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Amour is cinema art, Quartet, The Last Stand and Camera Shy entertain

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Mettler finds novel ways to visualize time – lava flowing from a volcano, a funeral, clouds floating over a hill, Buddhists gripping a tree. He visits the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland where scientists are trying to simulate the Big Bang before which there was no time. He visits an abandoned church in run-down downtown Detroit. He ponders how technology has changed our perception of time and is told at one point “in reality there is no such thing as time by itself.” Apparently we just label it as such. Heady stuff if you have the time to sit down and take it in. (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5 

CANADA’S TOP TEN: Here’s your chance to catch up with our best hope at this year’s Academy Awards. REBELLE, nominated under the name War Witch, is competing in the Best Foreign Language category.

 

It’s a harrowing and very moving tale of a young girl forced to become a child soldier in an un-named African country. Brutality, mysticism, hope and occasional happiness blend in this film that Montreal’s Kim Nguyen made in the Congo with a young actor he discovered there, Rachel Mwanza, mesmerizing in the lead.

It and STORIES WE TELL, Sarah Polley’s great documentary search for her own history, screen  tonight (Friday) and tomorrow at the Pacific Cinematheque.

Cameron Bailey, the artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival which chooses these Top 10, will be there to introduce both film tonight.

The rest, plus two programs of shorts, follow on various  days between now and Feb. 4. (Go to the theatre’s website for more information: http://thecinematheque.ca/)

MAMA: Something happened to this film as it grew from a stylish and chilly 3-minute short to these 100 minutes. Too much has been thrown in to fill out the story. It’s become cluttered and that’s dulled the creepy scares. At least that’s what I imagine when I think of how gripping it could have been. Children in danger stories shouldn’t let the tension lapse like this and have us wait through repetitive scenes for the hair-raising stuff.

Two little girls are dumped in a deserted cabin in the woods by their murderous father who is tossed out the window by something we can’t see.  Five years later two hunters find them, dirty, feral, non-verbal but alive. How is that possible? The film doesn’t hold back. We already know there’s a presence in that cabin that has taken care of them. They call it Mama.  They’re turned over to the girls’ uncle (both he and the long-gone father are played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, of Game of Thrones) and his punk-rock girlfriend (Jessica Chastain, in a black wig and so soon after her Academy Award nomination).

They take forever to notice that “Mama” has come along too and exerts power over the girls. She’s a ghost and the script says a ghost is an emotion bent out of shape by some wrong committed in the past.  The story has to find it and correct it. We get creepy scenes, a few good scares, style and atmosphere but not much new from rookie director Andrés Muschietti , who also made the original short. Guillermo del Toro, who did amaze us with Pan’s Labyrinth, only supervised here.  (Scotiabank and many suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5

Also now playing …

BROKEN CITY: Many think this is the leader among the new movies this week. And why not? Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg star, one of the Hughes Brothers (Allen) directs and the publicity machine has been busy. However, the studio then got in the way, cancelled media screenings and made it impossible to get reviews out for opening day. That’s not a good sign. (International Village and many suburban theatres) 

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

 

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