A Montreal crime story, the French Michael Moore and supernatural spookiness today at FNC

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The Festival du nouveau cinéma is happening at various Montreal theatres through Oct. 16.

Boost

boost

Darren Curtis is probably best known as a founding member of local film collective Kidnapper Films, who operated mostly on the comedic side of things. Curtis also directed the collective’s magnum opus Who Is KK Downey?, but his latest film is pretty far removed from anything you may expect from his previous work. Boost is a gritty crime drama that’s more Singleton than Apatow.

Hakeem and Mac are low-income Montreal teenagers who work in a car wash run by Hakeem’s uncle Ram (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine from Treme and Heroes). When they’re not washing cars, however, they help Ram and a couple of his Russian partners (Brent Skagford and Marc Rowland) case luxury cars. When they finally get a chance to steal one of the cars themselves, however, they wind up way over their heads.

Curtis overcomes the relative familiarity of the material (“novice criminal gets in too deep” is almost as common as “one last, big heist”) with the specificity of the multicultural Montreal setting and the quiet intensity of the film. Boost lacks the budget to trade in the car chases and shootouts that usually pepper this genre but makes up for it by being tightly plotted and well acted.

Boost screens at at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) today, Saturday, Oct 8, 9:15 p.m. and again on Monday, Oct 10, 5 p.m.

Merci patron!

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Stop me if this sounds familiar: a left-wing journalist, editor-in-chief of a small independent publication, turns his eye towards the damage that corporations have caused in and around his hometown. Sarcastic and confrontational, he has a semi-obsession with meeting the untouchable CEO of said corporation, making a fuss at public events and eventually turning to those who have been most hurt by his policies to tell their story.

Yes, indeed: François Ruffin has more than a little Michael Moore in him, and his debut skirts bizarrely close to Moore’s own debut, even if 25 years and the Atlantic Ocean separate them. The CEO in question is Bernard Arnault, who heads up the luxury brand group LVMH, and costs the Klurs their job when the factory is moved from Northern France. Ruffin graduates from his first agitator technique of convincing those who’ve lost their jobs to buy shares (which grants them access to the shareholders’ meeting) to a more complex ruse, which essentially involves baiting LVMH into paying the Klurs’ debts and then eventually outing themselves.

Ruffin’s shit-eating smirk and constant sarcasm can be a little grating. It’s mind-blowing to see him feed bullshit dripping with sarcasm to suits that not only sidestep his aggressivity but fully go along with his asinine assertions. It sometimes feels like you’re watching some kind of activist version of Jackass as he puts himself in extremely dumb situations that, somehow, never go that awry. In that sense he cuts a less likeable and more prankstery figure than Moore, but the way he weaves his way amongst the corporate world and the David vs. Goliath nature of the film is undeniably compelling.

Merci patron! screens at Quartier Latin (350 Emery) today, Saturday, Oct 8, 5 p.m.

Daguerreotype

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Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa has made all kinds of films in his career, but he’s best known for his contributions to the J-horror genre like Pulse and The Cure. Kurosawa hasn’t strayed too far for his first foray outside of Japan, but returning to the supernatural well doesn’t really pay off this time.

Tahar Rahim plays a young man who takes a job as an assistant to a photographer (Olivier Gourmet) who works almost exclusively with century-old daguerreotype equipment, a primitive form that requires the subject to sit still for long periods of time. The photographer is still distraught over the death of his wife, and his work becomes broadly informed by her as he uses his daughter (Constance Rousseau) as a subject.

There’s something resolutely old-fashioned about Daguerreotype beyond the technology at its core. It’s a slow, deliberate drama rather than a horror movie, and it treats its own supernatural leanings almost as an afterthought. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t sharply drawn enough to compel, and the film eventually gets bogged down in a frankly boring real-estate subplot that takes an already-slow film down to a crawl. The actors are good and the film avoids the kind of woodenness that sometimes creeps up when a director works in a foreign language for the first time, but Daguerreotype’s languid pace and ambling script hold little hope for redemption.

Daguerreotype screens at the Imperial (1430 Bleury) today, Saturday, Oct 8, 1 p.m. and again at Quartier Latin (350 Emery) on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 1 p.m.

Tickets cost $13/$9 for students, seniors & all afternoon screenings/$11 with Accès Montréal card. For passes and group rates, look here.

See our festival highlights here.

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