This week’s new movies for August 7

Julie and Julia
Food and music top the list this week. Enjoy them while you can because there’s different stuff down below. Unease, fear, world weary men and one very conflicted priest. (Read more).

JULIE AND JULIA: People asked, “Is one woman’s story of cooking all of Julia Child’s recipes enough for a movie?” Yes, sort of, because Nora Ephron, who both wrote and directed it, focused on the toils of two women trying to follow their dreams. Child, living in Paris in the 1940s, grows to love French cooking, takes classes and labours to write a cookbook. Julie Powell, in New York City just a few years ago, starts cooking every recipe in that book because she’s bored with her job. She blogs everyday and ultimately lands a book deal herself. Obviously her story is the thinner of the two, although her needs are clearly established in a lunch scene with three powerful women friends who make her feel inadequate. Amy Adams plays her with the right combination of sunny and whiney. It’s Meryl Streep, though, who’s the reason to see this film. She absolutely captures Child’s odd voice, awkward movement and cheerful life force. She also has more of a story to tell including clashes with a cooking school manager, disagreements with her co-writers and trying to get published. That’s dry stuff normally, but light and easy to take here, too light. The film could have had more substance. It doesn’t explore Child’s impact on America and only briefly mentions that Julia didn’t actually approve of what Julie was doing. (At theatres all over)

SOUL POWER: The Rumble in the Jungle was delayed. The music festival was not. This terrific documentary brings the music that was supposed to accompany the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight in Zaire 35 years ago back to life. The film, assembled from hours of footage shot at the time, starts with a lot of talk and preparation. Ali is one of the highlights, sitting around bragging about himself and spouting funny cynical rants about governments and the role of black men. Various musicians, organizers and even promoter Don King go on at length about the ancestral connections they, as African-Americans, feel in Africa. We’re here for the music, though, and this film delivers a long list of stars in top form. James Brown, whose music at the time was getting quite repetitive, is seen doing some of his lesser-known hits. Similarly, the one song by Bill Withers isn’t “Lean On Me” but a highly-emotional “Hope She’ll Be Happier With Him.” On the other hand, B.B. King, Celia Cruz and Miriam Makeba (one of the few Africans included) each do one of their best known songs. The picture quality, the editing and, most importantly, the sound are all sharp. James Brown has the last line, and the film’s message. “God damn it, you are somebody,” he says. (Tinseltown)

SUMMER OF SOUND: MUSIC ON FILM: Week three of this festival of and about music at the VanCity Theatre has some especially interesting titles. “CSNY DÉJÀ VU,” for instance, which played in theatres last year but not, as far as I know, in Vancouver. It shows a tour the freshly re-united Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young took in 2006 to protest the war in Iraq. The director, Bernard Shakey, is actually Neil Young, who also performs as a solo act in “HEART OF GOLD.” Jonathan Demme directed that intimate concert film as well as Talking Heads in the remarkable “STOP MAKING SENSE.” The Rolling Stones are there twice: in a recent concert film directed by Martin Scorsese and in the Altamont debacle so grimly documented in “GIMME SHELTER.”
The final week has the biggest of them all: “WOODSTOCK.” After 40 years it’s still a powerhouse compilation of 1960s music: Jimi, Janis, Country Joe, The Who. The list goes on and on. There’s a fictional film coming soon about that festival. So, with the original you can look back nostalgically as well as forward. For more info and more titles visit:

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