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Day Six: Not Exactly Film Festival Weather ... Oh Well ...


As of this morning, VanRamblings has added a further dozen reviews to our thrived and became an institution over the years, bringing the grand total of films reviewed to date to 130, with more than 160 reviews of VIFF films available. Included in today’s update, you’ll find new reviews for L’Amant, Czech Dream, Elles Etaient Cinq, and Quiet as a Mouse, as well as supplementary reviews for a half dozen other films. A dozen new reviews by The Georgia Straight’s Ken Eisner are now available in the Festival Review Guide, as well.

The Vancouver Film Festival Provides a ‘Window on the World’


Here we are into Day 6 of the Vancouver Film Festival, and the sun continues to shine down on us, daytime temperatures unseasonably high at 23�C (75� F) — hardly the rain-soaked Festival weather we’ve come to expect each year at the end of September. Throughout the first three weeks of the month, the weather was so miserable and rainy in Vancouver that it seems a pity to have to lock oneself away inside a darkened theatre for much of the day. Such, though, are the sacrifices that must be made by the inveterate Film Festival aficionado ... a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

Still recovering from the slings and arrows of poor fortune, as reported in the previous daily update, VanRamblings did manage to attend two Festival screenings on Monday (in pain and standing at the back of the theatre).


Essentially a travelogue, director Jia Zhangke’s major achievement with The World revolves around his ability to provide an anthropological insight into contemporary Beijing: the polluted and leaden grey skies of China’s largest city, the lack of protection for workers in the city’s booming construction industry, and the apolitical and consumerist orientation of the mostly ‘emigrant’ young population. There is none-too-subtle irony, either, that the film is set in the Disney-esque ‘World Park’ — which offers a scaled-downed version of London, Paris, Cairo and other world centres — that, it seems quite obvious, the oppressed workers employed at the park will never get the chance to see. Pretty much bereft of narrative and psychological insight into the characters we meet over the two-plus hour running time of the film, there’s no question that The World is powerful filmmaking, but given its lack of identifiable characters to carry a story forward, VanRamblings awards The World 2� stars.


Dead Man’s Shoes is quite another kettle of fish than The World. Stark, psychologically intriguing, violent verging on the grotesque, the film offers a Tarantino-like character study, the narrative almost entirely concerned with vengeful reckoning and character disintegration. Not for the faint of the heart, Dead Man’s Shoes — a Film Four production — is the sort of film you might see on HBO stateside, a propulsive 81-minute genre film that engages almost entirely from beginning to end. Another example of a film you’re unlikely to see released commercially in North America, Dead Man’s Shoes qualifies as near perfect, and gritty, Festival film fare. 4 stars.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 28, 2004 1:30 PM in VIFF 2004


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