Reviewer: Ed Farolan
Venues: IN-Cineplex Odeon International Village, CENT= TheCentre for the Performing Arts, CINE-The Cinematheque, RIO-Rio Theatre, SFU-SFU's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, VCT-Vancity Theatre, PLAY-Vancouver Playhouse
In Order of Disappearance
Norway/Sweden/Denmark 2014, Dir. Hans Petter Moland
Dates and Venues 26 Sep IN10 & RIO, 5 Oct IN09 & 11 Oct CINE
The theatre was jam-packed in the October 5th screening and VIFF decided to extend another screening for October 11th. This is a superb film reflecting the macabre comedy typical of Scandinavians. You can draw comparisons in this film with the Coen brothers’ Fargo and the droll style of Tarantino’s body-count thrillers. It's a mafia-style vigilante film with a tongue-in-cheek black comedic approach, but excellently executed by Moland and superbly acted by Stellan Skarsgård.
A Dangerous Game
UK 2014, Dir. Anthony Baxter
Dates and Venues 5 Oct CINE & 9 Oct VCT
Baxter plays a dangerous game with Donald Trump as he does this sequel to You've Been Trumped (VIFF 11). In this film, Baxter reveals the intimidation tactics of Trump as he forces his way to build luxury golf courses in Scotland and Croatia. The filmmaker was present and Alan Franey introduced him and the film as one of the "Great Divide" films of the Festival which, according to Franey, was a topic requested by many viewers. Baxter finally got his interview with Trump who gave him a "smug sermon". Again. as I've commented in these "Great Divide" films I've reviewed in this fest like The Riot Club, and Food Chain, the rich and powerful most of the time get what they want no matter what. .
Ireland/UK 2013, Dir. Stephen Bradley
Dates and Venues 5 Oct IN9 & 8 Oct CENT
An inspiring and noble (using a double entendre) film of Christina Noble, a Dubliner who after surviving an early life of poverty, abuse and other misfortunes, travels to Ho Chi Minh City in order to establish a clinic and refuge intended to better the lot of street children and war orphans. Despite obstacles, her Irish fighting spirit tenaciously overcomes the indifference surrounding care for these street children and orphans. Award-winning director Bradley (Nashville, 2014) did an excellent job with this biopic and Deirdre O'Kane was superb in her portrayal of this woman who continues her charity foundation in both Vietnam and Mongolia.
UK 2014, Dir. Mike Leigh
Dates and Venues 28 Sep & 2 Oct CENT & 8 Oct PLAY
Best Actor Winner in Cannes 2014, Timoth Spall is brilliant as the visionary 19th century English painter J.M.W. Turner, with his snorts and grunts and his eccentric and perverse sexual behaviour. Director Leigh (Secrets and Lies,1996) is superb in portraying theVictorian era, with costumes and sets. We even see young Queen Victoria looking disdainly at Turner's paintings and commenting that they were rubbish.
Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed
Spain 2013, Dir. David Trueba
Dates and Venue 3 & 8 Oct CENT
What a wonderful film! The audience clapped at the end, the loudest I've heard in all the VIFF Festivals I've attended. The title is from the lyrics to The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever.” This charming, nostalgic movie is inspired by the true story of a high-school English teacher—and Fab Four devotee—who drove across Spain in 1966 to meet his idol John Lennon on the set of How I Won the War in Almeria. What fine and comic acting by Javier Cámara, the teacher, and Belén (the very pretty Natalia de Molina), a pregnant girl fleeing a convent, and Juanjo (Francesco Colomer), a boy escaping a dictatorial father. A viewer commented, "I've seen a lot of duds in this festival, but this one makes up for them all". 5 out of 5. A must-see film.
Russia 2014, Dir. Yury Bykov
Dates and Venues 29 & 30 Sep VCT; 8 Oct CINE
Honesty can get you killed in Russia, and this is what this film is about. An honest plumber warns the town Mayor that a building is going to collapse in 24 hours, but the corrupt officials do nothing about it. Although I felt there was something incomplete about the ending, the film was well-directed, and the actors were superb. Other viewers would probably like endings where the director leves it up to the viewer to decide how it ends. I'm one of those who believe that something has to be resolved, and not just leave the ending hanging up in the air. But other than that, the filmmaker produced a good film by reflecting the contemporary sociopolitical situation in Russia.
USA 2014, Dir. Bennett Miller
Dates and Venue 1 & 10 Oct CENT
This is another film which will hit commercial theatres soon because the actors are all big name film stars--Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, Anthony Michael Hall. Based on the biography of 1984 Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz (Tatum), the film depicts a mentally imbalanced sponsor John du Pont played exceedingly well by Carrall who kills Mark's brother Dave (Ruffalo) in cold blood. What was interesting was the presence in the October 1st screening of Canadian Olympic wrestlers Greg Edgelow (1992 Olympian), Chris Rinke (1984 Olympic Bronze medallist) and Steve Marshall (1988 Olympian). Edgelow did the presentation before the screening and in the presence of the audience, called Mark who mentioned how Rinke was a threatening nemesis in the 1984 Olympics and was glad he got through with the gold. This film won the Best Director Award for Miller (Capote, Moneyball) in the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. I spoke with Edgelow after the screening and he said he was in training with the Schultz brothers at the Du Pont Foxcatcher wrestrling complex and said that Du Pont was indeed a creep.
Man on High Heels
South Korea 2014, Dir. Jang Jin
Dates and Venues 25 Sep RIO, 2 Oct VCT & 6 Oct CINE
I like Korean films. They'recrazy and entertaining. Jang Jin delivers a satirical and ultraviolent cop/gangster movie, but at the same time, puts in sentimentality. I like the music in particular. A bit syrupy, but it gives a stark contrast to the bad-guy good-cop scenes. It also is sympathetic to transgenders, in this case, Yoon (Cha Seungwon). He's a hard-ass cop, a woman trapped in a man's body. Another must-see film from my perspective.
That'll Leave a Mark
Canada 2014, Dirs. Aidan Shipley, Geneviève Dulude-Decelles, Sophie Jarvis, Rémi St-Michel, Connor Gaston, Ashley McKenzie, Jeff Petry
Dates and Venues 28 Sep IN9 & 6 Oct VCT
The main theme in these Canadian Images Short Films is children. All the main characters are children. In Gaston's Godhead, it is an autistic boy who envisions the universe. Shipley's 9-year old girl in Dorsal imagines a man to be the reincarnqtion of her dead goldfish. Then there are the two Quebec films which are quite good: Decelles The Cut was moving in that it showed a bonding of father and daughter as she was cutting his hair. St. Michel's short in black and white Petit Frere was funny. Petry's Ship was surrealistic. The camera shots were quite good. McKenzie's Stray was filmed in a depressing post-industrial locale which made you feel depressed. And Jarvis' 40 Candles was like a home movie, and in the discussion that followed the screening, she mentioned that the whole family and friends were involved in the making of the film. Kudos to these new filmmakers. May the feature films be with you in the future.
Iran 2014, Dir. Rakhshan Bani-Etemad
Dates and Venues 1 Oct CENT & 8 Oct PLAY
Rakhshan Bani-Etemad is one of Iran’s leading female directors and this film tackles issues of poverty, sexism, drug addiction and labour unrest. Middle-Easterners are known for storytelling, and the tales here carry on the tradition of 1001 Nights from the Islamic Golden Age. This film which takes place in Tehran goes from one story to another: a man humiliated by the bureaucracy, an abandoned single mother, drug addiction, factory workers protesting, and others. Interesting introspection of Iranian society today, which is not much different from situations in any metropolis.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
USA/Iran 2014. Dir. Ana Lily Amirpour
Dates and Venues 26 Sep IN8; 9 & 10 Oct RIO
Amirpour mixes film noir, Spaghetti Westerns and Bram Stoker in this semi-tongue in cheek story of a vampire that reeks havoc in Bad City, a ghost town somewhere in a remote area in Iran. The opening night audience seemed to like the film from an applause or two but I felt there was a need to edit the film. Some scenes were too long delving on close up shots, and the ending should have been reduced. I think when the vampire and his beau "Dracula" started to flee the village, that's where the film should have ended. Instead, they stopped by the roadside for no reason at all, he gets out of the car, reenters the car and drives away. Why? That scene wasn't necessary. The film needed tightening up of loose ends, especially the last scene.
USA 2013. Dir. Michael Barnett
Dates and Venues 6 Oct PLAY & 9 Oct VCT
Inspiring documentary about mentally challenged persons doing films. Something like this should be done in Canada. I know of theatre groups like Theatre Terrific in Vancouver, and I hope Michael Barnett can get in touch with this group and join up in his yearly film productions. This is a film that is not only inspiring but gives hope to disabled actors just as the Paralympics gives oportunities to disabled athletes.
Men Who Save the World
France/ Germany/ Malaysia/ Netherlands 2014. Dir. Liew Seng Tat
Dates and Venues 2 Oct IN9 & 9 Oct CINE
Funny film about serious issues of homophobia and xenophobia,cleverly directed by this Malaysian director who pokes fun on Muslim traditions and religious superstitions. There are comic moments that slipped through Malaysian censorship. I liked the scene on the book about Malaysian ghosts and how the village folk decide that the house they were carrying back to the village had a black demon and had to be burned down.
Brazil 2014. Dir. Fellipe Barbosa
Dates and Venues 27 Sep & 8 Oct RIO, 10 Oct SFU
I suspect this film is semi-autobiographical because at the end, we see a dedication to the parents and the other characters involved in the director's life when he was 17, the age of the main character, Jean. What I didn't like was the ending. We're left with the question, "And now, what?" The director apparently doesn't put any closure to the film. It's as though he's telling the audience, "There's going to be a sequel."
Australia 2013. Dir. Sophie Hyde
Dates and Venues 25 Sep & 4 Oct RIO, 7 Oct SFU
Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), is a young teenager who embarks on a sexual journey of self-discovery and exploration, experimenting and filming a menage a trois with a boyfriend and a girlfriend she's attracted to. Meanwhile, her mom is undergoing a change from female to male, and Director Hyde films this transition every Tuesday for 52 weeks. This is a film done in the TV Reality mode, a kind of home movie type, and could be interesting for gays and lesbians who feel their bodies are of the opposite sex and want to undergo the sex change operation.
In the Name of My Daughter
France 2014, Dir. André Téchiné
Dates and Venues 3 Oct PLAY & 7 Oct CENT
Based on a true story about casino owner Renée Le Roux (the very lovely Catherine Deneuve despite her 70+ years),who went up against the mob in Nice 40 years ago, the film relates the love affair between her daughter Agnès ( Adèle Haenel, also in Love at First Fight at VIFF 2014) and the family’s business consultant and lawyer Maurice Agnelet (Guillaume Canet). Agnes disappears and her body was never found. Agnelet was tried and when the movie ends, he is acquitted. But then Le Roux appeals and this time he is found guilty. He is now serving a 20 year jail sentence. In the film, however, André Téchiné seems to side with Agnelet, that he wasn't guilty of the crime. I tend to agree with him because I think Agnes committed suicide. She was a good swimmer and I suspect she drowned herself somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, and that's why her body was never recovered..
Canada 2014, Dir. Soran Mardookhi
Dates and Venue 3 & 5 Oct IN09
This Vancouver film by the Kurdish community here reflects the plight of the Kurdish who were victims of the Iraq war. In the Q & A session, I asked the director if this was based on a true story and he said that it was fiction but that similar stories of rape and plunder by the Iraqi military were common phenomena during the war. Well-done film by this director who also did the camera work. Chocolates were being sold after the screening to help aid the Kurdish refugee camps.
Venezuela/Spain 2013, Dir. Alberto Arvelo
Dates and Venue 28 Sep & 5 Oct CENT
This multi-million budget spectacle was as confusing as Latin American history where different factions and historical narrations leave a reader or a spectator scratching his/her head. In the same way, Arvelo paints a portrait of Simon Bolivar in this vein. His use of flashbacks confuses us. Was it Bolivar or his father who tried to escape? In that scene, we see the boy Bolivar embracing his black nanny and saying that he's now an orphan. Then there's the ending where we assume he was assassinated, and yet, in history books, we are told that he died of tuberculosis. But other than these, the battle scenes, the costume depiction of the period, the directing and the acting was well-executed.
Force Majeure (aka Tourist)
Sweden 2014, Dir. Ruben Östlund
Dates and Venue 26 Sep & 6 Oct CENT
Östlund has traces of Bergmann's intensity and long close up shots, but unlike the Swedish film master, he gets us to laugh. The audience enjoyed laughing at the dialogue and the funny reactions in the cast's close-up shots. What started as a typical tourist trip to a ski resort developed into a crumbling of self of the main protagonist after he runs away from his family when a minor avalanche occurs. I just didn't like the last scene where the tourists got off the bus and started walking. I think this final scene should have been chopped.
Spain/Argentina 2014, Dir. Damián Szifron
Dates and Venue 4 & 6 Oct CENT
Wild, really wild, and funny. The audience applauded after each macabre tale. Really entertaining. Some movie audience members were sitting at the edge of their seats and laughing nervousiy during the road kill sequence. I enjoyed the dynamite story where our hero, Ricardo Darin, finally wins the respect of his wife and daughter for his courageous act. But the really zany story is about the bride who discovers her husband has been unfaithful and gets her revenge at her wedding party. Szifron didn't get an award in Cannes, but he got everyone buzzing about this film.
Stations of the Cross
Germany/France 2014, Dir. Dietrich Bruggeman
Dates and Venues 26 Sep VCT, 4 Oct IN09, 5 Oct IN08
Siblings Anna and Dietrich Brüggemann look at Catholic fundamentalism where Maria (Lea van Acken in a stunning performance) is 14, and preparing for her Confirmation in the (fictional) Priestly Society of St. Paull. The film’s title is literal, and it narrative in Via crucis mode in fourteen chapters, he traditional stages Christ’s martyrdom. Maria is the martyr here, preparing herself for a sacrifice to God in order to give the gift of speech to her to her mute brother.who miraculously starts to talk when she dies. The filmmakers attempt to show if indeed this was a miracle, making her a saint, according to Catholic dogma. Interesting film from a Catholic point of view.
Philippines 2013, Dir. Mikhail Red
Dates and Venue 30 Sep & 2 Oct CINE
A brilliant indie film by this 21-year old filmmaker. The storyline was good and the cinematography was realistic. Young filmmakers today are so comfortable with digital gadgets, internet and digital editing that they could direct, produce and edit themselves if they want to do a film. In the Q & A, Red said that his budget was only $30,000 for this film, and when asked how he managed, he said that he used his family and friends who weren't paid to act in this film. He also didn't pay rent for most locales, and maximized production, sometimes filming more than 24 hours in a rented locale. All kinds of cameras were utilized--CCTV, camcorders, cell phones, and ipads. The film has been viewed in various film festivals since 2013. This is the Canadian premiere, and he's heading after just recently winning the Best New Director Award here in Vancouver, to the Hanoi Film Festival in Vietnam. Read the interview.
Peru 2014, Dir. Daniel Rodríguez Risco
Dates and Venues 29 Sep & 1 Oct IN9; 3 Oct CINE
If you like Hitchcock, this is a film to see. The cinematographic shots, the mystery, the suspense and the thrills generated by this Peruvian filmmaker were superb. In the Q & A session after the screening, he confessed that he was influenced by Hitchcock, Bunuel, and especially Polanski and the film The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. He said this film was a commercial success in Peru. A must-see film. Read the interview.
Japan 2014, Dir. Omori Tatsushi
Dates and Venues 26 & 27 Sep IN9 & 4 Oct RIO
Director Tatsushi is a funny man. In fact, when the film was introduced by Tony Rayns last September 26th, the director couldn't appear in person but sent a 44 second film clip which lasted more than that because of tech difficulties. But this was to the amusement of the crowd because like his film, Tatsushi has a sense of humor saying that what we're seeing in this world premiere is what's happening in Japan these days. Gone are the likes of legendary directors Kurosawa, Ozu and Shindo with their heroic protagonists and enter a new generation of directors like Tatsushi with comic characters like Tada (Eita) and Gyoten (Matsuda Ryuhei) whom he has been working now for three years both in the cinema and in a TV mini-series, big hits in Japan dealing with social issues of our day, from phony organic farming to lesbian parenting. Great sense of humour from this director and two actors meriting an extended run of this film.
The Riot Club
UK 2014, Dir. Lone Scherfig
Dates and Venues 3 Oct CENT & 5 Oct SFU
I was extremely disturbed by the shenanigans and violence of this Oxford exclusive club called The Riot Club whose members include present Prime Minister David Cameron, his Chancellor George Osborne, and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Horrid immorality because their motto is "We're the elite and we can do anything we want" and get away with it. In one scene, one of the members almost kills the owner of a restaurant and says "I hate the poor". In the end, he is protected by alumni of the Club and gets away with his crime. And it's the same way in elite universities in Canada and the United States where secret clubs are comprised of the children of the rich and powerful who control big business and government. This film makes us aware of what's happening in today's world. One of the audience members commented after the show, "I knew that even before I saw the film".
Clouds of Sils Maria
France/Switzerland/Germany 2014, Dir. Olivier Assayas
Dates and Venue 2 & 3 Oct CENT
I found this film extremely boring. Half-way through the film, I went for coffee, and when I came back after 30 minutes, it still was boring. I felt this film was meant more for women, as it was mostly women talk throughout. This film reminds me of a film with Gloria Swanson who was fading away from the Hollywood scene as she got older. The same thing happens to Juliette Binoche, a great star once upon a time and now plays character roles. A somewhat mirror effect of art imitating life. Lesbians would probably appreciate this film as Binoche and Kirsten Stewart appear to be lovers. Maybe Stewart is in the same "fading" situation as Binoche as there are no more sequels to the vampire film Twilight.
Mexico 2014, Dir. Ricardo Silva
Dates and Venues 2 Oct VCT & 3 Oct CINE
You'd think this was a triple X-rated porno documentary with fellatio and sexually explicit scenes. There was even a comic scene where a tatooed penis was shown. This is the Canadian Premiere and it won the Cineasti del Presente Award in Locarno this year. The documentary depicts characters in the border town of Tijuana struggling to survive in a hostile environment. This is a disturbing documentary about prostitution, drug addicts, a satanic musician, a toy gatherer who sees the ghost of his wife in his toys, violent fighting scenes, etc. This work was originally presented as a Sociology Graduate thesis by the filmmaker. He flunk. What an irony that most flunkees end up being celebrities!
Men, Women & Children
USA 2014, Dir. Jason Reitman
Dates and Venues 28 Sep & 1 Oct CENT
This film will hit Cineplex soon because the actors are all big name Hollywood stars--Kaitlyn Dever, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, Adam Sandler and of course, Montreal-born director Reitman. Everyone can relate to this film. If you're a teenager, you can identify with the kids in this movie. If you're a parent, the same thing. We live now in an era of cellphones, ipods, ipads, with programs like chat, twitter, facebook and that's what this movie is all about--interrelationships among teenagers and parents and how internet and cell phones play major roles in our lives.
USA 2014, Dir. Sanjay Rawal
Dates and Venues 29 Sep IN9; 1 Oct IN10
I admire these young idealist filmmakers who protest against multi-corporations that exploit the poor, in this case, migrant workers in the United States who earn very much below poverty levels. But all this is idealism. If you're part of the iluminati, those super-rich and super-powerful people and corporations in the world, you can't do anything about it. You can protest all you want but from my experience, all this is futile becase they control the police, the politicians and practically everyone in society. I can hear them laughing at this documentary and saying, "Okay, let's give them that extra penny increase in wages. That's only a million dollars."
Miss and the Doctors
France 2013, Dir. Axelle Ropert
Dates and Venues 28 & 30 Sep IN9
Two doctors who are also brothers now in their forties finally find the woman of their dreams. They both woo her and naturally, only one gets the girl. I'd say this film is comme ci comme ca, not too bad. The saving grace is the photogenically beautiful Louise Bourgoin, the object of the doctors' pursuit. The original French title is Tirez la langue, mademoiselle which translates to "Stick out your tongue, Miss". I guess the translator didn't like to literally translate it as it probably didn't have a catchy ring to it. Ropert garnered Best New Director Award in this fest..
God Help the Girl
UK 2014, Dir. Stuart Murdoch
Dates and Venues 27 & 29 Sep IN9
There might be an added screening of this film because it was sold out in its last screening. If there is one, and you're young or young at heart, it's worth seeing it. It's not comparable to Singing in the Rain or other musicals of yore where the tunes are catching, but it's a fun musical. The main character has mental problems, but what else is new? It's the crazy ones who are creative. At least, this indie film is sincere and effervescent.
Of Horses and Men
Iceland 2014, Dir. Benedikt Erlingsson
Dates and Venues 26 Sep IN8 & 29 Sep RIO
Interesting introspection on the contrast between the beauty and simplicity of horses to the baseness and complexity of humans. Award-winning director Benedikt Erlingsson gives a comedic yet bizarre twist to this comparison showing the simplistic sex between horses as opposed to the comic sexual act of humans being watched all the time through binoculars by the townspeople. Other weird scenes including a Latin American (What's he doing in Iceland?) almost frozen to death, and a man riding a horse through the sea just to catch a Russian freighter to buy vodka that kills him are just two of many scenes that show the twisted sense of humour of this director.
Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
USA, 2014. Dir. James Keach
Dates and Venues 27 Sep IN9 & 1 Oct PLAY
Great documentary about the farewall tour of this legendary singer who has fallen victim to Alzheimers. What impressed me was the contrast between his personal life and his stage presence. When he's onstage, it's like he's normal with his fabulous guitar-playing and singing, and yet, in his personal life, Keach captures his moments of dementia. Promoting his latest album Ghost on the Canvas, Kimberly "Kim" Woollen, a former Radio City Music Hall "Rockette", his fourth wife to whom he has been married since 1982, narrates his slow decline into Alzheimers. Their three childen who form part of the band accompany him on this US-wide tour. revealing their testimonials as well as clips from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bill Clinton, Keith Urban and others. A remarkable musical salute to the courage and determination of this legend of a man.. Keach captures beautiful shots of his singing of those great Campbell classics, "Rhinestone Cowboy", "Wichita Lineman", "Gentle on My Mind" and others.
Love at First Fight
France 2014, Dir. Thomas Cailley
Dates and Venues 26 Sep & 4 Oct IN8; 29 Sep IN10
I like this film. The dialogue is funny and the reaction shots are well done. There is something about French acerbic humour that is charming, and the main protagonists did a wonderful job. Cailley pokes fun at the way the military not only in France but anywhere in the world conduct themselves. A certain frame of mind that is typically military: follow orders, no insubordination, etc. This film will probably be voted one of the best films of the festival.
Before the Last Curtain Falls
Canada/Belgium/Germany 2014, Dir. Thomas Wallner
Dates and Venues 26 Sep IN8 & 29 Sep RIO
This is the kind of film that homosexuals, transvestites and transgenders should view because it deals with what happens to them when they reach their senior years. Wallner interviews members of the Gardenia troupe as they do their last show back home in Germany after having toured the world doing impersonations of Liza Minelli, Gloria Swanson and other female stars. Their confessions are revealing especially when many of them had to go through prostitution in their younger years and now in their sixties what little plans they have left in the few years of life ahead of them. Well-done documentary.
The Princess of France
Argentina 2014. Dir. Matías Piñeiro
Dates and Venues 26 & 27 Sep IN8
I found this film amateurish with repeated dialogues and a topic little to be desired: a director taking advantage of his actresses. I also don't see any connection with The Princess of France to Love's Labour Lost in this internet radio play being produced. The audience was walking out one by one around the middle of the film because like me, I couldn't understand the protagonist's relationship with the actresses but more so because the editing was poor. The lines from the play and the dialogues kept repeating themselves. I've admired Argentinian films, like Lion's Heart and Habi la extranjera which I reviewed at VLAFF recently, but this one is the worst I've seen.
Slovenia 2013. Dir. Rok Bicek
Dates and Venues 26 Sep & 3 Oct IN9 & 5 Oct CINE
This is a film that high school students and substitute teachers should watch because it parallels the problems encountered in the high school system. It's the same old story on how substitute teachers are persecuted by students. Interesting and relatively rare contribution from Slovenia about a group of Slovenian teens who blame their demanding new substitute German teacher and his "Nazi" methods for causing the suicide of one of their classmates.
France/Georgia/Germany/Kazakhstan/Czech Republic 2014. Dir. George Ovashvili
Dates and Venues 25 & 27 Sep VCT and 2 Oct CINE
This is the first time I've reviewed a movie with five countries involved. But I like this film because very few words are spoken, and the cinematography is excellent. The laid back acting of the grandfather and the granddaughter is brilliant. The drama unfolds on a tiny island on a river between warring Georgia and Abkhazia. We see an old man build his shack with his granddaughter and later create an amazing corn crop.
What Are We Doing Here?
Canada 2014. Dir. Julie Hivon
Dates and Venues 29 Sep & 1 Oct SFU
I was asking myself "What am I doing here reviewing this film?" This Quebec director probably doesn't know the answer. But that's what the story's all about. After a brother/friend dies in an accident because he falls asleep at the wheels, the siblings and friends feel lost and question the meaning of existence. I suppose if you're in your twenties, you question a lot of things, especially life and death. But wait another 40 years and they'll probably say, "What the heck?".
Queen and Country
UK 2014. Dir. John Boorman
Dates and Venue 3 & 5 Oct | IN9
In the 1950s, it was still taboo for a commoner Bill (Callum Turner), the director's alter-ego, to marry an aristocrat Helen Montague (Tamsin Egerton). A slightly tragic thing, but the film ended on a happy note. I enjoyed this film by this Oscar-nominated director (Hope and Glory) and I'm certain it will have sold-out houses. So be sure you get your tickets asap.
The Boy and the World
Brazil 2013. Dir. Alê Abreu
Dates and Venues 25 Sep SFU, 28 Sep IN09, 2 Oct IN10
This is an excellently done animated Brazilian film about a country boy who goes to the city in search of his father, and is awed by what he experiences. Abreu also expresses his thoughts on how the rich control society and how capitalism has caused pollution and garbage all around us. It's a theme that is universal today, especially in poorer countries where the situation is worsening. The colors Abreu uses in this film are visually captivating.
. © 2014 Ed Farolan