Vancouver International Film Festival 2009

65RedRoses
65_RedRoses
Nimisha Mukerji,Philip Lyall

Marina’s Review

Normally a colourful, positive, vivacious young woman, Eva is only a ghost of herself when directors Nimisha Mukerji and Philip Lyall begin documenting her life for this heartrending film. She is suffering through the advanced stages of Cystic Fibrosis. She feels as if she is drowning on the inside–lungs so full of mucous each breath is nearly impossible. Eva’s lungs are functioning at minimal capacity as her family and friends helplessly watch her deteriorate. Physically beaten down by her disease, Eva needs a new set of lungs to save her life. She waits–months–for news of a donor. (courtesy of VIFF)

Antichrist
ANTICHRIST
Lars Von Trier

Kurt’s Review

The film follows an unnamed couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, both of whom deliver extraordinary performances) as they deal with the loss of their infant son. She collapses at the funeral and is hospitalized, but her psychologist husband decides to care for her himself – and insists that she “deal” with her fears. When he learns that she’s terrified of their cottage, which they’ve forebodingly named Eden, he forces her to confront her terror of the place. It’s hardly paradise on earth. (courtesy of VIFF)

ApplauseMovieStill
APPLAUSE
Martin Pieter Zandvliet

Marina’s Review

An abrasive alcoholic actress tries to regain control of her life and custody of her young sons in debuting director Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s in-your-face, Dogme-style cocktail. It extracts the essence of Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence and Opening Night, adds Martha’s monologues from a staged production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and spikes the widescreen concoction with scathing wit. The main attraction is a tour de force performance by star Paprika Steen, who garnered the Best Actress kudo at the recent Karlovy Vary Festival. (courtesy of VIFF)

AtHomeByMyselfWithYouMovieStill
AT HOME, BY MYSELF… WITH YOU
Kris Booth

Marina’s Review

Romy Scott is afraid of lobsters, closed boxes, kissing, and storms. But her biggest fear is of going outside because every time she does, something bad happens. Choosing not to go outside ever again, Romy constructs a new life inside her apartment and figures out how to negotiate her debilitating fears by using the help of her close acquaintances. But when her most important helper – an old lady who lives across the hall – kicks the bucket, Romy is suddenly left on the doorstep of facing her fears. (courtesy of VIFF)

BlackFieldMovieStill
BLACK FIELD
Danishka Esterhazy

Marina’s Review

Inspired by the Gothic novels of the Brontës, Danishka Esterhazy’s dark and captivating first feature is a suspenseful drama unfolding on a bleak Canadian prairie landscape in the 19th century. Maggie McGregor (a stunning Sara Canning) and her sister Rose (Ferron Guerreiro) have no remaining family to help with the physical farm labour and generate income. Maggie is a stoic, dutiful young woman who has spent her youth taking care of Rose, while providing for the household by living off the land. Rose is a friendly, vivacious and somewhat naive 14-year-old, not yet hardened by the challenges of their circumstances. The two sisters’ lives are forever changed when a mysterious and charming man named David Latouche (Mathieu Bourguet) arrives at their isolated farm. (courtesy of VIFF)

BluebeardMovieStill
BLUEBEARD
Catherine Breillat

Marina’s Review

When two young sisters (from the height of the sexually repressed 1950s) discover Perrault’s infamous fairytale in a dusty attic they are both drawn to and repulsed by the tale. The younger one, seven-year-old Catherine, likes to taunt her slightly older sister Marie-Anne by reading the tale until the latter is in tears. In short order Breillat transports us back to Bluebeard’s time and the tale of two other sisters, implying that Bluebeard’s latest wife, Marie-Catherine (Lola Creton), is the embodiment of the fearless younger Catherine. Despite the fact that his earlier wives seem to have just evaporated, the penniless Marie-Christine agrees to the marriage and is surprised to find him less the ogre than suspected. That is until she disobeys his orders and enters the one room she has been barred from exploring… (courtesy of VIFF)

BurmaVJ
Burma VJ–REPORTING FROM A CLOSED COUNTRY
Anders Hogsbro Østergaard

Marina’s Review

Burma erupted into revolution in 2007. With little more than hand-held video cameras, a courageous group of journalists documented a revolution from the inside out, capturing the heart-rending struggle for democracy, including the dramatic mobilization of the country’s 400,000 Buddhist monks. Narrated by “Joshua”, a member of the DVB (The Democratic Voice of Burma), Burma VJ takes you into the streets where protesters clash with secret police. For Joshua, everything began to change on August 17th, 2007, during an ordinary bus ride. Almost overnight the price of food, gasoline, even bus fare doubled. Ignoring orders to leave the country, Joshua stayed to catch the story as it unfolded. In this new revolution technology is a weapon and the battle is most often fought over the control of information. As Joshua manages video journalists via cell phone and the Internet, the truly global nature of this struggle becomes increasingly apparent. Footage that is secretly shot by members of DVB is smuggled out of the country, only to show up a few hours later on the BBC and CNN. As images of the Burmese struggle are broadcast around the world, and for the first time also shown in Burma, the necessity to break the silence and “Show the world that Burma is still here” becomes the battle cry of an emerging democracy. (courtesy of VIFF)

Castaway on the Moon
CASTAWAY ON THE MOON
Lee Hey-jun

Andrew’s Review

Marina’s Review

Kim Seong-geun (Jung Jae-young) has never learned to swim. When his girlfriend leaves him and debts feel insurmountable, jumping into the Han river seems the most logical way to commit suicide. But destiny has a very different plan. Coughing and spitting up polluted river water, he awakens washed ashore on what looks like a tropical beach but turns out just to be the small island of Bam at the centre of the river. Abandoning all suicidal intentions, Kim tries to attract the attention of passing tourist boats, but soon realizes that nobody will come to his aid. Slowly adjusting to life in the wilderness, with civilization so close yet so unreachable, he discovers the pleasures and agonies of nature. (courtesy of vIFF)

Cole
COLE
Carl Bessai

Marina’s Review

Carl Bessai offers up an emotional and challenging drama with his latest feature, set in Lytton, BC. Protagonist Cole Chambers (Richard de Klerk) is trapped in this small, rural town, pressured to choose between the pursuit of his dreams and the care of his troubled family. (courtesy of VIFF)

Cow
COW
Guan Hu

Marina’s Review

Chinese historical comedies made for domestic release are often weighed down by showy costumes, goofy irrelevance or ideological conformity (not to mention the necessity of passing censorship). Not The Cow. This black comic fable starts with an episode from World War II and spins an absurdly hilarious and touching fantasy. At its core: a solidarity between man and cow that is indomitable, even glorious. (courtesy of VIFF)

TheDamnedUnitedMovieStill
THE DAMNED UNITED
Tom Hooper

Marina’s Review

The team behind Frost/Nixon and The Queen–producer Andy Harries, writer Peter Morgan and star Michael Sheen–re-unite for this rollicking story of 70s-era football manager Brian Clough (Sheen). But don’t think this is your standard football movie–here the footy takes a backseat to a wonderfully well-acted and darkly humorous story of friendships gone sour and egos run rampant. (courtesy of VIFF)

TheEclipse
THE ECLIPSE
Conor McPherson

Marina’s Review

Set in scenic Cobh, County Cork, Conor McPherson’s tantalizing amalgam of love story and supernatural thriller stars Aidan Quinn and Ciarán Hinds. Hinds is superb as a widower who falls for visiting ghost-story writer Lena (High Fidelity’s Iben Hjejle) while enduring some shocking apparitions… (courtesy of VIFF)

AnEducation
AN EDUCATION
Lone Scherfig

Laura’s Review

As the saying goes, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Yet young Oxford-bound Jenny (newcomer Carey Mulligan in a memorable performance) doesn’t think so, as she falls wholeheartedly at the age of 16 for the charms–and car–of sweet-talking con-man David (Peter Sarsgaard) in London of 1961. Based on well-known UK journalist Lynn Barber’s childhood memoirs as adapted by Nick Hornby and produced by his wife Amanda Posey, this [is a] lively period drama… Middle class parents Jack and Marjorie (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) are set on an Oxford education for their pretty daughter Jenny, but she is drawn towards the “school of life” from which golden-tongued David claims to have graduated. The con-man and thief soon talks Jenny’s mistrustful parents into agreeing to whatever he wants… (courtesy of VIFF)

Excited
EXCITED
Bruce Sweeney

Marina’s Review

Bruce Sweeney, VIFF 1998 winner for Best New Western Canadian Director for Dirty, is back with a sharp take on the handicaps of sex and golf in his dry comedy/drama set in soggy Vancouver. Golf-course owner and operator Kevin (Cam Cronin), the embodiment of a golf clap, has found himself in the middle of an eight-year dating drought. He is reminded of that fact by his overbearing Mom (Gabrielle Rose) who constantly harasses Kevin and his brother, Randy (Paul Skrudland), about producing grandchildren. After a failed attempt to hit on a woman, Kevin asks Randy to see if his girlfriend Vera (Agam Darshi) will set him up with a friend. Enter Hiam (Laara Sadiq): an attractive woman whom he immediately takes an interest in. He shies away, however, because of a sexual problem- let’s just say he tees off a little too quickly. (courtesy of VIFF)

face_06
FACE
Tsai Ming-liang

Kurt’s Review

The story borders on the surreal: a Taiwanese director (Lee, who has starred in all of Tsai’s films and is a filmmaker himself) is making a movie based on the story of Salomé at the Louvre, with a supermodel (Laetitia Casta) cast as Salomé opposite a weathered veteran actor as King Herod (Jean-Pierre Léaud as himself). Tsai’s superb cast, rounded off by a number of iconic French faces, including Fanny Ardant, Jeanne Moreau and Mathieu Amalric, deliver seamless performances that blur the line between their parts in Tsai’s own film and the production being shot by his alter ego. This confounding of roles is best exemplified during the film’s meticulously choreographed final dance sequence. Whereas the preceding musical numbers showcased the supermodel lip-synching poppy Mandarin and Spanish love songs, the final dance is performed without a single word sung or note of music played. This scene, which takes place outside Lee’s character’s film shoot within a film, is surely the most erotically charged, the one most faithful to the original myth of Salomé. (courtesy of VIFF)

ForTheLoveOfTheMovies
FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES: THE STORY OF AMERICAN FILM CRITICISM
Gerald Peary

Marina’s Review

Noted American film critic (and former VIFF programming consultant) Gerald Peary has crafted an extremely entertaining and informative document–the first of its kind–tracing the history of American film criticism from its raw beginnings before The Birth of a Nation to Bowsley Crowther’s 27-year reign at The New York Times, from the incendiary Pauline Kael-Andrew Sarris debates of the 60s and 70s, right up to the current battle for audience between youthful website populists and the veteran print establishment. (courtesy of VIFF)

geniuswithin
GENIUS WITHIN: THE INNER LIFE OF GLENN GOULD
Michèle Hozer, Peter Raymont

Marina’s Review

Near the start of this superb doc, there’s an audio clip of Glenn Gould saying that what gives the arts their power and distinction is their ability to create and impose a “distance from the world.” Genius Within is a thorough investigation into the ways Gould both engaged with and insulated himself from his environment. A wily provocateur and reclusive eccentric, Canada’s most famous classical musician was nothing if not complex and many-sided. It’s a testament to the strength of this film that it breaks through the seeming contradictions of Gould’s strange personality to show a cohesive, nuanced whole. (courtesy of VIFF)

Gigante
GIGANTE
Adrián Biniez

Marina’s Review

Jara (Horacio Camandule in a winning performance) is a shy and lonely 35-year-old man who works as a supermarket security guard in a suburb of Montevideo. It’s his job to keep an eye on the security cameras, but he doesn’t have a great deal to do given that he works the graveyard shift. One day in his multi-screen cocoon, he spies Julia (Leonor Svarcas), a 25-year-old cleaning women, and is immediately attracted to her. Before long he begins to follow her after work… As he becomes more obsessed, he realizes he must act… (courtesy of VIFF)

TheGirl
THE GIRL
Fredrik Edfeldt

Marina’s Review

A haunting, poetic portrait of childhood solitude that brings to mind resonant mood pieces such as Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher and Dorota Kedzierzawska’s The Crows, The Girl excels at depicting the private realms kids create when free of adult supervision. Not quite 10, the eponymous heroine (Blanca Engström) is a solemn, ginger-haired, freckle-faced waif who is never called by name. Told by her parents that she’s “too little” to accompany them on their trip to Africa, she finds a way to get rid of her feckless aunt and care for herself. A loner and a dreamer, the girl observes far more than she understands. She’s most at ease with neighborhood outcast Ola (Vidar Fors), and confides her secrets as they explore the forest and hayloft. (courtesy of VIFF)

Pernassus
IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS
Terry Gilliam

Kurt’s Review

Christopher Plummer plays a trickster showman in contemporary London, putting on acts with the aid of young Anton (the phenomenal Andrew Garfield from Boy A), his loyal friend Percy (Verne Troyer) and his beautiful daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). Their seemingly shabby shows involve antiquated tableaux that conceal the real deal: unsuspecting audience members are pulled onstage and sent through a magical mirror into a gleaming, surreal other world. (courtesy of TIFF)

kamui_03
KAMUI
Yoichi Sai

Kurt’s Review

Pirates and shark hunters, luminous frescoes of daily fishing and hunting violence, underwater fights and magnificent ninja action scenes form the background to this heroic tale of life and death. Sometimes brutal, always exquisitely refined, Kamui puts a purely contemporary lens on an ancient soul and fills it with the rush of sheer entertainment. (courtesy of TIFF)

LebanonMovieStill
LEBANON
Samuel Maoz

Kurt’s Review

It’s June of 1982, and four young Israeli soldiers are assigned to operate a single tank. Their first mission is to enter a civilian Lebanese village to clear it of possible PLO terrorists. Something goes horribly wrong, however, and the ensuing panic leads to miscommunication, death, destruction and hostages. All hell breaks loose around these young men as they face the perennial question: kill or be killed?(courtesy of TIFF)

LeslieMyNameIsEvil
LESLIE, MY NAME IS EVIL
Reginald Harkema

Marina’s Review

Perry, a sheltered chemist, falls in love with Leslie, a former homecoming princess, when he is selected to be a jury member at her hippie death cult murder trial. Perry has always done what is expected of him. He’s a straight-A student who gets a good job at a chemical company and proposes to his virgin Christian girlfriend, Dorothy. Leslie takes a different path after she is traumatized by Kennedy assassinations, her abortion and the divorce of her parents. She takes LSD, joins a hippie death cult and helps murder a God-fearing citizen in her own home. When Perry and Leslie lock eyes across the court at Leslie’s murder trial, Perry is forced to confront the darkest deepest parts of himself and by extension, our society. (courtesy of VIFF)

Mammoth
MAMMOTH
Lukas Moodysson

Marina’s Review

Comparable in many ways to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel, Mammoth intercuts three stories, set variously in the US, the Philippines and Thailand, each involving working parents who regret they can’t spend more time with their offspring. However, the mega-wealthy, entitled American characters played by Michelle Williams and Gael García Bernal can afford top of the line childcare in their deluxe New York loft in contrast to single mother protagonists such as the Filipino nanny and the Thai sex worker, who struggle far from home in order to build a better life for their loved ones. (courtesy of VIFF)

McDull
MCDULL KUNG FU KINDERGARTEN
Brian Tse

Marina’s Review

The story opens with McDull’s 18th generation-ago ancestor, McFat (a less-intelligent contemporary of Confucius), whose series of inventions (the world’s first and only telephone) went nowhere (there’s no one to call). Flash forward to HK today, where Mrs. Mak, a business-minded adult pig going through menopause, decides she needs a change, and takes her soon off to Wuhan. Deposited at a school for martial arts, he attempts, pathetically, to learn under the rather scattershot tutelage of Master, a former opponent of Bruce Lee. (courtesy of VIFF)

TheMilkOfSorrowMovieStill
THE MILK OF SORROW
Claudia Llosa

Marina’s Review

Fausta suffers from “the milk of sorrow,” an illness transmitted through mother’s milk by women who have been violated or mistreated during the war of terrorism in Peru. The war is over, but Fausta’s “illness of fear” continues. With her mother’s death, she must confront what has come before… (courtesy of VIFF)

Morphia
MORPHIA
Alexey Balabanov

Marina’s Review

The downfall of Dr. Mikhail Polyakov (Leonid Bichevin) plays out amidst the rise of the Russian Revolution in this mesmerizing historical drama, written by the late Sergei Bodrov, Jr. Stationed at a remote provincial hospital in 1917, Mikhail innocently accepts a morphine injection after reacting violently to a diphtheria vaccine. Soon descending into addiction, the inexperienced doctor must still contend with a deluge of medical emergencies. These constant crises find him nervously consulting textbooks before performing amputations and tracheotomies, with each procedure rendered in unflinching detail by director Alexey Balabanov (Of Freaks and Men). (courtesy of VIFF)

Mother
MOTHER
Bong Joon-Ho

Marina’s Review

Quack herbalist and acupuncturist Hye-Ja (veteran actress Kim Hye-Ja, rising to the challenge of the role of her career) lives for her son Do-Joon (Won Bin), a 27-year-old with the mind of a child. When a sexually precocious girl is murdered and her body left on the roof of a derelict building, evidence found at the scene incriminates Do-Joon. Desperate to prove her son’s innocence, Hye-Ja is patronized by the cops and flummoxed by a lazy and dissolute lawyer. Her suspicions light on Do-Joon’s randy friend Jin-Tae, but he’s the one who goads her into a proper investigation. “There are three possible motives for murder,” he comments. “Money, passion and vengeance. Which could it be in this case?” The mystery isn’t Holmesian, but it provides the vehicle for a startlingly original account of maternal feelings in all their terrifying intensity. As usual, Bong’s style is luscious and his tone is blackly comic. (courtesy of VIFF)

MyDogTulipMovieStill-Small
MY DOG TULIP
Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger

Kurt’s Review

Middle-aged Ackerley (Christopher Plummer) has failed in his search for the “ideal friend” with whom to share his life. Though he never considered himself a dog lover, he comes to adopt an eighteen-month-old German shepherd named Tulip. What follows are the adventures of a devoted yet bumbling dog parent and the animal that becomes the love of his life, that ideal companion he thought he would never find, as they navigate their fourteen-year relationship. Through Tulip’s cycles we confront the facts of life, sometimes in vivid and startling detail; Ackerley minces no words, even as he weaves a touching memoir. (courtesy of VIFF)

Ninja Assassin
NINJA ASSASSIN
James McTeigue

Marina’s Review

Just when you thought the Vancouver International Film Festival was all about serious social issues and rarefied arthouse, here comes Ninja Assassin to slice the piousness right out the middle of everything and leave it in a steaming pile of viscera on the floor. Trained since he was child in the deadly art of assassination, Raizo (played by Korean mega-star Rain) has recently escaped from the clutches of the mysterious Ozunu Clan. But as he prepares to exact the ultimate revenge on his former masters, a beautiful young woman in possession of dangerous information comes under his protection… (courtesy of VIFF)

NomadsLand
NOMAD’S LAND–SUR LES TRACES DE NICOLAS BOUVIER
Gaël Métroz

Marina’s Review

This intriguing travelogue hinges upon its unique point-of-view. Through his often-exquisite camerawork, Métroz completely immerses viewers in the hidden worlds he uncovers. Meanwhile, his earnestly poetic narration acknowledges both his initial naiveté and subsequent lapses in judgment, affording the film a refreshing frankness. Exuding a keen fascination for unique individuals and imposing terrain, Métroz makes an ideal tour guide. Ultimately, the filmmaker proves Bouvier’s words true, completely remaking himself over the course of his journey. It’s a truly remarkable transformation to behold… (courtesy of VIFF)

NorthMovieStill
NORTH
Rune Denstad Langlo

Marina’s Review

The funniest Canadian film ever made in Norway, Rune Denstad Langlo’s debut feature bills itself as “an antidepressive off-road movie” and it is exactly that. Jomar (played by the ample Norwegian star Anders Baasma Christiansen) works listlessly at his job running the tow at a ski resort. Alcoholic and depressed–and a former star skier retired due to injury–he longs for nothing more than to return to the cozy confines of the nearby psychiatric hospital rather than spend his time in his shack with a bottle and a couple of tapes of the TV show . Learning that he has fathered a son by an ex who lives way up north, he stocks up on booze and pills, mounts his trusty snowmobile and heads into the spectacular arctic landscape. Needless to say, he has begun a memorable journey indeed, peopled by odd arctic denizens and events that begin to show him how to recapture a real life… (courtesy of VIFF)

NymphMovieStill
NYMPH
Pen-ek Ratanaruang

Kurt’s Review

Belief in the supernatural has always been integral to Thai culture. Relationships between ghosts and the living have been chronicled and retold for generations. Chilling tales involving nature are especially numerous, with many concerning female tree spirits who appear in human form. Legend has it that anyone who dares disturb these nymphs will forfeit his or her life. In acclaimed Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s latest work, Nymph, this type of spectral retribution is demonstrated via a breathtakingly bravura long take that serves as the film’s prologue.

Flash-forward to the present: a young couple, Nop and May, are stuck in a lovelorn marriage. Nop, a photographer, is sent to a country park for an assignment, where he becomes increasingly drawn to the natural world. May tags along, but she instead preoccupies herself with cellphones and laptops, unable to extricate herself from her modern trappings. When he goes missing, May, who is also having an affair with her boss, suddenly realizes the error of her ways, but not before strange events begin to unfold. (courtesy of VIFF)

PuckHogsMovieStill
PUCK HOGS
Warren P. Sonoda

Marina’s Review

The Canadian obsession with hockey is farcically explored in this mockumentary, following the lives of a group of aging everyday Joes whose passion for the game hilariously transcends their talents. The Puck Hogs have their backs to the wall as they face exclusion from the Kinsmen Cup Tournament by convener Irv Mason (Colin Mochrie) if they don’t manage to stick it to their rivals, the Ice Holes, and make it to the finals this time around. Team captain Jeremy (Jeff Geddis) proves that while there is no “I” in team, there definitely is one in marriage: his devotion to hockey caused him to miss his own wedding years before and lose Caroline (Rachel Wilson) to Lance (Liam Card), his arch nemesis and chief Ice Hole. (courtesy of VIFF)

Precious
PUSH: BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘PUSH’ BY SAPPHIRE
Lee Daniels

Marina’s Review

An urban nightmare with a surfeit of soul, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire is like a diamond–clear, bright, but oh so hard. To simply call it harrowing or unsparing doesn’t quite cut it; Precious is also courageous and uncompromising, a shaken cocktail of debasement and elation, despair and hope. Everyone involved deserves credit for creating a movie so dangerous, problematic and ultimately elevating..But this is, for all its scorched-earth emotion, a film to be loved… (courtesy of VIFF)

PromNightMississippi
PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI
Paul Saltzman

Marina’s Review

Take a fascinating look into the heart of the American racial divide through the eyes of the 2008 graduating class from Charleston High School in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Even though the US Supreme court ordered the integration of schools in 1954, the integration didn’t happen in Charleston until 1970, which was the same year that white parents refused to integrate the school’s graduation dance in favour of private, segregated proms. Enter Morgan Freeman. As a resident of the town, he offered to pay for an integrated prom in 1997 and was ignored. In 2008 he asked again. (courtesy of VIFF)

AProphet
A PROPHET
Jacques Audiard

Marina’s Review

Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet depicts the jailhouse coming-of-age of a French-Arab man (Tahar Rahim) who is strong-armed by a powerful Corsican inmate (Niels Arestrup) into murdering another Muslim. The Corsican takes him under his wing and teaches him about the workings of power. The young man bides his time, educates himself, consolidates his own base, turns the tables on his mentor, and leaves prison ready to claim his piece of the Paris underworld. Like Audiard’s similarly rich thriller, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet is elegantly structured, arresting in its detailing of a little-known subculture, filled with fascinating characters, and gripping beginning to end. (courtesy of VIFF)

QuietChaos
QUIET CHAOS
Antonello Grimaldi

Marina’s Review

When a middle-aged businessman named Pietro (Nanni Moretti) saves the lives of two women, only to return home and discover his wife’s dead body, fate seems to have taken a rather odd twist or two. Things get increasingly more complicated when Pietro, now a single father to his ten-year-old daughter Claudia, promises to pick her up from school everyday. Soon this rash decision morphs into something entirely different, as emerging patterns and new relationships spread out, like fast-growing coral. As he hangs out after school and waits for his daughter, an array of strangely serendipitous happenings push Pietro’s life in entirely new and unforeseen directions. (courtesy of VIFF)

TheRedRooster
THE RED ROOSTER
Terry Miles

Marina’s Review

A promising young writer suffering from a creative block, Terrance (Casey Manderson) decides to join his brother David on what he believes is a fishing trip. As he soon discovers, the getaway is actually an opportunity for David to carry on an adulterous affair with his ex-wife, Allie (Kristine Cofsky). While vacationing, Terrance indulges in porn, laziness, wine and (other people’s) women, but still can’t seem to put words on a page. He soon drives away his brother, and captures the attention, admiration, and support of Allie. Regardless of the consequences, he continues his amoral quest and becomes obsessed with a very young woman who works at the local coffee shop. (courtesy of VIFF)

Redland
REDLAND
Asiel Norton

Marina’s Review

Part catharsis, part pure cinema, the artful Redland marks an utterly audacious debut for Asiel Norton. Returning to the isolated mountain forests of California where he grew up, Norton tells an unsettling tale of a family caught in the throes of the Great Depression. With his kin at the brink of starvation, the family’s patriarch is more concerned with Charlie, the young man who’s been calling on his teenaged daughter. When Father invites Charlie along on a hunting trip, there’s little doubt as to what the actual quarry might be. (courtesy of VIFF)

Rembrandt
REMBRANDT’S J’ACCUSE
Peter Greenaway

Marina’s Review

Rembrandt’s J’accuse is an essayistic documentary in which Greenaway’s fierce criticism of today’s visual illiteracy is argued by means of a forensic search of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch. Greenaway explains the background, the context, the conspiracy, the murder and the motives of all its 34 painted characters who have conspired to kill,,,,” The first line of the production synopsis of this dazzling investigation pretty much sums it up, but the great pleasure of our provocateur’s companion-piece to “nightwatching” is its playful complexity… (courtesy of VIFF)

TheSeptemberIssue
THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE
R.J. Cutler

Marina’s Review

Doyenne of the fashion scene as the editor of Vogue for the past 20 years, Anna Wintour is one of those larger-than-life figures crying out for documentary treatment (She already received the fictional makeover when Meryl Streep did a thinly veiled impression of her in The Devil Wears Prada). Known in some circles as “Nuclear” Wintour for her icy, cutting personality, she makes an impression–one way or another–on everyone she meets. Veteran producer/director R.J. Cutler’s (A Perfect Candidate) The September Issue takes us into Wintour’s world as he and his crew follow the Vogue denizens–and their vaunted leader herself, of course–while they prepare the biggest issue of the year. (courtesy of VIFF)

SonOfTheSunshine
SON OF THE SUNSHINE
Ryan Ward

Marina’s Review

Life is hard for Sonny (director and co-writer Ryan Ward). He’s 24 and still living with his poor, negligent, heroin-shooting mom. He’s unemployed. He’s alienated and lonely. And he’s got a wicked case of Tourette syndrome. Twitching, scowling and spewing random curses, he’s a social outcast and victim of a vicious personal cycle: his illness isolates him, his isolation makes him angrier, his anger mixes with his condition and isolates him even further…Faint hopes for a livable future include a risky operation, a prospective lover, and a distant chance of getting to the bottom of his brutal past and achieving some semblance of closure and understanding. (courtesy of VIFF)

3422
SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION
Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman

Marina’s Review

The American civil rights movement is vividly captured by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman–award winners for their collaboration on Nanking–through image and song. And what song! Compelling archival footage is set against dynamite contemporary performances of movement anthems by, among others, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and the Blind Boys of Alabama, Richie Havens, The Roots and Joss Stone (whose stirring rendition of “Eyes on the Prize” is a stand out). (courtesy of VIFF)

TalesFromTheGoldenAge
TALES FROM THE GOLDEN AGE
Cristian Mungiu, Ioana Uricaru, Hanno Höffer, Razvan Marculescu, Constantin Popescu

Marina’s Review

The final 15 years of the Ceausescu regime may have been the worst in Romania’s history. Nonetheless, the propaganda machine referred without fail to that period as “the golden age.” Written by Cristian Mungiu, director of 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, this witty film provides an unconventional, subjective and undoubtedly therapeutic history of late communist times in Romania, told through its urban myths from the perspective of ordinary people. Humour is what evidently kept Romanians alive, and Tales from the Golden Age portrays the survival of a nation faced daily with twisted logic and too few eggs. (courtesy of VIFF)

WhatTheyDo
WAH DO DEM (WHAT THEY DO)
Sam Fleischner, Ben Chace

Marina’s Review

Co-directors Ben Chace and Sam Fleischner’s film could very well be summed up as “mumblecore on a boat,” but this would be selling its very significant charms short. When Max (Sean Bones), dumped by his girlfriend (played to bitchy perfection by musician Norah Jones), decides to go on a free cruise to Jamaica anyway, his expectations of big fun on the high seas are given a quick ocean burial. (courtesy of VIFF)

WeLiveInPublic
WE LIVE IN PUBLIC
Ondi Timoner

Mike’s Review

Maybe you have to be delusional to be a visionary,” Ondi Timoner (DiG! ) suggests in her latest portrait of a subculture maverick. On this occasion, her subject is Josh Harris, “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of.” Masterfully incorporating a decade’s worth of footage, Timoner assembles a constantly riveting and often harrowing portrait of the one-time “Warhol of the Web.” After launching the first online television network in the mid-90s, Harris applied his fixation with voyeurism and exhibitionism to less innocuous pursuits. Foremost amongst these was “Quiet,” an underground compound where residents consented to constant surveillance and Stasi-style interrogations. (courtesy of VIFF)

TheWhiteRibbon
THE WHITE RIBBON
Michael Haneke

Mike’s Review

An isolated community is shaken by unpleasant, inexplicable events: a razor trip-wire fells the local doctor on his horse, and he is badly injured. The landowning baron’s son is found, bound and whipped. A boy with Down’s syndrome is horribly abused. The white ribbon of the title is a badge of mortification: the pastor’s children must wear it as a reminder of their sinful state and need for purity. But of course it is effectively the symbol of the retaliatory violence to come. (courtesy of VIFF)

WillNotStopThereMovieStill
WILL NOT STOP THERE
Vinko Bresan

Marina’s Review

When a Croatian war-vet-turned-private-investigator recognizes the actress in a Serbian porn film, his quest to find her leads to blackly comic complications in the sardonic romantic drama Will Not Stop There. Vinko Bresan (Witnesses), the leading director of the “Young Croatian Film” generation, offers an acerbic satire that targets ongoing Croat-Serb tensions. (courtesy of VIFF)

The Young Victoria
THE YOUNG VICTORIA
Jean Marc Vallée

Marina’s Review

Familiar to most as the widowed queen, dour of countenance and mountainous of bosom, The Young Victoria presents an altogether different version of the woman who lent her name to an entire era. Jean Marc Vallée (well-known to Canadian audiences for C.R.A.Z.Y) brings a distinctly non-Hollywood approach to what could have been another Anglophile romp of full-frontal stately homes, and toothsome royals. (courtesy of VIFF)