Quebec Mon Amour

Director Léa Pool’s suburbia abounds with absentee parents, cruel children, ominous neighborhood characters, and incipient tragedy. Don’t be too afraid, though, for we’re on the kinder, gentler outskirts of Montreal, not in Lynch Land. Mommy Is at the Hairdresser’s, Pool’s 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 Society’s first-ever Quebec Film Week, Pool’s 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 it’s cold you crave, The Last Continent, marine biologist Jean Lemire’s 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 you’d anticipate: The sudden and unexpected effects of global warning jeopardize the lives of the crew — and, if we’re paying attention, the rest of us. Take a hat, as your mother would say.
Dec. 10-14, 2008

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