VIFF 2014: The Rooftops interweaves its tales

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      The Rooftops (Algeria/France)  

      The Mediterranean glistens tauntingly in the background as denizens of Algiers gather beneath an expansive and unforgiving sky. Their actions—poetic, comical, striving, and violent—play out there, almost unbroken by five calls to prayer. Veteran writer-director Merzak Allouache, at it for almost four decades, has a knowing feel for class distinctions and personality quirks among the roof-gatherers. But his sense of drama is too dependent on verbal conflict between them—musicians, crooked businessmen, dopeheads, and a war veteran locked in a box—further leading to an unrealistic (we hope) number of deaths in a single day.

      Cinematheque, September 26 (7 p.m.); International Village, September 29 (11 a.m.)