatory. (Justine Smith)
1000 Kings screens at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) on Thursday, Oct. 10, 9:15 p.m. and again on Friday, Oct. 18, 9:30 p.m.
The premise of Albert Serra’s Liberté is simple: shortly before the French Revolution, a group of decaying libertines retreat to the woods to live out their fantasies. The libertines lived by the moral principle that there should be no moral principles, and theoretically, indulged in any manner of decadent hedonism. As the film opens up, we hear some of their fantasies that cross the line between violence and sex. The horrific desires conjured by their imagination, however, rarely come to fruition — unless, of course, you count piss. The movie features a lot of urinating on, around and (figuratively) inside of people.
The film has a somewhat glacial pace that is occasionally interrupted by acts of sex and violence. Liberté unfolds under the shroud of night, and the camera often maintains a certain distance from the acts of libertinage it represents. The sound design is incredible, as it contributes to the feeling that the forest exists well beyond a healthy society. The film itself has a beautiful atmosphere that is consistently undercut by the pitiable acts of self-pleasuring and flagellation. Serra’s vision challenges our idea of the period film by focusing on the grotesque and monotonous but is also consistently funny and ironic. It is not a film for everyone but stands out as a film that genuinely pushes boundaries. (JS)
Liberté screens at Cinéma du Parc (3575 du Parc) on Thursday, Oct. 10, 6:30 p.m. and again on Friday, Oct. 18 at Quartier Latin (335 Émery).
David Cronenberg will be in Montreal to present his ’90s auto-erotic classic Crash, a film about people who are turned on by car crashes. Based on a novel by science-fiction writer J. G. Ballard, the 1996 classic stars James Spader, Elias Koteas, Holly Hunter and Rosanna Arquette. Crash is about the reshaping of the physical form through technology and is perhaps more relevant now than it was back in the mid-’90s. A powerful and often disturbing film about sex, Crash continues to challenge the nature of expression and desire in the shadow of the 21st century.
Absurd, darkly funny and uncomfortably sexy, as the tension escalates in Crash, the line between life and death become increasingly disrupted. Often, we think of boundary-pushing sex as a thing of animalistic nature, but in reality, the more human it is, the more disturbing it becomes. It’s not when we give in to our animal impulses that we experience the most philosophically human expression of sexual need. Instead, it is when we choose to ignore morality, survival and spiritualism that we achieve the most human sexual experiences. An absolute must-see, in a career devoted to body horror, Crash stands out as one of Croneneberg’s greatest works and one of the best films of the 1990s. (JS)
Crash screens at Quartier Latin (335 Émery) on Thursday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m. and again at Cinéma du Parc on Monday, Oct. 14, 8:15 p.m.
See the complete Festival du Nouveau Cinéma program here.