Sunday, December 21, 2014
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VIFF reviews II: A Werewolf Boy, The World Before Her, Side by Side

A Werewolf Boy

In A Werewolf Boy, an unexpected phone call interrupts the seemingly ordinary life of the elderly Suni Kim (Li Young-lan). Suni leaves her home in America and returns to Korea, where she meets her granddaughter, Eunju (Park Boyoung), and is driven to recall her past.

Plunged into her memory, we learn that as an adolescent, Suni moved into the countryside in order to improve her weak health. Not long after her arrival, she encountered a feral boy living around her new home. Although repelled at first, Suni gradually becomes closer to the boy. An almost Tarzan-esque relationship ensues, lighting up the screen with hilarity, hijinks and young love in the midst of the wild boy’s path to civilization. The plot takes a dark turn, however, when the landlord Tae-sik (Yoo Yeon-seok) is driven to rage by his jealousy of Suni’s affection for the wild boy.

The film’s gripping story, solid acting and beautiful cinematography come together to create a captivating production for all ages. Though the subtitle translations for some of the expressions were quite exaggerated, this hardly depreciated the overall movie experience. Judging from the audience’s reaction, it may, in fact, have been a delightful contribution.
-Jane Jun

The World Before Her

In The World Before Her, director Nisha Pahuja takes the audience to two extremes. An India where young girls fight traditionalism and find empowerment through the beauty industry is juxtaposed with an India which opposes this “Americanization” and commercialization.

Pahuja effortlessly weaves in the fundamental themes of oppression, fundamentalism and inequality to create a documentary that confidently addresses problems prominent in contemporary India. Ruhi Singh, a young girl trying to escape the chains of conservatism in her small town in Rajasthan, resorts to pageantry to find her crown of empowerment. On the opposite spectrum, the film enters the Durga Vahini camp — the women’s wing of the Hindu fundamentalism movement — to follow Prachi, a girl who sells her soul to fight for Mother India.

While Ruhi fights the fundamentalists who try to sabotage her attempt to become an independent woman, Prachi opposes the role of the traditional housewife. Following a thread of love, identity and ambition, both will meet at the same place: an India which hears the voices of its women. A must-see.
—Priyanka Hariharan

Side by Side

Take a deep breath and sigh, because films just aren’t what they used to be. With the majority of movies now being made and shown on a digital platform, the good ol’ days of rolls of film stock might be nearly over.

Side by Side, written and directed by Christopher Kenneally, documents this digital revolution and what it means to the art of cinema. The documentary is hosted by a smooth-voiced Keanu Reeves and exhibits a spectacular gallery of interviews with the pros, including Hollywood heavyweights George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and James Cameron.

The film is a formidable treat for filmmakers and cinephiles, but it doesn’t befuddle the everyday moviegoer with highfalutin’ tech talk either; it’s surprisingly accessible to audiences across the board and makes for an informative night of entertainment.

The film’s true concern actually revolves around pitting the vastly superior convenience and limitless possibilities of the digital format against the timeless magic of film.

So, the inevitable sigh emerges, but is it a sigh of relief, or regret? Side by Side will
help you decide.
—Dulguun Bayasgalan

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