FNC ’21 Review: ‘The White Fortress’ sets young love among a divided city

The White Fortress

Young love set against a backdrop of crime is a tale as old as time. In The White Fortress, the story is set in modern-day Sarajevo and follows a young man called Faruk (Pavle Čemerikić) as he navigates the current realities of growing up poor in the politically divided city.

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VIFF ’21 Interview: Lauren Grant on her directorial debut short film ‘Things We Feel But Do Not Say’

Things We Feel But Do Not Say

Lauren Grant is a prolific producer of Canadian film and television, having worked on the series Killjoys as well as the films Riot Girls, Sugar Daddy and The Retreat just in the last two years. This year she also makes her debut as a director with her original short film Things We Feel But Do Not Say, which premiered as part of the shorts program at VIFF 2021. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lauren on zoom to talk about the film.

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VIFF ’21 Wrap Up: Matthew joins Thomas from ForReel and Taylor from Drink in the Movies to talk festival favourites

2021 VIFF Wrap Up

Another edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival is come and gone, and it’s time to talk about the movies we loved. This year I once got to sit down with Thomas from ForReel Movie News & Reviews and Taylor from Drink in the Movies and since the border is open, and we’re all vaccinated, we got to do it in person! So join us as we each talk about our top three films from the fest.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Bootlegger’ is a gorgeously shot story of findings one’s place

Bootlegger

A young woman returns to her small, rural community and begins to effect change. It’s a setup as old as the movies themselves and one we love to return to because so much can be mined from this kind of setup. In Bootlegger, a young woman returns to the reserve she called home as a child and begins a campaign to open up the sale of alcohol, free the community from some amount of the oppression they face.

It’s a gorgeously shot and very Canadian story.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Petite Maman’ is a warm hug on a rainy day and one of the best films of the year

Petite Maman

While there is a myriad of ways to describe Petite Maman, the effect that it has on the viewer is one of a warm hug. It’s a ray of sunshine through the leaves of a forest on a rainy day. This is my way of saying that it is wonderful and you should watch it, regardless of what I am going to say in the following few paragraphs. Director Céline Sciamma has created another emotionally resonant film and a worthy follow up to Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Belfast’ is a crowd pleasing but personal film from Kenneth Branagh

BELFAST (2021)

The Troubles, as they are so politely referred to, have had an indelible impact on Northern Ireland and the people who live there. Yes, that is the understatement of the decade, but while we think about the 30-year conflict in very broad terms, generally, outside of that country, we often don’t think about the real human impact. Kenneth Branagh is one of those people, and with Belfast, he seeks to tell the story of his families well as part of the story of Northern Ireland at large.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Tin Can’ is a great example of doing a lot with limited resources

Tin Can

In the not too distant future, a global outbreak of a parasitic fungus is devastating humankind. Not content to merely kill you, it latches onto your body, sprouts growths and spores, and changes you into something else entirely. This is the world of Tin Can, one that is in many ways not unlike our own: a world with a raging pandemic, with some people who want to solve the problem and some content merely to avoid it.

As ever, the cinema of the age of COVID-19 speculates what a world might look like under similar circumstances to ours, and Tin Can takes a look at one of those dark futures.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Memoria’ is an experience

Memoria

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.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Flee’ harnesses the power of animation to give its true story a greater impact

Flee

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.

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VIFF ’21 Interview: Danis Goulet on her film ‘Night Raiders’

Danis Goulet / Night Raiders

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.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Paris, 13th District’ is a gorgeous, if slightly thin, look at how we deal with trauma

Paris, 13th District

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.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Official Competition’ is a savvy, hilarious satire

Official Competition

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.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Time’ uses narrative layers and black humour in a touching tale of old age

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.

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