Author: Amanda Clarke

Hot Docs 2017 Review: Integral Man

If you’ve ever taken a university level calculus course, you’ve probably encountered the work of James Stewart. The most published mathematician since Euclid, Stewart has made a fortune writing the calculus textbooks with the violin on the cover. Integral Man examines Integral House, an 18,000 square-foot private residence in Rosedale, that Stewart commissioned. Paradoxically, Integral Man is both too long and too short. An impressive feat for a film that runs only 60 minutes. James Stewart was a man of substance. Sadly the film that bears his name has very little. Director Joseph Clement fills the film with images...

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Review: Strangers on the Earth

Every year thousands of people walk the trail of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage across Spain to the shrine of the apostle St. James. Despite its religious beginnings, now the people who undertake the pilgrimage come for all kinds of reasons. Some do it for an interesting vacation. Some were inspired by the film The Way. Some seek spiritual guidance or are searching for meaning. There are as many different reasons to hike the 600 km trail as there are people who walk it. Director Tristan Cook has taken this route with his film Strangers on the Earth. It...

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Review: Their Finest

The year is 1940. England has just suffered a massive defeat at the hands of Nazi Germany at Dunkirk with tens of thousands dead. There is a ray of hope. In the midst of the chaos, two sisters sail their small boat to Dunkirk to save as many soldiers as they can. They become heroes in the evacuation that saved hundreds of thousands of troops, giving hope to the defeated Allied troops. Or at least, that’s how the British propaganda machine is selling it. Their Finest follows Catherine Cole (Gemma Arterton), born Catrin Pew, a comic writer hired by...

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Human Rights Watch Festival 2017 Review: Tickling Giants

“It’s about holding authority accountable, regardless of who’s in charge.” This is the statement that has defined Bessem Youssef’s comedic career. He lives to tickle the giants. To be a constant annoyance to those in power. It’s the reason he left a successful career as a heart surgeon to host Al Bernameg (literally The Show), Egypt’s first political satire. In his weekly broadcasts, Youssef dissects the country’s political leaders, mocking, but also encouraging his viewers to never be complacent. Asking for people to always question and hold those in power accountable. Director Sara Taksler knows she’s working with a...

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Review: The Zookeeper’s Wife

During the Second World War, Antonina and Jan Zabinski smuggled hundreds of Jews out of the Polish ghetto. Using their zoo as a way-house, they helped hundreds of people escape out of Poland right under the Nazis’ noses. We begin The Zookeeper’s Wife in a slightly surreal Utopia. It’s a bright, sunny day. Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain) in a cheerful summer dress rides her bike through the zoo followed by a galloping camel. She greets the animals as she passes by and they respond in a symphony of roars, trumpets and caws. A gaggle of people wait just outside...

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Canadian Film Festival 2017 Review: Broken

In 2007 Simone Orlando, a lead dancer with the BC Ballet, suffered a severe hip injury. She was unable to walk, but continued to dance until the pain became too great for her to continue. Broken is a window into the world of the ballet and how it responds to injury. The title Broken carries a double meaning. Most obviously, it refers to Orlando’s injured body that is the catalyst for the film. It also refers to the ballet community and refusal to accept that pain is not a normal state of being. The idea that dancers who cannot...

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Review: Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming)

Rosie Ming (Sandra Oh) was raised in Vancouver by her Chinese grandparents. When she is invited to a poetry festival in Iran, she is forced to confront the Persian half of her heritage and her relationship with the father who disappeared when she was small. There has never been anything quite like Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming). From its inexplicable, unwieldy title to stick girl (that is Rosie), it takes awhile to settle into the film. Once the story moves from Vancouver to Iran, however, the initial discomfort is forgotten. All of the disparate, seemingly random...

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