LES NOMADES: TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FRENCH SHORT FILM FESTIVAL Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
March is shaping up to be French month at the movies. Next week comes Cinéfranco, the big roundup of French-language features. But this weekend's Les Nomades fest of international shorts, now in its fourth year, deserves as much attention. These films have terrific diversity and range.
One not-to-be-missed short is Comme James Dean (Programme 4, Saturday, March 17), about a neurotic actor who auditions for a role accompanied by his... well, you'll just have to see for yourself. Mathieu Amalric plays the actor with the same shaggy warmth and neuroses he brought to Arnaud Desplechin's masterpiece Kings And Queen.
Another gem is Merveilleusement Gris Animation Du Chien (Programme 2, tonight, Thursday, March 15), a stop-motion animated horror comedy featuring a deadpan sheep-and-man combo who stumble across a dead dog. Full of homages to horror classics - love the skewed-perspective set - it packs more wit and visual flair into its six minutes than many films five times that length.
In For Intérieur (Programme 4), a boy grieves for his grandfather, who captured various sounds in little tin boxes. Its whimsy and Gallic charm are undiluted over its nine minutes.
I wish I could say the same for Paris-Banlieue (Programme 1, tonight, Thursday, March 15), a stunning-looking piece about two friends who find themselves stuck in the desert while arguing the pros and cons of suburban vs. urban life. The spirit of Samuel Beckett isn't far away, but there's little shape to the characters' tragicomic adventure.
Ah bien, not everything can be merveilleux. (Runs March 15 to 17 at the Drake.)