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French Immersion (2011)
Anti-Québec propaganda at its worst
One can approach "French Immersion" in two ways : either you can brush it off as a harmless comedy and laugh at its stereotypical fantasies, or you can shiver in anger at all the horrible propaganda it tries to inundate your mind with.
First and foremost, there is no way a small french immersion school set in a remote and economically striving Lac-Saint-Jean village could financially save such a community. The number of employees shown is too small for that, and the townspeople involved are mostly unpaid volunteers.
The most insulting part, however, comes from the cast. On one side, the Canadian students look like a cast of supporting actors straight out of a Sex and the City episode : thin, sexy, sober, intelligent.
On the other one, the Québécois cast, more realistic, is filled with more diversified - physically and psychologically - characters : some are bizarre-looking, some are opportunistic, brash, narrow-minded, gay & effeminate (whereas the Canadian gay is more composed), exaggeratedly curious or religious zealots.
Have the writers really experienced Québec? The local priest looks like from the 1910-1950s, walking the streets fully robed and with its thurible (incense-spreading tool), blessing the out-of-the-ordinary things and events happening around the village. There is no way such a character could really exist nowadays, and not even 6 years ago, as Québec has been plunging during the past 50 years on the path of secularization.
The relationships between the Québécois volunteers and the Canadian students are also awkward. Most volunteers act like mentally challenged people - humorist Peter McLeod is horrible in such a role -, while their Canadian counterparts, looking calm and open minded if a bit puzzled, do their best to adapt to the situation. The catholic grandmother feels out of place, especially when she fears its Jewish guest's soul will be damned to Hell. Nobody cares about that in Québec anymore.
What disgusted me the most, however, is when she learns from her granddaughter the Jewish man is circumcised. Really!? Everybody knows that, this is no mystery. Then the women enter their guest's bedroom and try to see for themselves. The grandmother is pleased, but quickly evacuated from the room as consensual sex ensues. Yeah, right : just try to reverse the roles - two man peaking and a woman peak at - and this will be called "rape". So why is it okay for a male to become a sexual object? The list goes on and on. The county is supposedly nationalistic, but everyone in the movie seems okay with manipulating a possibly future prime minister of Canada to get what they need. "We all voted for René Lévesque back in the days" they say, like if it was trivial. Let's go all back to ethnic survival, bending knees and kissing federal asses to get the money we send to Ottawa, at least a bit of it, back.
*SIGH* There is not enough space in here to fully criticize the movie, but it feels good to point a few of its fatal flaws on the screen. Bottom line : avoid this movie if you can. If you cannot, take it for what it is : a piece of anti-Québec propaganda.
Les amours imaginaires (2010)
Hispter and bourgeois
« Les amours imaginaires » sums about everything I despise about some of the younger generations in Québec : shallowness, love of costly material (clothes) and food, lack of true political engagement, use and abuse of English words and songs (for no real reasons), the senseless pursuit of pleasure and the utter absence of any real life-building plans.
So Dolan and Chokri go after some dumb curly-haired blonde guy which plays with them, clearly denying them what they seek. Brains anyone? They remain hooked on their illusions for so long you can only ask yourself it they are real adults.
Dolan clearly fails here. Sad thing is many of his followers do not realize hipsterism is harming society by breaking social unity and trapping us on individual (futile and ephemeral materialistic loveless) pursuits, decreasing our collective engagement to the benefit of the neo-liberal agenda.
Question : why does everyone has to smoke in this movie? Cigarette companies kill people and make heavy profits on doing so. Dolan, please wake up : you are helping a harmful poisonous industry getting new clients. You should be ashamed.
Le vrai du faux (2014)
I have really enjoyed getting into this movie. Somehow, I was sucked into the movie from the beginning, laughing often... until I realized the script only delivered gags on a machine gun level, superficially that is.
« Le vrai du faux » (Real Lies) feels like a dumb humorist show : you gather a lot of stereotypes together, slam them on psychotic and nerve-racked characters and let them boil together on a story's string as improbable as silly.
Sure, Gaudreault knows how to deliver : you have rarely the time to get bored... which is the same as eating fast-food : you first enjoy eating it, then feel shallow and, finally, regret having succumbed to bad food.
The thing is you never know what Gaudreault (or writer Pierre-Michel Tremblay) really thinks, because all of the characters are played like cartoons. Is the movie against war, ecologists, capitalism, psychologists? You never know. All themes are played against each other, which results in a ideological vacuum.
Of course, if you are in just for the laughs, you might be entertained... if you are not upset by all the lies and false contradictions the movie pretends some categories of people to have.
For my part, I was disappointed a lot by some of the clichés, and would like to rectify two things : 1. Heavy metal does not sound like the hardcore noise we hear in the movie, 2. I doubt real-life green leftists act like the insensible moron we see in Real Lies, 3. There is no "War against War" movement in Québec. You can hate pacifists - the kind of which worked to prevent WWI and many other wars - if you want, but please do not create false contradictions.
Bland and uninteresting
Granted, independent filmmaking is a tough game : no or low resources, not enough time to make it good, not enough script revision, etc.
In my view of things, there are only three ways around this : 1. Great acting based on a minimal-yet-effective script.
OR 2. An incredible script based on a great idea with an okay cast and okay shots.
OR 3. Passable acting and passable script based on wonderful lighting and set designing.
Many québécois (francophones) films rely on great acting first.
Sadly, a lot of horror movies coming from Québec are shot in English by a mixed cast of bad unknown Canadian actors and bad unknown québécois-francophone comedians. I can understand that the director-producer seeks to facilitate distribution worldwide, but this way of thinking just strips away all the flavor the film could have had if done the québécois way, in french.
I think SV Bell is a nice guy per se, and that by veiling himself in the guise of an English filmmaker (he is francophone, I believe), he misses the target.
"Crawler" suffers from the flaws related to this choice : 1. Actors are bland, forgettable, speaking in a dull and flat English tone.
2. The locales look realistic, which is okay, but the camera work and lighting are uninspired. We quickly lose interest for the main sandy scenery, used over and over.
3. The "Crawler" itself looks like any other bulldozer I have seen. It does not seem in away more menacing than other pieces of machinery.
4. The script is awful. People are killed and no one seem to really care - "Oh, he's still missing. Ah, anyway, let's go back to work...". Tensions between the main character - the old foreman back on the job - and one of his employee - a former adversary in court - are played in an uninspired way. The girl employee hardly acts the way a woman would act in the construction industry. She is not really respected by her colleagues, which exposes herself to danger and abuse. And finally, the way the protesting and grieving mother acts is not believable. Protesting alone is the best way to get evicted by the cops. She should have mobilized the community or tried to get an arrangement with the company.
Anyway, all of this is based on what? On a bulldozer which kills people one by one when others aren't looking. A theme which is based on the failure that "Maximum Overdrive" is. Ouch. That was a bad start anyway.
SV can do better, if not in filmmaking, elsewhere.
Too much like a stage play
One look at "Cadavres" different sceneries or acting quickly reveals that the crew and the actors really invested a lot of energy in this project... and it shows way too much.
Sadly, the result looks more like an exaggerated stage play than a movie. François Barcelo's script itself is awful, full of unbelievably cartoonish characters evolving in unnatural studio-made locations. The family's old house especially looks studio-made.
Although the lighting and special effects are beautiful to the eye, they just add to the whole artificial mess. The movie-in-the-movie scenes featuring the actress' TV character look like dumb caricatures of TV shows. There is now way they would have been screened outside of a children or comedy context.
Of course, people looking for coloured circus-like adult movies - there is some nudity and sex, but not that much - might like "Cadavres".
As for myself, the magic did not operate. I prefer a more realistic, less-staged approach to movie-making.
All in all, Québec has produced a lot of better movies.
Flavia, la monaca musulmana (1974)
Flavia the Heretic is hailed by some as one of the best nunsploitation - a dubious sub genre at best - efforts out there.
Sadly, the story and characters it unfolds come from nowhere, and go nowhere. Even if we realize that the movie is based in dark medieval-era Spain, there is no real sense of community, no hint of a real society or whatsoever. No one seems to really like to be alive, or simply to exist within the frame of civilization.
Nearly every character is mad, violent, misogynistic or just plain dumb. The people in charge are few and most of the time act rashly for no apparent reason, or just don't seem to know what to do. Senseless aggression and torture abound, mostly from male towards female, but also from female on female.
The madness the Tarantula cult unleashes on the nuns convent during the beginning of the movie is unbelievable, as is the rage and hatred the main character and the senior nun harbour towards men.
I understand being oppressed by a group, class or gender can lead to madness and revenge, but what Flavia the Heretic does is beyond my understanding : how can you betray and condemn to death thousands of your fellow citizens just to have revenge on few? By siding with the invaders, Flavia facilitates the genocide committed on her people, and seems to be very happy with it. Yet, she also despises the invader's attitude towards women, which leads her to be abandoned by the conquerors and captured by vengeful religious fanatics.
She dies horribly. That's what you get for living a life filled with hatred.
Flavia the Heretic is a beautifully lighted movie, but fails mostly because of a script filled with extremely negative characters. I seriously doubt people hated their lives as much as they seem to do in this movie, even during Dark Medieval Times...
Roma a mano armata (1976)
"Roma a mano armata" aka "Assault with a Deadly Weapon" might have been done for two reasons : 1. Pure shock value, the producers hoping to bring in more cash.
and / or 2. Propaganda in favour of giving law enforcement "carte blanche" to use and abuse brute force.
*** Tanzi, the main cop - described as a magnet attracting trouble midway during the movie -, just has to be somewhere for crime to happen.
Exchanging his "you bore me" look for his grinding teeth "I joined the force to catch criminals" face, he jumps into action to punch and kick his new found enemies.
Wait a minute... did he really say that he "joined the force to catch criminals"? That is exactly the film's problem : police officers are not working to ensure social peace, but to catch criminals.
The script even uses Tanzi's wife - whom he does not really seem to care for - to (in a very poorly done manner) attack social practises giving small criminals a chance to repent and become honest law-abiding citizens.
Wave after wave, evil-doers cross Tanzi's path, "proving" the cop's approach that only violence can resolve violence. Thus, the movie spirals downwards into ceaseless gunfire, knifing, raping, stealing, shooting a machine gun in a crowd for no reason at all and etcetera.
Did I say that there is no real story, apart from a few of the criminals Tanzi has hard time to catch throughout the movie? Yes, police force is necessary. But a movie which tries to implant the idea that it needs to become more violent is pure propaganda. Given proper care, most people are peaceful.
We need more Gandhi, and less Tanzi.
Deadgirl : Illogical and immoral
*WARNING : A lot of spoilers ahead * Deadgirl has all the technical qualities it needed to be a good horror movie : a good cast, smooth editing, moody lighting, great locales, etc.
Yet, it epically fails on two critical levels :
1. Believability - All of the following things are either hard to believe or completely unbelievable : - A living dead girl is found in an abandoned hospital; how could any serious organization leave a body behind? How could anyone leave a living dead unchecked behind? This is criminal.
- At no point does the police gets involved. People disappear. A guy dies of a mysterious disease. A girl is attacked at the gas station. But nobody ever thinks of getting the cops, nor do the police ever appears to investigate on anything. In the USA, where building more prisons is a governmental priority? It seems really hard to believe.
- Adults are mostly invisible or plain dumb. They never question the teens on ANYTHING, with the notable exception of the beer-guzzling stepfather.
- An aggressive dog wanders around in the abandoned hospital, only to pursue the teens. He doesn't seem to be rage-infected, he just seem to hate the teens. The teens never bother to submit or kill him, even though he comes back regularly in the story to threat them. Talk about dumb people.
2. Immorality - Deadgirl's characters are ready for full-time jail. They are evil and their acts are vile on every level :
- That beautiful girl at school doesn't want you because her hormones lead her right into the alpha male? You leave her alone, she will waste her life anyway.
- Not freeing the girl in the hospital - before knowing she is a living dead girl - is a CRIMINAL act. Not reporting to the cops of your best friend keeping of the girl in the abandoned hospital is another criminal act. Raping and letting rape happen are criminal acts too - necrophilia is another one. Protecting friends doing it makes you ready for jail time.
- Inciting the boyfriend of the girl you have a crush on to orally rape either a living, dead or (hypothetically speaking) living dead person just to have it biting his sexual organs is both heinous and criminal.
- Hypothetically speaking, letting an infectious living dead girl escape outside, where it can become a threat to civilization, and not reporting the fact to the authority is purely insane.
And the ending? It is purely revolting. How can the main character achieve so much evil without ever doing anything but blabber and shut up? I usually like horror movies, but this is too much : logically and morally-speaking, it epically fails on all levels.
Most of the reviewers miss the point
In itself, Annie sounds a lot like other films, be they musicals or not. You can love them or hate them, depending on your expectations.
Most of the reviewers miss the point : the main problem with Annie is the plot... some orphan girl gets lucky and draws attention from a republican billionaire, melting his heart and getting adopted.
Why her? Why not the other orphans? The man she loves has made a fortune on the back of millions of Americans and other citizens of the World, and she just gets to benefit from what he "legally" stole from others.
Annie is cuddled from start to finish by dozens of "servants", adults working to take care of her and of the man who adopted her.
When she decides she wants to find her parents, hundreds of couples swarm towards the manor to reclaim her... and the 50,000$ cash reward. The movie ends with the billionaire and his armada going after the orphanage's manager, her brother and her brother's lover, which fraudulently cashed in the reward and kidnapped Annie.
And what if these people had the chance to live decent lives and earn a decent salary? They would not have had to pose as her parents to make a living.
Shame on Hollywood for using children as a shield to defend capitalism and rich people crushing their fellow citizens, transforming poor people into thieves struck down by the money-fuelled few.
The worst part : when some dumb Bolshevik tries to kill the billionaire by throwing a bomb into the manor, and the rich man's servants send him back the bomb before crushing the poor bearded guy without the rich bald man really noticing anything.
What an insulting "savage capitalist" farce.
Nice atmospheric film
Contrarily to other reviewers here, I have found this movie to be quite entertaining, more than I thought I could at first.
Simply put, Snowboarder is a bare-bones story clothed in a happy serving of beautiful images, great sound, nice music and an interesting gloomy and cold atmosphere, in which silence is as important as dialogue.
There is nothing new or original to be found here. Snowboarder is a treat for the eyes, and for the mind looking to sit back and relax.
You can enjoy it most if you embrace it like you do with winter : you know the journey will take a lot of time for few action, but once you are back home warming up, you still believe it was worth the trip outside.
Basically put : check out this movie for the images and atmosphere, not the story.