Thursday, September 20, 2007

NOW PLAYING: Big & Small Screens

Soul Food and other notable movies currently onscreen in Vancouver, plus recent arrivals at the video shops
Updated Sep 20 2007

Big Screen
Genius Julie Taymor’s ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is outasight, an eye-candy musical that uses Beatle songs, musical theatre style, to tell a love story set against the backdrop of the late Sixties: I wish it had gone darker (I'm thinking TITUS, here), and must admit some of it’s a bit too “on the nose,” but it's wildly creative, and I'll take anything Julie dishes out.

THIS IS ENGLAND is really something, autobiographically inspired, 1983 setting, about a 12 year old working class English boy who falls in with a gang of skinheads after his dad's killed in the Falklands: you'll be on edge, and yes there's some violence that's tough to watch - not so much because it's grisly or gratuitous, but because you believe it, and it happens among characters you care about - but it's loaded with brilliant unexpected turns, heart-breakingly true characters.

3:10 TO YUMA riffs on all the classic western motifs, has strong performances, is shot full of Bible quoting, prayers, and crosses on sixgun handles, but goes wildly stupid in its final half hour: how come bad guys who never miss can't land a single shot once they're within range of the closing credits? Darn, that bugs me. And let's just say the psychology of that home stretch is, well, a stretch. Rent UNFORGIVEN or OPEN RANGE or THE BIG COUNTRY instead, or maybe even SHANE.

Still in Vancouver theatres, some say RATATOUILLE was the best movie of the summer. Whattya know, WAITRESS is at the Hollywood this week. And heck, even THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM roused enthusiasm at Christianity Today with its soul searching battle between cycles of vengeance and the hope of new beginnings – in among plenty of murders, people crashing through windows and only-in-the-movies car chases (Manhattan cabbies can’t get across town that fast!).

I’m making plans to see the new Cronenberg, EASTERN PROMISES, which is getting raved.


THE CAMDEN 28 is brand new at Videomatica, a documentary study of Catholic priests and lay people who protested the Vietnam war. Also at the Videomat and featuring significant Soul Food interest are summer arrivals IVAN’S CHILDHOOD (Tarkovsky), FAY GRIM (Hartley), MANON OF THE SPRING / JEAN DE FLORETTE, and Set 2 of the PBS FATHER BROWN series.

BLACK SNAKE MOAN, AFTER THE WEDDING, THE LIVES OF OTHERS, AWAY FROM HER, PERFUME (Tykwer) and WE ARE MARSHALL all reached the shelves of our local neighbourhood video stores since summer began, and all have Soul Food content of one sort or another, to one degree or another. Also notable (if not particularly, um, religious) are TAXI DRIVER, the under-celebrated CARLITO’S WAY, and ZODIAC – shaping up to be one of the top films of the year, from SEVEN / THE GAME / FIGHT CLUB director David Fincher, it puts less emphasis on the serial murders than on what happens to the cops and journos who investigate them.

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