It appears the week of arctic outflow, freeze-your-bag-off, windshield-scraping weather is over and you gotta wonder if that isn't because the Whistler Film Festival is bringing so many heaters to town this year. With 87 films from eight countries screening this (extended) weekend, the WFF offers plenty of options for discerning film connoisseurs, but there's good stuff for the rest of us, too.
WFF's Late Night program is looking as cool as the other side of the pillow this year and local B-grade/grindhouse fans can get the party started on Thursday, Dec. 4, with the world premiere of Bad City, a blaxploitation-styled Canadian crime story about a pair of 1970s hard-nosed detectives and a murderous drug kingpin.
Parody and homage can get old easily, but Canadian director Carl Bessai knows how to play the game — this one looks like a 96-minute Sabotage video. Perfect for late night. Catch it at the newly renovated-and-comfy-as-heck Rainbow Theatre at 10:30 p.m.
Of course, if you like your late night flicks more freaky than fun, The Duke Of Burgundy also rolls Thursday night. This one is a BDSM lesbian-fetish flick focusing on power dynamics and garter belts. I haven't seen it but early word is Ron Burgundy does not make an appearance and instead it's all very "European" (but sans nudity), so expect long takes, wide shots and stuff you don't understand.
Whatever though, you had me at "lesbian-fetish flick" and after the whole Ghomeshi business who isn't at least a little BSDM-curious these days? (Like what does that even mean?) This one starts at 11:15 p.m. at the usually-much-tamer Village 8 Cinemas.
Friday night (Dec. 5), what better time for a New Zealand-made vampire mockumentary from the geniuses behind Flight of the Concords and Eagle vs. Shark? Eight years in the making, What We Do in the Shadows follows three vampires living together and trying to cope with a modern life after the really old vampire bites and converts a new guy and brings him into the fold. This kind of high concept, balls-out comedy is perfectly suited to the mockumentary format and What We Do in the Shadows might be the most fun movie playing all weekend. Catch it Friday night at 10 p.m. in the Whistler Conference Centre ballroom.
Saturday the seriousity gets cranked to 11 with Deadly Virtues. I've not seen it but apparently if you can make it through the violent, distasteful and misogynistic first half hour or so of home invasion brutality you get rewarded with a compelling investigation of love, marriage and power dynamics in the family. But who can know for sure? Is it torture porn with a tagged-on ending for people afraid to admit they like torture porn? Or did Dutch director Ate de Jong (Drop Dead Fred) just transcend the genre? Only one way to find out: Deadly Virtues screens Saturday, Dec. 6 at 10:30 p.m. at the Village 8.
Other hot WFF flicks include local wunder-producer Peter Harvey's return with Pretend We're Kissing, an indie-darling type romantic comedy about love and neuroses. Peter also line-produced Backcountry, which he describes as "like Open Water in the woods. A camping trip where everything that can go wrong, does." And by wrong he means there is a big-ass bear terrorizing a couple out for a nice weekend of tenting. The bear scenes were filmed just down the road in Squamish and Peter's name alone makes this one a must-see.
Sticking with fun on four legs, A Mile In These Hooves is about two brothers out to break the world record for longest distance travelled in a two-person costume. Yup, they hop into a two-person donkey costume and walk from Toronto to Venice Beach, Calif., a mellow 3,400-plus kilometres.
I'm sure insanity enters the picture somewhere (especially when it's your day to be the ass, again). This one is just 15 minutes and plays as part of the Shortworks 2 program Friday, Dec. 5 at noon at Millennium Place.
The Whistler Film Festival is a true local treasure so get out and support the films, filmmakers and organizers bringing fresh life to Whistler's screens.