VIFF capsule reviews part one: Foxcatcher, Force Majeure and In Order of Disappearance

viff-eyeThis year marks the 20th anniversary of my first attending the Vancouver International Film Festival. The first film I saw back then was Atom Egoyan’s Exotica — I attended a press screening so that I could interview Egoyan himself for one of the UBC student newspapers a few days later — and if memory serves, I marked my 24th birthday by attending a festival screening of Bullets over Broadway, which turned out to be the last Woody Allen film I truly enjoyed (not counting the animated film Antz, which he did not direct).

The festival itself is now in its 33rd year, and it kicked things off two nights ago with a screening of Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild starring Reese Witherspoon. I was unable to see almost anything that day because of family commitments, but I plan to spend some time here over the next two weeks, and to write some brief capsule reviews. The first ones are below, along with their upcoming showtimes.

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Spanish arthouse director sets Salome in Abu Ghraib

luisminarroVariety reports that Luis Minarro, a prolific arthouse producer (his credits include the Nativity-themed Birdsong and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), is going to direct a new version of Salome that sets the story in Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison that became infamous for the way American soldiers abused prisoners there eleven years ago. It is not clear whether Minarro’s film will be based on an existing adaptation of the story, such as Oscar Wilde’s play, or directly on the biblical story itself. “Salome can be filmed everywhere, I only need a desert land and seven-to-eight actors, in a bunkhouse. It is going to be a very symbolic film,” says Minarro. Despite these minimal requirements, Minarro doesn’t plan to actually start shooting the film until 2016, at least another year and a half from now. With any luck, maybe Al Pacino’s movie treatments of Wilde’s play will be out on home video by then, for comparison’s sake.

Review: The Song (dir. Richard Ramsey, 2014)

songIf you went to The Song knowing nothing but the title and the fact that it’s loosely based on the life of King Solomon, then you might think that this film, about a country-music star and his struggles with fidelity, is based on the Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon. And there is, indeed, a bit of that in there. But of all the texts ascribed to Solomon, the one that dominates this film, by far, is Ecclesiastes, easily the most existentialist book in the entire Bible. And that makes this film a little different from your typical “faith-based” movie.

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Tobey Maguire making a sci-fi Garden of Eden movie?

tobeymaguireThe Tracking Board reports that Sony Pictures has acquired a sci-fi script called The Eden Project for Tobey Maguire and his wife Jennifer Meyer to produce. The film, written by Christina Hodson, is described as “a grounded sci-fi take on the origins of the Garden of Eden,” and it is apparently going to be the first part of a two-part series, if all goes as planned. Its full title is The Eden Project Part One: Eve and the Tracking Board says it may have “similarities” to the recent hit film Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson. So, make what you will of that. Maguire has already been involved with at least one film that had Garden-of-Eden overtones, namely Pleasantville (1998). ’Twill be interesting to see how this compares.

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Clavius: more pictures and a call for extras in Spain

clavius-10693364_951687004845690_2105905994_nClavius, the movie about a Roman who investigates reports of Jesus’ resurrection, is shooting in Malta right now — but the film will be moving to Spain soon. Euro Weekly News says casting for extras began today in Almeria — and many of the people lining up already had experience working on Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Meanwhile, Tom Felton — the Harry Potter veteran who appears to be playing a soldier named Lucius in this film — has posted more behind-the-scenes photos to his Instagram account, including the picture to the right from his 27th birthday, which happened last Monday.

Click below the jump for more.
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Exodus: Gods and Kings news round-up: a new “action” featurette and a couple new interviews with the filmmakers

exodus-facebook-140923Another Wednesday, another Exodus: Gods and Kings promotional featurette — this time on ‘Creating the Action’.

Once again, the filmmakers emphasize the size, size, size of their movie. In 87 seconds, they use expressions like “a lot”, “a very big-scale production”, “the biggest historic battle that’s ever been”, “the scale of this world we’re in is breathtaking”, “epic” and “a colossal endeavor”.

The video doesn’t seem to be embeddable, but you can watch it over at

Meanwhile, a couple more interviews with the filmmakers have popped up. There isn’t a whole lot new in either of them, but they do have a few interesting quotes.

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