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The Call of the Wild re-made again, a festival of strong documentaries and a boy’s space adventure in Terra Willy

Canada’s Screen Awards got their nominations out, and right, this week. One of the top nominees is a drama that shows a real slice of life here in Vancouver. The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, which I’ve written about more than once, got six nominations including best picture. This website https://www.academy.ca/nominees/ shows all the categories on both the film and television side.

While you’re on-line you might also visit https://vimff.org/ for info on the Mountain Film Festival which starts today, mostly at North Van’s Centennial Theatre but also at other locations including the Richmond Oval and don’t forget https://www.vjff.org/. That’s the Jewish Film Festival which starts Thursday with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit directed by Oscar winner Caroline Link.

Meanwhile, these are now playing:

The Call of the Wild: 3 stars

The Kdocs Documentary Festival

The Corporate Coup d’Etat (at Kdocs): 4

Bellingcat—Truth in a Post-Truth World (Kdocs): 4

Terra Willy: 2 ½

Brahms The Boy II: --  

THE CALL OF THE WILD: This story has been filmed many times since Jack London published his novel in 1903. The leads before Harrison Ford included Clark Gable, Charlton Heston, Rick Schroeder in a TV movie filmed near Quesnel and Nick Mancuso in a TV series filmed around Maple Ridge. But this is the first time that I’m aware of that a man has played the dog. Terry Notary is the guy; motion-capture recorded his movements and computers turned them into the amazingly expressive and responsive Buck, who can hold his own playing alongside Ford who alternates between amiable and dour, grief-laden.

 

Buck was dognapped in California, taken to the Yukon gold rush and sold to work on a dogsled team transporting mail. He was clumsy at first but brave and managed to best the alpha dog to be the leader. But the mail run was shut down, he was bought by a cruel and greedy prospector (Dan Stevens) and had to be rescued by John Thornton, played by Ford. After that the film develops two ways: dog and man bond, (Buck even stops him drinking) and dog follows the call of his “ancestors,” the wolves. There’s a lady timberwolf involved too. The film celebrates nature and is a good choice for children. It’s quite mild and doesn’t scare. A bit of it was filmed here in BC, likely the canoe ride over a waterfall and through some rapids. The animals, the bears, caribou, rabbits and more are also computer generated and though Buck doesn’t always look and move exactly realistically he’ll charm most any dog lover. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 3 out of 5

KDOCS FILM FESTIVAL: It started small at Kwantlen University some years ago and is now an annual show of superb social-issue documentaries at the VanCity Theatre ( see http://www.kdocsff.com/). English literature instructor Janice Morris started and directs it and she’s put together a very strong lineup of 13 films this year. They run through the weekend and include several I’ve written about, and praised, before.

BECAUSE WE ARE GIRLS is an incendiary film in which three sisters from northern B.C. confront their Punjabi  parents who knew about but didn’t stop the sexual abuse by a relative. The most forceful  of the sisters will be there to talk about it.

TOXIC BEAUTY is an alarming film that points out how dangerous some commonly-used cosmetics and personal care products really are. Most startling to me? Talcum powder. The director, Phyllis Ellis, and a whistleblower, Deane Berg, will be there.

WE WILL STAND UP describes the shocking case of and continuing controversy over Colten Boushie, the Indigenous man in Saskatchewan who was shot dead by a farmer, who was then acquitted by a court.

The film follows the trial and a campaign to get justice (which reached all the way to the United Nations) and adds a corrective history about how white/native relations really went in Canada.

PUSH is particularly relevant here in Vancouver, even as housing prices have eased a bit. The film visits cities from Toronto to London, even Valparaiso, to see how, and why housing costs are so high there. No surprise: Housing is now a commodity, it says, sold, bought and flipped for profit by big corporations, pension funds and rich investors. There’s also a concise explanation of how money laundering works to make things worse. The main presenter in the film, Leilani Farha, of Ottawa, who works for the United Nations, will be here as a keynote speaker.

HUMAN NATURE is relevant for everybody because it’s about our evolution. It outlines the latest advances in genetic engineering and the future they predict. Designer babies? No inherited disease? Soldiers who can’t feel pain? The science is clearly explained and we’re forewarned of the dangers, in this film executive produced by Dan Rather. Provocative stuff.

 

And two films I’ve just now seen for the first time:

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