• 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

26 Comments


  1. Kurt Halfyard says:

    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.

  2. rot says:

    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.

  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.

  4. Gunnar says:

    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.

  5. Kurt says:

    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.

  6. Marina Antunes says:

    Thanks for the note Gunnar and thanks for the tip Kurt. I'm a big coffee drinker. A movie doesn't start without it!

  7. Wow, nice line up of recommendations – I'm sooooooo jealous that The Good, The Bad, The Weird is there! Can't wait to hear all about the festival!

  8. Gunnar says:

    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=

  9. Kurt says:

    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.

  10. Kurt says:

    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.

  11. Ohhhhhhhhhh sure add a lil salt to that wound Kurt! But seriously, I did consider forking over the cash to see it at TIFF but it came down to (gulp) not having the time. Fingers crossed it plays in Toronto at some point.

  12. Marina Antunes says:

    $40? Oh my, that would have to be some sort of special presentation. My ticket cost – $8. Yeah. I'm rubbing it in ;)

  13. OH oh oh meanies, all of you!!!! ;)

  14. kurt says:

    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.

  15. Andrew James says:

    Yeah, sorry. I don't care what the movie is, I'm not paying $40 for it.

  16. Marina Antunes says:

    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

  17. kurt says:

    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.

  18. Colleen says:

    $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.

  19. rot says:

    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.

  20. Kurt Halfyard says:

    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.

  21. Andrew James says:

    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.

  22. Andrew James says:

    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.

  23. Rusty James says:

    Mandlay. That's too bad. I love that film.

  24. Rusty James says:

    @ "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.

  25. Kurt Halfyard says:

    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.

  26. 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.

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