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VIFF2006: In Search of the Perfect Orgasm


One of the more salutary aspects of attending and participating in the 25th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, at least for this scribe, is the ride home on the bus at the end of a long day viewing movies in one, or more, of the film festival theatres located in Vancouver's downtown core.

The bus ride home from Vancouver's West End / downtown area through Kitsilano and Point Grey, to our home on the far west side of the city, is rife with life and possibility, love and the potential for connection, energy and flow, all within the context of safe passage in Vancouver's (let's face it, we've got something good going on here) Pacific west coast paradise.

Now, we've already made mention of the unseasonably warm and inviting weather that has accompanied the 25th annual edition of the Fest (right now, it's sunny and 57° on a beautiful sunny afternoon on Canada's west coast, as we take a short break to compose this fourth entry of our Fest coverage), almost a continuation of summer. So, when the last movie of the night lets out, it's on to a Translink bus, full of humanity, mostly of the late-and-post teen University of British Columbia variety, making out, tipsy from hours in the bar or at the disco, alive and full of energy — and the perfect real-life extension of a day spent inside the lives of men and women and children on the screen, those life experiences spanning our globe.

Saturday, as had been agreed the day before, was to be Mr. Shayne's day to choose the movies, and for the evening's entertainment he chose ...

The Last King of Scotland: Everything you've heard is true. Forest Whitaker will absolutely garner an Oscar nomination for the perfect embodiment of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, the film tremendously moving, funny, tragic, historically accurate (for the most part, that is; the doctor, played by James McAvoy, is a composite character created by author Giles Foden in his 1999 novel of the same title), and one of the most important films of the year.

You might think, "Maybe I'll see The Last King of Scotland at the multiplex, maybe I won't," but you'd be doing yourself a tremendous disservice by not catching a film variously described by critics as "Shakespearean in its vision, an edgy, shockingly transformative, eye-riveting tale with a formidably compelling tour-de-force performance by Forest Whitaker that is all at once Faustian, suspenseful, volatile and absolutely spellbinding."

Shortbus: The second film of the evening, in Granville 7 Cinema 7, was John Cameron Mitchell's tremendously accomplished follow-up to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Native Vancouverite and star Sook-Yin Lee was in attendance to introduce Shortbus, easily one of the highlights of the Festival, offering an involving and emotionally resonant story of "the desire for connection through sex, love and creation," situated within the context of a story where the lead character finds herself in search of the "big O".


Everything about Shortbus — two and a half years in the making — was transformative and heartrending, from Yo Lo Tengo's melancholy, rock-ribbed soundtrack to the charming sexiness of the pan-sexual characters, the "vividly aestheticized tableau of New York City" and the frank, honest and resonant discussion of sex and sexuality. Not in the least pornographic, nor "scary and offputting" as some might fear, Shortbus consolidates John Cameron Mitchell's reputation as one of cinema's most important new directors, and Sook-Yin Lee as a talented young actor from whom we will hear and see much good (and great) in the years to come.

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On the paparazzi watch: While standing out in front of the Granville 7 chatting with friends (all of whom were going to catch a 6:40 p.m. screening of Away From Her), a videographer friend of ours animatedly walks up to us and shouts, "Where's Sarah Polley? I've got to film a piece on her." And, as if by magic, turning to our respective left, there she was: a bit bedraggled, very tiny, blonde, full of authority and warmth ... Sarah Polley, the director of Away From Her. We didn't say a word.

While the group of friends ready to see Ms. Polley's directorial début traipsed off to Cinema 3 for the screening of Away From Her, Mr. Shayne and I (and the frustrated videographer, who we had not told of Ms. Polley's presence out front of the Granville 7 ... to know Shah would be to know why ... a good fellow, but a tad excitable) wended our way up the escalator to Cinema 7 for The Last King of Scotland.

And who should be sitting across the aisle from Mr. Shayne and your humble correspondent, but hometown girl and Smallville star Kristin Kreuk?

Now, Shah would gladly have donated a part of his anatomy for an interview with Ms. Kreuk, but saner heads (and familial feelings ... let's face it, many of us looking on are parents) prevailed, and we managed to steer Shah away from this young woman, leaving her to enjoy the film, with her companions, relatively unmolested and pristine in her surroundings.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 1, 2006 11:47 AM in VIFF 2006


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