Vic Thiessen Archive

I, Daniel Blake and A Man Called Ove

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October 14, 2016 Vic Thiessen

I just returned from Edmonton, where I had the privilege of watching 19 feature-length films in 10 days at the Edmonton International Film Festival (now one of the most important film festivals in Canada). Only two of those 19 films stood out for me, and coincidentally they both featured 59-year-old widower protagonists. Critics will no doubt be unhappy with the pedagogical nature of I, Daniel Blake. This is not a film that hides its message. I, Daniel Blake, which will come to American theaters in December, is directed by Ken Loach, most of whose films are about the plight of […]

Pete’s Dragon

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September 16, 2016 Vic Thiessen

The latest Disney remake of one of its older animated films (the original Pete’s Dragon was made in 1977) is an improbable choice, because the animated film wasn’t very good, and translating this story to live action would appear to be challenging. Nevertheless, relative newcomer David Lowery was given the task of writing and directing a live-action version of Pete’s Dragon, with surprising results. Pete’s Dragon stars Oakes Fegley as the young five-year-old Pete, whose parents are killed in a car accident, leaving him alone in the woods. Pete ends up staying in the woods for six years, surviving only […]

Star Trek Beyond

August 12, 2016 Vic Thiessen

  The third film in this century’s revival of the Star Trek film series is directed by Justin Lin and written by Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty) and Doug Jung. Star Trek Beyond continues the adventures of the young Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekhov (Anton Yelchin), and Scotty in the alternate timeline introduced in 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, both of which were directed by J.J. Abrams. Unfortunately, the third film follows its predecessors in sacrificing an intelligent, complex thought-provoking plot in favor of action (often violent action). […]

The BFG

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July 15, 2016 Vic Thiessen

Steven Spielberg rose to fame and fortune as one of the world’s greatest film directors because of his uncanny skill in reading the inclinations of the masses, resulting in one blockbuster after another (though there were a few misfires along the way). That skill seems to have deserted him with his new film, The BFG, which has bombed all over North America despite being (in my opinion) one of the better children’s films made in this century. Unlike the nonstop action featured in most children’s films made today, The BFG is a slow, thoughtful film. Based on Roald Dahl’s 1982 […]

Sunset Song

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June 10, 2016 Vic Thiessen

I was introduced to the impressive work of filmmaker Terence Davies while I was living in London (UK). I have met very few people in North America who have seen any of Davies’s films or know anything about the writer/director of brilliant films like Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), The House of Mirth (2000), and The Deep Blue Sea (2011). The well-acted and impeccably shot Sunset Song is profound and moving in ways that few films today come close to. Davies is often compared to filmmaker Terrence Malick because of how infrequently he makes his arthouse masterpieces and because of […]

A Hologram for the King

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May 13, 2016 Vic Thiessen

German filmmaker Tom Tykwer doesn’t get much respect in North America. This has always been a mystery to me, because in Europe he’s considered one of the greats and he’s been one of my very favorite directors since he made one of my 25 favorite films of all time, Run Lola Run, in 1998 (it’s the only one of Tykwer’s films that was critically acclaimed in North America). In the brilliant opening scene, we learn that Alan has lost his house, his wife, and his car. His personal life feels like a roller coaster and his work isn’t going well […]

Eye in the Sky

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April 8, 2016 Vic Thiessen

On March 7 of this year, the U.S. military used drones (and other aircraft) to kill over 150 people in Somalia, a country with which it is not at war. The immediate claim of the U.S. government was that all the people killed were either terrorists or militants, but no proof of this claim has been offered. The mainstream media nevertheless accept such claims without question, and one has to go to investigative journalists like Glenn Greenwald (of the Intercept) to find any critical analysis of such attacks. What about the likely death of the innocent young girl selling bread […]

Risen

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March 11, 2016 Vic Thiessen

As I mentioned in my review of Son of God two years ago, I like to watch Jesus films during Lent. But a new Jesus film worth watching seemed unlikely in wake of the many disappointments I have experienced watching Christian films over the past two years (including Son of God). A record number of Christian and religious films hit our local theaters during that time (e.g., Exodus, Noah, Heaven Is for Real, God’s Not Dead), and they have had huge box office success in the United States. But in my opinion that success was undeserved, as all of those […]

Hail, Caesar!

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February 12, 2016 Vic Thiessen

A Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, a Greek Orthodox priest, and a Jewish rabbi walk into a bar—no, they go fishing—no, they sit in a Hollywood studio office in 1951 and debate whether an upcoming film’s depiction of Jesus will be offensive to reasonable people. I had a grin on my face from almost the beginning to the end of this marvelous comedy. That absolutely hilarious scene is the best of many whacky and wonderful scenes in the Coen brothers’ new film, Hail Caesar! It’s a film that begins and ends with Jesus on the cross, has countless references to […]

Carol

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January 15, 2016 Vic Thiessen

Sure to be nominated for numerous Academy Awards, Carol is an engaging and evocative period drama about two women who fall in love with each other in 1951, a time when such a relationship was not only scandalous but a sign of serious psychological dysfunction. Carol is a quiet, understated film featuring terrific performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as well as gorgeous cinematography, a great score, and tight, flawless direction. Carol (played by Cate Blanchett) is a wealthy woman who has recently initiated divorce proceedings with her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler). She has a close friend, Abby (Sarah […]