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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Montreal 2004 (Read 35,650 times)
Zabladowski
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #45 - 11. Sep 2004 at 16:55
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There is just a little more, cal;
I just needed to take a break.  Smiley

As I last left things, I had just seen the very powerful BBC production Holy Cross. Next up was Beat The Drum, which would be my last screening with joseph. Despite arranging to meet a little earlier than usual so there would be more time for fellowship, all too quickly the screening began....

Beat The Drum

Young Musa is orphaned after a mysterious illness strikes his village in KwaZulu Natal. To help his grandmother, Musa sets out for Johannesburg with his father's last gift, a tribal drum, in search of work and his uncle. The journey confronts him with the stark realities of urban life, but his indomitable spirit never wavers; he returns with a truth and understanding his elders have failed to grasp.

As joseph said earlier in an earlier post, the mysterious illness is AIDS. Although now a bit of a nuisance in the west, in Africa the situation seems as bad as it was in the USA in the 1980's with no relief in sight. The movie shows both the devastation that losing the afflicted has on their survivors and the country as a whole and some of the fears, prejudices and superstitions that are keeping the situation from getting appreciably better. It definitely hopes to educate the local community and stem the flow of the disease. As a result it can get a tad preachy in spots, something I was willing to forgive considering the circumstances.

One of the other reasons I was willing to forgive was the performance of Junior Singo (Musa). Musa is the center of the film and is onscreen for most of it.

Although the AIDS crisis in Africa is the reason the movie was made, the movie is about Musa and his journey to Johannesburg in an attempt to fix the problems that the disease has brought to his family and village. He must earn enough money to replace the family cow and find his uncle so the family can again have a patriarch. The movie allows him to pursue these needs both independently and with the help of a kindly truck driver, who would love to adopt Musa, were it not for the fact that he has had to take in 2 extra children due to his sister's succumbing to AIDS.
While the film might seem to be fairly sad with all of the death and dying going on within it, the film does attempt to be as positive as possible under the circumstances. Musa's determination and inherent goodness helps keep the film from becoming too negative.
Film was extremely moving to most, well actually all, but josephk. Cheesy  The young lady seated next to him wasn't able to leave the theatre right away, she was crying so hard.
There are some similarities between this movie and Malunde but this was the much better film and deserves the opportunity to have a release outside of it's native area. It ended up winning the award for Best African film in the festival.

Boy Actor: Junior Singo
Rating: 9/10
Link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

P.S. Check out the CNN interview with Junior and the director which is available on the film's official site.  Junior gives a quick plug for his next film, The Wooden Camera which I hope to see next month.

I had to make my goodbyes with joseph at this point, but a quick check of the time made the goodbye terribly brief, I had 3 minutes to get to my next screening!  Shocked

King of the Tango
Story of a boy named Dough, who moves into a trailer park. He befriends an old man named El Rey who tangos naked at night to commune with his late wife. Dough learns that beauty is to be found in the ugliest of places. It’s a gritty, bittersweet coming-of-age story.

On paper this could be my favorite short of the festival. In actuality, while I liked the film, it didn't strike an emotional chord with me. This is the kind of idea that I probably would have liked better had it been fleshed out (no pun intended) to feature length.
As it was the actions happened too quickly to leave me with the sort of response the filmmaker was aiming for. Zach Gray is on screen throughout the whole film.

I was pleased to have recognized the hamlet of Sherburnville, Illinois as being one of the places where this was filmed. It's one of the last places you would ever think you would see on film.

Boy Actor: Zach Gray, Eddie Kunz
Content Alert: Underwear, Adult Male Nudity
Rating: 7/10

Dear Frankie

Nine-year-old Frankie, his mother Lizzie and grandmother Nell have been on the move ever since Frankie can remember. In spite of their many address changes, he still manages to receive letters from his father, a crewman on a cargo ship sailing around the world. But in actuality, the letters are part of an elaborate fiction concocted by his mother to shelter her deaf son from the truth about her brutal ex-husband. When a ship with the same name as his father's docks in the local harbour, one of Frankie's classmates bets that his long-absent parent won't show up for their team's soccer game. Unable to reveal the truth, Lizzie adds to her lie by hiring a Scottish sailor to pretend to be the lad's father for a day. But when the mysterious stranger responds to his parental duties in unexpected ways, the situation grows even more complicated..."

After seeing dozens of films this week, I found my favorite on the last day. Dear Frankie is must watch cinema. Jack McElhone's characterization is a sight which all here should behold as soon as they possibly can. His portrayal of a boy in desperate need of a real father is heart breaking.
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This still shows Frankie taking a picture of himself and his "father" so he will be able to remember their time together. Is it any wonder that the man hired as a father figure agrees to come back for a second day.... and return the pay he received for doing the job??
On a different level, the film could be described as a depiction of the sacrifices and deceptions that people endure  to protect the ones they love.
According to its official sites, it now looks as though Dear Frankie's regular theatrical release has been postponed again to sometime in the first trimester of 2005. :pissed:
I wish all of you could see it now, in the meantime there is a trailer available on the miramax site.


Boy Actors: Jack McElhone, Sean Brown
Rating: 10/10
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Zabladowski
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #46 - 11. Sep 2004 at 17:40
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After the emotional 1-2-3 punch of Holy Cross, Beat The Drum and Dear Frankie, I needed something much less challenging. A return visit to the NFB's cinerobotheque was in order. Seven short films awaited my viewing, all more or less on topic.

[i]Cold Pizza (1972) [/i]
An engaging story of young enterprise, pitfalls, and eventual success. It is about two young Greek boys in Montréal who try to earn some extra money for a trip to their sunny homeland by delivering pizzas. The misadventures they encounter and how they surmount them make an amusing story, full of youthful initiative.  

An early short produced by the man who later brought us The Peanut Butter Solution and Tommy Tricker & the Stamp Traveller this was hampered by poor production values. Neither of the boy ever appeared in any other films, it's hard saying whether it was their acting or the overall lack of funding that made this come off so poorly.


Boy Actors: Tom Contos, Takis Konsoulas
Content Alert: Pj's
Rating: 5/10
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/coldpizza.jpg[/img]
[i]Hey Kelly (1992)[/i]
During a friendly game of tag, Robert calls Kelly a racist name and a fight ensues. The principal gives them a task to do during detention. While working together, Robert and Kelly learn to cooperate and also find out that they have something in common.  

This played as more of an instructional film for classrooms than a dramatic short, as a result it's entertainment value was limited. Robin MacEachern, who plays Robert, did appear in a few films in the late 80's most notably, [i]Pin[/i].

Boy Actors: Robin MacEachern, Patrick Petrillo, Robert Loeub, others
Rating: 4/10
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/heykelly.jpg[/img]
[i]The Crown Prince (1988)[/i]
In Crown Prince, Frank Robinson abuses his wife verbally and batters her physically, with frightening consequences not only for her, but also for their sons, Billy and Freddy. A thought-provoking drama, this film explores the complex problems children face in dealing with domestic violence.

This was a much stronger film than the last two, made by Aaron Johnston, right before his classic Canadian film, The Last Winter. The film is bogged down by the weak performance of Christian Molgat, the 20ish actor who plays the older brother and who doesn't know the meaning of the word "emote."
Andrew Bednarski, who played the younger brother, was in his prime at this time and shows why. His performance is exceptional.

Boy Actor: Andrew Bednarski
Content Alert: Shirtlessness
Rating: 8/10
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/crownprince.jpg[/img]
[i]Wednesday's Children:Mark and Donny (1987)[/i]

Having been caught in a stolen car, Mark and Donny are seen being interviewed by the arresting officer, who is trying to ascertain responsibility. Mark's mother promises to get him a lawyer and helps him shift the blame onto Donny. The policeman, meanwhile, has probed Donny's reluctance to return home and discovered that the boy's father abuses him.  

While not quite as strong as the other Wednesday's Children film I profiled earlier, this film has the strong performance of Mark Azoulay as Donny to recommend it. The entire film is essentially set in the office of a police officer who interviews all of the characters, allowing the viewer the opportunity to determine what happened. The chemistry between Chuck Shamata and Mark Azoulay made this standard issue plot work for me.

Boy Actors: Mark Azoulay, Eric Kimmel
Rating : 8/10
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/markdonny.jpg[/img]
[i]Walker (1991)[/i]

Walker is a young Aboriginal foster child whose only playmate is his dog. Jamie is a lonely young white boy who is afraid of dogs, and has some strange ideas about Aboriginal people. Walker ignores the racist jeering and taunting of the bigger boys and reaches out to Jamie. Together, they find friendship and understanding. Walker challenges racist attitudes toward Aboriginal people, and shows how children from different backgrounds can form friendships.

Like [i]Hey Kelly[/i] before it, this was more of an instructional film for Canadian schoolchildren, perhaps josephk was subjected to this in his school days? This film is a little stronger than Hey Kelly due to a slightly stronger script and a better lead performace. It is also interesting as an early work of Jamieson Boulanger who went on to star in Knights of the Round Table and Frankenstein and Me.

Boy Actors: Luis Brascoupe, Jamieson Boulanger, Chris Palin, Eric Tadros
Rating : 5/10
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/walker1.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/walker2.jpg[/img]
« Last Edit: 12. Sep 2004 at 00:50 by Zabladowski »  
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Zabladowski
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #47 - 11. Sep 2004 at 18:17
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Paper Boy (1971)

A film study of a newspaper boy in the crowded inner city. Apartment buildings, rooming houses, dilapidated dwellings are his route; his world, a rundown flat and a rough-spoken father. At some doors he tosses his papers with neat precision, at others with deliberate carelessness. Behind his actions you sense his resentment, his anger, and at the same time a reaching out for warmth. Filmed without commentary, the story is convincingly acted out by the boy, and should provide substance for discussion of the big-city environment that can breed cynicism and delinquency in the young. Film without words. 

Doesn't that sound good?
Unfortunately this turned out to be one of those artistic films that didn't really connect with me. I enjoyed seeing some of the period detail (of course at that time, it wouldn't've been looked upon as such  Smiley ), but that's about it. I never saw the reaching out for warmth that the plot desription promised, but maybe that's me.

Boy Actor: Jerry Borris
Rating: 5/10
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A Good Tree (1984)

During the Christmas holiday season, three young children discover that their eccentric old neighbor, Mr. Horner, whom they always considered an ogre and a scrooge, does have a heart after all; the old man discovers the kids are not the hooligans he thought they were. Based on a short story by Canadian author David Walker, it is a funny, warm and touching drama about neighbors, friendship, generosity and the joy of Christmas. 

This is the sort of little film you would expect to pop up on television every Christmas. Nice story with good production values and reasonably good performances by the children. This may have been Andrew Bednarski's first film. If you sense that Zab is a bit of an Andrew fan, you are correct.  Smiley

Boy Actors: Marc Cyr, Andrew Bednarski
Content Alert: Pj's
Rating: 8/10
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The Concert Stages of Europe (1985)

A half-hour drama based on a humorous short story by Jack Hodgins in which a teen-age boy, a reluctant music student, is cajoled by his mother into entering a talent competition. 

With some similarities to the far superior The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick, this is a funny, "Wonder Years" styled reminisce with a mother/son war of wills.
Although mama wants our hero, Barclay (just call me Clay) Phillip Desmond to play all the great halls in Europe one day, all the boy wants to do is to become Finnish, like his neighbors. The notion of one day being courageous enough to sauna and skinnydip with their daughter probably factors in there too, but for now he's content to do those things with the men and boys in the Korhonen family. Who will get their way?
Giles Walker, who directed both this and A Good Tree went on to make the excellent feature, Princes in Exile.

Boy Actor: Angus Mackay
Content Alert: Brief Boy Nudity
Rating: 8/10
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With the completion of this film it was getting near closing time at the NFB, so it was for me to head back to the film festival for one last double feature.

How To Make Friends
One day, at the end of her tether, a mother invites two neighbourhood girls over to befriend her lonely 11-year-old son.

This was a miss for me. I understood exactly why this boy was lonely, he didn't have a personality at all. Nonetheless film has a happy ending as he finds friendship.

Boy Actor:   Laget-Konstantinos Randriamahitasoua-Galanis
Rating : 4/10
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Masnap
A man of about 45 comes out to the country to take over a crumbling farmhouse left to him by a distant relative. No sooner has he arrived in the neighbourhood than he is witness to the farmer Romek cursing his teenaged daughter for consorting with sullen young Simon. On a borrowed bicycle, the stranger goes from one lonely farm to another to ask for directions. None of the suspicious locals volunteer any information. Far from helping him, in fact, they draw him into their own problems. The stranger is twice knocked unconscious after falling off his bike, and he doesn't remember what happened afterwards. He learns that someone brutally murdered Romek's daughter. He doesn't understand the dreams he's having -- about a severed lamb's head and rooms that appear to be torture chambers. Time is suspended and the past merges with the present...

This sounded fascinating but for me was the victim of poor scheduling. I was not mentally prepared to put the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle together when I watched the film. I was sure that it was because I was just a liitle bit worn out by the time I saw it, but after reading some commentary on IMDB, maybe it wouldn't've helped. I'd like to try this again when I'm a little more lucid and see if it makes a difference.

Rating: 5/10

Whew!
Well that's it. My accounting of a week's worth of serious movie watching. Thanks to all who have stuck with the narrative, I hope you felt like you were there too.  Smiley
  
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Sir Jacob
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #48 - 11. Sep 2004 at 22:54
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Simply wonderful reviews, Zab.  :bigok:

I sure appreciate all of the time and effort that you and josephk put into sharing these movies with us, because there's obviously no copy and pasting involved.  Wink

I can see why you would like Andrew Bednarski.  I want to see that one, too!

<i>Boy Actor: Blake Pittman - My notes on the film visually compare him to Julien Ciamaca - pretty high praise indeed. IMDB says he has a few other appearances, I can only hope that he is given more of an opportunity to show if he can act.</i>

Well, Cal is sure doing the right thing looking for caps of him!  I want to see him, if he looks like Julien.  Now that's the type of additional information that I appreciate you sharing, Zab.  How many reviewers in the newpapers and magazines are going to point out things like that?  Wink

Again, just wonderful, and thanks!

Love,
Sir J

  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #49 - 11. Sep 2004 at 23:18
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Thanks Zab,

There are plenty of movies out there to look forward to...

Machuca, Dear Frankie and Beat the Drum are high on my must see list.

I'm curious about the number of patrons attending the screenings...  were there full houses to most of them and in particular did the older movies that you got to see attract a decent audience?
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #50 - 12. Sep 2004 at 01:16
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Sir J,

Don't get too excited yet. Blake wasn't given the opportunity to do much other than stand around so the comparison may only work on a visual level. It's doubtful any actor could match Julien's looks and personality....but we'll keep hoping, won't we?  Grin

cal,

Crowd size varied wildly. As a general rule, weekend and "primetime" screenings (1800-2000 start times) were better attended, as were the films involved in the official competition. Viper in the Fist and Dear Frankie probably were the best attended screenings I was at. Joseph mentioned his screening of Machuca (at 1900) was packed, mine (at 1030) had plenty of room.

As for the NFB films, apparently I didn't explain what I was doing well enough. The National Film Board of Canada has a place in Montreal where the general public can view many of the films that they have produced. The consumer purchases time and is set up with a monitor the size of a large television set and speakers. (see photo)
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Now you may choose to watch anything that they have available until your time runs out. So, by design, each of the NFB films played to an audience of one.  Smiley

The Museum of Television & Radio has a similar setup at their locations. (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #51 - 12. Sep 2004 at 16:31
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Zab > Thank you for your in-depth commentary on the festival. It's great to be able to read about the films I wasn't able to check out this year, and also to compare notes on the ones we've both seen. I'm happy that you seem to have liked Dear Frankie as much as I did. I think most people here are going to love it once they get the chance to see it.

Cal > The festival seems to be moderately successful (in terms of attracting people). As Zabladowski said, some screenings are packed, while others are almost deserted. There are about 400 films screened each year (including features and shorts), so not all of them get the same amount of publicity.

As for the older movies, the shorts that Zab saw at the NFB were not part of the festival. That's a service available year-round in Montreal. The older films that I saw (Paths of Glory, etc.) were free screenings projected outdoors. Because these are free - and perhaps because of the novelty of watching a movie outside - these are usually very popular.
  
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