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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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He’ll resonate immediately around here with the outdoor recreation crowd, at least the more daredevil ones within it. He drives fast (“Just me and the night. I love it.”), cycles aggressively and pushes himself rock climbing. He shows a couple of young women the joys of sliding down through cracks in the Utah earth to drop into an underground lake. But later, alone again and with one false move, he’s stuck. Since he didn’t tell anyone where he was going and he’s out of earshot of any other hikers, he’s in it for the long haul. Franco (and Danny Boyle the director who’s last film was Slumdog Millionaire)) take us smoothly through a subtle progression in his mood. Somehow, even as he’s dehydrated and in pain, he doesn’t despair. I particularly liked the mock TV interview he does to entertain himself. There are also flashbacks, hallucinatory visions, gimmicky camera tricks and even an imagined Scooby Do party. Aron may be stuck but the film never stops. It’s a very good survival epic. (5th Avenue Cinemas) 4 out of 5

 

THE NEXT THREE DAYS: How could a snappy 92-minute French film called Pour Elle become so bloated and ponderous in this remake? Russell Crowe might have something to do with it. He speaks most of his dialogue slowly and quietly. Paul Haggis is the main culprit. He wrote and directed it and though the story is the same, and many scenes are almost shot-by-shot duplicates, he let the material stretch almost a half hour longer. He also felt the need to add a couple of explanatory scenes, a metaphorical literary discussion and a bit of soul searching. The original didn’t bother with that. It skipped along briskly, managing even to cover a crime and a trial in about 20 seconds.

 

Crowe plays a teacher in Pennsylvania who’s wife (Elizabeth Banks) has been wrongly jailed for murder. He decides to break her out of prison and with advice from an experienced ex-con (a brief but magnetic appearance by Liam Neeson) spends many hours developing a plan. The details of his preparation will keep you interested and watching. He also has to associate with some violent low-life types, care for a son and keep his parents’ curiosity at bay. Like the original which played here just last year, the film builds to a suspenseful climax. Unlike the original, it skimps on the emotional buildup  – the wife’s psychological breakdown and her son’s alienation. That weakens the film’s impact. (Tinseltown and several suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5

 

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: It opened Thursday at the VanCity Theatre and has a lot more provocative fare to show before it ends Sunday night.

Highlights include, GHOSTS (three Arab-Canadian men detained and tortured in Syria and Egypt),  THE RIVER RAN RED (Armenian Genocide of 1915),  NERO’S GUESTS (an agrarian crisis causes farmers in India to commit suicide).

H2OIL is a blast at Alberta’s oil sands project and GASLAND exposes a dangerous new method of drilling for natural gas.

 

On a lighter and often funny note, those corporate tricksters THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD, starting with their biggest caper, telling the BBC and the world that Union Carbide’s new owners will pay compensation for the Bhopal disaster. They also pull off a tasteless stunt before oilmen in Calgary.  For more titles and info, go to http://van.amnestyfilmfest.ca

 

Also now playing …

DELIVER US FROM EVIL: Now and then, the Granville Theatre brings in a new and interesting title, without fanfare. This one’s from Denmark and has been described as a  “deeply disturbing tale of a small community locked in a downward cycle of escalating violence.” A truck driver runs down a woman and blames it on a Bosnian immigrant, which sets off a mob and “human nature gone berserk.”  The quotes are from the website Twitch, which added high praise. The film was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and in a few regular bookings since then. 

NOTE: The photos are supplied by the studios and are therefore the exclusive property of their copyright owners.

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