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The Debt, Blank City, Beauty Day, Crazy, Stupid Love (again) and three unpreviewed new ones

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This documentary shows him as a combination clown and huckster, looking like a hair-metal rocker and celebrating goofiness with outrageous (and pre-Jackass) stunts. He’ll toboggan off his roof, ride a motorized skateboard or snort raw eggs up his nose. He calls himself Cap’n Video and trumpets his crazy persona right at the camera and into your face. Even his mother says his show seems to appeal to people who have been drinking or  “are low in I.Q.”. But he’s also a natural story teller as when he recounts a phone call to a young daughter he didn’t know he had and tells her he is her father. You come to realize there’s a real person there inside “the craziest man on TV.” He’s got regrets, pretensions and sensitivity, of sorts. You’ll be angry when his show is cancelled and be rooting for him when he tries a comeback. A funny and oddly likeable film. (Vancity Theatre)  3 1/2 out of 5

Playing in tandem with ….

BLANK CITY: A vibrant and cheeky underground film scene grew up in some of New York City’s more run down areas during the 1980s and 90s. Technique was banned, says one of the talking heads in this documentary. Money was low, so filmmakers had to be imaginative. They stirred up tremendous energy and that’s well-celebrated in this film through an incredible shower of clips from some 86 movies and recollections from a wide range of people who were there. Best known to us are directors Jim Jarmusch and Susan Seidelman, singer Deborah Harry (Blondie), and actors Steve Buscemi and Lydia Lunch.

Jarmusch describes filming Permanent Vacation in his own apartment, taking pains in his camera set ups to avoid Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was crashing there. Basquiat almost killed the scene later on when he made it big as an artist and demonstrated that money is cool. A younger crowd of filmmakers came to the rescue, though. Nick Zedd called it the Cinema of Transgression, ultra-low budget, defiant and anything goes. “All values must be challenged,” he wrote in a manifesto. That DIY ethos gets a strong unquestioning endorsement in this film based on a standard interviews-and-clips structure.  3 out of 5

(Note: a film by one of these directors, Charlie Ahearn, plays Sept. 5  as part of the Vancity Theatre’s Music Mondays series. Wild Style shows New York’s hip hop scene as it was back in 1983.

 

Also now playing …

ATTACK THE BLOCK: A late summer throw away that may not deserve that treatment. This British film has wowed at festivals and was recently praised in the Washington Post as prescient about how police deal with the poor. That was a post London-riots interpretation. Actually, it’s a science fiction thriller in which aliens drop out of the sky and attack a social housing project (or “block”) in London. A group of young toughs become the only hope for fighting them off.

The police, used to either arresting or ignoring the poor, only interfere inappropriately. They do more harm than good. We have re-calibrate, accept the young thugs as real people and potential heroes. The film is by Joe Cornish, an associate of Edgar Wright, the director of Shaun of the Dead. It stars mostly first-timers, speaking heavily accented English street lingo. (I haven’t seen it yet. There were no media previews here). (International Village)

APOLLO 18: Yet another found-footage film (like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and others) this one supposedly about a moon mission that NASA denies happened. Two astronauts are driven to insanity or something by something they find up there, presumably an alien. Not much is known about it except that corporate changes, a director switch and possible other problems moved the release date around a few times and that media weren’t given a preview of the final product. Local guy, Shawn Williamson, not to my knowledge publicity shy, is executive producer. It was filmed here but produced by a Russian. Until recently it wasn’t even known who the actors are They’re now listed on imdb as  Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen, both “uncredited”. Very mysterious. (Oakridge, Scotiabank and many suburban theatres)

SHARK NIGHT 3D: No media invited for this one either but it’s not hard to imagine what to expect. Big sharks lunging at the screen, for one; chomping on teenagers, for another. It worked last year with Piranha 3D. This time seven young people head to a house on a Louisiana lake for a quiet vacation. Hundreds of sharks interrupt it. The film stars Sara Paxton, who once played a mermaid, and Canadian Dustin Milligan. The director,  David R. Ellis, brought us Snakes on a Plane. Scotiabank and several suburban theatres).

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

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