Victoria Film Festival 2013: Day 1 & Day 2
Editor’s Notes: 2013 marks the 19th Annual Victoria Film Festival which takes place between February 1-10. This is my first year in attendance after catching the festival bug in 2012. VFF offers a variety of cinema from all corners of the World. This is the first of a three part series written in chronological order.
Dangerous Liaisons (China)
Director: Jin-ho Hur
Set in 1931 Shanghai comes an adaptation of the French novel, “Les Liaisons dangereuses.” The film is beautiful to watch: gorgeous men and women, exquisite set and costume design with breathtaking visuals. The film remains faithful to the story with minor changes. Miss Mo (Cecilia Cheung) tasks Xie Yufan (Dong-gun Jang) with seducing young, innocent Du Fenyu (Ziyi Zhang). Zhang does a fantastic job portraying a frail woman with a broken heart, transforming into a woman ready to give love another chance. There are few surprises for those familiar with the story, however it’s a joy to watch from start to finish.
Detroit Unleaded (USA)
Director: Rola Nashef
Sami (EJ Assi) is a young Lebanese-American who takes over the family gas station after his father is murdered during a robbery. Mike (Mike Batayeh) is Sami’s cousin and partner at the gas station. Their relationship resembles that of Dante and Randal from Kevin Smith’s “Clerks.” Sami aspires to leave Detroit while his loud-mouthed, funny cousin Mike is content with staying in Detroit. Throughout the film quirky characters pass through and a beautiful love interest enters the picture, Naj (Nada Shouhayib). Detroit Unleaded offers a glimpse into the modern Arabic culture while maintaining a light-hearted, comedic spirit. Shot on a micro budget, Nashef delivers a charming experience at the movies.
The Central Park Five (USA)
Directors: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon
The Central Park Five is a heart breaking introspective of late 1980s fear media combining forces with bloodthirsty detectives and irresponsible prosecutors from New York. Five boys were convicted of assaulting and raping a woman in Central Park on April 19, 1989. The Central Park Five consists of: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr and Korey Wise.
Full Review Coming….
Go Grandriders! (Taiwan)
Director: Tian-Hao Hua
“Grandriders rock! Grandriders tough! Grandriders go go go!” A group of 17 elders (Average age: 81) form a group named, “Grandriders” and vow to ride their scooters/motorcycles around Taiwan in 13 days. The film is a charming crowd pleaser portraying a great sense of inspiration and hope. During the planning phase the elders had naysayers pointing out health concerns: heart conditions, cancer and arthritis among others. Go Grandriders! is a worthwhile documentary guaranteed to put a smile on your face. This film will be enjoyed by film lovers of all ages.
A Checkout Girl’s Big Adventures (France)
Director: Pierre Rambaldi
The premise has potential. A well-educated woman named Solweig (Deborah Francois) writes a popular blog in secret, “misscheckingout.com” The blog causes an uprising of fellow supermarket checkout workers to strike, demanding better wages and fair treatment. This alone could have made an interesting film. This film is designed to empower women but it does the opposite. She falls for a mysterious wealthy man who pulls up in a Rolls Royce on a snowy evening. Sparks fly and the love story is put on hold until the final act, by then it’s far too late to rekindle the non-existent spark. In the end the film sets women back and reminds the viewer that some women need to be rescued and cannot thrive independently, an offensive message to convey. The film is poorly edited as the narrative moves along with the grace of a newborn fawn standing up for the first time. Skip it!
The Hunt (Denmark)
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
The Hunt gathered a lot of buzz after it’s premiere at Cannes Film Festival 2012. Nominated for the coveted Palme d’Or and Mads Mikkelsen’s Best Actor award. Mikkelsen delivers one of the finest performances of 2012. The Hunt is about a lonely man with a broken wing trying to make a difference in the world. He is a man’s man, hunts and drinks with men in his small community. He enjoys success and happiness as a teacher. Lucas (Mikkelsen) appears to gather momentum toward finding happiness when a white lie proves to be the straw that broke the
camel’s back. The film is a gut punch from the second act all the way through the breath-taking final act. The supporting actors are superb. Annika Wedderkopp is a child actor who demonstrates great ability. Be careful, she will steal your heart! The Hunt is a spectacular film worthy of all praise before this. Go out of your way to see it.