Monday, October 31, 2011

videomatica | final credits

Two emails this morning.

"Dear loyal subscribers of,
After many years of serving your movie needs, we have reluctantly decided that we must discontinue our rental by mail service...."


"Hello fans of Videomatica!
Videomatica Rentals is now closed except for returns, as of 10 pm Oct 30, 2011...."

So that is that. No more walking into a room where we're surrounded by movies we want to see, or hold, or read about. Alas.

A sad day. But there's comfort in the news that Cinemail will be acquiring Videomatica's movie-by-mail collection, and adding those titles to their own catalogue of titles. So even once I've viewed and returned The Island, Vision, Police Adjective and My Father My Lord - titles not available through, for example, - there's still someplace rent them.

I'm also optimistic that the Videomatica rental collection will be preserved. In my last conversation with Graham and Brian (the VM owners), it looked likely that the dvd and videotape rental collection would be acquired by a university library - as substantiated by their ongoing “Help save the Videomatica Collection, send it to University!” campaign. One hopes that the day will come when the purchase of a university library card will provide access to those vast treasures - though the likelihood that they can be carted off and viewed at home seems questionable.

Later this week I'll check out Cinemail, and almost certainly subscribe.

"Active subscribers will have limited-time access to their Rental History and Queue lists."

So, for the record...

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Thursday, October 27, 2011


Essential Soul Food Movie, on four of the five Arts & Faith 100 lists. Rare chance to see it on the big screen.

The Night of the Hunter
(USA, 1955, 93 mins)
Monday October 31, 6:30
Vancity Theatre
Directed By: Charles Laughton
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish

A singular masterpiece in the history of film, Charles Laughton’s version of Davis Grubb’s novel is an extraordinary artifact. In the most “out-there” performance of his career Robert Mitchum is the crazed Baptist preacher who terrorizes two young children and murders their mother to get his hands on the loot he knows is stashed somewhere in the house. Laughton cast Lillian Gish as this fiend’s antithesis and resurrects the antique visual rhetoric forged by Gish and DW Griffith in the silent era to create a beguilingly sinister fairytale mood, a mixture of menace and innocence that will stalk your dreams.


Vancity Theatre
Thu Oct 27 9pm
Sat Oct 29 6:30
Sun Oct 30 8:15

WIEBO'S WAR tells the story of a Christian Community, at war with the oil and gas industry.

Wiebo Ludwig is the prime suspect in a recent string of pipeline bombings. The bombings echo a campaign of sabotage he waged against the oil and gas industry in the 90s -- barricading roads, blowing up wells and culminating in the unsolved death of a sixteen-year-old girl on his family's farm.

VIFF write-up here

Monday, October 17, 2011

NOW ON DVD... tree of life

NOW PLAYING... machine gun preacher

Don't know nothin' much about this one, except what it says here, and that people don't seem all that impressed. Hardly a raving "Must See," is it? But it's in town, it aims to be Soul Food, and I'll let you know more once I have more to say...

Machine Gun Preacher is the inspirational true story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the savior of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children. Gerard Butler (300) delivers a searing performance as Childers, the impassioned founder of the Angels of East Africa rescue organization in Golden Globe-nominated director Marc Forster’s (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) moving story of violence and redemption.

When ex-biker-gang member Sam Childers (Butler) makes the life-changing decision to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by civil war, he is outraged by the unspeakable horrors faced by the region’s vulnerable populace, especially the children. Ignoring the warnings of more experienced aide workers, Sam breaks ground for an orphanage where it’s most needed—in the middle of territory controlled by the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia that forces youngsters to become soldiers before they even reach their teens.

But for Sam, it is not enough to shelter the LRA’s intended victims. Determined to save as many as possible, he leads armed missions deep into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children, restoring peace to their lives—and eventually his own. The explosive, real-life tale of a man who has rescued over a thousand orphans from starvation, disease and enslavement, Machine Gun Preacher also stars Michelle Monaghan (Due Date), Kathy Baker (Cold Mountain), Madeline Carroll (Mr. Popper’s Penguins), Academy Award® nominated Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and Souleymane Sy Savane (Damages).

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Absolutely lived up to all my very high expectations. One more showing only, Thursday Oct 13 at 6:20 at the Granville 7. Tickets at the VIFF websiteHere's a link to another article which focuses on the cinematography of the film (thanks Jason) and here's the original Soul Food post...

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How strange that one writer surveying Christian themes in this year's Sundance Festival came up with a pile of what look to me like uninspiring believer-as-bad-guy throwbacks, but completely overlooked this one, which is tremendously interesting. Thanks to Peter Chattaway for this.

Joe Bendel, Libertas:

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a truly subversive old master. Known for his paintings of the Dutch peasantry as well as Biblical episodes, his five hundred character masterwork The Way to Calvary depicted the Spanish Militia then occupying Flanders as the Roman soldiers crucifying Christ. While Bruegel’s commentary on the Spanish occupation is inescapable, the painting is rife with hidden signifiers, which the painter himself explains in Lech Majewski’s unclassifiable The Mill & the Cross, a painstakingly crafted cinematic recreation of "The Way to Cavalry," which had its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Employing state-of-the-art computer generation, scores of seamstresses and artisans, and an enormous 2D background recreation of Bruegel’s celebrated work painted by the director himself, Majewski brings the great tableaux to life on the big screen. Amongst those five hundred characters are Brueghel and his friend a collector, Nicholas Jonghelinck, to whom he explains his projected new painting, "The Way to Calvary."

The film completely challenges linear notions of time, incorporating Christ’s Passion and the world of 1564 Flanders, in which Bruegel and Jongelinck are simultaneous observers and active participants.

Years in the making, Mill is an extraordinarily ambitious undertaking. Majewski represents the social continuum of Sixteenth Century Flanders, recreating the mean living conditions of the peasants, the clean, unadorned quarters of the relatively middle class Bruegel, and the privileged environment of the well-to-do Jongelinck. Majewski’s visuals are often arresting, like the scenes of art director Stanislaw Porczyk’s towering mill, which resembles the enormous set pieces of Terry Gilliam films. Perhaps most stunning are the wide shots of the Calvary landscape, with the figures literally coming alive on Bruegel’s canvas. Yet, Majewski also captures moments of both tender intimacy and graphic torture, rendered with powerful immediacy.
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Dennis Harvey, Variety:

An extraordinary imaginative leap, Lech Majewski's The Mill and the Cross combines old and new technologies allowing the viewer to live inside the painting -- Flemish master Pieter Bruegel's 1564 "The Procession to Calvary," an epic canvas depicting both Christ's crucifixion and the artist's homeland brutalization by Spanish occupiers. Neither conventional costume drama nor abstract objet d'art, this visually ravishing, surprisingly beguiling gamble won't fit any standard arthouse niche. . . .

Opening setpiece stages the complex painting via a combination of live actors (and horses), bluescreen effects and 2D backdrops. Its crowded landscape features some 500 historical, religious, contemporary and symbolic figures, with biblical travails depicted alongside sufferings of Flemish citizens persecuted by representatives of the Spanish inquisition. We continually revisit this tableau, in whole and part, while other scenes are frequently modeled on several other paintings by Bruegel the Elder.

Representing God atop an enormous windmill tower is a miller impassively regarding various scenes from his lofty perch. They include the seizure by red-coated militia of one peasant who is tortured and killed for presumed heresy. Later, another hapless soul is literally crucified for some other crime.

Periodically commenting sorrowfully on this state of affairs -- either alone or in conversation with the artist -- is a wealthy burgher appalled by the invaders' misrule, even if he himself seems immune from harm. A mother whose son has been dragged off to slaughter delivers in voiceover lamentations that are more personal and poetic; she is also the painting's Virgin Mary model. Meanwhile, Breughel himself bemusedly explains the hidden meanings scattered throughout his masterwork, often in the form of conflated religious allegory and political protest.

Not everything is grim here, however. Indeed much of "The Mill and the Cross" delights, with episodes of rambunctious humor among some rural ne'er-do-wells and a roving pack of joyfully rowdy children. Life does go on, despite the climate of fear and cruelty. . . .

Friday, October 07, 2011

oct 14 | wiebo's war

Soul Foodie Rosie Perera points us to this VIFF-featured-flick, that "tells the story of a Christian Community at war with the oil and gas industry." It's hard not to think that whatever branch of Christianity is represented here will be pretty fringey - but there's nothing like a good documentary to change the way we think. I'm intrigued. Here's the blurbage from VIFF...

(2011, Canada, David York)

Trickle Creek Farm, 800 kms north of Calgary: the burgeoning natural gas industry vs. dedicated--and violent--Christian fundamentalists. The story of Wiebo Ludwig is familiar to most Canadians. In the 90s he and his kin came into conflict with an oil and gas company doing extractions near his property. Livestock and family members became ill, Ludwig became angry, and explosions and vandalism started happening. It's a story that played out on the evening news, with the media-savvy and cocksure patriarch providing plenty of footage with his defiant statements. The conflict produced a bitterly divided community, the death of a teenage trespasser and the conviction of Ludwig on just a few of the many crimes committed.

Director David York picks up the story in 2010, profiling the clan as they face suspicion in the contemporary bombings of oil and gas stations in northeastern BC. Cutting back and forth between 2010 and the original conflict, York's documentary has a built-in suspense and an almost uncomfortable intimacy in its close-range portrait of the subject. Ludwig and his brood cooperate, albeit guardedly, with the filming; they're forthright about their beliefs and arrogantly coy about their actions. What emerges is an honest but ambiguous portrait, with the ruthlessness of the oil and gas industry paired off against that of a defensive fanatic. This is a compelling and disturbing film.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

oct 14 | bevel up, nettie wild | homelessness awareness night

A note from Judy Graves, who works on homelessness for the City Of Vancouver.

Nettie Wild's Bevel Up - about Vancouver's street nurses, what they do, why they do it, and refection on ethics. MUST SEE.

Homeless Voices - by Les Merson - interviews done across MetroVancouver of homeless people. This short, powerful film left Karen O'Shannacery of Lookout Shelter and I in tears. Completely authentic, open, feels like working in the street and listening to the people you meet there.

I'll see you there, please bring friends, and forward this email broadly.

10th Ave Alliance is on West 10th Ave at the corner of Ontario.