Red, Force of Nature The Suzuki Movie, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Waiting for Superman

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WAITING FOR SUPERMAN: Davis Guggenheim brought us the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth and now this blistering examination of education in the United States. Once again he marshals charts and statistics to make a convincing case that public education in America is a mess. There are clips of every president from Johnson to Obama pledging to fix it and lots of evidence that it only gets worse. To get into a better school sometimes takes a lottery. We see a few of these along with the painful tension among the young candidates.

Guggenheim points to the teachers union as the main problem (it’s almost impossible to fire a bad teacher)  and charter schools as the solution. Ironically, that has now  made him just as popular with the right in the US as he has been with the left. But is it relevant to Canada? After all, we have teachers unions and a chart we glimpse in the film a couple of times puts our school system among the best on earth. How come we can make it work and the US can’t? Despite the omissions, this is a very informative film. (5th Avenue Cinemas) 3 ½ out of 5

UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES: I must admit this was the one film that I really didn't understand at VIFF. It seems to be a musing on Buddhist ideas of life, death and re-incarnation and there are some grand scenes to illustrate them. But there are others: murky in what they're saying and often in look too.

The film has a farmer in Thailand, who dying of kidney disease, pondering his life and preparing for his death. When two relatives visit, two ghosts, his wife and his son, also appear. The son is now a monkey. Stranger scenes happen next day, including a sex drive by a catfish. The film flits in and out of past lives but it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s they are. Also, it’s often very slow. The director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, is Thailand’s best known filmmaker and he won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival with this one.

It’s the first of several high-demand VIFF films the VanCity theatre is bringing back. Here’s the complete schedule.


UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES - Sat, Oct 16, 6:30pm and 8:45pm; Sun, Oct 17, 6:30pm and 8:45pm; Mon, Oct 18, 6:30pm;
Tues, Oct 19, 6:30pm; Wed, Oct 20, 6:30pm; Fri, Oct 22, 9:00pm
A DRUMMER'S DREAM - Sat, Oct 16, 2:00pm
LOVE SHINES - Sat, Oct 16, 4:00pm
WAGNER & ME - Sun, Oct 17, 2:00pm
SNOW WHITE - Sun, Oct 17, 4:00pm
LOVE TRANSLATED - Mon, Oct 18, 8:45pm
KINSHASA SYMPHONY - Tues, Oct 19, 6:30pm
WINDS OF HEAVEN - Wed, Oct 20, 8:45pm; Sun, Oct 24, 9:00pm
DESERT OF FORBIDDEN ART - Sat, Oct 23, 9:00pm; Mon, Oct 25, 9:00pm


Also now playing ...

NOWHERE BOY:  John Lennon’s pre-Beatles life. He’s raised by his aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas) but seeks the love of his estranged mother (Anne-Marie Duff). Only one Lennon song, “Mother” of course, but a lot of American rock and roll is heard. Aaron Johnson (remember Kick-Ass?) stars. (Tinseltown and four suburban theatres)

JACKASS 3D: Johnny Knoxville and his merry nutbar friends have another batch of stunts to test your tolerance for pain and disgust. Now they’ll be coming right at you in 3D. (Scotiabank, Dunbar, Van East and all over the suburbs)

THE MAN FROM NOWHERE: A stylish thriller from Korea. As sleek as a shiny new car. Spellbinding scenes that combine action and emotion. I can attest to some of that; I’ve seen part of the film. The story has young man protecting a young girl from some seriously multitasking gangsters. The film played at VIFF.

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