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Brothers, Pippa Lee, and Red Cliff Open in Vancouver Theatres Today: New Movies for Dec. 4th

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PUNCHING THE CLOWN: What a treat. A comedy and a satire and both elements work. The entertainment business gets a well-deserved but gentle skewering. Henry Phillips plays (is?) a struggling songwriter stuck performing his absurdly comic ditties to small crowds in small towns. He decides to try the big time in Los Angeles where a fast-talking but bottom-feeding agent gets him non-paying gigs, takes him to a party to schmooze and to a record company for an audition. His songs are too literate and subtle, though. The label wants loud and crass like their top seller, Stupid Joe. Then, through an innocent mix-up he's called a Holocaust denier. These sequences are all very funny and droll. His songs are good too. The film won an audience award at Sundance. (VanCity Theatre)  4 out of 5

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EATING BUCCANEERS: It's hard rooting for Canadian films and then having to watch a comedy as weak as this. The actors are good. The film looks bright and crisp. The technical aspects are up to standard. The script is lackluster. It makes all the characters unlikeable and sets them verbally sparring with each other with a fair amount of mean spirit and very little wit. The very first scene has a woman vomiting. Five staffers from a Toronto advertising agency and their biggest client are stranded in Algonquin Park after their plane crashes. They only have chocolate bars to eat and no survival skills. So they banter, and argue, and fight, mostly in advertising jargon and to no artistic effect. Gordon Pinsent has a cameo and his daughter Leah stars, alongside her  husband, Peter Keleghan, who you'll recognize from those TV commercials as the smug guy who got a free ticket through his bank card. (Granville)  1 ½ out of 5  

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Also now playing …

PAA: You may only have seen Amitabh Bachchan through the extreme efforts of one boy to get his autograph in Slumdog Millionaire. In India he's a true superstar, although an aging one. Now he's turning the idea of age upside down by playing a young boy while his own son, Abhishek, plays his father. Got that? He's suffering a condition that causes premature aging, so he looks like a senior. It's another Bollywood appropriation of a previously made movie. Robin Williams played the role back in 1996. This new film focuses on the stresses the malady causes within the family. Critics in India are positive. The media preview here was cancelled. (Riverport and Strawberry Hill)

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EVERYBODY'S FINE: Robert DeNiro is getting some good reviews for this; the film itself less so. He plays a widower trying to re-connect with the children he drove away years ago. So, he sets out on a road trip to visit all three in turn (Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell). Hollywood sends this kind of holiday family fare each and every year. This time it's a re-make. DeNiro is moving in the footsteps of Marcello Mastroianni who starred in the Italian original back in 1990. (Tinseltown and 5 suburban theatres) 

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ARMORED: Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne and Jean Reno star in a heist flick. A new employee at an armored car company is lured into a plot to steal $42 million. He's played by a young black actor on the rise, Columbus Short. No media previews locally, so I don't know yet whether the film good or bad. Note the director, though. Nimród Antal is an American who made a name for himself with movies and rock videos in Hungary. Two years ago he made a nifty little thriller in the US called Vacancy. He's known for fast virile action. (At theatres all over) 

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More in New Movies

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A new look for Ryan Reynolds, a new impression of Rudolph Nureyev and four of DOXA’s best

Also: con artistry from the female side, old women who think they’re cheerleaders and two other new films

New but not that great from Seth Rogen, an underused Judi Dench in Red Joan and more hot picks at DOXA

Also children get a cheerful life lesson in Ugly Dolls and elsewhere, hoax or not, Satan is rising again
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