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VIFF 2009: A Comme Çi, Comme Ça Tuesday at the Festival


Wandered down the street to catch the bus, and then on downtown to the Granville 7 to catch a 2:10 pm screening of the Turkish film Pandora's Box or, perhaps, a 3:30 pm screening of Forbidden Door, from Indonesia, although VanRamblings couldn't necessarily decide on either, so we ended up asking for tickets for both (a tried-and-true film critic ploy to 'play the field' at film fests), and thus we hunkered down in the Granville 7 for ...

Pandora's Box (Grade: B-): There's a 'paint drying' quality to director Yesim Ustaoglu's Golden Conch winner at the San Sebastian Film Festival, as well as a gorgeous travelogue quality as cinematographer Jacques Besse takes the viewer on a lush journey through the Turkish countryside, and into the heart of modern-day Istanbul. Pandora's Box is a pleasant enough way to spend a Festival Tuesday afternoon, but given that we were unthrilled, we cut out early to join Shayne for a 3:30 p.m. screening of ...

Forbidden Door (Grade: C): No sooner had VanRamblings snuck out early from the screening of Pandora's Box, and into Theatre 3 for a screening of Forbidden Door, than we realized that entering the cinema to see Forbidden Door was akin to entering the third level of hell. We stayed for, oh say, a whole 5 minutes, and headed out to the Starbucks for a mid-afternoon snack. Mr. Shayne, who somehow stuck it out to watch the Best of Puchon Festival winner gave us this report: "Dramatically incoherent, ambitious (but to what end?), excruciatingly bloody and violent, with one of the most gruesome, most pointless, most viscera-filled final scenes in any movie I would never care to see again." Mr. Shayne, tell us how you really feel.

Not a particularly salutary afternoon at the Festival, all things considered. Would Mr. Shayne and VanRamblings fare better in the evening?

Around 4:30 p.m., VanRamblings got in line for an evening ticket for R. J. Cutler's well-reviewed new documentary, The September Issue. We already had our ticket for the 9:15 screening of Mother, snagged earlier in the day.

Upon entering the theatre, VanRamblings was very pleased to see the beauteous, tough, strong, talented, feminist / leftist / progressive, Alejandra Aguirre (our favourite Vancouver-based photographer). Ali even managed to take a better-than-decent photo (below) of Mr. Shayne and VanRamblings, a heretofore unheard of artistic feat ...

j-b-shayne-and-ray-tomlin-at-the-festival-oct-6-09.jpg 'Showbiz' Shayne & 'Mr. Know-It-All' / VanRamblings (Ray Tomlin) at the Fest

While Ali was across the aisle from J. B. and VanRamblings, who should be sitting in the left aisle seats directly behind us? Yes, our favourite Film Fest attending couple, Donna and Frank (sorry for the blurry photo). So, here we were, in a packed theatre, rarin' and ready for the 7 pm screening of ...

The September Issue (Grade: B+): Not exactly The War Room, director R J Cutler's stunningly produced documentary covering the Clinton run to the White House in 1992, The September Issue is — with its core message of "it's not how you feel, it's how you look" — an energetic, always involving and surprisingly moving portrait of Vogue editor / dominatrix Anna Wintour who, along with a winning 'supporting cast' (most particularly, longtime Vogue Features Editor, Grace Coddington) emerges as the feel-good flick of the 2009 Festival, insightful, enchanting and always compellingly watchable.

And, for our final film on a lustrously beautiful Tuesday at the film festival ...

Mother (Grade: A): Just your average, run-of-the-mill Korean psychosexual thriller, replete with blood and violence, taboo schoolgirl imagery, raucous consensual sex involving a very young girl, and a mother who will go to any ends to rescue her son from the clutches of the judicial system, including ... well, that would be giving it away, wouldn't it? The most audacious film of the year, from director Bong Joon-ho (The Host), Mother offers a taut tale of murder and suspense that moves slowly in its first half, and in its second half grabs you by the lapels, throws you around, and just doesn't let go. Plays again on Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 12th @ 1:20 pm, Gran7, Th7.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 7, 2009 4:48 AM in VIFF 2009


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