Vancouver International Film Centre

Reviewer Ed Farolan


dir. Chung Mong-Hong. Taiwan 2008. 106 min.

Dates and Venue 23-24 April 2010 | Vancity Cinema, Vancouver

The film opens and we see a white car parked beside a roadside. The protagonist, Chen-Mo (Chen Chang), calls his wife and tells her he parked his car by the roadside because he is too tired to drive but remembers he has a dinner date with her because it is Mother's Day, but first, he needs to pick up a cake. He parks by the store and when he comes out with the cake, his car is boxed in by a double-parked car. For the entire night, he tries to track down the owner of the illegally parked car in the nearby apartment building, encountering a series of strange events and eccentric characters: an old couple who have lost their only son living with their granddaughter, a one-armed barbershop owner cooking fish head soup, a young girl trying to escape her pimp's cruel clutches, and a tailor from Hong Kong who is embroiled in debt and captured by underground loan sharks.

This black comedy has its own personaity, mixing in oddities of a love story, gansterism, and melodrama. It's quite well-crafted, stylish, dipping into the unexpected, and ending with a heartfelt conclusion.


This Way of Life

dir. Tom Burstyn. New Zealand 2009. 86 min.

Dates and Venue 30 April - 1 May 2010 | Vancity Cinema, Vancouver

The documentary is set against the rugged beauty of New Zealand's Ruahine Mountains. Peter Karena and his wife Colleen raise their six children instilling in them the values of independence, courage and happiness. As Peter hunts, trains wild horses and struggles to survive, he attempts to live a different lifestyle, the same kind of idealism that the hippies of the 1970s wanted to do with their communes.

Peter is a man who doesn't belong to this century of high tech. He could have easily fitted in he 19th and early 20th century when "Go West, Young Man!" was the crying motif. He tames wild horses, he hunts and field dresses a deer, and like the gypsies of old, can't find a home for his family. Peter and Colleen set up a series of makeshift sheds, or camps beside a river, while their half-wild kids ride bareback in the surf, with little fear, and swim naked with their father in the river.

It makes one dream, when watchin this film, of the possible utopias we can live in here on earth, a way of life that gives us hope that we are, after all free spirits that shuld not be burdened with the burdens and monotony of city life.


The Life of the World to Come

dir. Rian Johnson. USA 2009. 51 min.

Dates and Venue 30 April - 1 May 2010 | Vancity Cinema, Vancouver

John Darnielle performs his latest album The Life of the World to Come on piano and guitar in this interesting documentary that might be of interest to religious buffs. The twelve songs he composes and sings are inspired from bible verses, and I found the songs spiritually inspiring, as he reflects on faith, loss, redemption, and forgiveness.


The Coca Cola Case

dirs. German Gutierrez, Carmen Garcia . Canada 2009. 85 min.

Dates and Venue 30 April - 1 May 2010 | Vancity Cinema, Vancouver

This is another of those documentaries that investigates the exploitation of multinational companies on third wold citizens. In this film, Gutierrez and Garcia expose Coca Cola's bullying tactics against unions as it documents a US legal team filing lawsuits in US courts against Coca Cola for human rights violations that cannot be pursued in Colombia and Guatemala for murders of trade union activists at its bottling plants. (More than 470 workers' leaders have been assassinated since 2002 by hired paramilitary hoods). It also follows the 'Stop Killer Coke' campaign, but also shows the other side of the pro-Coke campaign by business students on the campus of the University of Chicago who believe that this is all part of the economics of globalization.

A qestion that entered my mind while watching this documentary is, " Will it stop us from drinking Coca-Cola?" We may be aware of the dire consequences of this girant multinational, and sympathize with the victims, but I don't think it will stopmost third world citizens from drinking Coke, or even Pepsi, despite the fact that they see the moral irresponsibility and ecological damage these plants cause on our slowly deteriorating planet.



dir. Richard Brouillette. Canada 2009. 160 min.

Dates and Venue 20, 24 & 25 April 2010 | Vancity Cinema, Vancouver

Subtitled La democratie dans les rets du neoliberalisme, this erudite documentary, long but impressive, gives us an insight into the origins of liberalism and how. in the 21st century, the concept has evolved into "neo-libealism" and its consequences to governmental politics and economics. Experts such as Noam Chomsky, Ignacio Ramonet, Susan George, Omar Aktouf and others give their different viewpoints and analyses of neo-liberalism in interview/lecture format.

A particular point that interested me about this black and white documentary was the role of Canadian government and how it monopolizes most, if not all, of the basic services, from insurance to hospitalization. For example, in British Columbia, the BC Government through ICBC controls auto insurance as well as other services such as BC Hydro. In Montreal, Hydro Quebec controls the electricity of all of Quebec. This may be good but according to its critics, it has drawbacks. It goes against the classic laissez-faire ideology where the private sector is deprived of competition.

Another interesting insight about the Canadian government is a critique of how workers, particularly the middle-class, are being taxed heavily, and this tax money is given to the "parasites" of society, the welfare recipients, and how all this is tied up to politics and elections. Since the majority of Canadians belong to this so-called "poverty" class, the government spoils them by distributing revenues collected from the middle class. Is this fair? Take old age pension. Any Canadian or immigrant who has not worked all his life still gets old age pension, and to boot, an additional guaranteed income upon reaching 65, while those who have worked all their lives don't get any guaranteed income because they've saved up all their lives through RRSPs or superannuation.

An excellent and interesting documentary that criticizes the monopolies of the Canadian government and encourages the return of free competition in order to get rid of parasites of our society and get work and wealth moving in our economy.

. © 2010 Ed Farolan