MikeyB's Movie Night: Vancouver International Film Festival 2016

 As I mentioned at the end of my September 2016 Monthly Movie Roundup I would be attending a few movies at this years' Vancouver International Film Festival and report back here with my thoughts on them. I had originally planned on seeing four films at the festival, but mismanaged expectations and horrible weather turned it into two and one fourth films. Confused? Don't worry, I'll explain it all down below. So without any more explanation lets dive right in!

In a Valley of Violence (2016)
Director: Ti West
Starring: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga

 The first film of the festival I saw was a western from Writer/Director Ti West, who is best known for his work in the horror genre. The young filmmaker was on hand at the showing to give the film an introduction and do a short Q&A where he explained that he wanted to make a western where the characters spoke and reacted to the situations around them in a way he thought real people would. In doing so West infuses the film with a wicked case of gallows humor that makes this one of the funniest and honestly strangest westerns I've ever seen. Hawke is great as usual and the whole supporting cast is perfect as well, but the surprising stand out here is Travolta who turns in the best work he's done in many years. Highly recommended for fans of the genre or offbeat film making in general.

Phantom Detective (2016)
Director: Sung-hee Jo
Starring: Jee-hoon Lee, Ara Go, Bo-ra Hwang

 My second day of the festival I had planned to see two films. The first of which was this crazy slice of South Korean cinema. I have long time been a fan of the films of South Korea so when I saw this film on the schedule I new I had to see it. The film is inspired by the old Korean folk hero Hong Gildong Jeon but transplants him into modern times. An insane mix of comic book hero, detective story, and family drama, Phantom Detective is a wild trip. Once again the film's Director was on-hand for a short Q&A after the screening but sadly I had to miss it to make it to the next film I was seeing. This turned out to be a mistake....

Tower (2016)
Director: Keith Maitland
Starring: Violet Beane, Louie Arnette, Blair Jackson

 Now this is where my "VIFF" experience came off the rails. I went into this film expecting a standard documentary about the 1966 Texas University Sniper, Charles Whitman. What I got instead was a reenactment of those days events using actors, transplanting them into actual archival film footage. Not only that but the filmmakers make use of a technique called "Rotoscoping", which is used to give the film an animated look but with realistic visuals. Its a film style I've never really liked because it lands me straight in the "uncanny valley" whenever I see it used. On top of all this and missing out on the Q&A from Phantom Detective, the actors used in the film are just not very good. This all culminated in giving me a sour taste right off the bat. I ended up leaving after the first 30 minutes to beat traffic back to the states. Now to be fair to the film makers, I should have researched this one more to either prepare for it or to have crossed it off my list to begin with. Little did I know that mother nature herself was planning to sabotage my final and most anticipated film of festival...

The Handmaiden (2016)
Director: Chan-wook Park
Starring: Min-hee Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Jin-woong Jo

 South Korean Director Chan-wook Park has made some of my favorite films of all time, with his film Oldboy constantly near the very top of the list. So you can understand my excitement when I found out his newest offering was scheduled to close out the festival. As I mentioned above though mother nature had other plans. You see the day I was to go to the screening was Oct 14th. If you are not familiar with our recent weather here, this was the weekend that the remnants of a typhoon were supposed to hit northwest Washington. Now the winds got nowhere near what was being projected, but that night they were howling something fierce. Seeing as I did not want to brave the storm or chance that I would be caught in Canada for the night I stayed in. As luck would have it though the amazing folks over at The Pickford Film Center right here in Bellingham WA added The Handmaiden to their schedule this past week. I had the pleasure of seeing it last night and while it is nowhere near my favorite film Park has made I continue to love his filming style.

 Well that wraps up my coverage of the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival. Im already looking forward to next year and hopefully mother nature is a bit more co-operative the next time around. Next week we will be resuming business as usual, so as always thank you for reading and I'll see you next time!

Ps: I know right now is a difficult time for americans no matter who you voted for. So I'll leave you with a quote from Kevin Murphy for when you need to take your mind off things: The movies cannot save us, they can very rarely even change us in any way, but sometimes they can help a little along the way, and the rest is up to us. During hard times people go to the movies, to sit together and feel better for a while. If the movies could do nothing else for us, this would be enough.