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VIFF: When Life Was Good – review

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Yesterday I mentioned I was going to attend When Life Was Good, a no budget Canadian feature film that has been getting a lot of buzz on the festival circuit this year. I’m proud to say that the screening more then lived up to expectations and the hype is justified. Although lacking big budget production values When Life Was Good manages to hook you in with an excellent story, laughter from natural dialog, and impressive performances from the two lead characters played by Kristine Cofsky & Casey Manderson.

That is not to say this movie is without its flaws. The supporting cast has both a mix of hilarious and well acted characters, as well as dismal group of people who seemed to be pulled off the street. Also the guided improv style of filmmaking has its pros and cons. On the plus side some of the funniest moments would have not developed if it were not for this direction. However at the same time it resulted in some sketchy editing techniques that reminded me a lot of a bad MTV special. Scenes were pieced together from multiple takes and then shuffled together like a deck of cards making for an arty, all be it annoying, flow.

For what its worth I consider When Life Was Good an excellent example of where the Canadian film industry is going. Its nice to see what someone can do when they ignore the rules of traditional filmmaking and delve into a project without a budget, big name actors, or high end equipment. There is still one more screening of When Life Was Good at VIFF this year, make sure to go get your tickets soon.

VIFF: When Life Was Good

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Tonight I am attending When Life Was Good at VIFF. I mentioned this movie a few times so far, even as recently as yesterday. Needless to say I am quite excited about it. My reasoning has a lot to do with the fact it appears as if someone managed to pull off a great Canadian film (not an easy thing to do) with no budget, no lights, no high end camera, no actors (even harder to do). I am in the process of doing the same thing with my passion project Play With Fire, and its fantastic seeing a film like this get into festivals such as TIFF and VIFF. If you’re in the Vancouver area I suggest you go on over to the VIFF website and get yourself tickets to When Life Was Good. If not for tonight’s showing at the Ridge Theater, then at least for the second screening later in the week.

Make sure to check out the Super U exclusive When Life Was Good VIFF video blog!

Check out the tailer for When Life Was Good 

New takes on old genres

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Every now and then a film comes along and completely changes how you look at a genre. For the last few years no one has had a new take on the horror genre and the most innovation we experienced was the rise and fall of ‘torture porn‘. Well that is all about to change with Let The Right One In. The movie is not a traditional horror film, it’s a relationship story about an introverted girl who teaches a shy bullied kid how to stand up for himself. It’s sweet in every way you wouldn’t expect. Beautiful and haunting, Let The Right One In is a film you must see.

Luckily it is a movie you can see if you live in either Vancouver or Toronto. Toronto After Dark is going to show it at their festival in mid October, and the Vancouver International Film Festival is showing it as well. Below is the synopsis from the VIFF Website as well as the trailer from Toronto After Dark:

Twelve-year-old Oskar lives with his mom in a particularly bleak section of Stockholm. Geeky, awkward and just plain weird, Oskar is one of those kids that bullies seem to sniff out. One night, while practicing stabbing a tree (in lieu of his tormentors), Oskar meets the new girl who just moved in next door. Eli, preternaturally pale and self-possessed, might smell a little odd, but like Oskar she’s dying of loneliness–as well as the need for human blood.

Director Tomas Alfredson (Four Shades of Brown, VIFF 04) has done the seemingly impossible by reinventing the hoariest of horror genres–the vampire film–with sly wit and surprising sweetness. The beauty is in the details, and Alfredson’s particular genius is apparent in small perfect touches. The scene where Eli and Oskar dance to bad Swedish disco is a particular standout, but the film is filled with wonderful grace notes. The film’s most enduring quality, however, is how perfectly it captures the aching loneliness of people on the outside. It is this need for human contact that makes even the most horrific of acts somehow forgivable. Kudos must be given to the film’s two young leads whose natural and deeply affecting performances lend the film emotional honesty and rare power. A massive hit on the genre film circuit, Let the Right One In reminds you of the power that horror cinema, done right, can have. Winner of the Film Festival Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, Tribeca 2008, and Best Film, Best Director and Best Photography at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival.

If you are in Toronto you can get your Toronto After Dark VIP passes here, something I consider a great value at $99 for all 17 screenings. If you are in Vancouver you can get your Vancouver International Film Festival tickets and passes here. Make sure you get your tickets for this one quick, I have a feeling it will sell out fast.