Saturday at FNC

Our screen team review three films screening today at FNC, including the latest from Costa Gavras.

The 48th annual Festival du Nouveau Cinéma runs through Oct. 20. Here are our reviews of films screening (for the first time at the festival) today: 

Adults in the Room

Legendary leftist filmmaker Costa-Gavras, best known for Z (1979) and Missing (1981), tackles the Greek economic crisis in his latest film. Based on the political memoirs of Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who tried to save Greece from their massive debts, the film is a bureaucratic comedy-thriller with a built-in unhappy ending. In a herculean task of translating to the screen the inner-workings of the European economic crisis and the various representative bodies responsible, the movie is undoubtedly niche if no less interesting for the attempt. It’s remarkable how effectively the film translates so much complex economic and political relationships so clearly.

The filmmaking itself is rough and somewhat artless. While some elements of framing are used to heighten tension and exaggerate power dynamics, most of it is purely functional. Yet, the complicated nature of the economic discussions necessitates something utilitarian, but many other bureaucratic films manage to find a much stronger rhythm than this one. The film deals with the conditions of everyday life. While focused on the political actions of those in positions of power, it never strays too far from the consequences of their work and decisions will have on their citizens. (Justine Smith)

Adults in the Room screens at Cinéma Impérial (1430 Bleury) on Saturday, Oct. 12, 5 p.m. and again at Cinéma du Musée (1379A Sherbrooke W.) on Sunday, Oct. 20, 6:50 p.m. Costa-Gavras will also be giving a master class at the festival.

Anne at 13,000 ft

In one of the best surprises of the year, Deragh Campbell gives a tour de force performance in Anne at 13,000 ft. In the new film by Canadian filmmaker, Kazik Radwanski (How Heavy This Hammer), Anne is a volatile preschool teacher on the verge of mental collapse. In the spirit of John Cassavetes’s best work, the film has a naturalistic feel as it explores the slow descent of its lead. Just seventy-five minutes, the film is tenser than most thrillers and will leave you cringing and shifting in your seat. Even without a significant inciting incident, the film immediately taps into the mind-space of its lead. 

Among the rising stars of a new generation of Canadian filmmakers, Deragh Campbell has made a name for herself in transgressive and challenging indie films like I Used to Be Darker, Fail to Appear and MS Slavic 7. Anne at 13,000 ft might be her most embodied role yet, and she dives deep into Anne’s troubled psychic space. Blurring the line between naturalism and excess, Campbell carries the weight of the film on her shoulders. As her character deteriorates, her ability to read social cues and situations do as well. The film is an extensive and thorough portrait of self-destruction mixed in with fleeting moments of bliss (many of them are skydiving scenes, an activity Anne has recently become obsessed with). (JS) 

Anne at 10,000 ft screens at Quartier Latin (350 Émery) on Saturday, Oct. 12, 8:30 p.m. and again at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) on Sunday, Oct. 20, 5 p.m. 

The Whistlers

There are sort of two central jokes to Corneliu Porumboiu’s wry, deadpan The Whistlers: the first is how lackadaisical it all feels, how this ostensible thriller plot is delivered by characters who seem to sleepwalk through every moment of their lives; the second is how insanely complicated the plot gets. It’s an impossibly tangled web that Porumboiu seems so unconcerned about untangling that its very impenetrable nature becomes a joke in itself. Porumboiu has made a name for himself with exactly these kinds of bone-dry Romanian New Wave comedies and, while his voice remains intact, The Whistlers suffers somewhat from its adherence to an impenetrable narrative.

Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a narcotics cop who’s playing both sides — for how long exactly isn’t clear, since his entire apartment is bugged and rigged with cameras — and tasked by a femme fatale named Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) to help her bust her drug dealer boyfriend Zsolt (Sabin Tambrera) out of jail. For reasons that are purposely too dense to relay here, this involves going to the Canary Islands to learn a whistling language that they can then use to plan that getaway. While Porumboiu’s deconstructed approach to genre tropes is frequently charming and quirky, it’s difficult not to find the ever-winding narrative exhausting. Even if you accept it as a feature rather than a bug, being jostled to and fro constantly starts to wear thin long before the film is over. (Alex Rose)

The Whistlers screens at Cinéma du Musée (1379A Sherbrooke W.) on Saturday, Oct. 12, 9:25 p.m. and again at Quartier Latin (350 Émery) on Monday, Oct. 14, 7:10 p.m.

See the complete Festival du Nouveau Cinéma program here.