Carrie and the girls are back with Sex and the City 2

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Jake Gyllenhaal is now the hero and he talks British to properly mix in with all those Persians sporting BBC accents. He doesn’t just scale walls, he runs up the side, takes giant leaps and bounds over wooden beams in that modern athletic technique from France called parkour. The overall effect is just as artificial as those old movies but since the scale is now so much larger and the settings are so well realized the fun is there. It’s from Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney, who’ve combined for a number of crowd pleasing popcorn entertainments. Just don’t fret over the far-fetched story, or lose its thread as it becomes more and more complex. The film is based on a popular video game from the 1980s and shows it in its episodic structure (possibly mimicking the levels in the game). Jake is a commoner adopted by the King but turned fugitive, along with a beautiful princess (Gemma Arterton). Ben Kingsley, as the bad guy, wants a dagger they’re carrying because it can reverse time. “Pagan heresy” is one of the more improbable lines flung about. There’s far more energy than logic in this film, although a fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction draws a modern parallel. Alfred Molina as a small businessman (he runs ostrich races) rants against taxes and steals the show every time he appears.
(Scotiabank, Oakridge, Rio and many suburban theatres). 2 1/2 out of 5

BABIES: It’s only the first year of their lives. They can’t talk, walk or ride a tricycle. So how interesting can it be to watch them for almost 80 minutes on film?

Very, it turns out. The four tots in this documentary by the French filmmaker Thomas Balmes are from Mongolia, Japan, Africa and the U.S.  and they’re all busy learning important matters like breastfeeding good, hitting mom bad, don’t eat dirt, sheep are friendly and plastic riding toys can tip over. The film follows them from birth to age one and catches many of these tiny and sometimes monumental advances in their development. Getting mobile is a particularly satisfying triumph, initially through learning to crawl and later with the first success at standing up. There’s a telling scene in which two siblings are banging stones on rocks but end up fighting over a plastic bottle. Another has a girl baby grab a boy’s penis, just to compare. These sequences, with a charming lyrical tone and no narration, convey a great deal of information to think about. The ultimate message is whether you let your baby play around the animals (Namibia, Mongolia), hold it as you operate your computer (Tokyo) or follow the book Becoming the Parent You Want To Be  (San Francisco), you’re probably doing it right.
(5th Avenue and Silver City Coquitlam) 4 out of 5

THE MAID: It’s from Chile, it’s subtitled but don’t expect a ponderous arty film. This is a delightful study of a feisty woman trying to preserve the place she has made for herself in society. It’s a drama in spots, a comedy in others, and ultimately a poignant reaffirmation of friendship.

Catalina Saavedra is the dour-looking servant in the home of a middle class family. She’s worked there over 20 years and imagines she’s part of the family. It’s an illusion, of course, as a series of little incidents prove. The film goes beyond class issues though. She’s getting tired but when her employer hires extra help she feels threatened. She manages to drive two second maids away only to find something unexpected in a third. This woman understands her, develops a sympathetic bond with her and coaxes her out to see more of the world. It’s a subtle and lovely story based on characters you can cheer for. It also has an authentic yet light feel, both in the character of the maid and the family she works for. The film won two awards at Sundance (including a well-deserved “best actress” for Saavedra).
(VanCity Theatre)  4 out of 5     

Also playing ...

KITES: THE REMIX:  The full-length version of this Bollywood adventure-romance arrived last week and made it into the box office top ten. This is the same material edited down into a snappy 90 minutes.

Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori play lovers on the run from Las Vegas mobsters. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, a train and even a hot air balloon get them all the way to Mexico and back accompanied by explosions, crashing cop cars and outrageous stunts. The rapid-fire chase scenes are great fun and the story is told in an intricate web of flashbacks. That’s what I saw in the long version. Brett Ratner, the American director, claims he created a different rhythm when he trimmed it down for a “younger, hipper, more action-oriented crowd.”  It wasn’t screened for media so there’s no confirmation here.
(Tinseltown, Riverport and Strawberry Hill theatres. The full-length version is also playing in Surrey and Richmond)

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