VIFF Reviews: The Prize, Taste the Waste, Dendera


Three more films from the Vancouver International Film Festival

The Prize (Der Preis). Germany, 83 min.

A young architect returns to his East German hometown to supervise the renovation of the communist era housing project in which he grew up. Gradually — and I do mean gradually — gradually it becomes clear from his interactions with old school friends that he must confront a dark secret. Is this supposed to be an allegory about East German guilt? I can’t tell.

Summary: A good film if you need a nap.

Taste the Waste. Germany, 88 min.

This documentary aims to shock us by reckoning up the amount of food thrown out from the time it is harvested to its appearance on a dinner plate. Lots of footage of containers of fresh food ripped open so the contents can be dumped, of potatoes left in the field to rot because they are too big, and of bent cucumbers scrapped because they are hard to pack.. The film’s message is that half the food grown in Europe and North America is wasted. But we also see scrapped food being turned into compost and animal food. Make sure your skepticism is tuned.

Summary: Though the film is supposed to shock, I found myself bored.

Dendera. Japan, 119 min.

Well, this one’s original. An unnamed village has a unique way of celebrating a woman’s seventieth birthday: she is ceremoniously carried up a nearby mountain and abandoned above the snow line, where she is expected to await entry to heaven. When this happens to Kayu (Ruriko Asaoka), she is rescued by a group of survivors who are scraping out an existence in a community they call Dendera. Led by a centenarian fireball, this gang of hobbling old women plans revenge: Kayu’s arrival gives them enough troops to launch an attack aimed at massacring the entire village. We watch as Kayu’s initial resistance to the harebrained scheme morphs into conditional support even as Dendera’s population is whittled down by bear attacks and an avalanche. Director Tengan Daisuke skillfully navigates the thin line between fantasy and plausibility.

Summary: This film’s high score on the oddness index alone makes it a must-see.

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About aharmlessdrudge

Way back during the late Bronze age -- actually it was the 1950s -- all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. "If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?" I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home. I cannot remember what I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and -- after a five-year stint in journalism -- back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics. Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel -- more about that in good time -- and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.
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