Bond shoots again, Suffragettes fight the power and a boy named Theeb tops them all

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Abi Morgan’s script (she wrote The Iron Lady a few years ago) features three main women to illuminate the movement. Anne-Marie Duff, as an abused wife, and Helena Bonham Carter, as a pharmacist, are both activists. Carey Mulligan is new to the movement and the film is most effective in charting her radicalization. Two problems, though. Every woman’s issue you can think of is loaded on her. Her bad job in a laundry, the sexually-harassing boss, the male chauvinists all around, the un-caring husband and the final one that drove her to activism, the law that gives the father, not the mother, control over a child. That’s committed writing but also unreal. The emotional power is only intermittent.  Brendan Gleeson is excellent as the police inspector watching and sometimes manipulating the women. (International Village) 2 ½  out of 5   

THEEB: You can‘t go wrong checking out this movie. It’s both different and familiar as well as artistic and entertaining. Think spaghetti western but in an exotic culture and you might get close. Also think of georgeous desert visuals filmed in the same valley as Lawrence of Arabia or the current hit, The Martian. Think also of great craft. This is Jordan’s submission to the Academy Awards and Naji Abu Nowar won the best director award for it in Venice.

 The scene is a small Bedouin settlement in Arabia in 1916. Theeb (meaning Wolf) is a young boy played by the wonderfully expressive Jacir Eid. He contrives to go along when his older brother is asked to lead an English soldier and his guide through a valley that used to be a busy pilgrim route to Mecca but is now used mostly by bandits. The director creates a creeping sense of danger as they ride through the spectacular scenery and well-modulated tension when bandits and then rebels show up. He holds you with every scene by running it just long enough, not rushing or dragging. When Theeb winds up alone with an injured bandit (played by an impressive actor named Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh) he gets a lesson about the modern world and the impetus to take action. It’s an adventure but rich in themes and meaning.  (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5  


Also at the Van City …

HADWIN’S JUDGEMENT:  I guess he thought it was a good idea at the time. Nobody else did and it caused outrage. Now it, through this film, affords us a new take on an old dispute here in BC: over logging our forests. As  Sasha Snow has shaped it (as director, writer and cinematographer and based on John Vaillant’s book The Golden Spruce) there’s also ancient myth, obsession and moving drama tied up in this infamous bit of environmental vandalism.

 Almost 20 years ago a forest industry “timber cruiser” named Grant Hadwin (played in non-speaking scenes by Doug Chapman) chopped down a 300-year-old golden spruce tree on Haida Gwaii that tourists loved to visit and aboriginals considered mythological. Friends, natives and observers including Vaillant and silvaculturalist Herb Hammond trace how he came to do it. They tell of Hadwin’s descent into despair that his work laying out logging roads was destroying huge swaths of forest. Cutting the spruce was to sound an alert. Problem is, people didn’t understand it that way. The film brings all this out with a mix of speculation and his own thoughts in letters he wrote. It’s rich with atmosphere, beautifully photographed and edited and powerful in using a tragedy to call for respect for the natural world. (VanCity Theatre. The director will take questions via skype on Friday and Vaillant will attend Mon and Tues)   4 out of 5

More in New Movies

Angry history in Official Secrets, dubious flash in Hustlers and a muddle in The Goldfinch

VIFF has just added this: Michael Moore will be here to show and give a creator talk about the film that made his career: Roger and Me. It was the most popular documentary where it premiered at VIFF...

VIFF announces the opener, closer and a very promising schedule for this year’s festival

A scene from Parasite, the Cannes winner that will be also screen at VIFF
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