Vic Thiessen Archive

Blindspotting

(, , , , , , , , , )
September 13, 2018 Vic Thiessen

In last week’s film review, Jerry Holsopple praises and highly recommends Spike Lee’s new film, BlacKkKlansman. I agree completely, but this summer saw the release of what I think is an even better independent film featuring an African-American writer and protagonist: Blindspotting. Unlike BlacKkKlansman, Blindspotting has received very little attention and has not been widely distributed. In Winnipeg, Blindspotting played for one week in late August, in a cinema at the edge of town, and I was the only person in the theatre when I watched this profound and insightful film. The theatre next door, meanwhile, was full for what […]

Eighth Grade

(, , , , , , , , )
August 10, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Do you remember eighth grade? I remember it all too well. For me, it was the most difficult year of my life, especially in terms of relating to my peers. But I cannot begin to imagine how much worse that year might have been if I had been a girl in our age of social media. That’s the premise of Bo Burnham’s debut film (he wrote and directed), Eighth Grade, which stars Elsie Fisher as 14-year-old Kayla Day. Kayla, in her final weeks of middle school, is trying to navigate the daily experience of being shunned or ignored by her […]

First Reformed

(, , , , , , , , , )
July 13, 2018 Vic Thiessen

When I was growing up, many of the films I watched made some reference to faith or the church because both played a central, or at least regular, role in the lives of most Americans. But for decades now, films about faith, the church, or both have been few and far between, and when faith is portrayed, it is often viewed negatively, or at best is portrayed as naive. So when a critically acclaimed film comes along that not only takes faith seriously but portrays both its positive and negative aspects, I take special notice. It’s not surprising that such […]

Disobedience

(, , , , , , , , , , , )
June 15, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio recently won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for A Fantastic Woman, the story of a transgender woman in Chile. It was one of my favorite films of 2017. Disobedience, which Lelio directed and cowrote, is Lelio’s first English-language film. It feels very different from A Fantastic Woman, though it also showcases Lelio’s ability to elicit masterful performances from his actors, allowing the characters to speak as loudly with their expressions as with their words. Disobedience tells the story of Ronit (Rachel Weisz), Esti (Rachel McAdams), and Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), the closest of friends […]

Tully

(, , , , , , , )
May 10, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Review by Vic Thiessen Among the countless forgotten films lost in the hype surrounding Avengers: Infinity War (which I don’t plan to see) is this wonderful indie comedy-drama from director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, who collaborated on Juno (2007) and Young Adult (2011). Like those two films, Tully has profound things to say about life today and does so with a subtle humor, an unusually intelligent plot, and great acting. Tully stars Charlize Theron as Marlo, who gives birth to her third child, Mia, early in the film. The other two children were already a handful, especially with […]

Paul, Apostle of Christ

(, , , , , )
April 13, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Recent years have witnessed a major upsurge in films aimed at a Christian audience. Fueled by outstanding box office numbers, this is a trend that will continue for some time. Among the positive outcomes of this trend is a general improvement in the quality of these Christian films. The acting is getting better, the production values are almost state-of-the-art, and a higher caliber of writers and directors is being employed to make these films. Almost none of the cover story of Paul, Apostle of Christ is found in the Bible, yet I would describe the film as very faithful to […]

Annihilation

()
March 16, 2018 Vic Thiessen

The trailers for Annihilation featured vicious mutated animals attacking people in an otherworldly setting in an obvious attempt to entice the large audiences who seem to revel in violent action. For me, the trailers did not make the film look original or exciting, with the action scenes suggesting Annihilation would not be my kind of science fiction film. I had been transported so completely to a different world that it took me hours to find my way back to earth. But Annihilation was written and directed by Alex Garland, whose last film, Ex Machina, is one of the best and […]

Hostiles

()
February 16, 2018 Vic Thiessen

The new revisionist western by Scott Cooper hasn’t been wowing either critics or audiences. A glacially paced old-fashioned epic full of predictable violence, Hostiles has been criticized for its failed attempts at political correctness, its poor character development, its melodrama, its inept directing, and its sluggish, funereal pace. Personally, I think it’s one of the best westerns ever made and that the disconnect comes from the film’s unique ability to stir different feelings in each viewer. It’s a hard time and place to build a life, with the potential for violence and death (in various forms) seeming to hide behind […]

Downsizing

()
January 12, 2018 Vic Thiessen

One of the key challenges facing a planet on which human life is becoming increasingly unsustainable is overpopulation. But what if you could find a way to downsize not just our companies or personal living spaces but people themselves—to 0.0346 percent of their current size? Not only would such a miniature population require only a tiny fraction of the Earth’s resources (compared to our normal-sized population), but a thousand people would produce only one small bag of waste in a year. It’s an absurd idea, of course, but that’s the premise of Downsizing, the latest film from writer/director Alexander Payne. I […]

The Man Who Invented Christmas

()
December 15, 2017 Vic Thiessen

In December 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, a novella that forever changed the way people think about and celebrate Christmas (introducing, for example, the concepts of linking family gatherings and special meals to the Christmas season). Most importantly to me, A Christmas Carol made Christmas a time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s a call to fight against the poverty created by our collective greed and to give generously of our time and money to assure that everyone can have a “Merry Christmas” (the popularization of this term is another contribution of the novella). The depressing […]