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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

VIFF Day 3: And four more makes 11 in all

Time to finish our three-day venture at the 32nd Vancouver International Film Festival, which ended Saturday (and included a long drive home on Sunday). We saw four films on the final day, which included:

"Blue Is the Warmest Color": This French film, which explores a young woman's gradual realization that what really turns her on sexually is other women, won the Palme d'Or at May's Cannes Film Festival. It features some of the most naturalistic acting I have ever seen, especially by Adele Exarchopoulos, and it earned the top acting prizes — for the first time — for her and for co-star Lea Seydoux. Other than the ending, which I found too abrupt, the film is a superb study of the main character's coming of age. Oh, and the movie boasts some of the most graphic lesbian love scenes outside of a porn flick. That last statement should be taken for what it is, not as a criticism.

"Anatomy of a Paper Clip": Described by some festgoers as "the Japanese 'Eraserhead,' " this strange little film is quirky but nowhere near the stab of brilliance that David Lynch managed to create. It's funny, in spots, and ultimately sweet in its attempt. But mostly it's a mere curiosity.

"My Stolen Revolution": When the 1979 Iranian Revolution took place, it was brought about by a coalition of groups disgruntled with the country's western-installed government. But pretty quickly, the Islamist movement took over, forcing eveyone else — liberals, progressives, intellectuals, etc. — out of the way. And then the executions started. Many of those who fought for freedom ended up tortured, imprisoned and often at the end of a rope or with a bullet through the head. Documentary filmmaker Nahid Persson was one of the lucky ones, able to hide and eventually flee Iran. Now living in Sweden, she carries guilt over not having suffered as her former friends did, from her brother who was executed to five of her fellow revolutionaries, all of who spent years in prison. Persson's film basically consists of the five women coming to Persson's home and sharing their stories, which are horrific and sad and inspiring at once.

"Araf: Somewhere in Between": We went to this late-Saturday film because it was from Turkey, and because its theme — a small-town woman struggling to find a way out of her dead-end life — seemed interesting. And the film is well made, featuring a riveting performance by actress Neslihan Atagul and some artistic shots of the wintry Turkish landscape. If only the two main characters, barely 20 and still tied to their mothers as only spoiled brats facing few easy prospects can be, were likeable.

And that was our festival: 11 films in four days. Good thing I wrote them all down. As I type this on a sunny Monday morning back in Spokane, the whole weekend seems to devolve into one long movie from a single country that exists only in my imagination.