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VIFF2006: Mid-Festival Break, But Still Lots to Report


While the inimitable Mr. Shayne keeps up the furious pace of four to five films a day, VanRamblings is taking a mid-Festival break, both to recover from too many late nights (and early morning hours at work the next day), and to focus on said aforementioned work, which has somehow been put to the side just a wee bit more than VanRamblings' employers might prefer.

Just a couple of observations, then, and back to work with us.

First off, the Georgia Straight's 2nd Film Festival review roundup came out today, and critics Mark Harris and Ken Eisner recommend ...

Congorama (Belgium, Canada and France): Mark Harris describes Congorama as "independent filmmaking at its concise best," while Jason Anderson, writing in Eye Weekly during the Toronto Film Festival, describes the film as "eccentrically endearing," giving it three stars. Meanwhile, Variety's Justin Cheng seems a bit more iffy, although the only way you'll know for sure is if you attend a screening of Philippe Falardeau's film.

La Coupure (Canada): "Dark, gruelling, and extremely convincing," says Georgia Straight film critic / UBC professor, Mark Harris. Adam Nayman, writing in Eye Weekly, gives the film 3 stars, saying "To call La Coupure an “incest drama” would be terribly reductive — it’s intense but never lurid, utilizing up close and personal camerawork to pare its provocative subject down to recognizably human dimensions." Meanwhile, Film Freak's Bill Chambers just hates the film. Again, only you can be the judge.

The Elementary Particles (Germany): Whatever happened to Run Lola Run's Franka Potente? To find out, you'll have to attend a screening of The Elementary Particles, for which both Variety magazine and the BBC would seem to have a great deal of affection. Meanwhile, the Straight's Ken Eisner has this to say: "A funny, tender, sexy, and overheated adaptation of a controversial late-’90s French novel." Now, there you go: a "keeper."

And there are even more films which Harris and Eisner (and others) review:

Falkenberg Farewell (Sweden): Eisner says, "a quietly profound meditation on the mysteries of male friendship," while Variety's Gunnar Rehlen is genuinely enthusiastic, writing "A coming-of-ager made with no money but plenty of heart and cinematic smarts, first-time writer-helmer Jesper Ganslandt's Falkenberg Farewell is by turns funny, tragic and nostalgic." Meanwhile, Eye Weekly's Adam Nayman ain't so enthused.

The Young Lieutenant (France): While very tough Variety critic Leslie Felperin (who has a reputation of savaging films others love) writes, "The Young Lieutenant seems so determined to reproduce the drudgery of police work, it's boring for the first hour, and only marginally more exciting for the second .. inert and deliberately unaffecting." (Yikes!), the Straight's Mark Harris describes the film as "Taut, brooding, and very fine indeed." The New York Times' generally credible Monohla Dargis calls the film ""a tough, satisfying ... austere drama of the sort that rarely makes it to American screens ... embracing the spectrum of human drama and comedy."

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All of the above is meant to say, only you can be the true judge of a film.

One of the more salutary aspects of attending the Vancouver Film Festival occurs when you step inside a theatre not knowing the first thing about the film, and find yourself overwhelmed with the film's beauty and its message (as occurred with us last year at an impromptu screening of Ballet Russes). Choose films, attend the Festival, and allow a sense of discovery to wash over you. In most cases, the effect will prove to be more than transporting.

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On the paparazzi front, last evening we spotted Abraham Benrubi, a longtime stalwart on NBC's E.R., in town to film Anne Heche's ABC television series Men In Trees, on which he plays Ben. Being completely bereft of social skills (or good sense for that matter), VanRamblings proceeded to accost Mr. Benrubi (and his attractive female companion), asking "You do know that there's a film festival going on in Vancouver now? You're going to attend, aren't you", this blurted out more like a demanding declarative statement than a question. The reply: "Yes sir, I am."

All's well that ends well, one supposes. Even so, VanRamblings will be spending a lot of time with our therapist this next week (attending films at the Film Festival, of course — what else could you have been thinking?).

Before our next paparazzi accosting, Festival Director Alan Franey came over to shake our hand (which he may not have done, had he known about our bad behaviour with Mr. Benrubi), asking, "Enjoying the Festival?" Mr. Shayne and VanRamblings blushed an appreciative, "Yes." Aaahhh ...

Next, while we were in an accosting mood, we sauntered over (okay, okay ... ran over) to speak with John Skibinski, a longtime manager with Festival Cinemas (before generally detestable art house entrepreneur Leonard Schein fired him for union activity, some years back).

John — in spirit, one of the fathers of the indie movie exhibition scene in Vancouver — has landed on his feet despite the slings and arrows of poor fortune (damn you, Leonard), and finds himself busy, working at the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design, but told VanRamblings that his priorities were still in order, as he's taking a VIFF work break for the duration of the 17-day running period of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 5, 2006 1:18 PM in VIFF 2006


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