Fest gives film­go­ers rea­sons to be cheer­ful

The Georgia Straight - - Viff ’17 -

In this week’s roundup of fea­tures at the Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, we find one el­e­men­tal Cana­dian dancer, one over­caf­feinated “star­chi­tect”, one Beastie Boy, two rein­car­nated kids, and a cer­tain Charles Chap­lin hang­ing loose in the South Seas. And that ain’t the half of it! Once you’ve hoovered up ev­ery last word on this page, check back next week and at Straight.com for even more.

2 COOL 2 BE 4GOTTEN (Philip­pines) Life at a sleepy high school in Pam­panga, rife with un­eth­i­cal and op­pres­sive in­struc­tors, changes with the arrival of in­ter­ra­cial pretty boy Mag­nus Sny­der. This is par­tic­u­larly true for top scholar Felix. When he’s en­listed to help the new stu­dent with his school­work, the quiet Felix is drawn out of his loner shell and into the wild ways of Mag­nus and his dev­il­ish younger brother Maxim. As Felix’s clos­eted at­trac­tion to Mag­nus grows, he be­comes in­creas­ingly en­meshed in the Sny­der fam­ily’s dark ten­sions, which in­volve their hard-par­ty­ing mother. De­spite un­even act­ing, a ten­dency to­ward heavy-hand­ed­ness, and un­nec­es­sary per­for­mance-art in­ter­ludes, the film demon­strates ad­mirable at­tune­ment to the in­tro­verted Felix as he hur­tles down a com­ing-of-age tra­jec­tory with seem­ingly no way out other than dis­as­ter. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 9 (4:15 p.m.) > CRAIG TAKEUCHI

7 MIN­UTES (Italy/france/switzer­land) The ti­tle refers to the seem­ingly mi­nus­cule con­ces­sion in al­low­able break time when a French cloth­ing be­he­moth took over an Ital­ian tex­tile com­pany in 2012. Here, one of the smarmy own­ers is played by writer-direc­tor Michele Placido, and his daugh­ter Vi­olante is one of the allfe­male work­ers who must vote yea or nay on the new terms. The film never quite es­capes its ori­gins as a stage play, with each of the com­mit­tee mem­bers given but­ton-push­ing so­lil­o­quies—you could call it 12 An­gry Women—and the whole thing is un­der­scored by smarmy pi­ano mu­sic, telling you how to feel through­out. Worst of all, the end-ti­tles tell you about the real-life im­passe that in­spired it, but not how the damn thing turned out! In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 4 (1:30 p.m.) and 6 (9:45 p.m.) > KEN EISNER

ARMED WITH FAITH (USA) Some of the most ne­glected sol­diers on the front­line of the so-called War on Ter­ror are found in one of its epi­cen­tres: Pak­istan. This short, well-as­sem­bled doc fo­cuses on a bomb-dis­posal squad—one that’s con­stantly at work in its own back­yard. The film is jit­tery but not hard to watch, since it fo­cuses less on ex­plo­sions (al­though they do hap­pen) than on the mem­bers of the squad, non­ide­o­log­i­cal fel­lows with few re­sources but much de­vo­tion to pub­lic safety. Their leader, a ca­reer army of­fi­cer with a per­pet­u­ally wor­ried fam­ily, is fully aware that the un­e­d­u­cated and usu­ally quite young rubes who get suck­ered into sui­cide bomb­ings can’t get at ac­tual en­e­mies and so take it out on their neigh­bours. His re­sponses, and those of the lower-rank­ing men, are in­ge­nious and sym­pa­thetic. But what can they re­ally ac­com­plish in a world de­ter­mined to blow it­self up? SFU, October 5 (9 p.m.) and 7 (11 a.m.) > KE

BE­COM­ING WHO I WAS (South Korea) Whether or not you be­lieve in metempsy­chosis, this ten­der, pic­turesque doc­u­men­tary about a boy con­vinced he is a rin­poche, an hon­orific Ti­betan term for a rein­car­nated monk, has mul­ti­fac­eted ap­peal. In the north­ern In­dian re­gion of Ladakh, Padma Angdu is con­vinced he was a lama in a former life in Kham, Ti­bet. He sees his former monastery in dreams, re-cre­at­ing it in draw­ings and mod­els, and is taken un­der the wing of an el­derly lama and tra­di­tional doc­tor. What be­comes most ap­par­ent is the dif­fi­cul­ties that Angdu faces: os­tra­ciza­tion, dif­fi­cul­ties in adapt­ing to monas­tic life, sep­a­ra­tion from his fam­ily, painful re­jec­tions, and the chal­lenge of reach­ing far-off Ti­bet, which the pair set off for on foot, de­spite warn­ings of a crack­down by Chinese forces. De­spite be­ing an old soul, Angdu still has plenty of tantrums, tears, and gig­gles. Panoramic cin­e­matog­ra­phy of moun­tain­ous vis­tas and snows­capes and a sen­ti­men­tal sound­track in­fuse Angdu’s story with an epic qual­ity. Even if you re­main skep­ti­cal about rein­car­na­tion, Be­com­ing is in­trigu­ing and mov­ing. Vancity, October 8 (8:15 p.m.) and 11 (6:15 p.m.) > CT

BIG TIME (Denmark) Fans of ar­chi­tec­ture will want to flock to this aptly art­ful look at Bjarke In­gels, the young Dan­ish star­chi­tect with the au­dac­ity to de­sign Van­cou­ver House—a shim­mer­ing, twist­ing tower built to look like a cur­tain open­ing on a zigzag­ging mass of low-rise, grass-roofed res­i­dences. But direc­tor Kas­par Astrup Schröder so cel­e­brates In­gels’s su­per­caf­feinated cre­ativ­ity and form-ex­plod­ing aes­thetic that this doc is go­ing to en­ter­tain just about any­body. As one de­vel­oper asks him at one point, “How do you sleep?” You can al­most see the ac­tiv­ity and ideas bounc­ing around In­gels’s brain—and that brain will bring him some great dif­fi­culty at the film’s cli­max, on his 40th birth­day. But where Big Time re­ally ex­cels is in its years-long, in­ti­mate portrait, vis­it­ing In­gels’s idyl­lic yet hum­ble roots in Denmark, where he grew up by a lake, play­ing out­doors, and work­ing odd jobs. Some of the best scenes fea­ture the ar­chi­tect, who once wanted to be a car­toon­ist, il­lus­trat­ing his ideas with a fat Magic Marker on a scroll of pa­per. With swoop­ing pans, Schröder also cap­tures the magic of In­gels’s im­pos­si­ble struc­tures—most notably, the eco-friendly power plant that launched his ca­reer. That’s the one with a ski slope on the roof and smoke rings blow­ing out from its chim­ney. SFU on October 8 (6:15 p.m.); In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 10 (4 p.m.) > JANET SMITH

CAST­ING (Ger­many) This per­fectly sharp-edged gem is about peo­ple try­ing to make a Ger­man-tv ver­sion of The Bit­ter Tears of Pe­tra von Kant, Rainer Werner Fass­binder’s les­bian melo­drama here re­tooled in het­ero fash­ion. With less than a week to go be­fore shoot­ing should be­gin on an un­fin­ished sound­stage, a novice direc­tor still hasn’t found her fe­male lead. And an ag­ing play­boy ac­tor (ter­rific An­dreas Lust) who’s been hired merely to read lines with the older women au­di­tion­ing for the pres­ti­gious part finds him­self one of the few con­stants in a flail­ing en­ter­prise. He pro­ceeds to both use and blow his ad­van­tages as they arise. Net­work, ca­reer, and sex­ual pol­i­tics share equal billing in a dev­il­ishly fun en­ter­tain­ment about what it takes to keep us amused. SFU, October 4 (9 p.m.) and 6 (4 p.m.) > KE

CHAP­LIN IN BALI: JOUR­NEY TO THE EAST

(France) “Hu­mour is found in the small dis­crep­an­cies of re­al­ity” is just one ob­ser­va­tion made here by one Char­lie Chap­lin. At the time, he was the most fa­mous man in the world, and the pres­sures of wear­ing that man­tle prompted him to make an ex­tended South Seas get­away in 1932, just after the ad­vent of sound threat­ened to make his acute sto­ry­telling modes seem old-fash­ioned. There’s a sur­pris­ing amount of great footage fol­low­ing his ocean voy­age with brother Syd­ney, through Suez, to Cey­lon and Sin­ga­pore, and then Bali it­self, where Ger­man poly­math Wal­ter Spies be­came their guide to a new way of see­ing things. Al­though the doc’s some­what aca­demic nar­ra­tion doesn’t quite make the case that the Lit­tle Tramp was philo­soph­i­cally al­tered by his so­journ—as well as com­pletely drop­ping Spies’s part of the story—the ex­pert choice of rel­e­vant clips from Chap­lin’s long ca­reer helps make this a must-see for fans, and for the merely cu­ri­ous. Vancity, October 7 (9:30 p.m.); SFU, October 9 (4:30 p.m.); Cine­math­eque, October 11 (7 p.m.) > KE

CRI­SIS MAN­AGE­MENT (In­ter­na­tional) For some rea­son, al­most all the hu­mans de­picted in this shorts col­lec­tion are deeply un­pleas­ant. That might be sur­viv­able, but the de­picters aren’t very im­pres­sive ei­ther. Some ef­forts, like “Hunger”, a longish Mex­i­can ef­fort about wasted life, are so colour­fully mounted, you can eas­ily en­joy the mis­an­thropy. But the de­pen­dence here on hu­man na­ture’s worst im­pulses—bul­ly­ing, de­ceit, in­sti­tu­tional and in­di­vid­ual cru­elty, plus the re­li­ably taboo in­cest—makes this a tough sit, aes­thet­i­cally and morally. I couldn’t make much sense of Bri­tain’s “There Was a Man, a Girl, and a Rocket”, a satir­i­cal num­ber about a kid miss­ing her as­tro­naut dad, but the ti­tle sure is nice. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 5 (6 p.m.) and 8 (4 p.m.) > KE

THE END­LESS (USA) All sorts of sub­ter­ranean mod­ern Amer­i­can anx­i­eties get fil­tered through this agree­ably pulpy ex­er­cise. (The only thing worse than be­ing in a sui­cide cult is not be­ing in a sui­cide cult?) Broth­ers Aaron and Justin re­turn to the desert-based Ufo-con­tact com­mu­nity they es­caped as young adults, drawn by vary­ing de­grees to the group se­cu­rity it of­fers, manda­tory cas­tra­tion aside. Di­rec­tors Aaron Moor­head and Justin Ben­son star, also very agree­ably, in a movie that doesn’t go where you ex­pect, but rather in the di­rec­tion of Phil Dick do­ing Love­craft. (Lovedick? Dick­craft?) Like their cult hit Spring, this new flick is a lit­tle too fussy about ex­plain­ing it­self, but it’s also tons of fun, ef­fec­tively de­signed, and oddly breezy for a film con­tain­ing such a se­ri­ously heavy nu­cleus of un­think­able dread. Rio, October 6 (11 p.m.) and 9 (9 p.m.) > ADRIAN MACK

FAREWELL (Aus­tria) Best known for his Marat/sade play, Peter Weiss was also an in­ci­sive poet, painter, and nov­el­ist, al­though his works have rarely been pub­lished in English. Based on an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal novel that is usu­ally trans­lated as Leave­tak­ing, this 80-minute es­say draws on home movies, draw­ings, archival footage, and Weiss’s own in­ci­sively carved words to con­vey the essence of his un­usu­ally dra­matic child­hood. Ini­tially drawn to the atavis­tic lure of Nazism in his youth, he had to be re­minded by his clos­est friend that hav­ing a Jewish fa­ther meant he couldn’t fully en­joy what he later rec­og­nized as “the in­sane no­tion of a col­lec­tive des­tiny”. They had the means to es­cape, and he took art, mu­sic, and life lessons in Lon­don, Prague, and Stock­holm, al­though his fam­ily’s se­cu­rity was al­ready smashed by the ac­ci­den­tal death of his beloved sis­ter be­fore the war. It’s quite som­bre, and some view­ers may strug­gle with the de­ci­sion to have a young, and very good, ac­tor read­ing Weiss’s lines in mod­ern set­tings. (There’s even a Clash tune at one point!) But I found it deeply mov­ing through­out. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 8 (1 p.m.) and 9 (8:30 p.m.) > KE

A FISH OUT OF WA­TER (Tai­wan) When a small boy’s past-life mem­o­ries get too pow­er­ful to ig­nore, his par­ents must help him search for the sea­side fam­ily he in­sists he was born into. They are Taipei per­son­al­i­ties, too busy for ev­ery­thing, but the boy’s fix­a­tions up­end the fam­ily, which is also look­ing after the dad’s ail­ing fa­ther. Direc­tor Lai Kuo-an is reach­ing for some­thing tran­scen­dent the movie never quite reaches, and it’s too gen­tle to de­liver much emo­tional wal­lop. Wa­ter images and sounds sup­port the pri­mor­dial sen­si­bil­ity of this Tai­wanese tale, which has some of the mythic feel of Ja­pan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda. And this Fish is a plea­sure to watch for geo­met­ric, wide-screen com­po­si­tions that favour blue, green, and co­ral pink. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 7 (3:15 p.m.) > KE

GOLDEN EX­ITS (USA) Surely we’ll never run out of in­die flicks about neb­bishy book­worm types who man­age to at­tract the kind of smart, hot gals who, in real life, might drop ev­ery­thing for Javier Bar­dem but are here thrilled at the chance to hang out with Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz. The gravel-voiced lit­tle guy, who’s been okay in sup­port roles, is out of his act­ing depth as a mis­an­thropic ar­chiv­ist al­ready be­lea­guered by wife Chloë Se­vi­gny and sis­ter-in­law Mary-louise Parker when sexy Aus­tralian Emily Brown­ing signs on to his lat­est pro­ject. The gals jam lots of wise­cracks into this lat­est, slightly more op­u­lent ef­fort from Alex Ross Perry, who made sketchy no-bud­geters like The Color Wheel and Lis­ten Up Philip, but it’s still all about the guys. The lat­ter film’s Jason Schwartz­man shows up here, too. And, of course, in next-gen Woody Allen Land, he’s cat­nip for the ladies! In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 7 (9:30 p.m.) and 9 (2:15 p.m.) > KE

TIME TO COME (Sin­ga­pore) Framed by the un­earthing of a time cap­sule from 1990 (phone books and VHS cas­settes, any­one?) and a new “time cube” be­ing loaded up in Sin­ga­pore, film­maker Tan Pin Pin’s doc­u­men­tary draws just enough from its ba­nal scenes of daily life in the city-state to sus­tain in­ter­est. There’s a seren­ity to this pho­to­graphic, non-nar­ra­tive, non-nar­rated work that cap­tures the tidi­ness and or­der­li­ness of this South­east Asian cos­mopo­lis. Va­cant road­ways, well-be­haved rows of stu­dents qui­etly read­ing, malls de­void of hu­man pres­ence, tree stumps be­ing ripped out of con­struc­tion sites—all are up for ob­ser­va­tion with­out any overt com­men­tary. But it’s per­haps one of the film’s ini­tially enig­matic shots— an un­der­wa­ter view of a po­lar bear run­ning in cir­cles through wa­ter— that is the most un­ex­pect­edly re­veal­ing of what the film is in­di­cat­ing, not just by what is de­picted but also by what is felt. Cine­math­eque, October 5 (9 p.m.); In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 6 (3:30 p.m.) > CT

IN

I’VE GOT THE BLUES (Hong Kong) A crankily orig­i­nal artist meets his match in a volatile film­maker as Hong Kong vet­eran Angie Chen at­tempts to pro­file Yank Wong, a painter, de­signer, and rootsy mu­si­cian (his gui­tar-pluck­ing ex­plains the ti­tle) who re­fuses to let any­one else tell his story. That re­quires Chen, a UCLA grad orig­i­nally from Shang­hai, to fol­low the guy on his H.K. haunts, and to Ma­cau and Paris—where he left two daugh­ters with dif­fer­ent moth­ers—while at­tempt­ing to smoke and drink him un­der the ta­ble. It takes some time to get used to their ban­ter­ing style, but the film re­veals mount­ing plea­sures as we get to see more of Wong’s work, both in the stu­dio and on the walls of some bo­hemian salons. His cer­ti­tude that he al­ways knows best—some­thing he uses to be­lit­tle oth­ers while smil­ing—is ir­ri­tat­ing, how­ever, and Chen knows and shows it. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 4 (6:30 p.m.) and 5 (12:45 p.m.) > KE

KEEP TALK­ING (USA) An ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion for those who en­joy the pos­i­tiv­ity of Ala­nis Obom­sawin’s Our Peo­ple Will Be Healed, this nuts-and-bolts doc looks at the recla­ma­tion of In­dige­nous lan­guages in coastal Alaska. Direc­tor Karen Lynn Wein­berg talks to schol­ars, stu­dents, artists, and el­ders in still-ac­tive fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties about their on­ce­fad­ing cul­tures, and learns some sur­pris­ing things. These in­clude the pos­i­tive in­flu­ence, dat­ing back to the 19th cen­tury, of Rus­sian Or­tho­doxy, whose priests learned Aleut in­stead of forc­ing the lo­cals to speak their lan­guage. Mem­o­rably, one old-timer re­calls, “Church is where we thought about fish­ing, and the boat is where we thought about God.” In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 5 (10:45 a.m.) > KE

LOUISE LECAVALIER IN MO­TION

(Canada) Ray­mond St-jean’s doc­u­men­tary opens with fa­mil­iar scenes of the plat­inum-haired Mon­treal dance pow­er­house: dread­locks swing­ing, Louise Lecavalier bar­rel-rolls and hurls her­self into David Bowie’s arms at the height of her La La La Hu­man Steps fame. The film also talks to the now cropped-haired, 58-year-old force of na­ture about her child­hood, when she never con­sid­ered dance an op­tion due to her mus­cu­lar frame. But mostly, it’s a portrait of Lecavalier now, the way she cre­ates in the stu­dio, how she dances, and where she per­forms around the world. For fans who’ve seen her here in re­cent years, it’s dance heaven. What comes across most—in per­son and in ex­tended dance se­quences—is her bound­less, un­stop­pable en­ergy, a vi­va­cious­ness and end­less cu­rios­ity that pro­pel her ever for­ward and defy all con­cepts of age. If only we could bot­tle that… SFU, October 9 (6:30 p.m.); Vancity, October 11 (11 a.m.) > JS

MED­I­TA­TION PARK (Canada) Mina Shum’s deeply felt com­edy-drama brought the house down at a buoy­ant and sold-out gala screen­ing on VIFF’S open­ing night (Septem­ber 28). Some flaws aside, it’ll be a crowd­pleaser wher­ever it trav­els, this tale of a dif­fi­dent Chinese wife and mother— played with tim­o­rous, al­most child­like charm by sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian wuxia leg­end Cheng Pei Pei—who dis­cov­ers that just-turned-65 hubby (she calls him “old man”) is hav­ing an af­fair. He’s by turns ras­cally, vul­ner­a­ble, and bru­tally pa­tri­ar­chal, which gives Arrival’s

Tzi Ma a lot to sink his teeth into, and he pulls it off with a real brio that isn’t al­ways sup­ported by the script. But this is Cheng’s film, and it’s her jour­ney from house mouse to eman­ci­pated older lady that got the VIFF au­di­ence on its feet. Cer­tainly no less rous­ing: this love let­ter to Hast­ingssun­rise, the best old neigh­bour­hood in the city, com­plete with back­yard-park­ing grannies (“po-pos”) and fam­ily block par­ties in crane-fes­tooned New Brighton Park, goes straight to what Van­cou­ver should be fight­ing to pro­tect. Rio, October 11 (6:15 p.m.) > AM

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Keep Talk­ing.

NEVER TEEN HELL STEADY, YEARS: NEVER > KE HEAVEN STILL

(Canada) It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at U.K. vet Shirley Hen­der­son’s un­spar­ing de­pic­tion of a mid­dle-aged Cana­dian cop­ing with Parkin­son’s dis­ease. Her gruff older hus­band (Nick Campbell) and ne’erdo-well son (Que­be­cer Théodore Pel­lerin, ex­cel­lent here even if he looks noth­ing at all like his “par­ents”) have their own prob­lems in the win­try oil coun­try of north­ern B.C. (The Fort St. John and Fort St. James lo­ca­tions are of­ten riv­et­ing.) While the boy is ques­tion­ing his own sex­u­al­ity and gen­eral place in the world, his lov­ing mum finds her own world rapidly diminishing. Writer-direc­tor Kath­leen Hep­burn spun this off from a short film, and could have taken the time to go a lit­tle fur­ther into what these folks would be with­out their prob­lems. But she’s a se­ri­ous tal­ent to watch. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October (12:15 p.m.) and 10 (6:45 p.m.)

AND

(In­ter­na­tional) The kids are not all right in this col­lec­tion. There are vi­o­lent in­tru­sions on in­no­cence, es­pe­cially in the creepy goth tale “Don’t Be Afraid of the Light” and the punkistic “No­body Likes You”. The fear of vi­cious im­pulses tor­ments an oth­er­wise nor­mal teen in the sear­ing Dan­ish drama “Overlove”, while abrupt changes in cul­ture in­trude on a quiet life in “TV in the Fish Tail”, set in a re­mote Hi­malayan vil­lage. Else­where, high-school bas­ket­ball dom­i­nates two very dif­fer­ent sto­ries, to ul­ti­mately pos­i­tive ef­fect. And in the gen­tle-toned “The Fash­ion Show”, an English girl dresses her pet lamb for a county fair and dreams of far­away fu­tures. Good show! In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 4 (11:15 p.m.); Vancity, October 7 (6:45 p.m.) > KE

LA TENEREZZA (Italy) When you’re done with the ag­i­tated in­die flicks and hin­ter­land doc­u­men­taries, and ready for a high level of grown-up moviemak­ing, Ten­der­ness is a ti­tle for you. The lat­est ef­fort from Stolen Chil­dren’s Gianni Ame­lio looks at two dam­aged Ital­ian fam­i­lies who share a court­yard in the cen­tre of old Naples. Things start with a sad-eyed trans­la­tor (ter­rific Gio­vanna Mez­zo­giorno) vis­it­ing her aged dad in the hospi­tal. We think he’s in a coma, and that we’ll fol­low her home. But the old guy (renowned theatre direc­tor Re­nato Car­pen­tieri) was just play­ing pos­sum, and the movie re­ally cen­tres on him. A cranky re­tired lawyer who has shut out the world, he gets qui­etly en­tranced by the lively young fam­ily that moves in across from his kitchen in the big, no­ble build­ing his fam­ily used to own. With nov­el­is­tic de­tail, the tale is so care­fully mounted and beau­ti­fully pho­tographed, you can for­give it for go­ing slightly off the rails after some bad things hap­pen. Look for one in­cen­di­ary scene with ’80s star Greta Scac­chi (The Coca-cola Kid), an Aus­tralian-brit who, it turns out, was born in Mi­lan. Play­house, October 5 (6:30 p.m.); In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 11 (1:30 p.m.) > KE

THAT TRIP WE TOOK WITH DAD

(Ro­ma­nia/ger­many/hun­gary) Here’s a fas­ci­nat­ing, slightly overex­tended trip back to the bad old days of Ni­co­lae Ceaus­escu’s Ro­ma­nia, when the de­fec­tion of one per­son could, and did, bring dire con­se­quences to a whole fam­ily. In this case, set in the po­lit­i­cal storms of 1968, two smart-ass sib­lings are al­ready picked on for their eth­nic Ger­man her­itage, al­though this helps a lit­tle when they drive through East Ger­many to get to a strangely dis­ap­point­ing West, in or­der to help their sick fa­ther. That might sound grim, but the film is han­dled with the hu­mour that dis­tance can bring, even if tal­ented young film­maker Anca Miruna Lazarescu is quite close to the sub­ject: in real life, her fa­ther was one of the two con­stantly squab­bling broth­ers. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage October 8 (9:30 p.m.) and 11 (12:15 p.m.) > KE

TOUCH­ING THE PO­ETIC (In­ter­na­tional) If you’re ready for a master class in how to cu­rate a pro­gram of in­ter­lock­ing shorts, check out this en­gross­ing jour­ney into the weird, wild, and def­i­nitely won­der­ful. Cars, stars, and bars are some of the the­matic el­e­ments con­nect­ing at­tempts—some pretty damned ab­stract—by hu­mans to reach for some­thing in­ef­fa­bly deep in the uni­verse. In some cases, the search is lit­eral, as in “Chas­ing Stars”, which heads to a Swiss ob­ser­va­tory and uses time-lapse images (and clas­si­cal mu­sic) to daz­zling ef­fect. “The Ko­dachrome Ele­gies” com­bines home movies and archival stills to cap­ture the colour of fad­ing mem­o­ries, and tech­nol­ogy. The hu­man body is re­fracted through fleet­ing pat­terns of light and sound in “Rhythm of Be­ing”. Most up­lift­ing, in “The Lan­guage of Ball”, a newly ar­rived Arab lad who speaks no English finds a first friend on the multi-culti bas­ket­ball courts of New York. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 6 (8:45 p.m.); Vancity, October 10 (12:45 p.m.) > KE

WORST CASE, WE GET MAR­RIED

(Canada/switzer­land) The es­sen­tially hor­ri­fy­ing tale of a dam­aged teeny­bop­per is given an airy, coun­ter­in­tu­itive touch that doesn’t quite jell by vet­eran film­maker Léa Pool. Hold­ing ev­ery­thing to­gether is a fan­tas­tic So­phie Nélisse, dressed like Jodie Fos­ter in 1975 and flounc­ing through the film with the right de­gree of hor­monal volatil­ity while she in­flicts her­self on a too-kind 29-year-old chef played by the lik­able Jean-si­mon Le­duc. A sug­ary, gum-snap­ping vibe is your cue that Nélisse’s Aicha is the un­re­li­able nar­ra­tor here, which helps to square the baf­flingly un­wise be­hav­iour of the adults in her life—and the way a key trauma is pre­sented—but which also mud­dles the in­evitably tragic end­ing. It’s still worth your time, es­pe­cially with its cen­tral per­for­mance, but in want­ing to in­cite the viewer, Worst Case doesn’t quite build its case. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, October 7 (7 p.m.) and 8 (1:15 p.m.)

Star­ring Kate Winslet. Rated PG

At least one gi­ant ob­sta­cle 2

must be crossed in this fit­fully en­gag­ing tale of two crash sur­vivors who must de­scend from a snow­cov­ered peak to stay alive. That is the truly daunt­ing task at hand, and what­ever’s be­tween them is strictly of the mole­hill va­ri­ety.

Manly man Idris Elba plays Dr. Ben Bass, an English neu­ro­sur­geon on his way to a del­i­cate op­er­a­tion in Denver when his flight is abruptly can­celled. And Kate Winslet is Alex Martin, a con­flict-zone pho­tog­ra­pher headed to her wed­ding in the same city. There are sev­eral up­grades made by screen­writ­ers Chris Weitz and J. Mills Good­loe to Charles Martin’s novel, The Moun­tain Be­tween Us. In the orig­i­nal, Ben’s sur­name was Payne, and here he’s bumped up from or­tho­pe­dics, while his coun­ter­part was called Ash­ley and wrote ar­ti­cles for women’s mag­a­zines.

The au­thor de­scribes her, help­fully, as a cross be­tween Wi­nona Ry­der and Ju­lia Or­mond. They weren’t avail­able, ap­par­ently, and nei­ther were Mar­got Rob­bie and Rosamund Pike, who both dropped out be­fore Winslet climbed aboard. Sev­eral other di­rec­tors were pre­vi­ously at­tached, and this re­mains an odd fit with Is­raeli-pales­tinian Hany Abuas­sad, best known for the smallscale po­lit­i­cal thrillers Omar and Par­adise Now, which both gar­nered Os­car nom­i­na­tions.

On-screen, Bri­tish Columbia plays the Rockies, and does a fine job, too, thanks to ap­pro­pri­ately wide-screen cin­e­matog­ra­phy by Aus­tralia’s Mandy Walker, who also shot the sim­i­larly ex­pan­sive Tracks and more hu­man-scale Hid­den Fig­ures. The chief plea­sure of wilder­ness-sur­vival sto­ries nor­mally comes from Mac­gyver-like tricks and crazy ac­ci­dents that make us con­tem­plate our own untested in­ge­nu­ity. Here, most of the ac­ci­dents are un­for­tu­nate, as when the pi­lot of the pri­vate plane hired in the first se­quence croaks in the sec­ond, leav­ing Ben slightly in­jured and Alex with a deep leg gash, which the good doc­tor tends well. (Spoiler alert: the pi­lot’s dog lives!)

In the book, her limb was com­pletely bro­ken, mak­ing the hero hoist her for the whole trek. For­tu­nately, Winslet car­ries her own filmic weight, even with a some­what iffy Amer­i­can ac­cent, while Elba has the calm­ing pres­ence re­quired for an in­her­ently gru­elling ad­ven­ture. If their Moun­tain had been made in Hol­ly­wood’s Golden Era, the leads would be snip­ing at each other like Clark Gable and Claudette Col­bert. Here, they get along a lot bet­ter than that. Con­se­quently, the script works ab­surdly hard to keep them apart, head­ing to­ward an end­ing that’s just as corny as any Har­lequin ro­mance. Won­der if they’ll be show­ing this on air­planes.

> KEN EISNER

The Moun­tain

The recla­ma­tion of In­dige­nous coastal Alaskan lan­guages gets the cel­e­bra­tion it de­serves in direc­tor Karen Lynn Wein­berg’s rous­ing doc­u­men­tary,

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