Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia (USA, 89 minutes, director Nicholas Wrathall ). Just what I thought: all you need to do is point a camera at Gore Vidal, turn it on, and wait. Vidal, America’s cold war pet liberal, could always be relied upon to fire a pointed, scathing — and usually shallow — epithet towards the likes of William F. Buckley. Still, you have to admit that he was invariably entertaining. See this only if you are over 40 or have heard of Gore Vidal. Or, to put it another way, avoid it if you are 40 or under and have never heard of Gore Vidal.
Lawrence and Holloman (88 minutes, Canada, director Matthew Kowalchuk ). One thing you learn from fans of the Vancouver International Film Festival is this: Stay away from Canadian films. Why? Simply because they go off the wall trying to outgross American films. This film does. Starting with a childish premise involving an incompetent nerd and an irritating idiot, it builds to a grotesque conclusion. Unless you like fiddleheads on your poutine, stay away.
Felix (120 minutes, South Africa, director Roberta Durrant ). Omigosh! This film is so sweet and endearing that my inner cynic closed shop in the first 20 minutes and took an all-expenses holiday in Ohio. Here’s the set up. Felix is a diminutive black kid whose talents land him a scholarship to a newly-integrated private boys’ school in post-apartheid South Africa. Felix’s main troubles come not (as you might have expected) from the snobby white kids, but from his mother, who, seeing jazz and drink as the criminals that stole her late husband from her, refuses to let Felix near a saxophone. Problem is Felix has inherited his father’s talent. And Dad’s aging chums are all out to help him become as great a saxophonist as his dad. The resolution is as predictable as the conflict. Bring a hanky. And enjoy.
Story of Children and Film (101 minutes, UK, director Mark Cousins). Director Cousins dips into his vast knowledge of film to present us with a montage of clips featuring children ranging from Chaplin’s The Kid to Spielberg’s ET. Cousins provides an erudite and entertaining commentary.