"This film is about life in Canada. Basically nothing ever happens in Canada, except for winter." -- Denys Arcand
Denys Arcand has a new film, something we haven't been able to say for the last 7 years. "An Eye for Beauty" is the story of an architect who lives in rural Quebec who has an affair with a woman from Toronto.
The new Arcand film was one of technically 4 films, well, 5, sort of, anyway, a few films in the 2014 Chicago International Film Festival. Regular readers know I have criticized the festival for ignoring great Canadian films. Let's see how this year went.
Having an Arcand film in the festival isn't a surprise. The director was in Chicago in 2007 for "Days of Darkness" and "The Barbarian Invasions" also played in the festival in 2003.
- Trailer video (NSFW)
For those who are used to seeing Arcand films with great ponderous dialogue in a Quebec setting, you do get a lot of gorgeous scenes from the city of Malbaie in Quebec, Quebec City (including a beautiful shot at the Via Rail station), but you also get a bit of Paris and … gasp … Toronto.
The shots of Toronto are lovely as well, but an Arcand film without meaningful dialogue in Toronto?
"An Eye for Beauty" is doing something different, a vision where just because there is beauty doesn't mean people are happy. Arcand describes the movie as a "subtle film."
Architecture is part of that beauty in the film so while this film may not be as sensory for the ears, the eyes will be happy.
Was this film worth a 7-year wait? Well, no. But you should still go see it. It's still a good Arcand film and that beats most offerings at the movie theatre.
"The Editor" is a spot-on parody of 1970s Italian horror films. Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy star, write, direct, and do more than half a dozen other duties in the film. For a horror film, "The Editor" has a large amount of laughs, especially if you are even a casual fan of the genre.
Even though the film is a spoof of a horror film, if you are squeamish, you will have trouble with a few scenes. There is plenty of nudity, par for this type of film. The only major critique is that the film is too spot-on.
While a spoof of Italian horror films, the film still has a Canadian sensibility.
The film was shot in Manitoba and Kenora, Ontario.
The festival has rarely shown English Canadian feature films in recent years. This is a good reason to show more of them.
Regular film readers know I was not happy with Denis Côté's efforts in "Vic and Flo Saw a Bear" from last year's Windsor International Film Festival. His latest venture "Joy of Man's Desiring" ("Que Ta Joie Demeure") is a documentary about Quebec workers.
The trailer seemed depressing. Every review I read online was very negative. A friend of mine saw the film in the festival thought it was slow and negative. In her words: "The film was boring because all it did was show Quebecois ouvriers (workers) complaining about their job."
"I've Seen the Unicorn" is a documentary from Canadian director Vincent Toi. The documentary centers around young fisherman in Mauritius who wants to be a horse racing jockey. The documentary is rather short at 61 minutes.
A last minute addition that wasn't well publicized was a screening of "Félix et Meira." The film won best Canadian film at the Toronto International Film Festival and will play at the Windsor International Film Festival.
This film has buzz and legitimately belonged in festivals such as Chicago. But the film also deserved giving people a chance to see the film. The film played once, ironically on Canadian Thanksgiving Day.
The Canadian film replaced another film at the last minute. Putting the film at the bottom of the online schedule below the shorts didn't help. I found one brief mention the day of on the Chicago festival's Facebook page and a lone mention on Twitter on October 7, a few days before the start of the festival.
Also, the film was pushed to the bottom of the listings on the Web site page.
The film's Facebook Web site noted the news on October 10 that its appearance at the Chicago International Film Festival was the site for the American premiere. The festival did make a note in an October 8 e-mail about the new addition. A lot of people were checking the Twitter feed and they could have added a few more reminders, especially given the ticket sales for the film.
I spoke with one of the volunteers and she noted that the screening was in a 150-seat theatre and only sold 60% of the seats. With enough and proper notice, we would have significantly added to the totals.
We criticize this festival for not having more interesting Canadian films. When they get a good one, they do little to let people know, and then end up with a smaller audience.
Give a good film a decent chance and people will go, especially at a film festival.
photo credit: "An Eye for Beauty"