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Eccentrics, boy sopranos and hockey players show up in the last few VIFF picks

Laura-Kay Prophet is an eccentric from Vancouver in John Zaritsky’s documentary Different Drummer.


These last few days of the Vancouver International Film Festival still have some choice films to catch. Foxcatcher is sure to be nominated for awards. Germany’s Oscar submission is Beloved Sisters. It must have something; it beat out Phoenix, which is also showing one more time. Violent, which screens Friday, won best Canadian and best B.C. film at this festival. Both Preggoland  and The Vancouver Asahi have extra screenings, on Wed. and Thurs. respectively.

Here are five new recommendations:

A Different Drummer: Celebrating Eccentrics:  4 stars

Red Army:   4 ½

Coming Home:  3

Living is Easy With Eyes Closed:  3 ½

Boychoir:  3


A DIFFERENT DRUMMER: John Zaritsky’s latest documentary celebrates eccentrics. It’s not only a great deal of fun but it’s also an eye opener. These people aren’t crazy. Not the hermit in Utah who lives in a cave, never uses money and blogs about his life style from the computer at the library. Not the fans of Martin Van Buren who gather every year although they can’t recall anything the 8th American president did, except chase skirts. In England, there’s Lord Toby Jug busy keeping Screaming Lord Sutch’s creation, the Monster Raving Loony Party, going with outrageous election promises.


Here in Vancouver, Zaritsky features the Duck Lady, Laura-Kay Prophet, who runs a street lottery for the homeless with her pet duck at her side. I hadn’t heard about her for years and didn’t know she was still around. She’ll attend the world premiere with him Wednesday evening at The Rio. The film draws on a Scottish psychologist’s work which says eccentrics are happier than most of us, have higher IQ scores, are creative and live longer. Indeed the ones here are articulate about their life and clear on what one calls her “inner personal sense of satisfaction.” Zaritsky is a multi-award-winner including an Academy Award. (Screens Wed. And Fri.)  4 out of 5

RED ARMY: No hockey fan is going to want to miss this one. Or history buffs. You get both subjects intricately entangled and in large doses in this lively documentary. We finally get the behind the scenes details about the Russian hockey program (developed with Stalin’s support to show off socialist superiority), the embarrassing victories against NHL players and then the battles over players who wanted to come over here and join them. Remember Igor Larianov and Vladimir Krutov were among the first when they joined the Canucks. On their national team, they were part of the fabled “Russian Five.”


Our chief source in this documentary is also from that group, the great defenceman Viacheslav Fetisov. He’s got acerbic comments about coaches and politicians, other players and even the filmmaker interviewing him. He’s got insider knowledge about what went on. Why the players grew tired of the system. His own fight to get to the NHL. The connection between sport and politics.  He was Vladimir Putin’s Minister of Sport for a few years. There are also lots of archival clips, even a Coaches Corner fragment, and observations by writers, players, a former KGB agent and coaches like Scotty Bowman. I don’t know how much of this is new, but I found it fascinating. (Screens Tues. early and Thurs. evening) 4 ½ out of 5  

More in New Movies

Disney wildlife times two, a blast at American politics and a traumatic teen drama

Also a couple of small but amiable comedies, one of them Canadian

More streaming ideas take you to Brazil, low-life China and two Jesse Eisenberg films

As well as a cleverly-plotted trip to Barcelona thanks to Netflix

Movie theatres are shut down, so what’s streaming?

Some modest recommendations and stay for the last one, an alarm about what has happened to the internet.
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