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VIFF 2009: Winding Down, But Festival Still Going Strong


Four more films to see on Wednesday, the second-to-last full day of the 28th annual Vancouver International Film Festival.

Arrived early for the passholder's line-up, just before 9:30 a.m., and stood in line to make sure that VanRamblings secured a pass to ...

An Education (Grade: A-): Quite as heartbreakingly lovely, and transporting, as it's been reported to be, with an even lovelier ingenue performance from 'find of the year' actress, standout performer and certain Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan, in addition to Ms. Mulligan's breakout performance, the whole cast acquit themselves well, particularly Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Cara Seymour and Olivia Williams, although Dominic Cooper, Peter Sargaard, Sally Hawkins and Emma Thompson are hardly pikers. Really, first-rate Oscar bait entertainment, and a VIFF must-see.

Next, we trucked on up to Pacific Cinémathèque, on Howe Street, to see ...

Empire State Building Murders (Grade:C+): French director William Karel and co-writer Jerome Charyn have crafted a film in which they've remixed classic noir genre footage from the '30s, '40s and '50s and edited them to tell an 'original story'. Essentially, in the viewing, a piffle and much too clever for it's own good, the movie's central conceit revolves around the 'real life' retelling of a series of murders that occurred within the Empire State Building. James Cagney is the central star of yesteryear, but given that he's been dead for a few years, actors Ben Gazarra and Anne Jeffries carry the storytelling weight. Clever, yes. Entertaining? Not so much.

Back to the Granville 7, on a rain-drenched Wednesday, Day 14, to see ...

A RAIN-DRENCHED DAY 14 AT THE 28TH ANNUAL VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL A rain-drenched Day 14 of the 28th annual Vancouver International Film Festival

The next film, introduced by writer-director, Alix de Maistre, herself ...

For a Son (Grade: B+): Sort of a Gallic take on Clint Eastwood's The Changeling, Alix de Maistre's For a Son is teeming with atmosphere and dark, brooding tension, as the psychodrama ratches up the stakes: is 'Tony' (Kevin Lelannier), the young man who presents himself as Catherine's (Miou-Miou) long lost son, in fact her long missing son, or will the detective who originally conducted the missing child investigation, Omer (a very effective Olivier Gourmet) find that 'Tony' is a fraud? Abounding with outstanding, natural performances, and first-rate camera work, the audience in attendance at Granville 7 was pleased they caught this VIFF film.

After a fine, natural organic dinner at Nuba, Mr. Know-It-All and 'Showbiz' Shayne took the bus (it was pouring outside) five blocks back to the Empire Granville 7 cinema for our final VIFF 2009 screening of the day ...

John Rabe (Grade: A): A challenging, but rewarding, way to end an inclement Day 14 of the Festival occurred with the screening of writer-director Florian Gallenberger's much acclaimed, award-winning epic drama, a moving, historically accurate and effective re-telling of the 1937 Rape of Nanking, when an invading Japanese army massacred more than 300,000 residents of Nanking, China over a six-week period. With a narrative rooted in the real John Rabe's personal journal, and with breakthrough performances from the whole cast — including Bavarian Best Actor winner Ulrich Tukur, Daniel Brühl (recently seen in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds), Zhang Jingchu (recently seen, and impressive, in the lead role in Night and Fog, which screened early at VIFF 2009), among others — given that John Rabe is Germany's Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee this year, you're likely to see Gallenberger's very fine film on an art screen near you soon, when you'll want to ensure you take in a screening. A VIFF must-see.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 15, 2009 1:33 AM in VIFF 2009


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