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Vancouver International Film Festival Picks for Day 10: Saturday

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All he had been trying to do was impress a young woman who moves in intellectual circles. Things get dicey when the real author shows up, wants to take over the publicity machine for the book and has ideas for another. It’s not a great comedy but it’s charming and amusing. Plus  you get to see two of Germany’s best young actors: Hannah Herzsprung as the girlfriend and Daniel Bruhl as the waiter cum literary darling. He starred in Goodbye Lenin, the big hit of a few years back and had a showy role in Inglourious Basterds. (Also screens Monday) 3 1/2 out of 5

MADE IN DAGENHAM: Another Saturday screening for this crowd-pleasing story of a strike by women at a Ford plant in England that led to the world’s first equal pay legislation. Sally Hawkins plays the a modest seamstress  who becomes a fighter for gender equality. Bob Hoskins plays her ally against both management and the comfortable union leadership. It’s striking how much of the film is played as a comedy using every chance possible to show the gender slights the women suffered. Miranda Richardson plays Barbara Castle, the labor minister who stands up to Ford and supports the women with a rousing speech. 3 out of 5

THE TWO ESCOBARS: This is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. It has drama, tension, hope, tragedy, and more. A screenwriter couldn’t do better. Escobar 1 was Pablo, the drug lord in Columbia who was hunted down and shot in 1993. The film tells us he was immensely popular among the poor because he brought services, facilities and peace to the slums. And he loved soccer.

Escobar 2 was Andrés, the star player on the national soccer team that went to the World Cup in Los Angeles. Pele predicted the team would win it all and the nation was pumped. But the team chocked and tragically it was an own-goal by Andrés that put them out. The film shows how the team came to rise to world-class status in the first place (Pablo’s money had a lot to do with it) and then explains the rot that set in even before it got to Los Angeles. A lot of archival clips and of course the drama of these two men (individually and connected) makes this a fast-moving  and compelling documentary. (Also next Thursday) 4 out of 5

THE INFIDEL: The English comedy that had a sold-out screening aborted, then sold out another, gets two extra dates added, today and Monday. This is a very funny look at the animosity between Muslims and Jews concluding, of course, with a message of tolerance. A London cabbie discovers he is not a Muslim as he was raised. He’s a Jew who was adopted. That triggers a comic meltdown  because a radical imam is already on his case for his non-observing ways. He sets out to find out what being Jewish is all about. A series of culture-clash gags follow.

The humor is uneven, often brash and sometimes obvious and low-class but a terrific performance by Omid Djalili makes it work. 3 out of 5

SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL: Tonight and tomorrow you can finally see one of the most publicized Canadian movies ever. If you want to. I would think the audiences for our national sport and for musicals are pretty much different. The film isn’t going to bring them together even if a bunch of big names in Canadian music provided songs and recognizable faces from Nellie Furtado, to George Stroumboulopoulos, to Walter Gretzky appear.

Strombo isn’t singing in that photo. I doubt if he would find much that’s hip in these tunes. They’re more like stilted conversations done in Broadway-style songs.. A few have a rousing chorus but not much else is memorable. The plot has a home-schooled lad (an ingenuous Noah Reid) follow his love for hockey into a Brampton team where the coach wants him to fight. He won’t do that but does score lots of goals. How long can that last? There’s also a love story. 2 out of 5

REPEATERS: B.C. Director Carl Bessai is notable for having two films in the festival this year. Fathers and Sons is popular enough to get an extra screening (Oct 15) but Repeaters is an unknown. Here anyway. Critics in Toronto weren’t positive about it. Bessai takes a first step into thriller territory with a story of three addicts in rehab (played by Dustin Milligan, Amanda Crew and Richard de Klerk) who find they’re living the same day over and over again. (they’ll repeat again on Thursda

AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE: No it's not all serious and artistic at VIFF. This film celebrates the really low films. Not even B-movies, but Z. You've heard of Bad Girls go to Hell? How about Blood Feast or Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS? They're analyzed and contexualized in this speedy documentary along with a selection of gore fests, pornos, biker movies and that old favorite, women in prison movies. There are lots of great clips. The film claims these exploitation films date back right to cinema's very first days. Edison was making them. Knowledgeable afficianados like directors Joe Dante and John Landis explain the finer points of the various genres and how they evolved over the decades. Landis sums up with "They will make anything if it makes money" and one pioneer, Don Edmunds goes further with "If you're gonna be outrageous, be outrageous." (Also screens Monday) 3 1/2 out of 5



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