The Vancouver International Film Fest is a showcase for short films and the talent behind them as much as it is for features. So let’s talk about seven short films I’ve watched at this year’s festival.
VIFF is nearly over, and it has been a busy week, so to catch up a little, here are two more movies I’ve seen at the festival.
Greetings programs! It’s Awesome Friday, on a Sunday, because it’s a state of mind and not a time or place. This week Simon and I are talking about Disney’s new Halloween special, Muppets Haunted Mansion and Netflix’s new teen slasher, There’s Someone Inside Your House.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a unique filmmaker with only a few films under his belt, but each of them garnering widespread acclaim, probably most notably with 2010s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, for which he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Memoria is the first film he has made outside of his native Thailand, and the first time he has worked with an international cast. While the film is beautifully shot and singular in its vision, it’s also overlong, incredibly indulgent, and will reach into your soul and pull out… something.
Documentary filmmaking is some of our most crucial filmmaking. They tell stories of our world and the people that live in it. How, though, do you tell a story that has no images, no film, or any talking heads to back it up. One standard route is to turn the story into fiction. Another, taken this year by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, is to animate the story his friend is telling him, which turns out to be just as powerful a choice.
Night Raiders is one of the biggest Canadian films to come through VIFF this year, at least in terms of buzz and word of mouth. I had the chance to see it last week (and you can read my review here), and this week I had the great privilege to speak with Danis Goulet, the film’s writer and director.
The first thing you will notice is the cinematography. Shot in elegant black and white, the camera in Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades, en Francais) is a character unto itself, peering into the windows and lives of the residential towers of the district before settling on three to follow. The camera then follows them, like a close friend, and while the resulting film is lightly paced and slight with the details, it never doesn’t feel intimate and empathetic.
The best comedies are the ones with depth. The ones that layer together stories and satire and lay bare what the filmmakers feel about whatever subject they are tackling. Official Competition is one of these films.
The film opens in the wake of a billionaires birthday party, a man looking back on his 80 years and wondering about his legacy. What can he do to ensure he’s remembered? An idea comes to him: a film; A great film. A film directed by and starring the greatest talent available and drawing on a beloved novel as its source. Or maybe a bridge. A bridge would be good. But no, a film is the way to go, and he impulsively buys the rights to a noble prize-winning book, hires an award-winning art-house director, and the two greatest actors of this generation. Of course, when I say he does it impulsively, I mean he has his assistant do it.
I don’t even know where to begin. Phil Tippett, a genuine living legend, has been working on Mad God in some way, shape, or form for literal decades. Conceived in the 1980s, shelved in the 1990s, and resurrected in the 2010s with the help of Kickstarter, the release of this film is the culmination of untold hours of artistry and technical wizardry. It features the kind of stop motion animation and compositing that we haven’t seen the likes of in ages.
Also, it is disturbing, disgusting, and deranged, and I can’t tell if I mean that in a good way, even if I don’t exactly mean it in a bad way.
Time is a film that takes its time to show you its true character, and as such, you’ll work your way through many assumptions as you watch Ricky Ko’s debut feature. Is it a pastiche of 60s Hong Kong action flicks? A bucket list final hit taken by three ageing assassins? A Leon-style juxtaposition of caring for a young tearaway while killing? A heartfelt, even defeatist, look at the withering pain of old age? Truth is, it’s somehow all of those things, and how it brings all its story threads together is where the true joy of this film lies.
The 2021 Vancouver Film Festival is on now, and this is my sixth time covering it. Every year, there is a wide array of films to be seen, but one or two stand out. So this week in Home Video, here are five favourite films from past VIFFs!
How does one determine ones own worth? This is one of the questions at the heart of Benediction, Terrance Davies new biopic of English poet Sigfried Sassoon. Sassoon lived through the first world war, and as a commissioned officer, won himself the Military Cross for gallantry, but he opposed the war and wrote poems of the hell that was the trenches. This is just the start of the contradictions and the self loathing Davies portrays of his life, and the result is a heartbreaking look at a man who was never able to answer that question satisfactorily.
How do you deal with anything if no one will believe you. How do you proceed with life if everyone tells you that what you are experiencing is all in your head? This is the process of gaslighting, an abuser forcing someone to question their thoughts and beliefs.
From this place comes the film Knocking, in which a woman recovering from a devastating emotional trauma who is trying to re-enter society is forced by those around her to question her very reality. It’s a hell of a premise for a horror movie.
Greetings programs! Welcome to this weeks episode of the Awesome Friday Movie Podcast. Join us for 50 minutes this week as we discuss two titles that couldn’t be more different: Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales and Titane.
Imagine for a moment a dinner party. Four friends coming together after an absence to celebrate the purchase of a home and the beginnings of a new chapter in all their lives. This is the setting of Barbarians. It is a simple enough setup, and with the right characterisations and right narrative push, it’s the kind of setup that a compelling story can be told from, and Barbarians (mostly) pulls that off.