Five more films worth catching at VIFF

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Shirley Henderson plays a mother in a small community by a lake in Northern BC. She’s shaky and reedy-voiced because of Parkinson’s disease. Her portrayal of the affliction is a marvel. Nicholas Campbell plays her husband. He dies not far into the movie but first prods their son (Théodore Pellerin) to make something of his life and get a job in the oil patch. His efforts there, which include bullying by a nasty foreman (Jared Abrahamson) and her difficulties at home just trying to have a normal life are heartrending, in her case, a bit less touching in his. He’s too inept and unmotivated to really root for. But they’re both part of the real story Hepburn is telling: how the entire family suffers with a disease that never ends. The film isn’t grim; it offers humanity and compassion and these people are trying. It’s a bit slow at times and there’s a little too much hand-held camera work but the story and the emotions  come through vitally. (Final screening Tues evening) 3 ½ out of 5

BIG TIME: Drive over the Granville bridge and you’ll always notice the tall Vancouver House under construction at Pacific. The developer calls it “a living sculpture” because of its slightly-twisted look. It stands out in a skyline often criticized as drab. This lively film tells you about the man behind the design, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, named among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine and a “starchitect” by many others.


We peruse his big projects, a maritime museum in Elsinore, an innovative apartment complex in New York and one part of the new World Trade Centre there. Vancouver only gets one picture in a slideshow of many others. But we see Ingels at work, leading his staff to “let life roam free.” As a boy he wasn’t allowed to play on what he calls a perfectly good roof, so a power station he designed in Denmark has a ski slope on the roof. Imagine what kind of world you want to live in, and create it, he suggests. Every once in a while he’ll take a magic marker to a large sheet of paper and draw what he wants to explain. He’s casual and easy going, then tense and paranoid when he talks about headaches caused by a cyst in his brain. The film takes us right there for his MRI. That’s how intimate it gets, the result of several years of filming by director Kaspar Astrup Schröder. Vanity Fair wrote about a “ladies man” reputation. That’s not in here but what one developer calls “his flow of creativity” is. (Screens again Tuesday) 3 ½ out of 5

SAMI BLOOD: The parallels to Canada are striking. This drama shows in detail the discriminatory treatment the Sami, the indigenous people of Scandinavia, in this case Sweden, received from officialdom and ordinary people. Looking back to the 1930s, the film shows children taken to religious boarding schools, taught Christian values and forbidden to speak their own language. They were subject to whippings and humiliating medical examinations. And there’s more. Through the story of one 14-year-old girl we hear they were called dirty and smelly and not fit for higher education because they don’t have “the skills of other Swedish children.”


Lene Cecilia Sparrok gives a remarkably poignant performance as Elle Marja who adopts the non-Sami name Christine to break out of her culture, go to school in the city and join modern society. “Don’t get too Swedish,” she’s cautioned but she does, taking on a form of self-loathing too. That part is most evident in the brief opening and closing as her character, now in her 80s and played by Maj Doris Rimpi, recalls her life. The film is perceptive about that phenomenon; the writer/director Amanda Kernell has a Sami heritage herself and got stories from elders and her own grandmother. She doesn’t preach or sentimentalize but does get a strong statement across. And a couple of traditional songs called “yoiks”. (Tues and Thurs) 4 out of 5 

More in New Movies

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Super hero fun, a not so good Stephen King adaptation and a daffy Ronaldo clone

And more: a guitar maker keeps the old ways, a banned Iranian filmmaker carries on, pre-World War I tremors in Europe, the underclass in Brazil and thoughts on fidelity in Toronto

Notes on the revised Dumbo; some worthy Canadian films and hot fun with McConaughey in Florida

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