The French invented the term "film noir" and this adaptation of a slim, forceful novel by Georges Simenon certainly boasts idenfiable noir characteristics: the femme fatale who lures an all-too willing husband away from his marriage bed; the crime of passion and miscarriage of justice that ensue, all unfolding in a slippery mosaic of ambiguous flashbacks. As the title suggests, the dominant colour is blue, not black,and Amalric’s terrific movie shifts between carnal abandon and clinical claustrophobia.
"An elegant psychological freak-out about adultery and other madness, [a] dark, delectable, shivery tale." Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
"The Blue Room is a story about sexual desire as an overwhelming force, incapable of being ignored or mistaken, and about the ambiguity of almost everything else: memory, language, actions and motives." Stuart Klawans, The Nation
" A great little film… It has a headlong rhythm, skittering between timeframes with the skill of a pianist nailing Prokofiev…. Everything’s told in shards, and Amalric does very well to create a sense of emotional continuum amid all the procedural detail. His own performance is fantastic, jittery and disheveled.” Tim Robey, The Daily Telegraph
Join us for a screening of this VIFF double prize-winning documentary followed by a panel discussion on food waste and other issues raised in the movie featuring producer Jen Rustemeyer and special guests.
Bud Gordon (Corey Stoll - from House of Cards and Midnight in Paris) once had it all—a nice apartment, fame, public love and admiration—but a quick jab to the chin wiped that slate. Now living in a dingy studio with no business, no fans and no purpose except to help train an up-and-coming boxer. Noah Buschel writes and directs Glass Chin with a distinctive, vibrant style that channels pulp film noir into something both familiar and strange.
"Buschel may be mining classic B-movie territory, but between his script and Stoll’s performance, Glass Chin finds fresh humanity in a seemingly exhausted genre." Peter Debruge, Variety
"Buschel’s micro-noir has a rare and potent sense of menace […] viscerally direct and spontaneous, like that last, swift jab that puts an opponent on the mat." Chris Cabin, Slant
"In a starring turn of suppressed despondence and frustration, the charismatic Stoll makes a strong bid for earning his own shot at superstardom." Nick Schager, Village Voice
Darius Clark Monroe
How does a 16-year-old evolve into a bank robber?
"Vital, thoughtful, and deeply personal, first-timer Darius Clark Monroe’s autobiographical doc stands as a testament to the power of movies to stir empathy. At age 16, honor-student Monroe had dabbled in employee-theft at the Venture store where he worked after school. Next, restless and foolhardy, he set his criminal sights higher, corralling a couple of friends and busting into a Stafford, Texas, Bank of America. Monroe wore a skeleton mask, one accomplice wielded a sawed-off shotgun, and a couple hours later Monroe’s mother found a shoebox on her bed filled with thirty grand. Monroe’s film is an inquiry into who he was becoming — and who he became during a five-year prison sentence." Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
Edward S Curtis
VIFF Vancity Theatre and the Cinematheque join together this weekend to celebrate the centenary of a cinema landmark. In the Land of the Head Hunters was the first feature film made in B.C. and is the oldest extant feature made in Canada. It’s also the first feature made with an entirely indigenous North American cast and arguably the first ever documentary feature. A portrait of the Kwakwaka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl) people of northern Vancouver Island and the central coast, it was directed by Edward S. Curtis, the renowned American photographer of First Nations life.
This riveting crime thriller follows Oscar, a recent emigrant to Manila who gets pulled into a harrowing world of corruption and violence when he takes a job as an armored car driver to support his family. "It begins as a swirling drama of survival in the Filipino capital - but then suddenly it slips off down an alleyway, only to emerge a scrupulously engineered, Christopher Nolan-ish crime thriller." Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph
Winner: Sundance Film Festival’s World Audience Award; Best British Independent film 2013.
"It begins as a swirling drama of survival in the Filipino capital - but then suddenly it slips off down an alleyway, only to emerge a scrupulously engineered, Christopher Nolan-ish crime thriller." Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph
"One of the most enrapturing experiences I’ve had at the movies in 2013: fiercely, grandly humanist, and almost unbearably tragic." MaryAnn Johanson
"The influence of Ken Loach makes way for the dynamics of a Quentin Tarantino-style heist. The result is an expertly crafted heartbreaker that cuts to the core of desperate lives." Allan Hunter, Daily Express
Richard Eyre’s produciton of Verdi’s masterpiece has been one of the most successful opera stagings in the long and celebrated history of the Royal Opera House. We present the original, definitive incarnation of that production, starring the incomparable Renee Fleming as the ill-fated courtesan Violetta, oppose Joseph Calleja as Alfredo and Thomas Hapson as his unyielding father.
Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men; The Road) may be the hardest boiled writer in contemporary American letters, and James Franco certainly wasn’t making things easy for himself in taking on his third novel, a bleak depiction of a violent social outcast who lurches from disaster to catastrophe.
"The biggest crime story of the century!" That’s how Sam Fuller described WWII, a typically punchy declaration from a guy who knew what he was talking about: Fuller was a tabloid reporter and crime novelist before joining the infantry in time for D-Day. He returned to Hollywood and made noir thrillers (Pickup on South Street; Underworld USA), war pictures (Verboten!; Steel Helmet) and B westerns (40 Guns) with singular conviction. This is his story - as told by his daughter Samantha. Samantha Fuller will join us for a Q&A after this screening.
"If you don’t like Sam Fuller, you just don’t like cinema.” - Martin Scorsese
"Those intrigued by an indelibly influential persona that combined showman-like flamboyance, old-school masculinity and die-hard personal integrity to disarming and intoxicating degrees, will find much to chew on here." Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter
Legendary Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer and political dissident Fela Kuti is brought to life in Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s (Taxi to the Dark Side) stirring evocation of the man and his music. Kuti’s raw charisma, many wives, mesmerizing musical performances and political aspirations and persecution have been covered before, but Gibney’s decision to fold in behind-the-scenes documentation of the 2009 Broadway musical Fela! makes this kaleidoscopic film as protean and rousing as Kuti himself was.
"There’s nothing like seeing Fela himself - blowing his sax, expressing his unbridled sexuality and living a life like no other." New York Daily News
A hitman for the Sicilian Mafia, Salvo is solitary, cold and ruthless. When he sneaks into a house on an assignment, he discovers Rita, an innocent young blind girl who must stand by powerlessly while her brother is assassinated. What follows is an intense exchange fueled by adrenaline and fear between the killer and his witness, one that changes their two lives in an instant. The darkness is lifted from Rita’s eyes just as Salvo decides, against his murderous instincts, to spare her life. From then on, both haunted by their brief encounter, these two damaged souls will attempt to navigate their dangerous next steps side by side.
“Moody… fully immersive… effortlessly intense.” Boyd van Hoeij, Variety
"A soulful romance, an existential action flick and something of a miracle movie - the appealing slow-burner "Salvo" hovers at the crossroads of genre." Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
"A sparse and languid Italian thriller that carries a debt to Melville." David Parkinson, Empire
Arguably the most popular building site in the world, the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona is still a work in progress, 125 years after the first stones were laid. Designed by the controversial Catalan genius Antonio Gaudi, the Sagrada is a testament to Faith… Faith in God, in the natural forms that so inspired the architect, and also in man, for Gaudi always knew this work would have to be completed long after his life-time.
"This film is more than a documentary, it tells the story using beautiful and quiet images of the transformation of ideas, talks of human endeavour for perfection and in so doing, illustrates that the essential meaning of this edifice lies in its creation process and not only in its completion.
This creative process is illustrated in varying perspectives from inside the incomplete church as well as the complex structure of the exterior parts of the church.
The film gives cause for self-reflection on how the past and present are related, portraying people and destinies involved in the construction of the church and ultimately proves that something incomplete also has its own significance." Jury citation, Erasmus Euro Media Awards
"Both exhaustive and astounding in its detective-like exploration of the history of the impossibly ornate Catalonian house of worship." Jackson Scarlett, 7x7SF
Toothy Texan noir (with a tip of the hat to pulp master Jim Thompson), this tale of three teenagers who find themselves on the wrong side of big trouble when a foolish prank backfires announces an exciting new talent (or two) in the Hawkins brothers, who combine an evocative sense of place, a shrewd grasp of character and an unerring eye for suspense.
"A crackling small town thriller that deserves to be sought out." — James Marsh, Twitch
"This juicy tale of a reckless robbery and its spiraling bloody aftermath is enjoyably overripe pulp, steeped in grubby textures and flavorful atmosphere." — David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
Roger Ebert wasn’t just the most popular North American film critic of the late twentieth century, in part by seizing the opportunities afforded by TV, he was also one of the most insightful and articulate, a wonderful writer with an insatiable curiosity about the world, deep knowledge of cinema, and the passion to communicate it. This acclaimed film from Steve James (Hoop Dreams) captures yet another side of Roger: how he blossomed in the loving family he found late in life, despite the terrible struggle with cancer that ravaged his body and left him unable to speak.
"Life Itself is a work of deftness and delicacy, by turns a film about illness and death, about writing, about cinema and, finally, and very movingly a film about love." Geoffrey O’Brien, The New York Times
The most impressive debut feature of the year also happens to be the scariest. This tale of an anguished single mom (an incredible performance from Essie Davies), her monstrous six-year-old, and the storybook bogeyman who terrorizes their home is guaranteed to chill you to the bone.
"One of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years - with awards-quality lead work from Essie Davis, and a brilliantly designed new monster who could well become the break-out spook archetype of the decade." Kim Newman, Empire
"Managing to scare an audience silly with original imagery and non-formulaic jolts is no mean feat […] Managing to move us at the same time is close to miraculous." Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph
"Deeply disturbing and unusually beatiful." Variety
When a homicide detective makes the fateful decision to cover up a hit-and-run accident which kills a man, he invites karmic retribution on a grand scale in this wickedly ingenious suspense thriller.
“A masterclass in throat-squeezing, stomach-knotting suspense loaded with smart plot twists, dark humor and high-gloss visuals." Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
“A masterclass in throat-squeezing, stomach-knotting suspense loaded with smart plot twists, dark humor and high-gloss visuals. . .A Hard Day is full of smart surprises and darkly funny lurches." Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
"A total blast." Jessica Kiang, Playlist (Indiewire)
Two short films from the Vancouver based producer, writer, director Jonathan Kitzen, including last year’s Academy Award-winning non-fiction short subject The Lady in Number Six: Music Saved My Life (a portrait of 109 year old Holocaust survivor Alcie Herz Sommer), and his new film, Soldiers’ Stories, a war remembrance document that draws parallels between the Battle of the Somme in WWI and today’s conflicts. The latter is presented in 3D and introduced by Jonathan Kitzen.
Jonathan Kitzen will be in attendance and introduce the films
Award winning Vancouver filmmaker Julia Kwan trains her eye on our own backyard, Chinatown, Pender, Hastings and Main St, and no matter how well you think you know this area, you’re bound to come away with new insights into the people and businesses that make up this once vibrant community. It’s a neighbourhood in transition, a culture in decline - or on the cusp of gentrification. This isn’t an advocacy doc, but a wise, ruminative portrait, an elegy perhaps, but also a celebration of entrepreneurial energy, resilience and creativity.
In the first of our series bringing you opera productions from London’s Royal Opera House, a chance to enjoy the company’s new staging of Richard Wagner’s epic, his final masterpiece. A young man ignorant of everything, including his own name, arrives at the Kingdom of the Holy Grail. Is he the ‘pure fool, enlightened by compassion’, who, it has been prophesied, will purify the kingdom?
Running time includes two intermissions.
An unforgettable experience!
Thanks to an astonishing performance by Pierre Niney that masterfully mimics the iconic designer’s impish bearing and aura of genius, Yves Saint Laurent is reborn in this suitably stylish, well-tailored biopic. Lespert doesn’t hesitate in giving this great life and grand love affair the operatic treatment it deserves.