Jane Eyre, Certified Copy, Sucker Punch, West is West, Curling, Hobo With a Shotgun

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The attraction that grows between them isn’t hot and heavy, but like in the book, subtle and refined. Similarly, the grand crazy revelation scene is restrained and avoids the gothic screeching of some versions. The film also pays due attention to Jane’s life before taking that job at Mr. Rochester’s. Some of that story at the beginning is neatly told in flashbacks and flashforwards to give the film a sprightly pace right off the top. It drags a couple of times later on, but only a couple. Some want to see more passion and fire from Jane. I think she’s just right, quietly assertive within a stiff society, which by the way is recreated nicely through some fine art direction. Cary Fukunaga, the director, is from California. His previous film was the much tougher, Sin Nombre. (The Park and International Village theatres)  4 1/2 out of 5

CERTIFIED COPY: I’ve now seen this wonderful film twice and still can’t absolutely answer the central question. Are they married? 'They' being a French woman (Juliet Binoche) who lives in Tuscany with her son and runs an antique shop and a British author who’s in town to talk about and read from his new book. He’s played with professorial cool by William Shimell, an English opera singer making a debut here as an actor. His thesis: copies of great art can be as worthy as the originals, a topic the two discuss at length as they tour the scenic countryside in her car.

When everybody they meet assumes they’re a couple, she starts pretending they really are. A few hot arguments later, she gets him to join in too. But is it only pretense?  Little details emerge that hint they may have known each other before. She becomes so emotionally intense that she’s either telling the truth or quite unstable. No matter that we don’t know for sure. The film is really a vehicle to talk about marriage as much as art, how to make it work, copy or original. It’s also bristling with life; there’s always something happening on screen beyond the couple, in a town square, in an art gallery or at a wedding celebration. Binoche won an acting award at Cannes for her supple performance. (International Village) 3 1/2 out of 5  

NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT: It’s hard to imagine astronomy, archeology and the search for mass graves of political victims to fit together in one film. They do, easily and movingly in this documentary essay by Chile’s Patricio Guzman, now living in Paris. He finds the three side by side in the Atacama Desert, said to be the driest spot on earth. It’s the only feature that shows up as brown in those photos of our green-blue planet taken from space.
Astronomers watch the heavens from there. Archeologists find 3,000-year old rock drawings from ancient caravans. And women search for human remains. In the 1970s, the Pinochet regime turned an abandoned mining complex into a concentration camp for political prisoners. Many were never seen again. “We are Chile’s leprosy” one of the women says. Most want to forget that history, the film says. It develops into a dissertation on memory and the past. Astronomers, for instance, analyze light that’s taken thousands, even million of years to reach earth. One offers a provocative idea, that really we cannot ever perceive the present. It doesn’t exist. A lovely film both in its pictures and its intelligence. (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5   

CURLING: Actually there's more bowling in this small character study from Quebec and like many such films, it ends indecisively. That's even though there are enough events here that suggest there's an actual plot. Bodies lying in the snow, a boy run down on a dark road and his body hidden at a shut-down motel. Police cars buzzing around. What's really at play is
an unusual and somewhat eerie family story. Emmanuel Bilodeau plays a father so protective of his daughter that he won't let her go to school. He claims he's home schooling her, while her mother is in jail for something never explained and he works at two menial jobs, including doing maintenance at a bowling alley.

At home they sit and listen to Tiffany's record "I Think We're Alone Now" a not very subtle underlining of what their life has become. They can't connect to the outside world. His boss says "You're the kind of fool who dives into the lake to get out of the rain." A counsellor says the daughter is "Not right. There's nothing in her eyes." When she dares to wander and explore, the girl comes across of a pile of bodies. Also a chained-up tiger. What does it all mean? No answer. But bowling, a tentative try at curling and the dad's evening with a hooker suggest change is possible. An accomplished but elusive film by Denis Côté. (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5

WEST IS WEST: The culture clash portrayed two years ago in East is East made enough of us laugh and sympathize that this sequel pretty well had to be made. It’s a satisfying follow up although it has a bit of an air of a next chapter written on commission. The great Indian actor Om Puri is back as the overbearing father of an immigrant family in the north of England. His son is now in high school, beset by bullies and trapped between cultures.

When he’s caught shoplifting, his dad takes him to Pakistan to learn about his heritage. The lessons are slow coming though because the son (played by newcomer Aqib Khan) has no affinity for village life in the Punjab. He’s surly, disrespectful and won’t even change out of his English clothes. He does learn more about his father; that he abandoned his first wife and moved to England where he remarried. Both men have lessons to learn in this picturesque, well-acted, and often very funny film. (International Village and the Grande in Surrey)  3 out of 5      

SUCKER PUNCH: Who needs a story? Or logical sense? Visual thrills alone can carry a movie these days. Zack Snyder seems to believe that with this action freak-out that owes a lot to both comic books and video games. Where else can you watch five young women battle their way down a World War I trench killing zombie Germans? Or fight an irate mother dragon from an airplane during a siege of a medieval castle? How about a petite blonde clashing one by one with three giants in ancient China?

Those and many other scenes like them come from the imagination of a reverse-feminist named Babydoll, played by Emily Browning. Her fantasies give her an escape from a mental hospital that her abusive stepfather sent her to and which she imagines is run like sleazy nightclub. When she dances for the high roller clients, her action dreams take over the screen.  She also plots a real escape with four other inmates with comic book names:  Rocket, Blondie, Amber and Sweet Pea, played by Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung and Abbie Cornish. Yes, an all-female action movie, with a few men like Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn as supporting actors.  The visuals are spectacular, and  the “you can fight” message is good  but the story is less than coherent. Filmed in Vancouver although indoors only and with lots of computer effects. (Oakridge, Scotiabank, Rio on Broadway and many suburban theatres)   2 1/2 out of 5

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN: This one will have you asking the question: why is Telefilm putting public money into trash like this? Yes, it's Canadian, is energetically-made and might even make a buck. But this is really low stuff. It also has a story inside a story. Jason Eisener from Halifax thought Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse could use one more fake trailer (there were five stuck into the centre of its double-feature format). Eisener filmed one, it was attached to the film in Canadian theatres and now we have a full-length version.

Rutger Hauer is the hobo who arrives by freight train to a grungy city where the cops are as crooked as the criminals.  A sleazy nightclub owner (Brian Downey) controls the streets by letting his cackling sons run wild. Occasionally they hold gladiator-like shows or behead victims like Robb Wells (one of the Trailer Park Boys in another life). They also terrorize a young prostitute (Molly Dunsworth) until the hobo rescues her, the first step in what will turn into a bloody rampage right in the city streets. While it's fascinating to watch the film's endless variations on brutal violence and many obscene epithets for women, men and their body parts, it does get repetitive pretty fast. Excess is a plus in these kind of films. This one goes beyond that. A type of success, I guess. (International Village and a few suburban theatres)   1 1/2 out of 5  

Also playing …

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES: The second film based on the popular series of books for young boys. The first got weak reviews but made money. Young Greg (Zachary Gordon) is now in grade eight, still sidestepping the bullies but now also eyeing the girls, one in particular. The main problem this time is his brother Rodrick threatening to reveal an embarrassing secret. Good fun or very routine. I’ve read both evaluations but haven’t seen the film myself. (Oakridge and many suburban theatres)

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

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