The Vancouver International Film Festival returns for its 38th edition this week, and as usual there will be no shortage of always friendly, sometimes sleepy senior citizens to mingle and compare raincoats on the grey days between 26th September and 11th October.
There will also be some films to watch, with VIFF’s content once again spanning the full range of world and independent cinema. Here are five flicks to make sure you catch!
Following 2015’s The Witch, Robert Eggers has claimed his rightful place as one of several directors working to redefine contemporary cinematic horror. Four years on he returns to the haunting East Coast period piece with The Lighthouse, featuring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as isolated keepers who gradually lose their minds in the presence of nothing but one another. In the spirit of his debut, Eggers promises to take us beyond the realm of typical horror, incorporating and twisting classic aspects of the literary and motion picture genre for the modern age. Washed in gorgeous black and white, The Lighthouse will be a technical and photographic marvel worth seeing on the big screen.
The Lighthouse plays at The Centre on 28th September.
Having already clinched the Palme d’Or at Cannes and long been labelled a legitimate Best Picture contender, Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite arrives at VIFF with nothing short of high expectations. Returning to his roots following recent English language excursions – Snowpiercer (2013) and Okja (2017) – Bong spins a web of deceit within a divided class system, centred on two familes, the Kims and the Parks, who live on opposite sides of the poverty line. Framed as a thoughtful suspense thriller smothered with dark wit, Parasite could be the foreign language flick that makes history come the 92nd Academy Awards.
Parasite plays at The Centre on 27th and 29th September, and 6th October.
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The Twentieth Century
For a country that says sorry as often as it breathes air, local director Matthew Rankin’s utterly unapologetic send up of Canadian history and national identity is essential viewing. Focusing on the early years of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, The Twentieth Century is a rapidly paced, frankly hilarious downward spiral through blind ambition, political corruption, self-preservation, and social division. And debauchery in Winnipeg. LOTS of debauchery in Winnipeg. Shot on dirty 16mm and presented in old school 4:3, Rankin’s maple-dripping dystopia plays like a darker than dark Wes Anderson reel, while Dan Beirne and his spot on supporting cast deserve an award solely for keeping a straight face long enough to finish the shoot.
The Twentieth Century plays at International Village on 29th September, and the Rio Theatre on 30th September.
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It seems Taika Waititi can do no wrong. Already three for three with What We Do in the Shadows (2014), Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017), the New Zealand filmmaker is back on top of the world with Jojo Rabbit, the story of a young Nazi and his imaginary friend, one Adolf Hitler (played by a certain Jewish director). Jojo Rabbit is the recent winner of TIFF’s coveted People’s Choice Award, the last seven of which have gone on to be nominated for Best Picture. Also starring Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, and Thomasin McKenzie as a young Jewish girl who helps to convert our confused Hitler Youth, Jojo Rabbit is a wholly unconventional satire determined to push the boundaries of how we reflect on the horrors of the past.
Jojo Rabbit plays at The Centre on 2nd October.
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Noah Baumbach’s relationship with Netflix continues in the wake of The Meyerowitz Stories’ (2017) success with Marriage Story, his emotion-laden dissection of the modern relationship. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are Charlie and Nicole, a couple in the throes of a career-based divorce, who despite their best intentions simply cannot see their way to an amicable split. With murmurs of a Best Actor nod and potential inaugural victory for Driver already doing the rounds, Baumbach’s rich intrusion into how it feels and what it means to lose your love for someone is set to be one of the highlights of this year’s festival.
Marriage Story plays at The Centre on 10th October.
You can follow our coverage of the Vancouver International Film Festival 2019 here.