Establishing Shots: Nov 20-26, 2020

Every week, Establishing Shots offers some further enlightenment on the films that will be screening in-cinema at the VIFF Centre and online through VIFF Connect.

With scores of highly anticipated 2020 films now pushed into the new year, cinephiles have taken some solace from the fact David Fincher’s Mank has held fast to its release date, refusing to let it slip from its grasp like a snow globe might escape a dying media mogul’s grip.

With the film finding its way to select theatres (including our Vancity) this Friday, there’s no shortage of coverage. Over at The Ringer, Adam Nayman explores what distinguishes Mank from other Welles-related films. As he writes, “It marks the first time that a major American director has made a movie that is at least partially about Orson Welles but not primarily aligned with him; it mostly uses the great filmmaker as a foil for its actual protagonist.”

(It’s worth noting that Nayman is also the author of the recently published Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks, which is highly recommended.)

As a sidebar to Fincher’s film, VIFF is also screening – both in-cinema and online through VIFF Connect – Mark Cousins’ The Eyes of Orson Welles. Cousins also surprises viewers by shifting the focus from Citizen Kane to some of Welles’ less celebrated work. Writing for Wellesnet, Ray Kelly surmises, “When probing Welles’ stage and film work, Cousins delves deep with an appetite that will impress even the most voracious Welles fanatics.”

In this 2018 interview at the British Film Institute, Cousins shares the discovery that acted as the catalyst for assembling such a unique portrait of this singular multi-hyphenate.

In February, Joyce Chopra’s Smooth Talk will be released by Criterion with striking packaging and menus courtesy of Vancouver (and sometimes VIFF) designer Steve Chow. However, the 1985 Sundance award-winner will be available on VIFF Connect starting tomorrow. Once you’ve witnessed one of the finest performances of Laura Dern’s career, set aside some time and enjoy this extended conversation from the New York Film Festival with Dern, Chopra and Joyce Carol Oates (who penned the film’s source material).

Also on VIFF Connect this week is Kim Yong-hoon’s Beasts Clawing at Straws, a genre romp that’s equally giddy and gritty. While early Tarantino seems to have become the go-to comparison for the film, Variety’s Jay Weissberg demonstrates a little more imagination by identifying that, in some respects, it’s a kindred spirit to Peter Bogdanovich’s Looney Tunes-inspired What’s Up, Doc?

Finally: Allegories don’t come much more eye-catching than Gabriel Mascaro’s Divine Love, an irreverent satire that leaves your synapses at risk of short-circuiting and takes no prisoners in assailing religious fundamentalism.

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