“Canadian Front” at MOMA


Canada’s arts grants-along with its banks, health care, and charming disposition-are tough to beat. If there’s a rap on the system it’s that when anyone with a dream and a funding application gets a chance at bat, the margin for crappy art can grow definitively wide. The selections for this year’s “Canadian Front,” MOMA’s annual Canuck filmmaking showcase, continue to keep that rap in check. Four of the eight films are Frenchies (including the opening night film, 2005’s C.R.A.Z.Y.), a slight overrepresentation of the French Canadian population that is justified by Guillaume Sylvestre’s Well Done alone. Sylvestre’s debut is a winning, loose, and yet vividly shot and expertly assembled documentary that follows two Montreal restaurateurs, ostensible competitors whose abiding love of food and serious bonhomie has nurtured a symbiotic and perhaps not coincidentally bacchanalic community. Other selections include the striking Mommy Is at the Hairdresser’s, a story of semi-suburban, 1960s Quebecois kids who come of age slightly ahead of schedule, thanks to their messed-up moms and dads; Malls R Us, a studious, instructive look at the rapacious creep of mall culture across growing industrial centers like India and China, even as it proves a failed or outmoded consumer model here; and new films from established Canadian directors (and one-time and current grant beneficiaries) Bruce McDonald (Pontypool) and Benoit Pilon (The Necessities of Life).