Monday, January 17, 2011

london river | marwencol | sweetgrass

Soul Foodie Rudi writes: "If you can fit this into your schedule, go see London River at the VanCity this week. Very fine movie."  It shows Tue 18 at 8:30, and Thu 20 at 6:30.

Here's the write up from the VanCity website, which also provides links to trailer, official website, etc.
Failing to reach her daughter in London after the bomb blasts of 7/7 2005, Elisabeth (Brenda Blethyn) journeys to the capital and shows up on Jane's doorstep – a flat above a Halal butcher in Finsbury Park. But Jane's not home. The police aren't much help – they’re inundated with enquiries from concerned friends and family. The hospitals have posted lists of the injured, but her name isn't among them. As she continues to search, Elisabeth keeps bumping into a North African, Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyate). Their children were a couple, it seems – but neither parent can comprehend what this might mean for their chances...

French-Algerian writer-director Rachid Bouchareb (Days of Glory; Beyond the Law) keeps us guessing for most of the film’s modest running time, and sifts for common ground between the hostile white Christian lady and the concerned black Muslim. Anyone who has seen Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies will know that Brenda Blethyn is more than capable of carrying harrowing emotional scenes, but the late Malian actor Kouyate (he passed away last April) is the film’s most poignant revelation.

Good thing I checked that out at the VanCity website. Turns out Wednesday's Cinematheque showing of Marwencol won't be the only chance to see the idiosyncratic documentary which somebody or other described as "Saving Private Ryan meets Toy Story."  Fact is it plays at VanCity a bunch more times as well...
Fri 21 | 8:30
Sun 23 | 4:30
Sun 23 | 8:30
Mon 24 | 6:30
Wed 26 | 6:30

Here's the blurb;

“One of the oddest and most moving documentaries since Best Boy or Grey Gardens . . . Marwencol is a marvel” (Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail). In 2000, 38-year-old Mark Hogancamp was savagely beaten by five men outside a Kingston, N.Y., bar. He emerged from a coma nine days later unable to walk, talk or remember much of his previous life. When his medical benefits ran out, Hogancamp was on his own. To heal both emotionally and physically, he embarked his own unique therapy: constructing, in his backyard, a 1/6th scale model of a WWII-era Belgian town called Marwencol, and populating it with more than 100 G.I. Joe and Barbie dolls. He also dreamed up complex narratives for this mini-world, involving his alter ego, U.S. Air Force Captain Mark “Hogie” Hogancamp, and various vamps, assassins, Allied and German soldiers, friends and family. As these scenarios became more elaborate, Mark started photographing them — stunningly realistic and evocative tableaux. Mark’s “outsider art” caught the attention of the New York art world, forcing him to choose between the safety of his fictional town and the real world he’s avoided since his attack. Winner of Best Documentary honours at several festivals, including SXSW, Seattle, Cleveland and Fantasia. Colour, HDCAM. 83 mins.

There is, in fact, another film which is showing only once, and that once happens to be on Wednesday the 19th, when the VanCity is screening Sweetgrass at 7:00. The bumf;
Americans have built a mythology around cattle-farming and their hired hands, the cowboys. Sheep farming has not been romanticized to the same degree (Brokeback Mountain notwithstanding), but this ravishing, contemplative non-fiction film changes all that.

With patience, humour and rare insight, Sweetgrass reveals the effort and endurance that goes into herding 3000 obstreperous sheep some 200 miles through Montana’s Big Sky country.

“Wonderful… A graceful and often moving meditation on a disappearing way of life” Manohla Dargis, New York Times
On the Movie City News tabulation of critic top ten lists for 2010, Marwencol is #42, Sweetgrass is #31, and London River hasn't yet had wide enough circulation in North America to be on those lists.

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