(1973, Denys Arcand)
Let's try to forget, for just a moment, that this is a Canadian fiction film that actually has something to say about the real world, that it is actually vents rather than channels collective anger - to the point of casting lookalikes of the then-current Montreal power structure, and portraying them as unutterable monsters to a man. And let's not get into how genuine or enduring or correct Arcand's radicalism might be; let's talk about what a fantastic movie he makes out of it. The camera seems to hide in the corners of this mausoleum-like mansion, lingering over entrances and exits until they become the content: the conduction of power and command. There's no mistaking the class commentary of the parallel parties in the dining room and basement. But the king's messengers - inarticulate, glowering, self-absorbed - are far from helpless victims. Nor does Arcand idealize the women who wander from partner to partner seeking their cut of the good life. This movie absolutely nails the sensual allure of wealth and comfort even as the emptiness is laid bare - a percussive shock cut to a close up of pants being unzipped almost steals the whole movie. Until the denouement, that is, where we learn all too clearly the consequences of underestimating the evil powers at play: appeals to human decency will not cut the mustard. In other words, this tiny, claustrophobic movie is actually an epic of human tragedy - a visionary one, and just about perfect too.