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The King’s Speech, The Tourist, Black Swan, Trigger and Enter the Void

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Depp is the Tourist, a math teacher from Wisconsin. Now he’s repeatedly mistaken for a fugitive financier, both by Scotland Yard, where Paul Bettany has the pair under long distance surveillance, and by a gangster who’s been ripped off for over two billion dollars and has a trio of Russian thugs working for him. Somehow, in a luxury hotel, on a steep rooftop, in speeding motorboats or at a fancy dress ball, Depp and Jolie manage to keep ahead of them all. They do that by raising only occasional suspense and by showing little evidence that they’re also falling in love. They’re big stars, together for the first time. Isn’t that enough?  This is also the first film by German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck since his great The Lives of Others won an Academy Award three years ago. He seems more adept with ideas than breezy adventure. (The Ridge, International Village and several suburban theatres).  3 out of 5 

TRIGGER: Bruce McDonald’s latest displays a strong empathy with the concerns, fears and voices of women. That’s probably thanks to playwright Daniel MacIvor, who wrote the moving and sensitive screenplay. He brings together two old friends, played by Molly Parker and Tracy Wright, who were in a girl rock band years before, split in acrimony and have taken different career paths since. Molly is a music director in Los  Angeles; Tracy is languishing in Toronto, addicted to drugs and writing no-sell-out music.

 

They reunite for a brief show at a Women in Rock retrospective and talk during several sessions in cafes, parks and parties. Gradually old resentments come out, usually coaxed out by Tracy, who both in the story, and in real life, was sick with cancer. Tracy Wright died just a few months after the film was made. She looks tired with dark circles around her eyes. She gives a strong performance though, berating her former bandmate for a number of things and mixing bitterness with her fervent artistic principles. The script then flips adroitly; Molly turns out to be the needy one. The film is like a play in that it’s the dialogue that drives the story, gradually revealing what’s really going on and building to an emotional climax. This is a small but quite good film. (VanCity Theatre)  3 out of 5

 

ENTER THE VOID: Director Gaspar Noé, from France, is infamous for pushing his audience’s buttons just to get a rise out of them. With this film, he’s gotten praise for doing it in the pursuit of art, not just sensation. I don’t see it that way. There’s artistry aplenty on display but mostly in aid of sensation and a pretty shallow meditation on death. It loosely follows the Tibetan Book of the Dead and posits a few ideas about reincarnation. What he does on the way, though, distracts from the serious message and rewards people who want shocks and jolts.

A young American (Nathaniel Brown) is a dope dealer in Tokyo and frequent tripper himself. The film starts with some spectacular cellular light shows that he hallucinates. Not much later he’s killed and floats in sort of a limbo flashing back to various stages of his life, almost always with his back to us. We learn that he’s an orphan. He and his sister survived a head on car-truck crash that we see at least three times, one time focusing horribly on the little girl, bloody and screaming. The two children are desperate to stay together but are sent to separate foster homes. Years later, they’re in Tokyo where she works as a stripper. They’re together, but disconnected. There’s no warmth in their lives and little light except for the neon on the street and fluorescents in the clubs. Then things get weird and include a graphic abortion, several sex scenes (including one sequence with about 10 in succession) and the ultimate, a sex act seen from inside the vagina. Yes, this film is like no other you’ve ever seen. It’ll be hard to forget. (VanCity Theatre) 2 out of 5 

 

Also playing …

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER: By the accounts I’ve read, this third film in the Narnia series follows a steady decline from the high of the first, the lesser second to this weaker new entry. There is the usual proviso: kids will like it. In this one, the  Pevensie children, Edmund and Lucy, and their cousin Eustace Scrubb, find themselves on a royal ship heading for the Lone Islands and the edge of the world. They encounter slave traders, dragons and a band of lost warriors. Liam Neeson is again the voice of Aslan, the lion. (Oakridge, Scotiabank and many suburban theatres).

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