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VIFF2006: Scary Monsters, Religion and Terrorism


Yes, it was just another day at the Film Fest on Sunday, when the inimitable Mr. Shayne and your humble agent caught three screenings: a South Korean monster flick, an unsettling true life German horror film (depending on your definition of 'horror'), and a quiet, meditative drama about blowing up central Manhattan's ever-so-decorous Times Square.

So far, Mr. Shayne and your scribe are nine for nine: 9 screenings, 9 great films ... our best average yet, in some 32 years of Festival going (this dating back to the Vancouver Film Festival that Don Barnes held at the now-defunct Varsity Theatre on West 10th Avenue) in Vancouver.

After having taken the first part of the day to compose yesterday's piece, do a wash in order to have something to wear to work today, as well as go out for a coffee and a perusal of the local newspapers, it was off to the first screening of the day, in line by 3 p.m. for a 4 p.m. screening of ...

Requiem: Winner of the Best Actress Award for lead Sandra Hüller at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival (the young actress making her big screen début), Requiem is compelling every moment Hüller is on screen, her character a 21-year-old college student who while living with epilepsy becomes convinced that she is possessed by the devil. Not a happy film by any means, director Hans-Christian Schmid's naturalistic approach to the subject matter turns what might have been a second-rate horror film into a first rate family drama. With fine performances all around.

Next up, after a brief break for "dinner" at the Salad Loop (very good, actually), Mr. Shayne and your scribe lined up for the 7 p.m. screening of ...

Day Night Day Night: Entirely involving, with another core performance from a female lead (this time, Luisa Williams) that grabs you by the lapels and won't let go, Day Night Day Night took Cannes by storm earlier in the year as part of the Director's Fortnight series. Offering the story of a demure young woman who, in the process of seeking meaning in her life, seems to have signed on as a suicide bomber, director Julia Loktev doesn't spoon feed the audience the seemingly required dose of "meaning", but rather allows the film to unfold as a character study, and near mechanized account of the deadly serious procedural process that terrorists would have to adopt to fulfill their ends. Another dose of reality in a candy-coloured, marshmallow world, Day Night Day Night is, quite simply, required viewing.

As the final film of the evening, Mr. Shayne and I chose a film for which we spent just shy of an hour and a half in the line-up, and that movie was ...

The Host: Combining surgery, championship archery, scenic landscapes of Seoul, and a particularly scary outsized gila monster, and related as a compelling family drama with elements of children in peril as an additional theme, The Host took Toronto by storm at their recent fest and impressed Korean audiences enough to make it their top grossing domestic film ever. Reminiscent of the Japanese monster flicks of the 50s, 60s and 70s — albeit with far better production values and superior performances — The Host is the most fun you'll have at a cineplex this year.

In Canada, Alliance-Atlantis Films has picked up The Host for domestic distribution, so even if you miss it at the Fest, you'll be afforded an opportunity to catch it at your local art house cinema in the months to come. And you'll want to. Still, there is one remaining screening of The Host, at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, Oct. 3rd at the Granville 7, Cinema 7.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 2, 2006 4:24 AM in VIFF 2006


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