VIFF Preview: Row Three Recommendations

Wading through 300+ films can be a daunting task but we’re here to help. Colleen and I will be providing fairly extensive coverage of the Vancouver International Film Festival and to help you start off on the selection process, we have compiled a list of approximately 50 films, for the most part complete with trailers, which are either high profile or which we feel are worth a second look. Hopefully, this will give you a place to start!


45 RPM
Title: 45 RPM
Director: David Schultz
Section: Canadian Images
Reason to See: A film about teens growing up in Cold War-era 1960 in the remote Saskatchewan town of Goose Lake. Plus the trailer looks good.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Fifty Dead Men Walking
Title: Fifty Dead Men Walking
Director: Kari Skogland
Section: Canadian Images
Reason to See: I thought Skogland’s film from earlier this year (she directed The Stone Angel (our review)) showed promise. This one also happens to star Jim Sturgess who also showed promise in Across the Universe. Not a bad bet.
VIFF Program


Action Boys
Title: Action Boys
Director: Jung Byung-Gil
Section: Dragons and Tigers
Reason to See: An account of stunt work by some very talented folks working in the South Korean film industry. Looks like it could be a whole lot of fun!
Trailer
VIFF Program


Adoration
Title: Adoration
Director: Atom Egoyan
Section: Special Presentations
Reason to See: A new film from Atom Egoyan is always something that catches the eye of Canadian film goers and this one is no different. This story of teens and how they interact with each other and technology sounds interesting.
Trailer
VIFF Program

More recommendations tucked under the seat!


Afterschool
Title: Afterschool
Director: Antonio Campos
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: Reminiscent of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant? That right there caught my attention and our Quiet Earth friends are right – it certainly seems to have a similar tone and style.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Ballast
Title: Ballast
Director: Lance Hammer
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: Director Lance Hammer has said that the film is more about the place than the story itself and considering that the film won accolades for both cinematography and direction at Sundance, it certainly seems as though he’s succeeded. This story about a suicide and how it affects a family, looks beautiful.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Blindness
Title: Blindness
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Section: Galas
Reason to See: There’s very little to say in addition to what’s already been said around these parts regarding Meirelles film. Based on the Nobel prize winning novel, directed by an award winning director and featuring an amazing group of actors, I find it difficult to believe that this will be anything short of wonderful. Unfortunately, I will not have the chance to see this at the festival but the film does open in Vancouver on October 3rd so if you’re in town and want to catch this, look for it at the Festival Cinemas.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Burn the Bridges
Title: Burn the Bridges
Director: Francisco Franco
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: This story of siblings with incestuous thoughts who find themselves caring for their sick mother won the audience award at the Morelia Film Festival. That, in combination with the beautiful trailer, were enough to catch my attention.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Chelsea on the Rocks
Title: Chelsea on the Rocks
Director: Abel Ferrara
Section: Nonfiction Features of 2008
Reason to See: The Chelsea Hotel is infamous thanks in part to having been immortalized in both song and story. I find it fascinating that a hotel could have this much history and I don’t seem to be alone. This documentary tells the story of the hotel, those who have stayed, lived and died there – all with the help of archival footage and a number of actors including Ethan Hawke whose own fascination with the hotel led him to direct a film about the who inhabit the hotel (Chelsea Walls.
VIFF Program


A Christmas Tale
Title: A Christmas Tale
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Section: Spotlight on France
Reason to See: I love tales of dysfunctional families and I’m particularly interested when the film is French and stars Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric (from last year’s brilliant VIFF selection The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
Trailer
VIFF Program


Control Alt Delete
Title: Control Alt Delete
Director: Cameron Labine
Section: Canadian Images
Reason to See: It’s a movie about a guy who is dumped by his girlfriend and starts to entertain himself with internet porn except that when the pictures don’t satisfy him anymore, he starts having a weird relationship with his computer. This is either going to be really funny or really bad but with Tyler Labine, who I’ve seen and liked on TV’s “Reaper”, in the lead I’m betting it’s on the really funny side.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Eat for this is My Body
Title: Eat, For This is My Body
Director: Michelange Quay
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: There’s something hauntingly beautiful about the photograph for this film and the trailer suggest that Quay’s film is anything but ordinary. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to squeeze this one into my schedule but I’m hoping it’ll be a festival holdover.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Edison & Leo
Title: Edison & Leo
Director: Neil Burns
Section: Special Presentations
Reason to See: Canada’s first full length stop motion animation feature is certainly something to marvel at. Through in the fact that it’s a fairytale-gone-wrong and it all sounds that much more interesting!
VIFF Program


The English Surgeon
Title: The English Surgeon
Director: Geoffrey Smith
Section: Nonfiction Features of 2008
Reason to See: A big winner at HotDocs, Smith’s film about a surgeon working in the Ukraine would typically not be the type of film that attracts my attention but between the HotDocs win and a glowing review from Jay at The Documentary Blog, this is a must see.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Filth and Wisdom
Title: Filth and Wisdom
Director: Madonna
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: You only need one reason to see a film and in this case, that reason would definitely be the fact that this is the Queen of Pop’s directorial debut.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Flame and Citron
Title: Flame and Citron
Director: Ole Christian Madsen
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: This WWII drama was no where on my radar until it played at Telluride a few weeks back. Between the trailer and Mads Mikkelsen (who some may remember from Casino Royale and who I loved in Prague), this is one to watch.
Trailer
VIFF Program


The Girl by the Lake
Title: The Girl by the Lake
Director: Andrea Molaioli
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: This Italian murder mystery didn’t immediately catch my attention but the idea of a hard-boiled detective trying to solve the murder of a dead girl found naked by a lake does sound interesting plus, the trailer looks intriguing.
Trailer
VIFF Program


God\'s Puzzle
Title: God’s Puzzle
Director: Takashi Miike
Section: Dragons and Tigers
Reason to See: The After the Credits crew recently caught up with Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django and frankly, we just can’t wait for another opportunity to see Miike’s work on the big screen – especially when he’s going sci-fi but especially when he’s trying to explain quantum physics. WTF? A must see International premiere.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Gommorah
Title: Gommorah
Director: Matteo Garrone
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: An unglamorous mafia epic about Neapolitan gangsters and their goings on around an apartment building. I’ve heard it compared to “The Sopranos” only grittier. Bring. It. On.
Trailer
VIFF Program


The Good, the Bad and the Weird
Title: The Good, the Bad and the Weird
Director: Ji-woon Kim
Section: Dragons and Tigers
Reason to See: All I needed to know about this to get me excited was to note that director Ji-woon Kim had directed a VIFF offering from a few years ago A Tale of Two Sisters a film that, for a few years after wards, topped my list of scariest films I’d seen. This time around, he’s back with his take on the western and even I, who have seen few westerns, can pick-out a few of the homages. This looks like fantastic fun!
Trailer
VIFF Program


Hansel and Gretel
Title: Hansel & Gretel
Director: Phil-sung Yim
Section: Dragons and Tigers
Reason to See: And speaking of South Korean horror movies, here comes a take on the traditional Brothers Grimm tale.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Happy-Go-Lucky
Title: Happy-Go-Lucky
Director: Mike Leigh
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: It seems that people either love or hate Mike Leigh’s story of a woman who is always happy and, as the title suggests, going with the punches. We’ll see if I’m willing to be Poppy doesn’t piss me off.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Hunger
Title: Hunger
Director: Steve McQueen
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: When I first heard of Steve McQueen’s film about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, I was curious but when I saw bits of a trailer that leaked a few months back, I was down right blown away. I’m thrilled I’ll have the opportunity to see this on the big screen because it looks fantastic.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Il Divo
Title: Il Divo
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: A fictional account which chronicles the career of seven-time Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. I’m not familiar with Italian politics but the fact that no other PM has managed to stay in power for any extended length of time since Andreotti stepped down from office and the added bonus that the film is good enough to stand as an independent film, suggests that this is one not to miss.
Trailer
VIFF Program


I\'ve Loved You So Long
Title: I’ve Loved You So Long
Director: Philippe Claudel
Section: Spotlight on France
Reason to See: This almost didn’t make my short list but after reading the glowing reviews for Kristin Scott Thomas, I decided to give it a second look. Scott Thomas plays a woman released from prison trying to rebuild her relationship with her estranged sister looks nuanced and beautiful.
Trailer
VIFF Program


JCVD
Title: JCVD
Director: Mabrouk El Mechri
Section: Special Presentations
Reason to See: I was already pretty excited to see Jean-Claude Van Damme’s return to the big screen though I had lost all hope that the chance would present itself for me to see it on the big screen yet, here we are. John loved the film and I expect it’s the type of movie that will appeal to both fans and non-fans of Van Damme. Plus, it’s nice to see an actor not being afraid of taking a few pot shots.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Let the Right One In
Title: Let the Right One In
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: In the nearly ten year’s I’ve been attending VIFF, I don’t recall ever seeing a vampire film. This particular vampire love story is, by all accounts, worth a second look.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Mock Up on Mu
Title: Mock Up on Mu
Director: Craig Baldwin
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: “In 2019, L. Ron Hubbard has conquered and renamed the moon (Mu).” Do you really need any more than that?
VIFF Program


Mothers & Daughters
Title: Mothers & Daughters
Director: Carl Bessai
Section: Canadian Images
Reason to See: I’m a big fan of local filmmaker Carl Bessai’s work and any opportunity to see his films, most of which are beautifully shot and have a distinctive “Canadian” feel, means an immediate trip to the cinema. This time around, Bessai mixes documentary and narrative genres to tell his story of a mother and daughter.
VIFF Program


O\'Horten
Title: O’Horten
Director: Bent Hamer
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: I haven’t seen any of Bent Hamer’s films but I’ve heard a great deal about both Kitchen Stories and Factotum. Time to delve into this Norweigan director’s catalog.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Rachel Getting Married
Title: Rachel Getting Married
Director: Jonathan Demme
Section: Special Presentations
Reason to See: Word around the web is that Anne Hathaway’s performance in Demme’s new film is Oscar worthy. I’ve been a fan of the actress for a few years and I’m thrilled to hear she’s finally picked a role that matches the talent that others have hinted at.
Trailer
VIFF Program


REC
Title: [REC]
Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: I’ve already seen this fantastic horror film about a group of people quarantined in a building after an outbreak. It’s not clear if the film will ever be released this side of the water, particularly with the remake (Quarantine) scheduled to open later this year so this may be your only chance. A must for horror/zombie movie fans. Shaky cam alert!
Trailer
VIFF Program


Religulous
Title: Religulous
Director: Larry Charles
Section: Special Presentations
Reason to See: Michael’s TIFF review of the film had me a little curious but I can’t seem to get excited at the thought of watching Bill Maher talking to people about religion. That said, the film does look like it has a few laughs.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Revanche
Title: Revanche
Director: Götz Spielmann
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: The trailer for Spielmann’s thriller about a man seeking revenge for his lost love caught my attention and it looks like there’s good reason to note this Austrian film: it was recently announced that Revanche would be Austria’s Oscar entry.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Rocknrolla
Title: Rocknrolla
Director: Guy Ritchie
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: By all accounts, this is a return to form for English director Guy Ritchie. Sadly for me, I was never a fan of his form to begin with. As the Brits so delightfully put it, it’s about “geezers with guns”.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Sell Out!
Title: Sell Out!
Director: Yeo Joon Han
Section: Dragons and Tigers
Reason to See: As Colleen put it, “It’s like ‘The Office’ only set in Malaysia”.
VIFF Program


Sparrow
Title: Sparrow
Director: Johnnie To
Section: Dragons and Tigers
Reason to See: We had a lot of fun with To’s entry into last year’s VIFF, Mad Detective, and this year’s entry about a gang of pickpockets working in Hong Kong looks like a whole lot of fun.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Sugar
Title: Sugar
Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: For the most part, a film about a young man struggling through the Baseball minor leagues would be of little or no interest to me but when it’s being directed by the duo who brought us Half Nelson, it’s instantly elevated to second look status.
VIFF Program


The Class
Title: The Class
Director: Laurent Cantet
Section: Galas
Reason to See: I’m a fan of high school dramas and when you add the words Palm d’Or Winner behind the title, I’m definitely paying attention. This film came in udner the radar at Cannes and has been gaining momentum with each festival. A must watch for those looking for the “next best thing” out of world cinema.
Trailer
VIFF Program


The Desert Within
Title: The Desert Within
Director: Rodrigo Plá
Section: Special Presentations
Reason to See: This allegorical drama of a father trying to build a church in the desert swept the Guadalajara Film Festival earlier this year.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Three Monkeys
Title: Three Monkeys
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: Having heard fantastic things about Ceylan’s Climates, I jumped at the opportunity to see his new offering, a tale of a family dealing with a number of problems. The trailer is breathtaking and to boot, Ceylan won the Best Director prize at Cannes.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Tokyo!
Title: Tokyo!
Director: Bong Joon-Ho, Leos Carax, Michel Gondry
Section: Special Presentations
Reason to See: Three visionary directors including The Host director Bong Joon-Ho and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry. Enough said.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Waltz With Bashir
Title: Waltz With Bashir
Director: Ari Folman
Section: Special Presentations
Reason to See: This animated documentary tells the story of the 1982 Sabra-Shatila massacre of Palestinian refugees looks amazing. Not to mention I love this animated approach to the documentary but don’t be fooled by the gorgeous visuals, this is just as emotional and difficult to watch as the subject suggests.
Trailer
VIFF Program


Welcome to the Sticks
Title: Welcome to the Sticks
Director: Dany Boon
Section: Spotlight on France
Reason to See: I have yet to see a French comedy so why not start with the biggest box-office smash in French history?
Trailer
VIFF Program


Wendy and Lucy
Title: Wendy and Lucy
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Section: Cinema of Our Time
Reason to See: Reichardt’s previous film Old Joy was widely acclaimed and this new feature Michelle Williams seems to be getting the same amount of love. The story of a young woman who finds herself stuck in the middle of no where with things getting progressively worse, sounds like the perfect vehicle to showcase William’s talent.
VIFF Program

Marina Antunes
Fassbender for life.

26 Comments

  1. I highly recommend Michaelange Quay's "EAT FOR THIS IS MY BODY" it is a challenging film that will likely work better in the cinema than on DVD. Like "The Freewill" I found this one difficult to review, even as both films have very interesting things to say and are told in a very cinematic and visual fashion.

    Make room For Eat This Is My Body, it will likely be one of the more challenging films at VIFF.

    Reply
  2. Wendy and Lucy was a film I heard a lot of people talking about at TIFF and I was pissed I couldn't see it.

    Go see Three Monkeys… both Kurt and I are fans of Ceylan and neither of us could fit Three Monkeys into our schedules.

    Reply
  3. Kurt – on your high recommendation and my initial interest, I've added Eat, for This Is My Body to my line-up. That's going to be a LATE night.

    Rot – Three Monkeys is already on my schedule. I'll be making my schedule public over the next few days.

    Reply
  4. Hi there!

    Great job but you have mixed up some cred. The director of "Let the Right One In" is the swedish helmer Tomas Alfredson, not Mabrouk El Mechri, who directed the film above, JCVD.

    Reply
  5. Remember to bring coffee (bring cream too, but keep it separate – this will make sense when you see the film), EAT FTIMB, is not exactly lightning paced so a little brain-energy is going to be required.

    Reply
  6. With the credits right I now also have to recommend "Let the Right One In".

    It is first of all a sweet romantic coming-of-age drama but uses the vampire theme as a metaphor. The gorgeous widescreen photo filles it with horrific but almost iconic scenes laced with black humor. Already 12 Festval Prizes. Don´t miss it!

    And it´s a perfect first date movie…

    http://www.sydneyfilmfestival.org/content.asp?id=

    Reply
  7. Shannon – both John A. and I plunked down $40 to see THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, and it was worth every penny. The movie definitely demands to be seen on as big a screen as possible.

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  8. Gunnar: I didn't like the very end scene in the film, I thought it was kind of the wrong way to go with things, but the film is so darn good, I can't the fact that the director took the story to a different place than I'd have liked it to go against it too much.

    Reply
  9. Welcome to the New TIFF, where ticket prices are really on the rise. It is rapidly becoming the festival for the rich. Tickets when I started going were $6.50 each, this year, $17 each, and for the Special presentations at the ELGIN, $40.

    That being said, Kim Ji-Woon was in attendance and did a very patient Q&A after the film. Amusingly he said he was aiming half-way between Sergio Leone and Sam Raimi.

    Reply
  10. Ooooo, I don't know about that. There are a few "presentations" that I'd pay $40 to see on the big screen with the added bonus of stars/directors around for patient Q&A's

    Reply
  11. Andrew: How much have you spent on Starwars crap over the years? I certainly won't plop down $40 on a regular basis, but with all the freebie press screenings, generous donations of tickets from various folks involved with the festival (who know who they are – THANKS MIGHTILY!) and John A. plunking over his left-overs from his 50 pass my way, It wasn't that expensive of a festival so I didn't have too much of an issue splurging at the end.

    Reply
  12. $40.00 a film, no way. $17.00 a film, my list for VIFF would drop to 3 films from the current 24.

    Forget Toronto, and head to Vancouver next year. All the Asian films you can watch, with no big name celeb's to cause hype. $8-$10 a film = decent value.

    Reply
  13. any word on how the $40 ticket prices at TIFF went over? I am hoping it was a resounding failure and they reconsider the sort of price gauging that taints their image of being the people's festival.

    Reply
  14. I've heard that the festival wasn't happy that some screenings had over 200+ empty seats at the Elgin (Although the record-holder, I believe is Lars Von Trier's MANDERLAY that had nearly 1000 empty seats at the Elgin, and that was back years ago when a seat was <$15)

    I have a sinking feeling that in the end, regardless of empty seats, the VISA Screening Room (ELGIN) probably made over 5x the profit that it did when things were available at non-gala pricing.

    As far as I'm concerned, the WINTERGARDEN is the new ELGIN for us pass/voucher/coupon holders. I have my doubts that things will change, and TIFF will likely slide further and further from the democratic festival it has been. But that'll take another several years for the cons to outweigh the pros, I'll still be going as long as the strange and unusual films from around the world are being programmed.

    Reply
  15. When you say Star Wars crap I assume you mean collectible toys? Which is funny becasue not 5 minutes ago I sent a huge email out to all my close friends and family asking for suggestions on what to do with it all.

    I got most of the collection for birthday and Christmas presents as a kid. In my early teens I bought a lot of it to round out missing pieces and frankly, I thought it was an investment. Then the new movies came out and something called the interweb came along and saturated the market.

    At any rate, collecting memorabilia as a hobby over three decades and spending $40 on two hours of entertainment (that might be risky) are two completely different things.

    I guess I could think of one or two presentations that I would pay $40 for, but they'd have to be pretty special. Not just a quirky little genre picture playing in the midst of 1000 other movies.

    I'm not knocking ya, I'm just saying it's too rich for my blood and not worth it for me.

    Reply
  16. Ok, admittedly I did spend a lot of money whilst waiting in line for Episode 1 back in the day – but that was an event for a generation and BOATLOADS of fun. It wasn't a in and out, two hour fun-fest.

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  17. @ "but that was an event for a generation"

    yes, if by "event for a generation" you a mean another typical summer "blockbuster" that gets a big huppla before it comes out and is then completely forgotten except for when people mention it to talk about how lame it was.

    Reply
  18. Actually Andrew I was talking about the number of times you paid to see Star Wars (take your pick of the entry in the series) in the Theatre, on VHS, on DVD and any editions you may have purchased.

    It makes seeing a film I'll not necessarily ever have an option to see on the big screen again (distribution is doubtful), in a festival environment, perhaps the cities most handsome movie theatre (The Elgin), with director Q&A and a full house consisting of the bulk of the young Korean population in Toronto? $40 is looking quite reasonable, actually.

    Reply
  19. Kim Ji-Woon was there? Blargh!

    Single tickets were actually $20.50 cash, after all the extra fees.

    I'm going to suggest to TIFF that if they continue the $40 at the Elgin, they should allow passholders to go but it will cost them two vouchers – I think it's a fair compromise.

    I can see the Wintergarden becoming the new Elgin. I actually like the Wintergarden better.

    Even thought I couldn't work it into my schedule, I would be really resistant to fork over another dime for a tickets considering I prepurchased passes ahead of time which was over $500.

    Reply

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