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VIFF 2009: Monday, Day 5, Anomie, Despair, Connection & Hope


Another day, another four movies. And so it goes.

First up today, though: for all of us iPhone users out there, the VIFF Fan Guide went up midday Monday, resplendent with an easy to surf and readable guide to the daily films on offer at the 28th annual VIFF.

Up late again on Monday, but still managed to get downtown by 11 a.m. to pick up four tickets for the day, the first film on tap ...

Lost Times (Grade: A-): The Hungarian Film Week top prize-winner, this slice-of-life relationship drama revolves around the lives of three protagonists, a troubled young auto mechanic, Ivan (Jozsef Kadas) who cares for his willful, autistic teenage sister, Eszter (Térez Vass, writer-director Aron Matyassy's wife), as he also tries to come to terms with his relationship with girlfriend, Ilus (Eszter Földes). A grippingly effective pastoral thriller (tension arises both from circumstances involved in Ivan's cross-border gas smuggling business, and the fallout from Eszter's sexual victimization). Still, narrative aside, the real reward offered by Matyassy's film — as is the case with all other worthwhile VIFF films — is the entirely authentic insight into the humanity and circumstance of the characters on the screen. First-rate filmmaking, due to screen for a final time later this week, on Thursday, October 8th @ 9 p.m., Empire Granville 7, Theatre 4.

Ran into journalist / blogger extraordinaire, Frances Bula, lining up at the Granville 7 box office. We couldn't help but 'molest' her (VanRamblings is just a tad smitten with the indefatigable Ms. Bula's very fine mind), but we trust she wasn't too offended. Then it was off for Frances, her beau Doug, and a weary VanRamblings to Granville 7's Theatre 4 for a screening of ...

Applause (Grade: B+): Cold, desolate, abandoned and alone. Here's yet another film that reinforces the operating theme of the Festival: wherever you live on our planet, no matter your circumstance or living condition, life is a struggle for every one of us, and just getting through each day has to be considered a triumph of our will just to survive. The narrative thrust of Applause involves imperious aging stage actress, Thea (Denmark's Paprika Steen, in an outstanding, gritty performance), who has set about to recover her life, following treatment for her alcoholism, by re-establishing ties with her two young sons. That all does not go well is a given. But it is the tenderness of each character portrayal on screen, and the chance for Thea's redemption that holds us in thrall. Played Monday for a final time.

The most salutary event of our filmgoing day occurred when, for the first time since Fest's outset last Thursday, we ran into Donna and Frank — who were not able to start their Festival-going til Monday due to work commitments — by far our favourite Festival attending couple lo these many, many years. Somehow, Donna and Frank manage to put up each year with VanRamblings prattling on about one film or another, ad nauseam it must seem to them (and those poor unfortunates listening in). Just knowing we'll see Donna and Frank each day til Fest's end is just downright heartening. The Vancouver Film Festival is all about, among myriad other things, relationships, camaraderie, and being in this thing together.

Once again, we also ran into David Bordwell, prominent American film theorist, film critic, author, and Professor of Film Studies, Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who travels to the VIFF each year, and who told VanRamblings he'll be in town thru week's end. Aaahhh, the life.

Following a dinner break (we took the bus home to make a homemade organic chicken caesar salad), we rode the bus to Nelson and Seymour, walked the two blocks to the Granville 7, and joined the line for ...

Kamui (Grade: B+): Japanese director Yoichi Sai's stirring adaptation of the 40 year old Manga sword-and-sorcery source material tells an epic tale of treachery and shark hunting pirates through the experience of Kamui, a lonesome young renegade ninja nomad who cannot find a place for himself in the world. Kamui, the film, comes replete with all of the techno-wizardry pyrotechnics you'd expect from a film of this sort, and from beginning to end Kamui is just a helluva good time, a tree-top and seaside ninja battling, saturated ocean vista Asian 'western' that satisfies throughout. Plays twice more this week, on Thursday, Oct. 8th @ 10:45 am, Gran7, Th7, and Saturday afternoon, Oct. 10th @ 2:30pm, Gran7, Theatres 3 + 4.

Somehow the inimitable J. B. Shayne and VanRamblings managed to stay out of trouble while we strolled the darkened downtown streets awaiting the beginning of our final film of this glorious filmgoing Monday ...

Breathless (Grade: B+): Surprisingly comic, and just about the most foul-mouthed movie you're likely to see this year, with its jazz-inflected trance score, this low rent Korean gangster flick, even given the gloss and stylized sheen brought to the proceedings by first-time director / South Korean screen star Yang Ik-june, Breathless still manages to explore the same sort of anomie that is to be found in the best VIFF flicks, with it's combination of melancholy and despair, tempered by just the slightest hint of hope. Plays for a final time this Friday, Oct. 9th @ 1:15 pm, Gran7, Th7.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 6, 2009 2:04 AM in VIFF 2009


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