Montreal’s Festival Du Nouveau Cinéma kicks off next week and as always, the festival brings a stellar lineup. We here at Sound On Sight are lucky enough to cover many of the other film festivals around the world which means many of us have already seen some of the great films included in this year’s program. Below is a list of ten films that come highly recommended from our staff. I’ll be posting a list of our ten most anticipated films soon, as well as we will have daily coverage, so make sure to bookmark our site.
10 -Oslo August 31st
Directed by Joachim Trier
Oslo, like Louis Malle’s acclaimed Le Feu Follet/The Fire Within (1963), is based on a novel by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. Trier’s challenge here is to make the Norwegian capital come alive in the same way that Paris did in Malle’s film. Don’t expect this to be better than Malle’s masterpiece, but it is worth a watch.
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9- The Skin I Live In
Directed by Pedro Almodovar
Director Pedro Almodovar and actor Antonio Banderas are hardly strangers. The pair have worked together in some of Spain’s most critically acclaimed films of the past twenty years. Their latest pairing, The Skin I Live In, made its World Premiere at Cannes in May, and will screen at FNC this month before its November release in the US.
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Directed by Justin Kurzel
Snowtown is unrelentingly grim and terrifying. Director Justin Kurzel delivers a slow effective burn, examining how one man’s harmful beliefs spread through a community in the most horrific way possible. Snowtown is an instant classic, showing great promise for an first time filmmaker. Kurzel, for the most part avoids sensationalistic, gruesome or exploitative techniques, and very little actual onscreen violence, yet Snowtown may just be one of the most unsettling films I have ever seen.
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Directed by Ruben Ostlund
Writer-director Ruben Ostlund (The Guitar Mongoloid and Involuntary) brings us Play, based on a spate of real cases of bullying and robbery that took place in Gothenburg, Sweden between 2006 and 2008. The film had its World premiere at Cannes, Directors’ Fortnight and was received with a very positive response. Also worth noting is that the film was shot entirely in long takes. The trailer below should be enough to sell you.
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Directed by Wim Wenders
Over twenty years ago, Wim Wenders watched influential modern dancer Pina Bausch perform, and found his preconceptions about the form utterly destroyed. He met with Bausch the next day, and he proposed to Bausch the idea of filming some of her pieces. She seemed unresponsive at the time, but she eventually contacted Wenders to get the project underway – but Wenders faced a dillemma: he couldn’t conceptualize of a filmmaking approach that would adequately capture Bausch’s work. They would reconvene regularly to see if he found a way around this block, but it never came to be – that is, until 2007, when Wenders caught a screening of – of all things – U23D, and became immediately convinced that he could finally bring Bausch’s work to life on film. And then, some time into the preliminary shooting process, Pina Bausch died suddenly at age 68. Pina couldn’t possibly be the film Wenders and Bausch envisioned together, but it’s every bit as indebted to Bausch’s life and work as the title would indicate. A highly unusual hybrid of performance film and biographical portraiture, Pina is made up almost entirely of Bausch’s company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, performing her works, interspersed with new works of tribute from some of the company’s performers, as well as archived footage of Bausch at work.
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Directed by Lars Von Trier
A wedding, a sister and an apocalypse: These are the essential narrative pieces of Lars Von Trier’s newest film Melancholia. The film combines a high level psychological-surrealism and Dogme-esque hand-held cinematography as means of creating a very funny, misanthropic portrait of the last few days on earth.
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4- Take Shelter
Directed by Jeff Nichols
Take Shelter, director Jeff Nichols’s sophomore feature and second collaboration with actor Michael Shannon (after Shotgun Stories) ranks among the year’s best. A study of paranoia plaguing rural America – this psychological thriller hints at the director’s admiration in genre filmmaking, particularly in horror and natural disaster pics. Emotionally authentic, and poignant, Take Shelter recalls the best of William Friedkin and Roman Polanski, tapping into inescapable anxiety as acutely as Friedkin’s Bug and Polanski’s Repulsion.
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3- Monsieur Lazhar
Directed by Philippe Falardeau
The alchemy of how everything comes together in this brilliant Montreal-based feature speaks to its narrative economy, the naturalism of the child actors and the sometimes staunch but always human portrayal of Bachir Lazhar (played by Fellag), the film’s primary protagonist. The film’s conclusions may not help to bring any immediate solutions to the hard issues presented, but brings quiet moments of grace that sustain.
Monsieur Lazhar won the best Canadian feature prize at the recent Toronto International Film Festival and also picked up prizes at the Locarno International Film Festival, and was officially named Canada’s submission for the foreign-film Oscar competition, selected from a field of 34 eligible entries.
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2- A Separation
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Auteur director Asghar Farhadi weaves an incredibly intricate tapestry with the story of A Separation, incorporating copious topical threads as weighty as gender politics, social justice, class, religion, morality, personal integrity, family obligation, and more. Dishonesty gets inextricably tangled in the truth as storylines begin to pile up. Every unimaginably heinous act seems inspired by a completely irrefutable justification. Farhadi says that he believes the time when movies answered their own questions has ended. He intends for his audiences to make up their own minds about the complexities his film investigates. Therefore, while some situations reach a resolution and some don’t, the writer/director generously leaves all judgments to the viewer’s own conscience. The film’s refusal to side conclusively with any one position of the manifold arguments leaves its meaning wide open to interpretation, and so it beautifully accomplishes its mission to engage the analytical faculties of thoughtful audiences.
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Directed by Steve McQueen
Shame, Steve McQueen’s sophomore film and second collaboration with Michael Fassbender, is a compelling and timely examination of sexual compulsion in the modern world. Few filmmakers have probed so deeply into the soul-crushing depths of sexual addiction as bravely as McQueen does here. Shame is many things: daunting, powerful, disturbing, provocative, enthralling and visually arresting. It is also quite simply the best film of 2011.
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The Festival Du Nouveau Cinema – October 12 – 23 – Visit the official website