New movies for August 28

Taking Woodstock
One more hit of Woodstock? Yes, there’s a light and friendly sidebar to the big festival at the top of the list this week. After that, things get serious. (Read more)

TAKING WOODSTOCK: There’s a scene maybe two-thirds of the way in, that tells you all you need to know about this new Ang Lee film. Young Elliot Teichberg, who attracted the giant music festival to his upstate New York village, finally heads down to take a look at what he caused. He’s diverted by a hippie couple to do acid in a VW van. Shapes and colors ooze slowly. The trip looks accurate, not laughable and exaggerated, as many movies would portray it. It’s also idealized. We don’t see the rougher coming-down section. The whole film is like that. Ang Lee was a teenager in Taiwan and it was long before Brokeback Mountain when Woodstock took place. There’s a bright sheen over his version of the legendary pop music milestone. Big-city music promoters are polite, cops are helpful and half a million people remain blissed-out cheerful. The story really centers far away from the stage, on Elliot (played straight by comedian Demetri Martin). His modest idea, that the festival would bring business to his parents’ failing motel, is overwhelmed by the mammoth event it escalates to be. At the same time, it nudges him to grow and mature, accept his gay side and stand up to his overbearing Jewish mother (Imelda Staunton). That part of the story is clumsily told. Most of the film is merely casual, meandering and light, but endearing. Fittingly, it has lots of nudity and Eugene Levy does a spot-on Max Yasgur, the dairy farmer host. (5th Avenue, Tinseltown and several other theatres)

LORNA’S SILENCE: The Ridge Theatre’s French Film Festival ends with a gritty piece of social realism from Belgium’s Dardenne Brothers. They specialize in tough stories about people on the edge, this time with an immigration scam. Lorna, from Albania, has married a drug addict so she could become a Belgian citizen. The gangster who arranged it now wants to dispatch the junkie with a simple overdose and free her up to marry a Russian businessman, who’s willing to pay a hefty price to gain his citizenship. Lorna’s conscience and some unexpected pity for her husband of convenience drive her to take some desperate alternative moves. The film turns into a tightly-plotted test of wills. It’s spellbinding and completely non-sentimental in telling its story. Newcomer Arta Dobroshi, is a natural as the shy woman forced to find her courage. Even better is Jérémie Renier, as the pathetic addict/husband. He also starred in The Dardennes’ “L’Enfant,” four years ago. That film and this new one both won major awards at The Cannes Film Festival.

PAPER HEART: There’s no denying that a lot of imagination drove this mash up of a film. It’s a documentary and then it’s a drama. It’s real and then not real. We’re a little off balance most of the way, not always sure what exactly we’re watching. And many times we’re annoyed. But pretty soon things change and we’re entertained. Charlyne Yi, the comedian and performance artist, sets out to interview people about love, which she says she doesn’t believe in. She’s off to Texas and Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and other places and gets observations from highschool sweethearts, bikers, academics, an Elvis impersonator and many others. She illustrates a few of their stories with a primitive but funny puppet show. She herself is endlessly ingratiating, which becomes hard to take. Parallel to her road trip, is a budding romance with Michael Cera, who she meets at a party also attended by Seth Rogen and Demetri Martin (the star of “Taking Woodstock”). They’re all comedians. Can we trust what we see, especially when Cera at one point asks why the cameras are always there and at another ends a tender romantic scene by removing his microphone? And how real, or scripted, is Charlyne’s unannounced visit to his house in Toronto? It’s all too cute. (Tinseltown)

THE END OF THE LINE: This documentary opens with some gorgeous underwater scenes. Colorful fish and other creatures swim around freely and apparently happily. Then some grim facts are thrown our way and keep coming in a steady barrage. Industrial fishing has cut those stocks so much that scientists believe the fish will all be gone by 2048. The cod collapse off Newfoundland was the first major example. There’s a clip of John Crosbie shutting down the fishery at the time. Other Canadians are also prominent, including scientists from Nova Scotia and Daniel Pauly from UBC. Ted Danson delivers the narration. The film is British, though, based on a book by Charles Clover, the former environment editor at the Daily Telegraph. It roams the world for evidence of over fishing, and a few (very few) examples of good management. (B.C.’s salmon crisis is not mentioned, although fish farming is, in general, and gets a thumbs down). The film ends with the message that it’s not too late and offers a few suggestions. They’re hard to believe after the disturbing picture the film has pulled together, and underlined with overly dramatic music. When Daniel Pauly is asked where the fish have gone, he’s got a curt answer. “We ate them,” he says. (Starts Monday at the VanCity Theatre. Details at

Also playing …

FINAL DESTINATION/HALLOWEEN II: That’s not a double bill. Those are two horror pictures going head to head this week. Not a good move because they’re both after the same audience. They’re also a harbinger of what’s to come. There’s at least one of these genre films coming every Friday for the next three months. Why? They’re cheap and they make money. We can’t discount that during a recession. Halloween II is a remake of the 1981film of the same name by the aptly named Rob Zombie, who also fronts a heavy metal rock band. Malcolm McDowell and Margot Kidder are in the film. Final Destination is the 3rd in this series about people who find they can’t cheat death. This time the mayhem is in 3-D. Neither film was screened for critics. (At theatres all over)

Lorna's SilenceThe End of the LinePaper Heart
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