Author: Amanda Clarke

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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Review: Dancer

For a dancer, dance is all consuming. They spend their days in the studio or the gym endlessly refining their instrument. A single injury can instantly end their career and the life they have led from a young age. There is a fragility to their careers–only the very best manage to continue to perform past their thirties. Even most successful dancers live paycheque to paycheque. To just survive in the world of dance, it must be your life. Talent is a distant second. Dancer meets these realities head on. At the centre of the film is Sergei Polunin, a...

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Review: 20th Century Women

Mike Mills has a very distinctive style of filmmaking. He likes collages and voice overs and always makes sure to firmly establish the time and place of his work. All this is there in 20th Century Women, but it also marks a departure. This film is much more conventional than his previous work, but it still retains his characteristic biting wit and charm. Set in the 1970s, the film follows three women, Dorothea (Annette Benning), Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and Julie (Elle Fanning) as they attempt to navigate their own lives and help to raise Dorothea’s teenage son Jamie (Lucas...

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Review: Hidden Figures

The story of the space race is a familiar one. The Russians and Americans were locked in the Cold War and desperate to prove their superiority by being the first one to launch a man into space and ultimately send someone to the moon. Hidden Figures gives us another rendition of this well-trodden story, but from a point of view that we haven’t been privy to before. Unknown to many, NASA hired a great number of women of colour in the 1950s. They had their own segregated unit and checked many of the organizations calculations. Hidden Figures focuses on...

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Review: The Second Time Around

The Second Time Around is a simple little tale set against the grand soundtrack of the opera. The film follows Catherine (Linda Thorson), an elderly woman who loves music and dreams of seeing the opera at the Scala Opera House in Milan. When she has a bad fall and breaks her hip, Catherine is forced to move into an assisted care facility where she meets Isaac (Stuart Margolin). The two bond over their mutual love of music and begin to explore the possibilities of a romantic relationship. At its core, The Second Time Around is about longevity and the beauty of age....

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Review: Jackie

The assassination of John F. Kennedy serves as the catalyst for Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, but the former president is quickly eclipsed by the presence of his wife. This film is about Jackie. From the opening moment, she makes it clear that she is the one in complete control of the story you are about to hear. She looks directly into the camera and tells the reporter from Life Magazine “I will be editing your story. Just in case I say something I didn’t mean to.” It is an unsettling beginning to a biopic that refuses to follow convention. In many...

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