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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will please mystery fans; for comic book fans there's major buzz about Kick-Ass

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DEATH AT A FUNERAL: The original English film didn’t make much of an impression when it came around two and a half years ago. Chris Rock, though, thought it was a hoot and initiated this re-make. The story is exactly the same but is now set in California with a largely black cast, and a lot of contemporizing. (Amy Winehouse, Kobe Bryant, Craigslist and Twitter are now mentioned). Surprisingly, this version is better - somewhat. The humor was always so broad it didn’t seem like British comedy. It fits better in the more raw and less subtle world of Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan. 

 

Things get noisy and out of control at this funeral which starts with a few of the usual family disputes, escalates with LSD mistaken for Valium and gets wild when some real truths about the deceased are revealed by a blackmail-minded midget. Peter Dinklage plays that role in both films. It’s funny alright and the actors are good - especially James Marsden as the hallucinating guest - but it turns frantic and there’s an extremely gross scene when a grumpy wheelchair-bound uncle (Danny Glover) has to be helped on to the toilet. That sequence, which was merely unpleasant in the original, is unbearable here. (Tinseltown and eight suburban theatres) 2 out of 5  

Two environmental festivals ...

THE VANCOUVER FESTIVAL OF OCEAN FILMS: Like a first dip into the water, this brand new event is starting small, and hopes to expand in coming years. It’s billed as “Canada’s only salt water film festival” and aims to inspire people to think about their relationship with the ocean.  

Sports like boating and surfing are well represented but so are environmental issues and stunning tales from the natural world. One film shows a turtle from Florida that over a 25-year lifecycle wanders around the entire North Atlantic, visiting the Arctic and Africa and returning right back to where it started. In other films, a mining project threatens Alaska’s best salmon bay, three men circumnavigate the globe, a traveler presents a sea-level tour of Antarctica and  Dr. Brian Keating of SFU visits some of the remotest and wildest ocean spots on earth. The festival runs Friday and Saturday, April 16 & 17 at the Hollywood Theatre on W. Broadway  You can see the whole schedule at www.vfof.ca <http://www.vfof.ca

 

PROJECTING CHANGE: This very successful festival of environmental films and talks is back for a third year. I'll have more on it next Friday, but these are the films showing on opening night Thursday April 22., Earth Day.

CARBON NATION offers a hopeful spin on climate change. It says we already have the tools to fight the dire calamities said to be coming and includes some great examples of what some people are already doing.

WATER ON THE TABLE ( a world premiere) shows the work of Maude Barlow, Canada's hard-driving campaigner against privatization of water. Her views, that it’s a public right, face off against experts who argue that it’s a commodity to be bought and sold.

(All films screen at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas) Visit www.projectingchange.ca for the complete schedule.

 

Also playing ...

HOUSE: This Japanese film has a history almost as strange as its plot. It was made in 1977 and only this year arrived in North America. A quick college and festival tour was organized to publicize an upcoming DVD release. The film became a minor sensation prompting  the distributor to strike a second print and extend the tour. This week it’s at the Pacific Cinematheque.

 

Basically it’s a haunted house film, about a teenage girl who along with several friends goes to stay with an aunt in the country. Strange things happen, then even more strange things. Eventually logic is tossed aside and a general psychedelic looniness takes over. Magic cats, a dangerous piano, murderous appliances and even killer pillows and much more figure in the runaway plot. The director uses animation, stop-motion, puppets and all manner of techniques. People who’ve written about it say they can’t describe it. They suggest it’s one of the strangest, most surreal movies ever made and  just has to be experienced. One says it’s the ultimate midnight movie. 

 

 

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