Cosmopolis, Prometheus, Madagascar 3, The Intouchables and more films now playing
The highly anticipated Prometheus, the prescient Cosmopolis and the fun times of Madagascar 3 and The Intouchables lead. Notice though, there’s a much smaller film with an even bigger mark.
Here’s the list:
Cosmopolis: 3 stars
Madagascar 3: 3 ½
Prometheus: 3 out of 5
The Intouchables: 3
People of a Feather: 4 ½
Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview: --
Festival of Ocean Films: --
Double Trouble: --
Jesus Henry Christ: --
COSMOPOLIS: It’s interesting to remember that Don DeLillo wrote this tale five years before the financial meltdown. It anticipates it all and the later “occupy” movement too. Also, it has a good take on the attitudes of greed and power that produced it. Now, as a film, it already feels as if we’ve seen it all before. We have, you know, in news stories, documentaries and films like Margin Call. What we get that’s new here is the cool, sleek style of director David Cronenberg and the box-office appeal of Robert Pattinson. His aloof style works well as the spoiled and dismissive whiz kid financier. I imagined a young Donald Trump as I watched him.
Pattinson spends almost the entire movie inside his luxury- and computer-decked out limo. He’s on a cross-town trip in New York to get a haircut, never mind a traffic mess, a presidential visit, a rapper’s funeral, anti-Wall Street demonstrations and “reports of imminent activity”. Various people drop in briefly for status reports (Jay Baruchel ), sex (Juliette Binoche), economic theorizing (Samantha Morton) and even a prostate exam. A few times he steps out and encounters his wife (Sarah Gadon) and then a bitter ex-employee (Paul Giamatti). Clearly this is an existential journey. He evaluates his own life as his paranoia rises and his fortune plummets. The dialogue is taken verbatim from the book. Sample:
“I want a haircut.”
“The president’s in town.”
“We don’t care. We need a haircut. Just so I know. Which president are we talking about?”
The effect is almost surrealistic, like a dream. Intriguing but chilly and tricky to connect with. (International Village and theatres in Coquitlam, Langley and Abbotsford) 3 out of 5
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED: The “I like to move it, move it” gang is on the go once again. You might remember that in #1 they (Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe (voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer) escaped a New York zoo to find their heritage in Africa. In #2, they tried to get back but couldn’t. Now they try again and, following the lead of those wily penguins, turn up in Monte Carlo where they attract the murderous intentions of an animal control officer (Frances McDormand). She pursues them to Rome, Vatican City) and London. To hide, they join a circus which they manage to transform from rundown to high-tech modern.
This 3rd film is a big improvement, especially on the annoying first one. The story has heart and a valid message, the characters are defined, the jokes are better, (including the year’s best pun). There are also two Canadian references, one of them to our work ethic. (Yeah, I know. Huh?). On the whole, there’s so much nutty humor, color and action you and the kids won’t fail to be rapt up in it. The 3D is fun too, used both subtly to add depth and now and then with glee to toss things right at us. (The Dunbar, Dolphin, International Village and many suburban theatres) 3 ½ out of 5
PROMETHEUS: Ridley Scott goes back to space 33 years after his classic Alien, which helped bring an adult intelligence to the genre. Not really a prequel, but in several ways related and set only 29 years before (in 2093), this one ponders the origins of life on earth by sending an expedition out to find where it may have come from. Chariots of the Gods anyone? On board are the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace, as an archeologist, Michael Fassbender, as an android with ambitions and Charlize Theron, as a functionary of the Weyland Corporation. (Later, in the earlier film, it had become Weyland-Yutani). And, yes, there are xenomorphs, or at least ancestors of the slimy creatures, again designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger. I wish I could be more positive.
The film is visually spectacular. The ship, its interior and the location it reaches are beautifully designed. The story is the problem. It starts with such promise. As Noomi says of the beings she’s looking for “They made us. I want to know why.” Later, that search is dropped, or to be more accurate, postponed and the film diverts from speculative fiction into noisy action, encounters with sticky reptilian organisms and even a C-section. Well done, but not visionary. (Scotiabank, The Ridge [2D only] and many suburban theatres). 3 out of 5
THE INTOUCHABLES: This immensely entertaining film was a mammoth hit in France but got a rough ride from some critics in the U.S. Variety accused it of “Uncle Tomism,” an absolutely nutso charge propelled by an over-active concern for issues of race. It’s possible for people of different colors to be friends. They don’t have to be symbols.
The story is true, albeit altered in one significant way. François Cluzet plays a super-rich Parisian who lost his wife in a para-gliding accident that also turned him into a paraplegic. He hires a fast-talking young hustler, originally from Senegal, Africa, as his caretaker, driver and companion. In real life he was an Arab from Algeria but this film is tailored to the lively talents of Omar Syr who brings a carefree zest and, yes, some dance moves to the role. He prefers Earth, Wind and Fire over Mozart and laughs at the singing tree at the opera. The film establishes right off the top that this is no Driving Miss Daisy as he drives wildly, swerving through heaving traffic with his passenger enjoying it all and then helping to talk a cop out of a speeding ticket. The two bond; they provide something essential to each other: Omar gets access to a life of comfort and wealth he couldn’t possibly aspire to and brings Francois back to enjoying life. Reality does also set in of course, but not the grimmer details of caring for the disabled. The tone stays funny and feel-good. (5th Avenue Cinemas) 3 out of 5
PEOPLE OF A FEATHER: Here’s another chance to catch a wonderful film about a subject you wouldn’t expect to be so engrossing and even entertaining: climate change. The locale is Hudson’s Bay where the Inuit see the transformation through the decline in the ducks and seals they harvest. Quebec Hydro has reversed their seasons.
Joel Heath, of east Vancouver, spent seven years up there studying the wildlife and getting to know the people. He shows us their life and tells their story with stunning photography (including time-lapse sequences) and recreated views of their history to contrast with the snow-mobile and MP3-player today. He achieves a genuine visual poetry. The film is back, but only briefly, to celebrate two big Leo awards it won a couple of weeks ago. It’s at the Rio, Saturday and Sunday, showing at 7 and 9 p.m. There will be a Q & A with Heath after the early show on both days. 4 ½ out of 5
And briefly, four that I haven’t seen …
STEVE JOBS: THE LOST INTERVIEW: Actually I think it was just misplaced for a while. However, if reading the biography isn’t enough for you, you might want to watch what the late Apple guru had to say in this 75-minute sit-down back in 1995. A small part of the interview was seen in Triumph of the Nerds, a TV series about the advent of personal computers. Jobs had left Apple at the time and was running his new company NeXT. He describes both the creation of the Apple computer, the disputes that forced him out of the company and his vision of the future where artists and poets create new products. A pre- i-pad, i-phone, i-tunes time capsule. (VanCity Theatre Sunday night at 7 and 8:30) http://www.viff.org/theatre/
VANCOUVER FESTIVAL OF OCEAN FILMS: This 3rd edition is at the VanCity Theatre. (Last year it was online). Tonight’s opener, Ice Bears of the Beaufortpromises to show us “the truth of polar bears never before filmed”. Apparently they are not hostile and solitary but are threatened by development. Fish Meat looks into the fish farming industry and Paddle to Seattle: Journey Through the Inside Passage shows exactly that, starting way up in Alaska.
For more on these and the films showing Saturday, visit http://www.vfof.ca/ and click on 2012 Program.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Jackie Chan has stopped making his martial arts comedies but here’s his son Jaycee taking up some of the legacy. He plays a security guard in Taipei trying to retrieve a painting that was stolen from a museum on his watch. For help in the chase, he pulls in a visiting tourist from Beijing (Xia Yu) who also happens to be a security guard. Much of the fun involves the conflicting attitudes of people in Taiwan and China. (Riverport and Station Square)
JESUS HENRY CHRIST: There’s apparently too much quirk and whimsy in this story of “I was born this way” geneology. Henry was conceived by in-vitro fertilization. By age 10, he’s already writing about the nature of truth and sets out to find his biological father. One candidate has a possibly-gay daughter with whom he strikes up a friendship. Such plot contrivances have drawn unenthusiastic reviews. Toni Collette and Michael Sheen are the biggest names in the cast but Hart House and other locations at the University of Toronto are also prominent. (Denman Cinemas)
NOTE: These images are movie stills provided by the producers or studios and are therefore the exclusive property of their copyright owners.