Oct. 03, 2012 - Issue #885: Fall Style 2012
EIFF Caps, week twoAs the Edmonton International Film Festival heads into its final few days, it still has a sizeable smattering of films to be seen. Often neglected are the shorts programs, quicker, filmic bites that can still offer amplie yield to any viewer, and with that in mind, they mostly make up the focus of our final few caps reviews (them, and one long one).
Reviews by Meaghan Baxter (MB), Paul Blinov (PB) and Josef Braun (JB). All screenings at City Centre Theatres.
Fri, Oct 5 (7:30 pm)
Directed by Xavier Dolan
The third feature from Montréal’s Xavier Dolan is a definite improvement on Heartbeats, but its 160-minute runtime mostly feels like audacity for audacity’s sake. With the arrival of his 35th birthday, the title character (France’s Melvil Poupaud) decides he’s really a woman and needs to at least dress the part. Understandably, his girlfriend (Suzanne Clément) has a hard time with this. Thus begins an on-again/off-again love story spanning over 10 years and promising to go on for many, many more. As with Heartbeats, Dolan’s storytelling and camerawork utterly favours the woman; Laurence seems mostly pretty, and pretty vacuous, in comparison. There are some truly arresting scenes of relationship meltdown, but so much of Laurence Anyways, set in a 23-year-old’s idea of the 1980s, feels like a music video or a perfume ad. Dolan’s embracing of style is welcome in theory; in execution it feels like a mish-mash. JB
Fri, Oct 5 (10 am)
Shorts Smorg 1: Dramatic
Directed by Various
The collection of dramas contains a wide range of films. Each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses, but overall it is a strong grouping, with stories of love and life that will captivate and entertain. It's a mixed bag for plot as well as production values, which span from tastefully low-budget to Hollywood blockbuster caliber.
A highlight of the program is The Grand Design by Australian director Samuel Bartlett. The film takes viewers on an intriguing ride speculating the effects of the grand design theory, a scientific theorum that essentially proves fate. Bartlett utilizes spilt-screen scenarios which culminate in a thrilling conclusion, leaving viewers to ponder where their own fate may take them. MB
Fri, Oct 5 (12:30 pm)
Shorts Smorg 2: Documentary
Directed by Various
Condensing the documentary form into shorts, while putting a squeeze on the amount of exploration possible, certainly allows filmmakers to intrigue with punchy tidbits. Such is the case in this collection of shorts: the just-over-90-minute program is actually a marvelous scattering of gems.
The hand-drawn imagery of Being Norma, which possesses the feel of a vintage National Film Board short—hand-drawn animation, faux-old tape damage on the image—and lets a handful of women discuss body image, is an intriguing play with form, but the highlight here is Unravel, a 14-minute look at a place in Panipat, India where old clothes from North America are shipped to be made back into yarn, and where the factory workers wonder why western people would get rid of clothes that barely seem worn. It gives a fascinating glimpse into a practice most people don't know about, and intrigues you to further think or investigate on your own. Which is exactly what most of these shorts accomplish. PB
Fri, Oct 1 (Noon)
Subway Lunchbox Shorts 5
Directed by Various
From fantasy, to humour to a lesson in generosity, Subway Lunchbox Shorts 5 is a packed, mixed bag of films that play to viewers' emotions as well as imagination. As with any assortment, and some are stronger than others. At the weaker end of the spectrum is Gay in the Attic, a black and white short that tries its best to be humorous, but comes across as stereotypical.
One the opposite side is A Finger, 2 Dots, Then Me directed by David and Daniel Holechek. The film is driven by a powerful poem, written and performed by beat poet Derrick Brown. The poem follows two lovers as one explains to the other how to find them in the cosmos after death. The compelling look at life, death and love is juxtaposed with moments of humour and captivating visuals, both from Brown's words and directed images. Good Karma $1, a short documentary by Jason Berger about advertising guru Alex Bogusky, who began collecting signs from the homeless in exchange for a donation, and a lesson about life and generosity. MB
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