The Vancouver International Film Festival runs until Oct. 12. For more information and show times, go to viff.org.
Sept. 27, Oct. 1, 3 at Granville
Real estate development, corridors of power, family history and class divisions all simmer below the surface of this slow-burning drama from Brazil. A private security firm is hired by residents of a middle-class neighbourhood to quell a rash of burglaries, but not before getting final approval from the local kingpin. Slices of home life in surrounding apartments don't appear to connect, but create a fascinating portrait of Brazilian society, culminating in a tense and unexpected conclusion.
Breakfast with Curtis
Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 7 at Granville
If the encroaching chill of autumn has you down, Laura Colella's Breakfast with Curtis should feel like a dose of Vitamin D. After a five-year feud with the neighbours, aging hippie and all around eccentric Syd takes it upon himself to bring the neighbour's introverted 14-year-old son Curtis under his wing. Resembling a weather-beaten Neil Young, Syd wants someone to video his weekly rants and put them up on the Internet, while Curtis gradually comes out of his shell as he's introduced to the sun-dappled world of his bohemian neighbours and their nightly garden parties, ping pong tournaments and porch gatherings. Part coming-of-age story, part love letter to the lazy days of summer and the community it can nurture, this small but charming film is like a warm breeze on a late August night.
The Great Northwest
Sept. 29, 30, Oct. 10 at Granville
In 1958, four female friends from Seattle embarked on an extensive road trip through the Pacific Northwest, stopping at landmarks, tourist spots, motels and bars, documenting their 5,200-km journey in a scrapbook. More than half a century later, filmmaker Matt McCormick found the scrapbook in a thrift store and set about retracing the trip as best he could. Not surprisingly, many of the tiki bars, frontier-themed tourist traps, motor inns and towns are gone, replaced by interstate highways, strip malls and "progress"; while other curious bits of history, roadside attractions, architecture and breathtaking vistas remain. Consisting mainly of landscape and scenery shots, sometimes alongside photos taken from the scrapbook for comparison, The Great Northwest is slow moving but it's also a fascinating, sometimes sad account of the passage of time.
Keep the Lights On
Oct. 3, 4 at Granville
Ira Sachs' moving drama chronicles several years in the life of documentary filmmaker Erik and closeted Paul, who first cross paths via a phone sex line in the '90s in New York City. Their relationship goes from sweet to tumultuous as the couple moves in together and Paul's drug dependency worsens. Buoyed by Thure Lindhardt's touching performance as Erik, Sachs deftly shifts through the years, capturing both the seemingly mundane and watershed moments that comprise an intimate relationship from beginning to end.
Random Acts of Romance
Oct. 5, 9, 12 at Granville
Despite its title, there's not a lot of romance in Katrin Bowen's locally shot film. Billed as an "unromantic comedy," the film follows the intersecting lives of two couples whose relationships are unravelling and an avowed bachelor, who gets some of the film's crudest and funniest lines. There's also a whacked-out receptionist/stalker and an ill-conceived plotline involving an ill-conceived abduction. Much silliness ensues as the quirkfest veers towards screwball comedy territory, losing some of its edge and charm in the process.
Come as You Are
Oct. 7, 9, 11 at Granville
It's hard not to like this mostly feel good Belgium comedy. Even though it hits all the expected plot points and telegraphs any major developments, its head and heart are in the right place. Which is no easy task when the script centres on a trio of friends whose various disabilities and dependence on their parents have put a serious damper on any prospect of romance. Determined to lose their virginity, the group hires a nurse to take them on a 10-day road trip through the wine regions of France to the coast of Spain where there's a brothel that caters to "their kind." Needless to say, the road to paradise isn't exactly a smooth one. Fine performances all around, particularly Robrecht Vanden Thoren as the bull-headed instigator of the trip, and plenty of laughs make Come as You Are a heartfelt crowd pleaser that refuses to pander or dwell on the sentimental.
Oct. 11, 12 at Granville
As a child of hippie parents growing up in the 1970s, shaggy-haired Redwood displays a great deal of composure in the face of adversary, especially when he gets shipped off to California to live with his estranged mom and her hostile family after his dad gets busted for drugs. That composure carries over to an imaginary golf game he believes he's playing against Jack Nicklaus in hopes of winning "the magic green jacket" at the Masters so everything will go back to the way they used to be when his parents were together. It's just one of several quirky elements in this well-intentioned film, which includes a dickish step dad, a crotchety, misunderstood old man and a bong-full of family secrets. As a device, Redwood's golf obsession feels contrived from the get-go, and unfortunately it's the thread on which the entire movie hangs, testing the audience's own composure right down to the final precious lines of the film. Cheesy wigs and an unrelenting soundtrack that all but screams every scene's intended mood don't do the film any favours.