VIFF Film Reviews: No Job for a Woman; Bitter Seeds; Breakfast with Curtis


Three more short reviews of films from the Vancouver International Film Festival.

No Job for a Woman: The Women Who Fought to Report WWII. (Documentary, 61 minutes, USA, director Michele Midori Fillion). It is difficult to judge the virtues of a documentary when the subject is intrinsically interesting. And the battles of a half dozen female journalists to win places near the action of the second world war provides more than enough action to keep the viewer engaged. Director Fillion uses the usual stock combat footage interspersed with old photos of her subjects, but also cuts away occasionally to interviews with modern commentators.
Bitter Seeds. (Documentary, 87 minutes, USA/India, Director Micha X. Peled). Ram Krishna, owner of a small cotton farm in central India, is trapped: in order to buy seeds from the Monsanto monopoly, he must borrow money from a usurer at a jaw-dropping rate of interest. And hand over the deed to his farm as security. If the rains don’t come or if pests ravage his crop, he will lose the farm. It’s a situation that has driven scores of farmers to suicide. This is not an easy film to watch.

Breakfast with Curtis. (82 minutes, USA, Director Laura Colellia). Director Colellia is clearly of the tell-your-actors-to-make-like-oddballs-and-we’ll-see-what-happens school of film making. The setting is a pair of adjoining houses on a suburban street somewhere on the East Coast, one house occupied by a conventional family, the other by a random collection of rum-soaked refugees from the 1960s. The ensuing drama is as taut as a strand of overcooked vermicelli. You cannot build drama or comedy when none of your characters has a coherent purpose or passion. I would not spend a minute with any of them. This film is boring.

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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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