Reviews

Review: Thor Ragnarok

Posted by Simon on November 10, 2017
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I really miss the sci-fi movies of my childhood. Big, colourful, often funny, always exhilarating; so much fuel for imaginary spaceship battles around my bedroom. I’m sure much of this comes from older eyes and wearier brains, but I find sci-fi these days to be too bland, too unwilling to risk shapes and ideas. The resurgence of Star Wars has taken big steps back to the fantasy side of sci-fi, and Guardians Of The Galaxy got close with its amazing ship design and snappy script, but I often felt myself seeking more of the fun.

Well, not any more. We’ve known for a while that Thor Ragnarok would be colourful and funny – director Taika Waititi’s What We Do In The Shadows is one of my all-time favourite comedies – but what I was not prepared for was Ragnarok having so much more. Far from being all-out comedy, it’s a meaty, gorgeous slice of sci-fi bliss.

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VIFF Review: ‘Wonderstruck’ is a magical, moving tale for all ages

Posted by Matthew on October 15, 2017
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Todd Haynes movies, love ’em or … not? Wait, does anyone not love Todd Haynes movies? Anyway, the point is that the man is a consummate visual storyteller, and in that regard Wonderstruck might be his magnum opus. There two main stories, one set in the 1970s and another in the 1920s, each with a child protagonist and each moving in their own ways. If you’re thinking that they might be connected, yes, of course they are both to each other and a third story told later in the film.

It would have been easy to adapt this story, a kids novel, for kids but Wonderstruck is a moving tale for all ages.

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VIFF Review: ‘Bad Genius’ is a slick caper film

Posted by Matthew on October 15, 2017
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How far would you go to get an A in school? Bad Genius tells the story of a group of kids who want (or need) to get high marks but don’t want to put in the work, and it tells that story both slickly and hilariously.

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VIFF Review: ‘Columbus’ is one of the years best

Posted by Matthew on October 15, 2017
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It’s easy to say that Columbus is architecture porn for one good reason: it is architecture porn. Video essayist Kogonada’s feature film début frame buildings in ways that I can’t recall seeing them framed before: not only in just the right light and at just the right angle, but with just the right context. This is why it’s misleading to say that it is architecture porn: because it’s so much more than that.

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VIFF Review: ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ is hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful

Posted by Matthew on October 14, 2017
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Lipstick Under My Burkha is a hilarious movie that explores the daily lives of women in India. It’s also a heartbreaking movie that explores the daily lives of women in India. It’s a movie that has to be hilarious because if it wasn’t, it would just be heartbreaking, and it’s important that this story end with some hope.

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VIFF Review: ‘A Fantastic Woman’ is a beautiful, important movie

Posted by Matthew on October 12, 2017
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An older man, Orlando, spends a day at a spa and then heads to a night club to see a woman sing. She is his girlfriend Marina, and they are very much in love. After the performance he takes her to dinner, and later at home they make love against the floor to ceiling windows of their shared apartment. Later that night he falls ill and they rush to a hospital where he dies and she is immediately treated like a criminal. Not, however because of the bruises on his torso and the impact wound on his head he obtained from falling down the stairs on their way to the car, but because she is transgendered.

The rest of A Fantastic Woman follows Marina as she copes with not only losing the love of her life but also coping with the prejudices of the the doctors, the police, and the bulk of her lovers family. It’s not the easiest watch but it’s vital one.

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VIFF Review: ‘Borg vs. McEnroe’ is frustratingly not quite good (but Shia LaBeouf is great in it)

Posted by Matthew on October 12, 2017
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The rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe was one of the ages, and their match at the 1980 Wimbledon Championship is probably one of the greatest matches in the history of tennis. Borg, on track to win his fifth consecutive title had a reputation as being cool and graceful under pressure. McEnroe, the new comer at the beginning of his ascendancy had a reputation as a hot head who regularly threw tantrums on the court and argued with umpires. Even their styles of play were opposite with Borg playing from the baseline and McEnroe rushing to the net. Literally everything about this match makes it ripe for a great movie which is why it’s so frustrating that it isn’t one.

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VIFF Review: ‘God’s Own Country’ is quietly great

Posted by Matthew on October 11, 2017
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People are going to compare God’s Own Country to Brokeback Mountain. It’s inevitable because they cover much of the same ground: two men spending time away from the world and looking after a herd of sheep form a relationship. That isn’t completely unfair because the basics are remarkably similar but also because they’re both great movies.

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VIFF Review: ‘The Green Fog’ with Kronos Quartet playing live was something else.

Posted by Matthew on October 11, 2017
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Guy Maddin makes weird films. This isn’t a complaint, it’s a compliment of the highest order. In a world where studios are making only the safest of choices on a daily basis weird, experimental film is always some of the most important film around. The Green Fog is no exception: it re-imagines Hitchcock’s Vertigo using clips from other films (new and old) and television from the 70s and 80s –all also shot in San Francisco–, and only one single shot from the film itself.

It’s something else and the fact that Kronos Quartet were there to play the original score live made it truly a once in a lifetime experience.

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VIFF Review: ‘The Hidden Sword’ is a muddled mess with some awesome martial arts action

Posted by Matthew on October 08, 2017
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Have you ever watched a scene in a foreign film and thought “something must have been lost in translation”? The Hidden Sword is an entire movie like that.

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Review: ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is as good as the original.

Posted by Matthew on October 08, 2017
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The original Blade Runner is held up by many as the gold standard of dystopian existential science fiction films. It asks questions about the nature of humanity and what it means to truly live while at the same time painting a picture of a world that seems to have broken under the weight of more people being alive than ever before. It’s an acknowledged masterpiece –even if it took a decade or two and two different directors cuts to get to that status– and that’s a lot to live up to.

And I’m here to tell you that it does. I’m also here to tell you that you should probably go into it as cold as possible, so maybe bookmark this and come back to it after you’ve seen the film to see if you agree with me. I’m not going to say any major spoilers but regardless, this is your warning.

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VIFF Review: Penelope Cruz can’t save ‘The Queen of Spain’

Posted by Matthew on October 08, 2017
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I really like movies about making movies. I think they’re a fun way to explore and poke fun at the film making business. I also like period set comedies, in particular those set in the late 40s and 50s. I like the design sensibilities and I feel like the feel good image of that era that still lingers today is one ripe for subversion. Also also, I really like Penelope Cruz. I think she’s a dynamic and interesting screen presence.

The Queen of Spain then is a movie that should be right up my alley: it’s a period set comedy about making a movie starring Penelope Cruz. Turns out it’s not though.

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Review: Uncharted – The Lost Legacy

Posted by Simon on October 04, 2017
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Truck? What truck?

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VIFF Review: ‘In The Fade’ will net Diane Kruger all the award nominations

Posted by Matthew on October 02, 2017
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Fascism is on the rise in the world. It’s easy living on this continent to forget that it’s happening elsewhere. In The Fade isn’t directly about the resurgence of Nazism, but those themes never the less play an important part in this story of family, justice, and revenge.

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VIFF Review: ‘Meditation Park’ is just lovely

Posted by Matthew on October 01, 2017
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Director Mina Shum is back, people. Meditation Park is the latest film from the Vancouver director and the latest to explore the immigrant experience with a woman finding empowerment. You know what? It’s a damn delight, too.

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