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Michael Jackson's This Is It Hits Town: Reviews of New Movies for October 30th

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BEAU JEST: This is not part of the Jewish Film Festival but the Ridge Theatre has programmed it seven times close by. It’s a mild, warm-hearted comedy about family, loyalty and respect. A young Chicago woman has been secretly dating a non-Jewish man. For a visit to her parents house, she hires an escort but finds out only on the doorstep that he’s not Jewish either. Luckily he’s an actor who’s been in Fiddler on the Roof. He’s so convincing  the parents want to see him again and again. How long can he keep up the pretense? Close calls follow, especially at a Passover Seder, and eventually bring on a tear-filled showdown. Lainie Kazan and Seymour Cassel are the parents, and the best performers in this fairly-funny movie based on a popular stage play. (Ridge Theatre Fri., Sat. and Nov. 6, 7 and 12). Ratings: 2 ½ out of 5

HALLOWEEN AT THE MOVIES ….You can celebrate with the unsettling chills of Paranormal Activity, last week’s box office leader,  or take a tour of horror films gathered from almost 90 years of mayhem. Here’s your menu.

VAMPYRE WEEKEND: The VanCity Theatre has a tremendous line up of films about vampires for Halloween. The 11 titles range from demented to artful, and  from the 1920s to just last year. That’s the celebrated Swedish film “Let The Right One In” in which a lonely boy is attracted to a new neighbor with a bloody secret. In “Vampire’s Kiss”  Nicholas Cage is a literary agent who goes completely mad and thinks he’s become a bloodsucker after he’s bitten by Jennifer Beals. “The Hunger”  is a stylish moody film with Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. Bela Lugosi himself stars in “Mark of the Vampire” and early films by David Cronenberg and Kathryn Bigelow also screen Fri. to Sun., Oct. 30 - Nov. 1. Find details, times and descriptions at www.vifc.org.
 
NOSFERATU: The Vancouver Symphony is celebrating with a one-night showing of, and listening to, the first Dracula picture ever made. Max Schrek gives a creepy performance as Count Orlock in this 1922 silent film from Germany. He’s not a Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee but a living corpse. His mannered poses look quaint today; back then they were scary and macabre. The real attraction, though, is the music, the original score, reconstructed and here conducted by Gillian Anderson, an American musicologist who specializes in old film scores. She has restored the music for some 34 silent films and also conducted a recording of the Nosferatu score. Saturday, 8 p.m., Orpheum Theatre. Details at vancouversymphony.ca.

The harder stuff  for Halloween …

THE COLLECTOR: A recent contribution by some of the creative people behind the torture porn of the SAW films. (# VI is currently playing). This film drops any excess storytelling (pretty well all of it) in favor of unencumbered brutality. An ex-con breaks into a country house and finds that another crook has already done the same. Only he’s rigged a series of deadly traps that kill. That’s it. Extreme fare for, as one fan wrote, people who are tired “of all the watered down PG-13 so-called “horror” movies of late”. (Granville Theatre).   

SUSPIRIA:  The Pacific Cinematheque has this 1977 classic of gore and bloodletting. It’s  from Italy’s Dario Argento but largely filmed in Germany. Jessica Harper arrives from the U.S. to join a ballet company run by Alida Valli and Joan Bennett.  She encounters strange noises at night, bizarre events and a coven of witches. Critics overlook the film’s awkward story telling and praise its striking visual style. One called it “a sadistic Eurotrash torture chamber.”  Playing Fri. and Sat, twice each night. Details at www.cinematheque.bc.ca.

Also playing …(and not a horror film)

MORE THAN A GAME: A documentary about basketball superstar LeBron James. The film follows him for seven years from highschool to superstar with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s said to be very good about his family and the inner city life in Akron, Ohio he came from. But hey, isn’t it too early for this? It’s still baseball season. The World Series is on. And even basketball fans, wouldn’t they rather watch a game than a biopic? LeBron, by the way, is going to make a real movie next year. He’s starring in a comedy about, yes, basketball. (Tinseltown)

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