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45 Years, a gem about seniors; big-sea action in The Finest Hours, and short Oscar hopefuls

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Félix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier) is 10, a suburban kid from Montreal and like most his age unsure of himself. He takes in fragments of information he can’t quite understand but is scared anyway. After some play with a friend, he’s concerned he’s a homosexual, whatever that is. After listening to a class presentation, he’s afraid he might have AIDS. “Even if I don’t have it, I deserve it,” he says. He sees adults fight, flirt and even cheat, and hears wild rumors of a maniac kidnapping girls. We’re not sure if he’s a troubled kid or normal. The film veers off into a sudden plot turn instead of clarifying. But as an examination of how children absorb, use and spread their impressions of the world and how they mix their own fantasies with half-understood facts, it’s very smart. And a caution, for parents. (Three times this weekend at The Cinematheque) 3 out of 5    

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS: People everywhere who enter Academy Award pools or just like well-crafted mini-movies, can rejoice. Once again you can get to see the nominees in the short-film categories. They’re usually hard to call, or see. Sanjay’s Super Team, which played in front of The Good Dinosaur, was the only one I had seen. There are 10 in all in two classes.

LIVE ACTION: Two remarkable films, and three also-rans  in this category. They're all dramas.

EVERYTHING WILL BE OK, from Germany and Austria, has the best acting, especially from the young girl at the centre.

 

She's being abducted by her father. It evolves into the ultimate child-caught-in-the-middle story.

SHOK is also a strong one. It's from Kosovo where two boys interact with Serbian soldiers who call them "Albanian scum".

DAY ONE is gripping. A woman working as an interpritor for the U.S. army in Afghanistan is introduced to the local taboos when she helps out during a difficult birth. 

STUTTERER is from Ireland and pretty mild, about a young man with a speech impediment wanting to finally meet in person with a woman he's been chatting with via e-mail.

AVE MARIA is a weak one about religious inflexibility. A Jewish couple driving in occupied Palestine come off as confrontational and rigid when they need help from a group of Christian nuns obeying a vow of silence.

ANIMATED SHORTS: I suspect Pixar will win this one with SANJAY'S SUPER TEAM. It's extremely-well animated and quite moving.

 

A young boy prefers watching super heroes on TV to the religious rite his father wants him to join across the room. A small accident and some huge visions of his own heroes battling Hinduism's three main gods set up an accomodation.

WORLD OF TOMORROW is about a young girl visited by a clone from the future with unsettling predictions about her own and all humanity's future. Imaginative animation but arcane content.

BEAR STORY from Chile is the most deserving.

 

With a look of antique toys, it delivers a deceptively nice but highly emotional story about a bear and his street show about captivity and yearning to re-unite his family.

WE CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT COSMOS, from Russia, is a buddy adventure about two friends going through astronaut training. A fairly predictable story.

PROLOGUE, from the U.K. by an animation star, Richard Williams, feels like an elaborate drawing exercise more than a story. The art is beautifully fluid in some bloody fighting in ancient Greece until a young girl runs away terrified.

 Both programs have multiple showings over the next four weeks. Consult the website at http://www.viff.org/theatre  

NOMA: MY PERFECT STORM: Foodies are bound to like this visit with one of the most famous chefs on the planet. I found it more than a little obscure. I saw a lot of food preparation, but little close-up. I had to rely on the talk, which is ample from René Redzepi about his Noma restaurant (in Copenhagen, voted best in the world four times) and his philosophy. He’s the ultimate locavore, serving only food “that tells people where in the world we are and what time of year we’re in.” He extols foraging and imaginative juxtapositions. A list at the end includes “onion and pear stew,”  “potato and plums” and in one scene:  ants. It worked. People started flying in from all over the world to eat there. The camera sees the ups (like a staff meeting to vote on new dishes) and downs (including a norovirus incident). But it doesn’t really tell me why the place has been so popular. There are imitators, one near here on Lummi Island, and though Noma itself is now shut down, Redzepi is currently operating a temporary restaurant in Australia. He sold out all sittings for the 10 weeks in just 90 seconds. (VanCity) 2 ½ out of 5  

Also now playing …

KUNG FU PANDA 3: Po learned self-reliance and martial arts in the first one. Now he has to train an entire colony of panda bears to fight off two villains, one of them supernatural. My scout says it’s good. One of the best in the hit series. (Dunbar, International Village and suburban theatres)

FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK: Marlon Wayans is back with another parody. He’s probably the movies’ most frequent practitioner of the art and, judging by his Scary Movie films, no exponent of subtlety. This time he takes on Fifty Shades of Grey and as a bonus, Magic Mike, both easy targets, playing Christian Black a businessman with exotic sexual tastes and a backstory as a stripper. (International Village and a few suburban theatres)   

More in New Movies

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Also Nicolas Cage really flips out over Mandy and The Cakemaker romances his lover’s widow

A vengeful mom, a demonic nun and Michael Caine’s memories of the swinging 60s

Also: a tulips and Mafia fantasy in Italy and the troubling lives of three skateboarders

Opening and closing VIFF films announced along with a high profile line-up

Both The Hummingbird Project and The Front Runner have Canadian connections
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