The Alternates

Ah, the unbearable lightness of making someone not beToday’s opening of Arnaud Desplechin’s lovely “Un Conte de Noel” is a suitable bridge between American Thanksgiving and the Christmas season; if you haven’t yet been sucked into the swirl of holiday shopping, you could do far worse this weekend than spend a few hours in its company.

There’s some other stuff landing in theaters over this blockbuster-crammed weekend, but nothing to get too worked up about … it’s mostly what the kids call “counterprogramming”, a handful of documentaries and festival pickups that never really had a chance at distinguishing themselves. Better to dump ’em now and blame the big movies for their meager receipts.

“FLicKeR”: Nik Sheehan’s documentary dusts off the artistic legacy of Brion Gysin, whose Dream Machine device was purported to induce a transcendent state by means of visual stimulation — basically, you watched the flashing lights and you got high. Susan likes it; I found it amusing enough at Hot Docs, I guess, but it’s the kind of curio that’ll play just fine when you run across it on cable sometime next year.

“I Think We’re Alone Now”: Hey, remember Tiffany? Jeff Turner sure does — he’s been stalking her for twenty years! Sean Donnelly’s documentary about the subculture of obsession puts his fervent worship under the microscope, as well as that of another Tiffany admirer who may be even more tragically complicated. But, as Barrett puts it: Tiffany? Really?

“The Killer”: Screenwriter Cedric Anger (“Le Petit Lieutenant”) makes his directorial debut with this drama about a hit man (Gregoire Colin) who comes to an odd, vaguely existential arrangement with his latest target (Gilbert Melki). I was already overloaded with stuff for this week’s issue, but Barrett and Kieran make it sound pretty intriguing.

“Restless”: Never having been much of an Amos Kollek fan, I let his latest film — about an Israeli exile and his sniper-trained son who meet up in New York after two decades apart — slide past me during TIFF. The middling reviews from Rad and Damian convince me I made the right choice.

Still need something to see? Cinematheque Ontario is screening a new print of Francois Truffaut’s “The Wild Child” tonight and tomorrow, and tickets are still available.

Jeez, you people are demanding.