Director Léa Pools suburbia abounds with absentee parents, cruel children, ominous neighborhood characters, and incipient tragedy. Dont be too afraid, though, for were on the kinder, gentler outskirts of Montreal, not in Lynch Land. Mommy Is at the Hairdressers, Pools vividly sunlit late-60s coming-of-age story, centers on a teenage girl trying to make sense of her parents midlife crisis. A highlight of the San Francisco Film Societys first-ever Quebec Film Week, Pools opus confirms the widely held perception that Canadian films, buttressed by an oddly thrilling metronome intellectualism, tend to run cooler and evince more restraint than our pulp fiction. That assuredly fits the work of Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions), the high prince of French-language Canadian cinema, whose trademark hyperarticulate, impassioned dialogue drives The Age of Ignorance, a Walter Mitty fantasy with a sobering undercurrent of Bush-era social, moral, and (yes) intellectual bankruptcy. If its cold you crave, The Last Continent, marine biologist Jean Lemires striking documentary about his year-plus expedition to Antarctica, will assuredly give you the chills. The climate is indeed scary in this broad-daylight horror tale, but not for the reasons than youd anticipate: The sudden and unexpected effects of global warning jeopardize the lives of the crew and, if were paying attention, the rest of us. Take a hat, as your mother would say.
Dec. 10-14, 2008