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Twilight #3 is big, the newly restored Metropolis is bigger and Cyrus is oddball fun

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The man in this picture for instance was a mysterious figure with little screen time. The new footage reveals he’s a spy and agent provocateur working for the industrialist who controls the city and wants to keep an eye on his son and fight a worker rebellion. That, and a couple of other returned sub-plots, both clarify and shift the story’s focus. There’s more class struggle and relatively less science fiction. The giant mob scenes, the attack on the machines, the flood, Maria’s terror in the catacombs and the rescue of the children are all extended, usually to good effect. It adds momentum and flow. The story still gets loopy with all its religious and mythological allusions and ultimately cops out with its “mediator” solution. But as an almost complete version of one of the most important films ever, it’s a must see.  (Pacific Cinematheque until July 6, with a free screening of the standard 90-minute edit Saturday afternoon at 2). 4 out of 5. 

THE LAST AIRBENDER: More from M. Night Shyamalan and Dev Patel. M. Night once made a huge hit (The Sixth Sense) and then several disappointments in the 11 years since. Dev was the brother answering questions on a TV quiz show in Slumdog Millionaire. They’ve worked together on quite a dud this time.

This is based on an animated series for children that ran on American cable TV for three seasons. Apparently it was wildly popular and won awards. But shrink a whole first season into two hours and you run into two dangers. You might confuse your audience with too many shifts in your story. You might also bore them with too much exposition trying to explain them. Both happen in this film. Four corners of an apparently Asian world are in turmoil as the Fire nation terrorizes the Water, Earth and Air nations. An avatar, something like a Dalai Lama, is supposed to keep the peace but he’s been frozen in an ice lake for 100 years. When two young people inadvertently free him, a battle begins. Dev Patel, as a Fire prince has to find him before he brings about harmony among the nations. Plus, the avatar has to acknowledge who he is and top up the training he abandoned long ago. Many battles ensue, including small repetitive ones between “benders”. They fight by manipulating one of the elements. The visuals are grand. The 3-D is shoddy. The talk is dull. Trivia: Jackson Rathbone is both in this film and the new Twilight. (Oakridge, Scotiabank and several suburban theatres). 1 1/2 out of 5

TAIWANESE FILM FESTIVAL: The fourth year for this event, again organized by a group of UBC students with help from the Taipei Cultural Office, features six new films. How Are You Dad? has ten stories about fatherhood. Hear Me is a romance about diversity. The two lovers communicate entirely in sign language. Tears is an award winner about a cop mixed up in the underworld.

That photo is from Parking, the one film among the six that I’ve seen. It's a funny, offbeat, emotional and sometimes sad story showing what happens when a man’s car is blocked by a double-parked vehicle and he encounters one setback after another in his search for the culprit. It’s like one of those lengthy cinematic dreams and well worth watching. (Friday through Sunday at the VanCity Theatre). Details at www.twff.ca

IN THE COLOUR OF PURPLE [Be Rang-e Arghavan]: (in Farsi w/ English Subtitles)

 

It took me forever to find out anything about this film. It’s from Iran by one of that country’s best known directors,  Ebrahim Hatamikia. All the distributor had on the plot was: “a story of the birth of an emotional relation between a young couple - the same eternal story of mankind.” Actually, that romance is between an Iranian intelligence agent and the daughter of the leader of an opposition group. The film was effectively banned when its screening license was cancelled due to the objections of the Intelligence Ministry. Only now, 6 years later,  after a direct appeal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it was given a license and promptly won the best screenplay award at Iran’s biggest film festival. It also sold out a one-time show in Richmond Hill, Ont. last month. (Playing at the Granville Theatre for a week)

NOTE: These images were supplied by the studios and are therefore the exclusive property of their copyright owners.

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