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VIFF 2008: Marriage Disintegration in the Fest Spotlight


VanRamblings' return to the Festival was hard-going, for varying reasons.

First up on Monday evening, for a 7pm screening, at The Ridge, of ...

Cloud 9 (Grade: C-): With long, lingering scenes redolent of watching paint dry hour upon tedious hour, Andreas Dresen's woefully uninvolving Cloud 9 proved more than a bit of a tough slog to sit through on Monday evening.

With no one on screen achieving anything remotely close to a rooting interest, this soporific exercise in 'elder porn' — the lead characters are aged 66 - 76, and spend much of the film having sex — ostensibly tells the story of a marriage disintegrating because the titular wife has developed a hankering for new man. The new (but older) man is thrilled because he's getting laid, as is the woman, who experiences satisfying multiple orgasms. The husband being left out in the cold? Happy? Not so much.

With a narrative style bereft of insight, a surfeit of enigmatic performances (we're being generous here), with a story just plain dull in the telling, and with indulgent nude scene after boring nude scene of the principles "making love" (which hardly serves to propel the story forward), Cloud 9 was, for VanRamblings, an utter waste of time, and anathema to what we look for in good filmmaking (i.e. sympathetic, relatable characters; an engaging narrative economy bordering on onscreen poetry; lush, lambent or just downright striking cinematography; and "punch in the gut" storytelling).

THE NEW YEAR PARADEGreg Lyons, and the luminous Jennifer-Lynn Welsh, in Tom Quinn's The New Year Parade

The New Year Parade (Grade: A): An absolutely stunning tour-de-force piece of filmmaking, writer-cinematographer-producer-editor Tom Quinn's The New Year Parade makes for 2008's most auspicious directorial début.

With a luminous, engaging and often heart-wrenching central performance by newcomer Jennifer-Lynn Welsh, there are just not enough good and great things that VanRamblings can write about The New Year Parade.

But we'll certainly try.

Set in an evocative working class neighbourhood in south Philly, in the spare 87-minute running time of the film, Tom Quinn achieves such a warm sense a character and place that the viewer is pulled right inside his tale of a marriage in disintegration, and the impact on all of those directly involved.

There's little wonder that The New Year Parade wowed 'em at the Slamdance Festival earlier this year, where it took the Grand Jury Prize.

Every moment of The New Year Parade is wondrous — from the enchanting and boisterous Mummer's Parade rehearsal scenes, to Welsh's quiet, ruminative high school scenes, from the scenes with Greg Lyons and his entirely sympathetic and humane new girlfriend, Julie (Irene Longshore), to the scenes along the Philly docks, and every scene before, after and in-between. Quite simply, The New Year Parade proves to be a must-see!

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 6, 2008 11:41 PM in VIFF 2008


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