Friday, June 29, 2007

NOW PLAYING: Big Screens (June 29)

Currently (or very soon to be currently) on screen at Vancouver-area theatres

Updated June 29 2007

EVAN ALMIGHTY is the only thing in town with an explicit God angle, and judging by the generally blah response, that may be “Godawful” more than God-inspired. Okay, I exaggerate: several say it’s pleasant enough, and I’ll definitely check it out – I really liked BRUCE ALMIGHTY. But still, the same thing that made me never get around to actually seeing THE NATIVITY averts me from this one – the clear and present danger of extreme blandness. There’s a real danger that Mel Gibson’s idiosyncratic, edgy-as-hell limit-pushing PASSION has spawned a whole industry of corporate-designed, mushy, inoffensive religious movies designed for middle America (which is often mistaken for Christian America). How perverse. We finally seem to have a big screen equivalent of CCM. Damn.

Not necessarily name-checking the Almighty, but considerably more likely to contain nourishing levels of Soul Food, is the marvelous AFTER THE WEDDING, revived this week only at the (bargain priced) Hollywood Theatre. I loved this movie: without throwing junk, it changes up its pitches often enough to keep even the savviest movie-batter off balance. One of the best films I’ve seen this year. God bless the Danes!

John Woo’s THE KILLER is Sunday night only at the VanCity, part of this Asian fest they’re featuring. Might sound like a stretch re: spiritual sustenance, but there are those who insist otherwise: check out my COMING SOON entry for way more detail on that than you probably need.

And dang, I better get out to WAITRESS before it goes off shift. I’ve heard promising things. Maybe sort of a JUNEBUG appeal?

ONCE continues at the Fifth Avenue. Know what? I won’t be surprised if it’s still running there at the end of August, judging from word-of-mouth enthusiasm I keep overhearing. (But don’t let that breed complacency: a movie this small and un-slick, it could be gone next Thursday). I’m wary of setting up high expectations for this tiny, good-hearted movie, I really liked it. Irish street busker meets inquisitive young woman from Czech Republic. Not much more to it than that, but the music is swell, it's got a nice unslick "indie" vibe, and the two leads are most likeable. Date movie.

PARIS, JE T'AIME. Sophisticated fare at the Fifth, what they call a portmanteau film (that’s French for “suitcase,” dontcha know?). Set – appropriately enough – in Paris, an anthology of short films by a whole handbag full of arty directors, from Soul Food regulars Tom Tykwer and Alexander Payne to the Coen boys, Alfonso Cuaron, Gus Van Sant... Even Gerard Depardieu tries his hand. “Stories of Love. From the City of Love.” Arty date movie.

Apparently AWAY FROM HER continues at the Van East? Very substantial, mature film, definitely about aging, but even more a love story, I’d say, if a sad one, as a husband copes with the gradual loss of his wife as she succumbs to Alzheimer’s. I’ve not read the Alice Munro short story, but it sure feels like a pretty much perfect transition from page to screen. CanLit date movie?

EVENING opens this weekend: they’re marketing it so relentlessly as the chick flick to end all chick flicks, I’m expecting them to hand out specially designed Hallmark cards to the first fifty million women who line up for tickets. But we mustn’t judge a book by its cover blurbs, am I right? A marketing campaign does not a movie make – or unmake – and I find the line-up of actors irresistible; Meryl Streep, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Vaness Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, and Glenn Close. Holy smokes! Think all five best actress nominations might go to one film? If you see it, tell me if it’s any good. Unless I beat you to it. Impress-your-wife date movie.

Surprisingly good crit response to KNOCKED UP: they’re saying there’s a surprising pro-family, trad-values vibe beneath its AMERICAN PIE crust, and that’s got me curious. Doubly so, as the previous outing from the creator (no, not the Creator) was a multi-viewing favourite of a spiritually acute playwright pal o mine – 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, can you believe? Nachos-and-beer date movie.

EAGLE VS SHARK wants too badly to be NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (with the little MISS SUNSHINE girl thrown in for good measure), but somehow we don’t end up liking the unlikeable misanthropic social misfit at the centre of this one the way we did end up liking the misanthropic social misfit at the centre of Nappy D. The female lead is quite lovely, if only she weren’t trying so hard to be quirky: in most scenes she screws up her face with just a little too much actor self-consciousness, and that’s indicative of her performance: when she leaves the quirk to the screenplay and just lives in the scene, she’s quite wonderful. Goth date movie.

MIGHTY HEART sounds surprisingly substantial for summer, the wife’s-eye-view of the abduction of American journo Daniel Pearl that apparently steers clear of Hollywood plastic and Yankee jingoism. (Not surprising, from adventurous, anything-but-slick UK director Michael Winterbottom: The Road to Guantanamo, A Cock and Bull Story, 9 Songs, Code 46, In This World). And ignore the fact that a celeb stars: if she can act (and apparently she can), who cares what tabloids obsess on her or who her boyfriend is? Probably not a date movie.


Ron Reed said...

My friend Paul H. posted a comment here but, alas, I apparently pressed the wrong button and deleted it instead of allowing it to be published. Makes me feel I don't deserve the moniker "moderator" - what's so moderate about trashing perfectly good posts? From now on, I think of myself as the immoderator. Apologies, Paul.

What I do know is that Mr H was praising LA VIE EN ROSE. So you can add that to your list. (Hmmm... A movie about lingerie. How did I overlook that one?)

Mais non! It's about famed chanteuse Edith Piaf. A fit double feature with PARIS, JE T'AIME, peut etree? And if Paul will ever speak to us again, perhaps he will post any other detais more substantial than my musings, which must otherwise remain lost forever...



Ron Reed said...

Ah, I found Paul's comment! It was posted on another thread. In any case, here's the original...


Hi, Ron, Paul Ohannesian here, Rudi's friend. Susan and I saw La Vie en Rose this week and were very moved and impressed. Edith Piaf lived a nightmare life and out of it created her unique and powerful art. The actress who portrayed her (sorry, name not in my mind) did a wonderful job of conveying the vital energy and passion of Piaf. As you can see, I like the film a lot. You may want to explore it too!