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Cosmopolis, Prometheus, Madagascar 3, The Intouchables and more films now playing

Robert Pattinson like you’ve never seen him before in Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg’s view of modern finance

The highly anticipated Prometheus, the prescient Cosmopolis and the fun times of Madagascar 3 and The Intouchables lead. Notice though, there’s a much smaller film with an even bigger mark.

Here’s the list:

Cosmopolis: 3 stars

Madagascar 3:  3 ½

Prometheus: 3 out of 5

The Intouchables: 3

People of a Feather:  4 ½

Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview:  --

Festival of Ocean Films:  --

Double Trouble: --

Jesus Henry Christ: --

COSMOPOLIS: It’s interesting to remember that Don DeLillo wrote this tale five years before the financial meltdown. It anticipates it all and the later “occupy” movement too. Also, it has a good take on the attitudes of greed and power that produced it. Now, as a film, it already feels as if we’ve seen it all before. We have, you know, in news stories, documentaries and films like Margin Call. What we get that’s new here is the cool, sleek style of director David Cronenberg and the box-office appeal of Robert Pattinson. His aloof style works well as the spoiled and dismissive whiz kid financier. I imagined a young Donald Trump as I watched him.

Pattinson spends almost the entire movie inside his luxury- and computer-decked out limo. He’s on a cross-town trip in New York to get a haircut, never mind a traffic mess, a presidential visit, a rapper’s funeral, anti-Wall Street demonstrations and “reports of imminent activity”. Various people drop in briefly for status reports (Jay Baruchel ), sex (Juliette Binoche), economic theorizing (Samantha Morton) and even a prostate exam. A few times he steps out and encounters his wife (Sarah Gadon) and then a bitter ex-employee (Paul Giamatti). Clearly this is an existential journey. He evaluates his own life as his paranoia rises and his fortune plummets. The dialogue is taken verbatim from the book. Sample:

“I want a haircut.”

“The president’s in town.”

“We don’t care. We need a haircut. Just so I know. Which president are we talking about?”

 The effect is almost surrealistic, like a dream. Intriguing but chilly and tricky to connect with. (International Village and theatres in Coquitlam, Langley and Abbotsford)  3 out of 5

MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED: The “I like to move it, move it” gang is on the go once again. You might remember that in #1 they (Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe (voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock,  Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer) escaped a New York zoo to find their heritage in Africa. In #2, they tried to get back but couldn’t. Now they try again and, following the lead of those wily penguins, turn up in Monte Carlo where they attract the murderous intentions of an animal control officer (Frances McDormand). She pursues them to Rome, Vatican City) and London. To hide, they join a circus which they manage to transform from rundown to high-tech modern.

This 3rd film is a big improvement, especially on the annoying first one. The story has heart and a valid message, the characters are defined, the jokes are better, (including the year’s best pun). There are also two Canadian references, one of them to our work ethic. (Yeah, I know. Huh?). On the whole, there’s so much nutty humor, color and action you and the kids won’t fail to be rapt up in it. The 3D is fun too, used both subtly to add depth and now and then with glee to toss things right at us. (The Dunbar, Dolphin, International Village and many suburban theatres)  3 ½ out of 5  

PROMETHEUS: Ridley Scott goes back to space 33 years after his classic Alien, which helped bring an adult intelligence to the genre. Not really a prequel, but in several ways related and set only 29 years before (in 2093),  this one ponders the origins of life on earth by sending an expedition out to find where it may have come from. Chariots of the Gods anyone? On board are the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace, as an archeologist, Michael Fassbender, as an android with ambitions and Charlize Theron, as a functionary of the Weyland Corporation. (Later, in the earlier film, it had become Weyland-Yutani). And, yes, there are xenomorphs, or at least ancestors of the slimy creatures, again designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger. I wish I could be more positive.

The film is visually spectacular. The ship, its interior and the location it reaches are beautifully designed. The story is the problem. It starts with such promise. As Noomi says of the beings she’s looking for “They made us. I want to know why.”  Later, that search is dropped, or to be more accurate, postponed and the film diverts from speculative fiction into noisy action, encounters with sticky reptilian organisms and even a C-section. Well done, but not visionary. (Scotiabank, The Ridge [2D only] and many suburban theatres).  3 out of 5

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