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:
As a world premiere at the festival, the latest Daisuke Miyazaki joint, Videophobia, probes deep into surveillance anxiety. Shot on black and white video, the film is about the unravelling of a young Japanese woman, Ai (Tomona Hirota), who discovers a video of herself having sex online. She tries to take charge of the situation by confronting the young man she had sex with and then attempting to take legal action. A movie where silence feels thunderous and oppressive, Videophobia explores the various levels of performance inherent to our contemporary, plugged-in lives.
The film uses a variety of techniques to unravel the nature of the “true self.” Ai works as a mascot and spends her evenings in drama classes “trying to be someone else.” The persistent image of her sitting in a room wearing only a sheet mask further obscures her identity while also alluding to the fantasy films of Chris Marker, Hiroshi Teshigahara and Georges Franju. Rich in a paranoid atmosphere, reality itself begins to dissolve in little ways as Ai tries to regain ownership over a life she barely connected with in the first place. Prescient and modern, Videophobia is a film about the unique conditions of life as experienced through technological filters. (Justine Smith)
Videophobia screens at Quartier Latin (350 Émery) on Friday, Oct. 11, 5 p.m. and again at Cinémathèque québécoise (335 de Maisonneuve) on Saturday, Oct. 12, 3:15 p.m.
Very early on in Bertrand Bonello’s Zombi Child, the viewer is treated to an extended lecture on colonialism and the flaw of treating 19th century history as linear and monolithic. This, of course, is the thesis of the film — what’s more convenient when it comes to pushing forward a thesis than a long, explicit lecture? There are actually two lectures in the first 20 minutes of Zombi Child, a ponderous intellectual exercise wearing genre clothing; the second lecture is about realist literature, which Zombi Child is very specifically not. I guess it’s hard to truly get immersed in a movie that manages to lay out what it is and what it isn’t in such an explicitly academic context, though Zombi Child is obviously not without merit.
The film alternates between Clairvius Narcisse (Mackenson Bijou), a Haitian man who was “zombified” in the 1960s only to recover (!) later on, and life at an exclusive French private school where a forlorn teen (Louise Labeque) befriends a young Haitian ex-pat (Wislanda Louimat) who is almost certainly a descendant of Narcisse. Zombi Child operates on a kind of arthouse horror wavelength that pairs an extremely slow-burn suspense with more overt tonal cues (including a synthy, throwback score) that make for an appealing but somewhat airless package. Frankly, I just couldn’t get over the didactic hand-holding of its early scenes; for Bonello’s reputation as a provocateur, this certainly feels like he sent me a registered letter ahead of time, warning me he was about to provoke me. (Alex Rose)
Zombi Child screens at Cinéma du Musée (1379A Sherbrooke W.) on Friday, Oct. 11, 9 p.m. and at Quartier Latin (350 Émery) on Saturday, Oct. 12, 8 p.m. and again on Sunday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m.
Color Out Of Space
It’s been two decades since Richard Stanley (Dust Devil) has made a feature fiction film, and he returns to the screen with a Lovecraftian adaptation starring Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Q’orianka Kilcher and Tommy Chong. After a small meteorite crashes into their front yard, the peaceful rural existence of the Gardner family begins to unravel under the effect of an alien presence. One of the most anticipated films of the year for genre fans, it might be worth lowering expectations as the film is uneven though far from outright bad. It struggles to find its stride, but for Stanley and Lovecraft fans, it will satisfy cravings.
The film’s biggest problem is tone. It’s hard to say whether it’s meant to be gonzo-weird or self-serious, and the inconsistency is wrapped up in long sequences of little interest. Cage is predictably out of control, and he gives it his all but doesn’t always hit the right note. He struggles at times to connect with the supporting cast: not that they’re not good, but it sometimes feels like everyone is in a different film. Considering Stanley’s films are among the most visually rich and adventurous of the ’90s, it’s a shame that most of Color out of Space is lit like a daytime soap opera. The movie has nonetheless amassed some strong reviews since it premiered at TIFF last month, so while this review comes with a big warning sign, your mileage may vary. (JS)
Color Out of Space screens at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) on Saturday, Oct. 12, 5 p.m. and again on Saturday, Oct. 19, 8:15 p.m.
See the complete Festival du Nouveau Cinéma program here.