Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Film About A Band That Isn't Here Any More (rated 4 stars)

In Grant Gee’s Joy Division he tells the story of the band and those surrounding it. It’s stylish filmmaking and he pieces together the interviews, photographs, sounds and archival footage skillfully to create a full and moving portrait of a band that only had two albumns before the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis. Gee’s previous music documentary about Radiohead and their OK Computer tour, Meeting People is Easy was a downbeat and fascinating existential look at the soul-draining process of a gruelling tour. With Joy Division Gee relies on archival footage and audio presented in a visually interesting way. It’s respectful and for me it provided context for the Manchester scene and the people there. Some of the visual touches are quite clever with a running motif of titles that identify “Places That Aren’t There Any More” and displaying iTunes-like visualizations for audio-only interviews. It has just enough of the story and music to tell the story and give us a glimpse into the lives of the people who formed the band and who were left behind.

Sappyfest 2008

While I really should go to more live music throughout the year, I don’t seem to be able to find the time. Luckily for the past three years I’ve gone to the Sappy Records Music Festival (or Sappyfest ) in Sackville, New Brunswick for my live music fix. It’s an amazing deal with a pass that costs just $60 for three days of music. I think that I saw about half the bands that played, which was about 27 bands.
The shows took place in a tent on Bridge Street which sheltered us from the rain, as well as in the Vogue Theatre as well as George’s Roadhouse. With a largely volunteer crew, the shows ran smoothly with very little time between the bands that played amazing sets. It’s a fantastic time and it’s reassuring to know that I can see great live indie music in a great location every year. Go Team Sappy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Thrilling Transatlantic Adaptation (rated 5 stars)

I briefly saw a review of Guillaume Canet’s Tell No One and kept my eye out for it, hoping that it would make it to a theatre near me or show up on DVD. Then one day in a bookstore a copy of a novel called “Tell No One” was misplaced on a stack of other books, then I realized that the French film was an adaptation of an American novel. Later that day in my local video store I saw the DVD, which surprised me as I didn’t think that it was released on DVD yet. Luckily there was a limited DVD release in Canada earlier this year, so while there is another release in the fall, I was able to see it now.
It’s a subtle and beautifully constructed thriller that carefully tells the story and slowly increases the pace as the story progresses. In retrospect it’s a bit improbable, but within the film, it sucked me in. The broad and simple outline is that a man who dearly loves his wife loses her in a seemingly random attack. Eight years after her death he receives an email that apparently indicates that she’s still alive. With a shifting tone and a skillful touch with a great cast, it starts out as a story of love and loss, and then changes seamlessly into a thriller. I loved watching the characters and piecing together the story, which is why I’m not revealing many details at all.
Tell No One is a great psychological thriller for grownups that teases us with enigmas built around fascinating characters.