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Back up to three a day... 

I only saw one movie yesterday, A Christmas Tale, but made up for it today with three films, Patti Smith: Dream of Life, One Week, and Waltz With Bashir. Yesterday was a kind of catch up day for all the things I have been neglecting amidst this orgy of movies, movies, movies, like school and homework, and my other assignments for fellow blogger and stern task-mistress Sue Carter Flinn.

After a long day slouched over the ol’ computron, the two-and-a-half hours A Christmas Tale was a nice tonic. It is the kind of sprawling, novelistic drama that I easily get involved in because, I don’t know, I guess I trust the filmmaker to at least make the film involving if they have the audacity to make their movie especially long. I suppose I could say that I am forgiving and open to long movies because I admire the chutzpah it takes to make them.

I digress, A Christmas Tale is an ensemble drama (including Catherine Denuve and new Bond villain Mathieu Amalric) about a family reunited for Christmas. Of course, there is never as much warmth as that statement implies and in this film there is lingering resentment between a feckless brother and a type-A sister, and the matriarch of the family needs a bone marrow transplant that only the least dependable and most emotionally fragile members of the family are a match for.

The script is thick and smart, the editing is brisk and the camera is always moving and curious. A Christmas Tale is a nice film to curl up and tuck in with.

Patti Smith is one kooky broad and Dream of Life doesn’t let things like time and date stamps, context or commentary get in the way of Smith letting us into her scatterbrained life. It is more like a snapshot of Smith than a documentary, but to good effect.

One Week was an unabashedly Canadian road movie, with Joshua Jackson driving West after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. It is the first time in a long time where I have felt all the Canadian references to be endearing rather than patronizing; Jackson’s character rolls up his rim and wins a donut (Isn’t that bliss when that happens?), he takes pictures of big things along his journey like Sudbury’s big nickel, and Medicine Hat’s big teepee, spends a night at the Banff Springs Hotel, albeit in the Presidential Suite. It’s a really sweet movie and it’s nice to see Pacey working from home.

Waltz With Bashir is the tale of a man who realizes he cannot remember a thing about his military service during the Lebanon War of the early ‘80’s. He consults with friends, old military buddies and a television reporter who covered the war to recreate his memories, culminating in the massacre of Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. It is an odd combination, a war documentary and animation, but it works.

Wow. Only two days left of the fest and then it is back to reality.

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Vol 24, No 28
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