Thursday, February 2, 2012

VIU Alternative Film Series, Spring 2012

Notes: Shirley Goldberg, Ron Bonham, VIU Humanities

January 13
Suleiman (Chronicle of a Disappearance, Divine Intervention) returns to his native Nazareth to trace the history of Palestine from 1949 to the present in a series of absurdist dead-pan vignettes. As a sad-eyed witness, he registers the conflicts and contradictions of this half-century of tragedy and turmoil — as well as the impotence and stasis that has ensured. Instead of an angry diatribe, he has created a masterpiece of cogent dissent.
January 20
China 2010
Spectactular disaster film framed by the huge (8.2) Tangshan earthquake of 1976 and the Sichuan quake (8.0) of 2008. Director Xiaogang pulls out all the stops in this high action, emotional drama, focussing on the "aftershocks" for a particular family when a mother must choose between saving her son or daughter. When Feng Deng hears that she isn't chosen, yet later survives, her family bonds are pulled asunder. The film's emphasis on both physical and emotional restoration takes us over 30 years and all the way to Vancouver!! Part commercial blockbuster, part feel-good propaganda, part melodrama, Aftershock is to date the most popular Chinese film ever.
January 27
United States 2011
Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line) is a true artist and perfectionist, whose work is so all-inclusive that it must be seen on the large screen. A film which has generated a lot of controversy and opinion, Tree is demanding since we must leave all our expectations at the door (thus, the film stars Brad Pitt as the father of Sean Penn, but is far away from any Hollywood endeavour). While the central human story is set in 1950s Texas around the O'Brien family, American values, and the loss of innocence the film also shifts from pre-human, prehistoric time to the present. Malick's deeply humanistic meditation on birth, life and death moves with his inimitable vision between the cosmic order and the family order, showing that their stories for each of us are one and the same. Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes.