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Bridesmaids, Potiche, Priest and DOXA documentaries

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Her mentor is a left-wing politician (Gérard Depardieu) with whom she had had a fling years before. They pick it up again with, among other things, an evening at the Bababoum Club, a treat that had long been denied her. Now it’s a stage in her personal growth (there was a similar evolution of an executive’s wife in last year’s Made in Dagenham but only as a sub-plot). This one is up front and, although not always believable even for 1977 when the film is set, Deneuve and Depardieu make it work. They play the relationship with the easy familiarity of a couple of troupers with experience. That wasn’t too hard for them, I imagine, since this is the eighth film they’ve made together. (5th Avenue Cinemas) 3 ½ out of 5

DOXA: You have three more days to catch a few great documentaries at this year’s festival. Today (Friday) for instance, there’s Freedom Riders, about the anti-segregation campaign that sent young activists from around the US into the southern states to fight their racist laws. Festival Programmer Dorothy Woodend says it presents “a chapter of US history with immediacy and heart-in-your mouth suspense.” Phil Ochs fought racism and many other outrages in song. His story is told in There But for Fortune, tonight’s last film. Another one shows a famous local campaign, the one that saved the hollow tree in Stanley Park.

There are two screenings of a remarkable 3D film by Werner Herzog.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which explores some ancient cave paintings in France, is showing both Saturday and Sunday but check availability at http://www.doxafestival.ca/. It’s a hot ticket. Several other of the most popular films, including The National Parks Project and There But For Fortune get an encore screening on Sunday. The DOXA site has summaries, theatre times and much other information.

ON THE BOWERY: While we're talking documentaries, here's early word on a special one coming to the Pacific Cinematheque starting next Thursday, May 19. It's a brand new and sparkling restoration of a film that won awards and caused a stir back in 1957. Lionel Rogosin who wanted to get into activist filmmaking, starting with an expose of South Africa's system of apartheid, rightfully figured he should first learn how to make a film. He headed down to New York's famous skid road area and produced a startling picture of life there. He filmed men sleeping on the sidewalks, bedding down in flop houses, drinking and talking in the bars and walking out wobbly at closing time. Clare Booth Luce, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, denounced Rogosin for showing such a negative image of America to the world (Italy is where the won its biggest award, taking the Grand Prize in the documentary and short film category at the Venice Film Festival.)

Today, it would be tame stuff. We've seen far stronger film and video out of the Downtown Eastside. Back then it was shocking. It was also groundbreaking because it mixes spontaneous scenes with scripted ones. They weren't imaginary, though, because Rogosin had prepared by spending time on the street getting to know the men and their stories. He got some remarkably interesting characters in completely natural-sounding conversations, sometimes in arguments. The main impression you get is that as hard as life was for them and despite the occasional shoving and fighting, they were part of a community. One of the men got an offer from Hollywood, but declined because he wanted to stay there. The main film, a little over an hour long, is followed by a recent documentary about it by the filmmaker's son. Both are showing on only four nights.

Details at http://www.cinematheque.bc.ca/on-the-bowery-and-the-perfect-team. (4 out of 5)

Also now playing … 

PRIEST: A Korean graphic novel becomes an American film that looks like a spaghetti Western, only gloomier. The studio didn’t show it to the media so not a lot more can be said right now. Well, a few things maybe. An army of warrior priests has won the long-running war against vampires and has been disbanded. Paul Bettany plays one priest who thinks there are still vampires about, defies the monsignor (Christopher Plummer, yes him) and keeps on hunting. He’s joined by Cam Gigandet, who played a vampire in the first Twilight movie, and later by Maggie Q. The creatures they’re after live in hives, are hairless and slimy and have no eyes, just teeth. They come at you in 3D. (Scotiabank and several suburban theatres)

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

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