A rundown of the 2018 Calgary International Film Festival
The best flicks we were able to catch this year
By Colin Macgillivray, Arts Editor
For almost two weeks, film fans everywhere united at Eau Claire Market and the Globe Cinema to take part in the Calgary International Film Festival. It was almost as if the holiday season came early, with Calgary’s movie theatre maniacs being treated to countless exceptional films, ranging from wonderfully absurdist dramas about a draft-dodging Charlie Chaplin impersonator (The Great Darkened Days), to a documentary of two unlikely street musicians and the life-changing power of music (Satan & Adam).
With so many movies to choose from, we obviously didn’t get around to seeing the nearly 200 shorts, features and collaboration screenings that were showcased from Sept. 19 to Sept. 30, but here are some brief reviews of the flicks that should definitely be on your watchlist if you haven’t been able to check them out yet.
The Sisters Brothers
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Ever since I picked up Canadian novelist Patrick deWitt’s brilliant western dark-comedy, The Sisters Brothers and burned through the novels 300-plus pages in what seemed like 15 minutes, I was salivating at the thought of a screen adaptation. The narrative style of deWitt almost lends itself to the screen and once I had heard that Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed were attached to the film, my expectations and excitement were through the roof.
Luckily, Jacques Audiard’s interpretation of a story about two notorious assassin brothers and their descent into the California Gold Rush of the 1850s does not disappoint. Guns, greed and guffaws are present throughout the relatively faithful book-to-screen adaptation, with Riz Ahmed in particular giving an eerily captivating performance. Audiard also offers plenty of Old West splendour to look at, making the film a solid and entertaining journey.
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Arguably my most anticipated film at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival, Shoplifters left me with a feeling that was a mix of tragedy, uplifting vigour and awe at the masterful filmmaking I was privy to. Kore-eda, who is the master when it comes to showcasing family dynamics in a realistic way, does some of his best work with Shoplifters.
The winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, the quietly powerful crime-drama that vividly portrays a thoughtful take on family and theft in contemporary Japan is a must-see this year. Nuance in filmmaking is almost impossible to describe, so find a way to see this movie, cry, smile and appreciate a touching take on the malevolent nature of modern poverty.
Directed by Pawel Pawlikoski
Cold War reminded me of the time I spent in New York watching Broadway musicals, which is some of the highest praise I can give to this charming love story set post the Second World War in Europe. The transcendent quality of Pawlikowski’s beautiful love story — based loosely off of his own parents lives — is apparent through stunning black-and-white visuals, thoughtful dialogue and passionate musical numbers galore.
Telling a melancholic tale of a troupe of Polish folk musicians in the years following the Second World War, Cold War transported me into a story of intimacy and sincerity, set upon a backdrop of political unrest and dark motivations. My only complaint? The film was only 84 minutes long, making the final destination feel oddly rushed.
Nonetheless, surely a frontrunner for the best Foreign Film Award at this years Oscars.