Vic Thiessen Archive

If Beale Street Could Talk

(, , , , , , , , , , , , , )
January 10, 2019 Vic Thiessen

As I created my list of top-ten films of 2018, I noted that it was an outstanding year for films about the black-American experience and that most of those films were made by black filmmakers. Among them were Carlos López Estrada’s Blindspotting (written by Daveed Diggs), Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You and Peter Farrelly’s Green Book. But the best was saved for last, with Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, which I like even more than Moonlight, Jenkins’ Best Picture winner of 2016. Tish (KiKi Layne) is a […]

Widows

(, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )
December 13, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Writer/director Steve McQueen has made one brilliant film after another (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave), all of them dark dramas about people in pain and people inflicting pain on others. Widows, advertised as a heist thriller, is actually another slow-moving dark drama focusing on people in pain (and people inflicting pain). The film also explores a variety of vital and topical themes with obvious good intentions. But while Widows enjoys near universal critical acclaim, I am uncertain about whether such good intentions can succeed with such cold and violent characters, a number of whom are meant to be sympathetic. […]

Shoplifters

(, , , , , , , , , , )
November 16, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Arriving in U.S. theatres next Friday (November 23) is this year’s winner of the Palme d’Or, the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Shoplifters was written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, my favourite active Japanese director (Kore-eda has made such memorable films as After Life, Nobody Knows, Like Father, Like Son and After the Storm). Kore-eda’s films are invariably thought-provoking and deeply humanizing, two of my favourite film attributes. Shoplifters, which has been compared to Dickens’ Oliver Twist, tells the story of a poor family living in a tiny bungalow on the outskirts of Tokyo. Surrounded by apartment buildings, […]

Three Indie Gems to Watch For

(, , , , , , , , )
October 11, 2018 Vic Thiessen

The 2018 Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF) was not as good as last year but still featured a number of excellent indie films, including two from Canada (which understandably has many films in the festival, but rarely does so well). The big surprise for me was the extraordinary coincidence of having three of my favourite five films of the 2018 EIFF concerned with senior high school classes (I’m generally not a big fan of high school films), though they could hardly be more different. Here is a brief look, in the order in which I liked them.   The Silent […]

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 […]

About The Author

Vic Thiessen

Vic Thiessen has been hosting weekly film nights for 12 years, speaks regularly on film and theology, and shares a film review blog with his brother. He is also film writer for the Canadian Mennonite.

More From Vic Thiessen

Categories

Authors

Browse by Date