VIFF Film Reviews: The Flat; The Great Northwest


The Flat. (Documentary, 97 minutes, Germany/Israel, director Arnon Goldfinger).  When director Goldfinger’s maternal grandmother, 98-year-old Gerda Tuchler, dies, her relatives discover in her Tel-Aviv flat evidence that Gerda and her husband — German Jews who had escaped the Holocaust — had retained a close post-war friendship with a former Nazi official. Baffled, but determined to root out all the details, Goldfinger tracks down the supposed Nazi’s daughter, who  appears genuinely nonplussed by the evidence  about her late father, but agrees to aid in the search for evidence. There are two additional puzzles in this well-paced drama. The first is the attitude of  Goldfinger’s mother, whose initial lack of interest in her son’s project balloons into passive resistance. And what’s with Goldfinger himself? While the rest of his family display utter apathy about their ancestors, he turns inquisitor, probing for answers from people who were too young to commit crimes.

The Great Northwest. (Documentary, 70 minutes, USA, director Mat McCormick). Another  director on a wild goose chase. Only there are real wild geese in this film. Matt McCormick discovers a 50-year-old scrap book that chronicles a 1958 summer tour of the U.S. northwest states by four middle-aged women. So Matt loads his car and sets out to duplicate the journey, comparing the women’s photos and picture postcards with present day America. The result is a film that will engage viewers who have long known Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. For the rest, it will be a pleasant travelogue.

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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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