So Many Titles, So Many Stories To Choose. VIFF Movie Reviews
Updated: Oct 18
With this year's Vancouver International Film Festival going online this year and with a few select in-house showings -such as the winner for Best BC Film Karen Lams The Curse of Willow Song this past Saturday night it had its world premiere at The Cinemateque.
Photo credit -Tallu Lah--left to right--Elfina Luk- Valerie Tian- Karen Lam- Ingrid Nilson
(The Curse of Willow Song)
Some movies are finding their audience online this year and that is great for some like "An Inconvenient Indian" which was sold out prior to the festival starting.
I have been told that there will be other festivals that it will be in this year and seeing that everything is going online for the foreseeable future, it should be available for later viewing.
(still from An Inconvenient Indian)
Canada 2020 90 mins
DIRECTOR- Helen Shaver
CAST: Clark Backo, Mary Walsh, Sheila McCarthy, Marie-Ève Perron, Liisa Repo-Martell, Tara Rosling, Pamela Mala Sinha
Actress/Director Helen Shaver makes her first narrative piece and she does a great job of delivering the goods here. An adaptation of the theatrical play by Pamela Mala Sinha, A young woman Samira(Clark Backo) tries to end her life after she is raped in her new apartment only a few hours after moving in. She is taken to an in-patient care facility, the subject matter is never easy to discuss or watch when it is a story of such pain that marks a person for life with PTSD, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm.
Director- Helen Shaver
A few of the women become close and gain trust within each other over time and it is a story of survival for each of the women that are in the story and strong performances from everyone in the film. I think it helps to have such an accomplished actress/director behind the camera can bring authenticity and performance from her actors.
DIRECTOR--Viggo Mortensen UK/Canada 112 min 2020
Lance Henriksen, Viggo Mortensen, Terry Chen, Sverrir Gudnason, Hannah Gross, Gabby Velis, Laura Linney, Bracken Burns
Falling is one story that is written, directed, and starring Viggo Mortensen, most notably known for his role as Aragorn in the Lord of The Rings Trilogy.
Here is a personal story of his upbringing as a child(in flashbacks) and in the current day as a man who is dealing with his father's dementia. Viggo plays John who is gay and living with his boyfriend, which doesn't help matters when his homophobic father comes to visit and makes things really difficult and awkward for everyone. Lance Henriksen has always been one of my favorite actors since I first saw him in Near Dark(Kathryn Bigelow). Here he is on top of his game and his performance is Oscar-worthy and once again he plays a tough as nails character as Willis the father to both John and his sister Sarah who is played wonderfully (as usual)by Laura Linney.
Other than the well-cast film and the strong performances there is nothing new here, but the flow does work well. The actors seem very comfortable in tight shots with each other and some really difficult scenes I am sure as well. Viggo lets the camera stay focused on the actor(s) there is not a lot of cinematic magic here, instead, he allows the camera to sit in the room and eavesdrop on the conversation and that's needed in a drama, instead of getting that cinematic moment.
After all, he is an actor first and this is his first feature film as a director.
DIRECTOR- Philippe Falardeau Canada/Ireland 101 mins 2020
Margaret Qualley, Sigourney Weaver, Douglas Booth, Seána Kerslake, Brían F.O’Byrne
Having read the synopsis of the film and seeing the trailer I was quite excited to see this film, eagerly waiting for the same excitement that I might have had if I were lucky enough to sit at the desk where she sat doing what she did. Instead what happens was an uninteresting lead for our story and also a very dull performance by just about everyone in the film. This opened this year's Berlin Film Festival and after my viewing, I went and read some of the reviews and I agree with almost every one of them.
Joanna(Margaret Qualley) has a dream job for she is working for the literary agent for J.D. Salinger(Catcher In The Rye)and even if she wasn't working for that particular writer--one would think she would be more excited to be there. Instead, she is a dull and drab character that does nothing to engage the audience or even her lame attempts at reading Mr. Salinger's fan mail, in which she has been told to destroy afterward--he doesn't like to read it after all.
Sigourney Weaver can only do so much for the film before you realize that there is no saving here, just watch as the ship sinks to the bottom. She is basically just called upon here for her star power and kind of reprise her role in Working Girl--a far better film. Joanna admitting to her boyfriend that she has never read any of Mr. Salinger's work, goes ahead and helps herself to copies from the office and puts them in her purse. The lack of enjoyment behind the work just left me feeling disappointed from the very beginning. The biggest dud I have seen this year.
DIRECTOR Zoltán Nagy Hungary 80 mins 2019
Erik Major, Gábor Máté, Lulu Bognár, Dorottya Antóci, Benjámin Lengyel, Judit Schell
This film delivers on all cylinders On The Quiet is a term used by the conductor of the orchestra as the way he/she wants their group of musicians to start the piece on.
The film is of something different and yet the same, it is about a conductor who has overstepped his bounds with one of his students, and from the moment it happens they take a different approach to the subject matter. As with any circumstance such as this, there are many different roles that the community plays in regard to the situation.
We are never really a part of anything that happens, rather the young woman Nóri (Lulu Bognár) has some concerns and questions if the lessons she is being given the same for everyone.
She confides in one of her classmates and this then ensures her trust with him Dávid (Erik Major), but I was not certain if he had her back on it. That was until he loaned her his phone to record a conversation when she said that their instructor Frigyes (Gábor Máté) had invited her to his room.
The focus of the eyes is what really helps move the story along, there is no overdramatic scenes or yelling but rather a tension that builds over the course of one of the shorter films of the festival.
I enjoyed how the camera often just focused on the faces of the actors, really going back to the theater almost when the eyes help a performer on the stage get their emotions across to the audience member at the back of the theater.
This is such a good character piece but also a lesson to other directors and writers that more often than not, less is more. Let the actors do their work and the rest will come together--Bravo!
DIRECTOR-Cho Kyung-hun South Korea 85 min 2020
Animated--Korean with English subtitles
Moon Nam-sook, Jang Min-hyuk, Cho Hyun-jung, Kim Bo-young
A wild thing has been invented water that can help you look the way that you have always wanted to look like, feeling low because you ate too much, or are you slightly overweight? Don't worry "Beauty Water" can help you with that and much more.
Body shaming has been constant in our society, be you thin or heavy there is always someone who thinks you look unhealthy, even when you are doing your best to do what you can for you.
Yae-ji is our lead character(above) and because she is a larger young woman she has a hard time with many things, first is her self confidence and she is often bullied and teased.
She is sent a text one day for the product and she questions the reality of it and after a few weeks of locking herself in her room, a package arrives.
So you have to soak your face for 20 minutes in the mix of the Beauty Water and some water from the tap and then you can alter the look of your face to suit your wants.
Once she becomes used to her face and with some help from the supplier she has of the Beauty Water they are able to make Yae-ji look different, see the image above.
This is not a tale that one could not tell with real actors and they chose the best way to tell a simple story that soon becomes hell for her and those around her.
Now that she has bought enough product to bath in and has now become obseseed with her appearance she is now going to use it to get rid of her excess weight--the difference can be seen in the image above.
Things become darker as she is now totally obsessed with herself and her looks, everyone is secondary to her, she is popular and no one is as improtant as she is now. She even has it out with the woman who initially had been helping her-they get into a fight where only one of them are coming out of.
Because of the image she has now become and has no connection to who she was before--there are things that only kharma can teach you and sometimes that is always waiting around the corner from where you least expect it. One of the better animated films I have seen in a while.
The film title is Fucking Idiots (No poster, trailer available)
DIRECTOR-David Milchard Canada 2019 87 Mins
Christina Sicoli, Ben Cotton, Stephen Lobo, Sara Canning
Mike(Ben Cotton-right) & Sara (Christina Sicoli) have it bad, so bad in fact that they keep calling themselves and each other "Fucking Idiots", because they are royal fuck ups and fucking idiots.
They are constantly bickering, at least that's what they want their friend Paul (Stephen Lobo) to think.
They have planned to discuss something with him and even though some confusion as to why they are really there Paul really questions their sanity and they should both seek help.
After they take their sweet time to finally spill the beans , Paul misunderstands a part of the conversation where he thought they were asking him to be in a threesome with them. They quickly tell him the real reason.
With speedy dialogue almost like David Mamet and the comic directing of Billy Wilder this film quickly picks up speed and delivers a lot of good fun for the audience to enjoy. These are the kind of films that one wishes they could see in the theater with an audience and enjoy it that much more.
Maybe we can get back there for next years festival.
One of the better films this year. I believe the title will be changed when the film is picked up by a distributor.
DIRECTOR-Yoon Dan-bi South Korea 2019 105 mins
Korean with English subtitles
Choi Jung-un, Yang Heung-ju, Park Hyeon-yeong, Park Seung-jun, Kim Sang-dong
Okju and her little brother Dong-ju parents are divorcing the two are moving out with their father and they are moving in with their grandfather.
This is a wonderful story about family and the simple complexity of the family unit and it can often get blurred for the children during that time, I know it was for me and my siblings, so I can relate to some of the issues the family is going through here.
The children's aunt is also moving in with the family, the story is really about the kids and their way of dealing with the changes in their lives. I really appreciated how this film had the actors working within the frame of the lens on this one, very strongly written film and gently deals with some issues in such a way that I have not seen before. Their grandfather passes and the tears that are shed by Park Hyun-young as the aunt are some of the most heartfelt tears and performance of someone passing. Her energy in the entire film is wonderful and she is one I will be keeping eye out for in future.
Throughout the film, I kept thinking about how grateful I am for my bed as they were all sleeping directly on the floor.