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Big stars in Tulip Fever, intimidation in The Teacher and genuine Aboriginal anger in Neither Wolf Nor Dog

Also an enterprising crack at hip hop fame by Patti Cake$

You could get a pretty full education about Canadian movies through the films the Cinematheque has been showing, for free, this year. They’ve got three more this week, including one of the best ever made. Water is Deepa  Metah’s shattering tale about the sad situation of widows in India. It plays Wednesday at 6:30 and is followed by A Married Couple, a study of a marriage in crisis by Allan King, a pioneer of fly-on-the-wall documentary making. Monday night there’s a Quebec film about male rage: La bête lumineuse (The Shimmering Beast)

You can read about more at http://www.thecinematheque.ca/

Meanwhile, the Vancouver International Film Festival keeps announcing more titles for this year. One of the latest is Okja, much discussed at Cannes and playing on Netflix but coming to VIFF in a special presentation. The director, Bong Joon Ho, will be there and “in conversation” after the film.

There’s more at viff.org (click on Just Announced) or you can wait til Thursday when the whole lineup will be on line.

And these are the new films this week:

Tulip Fever: 2 stars

The Teacher: 4

Neither Wolf Nor Dog: 3 

Patti Cake$: 3

TULIP FEVER: It’s a mystery when a film with so much potential just doesn’t work. This one has a great cast with three Oscar winners (Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Judi Dench), name stars (Tom Hollander, Holliday Grainger, Zach Galifianakis) and up-and comers (Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne), and  a good story from a popular novel adapted to the screen by another Academy Award winner (Tom Stoppard) and yet it doesn’t connect. No wonder it’s been sitting in limbo since 2014 when it was made.

You’d think the main plot points would be enough to keep you rivetted. There’s adultery (Vikander and DeHaan), a boring marriage (Vikander and Waltz) and his vain attempt to conceive an heir, or as he puts it, produce a legacy. Meanwhile, he brings in DeHann to paint a portrait and in almost no time his wife and the artist pop into bed repeatedly and plan an escape.

They decide to gamble in the stock market, which in 17thcentury Holland, when Amsterdam was the richest city on earth, traded tulip bulbs. A friendly head of a convent (Judi Dench) has some rare ones to sell. They’ll make a killing. Meanwhile, in a competing romance downstairs, the housekeeper (Grainger) has an unexpected pregnancy by a fishmonger. That sets up a ridiculous plotline to end the film. It’s already been suffering from a lack of personality by the two lovers and an overly fussy persona in Waltz’s character. The market storyline, even looking much like 1929 and 2008, can’t compete. (5th Avenue).

THE TEACHER: Just in time for the new school year, here’s tale of a corrupt teacher you wouldn’t want to be with. Zuzana Mauréry plays her with a scary vitality and director and co-writer Jan Hrebejk gives us a well-observed accounting of the trouble she causes. It’s set in Czechoslovakia in 1983, before the soviet collapse. Hrebejk says he based it on a real incident he witnessed as a child.

More in New Movies

Lady Bird charms, Justice League assembles and local boy makes good again in Wonder

And much more: race issues in Mudbound, the Holocaust analyzed in Paradise, samurai bloodletting in Blade of the Immortal and suffragettes agitating against The Divine Order

Murder on the Orient Express told once again and a true original, Jane

Also two small quirky films: My Friend Dahmer and Infinity Baby

Thor lightens up; Wonderstruck offers a time-spanning fantasy; Una is timely about sex abuse

Also harsh payback in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, nuns in training in Novitiate and more wild antics in A Bad Moms Christmas
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