VIFF Film Reviews: My Father and the Man in Black; Camel Caravan; Revision.


Brief reviews of  pre-festival media screenings from the 2012Vancouver International Film Festival, which runs from September 27 to October 12.

My Father and the Man in Black (Documentary, 90 mins, Canada, director Jonathan Holiff). Director Holiff picks apart his relationship with his father, who spent decades as manager of country singer Johnny Cash. Holiff hopes that understanding his father’s reactions to Cash’s annoying personality will shed light on his own childhood. This doesn’t work and it’s not clear why Holiff thought it would.

Camel Caravan. (Adventure drama, 96 mins, China, director Gao Feng). It’s south-west China in the 1920s, not Texas in the 1870s, but the plot is still Hollywood of the 1950s. Armed with bows alone, heroic camel drivers defend a precious cargo against rifle toting bandits. Just so you don’t get confused, the bandits are dressed hat to boot in black. There’s a subplot that has a brash young camel driver falling in love with the daughter of the stern but good-hearted driver captain.

Revision. (Documentary, 108 minutes, Germany, director Philip Scheffner). It’s easy to fall asleep during the first hour of this probe of the 1992 killings of two Romanian refugees: the issue at hand — where the victims gunned down deliberately or were their deaths just hunting accidents? — is obscured by lengthy detailed testimony of investigators and the victims’ families. By the time the film is over, you wish Scheffner had hired a film editor rather than doing the job himself.

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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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