VIFF Notes: Days 3 & 4

This is part of our coverage of the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Some brief thoughts on films I saw Sunday and Monday at the festival.

piper

The Piper (Kim Gwangtae, 2015): Full review

three cities

A Tale of Three Cities (Mabel Cheung, 2015): Sweeping historical romance that hearkens back to the grand gestures of classical Hollywood. The film charts the courtship of Jackie Chan’s parents, played by Tang Wei and Sean Lau, as they are kept apart under the duress of war and an evolving 20th century China. It’s better than Doctor Zhivago.

forbidden room

The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson, 2015): A madcap descent into the outer territories of cinema. The Forbidden Room is an audacious and hilarious collection of absurd vignettes, all nested in one another, dreams within hallucinations. Everyone is game to follow Maddin and Johnson through the kaleidoscopic kino-hole, including such greats as Mathieu Almaric, Geraldine Chaplin, and Udo Kier. The undisputed highlight of the festival so far.

port of call

Port of Call (Philip Yung, 2015): An unflinching dual examination of a teenager’s short life and that of the detective who desperately needs closure for her gruesome death. The film contains some of the most graphic imagery ever put onscreen. Acts as both a window into the struggles of contemporary China and a portrait of the unique and universal sadness of teenage girls. Felt at times like a cross between Zodiac and Fire Walk With Me but scarier than both.

tomorrow

It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (Emily Ting, 2015): White guy living in Hong Kong meets an American woman of Chinese descent. The two hit it off but complications ensue when it is discovered they have other attachments. As a travelogue for the gorgeous city of Hong Kong, this works well enough, with depictions of the majestic skyline and bustling streets. As a romance or a comedy or a showcase for the art of acting, it is a failure.

RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN_key still (3)

Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sangsoo, 2015): Full review

VIFF 2015: Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sangsoo, 2015)

This is part of our coverage of the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.

RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN_key still (1)

The new Hong Sangsoo film, Right Now, Wrong Then, is very much concerned with the famed director’s usual themes. He is again at work with a story involving a hard-drinking filmmaker and the nature of casual encounters. But the movie is less about its surface than with an inquiry into its structural narrative. As always, it’s the differences from the works that came before it that excite. The nice thing about Right Now, Wrong Then is that it also affords the joys of differentiating it from itself.

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