Vic Thiessen Archive

Captain Marvel

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March 14, 2019 Vic Thiessen

Let me start by noting that I am not a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and consider only three of its twenty previous films worth watching (Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther), though I admit that I have only watched about half of the MCU films. Most MCU films I have seen had far too much mindless and pointless violent action and I am a little surprised filmgoers haven’t gotten bored. Based on the box office figures for Captain Marvel this past weekend, not only have filmgoers not gotten bored they continue to run to the cinema the […]

High Flying Bird

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February 14, 2019 Vic Thiessen

There is nothing worth watching at the local cinema this month, so I checked out Netflix, which released the best film made in 2018 (Roma). Roma is a perfect example of why I’m not a big fan of the concept of Netflix Original Films, because Roma deserves to be watched on a big screen, not on a TV (even if it’s 60” wide). The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, released by Netflix in November, is another example of this. But if Netflix is helping these films get made, I suppose I must view this as a positive thing. And some Netflix […]

If Beale Street Could Talk

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 […]

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.

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