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Bond shoots again, Suffragettes fight the power and a boy named Theeb tops them all

Also Drew and Toni as friends, the man who felled the Golden Spruce and three film festivals

On Wednesday you can extend your Remembrance Day by watching our soldiers in action. Fictionally that is, but free of charge, in Paul Gross’ movie Hyena Road. It’s a good film; a respectful look at our troops in Afghanistan and an intriguing search for answers about a mysterious event.  The distributor, Elevation Pictures, has joined with two theatre chains to bring it back for one afternoon show and offer free admission. Landmark Theatres in New West, Surrey and North Van (The Esplanade) have it at 4 p.m. Cineplex in Langley has it at 6:30. I haven’t  found any time in Vancouver.

But these are new and playing:

Spectre:   3 stars

Suffragette:  2 ½

Theeb:  4

Hadwin’s Judgement:  4

Miss You Already:  2 ½

Jewish Film Festival ---

The Tree Inside (at Asian Film Festival):  2 ½

Jumbo Wild (at Mountain Film Fest) --   

 

SPECTRE: Who would have thought that 24 films along we’d still have new things to learn about James Bond. There’s a dilly in this one, too big to spoil here but also, the more you think about it afterwards, pretty ridiculous. That, more than courtesy, is probably why the studio doesn’t want reviewers to reveal it. Suffice it to say that it changes much of what you think you’ve known about 007 and almost throws off this otherwise entertaining movie. Also, it feels like it’s been a real strain to bring back Spectre, the criminal outfit we saw in six early Bond films.

 

Bond, played a fourth time by Daniel Craig, causes mayhem in Mexico, is reprimanded back home by the new M (Ralph Fiennes) and threatened with redundancy in a re-organization of British intelligence. Doesn’t stop him though. He’s off to Rome, where he seduces the widow (Monica Bellucci) of a man he’s recently killed and crashes a secret meeting chaired by a smug bad buy (Christoph Waltz). And what is he up to? Plotting world-wide surveillance. (Doesn’t that already happen?) What can he do with it? The script neglects to tell us, but it’s something bad, I’m sure. Bond has to scrap his way through eight action set-pieces to fight back. He also gets a couple of tiny holes drilled in his head. I can’t remember what that was about.

 

There are other problems. Remember the much-touted “mature Bond girl”? She (Bellucci) is only briefly in the film. The much younger Léa Seydoux gets far more time with him. Bond, who’s been developing into a much more serious character in these Craig films, is reverting in some ways, but with fewer quips and much less sparkle. At times Craig doesn’t seem interested anymore although the action is exciting, the locations are scenic and the new story nicely connects to previous ones. The film is already a huge hit in Europe.   (5th Avenue, Dunbar, Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 3 out of 5 

SUFFRAGETTE: Despite the obvious agenda-driven drama, young women should see this film to learn a bit of their own history.  A hundred years ago women had to fight to gain the right to vote. In England, they marched, leafleted and rallied. When that didn’t get them anywhere, and under the sway of Emmeline Pankhurst (played here in two scenes by Meryl Streep), they turned to smashing store windows, arson and hunger strikes. The government fought back with arrests, prison, force-feeding and police punches to the stomach. All these are well and strongly re-enacted in this film by Sarah Gavron. It’s civil disobedience like in the 1960s and even now

More in New Movies

Michael Moore's hope in the Trump era; The Wife’s marriage seems happy and Life Itself can bring tears

There’s also a muddled children’s film about a house haunted by a clock and a teen film about girls who fight back

Locally-filmed The Predator, a mommy blogger’s Simple Favor and bad blood Under the Tree

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
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