VIFF 2018: Spice It Up


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      Any film about filmmaking is going to feel like part in-joke, part philosophy. Spice It Up quite literally splits these tendencies into quasi-parallel universes.

      In the first, Rene (Jennifer Hardy) sits across from her thesis advisor (Adam Nayman) and waits for him to finish formulating absent-minded bulletpoints. “...Make it make a bit more sense,” he helpfully articulates. He’s not the only one to think this way.

      And then there’s Rene’s film, which takes up more than half of the running time, and at first seems to cop to many of the sins of the student film: the colour-timing, editing, characterization, and plot logic are all, perhaps, “lacking” in a way we can understand if we adopt a professorial POV.

      But there’s more going on: for Rene, filmmaking is a decision, and like all big decisions, she takes it to different people, anyone really, to hear what they think, hear what they don’t think, so that in the end she can do what she was always going to do. “If I want to make a film, I want to make a film,” she says, with an echo of Paul Valéry’s thought that, “The true connoisseur of this art is necessarily the person to whom it suggests nothing.”

      It becomes obvious that Rene is using art as therapy, and that her film has incongruities, but what Spice It Up suggests is that this does not make her work unlovable.