Friday, December 20, 2013

Anyone? Anyone? Guelph Movie Club.



Wow. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Just like that, it’s been a year of Guelph Movie Club--and what a year. We’ve watched Ghostbusters, The Big Lebowski, Back to the Future, The Godfather, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Breakfast Club, Alien, Labyrinth, Halloween, The Goonies, A Christmas Story, and Die Hard. That’s pretty great.

That makes the Episode 13 our first birthday. In honour of this auspicious occasion, we’re showing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Join us Thursday January 30th at 9:00 p.m.–-we won’t even make you skip school.

Before the movie starts, I’ll be announcing the winning movie for Episode 14, the February GMC. On the 30th, you'll have a chance to nominate movies for Episode 15, so start thinking about what movie you’d like to see back on the big screen.

Don’t forget to visit the Bookshelf Facebook and Twitter pages for voting and more details!

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. So, take an hour or two and celebrate our birthday,

Till then, see you at the movies.

 - Danny W.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Q & A with Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein



It was about this time last year that The Bookshelf was showing Ben Affleck's Argo. The film--which won Best Picture at the Oscar's that year--dramatized The Canadian Caper, in which the our government collaborated with the CIA to rescue six American diplomats not taken hostage when the United States embassy was occupied by Iranian students and militants supporting the Iranian Revolution. The high-stakes ruse, which involved the fake production of a sci-fi movie, was perfect for a Hollywood retelling. However, as much as our audiences here loved the film, some of the historical inaccuracies put a stone in a lot of peoples' shoes.
 

A year later, we're very pleased to be showing Our Man in Tehran, a documentary by Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein. On December 8th at 3:30 and 6:00 both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Weinstein will be in attendance to talk about the doc and answer your questions. As a primer, the filmmakers did us a solid of fielding a few grounders.


Larry Weinstein (l) and Drew Taylor (r)

The Bookshelf  I wonder why, after the popularity of Argo, you felt the need to make Our Man in Tehran--does it get it that wrong?

Larry Weinstein  It's not that Argo got it wrong or right. It's a Hollywood film and a brilliant one at that. And perhaps it should have said "Loosely based on a True Story," or as I like to say, "Inspired by a True Story." We just believed that there were a lot of details that were not known to the public and we were betting that these facts (I don't want to give away too much) would be very appealing to an audience. You know, at the Premiere of the film at this year's TIFF the former PM Joe Clark said something that really resonated. He said, "I have seen Argo and I have seen Our Man in Tehran and the truth is a better story!"
 
BS  A certain sort of humbleness is stained into the cloth of our national character, but when our story is gotten wrong, or we're not given our full due, we're not shy about letting people know. What's the importance of "getting it right?" Is there an added pressure to not only get the facts straight, but to articulate what this story means to Canadians?
 
Drew Taylor  I think the initial response to Argo in Canada showed that we do have a sense of National pride. For those that knew the story, and knew the risks Ken Taylor, John Sheardown, Joe Clark, and many others took to ensure the safety of our American friends, offense was taken when it was minimized in Argo. The greatest disappointment came from specific lines in the script that countered how the Canadians responded; for instance, CIA agents discussing the need to act quickly because “the Canadians were getting cold feet.” When you approach any historical story in a documentary there is a great deal of importance to get the facts straight. But in film, it is impossible to tell the whole truth. However, I do think we made more of a concerted effort than "the other film."

BS  There was a lot of controversy surrounding "the other film," not just the treatment (or lack) of the Canadian story, but the Iranian context. Our Man in Tehran seems markedly different in those regards, could you talk about that?

LW  It's true that the Canadian participation is poorly represented in Argo and we have rectified that in our film. But we also wanted to give the events portrayed in our film a context and that meant delving fairly substantially into the Revolution - an understanding of the Shah, of Khomeini. Nothing is black & white, there are doses of benevolence and malevolence in those regimes. And there is the strange serendipity of history--imagine students who stage a hostage taking that was likely meant to last a day or two and how it was exploited and lasted 444 days.

BS  But the film seems to tell the American story as well.

LW  Yes, we knew that the American response to the crisis was key to the human drama. The more one knows of Jimmy Carter's role in all of this, the more one feels empathy for his personal torment and the toll it took upon his presidency. We didn't interview him but he is ever-present, as you see.

BS  I'm sorry to put this too much in the context of Affleck, but I imagine that's a difficult shadow to get out of just now. When did you begin work on this project? And at what point did you become aware that the story was also being Affleck-ized? Did the splash that that film made affect your own approach to presenting your film?
 
DT  Our Executive Producer Elena Semikina met Ken Taylor in July of 2012. She immediately recognised during their conversation that some of the details Ken was sharing were not common knowledge. Plans began to develop a feature documentary. At that time it was known that Argo was to be released that fall, but it was interesting that Ken had not been contacted during Argo’s development or production. Having played such an enormous role in the planning and execution of the exfiltration, we would have thought the story impossible to tell without his involvement. It was apparent that Argo would be, at the very least, focusing on the CIA aspect to the operation. Our film was already in development when Argo was released, but once we saw it, it did create a sense of urgency to get our film out. Not as an answer to Argo, but to compliment it, and provide a more complete story that included both the Canadian and Iranian perspectives along with the American one.

Ken Taylor

BS  There must be some pros and cons to that association. Maybe you could share a few?

DT  Well, when Argo premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012, there was a worry that if the film covered the Canadian contributions well, then essentially our idea would be a mute point. Luckily, those fears dissipated when we saw the film and our suspicions were confirmed--the Canadian component was mostly ignored.
BS  Is there any worry that your film will be seen as a vehicle for correction, as opposed to an autonomous look at a period of Canadian and World History?

DT  We set out to make a stand-alone film. Not to compete with Argo or even correct it, but to provide an alternative for those who were interested in a documentary. Many of the interviews were conducted just after Argo had released, so we were constantly having to tell people not to reference Ben Affleck’s film. I think it is inevitable, we will be tied to Argo in some way, but hopefully when the dust settles and a new crop of blockbuster Hollywood films have come and gone, the next generation of young Canadians will be able to turn to Our Man In Tehran for a piece of Canadian history.

BS  The film is presented in the first person, as opposed to the more common third person--or, narrated--means of telling a story. Why did you choose that approach?

LW  I've always been uneasy with third-person narration--with "the voice of God" as it were….  I mean in the 30 or so films I've made there's probably a total of ten lines of narration. I feel that narration distances the viewer from the subject--makes it too historical and removed. What was exciting for us was having access to all these people who were at the centre of the tornado of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979/1980 - the diplomats, the journalists, the politicians, the CIA agents - and hearing their account in first person was something very powerful, something very immediate. It seems as if they're speaking of something that happened weeks ago and not a third of a century ago.  They really opened up for us and I think the audience senses that.
   
BS  I'm curious how audiences respond to your film in relation to "the other movie," as you put it. Have there been striking comparisons?

LW  At one screening, one of the audience members said something that was very striking to me and kind of ironic. She said, "the thing with Argo was that you knew it was a Hollywood film with all the trimmings - it was designed to put you on the edge of your seat and it accomplished that to some extent but at the same time you knew that there would be a happy ending - that's Hollywood. With Our Man in Tehran there were so many unfamiliar twists and turns that I didn't know where we were going to end up. So I was much more on the edge of my seat with the documentary!" I love that. I think that by virtue of reality being less predictable than fiction or dramatization there is a more nervous reaction to our film. And that's a great argument for documentary treatment of great stories.

BS  Our Man in Tehran is a two-hander. One of you had never directed before and the other has a filmography of 30 films. How did that work?  How did you divide directing duties?  Are you still speaking?

LW  Drew and I have become great friends and are constantly talking about film ideas - ideas that we are doing apart, but also ideas that would be great to collaborate on. I think that says volumes about our "partnership" on Our Man. The collaboration worked well. Drew had a jumpstart on the material and approached me after the initial idea was there, so he headed most of the interviews while I kind of worked out some of the aesthetic approach. But after a few weeks the roles blended. It really was a true and rather pure collaboration. And our Q &A's have been hysterical. It's as if we've been friends for 30 years... Of course, Drew was only a year old 30 years ago - I was already directing films, but no matter.  It's been a great journey and I hope it's the beginning of a great adventure (to quote the great Lou Reed).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Very Merry Movie Club


It’s that most wonderful time of the year – the Christmas Edition of Guelph Movie Club. As our gift to you, it’s time for a double feature. We hope you’ll join us for not one, but two Christmas classics on December 19th. First, at 6:30, we’ll be showing A Christmas Story. Then, at 8:30, we’ll be showing Die Hard. Look, I’m not saying this is the perfect Christmas double bill. Wait. Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

And, if you’re lucky, there may be a special gift under the tree for you. Since we’re talking about gift giving, we’ll also be collecting donations for the Guelph Food Bank. Help out, won’t you?

Before the movie starts, I’ll be announcing the winning movie for Episode 13, the January GMC. In order to do that, you’ll need to have your say. Here’s the short list for January:


WHICH MOVIE WILL GET YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE ON A JANUARY NIGHT?


On the 19th, you'll have a chance to nominate movies for Episode 14, so start thinking about what movie you’d like to see back on the big screen.

Don’t forget to visit the Bookshelf Facebook and Twitter pages for voting and more details! But, be careful, you’ll shoot your eye out, kid.

Till then, see you at the movies.

 - Danny W.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Movie Club Never Says Die


There’s something terrific about kids being kids; seeing things the rest of us don’t. There’s something terrific about kids having adventures. This month, that’s just what Guelph Movie Club is going to do: have an adventure.

We’re watching The Goonies. Bring your best pals to the Bookshelf Cinema on November 28th at 9:00 p.m. First time to Movie Club? We’ll draw you a map and mark it with an “X”.



If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that this is the point where I’d normally talk about voting and announcements. If you’re sharp, you’ll also notice that there was no voting this month.

Here’s why: At Movie Club 11, we’ll announce a very special Guelph Movie Club Christmas Double Header. We’ll also announce a short list for January based on your votes from October.

There’s something great about adventures, right? I hope you’ll join us on the 28th for some adventurous adventuring.

Till then, see you at the movies.

- Danny W.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Festival of Moving Media


It’s the tenth consecutive year of Guelph’s Festival of Moving Media—you can just say “FoMM” if you’re in a rush, or wanna sound hep—and this year they’re presenting the exhibition Hidden Histories: Guelph Cinema, where you might spot some familiar faces.

Says The Festival, “The show outlines the timeline of our cinematic past with the rise and fall of cinemas and technologies, the characters involved, and the great films shown. We are very pleased to include in the exhibit a five minute interview between Peter Henderson and Doug Minett discussing the history of the Bookshelf Cinema, from its opening film, to the controversies, mix ups and successes. The exhibit runs from November 2-22 at Ed Video (40 Baker Street) with an opening reception this Saturday, Nov. 2 from 2:30-4:00PM. The opening will follow the 2pm walking tour of Guelph's Cinematic Past by David J. Knight, beginning at 34 Carden Street.”

As a sneak peek to those precious, special few who have Internet, we’re happy to share with you this clip (courtesy of Bookshelf charity case, Dawn Matheson) of Peter Henderson and Doug Minett sipping wine down memory lane at our 40th Anniversary this summer:





For your convenience, here're the full listings of this year's Festival.  If you have any other questions ("Does my dog have to pay?" "What's a movie?") please contact Festival Coordinator Carolyn Meili: info@festivalofmovingmedia.ca


BENDING STEEL                7PM / ANAF / Nov. 8 / $10
An intimate documentary exploring the lost art of the oldetime strongman, and one man’s struggle to overcome limitations of body and mind; an inspirational quest to find one’s place in the world. + Local strongman & World Champion Ryan “6 Pack” Lapadat will speak after the film.

CARBON RUSH                         7PM UofG ALEX 100 / Nov. 8 / PWYC
Travel across four continents to meet the people most impacted by the emerging “green-gold” multi-billion dollar carbon trading industry. “What happens when we manipulate markets to solve the climate crisis? Who stands to gain and who stands to suffer?” + Director Amy Miller in attendance

DEAD OR LIVE (Mort ou Vif)        4PM Ed Video / Nov. 9 / PWYC
Morticians skillfully blend science, art and social work. But as far as jobs go, it’s woefully misunderstood. Dead or Alive is a lively and entertaining look at a diverse group working in the funeral industry. Seldom has staring at death been so enjoyable and enlightening.

FUREVER                    7PM Ed Video / Nov. 9 / $10
Explore the bonds that form between humans and their pets, the dimensions of grief people experience when they lose a pet, and the lengths to which they'll go to preserve more than a memory.

GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN    1PM Bookshelf Cinema / Nov. 9 / $10
In keeping with HG Wells 1937 prediction of a “World Brain” containing all the world’s knowledge, Google has started the most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet: to scan every book in the world. Google says they are building a library for mankind, but some say they also have other intentions. + Post film discussion with Bookshelf’s Doug Minett.

HUE: A MATTER OF COLOUR         4PM Ed Video / Nov. 10 / PWYC
Renowned director and cinematographer Vic Sarin, takes us on a personal investigation into the history and often tragic effects of colourism—the phenomenon whereby people within the same ethnic group discriminate against one another based on differences in skin tone. Hue leads viewers on a surprising journey to the heart of an insidious social issue that is anything but black and white.

LAST CHANCE                  1PM Ed Video / Nov. 9 / PWYC
Last Chance tells the stories of 5 asylum seekers who flee their native countries to escape homophobic violence. They face hurdles integrating into Canada, fear deportation and anxiously await a decision that will change their lives forever.

MAIDENTRIP                 7PM GYMC / Nov. 10 / $10
At just 14 years old, Laura Dekker sets out on a two-year voyage to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. Maidentrip is a stirring and emotional testimony to the power of dreams, an inspiring example of how far determination, imagination and belief can take someone. The brave and witty Dekker serves as a reminder that life is a journey that must be engaged completely to be fully appreciated."

MY PRAIRIE HOME   
Two screenings:   
7:30PM UofG, MacKinnon 116 / Nov. 9 / $10 / Presented by CFRU
7PM Silence / Nov. 9 / $10
With a voice as big as the prairie sky, transgender musician and author Rae Spoon has a story like no other. This documentary-musical takes us on a playful, meditative and at times melancholic journey through Rae Spoon’s queer and musical coming of age, set against majestic images of the Canadian Prairies’ infinite expanses.

OIL SANDS KARAOKE           9:30PM ANAF / Nov. 8 / $10
Five oil patch workers vie to win a karaoke contest in one of the most controversial places on the planet - Northern Alberta's infamous Oil Sands. A documentary unlike any other, Oil Sands Karaoke will make us laugh, sing along, and perhaps re-examine our biases. + Followed by Karaoke contest with Jenny Omnichord

RENT A FAMILY             9:30PM Ed Video / Nov. 9 / PWYC
Ryuichi runs the "I Want To Cheer You Up" company. He rents out people: family members, friends, colleagues or others, to help other people hide their secrets and make their life look better or just ...perfectly normal. Ryuchi is most happy and thriving when he is at work impersonating someone else. His own family has no knowledge of his work and he therefore lives a double life himself. Will Ryuchi succeed in maintaining his secret or find the courage to expose his secret double life to his family?

SPRING & ARNAUD          7:30PM MSAC / Nov. 8 / $10
A breathtakingly tender and intelligent love story about acclaimed Canadian artists Spring Hurlbut and Arnaud Maggs (1927-2012). Together and alone, each grapples with the nature of an artist’s creativity where the drive for invention and discovery resists life’s finite reality. + Director Marcia Connolly in attendance.

TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE      4PM Ed Video / Nov. 10 / PWYC
Following the journey of two Canadians in need of a kidney transplant, the film explores the shadowy world of black-market organ trafficking: the brokers, rogue surgeons, impoverished people willing to sacrifice part of their bodies for a quick payday, and the desperate patients who face the choice of obeying the law or saving their lives. This is not a black and white story of exploitation, but rather, a nuanced and complex story that compels you to explore your own moral and ethical beliefs.

TINY: A STORY OF LIVING SMALL    4PM GYMC / Nov. 10 / $10
Presented by the Woolwich Arrow
From 1970 to 2010, the average size of a new house in North America has almost doubled. With changing financial and environmental climates a new generation is redefining its priorities with a focus on flexibility, financial freedom and quality of life over quantity of space. Tiny visits families that are downsizing and building houses smaller than a parking space, raising questions about sustainability, good design and how we find ‘home’.

WAVEMAKERS                9:30PM Silence / Nov. 9 / $10
Presented by the Guelph Jazz Festival as a FAB 5 project.
Wavemakers pursues the legacy of an electronic musical instrument as fragile as it is magical: the Ondes Martenot. The Martenot is indeed so sensitive, so expressive, that nearly a century after its invention, musicians, artisans and scientists are still trying to unravel its secrets. With never-before-seen archival material and an entrancing soundtrack, this film explores the origins and workings of the Martenot, and draws us inexorably into its spell.

HOW WE NAVIGATE OUR WORLD    10:30AM Public Library - Main / Nov. 9 / FREE Recommended for ages 5-12
A series of short films exploring this year’s theme 'How We Navigate Our World'. The lineup includes: 5 dollars, Rose and Violet, Christopher Changes His Name, the Fox and the Chickadee, Goal, and the Sparky Book.

WORKSHOPS:

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: VIDEO ACTIVISM             Presented by OPIRG
WORKSHOP 10AM / NOV. 9 / Ed Video / PWYC
Carbon Rush director Amy Miller will de-mystify the process of creating videos for use in environmental and social justice activism. She will explore how to design simple but effective media to reach out to new audiences and inspire them to join your fight for a better world!   

LIFTING THE LID ON THE ANIMATOR’S BRAIN: FINDING THE LIFE IN LIFE AROUND US... AND GETTING IT UP ON SCREEN
1PM GYMC / Nov. 10 / $10
With both animated and live-action film clips, plus anecdotes culled from more than two decades in the entertainment industry trenches, Stephen Barnes will share some of the thinking that goes into memorable performances. Covering everything from lip sync to pushing poses, this talk will give everyone a sense of the sort of mind space occupied by top flight actors and animators.

iPAD? uRAD!        10AM Ed Video / Nov. 10 / FREE
For ages 8-12, limited space please enroll by emailing info@festivalofmovingmedia.ca
Stephen Barnes leads a hands-on workshop using your iPad and your imagination to bring your screen to life! We will email registrants beforehand with details on the appropriate app you will need to load so that you can come prepared to create a short animated clip (or three!) that you take home. Limited number of spaces available, bring an iPad.

STEPHEN BARNES is a graduate of Sheridan College's Classical Animation program and currently an instructor at his alma mater, in both the Classical and Computer Animation departments. For over 20 years, Stephen has worked on everything from shorts and corporate videos, to video games at Lucasarts and feature films - including Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., and the Oscar-winning Geri's Game, for Pixar Animation Studios.


EXHIBITIONS AND WALKING TOUR:

HIDDEN HISTORIES: GUELPH’S CINEMATIC PAST
The Festival of Moving Media has an ongoing series entitled Hidden Histories and this year’s theme is Guelph’s cinematic past which is explored in two exhibitions and a walking tour. The first exhibition entitled ‘The Magic of Guelph’s Cinematic Past’ can be found at the Guelph Civic Museum (52 Norfolk St.). The opening reception is on October 18th 7-9pm and will run until January 5th. The exhibition opening will be proceeded the next day by a walking tour lead by historian David J. Knight, starting at 2pm in front of 34 Carden Street. A $5 donation is suggested. A second date for the walking tour will occur on November 2, 2pm at 34 Carden St., to precede the opening of the second exhibition ‘Hidden Histories: Guelph Cinema'. This exhibit opens at Ed Video (40 Baker St.), 3-5pm on Saturday, November 2nd, and runs until November 22.  All of these events lead up to the Festival of Moving Media’s 10th anniversary with the festival offering four days of unique, thought provoking documentary films from November 7-10, 2013.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Vote gently with a chainsaw! It's November Movie Club!




What’ll it be? Fleshy prosthetics? Booty and booby traps? Drain cleaner and croquette? Chosen ones and cockamamie realities? Twisting and shouting? Here are your choices for November Movie Club:


You can vote for your choice via this handy dandy GMC poll. Note that you can only vote once; after that the poll won't appear when you view this blog. Result will be revealed at the October 31st GMC showing of Halloween at 9pm.



Which movie would you like to see for the November Movie Club?

Monday, October 7, 2013

It’s A Very Special Guelph Movie Club Halloween



It’s that time of year when, for some strange reason, we’re prepared to let ourselves be terrified. Worse still, some of us like it. It’s Halloween and the Guelph Movie Club is about to wander into a darkened cinema alone.

In that spirit, we’re watching the original Halloween. On October 31st at 9 p.m., it’s time for you, me, and Jamie Lee Curtis to scream our ever-lovin’ brains out. Also, come on. It’s Halloween. Wear a costume. If it’s movie-themed and it’s great, you might win a prize.


Before the movie starts, I’ll be announcing the winning movie for Episode 11, the November GMC (the short list for that goes up tomorrow). And after the movie, you'll have a chance to nominate movies for Episode 12 (The Christmas Edition), so start thinking about what movie you’d like to see back on the big screen.

Don’t forget to visit the Bookshelf
Facebook and Twitter pages for voting and more details!

Till then, see you at the movies.

- Danny W.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Owl, David Bowie, or Movie Club: The October GMC Poll


 As we’ve discussed in a previous post, this will be my first time seeing Labyrinth, so please excuse the absence of my usual hilarity. With that in mind, please join me Thursday, September 26 at 6:45 p.m. for a magical adventure. We’re also working on some post-movie trivia, so stay tuned for more information.

We decided to try something a little different with voting this month: a theme. In honour of Halloween, please choose one of the following movies as your selection for Guelph Movie Club Episode 10 (October). You can vote for your choice via this handy dandy GMC poll. If you click on the movie's title, it'll take you to IMDB for more information on the film; click on the button to vote. Note that you can only vote once; after that the poll won't appear when you view this blog.



Which film would you like to see for the October Guelph Movie Club?
Voting ends Thursday, September 19, at midnight.

Will I love Labyrinth? Will I hate it? Will I blame all of you for making me watch it (kidding)? I don’t know, but we’ll do it together September 26 at 6:45 p.m.

Till then, see you at the movies.

- Danny W.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Adventure, Magic, David Bowie Music, and Movie Club



Remember that scene in Labyrinth where David Bowie, as Jareth the Goblin King, says.... Hang on a second. I have to level with you. I’ve never seen Labyrinth. Look, it was bound to happen. Each of us, I’m sure, has a movie—some beloved classic—that we haven’t seen.

Here’s what I do know: barn owl, Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie’s tight pants. Here’s another thing I know: Thursday, September 26 at 6:45 p.m.—we’re watching Labyrinth.

We’re also working on some post-movie fun. The cinema team and I are working on putting together some movie trivia fun. We haven’t worked out all the details yet, but it’s just another part of our efforts to make movie club bigger and better.

Will there be excitement? Will there be prizes? Stay tuned to Twitter and Facebook for more details.


Before the movie starts, I’ll be announcing the winning movie for Episode 10, the October GMC (the short list for that should be ready for voting soon). And after the movie, you'll have a chance to nominate movies for Episode 11, so start thinking about what movie you’d like to see back on the big screen.

Don’t forget to visit the Bookshelf Facebook and Twitter pages for voting and more details!

Till then, see you at the movies.


 - Danny W.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Hunt



One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes is the first season's "Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," in which the humanity of a sleepy American suburb quickly dissolves when rumours that a monster is in their midst start to spread. To me, Twilight Zone was at its best when it was unabashedly tuning into that Cold War mistrust and fear of one's neighbour. If it used to be a far-out idea that an individual in the community was capable of monstrosity ("He seemed like such a nice guy..."), we seem to have arrived at a place where we assume that anyone could not be who they seem, anyone could be capable of whatever horror we ourselves are able to dream up. The tone would be a little different, but I can imagine Rod Serling supplying one of his weather-worn velvet introductions to Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt.

Mads Mikkelsen, everyone's favorite Dane, plays Lucas, everyone's favorite preschool teacher. As loving and at ease as he is with the kids, there's a stiffness to Lucas, a perfect posture that seems almost uncomfortable, as through he's recovering from some severe break. Indeed, he's divorced, though we don't quite know how freshly or why. Lucas's community within the Danish hunting village is small. His best friend Theo lives a stone's throw down the street, and he spends weekends with a generations-deep hunting club. As we're introduced to Lucas and his community, we get the idea that these relationships have sturdy roots.

Theo's young daughter Klara is slightly withdrawn, more a resident of her own head than the village. She's afraid to step on cracks or any lined pattern, and so walks with her head down and gets lost easily. Lucas is often the one to find her, her own parents being reliably tardy or vaguely unavailable. A puppy love develops, but when Lucas reacts to a kiss on the lips with a gentle reprimand, Klara quickly turns moody, and that bad mood, tainted with some untoward information she gleans from her teen aged brother, has her mumble to the daycare leader that Lucas has done something inappropriate.

Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

It may seem a bit extreme to compare the fallout accompanying accusations of pedophilia to some eldritch Serling-esque scenario, but as Lucas's life is slowly and then violently dismantled on account of Klara's passing, innocent fib, I can't think of a better example of weirdness and alienation and reality being upended. The demonizing of Lucas becomes all the more surreal and existential because, for the viewer, there is no doubt of his innocence. "Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" quickly becomes "Terror At 20,000 Feet" as Lucas's declarations of innocence are not even entertained by the village.

I can think of few topics more or as repellent as pedophilia, and I don't doubt that some people will steer clear of The Hunt on the sheer basis of subject matter. But if you can stomach the fact that repugnance resounds in our world, do take the time to see The Hunt. Morally--especially in that empathetic corner of morality, the "What would I do?" corner--Vinterberg's film is compelling and challenging in a very rare way. Because it can be sometimes uncomfortable feeling doesn't mean The Hunt  isn't one of the best movies of the year.


- Andrew



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