Safe Bets at this Year’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma

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Montreal’s greatest arthouse and foreign-film fest, the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, is back, and this year’s selection is particularly dense, with a rich selection of international prestige pictures as well as freakish low-budget wonders for fringe-dwellers. For anyone who’s overwhelmed, here are a few picks to help make your scheduling a little easier.

Enter the Void

Sure, the reviews have been sharply divisive, but you might not get too many chances to see Gaspar Noë’s explicit epic on the big screen, in its unedited format (clocking in at around 160 minutes). Depending on who you ask, it’s either a vision of cinema’s future or just daft juvenalia – but wouldn’t you like to see for yourself? At the very least, you’re not likely to be bored.

Inside Job

Charles Ferguson specializes in taking hot-button issues familiar to the general public and boiling them down to rational, methodically constructed docs. No End In Sight may have been the soberest of all Iraq War 2.0 films, with the director gaining surprising access to high-level officials who helped to construct a strikingly complete picture of how the invasion happened and where the occupation went wrong. Judging by the advance notices, Ferguson has accomplished a similar feat with his new doc detailing the current financial crisis. Michael Moore, he is not.

The Strange Case of Angelica

Director Manuel de Oliveira turned 100 back in 2008 (having started in the ’30s), but that hasn’t stopped him from turning out films at a remarkable rate, and his latest, the phantasmagorical fairy tale The Strange Case of Angelica, has been garnering raves since Cannes and through to NYFF. Besides, how many times will you get to see a film directed by a centenarian? (In the absence of a trailer, enjoy this adorable video of Oliveira showcasing his killer moves.)

Confessions

This year’s Temps Zèro lineup is especially eclectic – even with the sudden dropping of Jennifer Chambers Lynch’s man-eating snake movie by-way-of-Bollywood (!) oddity Hisss – but perhaps none are more promising than this Japanese revenge mystery-thriller, which was both a commercial smash in its country of origin as well as a favorite at TIFF and NYAFF. If this trailer doesn’t intrigue you, nothing will.

Tuesday, After Christmas

International film enthusiasts have had one eye trained on Romania for the last half-decade, and Tuesday, After Christmas is the latest Romanian flick to make huge critical waves. The domestic drama, which centers on a man caught in a difficult love triangle, has been garnering great reviews from extremely discerning folks (J. Hoberman, Nick Schager). The exclusively fun-loving crowd can probably steer well, clear, though.

Another Year

Following the dour but powerful abortionist drama Vera Drake and the surprisingly uplifting Happy-Go-Lucky, it seems UK vet Mike Leigh can do no wrong. Here, the pendulum appears to swing back to more miserablist territory, which will likely suit longtime fans just fine. (You might get a little teary just watching the trailer.) Advance word from the film fests it’s already hit has been largely glowing.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (please, he insists, call him “Joe”) has been the subject of intense cult admiration over the last decade, and 2010 has served as his coming-out of sorts. The Cannes jury, headed up by Tim Burton, awarded Boonmee the Palme D’Or, thus ensuring that his widely hailed surrealist style (previously showcased in hard-to-find critics’ darlings Syndromes and a Century and Tropical Malady) will get its widest exposure yet.

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