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Drive, The Guard, Lion King 3-D, I Don’t Know How She Does It and a VIFF update

Ryan Gosling is an existential mechanic and stunt and getaway driver in the aptly named Drive.

Morally neutral but a whiz with a hot car, a sweet woman and a scheming gangster. The former is the protagonist in Drive, the week’s most notable new film. An Irish cop, a returned animated classic and a working mother juggling several demands on her time round out the offerings. But also note the new adds at the film festival.

Here’s what I’ve covered this week:

Drive: 4 out of 5

The Guard: 3

The Lion King 3-D: 4

I Don’t Know How She Does It:

Griff the Invisible:

Straw Dogs:

VIFF Udate:

DRIVE: This is a must-see if you like movies with style, crisp direction and lots of tension-building atmosphere. Be careful though. If you can’t stand slow, it’s not for you. Ryan Gosling, as a driver in Los Angeles, for the movies by day and for crooks some nights, does a lot of gazing and thinking in between car trips. When he warms up to a neighbor (Carey Mulligan) the interaction between them is often through long silences and spells of staring. They communicate a great deal that way.

In true film noir fashion, Ryan digs himself a pit of trouble by trying to help Carey and her ex-con boyfriend. He drives the getaway car in a pawnshop heist (a woman named Blanche is also along, a sure sign that something will go wrong). And that brings a second note of caution. Several bouts of extreme violence break out, all the more startling since the earlier placid mood does nothing prepare you for them. The director, Nicolas Winding Refn from Denmark, is in thrall of the Hollywood tradition of the existential loner who is forced to push back. Call it artistic pulp. Nothing new, but beautifully crafted. It won him the best director award at Cannes this year. And see the film for Albert Brooks appearing not as a funnyman but a no-guff gangster cum business partner with both a mean and an amiable streak. He nails that role. (5th Avenue Cinemas, Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 4 out of 5

THE GUARD: If you enjoyed last year’s black comedy, In Bruges, you might take to this. It’s not as wildly funny or inventive but the humor is similar. It was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, brother of Martin, who created the other one. Brendan Gleeson, who is in both films, plays a maverick Irish policeman in a tiny coastal village. He’s known to have a few extra pints fairly often, consort with hookers now and then and taste the drugs he confiscates. He’s best known for his caustic sense of humor which he gives free rein when a rookie cop arrives from Dublin or Don Cheadle arrives from the U.S.

 

Don plays an FBI agent watching for a boat said to be transporting drugs. He’s fastidious and by the book. Brendan is casual about his police work, even sloppy at times. Most of the humor is in the interplay of these two opposites and much of it comes in pub or office chats as Brendan brings out every cliché he’s learned about the U.S.A. (“only black lads” are drug dealers) and the FBI (known for shooting women and children at Waco). Their banter is very funny but only comes in short stretches. Don encounters several cliché eccentrics when he sets out on his own to ask questions. Meanwhile, the drug importers talk philosophy (citing Bertrand Russell and others) as they plot their moves. “I’m a sociopath, not a psychopath.” “What’s the difference?” “I don’t know.” It’s spotty but quite a bit of it works and makes for an entertaining film. That’s before the ship lands and the shooting starts. (International Village) 3 out of 5 

THE LION KING 3D: The animated masterpiece from 1994 is back on the big screen for two weeks. That’s good. But it’s now in 3D which, except for a few vistas and animal charges, is almost totally unnecessary. It’s simply a promotional gimmick for the film’s debut in BluRay, which goes on sale mid October.

 

The Lion King is an expertly-drawn, well-told and acted story of a young lion prince named Simba who is forced into exile when his father is murdered by his uncle Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons). When Simba returns as an adult (voiced by Matthew Broderick) he has to fight to take the throne. Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin provide comic relief to the tale which includes references to African legends, classical mythology, the Bible and Shakespeare. The film made over three quarters of a billion dollars in theatres world wide and was also a huge hit on video. It won two Oscars (for music and one of the three songs it was nominated for). At the Golden Globes it was named best picture. (International Village and many suburban theatres) 4 out of 5

 

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