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Watching Jesse Owens in Race, fear and religion in The Witch and bi-polar angst in Touched With Fire

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But when the baby disappears, the family descends into paranoia and hysteria. They call their daughter a witch and lose any perception of what may actually have happened. It’s a chilling, literate and well-acted re-creation of a society that really believed that people are sinful because children are born that way. The horror isn’t graphic. It’s conceptional and delusional. I’ll leave it to you to interpret all the symbolism and the ending, as to whether there really is a witch. (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 4 out of 5  

TOUCHED WITH FIRE: Mental illness doesn’t always get the most accurate representation in the movies but it seems the picture here is genuine. The director, Paul Dalio, drew on his own experiences to write the story. He suffers from a bi-polar disorder himself. He also believes there’s a connection between it and artistic temperament. He’s put a list at the end of 47 people, from Lord Byron to Van Gogh, who also had it.

On the way down to there we watch two young present-day poets, played by Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby, who meet at a group therapy session and compare attitudes. She doesn’t feel like herself anymore. He, going by the name Luna, is sure the apocalypse is already happening. They spend time together, fall in love and alarm their parents and their counselors when they go off their meds.  They get manic. They say they’re not of this world. They paint a huge copy of Van Gogh’s Starry Night on their apartment walls. Later they drive a car into a river. It’s a vacillation between innocent and destructive behavior. The film doesn’t judge or offer solutions. And certainly resorts to none of the usual plotlines. It does give a touching presentation of a sweet but risky relationship. (International Village) 3 out of 5

K-DOCS: Kwantlen University runs an annual documentary festival. It’s at the VanCity Theatre Fri and Sat with six very interesting films, most with discussions to follow. Two have been here before. Drone, which screens at 10:30 this morning, is a chilling view of modern war. Guys with joysticks at monitors in Nevada aim bombing raids half a world away. Fractured Land, screening Saturday, lets us see and hear a most articulate new aboriginal personality, BC’s Caleb Behn. He’s a lawyer and a strong opponent of fracking in the oil and gas industry.

Food Chain$ is about exploitation in the farming and grocery business. Ivory Tower asks what good is a university education. And most intriguing is Peace Officer.


It features a former Utah sheriff, William "Dub" Lawrence, who helped organize a SWAT team years ago and now decries the growing militarization of police forces. Thirty years after he started it, the team killed his son-in-law. Lawrence will be at the screening this afternoon.

Admission is only $5 per film or $20 for all six. There more info at          


Also now playing …

RISEN: The same weekend that The Witch has arrived, so has this completely different religious film. It seems to have more in common with the mock film in Hail Caesar. A Roman soldier is present at the crucifixion of Christ and develops a crisis of conscience. He’s then given the task of disproving the Resurrection. Kevin Reynolds directed; Joseph Fiennes stars and recently got to meet the Pope to show it to him. Sony Pictures didn’t show it to critics around here, although I understand there was a preview last month out in Langley.  (International Village and suburban theatres)

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