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VIFF 2013: The Quality of Films Ramps Up in the 2nd Week

The exquisite Golshifteh Farahani, in The Patience Stone

Golshifteh Farahani, in The Patience Stone, one of VanRamblings' very favourite VIFF films

"What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." — Murial Rukeyser, American feminist poet

VanRamblings discovers another 'knocked it out of the park' film

The Patience Stone (Grade: A+). The film at the 32nd annual Vancouver International Film Festival with the strongest buzz, a profound truth-telling cinematic experience, a film that travels deeper inside the experience of women than any film in recent years — with an exquisite screenplay, and a performance of astonishing and searing impact from an exquisite Golshifteh Farahani, who is in virtually every scene of the film — The Patience Stone has catapulted into the first rank of feature films screening at VIFF 2013.

Sensual, horrifying and mesmerizing all at once, The Patience Stone is set in a war-torn Afghanistan village, the story centered around an unnamed attractive young woman (the fine Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani) who, as the story opens, is caring for her wounded, much older husband, also unnamed (Hamidrez Javdan), an immobilized Mujahedeen fighter with a bullet in his neck. The narrative's eloquent, existential simplicity sets the stage for an unfolding story of a woman's life, the notion of the universality of women's oppression central to the film's impact, the film's compelling, revelatory exposition presented in whispered fears, as long-nurtured resentments, and broken sobs punctuated by intermittent cries of alarm.

Transporting, sad-eyed, straight-talking, painstakingly shot, offering an authentic story of a woman's life, The Patience Stone emerges as a visceral yet transcendently poetic cinematic experience, progressive, quiet, evocative, anguished, forlorn, impossible to forget, and transformative, as fine a film as you'll see this or any other year, and a must-see at VIFF 2013.

The Patience Stone screens again Tues., Oct. 8th, 4pm at The Playhouse.

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The two best Latin American films at VIFF, one of which we wrote about this Monday past (and will present again below), and one of which we screened on Thursday, represent two, not-to-be-missed, must-see VIFF 2013 films.

La jaula de oro, one of VIFF 2013's best films

La jaula de oro (Grade: A-): Humanist filmmaking of the first order, the best Latin American émigré drama to play at the Vancouver International Film Festival in several years, directory Diego Quemada-Diez's powerful, absorbing and suspenseful drama about four teenagers on their 3800km journey from Guatemala to the U.S. border by train offers impactful, seat-of-your-pants viewing as the foursome experience cruelty and violence at almost every turn in a series of brutal encounters with corrupt cops, ruthless bandits, kidnappers, and sharpshooting U.S. border guards. Not an easy sit, but gripping and unforgettable, with touching characters at film's centre. Screens today (Thursday, October 3rd), 9pm at the Rio Theatre, and again on Friday, October 5th, 1pm, at Cineplex International Village, Cinema 9.

Field of Amapolis, at VIFF 2013

Field of Amapolas (Grade: A): In pre-revolutionary states it is always working people who suffer, caught in the divide between the state and guerrilla forces. When accused of collaborating with the enemy in the ongoing guerilla war in Colombia, itinerant farmer Emilio, along with his nine-year-old son Simon, are exiled by rebels and find refuge in the home of a relative. Struggling economically in their new life, Emilio is forced to take work in the illegal poppy fields belonging to a local drug lord. With an atmosphere infused with, and made dense by, the omnipresent shadow of violence and death. With gorgeous cinematography, affective, authentic and moving performances throughout, employing a gritty, at times traditionally Latin American magical realist narrative and visual construct, Field of Amapolis has emerged as one of VIFF 2013's strongest, most accomplished narrative features. Screens for a final time next Tuesday, October 8th, 7pm, at the Rio Theatre.

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Arising from high audience demand for tickets (arising in part as well, perhaps, from VanRamblings' continuing rave coverage of these films), the good folks at the Vancouver film festival have scheduled additional screenings of VanRamblings' favourite feature, The Great Passage, and our favourite documentary, Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia. See below for info on screening times for both of these very fine VIFF films.

Here's a précis of what we had to say about Ishii Yuya's new film ...

A masterwork from acclaimed Japanese director Ishii Yuya, as accomplished and moving a film as you'll see this year, The Great Passage, Yuya's gently old-fashioned romantic comedy and workplace dramedy offers random bits of loveliness throughout, in the story of Mitsuya — a lexicographer hired to research for The Great Passage, a new 'living language' dictionary planned by a Tokyo publisher — and his landlady's granddaughter, Kaguya, his affection for her unbound.

The whimsical screenplay, tremendously engaging performances, the movie's beguiling character arcs, warmly lambent cinematography, painterly shot composition, gently seductive pacing, and transcendently well-executed direction, makes Yuya's follow-up to his winning VIFF 2011 entry, Mitsuko Delivers — one of VanRamblings' favourite films that year — all the more welcome, extraordinary, profound and rewarding an artistic and cinematic accomplishment. A+. Not to be missed. A must-see. Two remaining VIFF screenings, an added screening this Saturday morning. October 5th, 11:30 am, at The Cinematheque, and two days later, on Sunday, October 6th, 2pm, at The Cinematheque.

And, here's a little something on Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia:

Despairing, melancholy, screamingly funny at times, and filled with more wit and perspicacity than any film you'll see this year, here's the best non-fiction film to play at VIFF 2013, a doc that is not-to-be-missed. Quite simply, director Nicholas Wrathall, while offering a profound and immensely witty historical document on the nature of the 21st century state, has outdone himself.

In this open-minded memorial to one of 20th-century's most original — and brilliantly curmudgeonly — thinkers, The United States of Amnesia captures Gore Vidal in all of his agent provocateur glory, chronicling a plethora of witty epigrams, social injustices, institutional manipulation, political corruptions, and the late 20th century slide into the wholesale adoption of a neoliberal economic agenda, which sees our wages and our taxes moving upwards and away from us, and into the hands of the economic elite. VanRamblings is awarding an A+, and considers Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia another must-see, not-to-be missed film at VIFF 2013. Screens three more times, today (Oct. 3rd), 1:15 pm, at The Cinematheque; again on Tues., Oct 8th, at 9pm, at The Cinematheque; and, at an added screening, on Friday, October 11th at 4:45pm, once again at The Cinematheque.

You'll want to purchase your tickets for these VIFF films as soon as possible, cuz ticket sales for each screening is brisk.

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We'll leave you today with the following video, which we shot following a VIFF screening at SFU Woodwards' Goldcorp Theatre, the video shot in an alcove (where we could get out of the rain) in the alley way in behind the complex, the video VanRamblings' "artistic contribution" to VIFF 2013.

VanRamblings' programme schedule continues to change each day, mostly of late arising from buzz from folks in line, or VIFF cinephiles who are quite as enthusiastic as we are about screening the very best that VIFF has to offer in 2013. It's almost as if, for 16 days, we're cinema junkies.

Note: Following several hours of arduous work, when publishing Part 2 of our weekend guide, all of our work was lost, disappearing into the ether. So, unfortunately, there'll be no Part 2, a Sunday guide to VIFF films.

For those expecting our long promised Apple iOS post, we've decided to hold off on that post til either next week, or post-Festival. C'mon back tomorrow, though, for our regular fine Sunday post.



Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 3, 2013 2:15 AM in VIFF 2013

   

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