Monday, September 8, 2008

TIFF 2008 reviews: La Mémoire des Anges

Instead of College Park, this year’s southernmost TIFF box office is located at the brand spankin’ new AMC 24 at Yonge and Dundas. Which, mercifully, they’ve finally finishd construction on, since although it’s disconcerting enough emerging from a festival screening into a food court, I think it would somehow be worse to have to slog up three levels of escalators past nothing but drywall, scaffolding and surly staring contractors with Burton Cummings hair. I’m still not sold on the whole megaplex-as-festival-venue idea. The Scotia, at least, limits TIFF to the front four screens and manages to maintain the festival atmosphere while adding the more traditional moviegoing perks, like a snack bar, that you can’t enjoy at, say, Isabel Bader. Fortunately, I’m only at the AMC for three more screenings this week, although two of those are Midnight Madness flicks, which seem more incongruous at that location than anywhere else, although no more so, I guess, than The Memory of Angels.

Before I get going on that, was there a senior’s discount day that I wasn’t aware of? Because the 5:30 screening was a sea of grey hair (okay, considering the size of the AMC 1, “pond of grey hair” may be more appropriate), walkers, canes and at least one portable oxygen tank. And I had the great fortune of sitting next to this guy:

“So tell me again how you buy tickets? Wow, eighteen movies. I guess you must really love film, eh? You know, yesterday they told us this was sold out but then they also said to try again this morning and that’s how we got our tickets. Who are these seats reserved for? Really? The director is going to be here, too? Oh, that would be terrific, we can ask questions about the film then! You know, I’m from Montreal, that’s why I wanted to see this…” and then he went on to identify for his wife all the city landmarks as they appeared onscreen until I finally nudged him and made the finger-to-lips universal signal to shush although I’m hoping the look in my eyes also conveyed the addendum “Are you that bloody ignorant that you yammer all the way through every movie you go and see or is this the first time you’ve been in a movie theatre since The Sting? STFU!”

ANYHOW…La Mémoire des Anges (so identified in the program book and on my ticket yet not in the credits which were entirely in English) is an eighty-minute montage of clips from the National Film Board archives, exclusively from films set in or about Montreal between the depression and, say, Expo 67, the effect of which is not unlike flipping through your grandmother’s photo album and envisioning a time when all men looked sixty and were born wearing hats and women were prohibited by law from leaving the house without wearing white gloves and a pair of batwing-shaped glasses.

So it’s a sort of interesting compilation, especially as I’m a former resident of Montreal and it’s fascinating just how much of the architecture from sixty-odd years ago is still intact today. And it’s an at-times stunning portrayal of the pre-Quiet Revolution era, in which the Catholic church held sway over every aspect of private and public life in the province. But I’m stumped as to what the actual purpose of the movie is. It’s obviously not destined for theatrical release so…what? Promotional DVD sampler for the NFB library? A permanent exhibit for Tourism Montreal? As a sampler, it’s way too long. So I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to take it beyond “this is your grandfather’s Montreal.” Um, okay? (**1/2)

No comments: