Baby Driver is driven by music

 

Ansel Elgort stars as a music-loving wheelman in this must-see summer blockbuster 

It’s all about the music. Baby (Ansel Elgort) pulls up to a bank, three robbers brandishing machine guns hop out, and Baby hits play. While waiting for them to grab as much cash as they can, he jams out to “Bellbottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. He’s having so much fun you almost forget that he’s waiting to flee a crime scene. The robbers hop back into the car, Baby hits play and then hits the gas. The right song is all he needs to stay focused and be the best as what he does: drive.

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DOXA 2017: Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World | Directed by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | Screens May 5, 2017

The first thing we hear are guitar chords that inspired a generation and sparked a whole new movement in rock ‘n’ roll. It’s spine tingling stuff. Link Wray’s riffs on “Rumble” were revolutionary at the time. He is the father of the power chord and distortion. Nobody was playing guitar like that and the song ended up banned for fear that it would incite gang violence. What many people don’t know is that Wray was a Shawnee Native American.

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DOXA 2017: Limit is the Sky

Limit is the Sky | Directed by Julia Ivanova | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | Screens May 5 and 14, 2017

We’ve all heard about the abundance of oil and money in Northern Alberta. But what is Fort McMurray really like? What do the day to day lives of its citizens look like? Fort McMoney, as it’s affectionately and derisively known, is home to a diverse cast of characters. We are let into the lives of a Lebanese Barber, a Filipino truck driver/wedding show producer, a Sudanese rapper, and a few born-and-raised locals.

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DOXA 2017: Water Warriors

Water Warriors | Directed by Michael Premo | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | Screens May 7 and 8, 2017

When an American oil and gas company SWN Resources comes to New Brunswick to test for potential fracking sites, First Nations and concerned citizens band together to stop them in their tracks. It is inspiring to see the extent of the effort that these citizens took to make sure that fracking would not be coming to their community. The Tribe Called Red tracks that open and close the film infuse it with the radical energy of the protests.

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DOXA 2017: Everything is Performative (shorts program)

Everything is Performative: Ovis Aries, Sarah Winchester, Voices of Finance (shorts) | Directed by Harry Cepka, Bertrand Bonello, Clara van Gool | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | Screens May 5 and 14, 2017

This program of three short films presented three unique venues for contemporary dance. Ovis Aries is a study in animal imitation, Sarah Winchester takes us on a spooky journey into the life of the little-known heir of the Winchester fortune, and Voices of Finance gives us an intriguing perspective on the lives of those working in the financial industry — through narration and contemporary dance.

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DOXA 2017: Complicit

Complicit | Directed by Heather White and Lynn Zhang | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | Screens May 6, 2017 and May 14, 2017

Ninety percent of the world’s consumer electronics are produced in China, but we don’t often stop to think about how our smartphones, tablets, and laptops are actually produced. What do the factories look like? What about the workers who produce these products? This enlightening documentary reveals the truth of this industry in China and the debilitating and often fatal occupational diseases that afflict the workers.

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DOXA 2017: Free Lunch Society

Free Lunch Society | Directed by Christian Tod | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | Screens May 7, 2017

What if you didn’t have to stay in a job you hate because you need the money? What if work was not connected to income? What if the government gave you money just for being a citizen? This would create a new kind of freedom most people have never known. All this could be realized if we embrace the idea of universal basic income (also known as unconditional basic income, negative income tax, or guaranteed annual income).

Read more: DOXA 2017: Free Lunch Society

VIFF 2014: A Different Drummer

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Based on a 10-year study of eccentrics by Dr. David Weeks, John Zaritsky’s film profiles seven very interesting people and explores the concept of eccentricity.

Daniel Suelo hasn’t spent or earned a cent in over 14 years. He lives in caves, uses the town library as his office, and claims he is happier now and feels more secure than he ever did when he had money. Darla Shaw is an entertainer who seems to play dress up for a living. She received a PhD at 60 and is having the time of her life while waiting for someone to show her the rule book of how she’s supposed to act.

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Boyhood is an authentic coming of age story

Filmed over 12 years, Richard Linklater's project is a unique accomplishment.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Growing up is a universal experience that everyone can relate to, but Richard Linklater’s latest film puts a new twist on the classic coming of age story. He decided in 2002 that he wanted to do a film about a boy which followed him from grade one until he went to college, but he decided to use the same actor to achieve the continuity and authenticity he desired.

Ellar Coltrane was hired to play Mason Jr., and the film follows Mason from the time he’s six until he’s 18. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play his separated parents, and Linklater’s daughter plays Mason’s sister, Samantha.

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Some infinities are bigger than others

The Fault in Our Stars adapts John Green's bestseller to the big screen.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

On the surface this film may seem like a typical teen romance full of clichés, but the story goes much deeper than that. Dealing with both love and death in profound ways, The Fault in Our Stars is full of wise words and emotional scenes. Shailene Woodley proves once again that she is a talented actress, and her Divergent brother Ansel Elgort shines as her love interest.

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DOXA documentary festival premieres NFB’s Shameless Propaganda

“You forget how left-leaning and radical the NFB once was, under Grierson.” - Dorothy Woodend

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

“Documentary in Canada is in an embattled moment,” explains Dorothy Woodend, director of programming for DOXA, Vancouver’s documentary film festival. There was a time when National Film Board (NFB) short films were played before Hollywood blockbusters at the local cinema, but it is a time most likely forgotten. For Woodend, the decline of Canadian film and documentary is detrimental to the country; “It feels so insidious,” she said, describing the gradual crumble of the support for Canadian film institutions such as NFB.

Read more: DOXA documentary festival premieres NFB’s Shameless Propaganda

Hot Docs 2014 – Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story

This film made it clear how much effort and energy goes into getting something from the field to the fridge.

 

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Canadian Film Review.

One of the most shocking images in this film is a giant pile of bananas – all of which have been rejected due to their shape. Supermarkets have standards for how bananas must be shaped, or they won’t buy them from the farmers. This is just one of the many shocking things revealed in this film that demonstrates the scale and pointlessness of food waste. About 40% of all food that is produced ends up being thrown away. If it isn’t wasted in the field, on the way to the store, in the store, or off of our plates, then it will sit in the fridge until it’s no longer edible. While this film reminded me of Dive!, another tale of living off food found in dumpsters, Just Eat It shared some more insights into the broken food system and really made it clear how much effort and energy goes into getting something from the field to the fridge.

Read more: Hot Docs 2014 – Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story

20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – Une jeune fille

With their contemplative demeanours, they seem destined for each other.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Canadian Film Review.

A film about a young girl running away from pain and finding love, Une jeune fille is set on the beautiful Gaspé peninsula of Quebec. When Chantal’s (Ariane Legault) mother passes away, she packs her backpack and takes the first bus to Gaspé, motivated by a photo of a beach that her mother gave her just before she died.

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20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – La fille du Martin

I really enjoyed the authentic quality of this film and the way the main characters were developed naturally.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Canadian Film Review.

La Fille du Martin begins in Montreal as Sara Leblanc (Catherine Michaud), working in her mother’s pet store, pleads with her mother to let her go visit her father in Lac-St-Jean. She has booked the two of them on a father-daughter fishing trip for his birthday. Before she makes it to see him, he passes away. She blames her mother for not being able to see her father one last time and needs to get away.

Read more: 20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – La fille du Martin

20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – Amsterdam

The lies quickly get out of hand...

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Canadian Film Review.

Instead of going on their annual fishing weekend, three friends decide to go to Amsterdam for a weekend of debauchery without telling their wives, but it isn’t until they return home that they commit their worst lies. They enjoy a cocaine-enhanced romp through the red light district, a beer drinking marathon aboard the beer bike, and fishing off a gondola down the canal (at least they won’t be completely lying). All seems well with these three lifelong friends, but the truth is that they are holding back secrets that could destroy their lives.

Read more: 20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – Amsterdam

20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – Sarah préfère la course

Sarah seems devoid of any passion except when she is running. 

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in the Canadian Film Review

Sophie Desmarais, who plays one of Gaby Gagnon’s daughters in Le Demantèlement, stars as Sarah Lepage in Sarah préfère la course. The title translates to “Sarah prefers to run” and it couldn’t be truer. It’s as though Sarah doesn’t think there is anything else worth living for, and she is not passionate about anything else. When she is invited to join the track and field team at McGill University, she tells her mother, who is unsupportive of her plan, that she will be moving to Montreal without her help.

Read more: 20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – Sarah préfère la course

20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – TRIPTYQUE

A tremendous work of art.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in the Canadian Film Review.

The Rendez-Vous French Film Festival’s closing night film, Triptyque, is described as a “contemporary urban saga.” It’s the story of Michelle (Lise Castonguay), a schizophrenic bookseller, her sister Marie (Frédérike Bédard), and Thomas (Hans Piesbergen), her German neurosurgeon. Marie and Thomas end up falling in love, and Michelle has just been released from a mental institution and returned to work in a bookstore.

Read more: 20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – TRIPTYQUE

20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – Le Demantèlement

Le Démantlement is a story of hard decisions and an uncertain future.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in the Canadian Film Review.

Featured on the cover of the Rendez-Vous French Film Festival program, Le Demantèlement is a melancholic drama about sheep farmer Gaby Gagnon (Gabriel Arcand) whose way of life is lost when he decides to sell his farm in order to help his daughter financially. This transformation is very emotional as he has to auction off his life’s work, give up his dog, and rent an apartment in the nearby town.

Read more: 20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – Le Demantèlement

Guidelines (La Marche a suivre)

Shot with very long takes and many scenes without any dialogue, there are many chances to study the activities of these teens with a quiet wonder.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Canadian Film Review.

Set in a small town in northern Quebec, this beautifully filmed slice of life follows the lives of high school students as they sometimes struggle with the disciplined environment of the classroom. Contrasted with their lives outside of school, we see a universal portrait of adolescence.

Read more: Guidelines (La Marche a suivre)

Rendez-Vous French Film Festival celebrates 20 years

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

It’s hard to believe that the Rendez-Vous French Film Festival has just celebrated its 20th year. This little known festival, presented by Visions Ouest Productions, features 10 days of French film from all over the world, including many impressive Quebecois films. Since its launch, the Rendez-Vous French Film Festival has presented over 1,000 French films and given Vancouver’s francophones and francophiles alike the chance to see them.

Read more: Rendez-Vous French Film Festival celebrates 20 years