Mind-blowing, adult 1973 Japanese animated feature comes to Cinematheque

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Considered by cinephiles to be one of the great lost masterpieces of Japanese animation, Belladonna of Sadness was never officially released in North America. But a beautifully restored 4k digital restoration is currently making the rounds of the arthouse cinema circuit, with screenings at the Cinematheque (1131 Howe St.) in Vancouver from June 3-8.

Belladonna of Sadness was produced by Osamu Tezuka, the godfather of Japanese anime and manga, but directed by his long-time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto. The film unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolour paintings inspired in part by Gustav Klimt. But the 1973 mindblower also reflects the freewheeling spirit of other seventies animated features like Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards and Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planet. It’s also an adult-oriented flick that is filled with violence and explicit sexuality.

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Mind-blowing, adult 1973 Japanese animated feature comes to Cinematheque

Better than Netflix – five cool November movie experiences in Vancouver

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Scene from Lightning Bolt’s The Metal East.

Puppy mills, a sacred spruce, Brigitte Bardot and some of the best music videos of the past year are among the subjects in our cinematic picks for November.

Whether you’re an arthouse habitué, music fan or animal lover, Vancouver’s specialty theatres are offering up a plethora of special events designed to remind us that there is more to life than Netflix.

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Better than Netflix – five cool November movie experiences in Vancouver

Cinematheque spotlights the man behind Alien, H.R. Giger

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Cinematheque shines a spotlight on the man responsible for one of the most horrific creatures to ever come to the big screen.

From May 28-31, the theatre is screening a documentary about the Swiss surrealist who terrorized millions with his design for the creature in Alien, alongside the original 1979 movie itself. This double-bill is a treat for anyone who is a fan of horror, science fiction, and fantasy art – especially if their taste runs towards the perverse.

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Cinematheque spotlights the man behind Alien, H.R. Giger

Lovers in dangerous times – a retrospective of acclaimed Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien

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Shu Qi and Chang Chen in Three Times.

For some film buffs, the only way to see a movie is in big-screen, 35mm projection. For those fans, and fans of international cinema in general, Cinematheque’s current retrospective of a contemporary filmmaker is a major event.

Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien, which is currently touring internationally, includes all 17 features that the director has released to date, as well as shorts and important collaborations.

Considered by many to be one of the most important and influential filmmakers of the past three decades, Hou Hsiao-hsien is an innovative artist whose movies can best be described (as the Cinematheque’s press release eloquently puts it) as “contemplative, deeply humanistic” and “visually accomplished.”

Take, for instance, Three Times.

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Lovers in dangerous times – a retrospective of acclaimed Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien

What to see at this year’s Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

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Scene from Across the Ice.

Now in its 18th year, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (Feb. 13-21) brings the best movies about the outdoors to various venues in the city. Special guests and niche programming make it a not-to-be-missed event, especially for the outdoors-inclined.

But what if you’re a novice to the whole mountain-sports thing? We asked Tom Wright, Programming Manager for the VIMFF, for some inside tips on what to see at this year’s VIMFF.

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What to see at this year’s Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

European Union Film Festival kicks off tonight with Italian romance, Latvian animated memoir

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Recent award winners, national blockbusters, festival circuit faves, Oscar submissions and even three all-ages screenings make up this year’s European Film Festival.

Now in its 17th year, the festival collects the best and brightest from the European Union. This year that means screen entries from 27 member states, beginning tonight (Nov. 21) and running until Dec. 4 at the Cinematheque (1131 Howe St.).

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European Union Film Festival kicks off tonight with Italian romance, Latvian animated memoir

’70s American road movies at Cinematheque

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If you recognize the above movie still, then you probably know your ’70s American cinema.

And if that’s the case, you’ll appreciated a retrospective this weekend at Cinematheque (1131 Howe St.).

Two-Lane Blacktop is a retrospective of 1970s American road movies on Oct. 23 – Oct. 26. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (above, 1974, starring Susan George and Peter Fonda) is just one of a number of free-wheeling treats, including a prime Clint Eastwood flick, a Roger Corman cult classic and even some artier, more existentialist fare.

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’70s American road movies at Cinematheque