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This week’s new movies for Friday July 3

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SERAPHINE: The Ridge’s Theatre’s festival of French films has an outstanding treat starting today. If you can take the leisurely pace, you’ll be well rewarded. It won seven Cesars (France’s counterpart to the Oscars) including best actress for a remarkable performance by Yolande Moreau. She plays a lumpy, plain charwoman in a small town near Paris who communes with nature to calm her self-doubts and paints flowers as a hobby. But she is hardly the person most everybody in town dismisses as a nobody. A German art critic comes across her work and recognizes her as a brilliant primitive stylist. (Picasso was another of his discoveries). World War One stalls her career, though, and later, so does, the stock market crash. The disappointment sends her descending into madness and for a time into an asylum. That’s only a partial summary of course, but it’s all true. The film has beautiful country cinematography and excellent art direction. Plus a German actor (Ulrich Tukur) as the critic. He was in “The Lives of Others”. Hearing him speak French with a German accent adds a lot to the flavor of this film. It’s chief asset though is Moreau’s subtle portrait of a complex woman.

LET IT RAIN (Parlez-moi de la pluie): I like the original French title. It better reflects the tone of the film, and anyway dispels any confusion with that Amanda Marshall song. This is the third film from the husband and wife team, Agnes Jaoui and Jean Pierre Bacri. They wrote it and both act in it. She also directs and stars as a feminist author from Paris who returns to her small hometown to visit family and announce she’s going into politics. He plays a filmmaker who wants to feature her in a documentary on successful women. With a local hotel clerk to help out and his own bumbling, the interview sessions turn disastrously funny. They also deflate the high opinion she has of herself. But there’s more, including her sister’s marital problems, the role of women, North Africans as second-class citizens and even the complaints of one farmer about the European Union. That’s a lot going on or, at least, talked about. The film is pleasant and sophisticated but feels slight because all manner of weighty subjects are served up so gently. (At the VanCity Theatre through Monday July 6, along with the wonderful Tokyo Sonata).

Also playing ….
GOOBY: With “Up” and “Ice Age 3” currently on the big screen, not many are going to notice this small family film that’s come to the Granville Theatre. It’s Canadian, filmed in Barrie, Ont. and arrives unheralded and unpromoted. Robbie Coltrane plays the title character, a sort of overgrown teddy bear. He’s wished into existence by a young boy who feels an outcast at school and is convinced that his home is infested by aliens from space. They help each other face their fears. Eugene Levy has a walk on as a goofy teacher. The film is said to be entertaining for kids with its lessons about courage and family but awfully corny for adults.

And watch out for ….
The 2nd annual BRAZILIAN FILM FESTIVAL: A big success last year, this festival is back with eight new full-length films, some shorts and discussions by special guests. Brazil’s film industry has had an up and down history under various governments. It has produced some classics, though, like Central Station and City of God. The festival, organized out of Miami, is bringing the best recent titles, starting with Veronica, about a disillusioned school teacher and Last Stop 174, a hostage drama by Bruno Barreto, one of Brazil’s most honored directors. It all starts next Wednesday (July 8) and I’ll have more details next week. You can find more too, at the VanCity Theatre’s website: www.vifc.org.


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