The Vancouver International Film Festival's particular mix of glamour and discovery merge each year during the much-looked-forward-to 16 day festival, attracting hundreds of film people and the glitterati to the Opening Gala party, while at the same time screening 219 feature films from 70 countries, including as many as 20 of the 75 submissions for the foreign language Academy Award, and 140 short and medium length films. Last year more than 150,000 people attended VIFF, making it one of the top film festivals for attendance in the country. From the end of September through until mid-October each year, VIFF is simply the place to be, a cultural must.
Today VanRamblings continues our cinematic investigation of films we think you should place on your VIFF must-see list ...
Julieta. Perhaps lesser Almodóvar, but even lesser Almodóvar is far superior to what you'll see onscreen at your local multiplex throughout most of the year. Pedro Almodóvar is 66, his latest film reflective of the darker themes that increasingly bedevil us as we age. Not light and airy Almodóvar. but not over-serious Almodóvar, either. Even given all the foofaraw, Screen Daily's Chief Film Critic Fionnuala Halligan finds much to recommend ...
"Pedro Almodóvar's 20th feature is a tantalising creature full of hints and omens, a Hitchcockian drama, the story one of loss and grief, this adaptation of three short stories by Canadian writer Alice Munro carefully stitched together into an elusive film, Alberto Iglesias' humming contrapuntal score contributing much to a story given over to sorrow, the film a sad, grieving counterpart to the brazen antics of Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, where the possibility of hope still entices."
Says Rory O'Connor in Filmstage, "Riffing on Spanish telenovelas, Hitchcock, and film noir, Almodóvar has put together an undeniably gorgeous bauble with a simple sort of story that nestles in somewhere between the high and lowbrow. Ugarte and Suárez might have made for great Hitchcock heroines. They certainly make great chicas for Almodóvar."
br>That's the beauteous Adriana Ugarte above, beseeching you to take in a screening of Julieta.
Paterson. The buzz out of Cannes for writer-director Jim Jarmusch's newest film was through the roof, critics referring to the film's restrained aesthetic and Adam Driver's sublime, understated performance (with much talk of Adam Driver garnering a Best Actor Oscar nod come January 24th 2017) rendering it the director's most recognizably human and poignant film to date. Says Jessica Kiang in her review in The Playlist ...
"Jim Jarmusch's Paterson is like a balm to soothe your aching limbs, quell your clamoring mind and restore your tired spirit. An unfeasibly charming film full of little wisdoms and quiet comforts where we might expect to find provocations, its only deception is that it is so much richer than it seems at first glance. Most cinephiles are well acquainted with Jarmusch-ian minimalism, and the trick of reading more into his droll silences and laconic pauses than exists up on the screen. But, even aside from a difference in tone which favours sincerity over irony, and warmth over cleverness, this is something else: this is miniaturism. Paterson is a tiny little film, sharp in every detail, but minuscule, like a portrait on a grain of rice. And sometimes the smaller you go, the more colossal your impact, which means Paterson might just be Jim Jarmusch's God Particle."
Or, how about John Bleasdale's over-the-moon review in Cine-Vue ...
"No ideas but in things" wrote William Carlos Williams, the patron saint of Jim Jarmusch's sumptuous sonnet to poetry and ordinariness, Paterson. The film presents us with a week in the life of bus driver and lunchtime poet Paterson (Adam Driver). In many way, Paterson's life is idyllic. He is deeply, almost boyishly in love with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani); his work, given he's a bus driver, is remarkably stress-free and gives him plenty of time to think. Like Frank O'Hara, he writes his poetry in his breaks and before his shift. Sure enough we glimpse O'Hara's Lunch Poems anthology in the driver's cab.
There's a shot of Paterson holding a book of William Carlos Williams' poetry which is so sensual and tactile — the heft of the book in the hand, the feel of the paper cover — it will make any lover of books toss their e-readers in the bin. Drama does show up, but Jarmusch wisely sidesteps it. Marvin the bulldog is as bad an enemy as Paterson has to face and he's adorable."
One of the can't miss films at VIFF this year, and another must-see.
After The Storm. From the VIFF programme guide, "Over the years, VIFF has been proud to bring present the work of Kore-eda Hirokazu. Festival favourites like I Wish (VIFF '11) and Like Father, Like Son (VIFF '13) have touched audiences with their warmth and tenderness, their keen understanding of the way families come together and come apart. This year the Japanese master returns with this bittersweet take on life's rewards and disappointments. From Deborah Young's Hollywood Reporter review ...
"The story is beautifully balanced between gentle comedy and the melancholy reality of how people really are. A young divorced dad tries to get back into the good graces of his ex-wife and son in After the Storm, a classic Japanese family drama of gentle persuasion and staggering simplicity from Kore-eda Hirokazu. This bittersweet peek into the human comedy has a more subtle charm than flashier films like the director's child-swapping fable Like Father, Like Son, but the filmmaking is so exquisite and the acting so calibrated it stays with you."
No-one goes into a Kore-eda Hirokazu film expecting dynamite and runaway trucks. But even long-standing fans of the Japanese filmmaker (and in Vancouver, there are many) may be taken aback by the supreme subtlety of his latest, achingly beautiful ode to the quiet complexities of family life.
The Unknown Girl. Palme d'Or winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne can do no wrong, their films always subtle and compassionate evocations of the human spirit. From Guy Lodge's review in Variety, "Adèle Haenel joins the rich tradition of superb lead performances in Dardennes-directed dramas, their tenth feature The Unknown Girl offering a film noir, in a thoroughly dressed-down, cleanly lit and most satisfying way."
Or, from Lee Marshall's review in Screen Daily ...
"Haenel's character Jenny looks like a lost little girl at times, but her medical bravura is never in doubt. We first see her with her stethoscope to a patient's back — one of many scenes that manages to stay grounded in realism while saying something more, here to do with the way we interpret the signals people send out. Jenny is tormented by the thought that if she had opened that door to the young African immigrant who had visited her clinic late one night, the girl would still be alive, and it's this torment that powers the dramatic motor of a film that is about the burdens but also the healing potential of responsibility.
The Unknown Girl doesn't take the easy genre route, preferring to focus on the moral spring of Jenny's guilt, which as it uncoils, leads her not only into personal danger, but causes a blur between her doctor and detective roles that comes close to having fatal consequences."
Phew! Well, that's it for today. Four more VIFF films for you to consider.
VanRamblings has now previewed 24 acclaimed VIFF films that are about to arrive on our shores having garnered critical acclaim at film festivals in every far flung community across the globe. Previous VanRamblings' VIFF 2016 columns, very much like the one today, may be found here.
Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 25, 2016 12:11 AM in VIFF 2016