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Han Solo’s back story, a style maven’s triumph and a small festival of indie films

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You can’t help but be caught up in his aura; it’s on ample display in this sparkling documentary by Kate Novack. She lets him talk about his philosophy  (“Fashion is fleeting. Style remains”) and the dramatic arc of his life. He’s from North Carolina, was raised (and inspired to excel) by his grandmother and shaped by the Sunday-best dressing habits at the black church. Watching Julia Child on TV got him interested in French. He learned the language and read the literature. Vogue magazine showed him a possible escape from the racism of the south. He made his way to New York and up the fashion journalism ladder. He became an associate editor at Vogue, a bureau chief for Women Wear Daily and a regular, front row centre, at the biggest fashion shows. He’s got thoughts on race, politics, Obama and Trump. Of himself, he wants people to say: “He got there.”  (International Village) 3 ½ out of 5 

RUPTURE: The VanCity Theatre has got an uncommonl mini-fest for you. These are nine strange, innovative, maybe unsettling films that are bound to delight the enthusiast of the unusual in you.

I’ve seen four of them, and write about two today and two when they come back for extended bookings.

The series started last night with American Animals, a most interesting film about some amateurs trying to carry out a heist. That’s one of the ones I’ll write about later, as is Heredity, the most anticipated, and praised, horror film in some time. It’s nicely creepy and screens Saturday night.

The Devil and Father Amorth has William Friedkin, the man who gave us The Exorcist, documentaing the work of a real exorcist.  Mutafukaz is an animated mash up of hip-hop, noir and sci-fi from France and Japan. Damsel, stars Robert Pattinson and An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn stars Aubrey Plaza.

FAKE BLOOD:  Is a Vancouver film that asks important questions about violence in the movies and while it doesn’t answer them to any satisfying extent it does highlight the issues. And it has an absolutely chilling scene along the way that alone makes the film worth seeing. 

Filmmakers Rob Grant and Mike Kovac appear as themselves in this mock documentary. They make cheap horror films and flash very bloody images at us to demonstrate their art. When a fan sends some startling and twisted comments, Rob and Mike worry this way: “The big question is are we inspiring psychos?” They go out to investigate the effect of make-believe movie violence  and naturally they get in too deep. They connect with a real guy who knows about violence and as they dig into what he’s been involved in, they unravel something scary. Rob and Mike don’t find answers to the initial questions but raise several other angles in the debate. They’re shaky as actors (which of course they’re not playing) but their film is engrossing.  (Saturday 7:30 p.m.) 3 out of 5

BLUE MY MIND: This German film from Switzerland has the power to scare parents and teenage girls. Parents because it is candid about teenagers trying to fit in with the cool kids and succumbing to peer pressure. 15-year-old Mia gets in with a bunch of girls even though their leader says they only accept bimbos. They go partying and shoplifting and smoke a lot. It’s exaggerated but realistic.

Teenage girls will cringe at what happens next. Along with her period, Mia gets strange feelings she can’t control. Sex, or “bounce” as the kids call it, doesn’t satisfy. The young man says “That was great” and goes right back to playing a video game. At home, Mia eats two fish out of her mother’s aquarium and has visions of rippling water looking like clouds. She becomes convinced her parents aren’t really her mum and dad, that’s she’s adopted and she’s suffering a genetic disease from whoever her real parents are. An early sign is a condition on her toes diagnosed as syndactyly (look it up) but things get worse and the film amps up the anxiety nicely towards a surreal ending. I don’t know what it means but the atmosphere building in this film directed by Lisa Brühlmann and starring Luna Wedler is superb. It was a big winner at the Swiss movie awards. Screens tonight, Friday, at 6:30. 4 out of 5

Notice two other highlights of the Rupture program. First there’s a creator’s talk by the man who created A Ghost Story, that unusual film from last year about a haunting. David Lowery speaks tomorrow (Sat.) at 5:30. And the final event, Sunday 9 p.m. is called Self-Destructive Cinema. Several people will show short films they’ve made and then destroy the only copy right there. Who knows why?

Full details for the whole series at


Also now playing …

BIRTHMARKED: This English-language film from Montreal has come with no hype, or any publicity at all that I’ve seen. Some unenthusiastic comments from critics though, if you go searching. Weak comedy; too few laughs, they say. Matthew Goode and Toni Collette play scientists who study the nature vs nurture dichotomy by raising three children contrary to their genetic heritage. A daughter of unintelligent parents is raised to be smart. The son of violent parents is raised to be a pacifist. Their own child is taught to be artistic. Can they defy nature? It’s at International Village if you want to find out.


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