Ordinary Love, superb, three superior Canadian films and two imports you can do without
More festival notes:
The Jewish Film Festival (https://www.vjff.org/) started last night and follows today and tomorrow with a droll and wise comedy about Israeli and Palestinian relations called Tel Aviv On Fire. Another highlight is the documentary Once Were Brothers about The Band.
The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival (https://viwff.ca/ ) starts Tuesday for a 5-day run. The opener is Parkland Rising which documents the gun control campaign mounted by students from the Florida high school where a shooter killed 17 people two years ago. The director, Cheryl Horner McDonough will be at the screening.
The Cinematheque (https://thecinematheque.ca) has a new collection of films that UCLA has restored, rediscovered and generally rescued from neglect. They range from early silents, including some rare Laurel and Hardy films, film noirs and even a Don Johnson film from 1975. The series runs for three weeks and starts Thursday with The Mortal Storm the 1940 film that got all MGM films banned from Nazi Germany. It shows a family split and a father ruined when the Nazis came to power.
And the Van City Theatre has a free screening Sunday night at 7:15 of The World is Bright, an award-winning documentary that I’ve praised a couple of times. A Chinese student dies in Vancouver and his parents arrive to find out why. The director, Ying Wang, will be there for a post-screening discussion along with an immigration lawyer and an expert in refugee mental health.
And these are the new films this week:
Ordinary Love: 4 ½ stars
The Twentieth Century: 4
One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk: 3 ½
Disappearance at Clifton Hill: 3
The Invisible Man: 2
The Jesus Rolls: 2
Impractical Jokers: The Movie: --
ORDINARY LOVE: It’s best to relish films made for mature adults when they come along because these days there aren’t enough of them. This one is extraordinary because it is so real in a depicting a long-time marriage. The couple played by Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville are settled, comfortable, happily following a routine. They go for walks, laugh, banter and debate. Their conversations are perfectly scripted by playwright Owen McCafferty and directed by the husband and wife team Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn to show the easy understanding and respect between them.
That’s the central concern of this film although I’m sure you’ve heard that it gets disrupted when she’s diagnosed with breast cancer. How will their good rapport fare under that intrusion? Again the film is absolutely authentic. “There isn’t a moment I won’t be there with you,” he says early on. Later, there are flash arguments brought on by the tension and fear. “We’re both going through this.” “No we’re not. I have the cancer.” It gets louder. At the same time we’re taken along to the hospital visits and the tests (“They charge you for parking”) and follow every step of the procedures she goes through. Not too graphically but, with 12 medical advisors on the film, very accurately. Her emotions too are perfectly defined. She gets advice from and gives advice to other patients but laments that for the big decisions “we’re all just really on our own.” There’s an unnecessary subplot about grieving a lost daughter but elsewhere the superb acting gets across all the variable feelings and help make this a very satisfying film. It came without fanfare but is worth your time. (International Village) 4 ½ out of 5
The Canadians …
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: Perverse, wicked, phantasmagoric. They’re all accurate in describing this wild film about Canadian history and its send up of our national identity. It’s reassuring that we can make films as cheeky and outrageous as this about our image of ourselves. And that we can also see it as sort-of-correctly represented in this film by Matthew Rankin about William Lyon Mackenzie King.