VIFF Film Reviews: The Last White Knight; Lore; As Luck Would Have It.


The Last White Knight. (Documentary, 79 minutes, Canada, director Paul Saltzman). The white knight of the title is Klu Klux Klan member Delay de la Beckworth, who in the 1960s punched white civil rights worker Paul Saltzman, who was attempting to register black voters in Mississippi. Delay might have relegated the incident to the back pages of history. But Saltzman, now an independent film maker with a long memory, recently sought out Beckworth and turned his camera on his old assailant. The result is an interview that, despite its polite veneer, reveals the depth of the delusions that infect a generous portion of the population of the southern U.S. It may come a surprise to many Americans that the United States is supposed to be  “a white Christian nation”, that President Barack Obama is “a direct descendant of the Devil”, and that shooting a black civil rights worker in the back in his own driveway was an act of self-defence.

Lore. (Drama, 109 minutes, Australia/Germany, director Cate Shortland). Abandoned by her Nazi parents in May 1945, seventeen-year-old Lore must lead her sister Liesel, her brothers Gunther and Jurgen, and baby Peter across occupied Germany to the safety of her grandmother’s house. Amidst the constant threats of death and destruction, Lore’s sternest trial begins when the family is saved from starvation by a young man whose papers identify his as Jewish. This is not Hollywood: Australian director Cate Shortland is not a sentimentalist. The sexual attraction between Lore and Thomas is torture to both,  not all the children survive the journey and the pretty teen who started out is  long-gone when the  journey ends. This film makes my “best” list.

As Luck Would Have It (Drama, 98 minutes, Spain, director Alex de la Iglesia) The luck of out-of-work advertising executive Roberto takes a turn for both the better and the worse when a freak accident leaves him immobile, flat on his back with a steel rod piercing his skull. The better part of this is that the media quickly pick up on Roberto’s predicament allowing him to make deals for his story; the worse is that removing the rod could kill him. Director Alex de la Iglesia’s strategy of lightening things up with a bit of humour only goes so far. Ultimately the burden of decision falls on the shoulders of Roberto’s wife Luisa (Salma Hayek) who must not only choose the fate of her husband, but also whether she should profit by it.

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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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