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The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda 2, Meek’s Cutoff, and more

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Meek (played by Bruce Greenwood) is a frontiersman leading a group of settlers west, to a potential Eden in Oregon. He has convinced three families to split their covered wagons away from the main column because he claims to know a shortcut. Some, led by Michelle Williams as one of the wives, grow increasingly skeptical as they trudge through nothing but desert and their water runs low. Meek refuses to admit they’re lost. “We’re just finding ourselves,” he claims.

 

It’s a revisionist western considering Manifest Destiny from a feminist point of view. There’s a stronger focus than usual on the women. They work, do a lot of knitting and are shut out of the discussions where the men make the decisions. After Meek describes how he thinks women differ from men, Williams wonders how the western migration would work if women led it. She also asks if Meek is deranged or just evil when he captures an Indian and with wild tales of alleged atrocities advocates killing him. The film is strong on moral issues delivered with excellent acting and beautifully photographed with a painterly eye. (International Village)  4 out of 5

KABOOM: Gregg Araki has a cult following among gays and some of the more hip movie goers. I found the one film of his that I had seen, The Doom Generation, too angry and shrill, but this one is outright fun because it is so playful and nutty. Thomas Dekker plays Smith, a college student who has the hots for his roommate (named Thor) but being bisexual sleeps with his friend Stella (Haley Bennett) who also sleeps with a woman who may be a witch. Of course, he has another woman he sleeps with, a blonde named London, which picks him up in a washroom at a party with a very direct suggestion. 

That’s just the sexual scene the film sets, openness being the central characteristic. There’s a story too and it’s a loopy one. Smith ingests a drug-spiked cookie, meets another woman at a party (she promptly throws up on his shoes) and later sees her in a series of hallucinations in which she’s attacked by three men wearing animal masks. Frat boys? Demons? Nothing much is clear or definite. One bit of news turns up and he’s already heard it in a dream. A computer message from “a friend” says “Beware. They’re watching.” A missing father and a secret apocalyptic society may or may not be involved. Or it could all be an illusion. Araki shuts the story down most dramatically as soon as he reveals what may be the answer. Before that, it’s all color, hip music, lots of nudity and a speedy trip through a mysterious and crazy story.  (VanCity Theatre)  3 out of 5  

INTO ETERNITY: A very effective essay on one of the main problems of nuclear power. Meltdowns are rare but nuclear waste is accumulating constantly. It’ll stay radioactive for 100,000 years. This documentary from Denmark looks at a “solution” in Finland. A private company is building a massive “burial chamber deep in the bowels of the earth”. It’s a  multi-tunnel storage depot for 1000s of tons of spent uranium. We get a full explanation illustrated with drawings, charts and film footage.

But who knows what life on earth will be like far in the future, or even just five or ten thousand years from now? Will the chamber be secure forever and how can we warn future generations never to dig there? What kind of signs do you post and in what language? This film asks those questions and more of company and government. The novelty is that the film is shaped like a warning message to future miners that “you should not come here. You should turn around and go back”. It’s like science fiction, but real. (VanCity Theatre)  4 out of 5

KIBATSU CINEMA: The Pacific Cinematheque has got a weekend series about an eccentric strain of Japanese film called “Kibatsu” which itself mean unconventional. In Doman Seman,  slackers and yakuza battle witches. Live from Toyko is a documentary about the independent music scene. I’m looking forward to House, an unhinged haunted house movie made in 1977 but only brought to North America last year. It became a minor sensation on a college and festival tour.

 

Several teenage girls visit an aunt in the country and a strange, surreal plot takes hold. Magic cats, a dangerous piano, murderous appliances and even killer pillows figure in the general, psychedelic looniness.

I’ve seen one of the films, Paprika, an animated tale told in hyper-speed and vivid colors about a machine that enables therapists to enter their patients’ dreams. When it’s stolen, a head-tripping hunt is on for a terrorist.

Go to http://www.cinematheque.bc.ca/ to find out more.

 

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

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