Vic Thiessen Archive
Highlights of the Edmonton International Film Festival
I had the privilege of spending the first 10 days of October watching 20 films at the Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF). The EIFF is quickly becoming one of the continent’s better festivals, with a top-notch selection of foreign and independent films scheduled for release over the next few months. Below you will find capsule reviews of eight of the most important films I watched (in alphabetical order): My favorite film at the Edmonton International Film Festival is an extraordinary filmmaking achievement. Made by German director Sebastian Schipper, Victoria was filmed in one shot lasting 140 minutes. Bikes vs Cars […]
Mistress America is another quirky, witty, honest, and thought-provoking independent comedy drama from writer/director Noah Baumbach. His previous films include Greenberg, The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha, and While We’re Young, all of which contain a lot of social commentary and all of which I enjoyed very much. Since I also have trouble enjoying films with unsympathetic characters, my appreciation for Baumbach’s films must be grounded in the strong element of hope that I find in his films. Baumbach grew up in New York City and had a difficult childhood, which is reflected in the dark edge that is […]
Rather than encouraging people not to waste their time watching this month’s big blockbuster (Rogue Nation, which is entertaining and well-made but also shallow and ultimately supportive of our insane and evil “intelligence” communities), I have decided to encourage people to watch a relatively obscure and underrated gem called Mr. Holmes. At its heart, Mr. Holmes is about an aging Sherlock beginning to question the value of the logic and chemistry that have ruled his mind and his life. Mr. Holmes opens with a scene in a train compartment where a young boy sitting opposite Holmes is observing what he calls a […]
Love & Mercy
With so many people wasting their time (sorry, just my opinion) on flimsy entertainment like Jurassic World, let me point you to a recent film of substance called Love & Mercy (hard to find fault with a title like that). I was never a huge fan of the Beach Boys, but I enjoyed many of their songs and owned three or four of their albums back in the day (in the ’70s; the ’60s were before my time, which is partly why I wasn’t a huge fan). While I had heard vague rumors over the years about Brian Wilson, the […]
Last Days in the Desert
I recently had the privilege of attending the first Movies and Meaning Film Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The festival was led by Gareth Higgins and Richard Rohr and featured a variety of profound films and inspiring talks. One of those profound films was a new Jesus film that is scheduled for a limited release in October (it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January). The film’s writer/director, Rodrigo Garcia, joined us for a long Q&A after the screening. Those who know the story of Jesus and are interested in exploring his wilderness encounter with the devil in a […]
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Set to become the year’s biggest blockbuster (and one of the highest-grossing films of all time), The Avengers: Age of Ultron has continued the world’s love affair with Marvel superheroes that began with Iron Man. “You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change. There’s only one path to peace . . . your extinction.” I watched the film in a full theatre and listened closely to the post-film comments made by the people in my vicinity. I heard not a single negative comment. People were thrilled; some even clapped. When I suggest that the masses are being […]
The Divergent Series: Insurgent
The Divergent series began with last year’s Divergent, a film based on the first novel of a poorly written dystopian trilogy aimed at teenagers and young adults. The series was made to cash in on the phenomenal box office success of The Hunger Games. Both series are made by Lionsgate, a major non-Hollywood studio, which gives them a distinct non-Hollywood flavor, though obviously does not guarantee the avoidance of typical Hollywood flaws. Insurgent also suggests that nonconformity and challenging the status quo are positive attributes and should be encouraged among the young. The Divergent series is set in a future version […]
Just to see how much alcohol the characters in the film consume is enough to make you cry, and that is only one of many sad things about life in modern Russia.
A Most Violent Year
Instead of films that provide character studies of snipers who lose their humanity but are depicted as heroes, let’s watch character studies that make us think deeply about what it means to be an honorable person.