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One Day, Terri, Fright Night, Spy Kids 4, The Help upgraded, a flashy car racer and one of the funniest films ever

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FRIGHT NIGHT: This film breaks a tiresome recent trend; bad remakes of favorite horror movies. This is a good one; scary, suspenseful and fun, at least until near the end when it too succumbs to the blood and gore we see overused so often these days. The story is close to the 1985 original with the most significant updating being Colin Farrell.

He plays a new neighbor in a Las Vegas suburb. He says he sleeps all day because he works nights, but a teen next door (Anton Yelchin) believes he’s vampire. A friend (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, one of the trio in Superbad) is so sure he gets close enough to become a victim. So does a teen girl who is held prisoner in a secret locked room to satisfy the “snacker,” as he’s described by a dubious vampire expert. He’s played like a Russell Brand rock star by David Tennant of Dr. Who fame. But it’s Farrell who makes this film work. He’s a charmer until his fangs come out. Then he’s like a serial killer. He’s also handy with the gas line to burn a house down. The film is modern enough to reference Twilight and seems to have picked up a few ideas from the excellent Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In. There’s good tension developed and the 3D is handy when a paint can flies through a window or a teen girl explodes. The film has an odd hazy look, though, as if there’s dust in the air most of the time. (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 3 out of 5

VIDEOMATICA WEEKEND: The VanCity theatre is hosting a very attractive series this weekend to honor Videomatica the specialty video store and rental service that will soon be closing. Nine of their most popular rental titles will be on the big screen and introduced by local celebs, including Red Robinson, Ben Ratner, Nardwuar and Christopher Gaze with Jay Brazeau. The titles include The Third Man, The Big Lebowski, Best in Show and Latcho Drom. I especially like the opener, WITHNAIL AND I, which is simply one of the funniest movies ever made.

Richard E. Grant as an unemployed actor, is the most articulate and non-stop complainer, better even than Woody Allen. He and buddy Paul McGann travel out to the country to visit an eccentric uncle (a pre-Harry Potter Richard Griffiths). I saw it again recently on a plane and couldn’t stop laughing. (5 stars) Katherine Monk will join Videomatica owners Graham Peat and Brian Bosworth for a post-screening discussion. Friday, Aug 19 at 6:30. For all the titles and start times visit http://www.viff.org/theatre/

Also now playing …

CONAN THE BARBARIAN: It’s not really a remake, but another story about the comic book character who first appeared in the 1930s and made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star in 1982. This time the Cimmerian warrior is played by Jason Momoa, no stranger to Vancouver because of his role in one of the Stargate  series filmed here. He’s out for revenge after his father and entire village were slaughtered. I like the prediction Kathryn Monk made a few months ago: “Grunt. Grunt. Kill.”  Apparently that’s how it turned out. I’m told the stabbing, slashing and dismemberment is almost non-stop. (Scotiabank and many suburban theatres)

3D SEX AND ZEN: EXTREME ECSTASY: Not surprising is it, that the current 3D trend would extend to porn. This is from Hong Kong and is said to be soft porn about a conceited scholar during the Ming Dynasty who gets help with a size problem and then sets out to get as much sexual pleasure as he can. It’s based on the classical novel The Carnal Prayer Mat and was previously filmed 20 years ago.

 

One critic described this one as “a little bit of naughty Chinese eroto-comedy” and then blasted it for turning brutal, mean spirited and vicious in the second half with violence against women and even torture. Starring one Hong Kong and two Japanese actors, the film has already been a huge hit in China, New Zealand and Australia. The 3D has been described as some of the best every shown with “a plethora of objects and breasts flying at the screen”. Rated 18A here in BC. (International Village and Silver City Riverport)

 

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