What to see on CIFF’s last weekend

Again, the disclaimer: I work for CIFF, so this isn’t exactly objective reporting. But The Consumption is my own opinions, not those of the fest.

There’s still four days left of this year’s Calgary International Film Festival, so this seems as good a time as any to run down some more of my festival favourites. And just to get it out of the way, yes, you probably want to watch Looper*, but it’ll still be in theatres Monday, and all of these CIFF picks won’t. So, choose accordingly. Sorry if this is all a little brusque: This week has me pretty busy all around.

My Father and the Man in Black: You’ve only got a couple hours before this one starts, but it’s really an impressive doc. Johnny Cash fans, there’s more than enough in here to keep you riveted, and the director brought the original gold record of “A Boy Named Sue” to the theatre, which is pretty awesome. But it’s more a family story, about the director learning about his dad — Cash’s manager — through the only records he has left.

Wrong: I already wrote about this one, but in short, it’s really weird and quite wonderful. Not quite as out-there as Rubber was, but more than worth seeing on the big screen.

A Late Quartet: It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener. That’s enough, isn’t it?

There’s way too much good stuff here, but a few to look at:

My Awkward Sexual Adventure: A friend described it as “a sex comedy written by someone who’s actually had sex.” For him, that’s pretty high praise. Fans of Young People Fucking will likely enjoy this one.

Square Pegs: Yep, one of my shorts packages. The first short has Scott Thompson, Dave Foley, Michael Cera, Will Forte and more. The last one has Will Oldham. And the ones in the middle are some of the best and most touching in the fest. For real.

Laurence Anyways: Xavier Dolan is one of the most ridiculously talented young writer-directors in the world, not just Canada. His films have the energy of the French new wave, and pretty much ooze cinema in every frame. So his extended look at sexuality and relationships is gonna be a delight.

Chained and King Curling I also already wrote about, but again, very worth watching.

The Animated Worlds shorts package is pretty beautiful. And the Alberta Spirit: Long Shorts package has this year’s prize-winner, an absolutely stunning musical filmed in an parkade. You can’t go wrong with either.

Path of Souls is basically a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for Native culture (I know that’s an oversimplification, but rest assured that the movie itself isn’t). Philosophy meets with a compelling story for a very unique experience.

Barbara is the German entrant for the foreign language Academy Award this year and was a silver medalist at the Berlinale. I know awards don’t mean everything, but this small-scale Cold War-era drama looks powerful.

Oh, and the closing gala screening of Mars et Avril should be phenomenal. Pretty bummed out that I’m not gonna get to see it.

If you’ve already caught the comedy and Alberta Spirit shorts, Teddy Bear, about a polite, shy, and massive bodybuilder is surprisingly winning.

Sons of Norway (which I wrote about here) is a great coming-of-age film with a healthy punk rock influence and oddball Norwegian charm.

Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal, if you didn’t guess from the title, is more dark comedy than straight-up horror. It’s played fairly straight, but it’s a worthwhile entry in the cannibal and mad-artist genres; if you missed it on Wednesday, it’s a great example of Canadian genre film. (But Generation P is a really solid bet in the same time slot.)

And lastly, I saw all but the last 10 minutes of The Ambassador and oh man. It’s a terrifying documentary that shows how corruption and exploitation are at the heart of far too much of foreign policy. But it’s also so incredibly ballsy that you don’t even have time to realize how depressing it should be. Highly, highly recommended.

*More on that tomorrow.

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