Italy claims porn supremacy & more at the Festival du nouveau cinéma

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were-still-together

We’re Still Together

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

We’re Still Together

Chris (Jesse Camacho) is an obese 20-something who lives with his mother. He has no job and no friends to speak of, and his daily routine is constantly interrupted by a shit-talking bro (Alex Weiner) who knocks him around for sport. It’s during one of those attacks that Chris is spotted by Bobby (Joey Klein), a charismatic but troubled single dad who decides to take Chris under his wing for the night. That involves a lot of drinking, bad decisions and soul-baring as Bobby reveals exactly what troubles him and Chris struggles to come out of his anxious shell.

Montreal director Jesse Klein delivers a sophomore effort (after 2010’s Shadowboxing) that’s significantly less zany than the “two dudes on a wild, all-night adventure” may suggest. Both Chris and Bobby are profoundly miserable characters that cannot be changed by a night of revelry and some pep talks. The viewer spends the entire movie on the precipice of seeing the underdog make good, only to have that taken away time and time again. Klein and Camacho give pretty courageous performances that elevate the sometimes patchy and meandering middle portion of the film. There are no easy answers in We’re Still Together, and while the film’s modest ambitions pay off accordingly, it’s well worth seeing.

We’re Still Together screens at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) today, Monday, Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m. and again on Thursday, Oct. 13, 3 p.m.

Porno e Liberta

staller

Ilona Staller (left)

Everyone who’s been part of a scene or a cultural revolution seems to spend the rest of their lives claiming they were the best. Punk didn’t start in Britain — it started in New York. Ah, but the real punks were in Los Angeles. The punks in Los Angeles were nothing compared to the punks in Toronto and so on and so forth.

This also applies, apparently, to porn’s role in the sexual and cultural revolution that began in the 1960s. Italy makes its bid for supremacy in Porno e Liberta, an entertaining but scattershot doc that explores the multiple facets of porn in Italy, starting with magazines in the ’60s and moving through the various permutations of smut through the ages.

Porno e Liberta’s major flaw is how wide it casts its net. Beginning with pioneering erotic filmmaker Lasse Braun, it tackles printed pornography, the career of Ilona Staller (aka Cicciolina, the radio/disco/porn star/showgirl/politician all-star), the growing role of porn in cultural revolution, sex in performance art, the role of porn in LGBT culture, the growing role of sexual explicitness in worldwide cinema and so on. Almost every topic I’ve covered here could easily get its own film; instead, they’re weaved into a largely thesis-less tapestry that improbably clocks in at an anemic 78 minutes.

Staller is by far the most fascinating topic in the film, but only a tiny sliver of an interview with her is included at the very end. I’d much rather watch a film about her than having another parade of aged hippies who drew a couple of cocks in 1967 claim they invented the concept of pornography (we do it here, too). It’s somewhat entertaining on a surface level, but Porno e Liberta winds up biting off more than it can chew.

Porno e Liberta screens at Cinema du Parc (3575 Parc) today, Oct. 10, 3 p.m. and again on Sunday, Oct 16, 1:15 p.m. at the same location

The Student

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It seems like a joke at first. When angsty teenager Venya (Petr Skvortsov) tells his mother he can’t attending swim class because it’s against his religion, she chalks it up to misguided teenage rebellion. But Venya’s very serious; he’s taken to following the bible to the letter and proselytizing whenever he can, stripping naked to protest a sex education class that pushes contraception, befriending a classmate with uneven legs in order to perform a miracle and sowing the seeds of doubt all around him, even in his teachers and the school priest.

The Student is a parable more than a gritty look at religious fundamentalism. The schematic nature and goal-driven character development doesn’t exactly ring true in a broader sense, but serves to underline a point about fundamentalism. It’s extremely well-done in spite of this, a bleak but often hilarious nightmare where things spin wildly out of control only because they really don’t seem that worrisome at first. Russian cinema’s on a tear with the anti-clergy parables these days, and Kirill Serebrennikov’s The Student is a fitting addition to that canon.

The Student screens at Quartier Latin (350 Emery) today, Monday, Oct 10, 9 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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