The chief’s son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who, according to his mom “leads with his heart not his spear,” has to learn the lessons of his father: that people have to kill animals to have food to eat. He’s thrust into a long survival adventure where he learns it. A bison pushes him off a cliff; he clings to a ledge, drops into a river, gets to shore and tries to find a way home. He’s injured, almost kills a wolf and instead of finishing him off, helps him heal. The two become allies on the rest of the trip. The film by American director Allen Hughes is being promoted as a heart-warming story about the original domestification of a wolf into man’s best friend. I think the harsh lives of primitives in a tough landscape is the better focus. It’s imparted with real feeling, severe tension at times and imagination. There’s wonderful a sequence when the camera swoops over the land, along a river and up a valley to show you the big empty land. And in aid of authenticity, all the characters speak only a made-up language (we get subtitles). (International Village and suburban theatres) 3 ½ out of 5
WALL: No not Trump’s, although you might be moved to think about it a few times as you watch. This is the one Israel built to separate itself from the Palestinians. Over 700 kilometers, costing $4 billion to build and ever controversial, the wall was the subject of a one-man play, a monologue really, by the English writer David Hare. Now it’s a film from the National Film Board and director Cam Christiansen in Calgary. Again, it’s David Hare doing the talking but the format is far different.
Instead of just quoting various thinkers and analysts on the Middle East, Hare drives from Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem, to Nablus and other locations to speak to many in person, sometimes in groups. The trip, the discussions and the comments were filmed and then animated. Until a few bits of color at the end, they’re in black and white, pretty well reflecting the stark story they tell. The wall was built to fight terrorism and has reduced it 84%. Or: the wall was obsolete before it was finished because the terrorists changed their tactics. The wall simply draws a line where people live. Or: by swerving around illegal settlements, it amounts to a land grab. Hare tries to be balanced but can’t help leaning in his comments. He’s got strong scenes at border checkpoints, nuisance examples the Palestinians live with and a full dialogue on why Israel seems so strong but feels so weak. There’s much to think about in this one.And here’s a fact I learned from it: Ramallah is safe because it’s the only city around there not mentioned in the Bible and that means religious zealots aren’t interested in it. (VanCity) 4 out of 5
CIELO: Most of us don’t spend too much time watching the sky. We’re too busy or there’s too much light pollution in our cities. Alison McAlpine from Toronto invites us to rediscover the joy and peace in looking at the heavens with this film about people doing exactly that. She finds them in one of the best places on earth for star gazing, the Atacama Desert in Chile. There’s a famous observatory where she meets scientists looking for new planets and pondering the real nature of the universe. We only see a bit of it, one says, like an ant able to comprehend only a small part of the world when it comes out of a hole in the ground.