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New Movies For Sept 11

Where's Kate? Where's Carrie? Is Elijah any better at choosing his films? Or maybe you prefer an altogether different quest, by a young Buddhist. (read more)

9: This film actually opened Wednesday. On 9-9-09, get it? It's a beautiful work of animation, with interesting ideas in the story but remains hard to warm up to. Not like Wall-E where we grew quite attached to one lonely robot. Here we have to believe that the future of our world rests with a bunch of burlap doll figures. They're in a battle against the machines that have displaced people and now control the earth. It originated as a very good short film that was nominated for an Oscar. (You can watch it on YouTube). But stretched out to full-length, the story becomes thin and less credible. You pay more attention to the images, the retro look in the animation, the World War II appearance of the vistas and battle scenes. And an old phonograph playing a vinyl record of “Over the Rainbow”. The film looks like a science fiction film from the 1930s, not the future. That's charming and quaint but, again, works against the theme. The story moves fast, though, and the film sets up some exciting scenes of combat against the machines. Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly and John C. Reilly voice the main doll figures and Christopher Plummer is the leader who preaches caution. It's all too scary for little kids, and probably too hard to understand anyway. (At the 5th Avenue and other theatres)

UNMISTAKEN CHILD: Whether you're a believer or not, this film gives you a fascinating insight into one aspect of Tibetan Buddhism. Lamas who achieve enlightenment can choose how they will be reincarnated. They rest of us have to take what comes. So when a revered master dies at age 84 in 2001, his reincarnation is known to be out there somewhere. A disciple goes out to search for a child who would be about a year or a year and a half old. He travels by mule and helicopter, with advice from a Taiwanese astrologer and even a spinning wheel, and ends up in a remote valley at the house of a chubby boy who is delighted at the potential adventure. The Dalai Lama, who had advised skepticism, has to sign off on the choice, though, which he does after only a flimsy final test. At that point the quest gives way to both ceremonial spectacle and moving drama. The parents are asked to give up their child. The boy screams when his head is shaven and cries when his parents go. “Now I have no friends,” he wails. The camera catches some very emotional stuff that will also make you think. (Ridge Theatre)

WHITEOUT: Graphic novels have been hit and miss when they transfer to the big screen. This one is a miss. For one thing it can't settle down to what it wants to be. It's a slasher film one moment, a cold war mystery the next, and a cabin-fever weird after that. Then it runs through the cycle again. Oh, and did I mention that Perfect Storm said to be coming in? Just wait, it'll be here soon. Any minute now. Not much longer. And when it gets there? Oh, it's not really that big is it? And anyway, we're all busy trying to figure out what's been happening with these scientists and two cops in Antarctica. Kate Beckinsale plays an FBI agent investigating a body found in the snow, a scientist gone missing and later also found dead, a decades-old Russian plane crash and a possible madman skulking with a pickaxe. All the while Kate has recurring flashbacks to a stateside drug arrest gone violent but having nothing to do with the current story. There's a list of odd details, including a party scene with a cover version of the guitar hit Wipeout. I prefer to think it was a clever joke, not a case of failing inspiration. (At theatres all over).

I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF: Tyler Perry's films rarely get to Vancouver. They play in cities with large black populations. But this is film #8. The last few topped the box office charts and they all made money. Perry plays his popular character, Madea, a grandmother who dispenses uplifting advice which, since she also has a well-known penchant for pulling a gun now and then, is often a type of tough love. This time she turns it on a teen girl and her two young brothers when she catches them looting her home. Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson plays their sole relative who doesn't want them around and three singers, Gladys Knight, Marvin Winans and Mary J. Blige, inject some music and a bit of their acting, into the proceedings. No local previews or big promotion for this one. (Tinseltown and Riverport)

SORORITY ROW: This week's horror film is a remake of a 1983 effort which the studio terms a “classic”. A cheap attempt to bring some credence to this new one? Maybe, although Carrie Fisher for some reason is in it, alongside starlets like Briana Evigan, Rumer Willis and Jamie Chung. A prank at a party (where the girls are frolicking in their panties) causes a death, a secrecy pact and later a hunt by a killer. Somehow he knows what they did last summer.

Can't test the film's originality. It wasn't previewed locally but a review on a U.S. website had this: “We've got zero scares, zero suspense, no likable characters save a raving Princess Leia, off-camera kills, and a formulaic plot we've seen before wrapped up with a twist you won't care about one iota.” (At theatres all over).
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