“Playing” Attention to VR at the 2017 Victoria Film Festival, Reviews & Beyond

tatara_posterb-1Movie-wise, I watched an eclectic mix to make my weekend fun.

Tatara Samurai which made me want to know more of the political milieu going on during 16th century Japan. Gosuke has to choose between either saving his village — to which is famous for its unique steel production) from being destroyed by becoming a warrior (a Samurai) to which he does not quite have the discipline for or master blacksmith (a Murage) that is his family’s business. But there are other forces at work to which he does not realize are manipulating the situation. This film has an air of Ingmar Bergman’s style of direction and narrative approach. There are moments which are authentically Japanese to remind us that the Land of the Rising Sun is beautiful and romantic. But during the civil war that’s going on, the only problem lies in who truly is in the right, the elders or the next generation? (3½ Stars out of 5)

Personal Shopper is a slow-moving thriller which looks at the life of Maureen (Kristen Stewart) as she goes through the motions of having lost her twin brother from a heart condition (she has the same) and perhaps also with dealing with having a crazy job of buying clothes for a celebrity she does not interact with much. I became interested in this movie because of the ghosts said to inhabit this tale, but they are pale in comparison to the deep look into Maureen’s rather sad life. I liked the brief look into the Spiritualist movement and the revelation of what Hilma af Klint, an artist and mystic, meant to this film. However, the movie seemed to have over-extended itself by not knowing when to properly end than to have itself give the heroine the closure she so desperately needed. (3 Stars out of 5)


At least the weekend ended on a high note. Free Fire is a bloody-violent film Quentin Tarantino will no doubt praise. When a gang of misfit criminals meet up at a dilapidated warehouse to acquire arms, everything that can go wrong happens. An extended shootout defines much of the film, and I compare their skill with a gun to that of they can’t shoot the broad side of a barn. Distrust is everywhere and nobody can come to an agreement. It’s over the top bloody and hilarious! This film essentially shows what a Mexican standoff is like. The skill in editing and use of single-takes in some moments made this journey quite the thrill-ride! You can not easily guess who will live and die by this film’s end. (4 Stars out of 5)

By late Sunday night, I got to eat — er catch the tail end of Bugs on the Menu again and play with them at Victoria’s Bug Zoo! I’ve reviewed this documentary some months ago and enjoyed its underlying message. It chatted with Ian Ferguson during the after-party, and he told me it still gets play at other film festivals. He also revealed it ranked very well on iTunes and the Documentary channel’s leaderboard. Now, if only Victoria can open up a restaurant offering up a more extensive menu, perhaps I can finally eat tempura caterpillar or silk worms. I can not live on cricket or mealworms alone, and surely there must be other critters I can dig up too!

From the trailers alone, I’m thinking of squeezing in My Scientology Movie (a documentary about this belief) and Sicily Jass (a look at the history of Jazz music) into my schedule.

I do recommend going to see The Hollow Child on Thursday, Feb 9th! This great horror flick is making its world premiere, and has a fair list of great local production talent involved. From Denver Jackson to Arnold Lim, they helped director Jeremy Lutter bring this story written by Ben Rollo to life, and the little stories I’ve heard so far about the behind the scenes — let’s say if it was recorded for prosperity, it might make for some interesting set of extras when it gets a DVD release. That will not be for sometime though, as distribution deals are still being negotiated.

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