Denys Arcand retrospective: Politics, crime and human remains

Politics, crime and human remains

Denys Arcand on the set of L'Âge des ténèbres (2007)
Photo: Alliance Vivafilm

Following a tribute at Ciné-Québec, Denys Arcand is the subject of a retrospective at Cinéma du Parc

Best known for three films that were celebrated at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscars, namely Le Déclin de l’empire américain (1986), Jésus de Montréal (1989) and Les Invasions barbares (2003), Denys Arcand has, of course, directed many more pictures during his illustrious career, which stretches over five decades.

Of particular interest are such politically charged documentaries as the long-censored On est au coton (1970), Québec: Duplessis et après… (1972) and especially Le Confort et l’indifférence (1982), as well as Arcand’s lean and mean early fiction features, which dealt with crime and violence in a way that made the Québécois filmmaker feel like a contemporary of Coppola, Scorsese and other 1970s American auteurs.

You really have to see movies like Réjeanne Padovani (1973), an unfortunately still-relevant portrait of politicians hobnobbing with gangsters, and Gina (1975), which dramatizes the making of On est au coton while doubling as a gritty exploitation flick depicting a stripper’s bloody revenge against the snowmobile gang who gang-raped her. This couldn’t be further from Arcand’s latter films about horny baby-boomers and blasé suburbanites!

It’s also worth noting that Arcand has made a couple of English-language films, even though they weren’t very successful: Love & Human Remains (1993), an adaptation of the Brad Fraser play, and Stardom (2000), a satire of our media-addicted society and of its obsession with youth and beauty, as embodied by Jessica Paré in her first major role.

Denys Arcand, who received a tribute at the Ciné-Québec convention earlier this week, will be at Cinéma du Parc on the opening night of the retrospective to present Jésus de Montréal, which remains his best film in my opinion. Other guests who’ll introduce screenings include actors Dorothée Berryman, Pierre Curzi, Louise Portal, Marcel Sabourin, Gaston Lepage and Marc Labrèche.

Tribute to a Great Filmmaker: Denys Arcand
At Cinéma du Parc
January 27 to February 9

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