Our crack team of crit­ics gets to work on the se­cond week of the Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - By Ken Eisner, Janet Smith, Craig Takeuchi, and Adrian Mack

There’s love, and war, and all the jazz that goes in be­tween—of the Blue Note va­ri­ety, in par­tic­u­lar—as the Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val rolls into its se­cond week of screen­ings. Here’s what our crit­ics saw and, for the most part, liked. Be sure to go to for more re­views, news, and fea­tures.

ALL GOOD (Ger­many) The com­mon German phrase “Alles ist gut” is Janne’s mantra as she tries to move on from a sex­ual as­sault that hap­pens af­ter a drunken high-school re­u­nion. But the vi­o­la­tion, shot in de­tached ba­nal­ity on an apart­ment floor, starts to catch up with her—es­pe­cially at work, when she has to see her boss’s brother-in-law, the awk­ward, some­what re­morse­ful per­pe­tra­tor. Eva Tro­bisch’s strik­ing first fea­ture as­serts it­self as one of sev­eral strong ex­plo­rations of sex­ual ha­rass­ment hit­ting VIFF at this #Metoo moment. And it goes be­yond head­lines and into the real nu­ances of as­sault. In Aenne Sch­warz’s sub­tle hands, you can see a woman putting on a strong, as­sured front, but also the all-too-hu­man self-doubt that starts to nag at her. Did she mis­con­strue what hap­pened? Did she give in too eas­ily? They’re ques­tions that are un­founded but all too fa­mil­iar to women ev­ery­where— and they be­gin to un­ravel her mar­riage, her ca­reer, and her world. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 5 (7 p.m.) Janet Smith

AT WAR (France) Led by Lau­rent (won­der­ful Vin­cent Lindon), strik­ing work­ers at a French auto-parts com­pany ten­u­ously hold their ground while de­mand­ing to meet with the com­pany’s re­mote CEO, re­moved by one coun­try and sev­eral or­ders of not-giv­ing-a-shit in Ger­many. Ruth­less in ex­pos­ing the patholo­gies of cor­po­rate cul­ture and the fatu­ous­ness of its de­fend­ers (and its vic­tim-en­ablers), Stéphane Brizé’s red-blooded drama is struc­tured as a se­ries of con­flicts that lead to that fi­nal show­down, each one es­ca­lat­ing the un­avoid­able cy­cle of class con­flict to a chaotic and vis­cer­ally de­picted cli­max. When the big boss even­tu­ally shows up, he’s full of al­most com­i­cally glib plat­i­tudes, un­til the rep­til­ian cant of a true cap­i­tal­ist zealot finally pours out. His fate is more sat­is­fy­ing (and fun­nier) than the per­haps un­nec­es­sar­ily melo­dra­matic turn that awaits oth­ers, but un­til then, At War is like Gal­lic Ken Loach: a fan­tas­tic blast of hu­mane and righ­teously an­gry cin­ema. Play­house, Oc­to­ber 8 (6:30 p.m.) Adrian Mack

BAIKONUR, EARTH (Italy) An eerie com­bi­na­tion of nos­tal­gia, his­tor­i­cal dis­place­ment, and sci-fi lyri­cism marks this brief yet lan­guorous look at one of the most re­mote places on Earth. Like Chile’s Ata­cama Desert, this stark slab of open plain in Kaza­khstan is per­fect for cer­tain as­tro­nom­i­cal pur­suits, and so be­came the cen­tral launch­ing point of the Soviet space pro­gram. There are still ves­tiges of it there, some in use and oth­ers aban­doned, and Ital­ian film­maker An­drea Sorini lets the mys­tery un­fold as his cam­era probes the grassy spa­ces, bru­tal­ist ar­chi­tec­ture, and neon-lit karaoke bars of a flick­er­ing quad­rant on the map of for­got­ten hu­man­ity. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 4 (7 p.m.) and 7 (4:30 p.m.) Ken Eisner

BARE­FOOT (Czech Repub­lic) Top Czech direc­tor Jan Sverák gives us a kind of pre­quel to his post­war clas­sic The Ele­men­tary School, with mixed re­sults. Al­though the sub­ject re­mains in­ter­est­ing—the Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion as seen through the eyes of a small boy mostly re­moved from the hor­ror, à la Eng­land’s Hope and Glory—the char­ac­ters are not par­tic­u­larly en­gag­ing and the movie strains a bit too hard for comic re­lief. SFU, Oc­to­ber 6 (11 a.m.); Play­house, Oc­to­ber 8 (9:15 p.m.) KE BLUE NOTE RECORDS: BE­YOND THE NOTES (Switzer­land/usa/u.k.) Al­fred Lion and Fran­cis Wolff, two Jews who fled Nazi Berlin in the 1930s and later started a trad-jazz and boo­gie-woo­gie record la­bel, be­came prime movers for mod­ern stuff in the ’50s. Their ad­vo­cacy of icon­o­clast Thelonious Monk alone would have en­sured their place in history, but key record­ings by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, and many oth­ers aded to an in­deli­ble mark. The la­bel’s funky side, repped by Lee Mor­gan, Grant Green, and Lou Don­ald­son (who wheez­ingly ap­pears here), kept fi­nances afloat, with their sounds widely sam­pled in the early hip-hop era. The film con­tains com­plete new per­for­mances by Her­bie Han­cock and Wayne Shorter, and will be riv­et­ing even for folks who know most of the story. Un­like other la­bels, BN paid for all re­hearsals (at Rudy Van Gelder’s stel­lar stu­dio), en­cour­ag­ing orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions with chal­leng­ing ar­range­ments, while Wolff snapped soul­ful pho­tos that have since helped keep the mu­sic alive. (By the way, Nora Jones is al­most the only woman on hand.) Rio, Oc­to­ber 6 (12:30 p.m.); SFU, Oc­to­ber 11 (6:45 p.m.) KE

CARMINE STREET GUI­TARS (Canada) When is a gui­tar more than just a gui­tar? Ask any gui­tarist and you’ll get an ear­ful. But if you ask Rick Kelly, pro­pri­etor of a long-stand­ing Greenwich Vil­lage mu­sic shop, he’ll show you that it’s an op­por­tu­nity to re­claim big chunks of old New York and turn them into in­stru­ments with ex­pe­ri­ence built right in. Kelly’s not the most charis­matic sub­ject, but top play­ers like Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, and Toronto’s Chris­tine Bougie stop by to play and sing. Vet­eran doc direc­tor Ron Mann also fo­cuses on goth­maned ap­pren­tice Cindy Hulej, who wan­dered into Kelly’s shop as an artist and stuck around to be­come a mas­ter luthier. SFU, Oc­to­ber 7 (4:30 p.m.) KE

CUBAN FOOD STO­RIES (Cuba/ USA) Cuban ex­pat film­maker Asori Soto nar­rates his gen­tle and soul­ful re­turn to his home­land in search of the flavours he pines for. What quickly be­comes ap­par­ent is that in a coun­try where things can be abruptly taken away—whether by politics, eco­nom­ics, or nat­u­ral dis­as­ters— res­i­dents have learned to make do as much as they can with what­ever they have, no mat­ter how lit­tle. Such is the case with its most de­li­cious cook­ing, this doc­u­men­tary opines. Ap­pre­ci­a­tion for sim­plic­ity (and hu­mil­ity) is a re­cur­ring theme, as Soto vis­its cooks in the un­like­li­est lo­ca­tions, from a re­mote moun­tain abode to river- and ocean­side kitchens. Al­though tinged with melan­choly, the fo­cus here is on how re­source­ful, re­silient, and vi­brant Cubans are in the face of hard­ship. Ex­pect your stom­ach to growl and your wan­der­lust to be aroused. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 7 (9:30 p.m.) Craig Takeuchi DJON ÁFRICA (Por­tu­gal/cape Verde/ Brazil) An imag­i­na­tive, per­haps overly chill Por­tuguese guy with dread­locks feels stuck in his cin­der-block sub­urb (in­clud­ing some lo­ca­tions and even faces we re­mem­ber from the cult hit Tabu). So young Djon scrapes to­gether the eu­ros to fly to Cape Verde, home of the fa­ther he never met, in hopes that the old guy still lives there. Di­rec­tors Filipa Reis and João Miller Guerra have only made doc­u­men­taries, and they cast ethno­graphic eyes over the rocky African ar­chi­pel­ago, home to a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of great mu­sic, from Cesária Évora to Ho­race Sil­ver. The pi­caresque story gets pretty wispy at times, as if the film­mak­ers ran out of ideas or money. But they com­pen­sate with deliri­ous flights of fancy, es­pe­cially when it comes to Djon’s en­coun­ters with beau­ti­ful lo­cal women. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 9 (9:45 p.m.) and 11 (11:15 a.m.) KE

FA­THER TO SON (Tai­wan) A highly fa­mil­iar con­cept (look at VIFF’S Djon África) is given a num­ber of won­der­ful twists in this po­etic, time-jump­ing, and deeply hu­man­is­tic Tai­wanese ef­fort. Here, the man (un­for­get­table Michael JQ Huang) who barely knew his dad is al­ready in late mid­dle age and is fac­ing his own mor­tal­ity. The fact that he’s an in­ven­tor as well as a handy­man—his over­stuffed hard­ware store is prac­ti­cally a char­ac­ter in the movie—al­lows him the chance to re­turn to Ja­pan, where his ab­sent dad was a for­eign worker. A par­al­lel story with a young Hongkonger re­turn­ing to Taipei car­ries less heft, but al­lows for con­sid­er­able va­ri­ety of tones and rhythms. And for once, the aban­doned fel­low has a fine re­la­tion­ship with his own son, so that’s al­ready un­usual. Highly rec­om­mended. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 8 (10:45 a.m.) and 10 (9:15 a.m.) KE

THE IM­AGE YOU MISSED (Ire­land/ Usa/france) A strange hall of mir­rors that never quite brings its twin pro­tag­o­nists into full fo­cus, this Im­age will still be in­ter­est­ing to peo­ple who care about the chal­lenges built into doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ing and pars­ing the on­go­ing con­flicts in North­ern Ire­land. Dublin­born Donal Fore­man barely got to know his Ir­ish-amer­i­can fa­ther, Arthur Mac­caig, a photographer and film­maker who got hooked on cap­tur­ing dif­fer­ent phases of the IRA strug­gle. Mac­caig died a decade ago, and the es­tranged son sub­se­quently vis­ited his fa­ther’s Paris apart­ment, where he found con­sid­er­able footage and other mem­o­ra­bilia, much of which had never been seen pub­licly. SFU, Oc­to­ber 8 (1:30 p.m.); Cine­math­eque, Oc­to­ber 10 (7:15 p.m.) KE

IMPULSO (France/spain) The open­ing mon­tage of hy­per­mag­netic dancer Ro­cio Molina sig­nals that this is def­i­nitely not go­ing to be a doc­u­men­tary about the fla­menco you know. The young star is blind­folded and wear­ing span­dex shorts, funky red knee socks, and kneepads as she ham­mers the floor mer­ci­lessly. In Emilio Bel­monte’s fiery new por­trait, she some­times looks pos­sessed on-stage; in one scene, her mother tears up while talk­ing about how much she wor­ries over the men­tal toll of her daugh­ter’s per­form­ing. The avant-garde and im­pro­vi­sa­tional di­rec­tions Molina takes fla­menco in are just as strik­ing. At the Seville Bi­enal de Fla­menco, Molina slith­ers across a floor of white gravel, her black bata de cola drag­ging be­hind her like she’s just risen from the pri­mor­dial ooze. In an­other piece, her skirt is a giant sheet of plas­tic brush­ing blood­like black and red paint over can­vas. Bel­monte in­ter­weaves in­ti­mate scenes at her fam­ily ranch, where Molina and her mu­si­cians cre­ate their work. It co­a­lesces as an ex­hil­a­rat­ing look at both the power of art and the new face of fla­menco. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 7 (10:45 a.m.); Rio, Oc­to­ber 10 (6 p.m.) JS

IN THE SHAD­OWS (In­dia) In this psy­cho­log­i­cal drama, Khud­doos (Manoj Ba­j­payee) is heav­ily pre­oc­cu­pied with ob­serv­ing his neigh­bours through video sur­veil­lance, to the ne­glect of his own needs. His ob­ses­sion in­ten­si­fies when he be­gins to hear a boy next door be­ing phys­i­cally abused by his fa­ther. As Khud­doos be­comes con­sumed with find­ing the elu­sive boy, the film shifts to­ward Idu (Om Singh), who is de­voted to his preg­nant mother but wants to leave his abu­sive fa­ther. De­spite a con­vinc­ing per­for­mance, Ba­j­payee is con­strained to a lim­ited and repet­i­tive role as his con­di­tion and sit­u­a­tion de­te­ri­o­rate, with Idu’s story tak­ing promi­nence. What un­folds won’t be as much of a mys­tery as the nar­ra­tive im­plies, but elic­its enough cu­rios­ity to sus­tain in­ter­est. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 5 (11:15 a.m.). CT

INTRODUZIONE ALL’OSCURO (Ar­gentina/aus­tria) The Ital­ian ti­tle is just one of many red her­rings dan­gled by Ar­gen­tine direc­tor Gastón Sol­nicki, who prowled win­try Vi­enna af­ter Aus­trian pal Hans Hurch died in Rome, in 2017. Hurch was a film critic and his­to­rian who ran the Vi­enna In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val for two decades be­fore his sud­den heart at­tack, and Sol­nicki hon­oured his “most flam­boy­ant friend” by vis­it­ing some of the haunts he shared with Hurch, who had a fondness for nick­ing porce­lain sou­venirs from cafés. Sol­nicki, who of­ten wears a black pon­cho, doesn’t al­ways ex­plain his cin­e­matic choices, or his in­clu­sion of seem­ingly ran­dom bits of street di­a­logue and mu­sic rang­ing from Bach to Muzak Billy Joel. Par­tic­u­larly nice is a clip of Ernst Lu­bitsch’s Trou­ble in Par­adise, with Her­bert Mar­shall as a jewel thief named Gas­ton. These frag­ments are fun, fre­quently puz­zling, and some­how add up to an ex­is­ten­tial por­trait—of a city, if not of a per­son. Cine­math­eque, Oc­to­ber 4 (9:15 p.m.); Vancity, Oc­to­ber 7 (4 p.m.) KE

IT’S BOR­ING HERE, PICK ME UP (Ja­pan) This nervy lit­tle item plays like it was made by a mil­len­nial fe­male who takes no shit. But in fact, direc­tor Hiroki Ryui­cho is an older man, re­spon­si­ble for od­dball youth-cul­ture items like Vi­bra­tor and Tokyo Trash Baby. But he is adapt­ing from a novel by a mil­len­nial fe­male who takes no shit, as re­flected in sev­eral for­mer girls (and one am­bigu­ously ori­ented char­ac­ter), now push­ing 30 and look­ing back at their golden years of high school in a town that be­came much too small for them. The for­mally play­ful ef­fort jumps be­tween decades and cen­tral POVS, but the com­mon thread is ev­ery­one’s swoony rec­ol­lec­tions of the school’s hunky heart­throb, who may or may not still be around. Did we men­tion that it’s also a mu­si­cal? In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 9 (7 p.m.) and 10 (11:15 a.m.) KE

IYENGAR: THE MAN, YOGA, AND THE STU­DENT’S JOUR­NEY (USA) The late B.K.S. Iyengar’s con­tri­bu­tions to and in­flu­ence upon the world of yoga are de­tailed in this com­pre­hen­sive doc­u­men­tary. The then 90-year-old Iyengar (still do­ing back­bends) dis­cusses the roots of his form of hatha yoga, which in­volves the use of props in asanas (poses), and il­lu­mi­nates the deeply con­sid­ered phi­los­o­phy un­der­scor­ing his holis­tic pur­suit of men­tal, phys­i­cal, and spir­i­tual health. His pop­u­lar­iza­tion of yoga is il­lus­trated through ex­am­ples in­ter­wo­ven as threads through­out the film, rang­ing from girls at a Mum­bai or­phan­age ben­e­fit­ing from the prac­tice to archival footage of west­ern Tv-show hosts in­ter­view­ing Iyengar as a cu­rios­ity. How­ever, this por­trait isn’t a de­ifi­ca­tion: while some in­ter­vie­wees speak highly of him, oth­ers note his flaws, and his brusque, of­ten crit­i­cal ap­proach is also on dis­play. Need­less to say, it’s es­sen­tial view­ing for prac­ti­tion­ers. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 9 (11:45 a.m.); Play­house, Oc­to­ber 11 (6:30 p.m.) CT

LEVEL 16 (Canada) There’s clearly a place in the world for Dan­ishka Ester­hazy’s grim fairy tale, which zaps our cur­rent anx­i­eties with the in­sti­tu­tional dread of early Cro­nen­berg. The film takes place within a high-se­cu­rity all­girl board­ing school/or­phan­age run like a con­cen­tra­tion camp, but there’s re­volt brew­ing inside teen Vivien, se­ri­ously chaf­ing against the mil­i­taris­tic or­der, vi­ta­min reg­i­mens, and daily lessons in “fe­male virtue”—not to men­tion the spates of phys­i­cal tor­ture. Sara Can­ning gets to have the most fun here as an Ilsa, She Wolf of the Ss–like war­den, and in­deed, if Level 16 had been made 40 years ago as a drive-in movie, we’d feel com­fort­ably re­moved from its car­toon Nazi hor­rors. In a world of es­ca­lat­ing cor­po­rate psy­chopa­thy and hu­mans as pure re­source? Not so much. The pac­ing is deadly and the im­pov­er­ish­ments of bud­get a lit­tle too vis­i­ble, but Level 16 man­ages to un­nerve all the same. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 7 (3 p.m.) AM


(Italy) Do you re­ally want to see the mob­sters of Go­mor­rah or The So­pra­nos break into song on a reg­u­lar ba­sis? The an­swer will likely de­ter­mine your in­cli­na­tion to sit through 134 min­utes of tongue-incheek shenani­gans in­volv­ing a tacky widow whose big-shot hus­band has faked his own death, a hit man in on the ruse, and a street­wise nurse caught up in the may­hem. The setup is fun, and things peak with a big pro­duc­tion num­ber of Flash­dance theme “What a Feel­ing”. But the orig­i­nal mu­sic isn’t nearly as catchy, and the story flags soon af­ter that. Rio, Oc­to­ber 6 (2:45 p.m.); Play­house, Oc­to­ber 11 (9:15 p.m.) KE

LOVE AND COM­PAS­SION (In­ter­na­tional) Grief and Re­gret might be a more telling ti­tle for this pack­age of shorts, most of which deal with mor­tal­ity and bit­ter mem­o­ries. Such strong con­tenders as a Mex­i­can tale of a sin­gle mother go­ing to the circus, a Span­ish look at two sis­ters with dif­fer­ent fates,

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Aenne Sch­warz takes the lead in Ger­many’s All Good, one of a num­ber of strong movies at this year’s fes­ti­val that deal with sex­ual ha­rass­ment; In It’s Bor­ing Here, Pick Me Up, Hashimoto Ai re­turns to her small town look­ing for the hunky heart­throb who still haunts her mem­o­ries of youth.

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