Lifestyle/Film – from FRANCA to FREIGHTENED

The Vancouver Film Festival is almost over. For the past two weeks I’ve seen my share of GLOOM to GLAMOUR through cinema and ended up going home with either a smile on my face or more often than not, with a heavy heart.franca1Being a film critic is not as simple as it seems. Did I say film critic? Well you know what I version.  It’s kind of like speed dating (not that I’ve ever done that) – you have to weed through many movies before you come across a great film.  But that great one will stick with you and may even change your life forever.

I even have a film buddy now.  Someone I met in the pass holder lineup from the very beginning of the festival and we kept bumping into each other, sitting together, crying at times and finally comparing films and such and sharing real life moments in time (while waiting for each film to start).  We promised to keep in touch and meet up every so often to see a new movie because we seem to have the same taste in film.  And let me tell you that finding the perfect film buddy is a lot harder to come across than the other more popular kind of  “F” buddy.

So I have only a few more reviews to share, a very small amount compared to all that was offered at the festival.  I’m sending them into the VIFF press office and hopefully they’ll decide to invite me back again next year. This has not only been a real pleasure and a privilege but a great opportunity to share with you some very engaging films and a chance to expand my audience.

These two documentaries will make you question everything you buy.

Franca: Chaos and Creation

The high price of fashion…

I was looking very forward to this documentary about legendary editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia, considered the world’s most important fashion magazine.  It’s the magazine for fashion insiders to visit the territory where fashion, art and provocation meet. Her astonishing but often controversial magazine covers have not only broken the rules but also set the bar high for fashion, art and commerce over the past 25 years.

Sozzani remains deeply committed to exploring subject matters off limits to most and occasionally redefining the concept of beauty in the process.

The film features interviews with Karl Lagerfeld, Bruce Weber, Baz Luhrmann, Courtney Love and many others.  A film for style buffs.

*Trailer for Franca:

Freightened: The Real Price of Shipping

The higher price of fashion.  There’s always a cost.  How much are we willing to pay?

This is in stark contrast to Franca and something to give serious thought to.

“There are three kinds of people in the world.  The living, the dead and those that are at sea” – a line from the movie.

This film sheds real light on where a huge portion of our clothing really comes from.  It will make you question your choices (hopefully) the next time you shop for that next great deal.  Maybe we should read clothing labels like we are now paying more attention to our labels on food.  Because there’s a story behind them and it’s not a pretty one. Those $20 jeans weren’t just shipped here from Bangladesh: the constituent parts traveled thousands of miles before they met in the factory.  But it’s not just about clothing, it’s about everything we consume in our crazy world of WANT.  And 90% of everything we consume arrives via ship so this is essential to know about. Because many of us are unaware of the consequences of industrial container shipping as it is today and has been for many, many years. And it’s drastic impact on the environment….which affects everyone and the future of the planet.  But it’s not too late to make some changes…if only they will listen (but we don’t know who they really are because the owners are hard to track down).

Denis Delestrac is opening our eyes to the incredibly important implications of things we take for granted. And you won’t believe your eyes.

From the VIFF website:

Freightened is indeed a scarifying look at our oceans and harbours, and what the behemoths and leviathans that ply our seas are doing to them. It’s all because of what we buy!  The unit travel costs of huge industrial container shipments are astonishingly small, but the environmental costs are ridiculously large. Why bother to learn more? Why think global and buy local? The open seas are shockingly free of oversight and regulation. Dirty fuels, chemical leakage and animal-killing noise abound in a regime of tax avoidance and maintenance neglect, and we know so little about it. What are the plans for our Port of Vancouver?

Food for Thought?  

*Trailer for Freightened:


Design/Film: The Architect

“As an Architect  I have the job of transforming hopes and dreams into wood, glass, steel and concrete.  But if the dreams aren’t there, there is very little I can do.”

– a line from the  The Architect

Clip from the Film
Still from the Film

Last night I attended the VIFF premiere of a new movie called “The Architect”.  I wanted to see a light comedy after the heaviness of the last several movies.  Something with a design element to it.  The Architect was reminiscent of “The Cable Guy” starring Jim Carrey but only in the sense that the architect (played by James Frain) was annoyingly cloying in his attempt to help out, thus getting on the nerves of his employers as he tries to infiltrate their lives.

The movie was written and directed by Jonathan Parker who was in attendance to answer questions from the audience as was one of the main characters, Eric McCormack (Will & Grace, Broadway, etc. Parker Posey plays his wife in this bizarre tale of obsession and deceit when a couple (played by McCormack & Posey) hire a supposedly top notch visionary architect to build their dream house right after buying a tear-down.  But what they’re not prepared for is the architect’s brash ego informing them to follow his own designs and desires.  The wife, a creative type of her own,  gets swept up by the architect as creative designer – a stark contrast to her husband’s very practical side.  A husband by the way,  quite skeptical of the intentions of the architect in question.

You begin to realize who the dream house really belongs to –  The Architect.architect1

What’s funny is that Eric McCormack (originally from Vancouver) is building a home here and his own architect was at the screening.  He pointed him out in the audience at the Vancouver Playhouse.  He said if that wasn’t enough he also hired an interior designer.

Some lines from the film:

I don’t know why people hire architects and then tell them what to do

I believe it is just as important to design a chicken coup as it is to design a cathedral

Q & A
Q & A with Director and Actor.  Photo: d. king

The Trailer:

For more information on the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) please visit:

Culture/Film: Julieta and Elle

We’re still pleasantly engrossed at the Vancouver International Film Festival and I can hardly keep up with the reviews.julieta3 Today I saw two films back to back and I’m a bit mentally worn out.  So much to discover and contemplate but I can tell you a little about the last two films with strong leading women.

I have a lot of appreciation for foreign films.  Many times they have a lot more depth than North American cinema.  I’m a big fan of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar since having seen Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown1988. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film.  And of course All About My Mother (which I loved even more) won an Academy Award for best foreign language film.  The list goes on.  So as soon as I heard that Julieta (the latest Almodóvar , sure to become another classic) was partaking at VIFF I had to schedule time to see it.

Told in flashback over 30 years of guilt and grief, this melodrama is based on three Alice Munro short storiesCritics are saying it is his best film in a decade.

What I love the most about any Almodóvar movie is the character study in itself – all about relationships, it never disappoints and you can guarantee the actors are the best of the best.

Emma Suárez is fabulous as Julieta.  A beautiful woman who is leaving Madrid to start a new life in Portugal.  But before she moves, and by chance, she bumps into a childhood friend of her estranged daughter Antía.  She decides to stay in Madrid and returns to the apartment block where she and her daughter once lived.  Then we’re transported back to the 80’s to find out the story about fate, love and separation.

I enjoyed the film very much but without giving too much away, I unfortunately didn’t completely understand the decision made by Antía (the daughter) and in my opinion it was a very undeserving situation.

Moving on…


Elle, on the other hand was pretty disturbing in a sick and twisted confrontational sense.  I would classify it as a mystery/thriller with a wink and a twist.

I chose it because it’s a French film which stars Isabelle Huppert and is directed by Dutch filmmaker (and former Hollywood bad boy) Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers).

I liked the strong, seductive unemotional character of business woman (a CEO of a video game company) Michelle (Isabelle Huppert) with her dry sense of humour.  She is superb in the role.  I was disturbed and intrigued. This movie will most definitely spark a debate.

Julieta Trailer:

Elle Trailer:

There are four more days of filmgoing left. For more movie information please visit:

Style/Film: Personal Shopper

I really wanted to love this film.  Of course the name alone  appealed to me as you must have already guessed.  It was a definite YES on my list and it was a front runner at the Cannes film festival.

Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper
Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper

I mean it had ALL the elements of a fantastic movie.  An unassuming young woman (played by Kristen Stewart) riding a scooter around Paris picking up vetements from shoppes like Chanel for her super model employer who is too high profile to do it herself.  She also has a special gift of being a medium (not in size but in a psychic way).  She’s waiting for a sign from her twin brother who passed away.  And she’s able to tap into the spirit world when disturbing signs appear before her but they are not that of her brother.

The movie is almost unclassifiable.  It has a little of everything but doesn’t quite hit the mark.   It’s a bit of a thriller but not really because it’s too disjointed.  It leaves you a bit in the dark…wanting answers.

And even though Kristen Stewart does an excellent job in the role it made me question why a super model would choose a mopey dishevelled looking girl who doesn’t dress well to go to these upscale boutiques to choose clothing and accessories.  Just saying.

But maybe I’m missing something because while I bided time at Nordstrom waiting for the next movie to begin I came across this image:

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

Apparently Karl Lagerfeld saw something special in the young actress beyond the messy hair and frowned lips.  Lagerfeld & Stewart have collaborated many times to bring to life the true spirit (no pun intended) behind the fashion house Chanel.  Speaking of the actress, Lagerfeld once declared: “She is a real personality.  I don’t compare her to any other actress and she is really modern, whatever that means.  And I think that she is perfect for the Chanel image of today.”

So who am I to argue with Karl!

But going back to the movie….I liken it to a Thanksgiving meal that you enjoyed but they forgot about the cranberry sauce and gravy.


There is one more showing on Oct. 13th

For tickets please visit:

Style in Film: Yohji Yamamoto – Dressmaker

YOHJI YAMAMOTO | DRESSMAKER  & master tailer is a portrait of more than a Designer

“Live your creative life! Live your creative life!’”yohji2

Last night I attended the Canadian premiere of Yohji Yamamoto, Dressmaker – part of the wonderful lineup of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).

The documentary is an intimate look at the life and work of Yohji Yamamoto, one of the most influential and enigmatic fashion designers of the last forty years. yohji3

Not to mention flamboyant in his own disarming way but also non pretentious and a little melancholy. He does admit to putting all his emotion, all his excitement and philosophy into his clothing from the very beginning…all while puffing on a cigarette.  I imagine his own clothing must reek of cigarette smoke.  However…

Fashion editors agree – arriving at a Yohji Yamamoto show stirs a sense of anticipation not experienced elsewhere.yohji4

Love his designs? Hate them?  Unsure?  In any event you cannot deny the remarkable talent and avante-garde spirit of this now 73-year-old Japanese designer/artist who has never followed trends.  He defies them! Extraordinary dressmaking is an ART in itself.


Along with Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo, Yamamoto was, of course, at the fore of an influential wave of avant-garde designers who emerged from Japan in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The film sets out to discover and uncover the many layers of the man, delving into the fascinatingly complex life story of this iconic and visionary craftsman.

Yamamoto opens up like never before.  He invites the viewer behind the curtain and explores his most private and intimate thoughts and feelings. The film sheds light on his artistic approach and creative working process, contrasting them directly with how he sees the “Fashion” industry today and the direction society in Japan and as a whole, is heading towards.

Interviews with key figures – family, friends, employees and closest confidants – provide even more insight into this Japanese artist’s life journey and the core values that he and his clothing embody.  If only we could understand what many of them had to say.

In this version they forgot to add the English sub-titles when they interviewed many of the key figures, mother included. Although Lost in Translation,  I’m sure it was mostly positive.

“I’ve always dreamt of  being free, but it won’t happen in my lifetime.  I have too many people to look after.” – Yohji Yamamoto

Beyoncé wears YY
Beyoncé wearing YY

Condensed from an article in Interview Magazine:

Born into wartime Tokyo in 1943, Yamamoto first studied law, but opted instead to go to work for his mother, a seamstress, and enroll in Bunka Fashion College. It was after a brief sojourn in Paris that he established his first label, Y’s, in Tokyo in 1972, debuting his eponymous line back in the French capital nine years later and blowing away the tight dresses and padded shoulders of the sartorial moment with the billows of dark fabric and a brand of intellectual playfulness that instantly earned him a place as one of the most forward-looking, paradigm-breaking, and versatile artists in contemporary fashion. But for a man whose work has consistently been associated with the cutting edges of things, Yamamoto has always remained remarkably trend-phobic, choosing to operate within a framework that has less to do with the whims of seasons and more to do with the development of ideas, as exemplified by his frequently loose, asymmetrical cuts, enveloping drapes, ample uses of black, and recurring flirtations with sexuality and androgyny.

Never conventionally sexy or trendy (Cathy Horyn of the New York Times has said, “Mr. Yamamoto likes to dissolve sartorial boundaries”), Yamamoto appeals to clients who appreciate wit, romance, and fashion history.

Yamamoto has also collaborated on pieces, collections and lines with a number of other brands, including Adidas (Y-3), Hermès, Mikimoto and Mandarina Duck; and with artists such as Tina Turner, Sir Elton John, Placebo, Takeshi Kitano, Pina Bausch and Heiner Müller.