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Hereafter, Paranormal Activity 2, Score: A Hockey Musical, Stone, Conviction and Tales From The Golden Age

Matt Damon in Hereafter, reading up about life after death.

 

Score, a highly-promoted Canadian film about hockey and music arrives but may be playing above its head. A scary thriller is shooting for the number one spot while Clint, Matt, Robert, Edward and Hilary are second stringers.  

 

HEREAFTER: It should be an occasion. We’ve got Matt Damon, actor, Clint Eastwood, director,  and Peter Morgan (he also wrote The Queen and Frost/Nixon) working together and the result is … well, not the zinger you might expect. It’s well-made and very well-acted and the best I can say is that it is interesting throughout. Short on emotional grip though. Three stories about death interweave Babel-style and eventually intersect. A French TV news anchor (Cecile De France) almost dies in the Asian tsunami. Back in Paris she has flash visions of an afterlife. In London, a boy loses his twin brother in a traffic accident and asks on Google what happens after a person dies? Over in San Francisco, Matt Damon knows some of the answer because he’s a psychic who can contact the dead. Only thing is, he’s refusing to do it any more.

 

Instead he joins a cooking class where he meets Bryce Dallas Howard, the most emotional person in the story but not much more than a diversion. The three main characters have to be brought together and the script labors hard to do that. As a meditation on death or what comes after, this is very thin stuff. We get only brief glimpses of blurry figures in silhouette against a white background. The script makes the outrageous claim that there’s a conspiracy to hide information on the subject. The movie opens with a real kick: the 2004 tsunami recreated in alarming detail. It slackens off after that. (Park, Scotiabank and many suburban theatres)  3 out of 5

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: The original made so much money last year, that of course there had to be a sequel. It’s got a much higher budget ($3 million versus the original’s $15,000) and a plot kept well under wraps, except for a few photos like this. 

Now, after last night’s preview we can see that they’ve done it again. This film has several a-one startles, two that will knock you out of your seat. It’s got a creepy air of foreboding and a plot that neatly dovetails with the first film. In fact you’d better watch the first one before catching this or you’ll miss a number of cross-references. Katie, from the first film, is back briefly. It’s her sister (played by Sprague Grayden, best known from TV’s 24) at the centre this time. She and her husband move into a new house, with a young baby, and eerie things start happening. After a break in, they install security cameras and we get to see every door opening by itself, every light dimming, pot falling and more. Almost as scary are the quiet moments just waiting and listening. The amazing thing is that even with the higher budget, the bigger house, the multiple cameras, they’ve duplicated the bare-bones feel of the first film. You might want to wait on this one if you’ve recently moved into a new house. (Oakridge, Rio on Broadway, Tinseltown and many suburban theatres)  3 ½ out of 5

SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL: It’s being touted as a “unique” Canadian film. I don’t take that in a particularly good way, though. Here at least, hockey and singing and dancing don’t mix easily. Have they ever? I’m only aware of one other attempt, a fringe festival show in Toronto a few years ago. That was short; this is full length and won’t satisfy fans of either musicals or hockey. The songs are tuneless and the lyrics are like stilted conversations. (“I don’t make fancy passes. I’m here to kick asses”.) Somebody even discovered a shocking error in the one song that has a rousing chorus. The hockey story is bland and corny. A home-schooled lad (an ingenuous Noah Reid) follows his love of hockey into a Brampton team where the coach wants him to fight as well as score goals.

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