Crazy Rich Asians, family pressure, Alpha, life pre-history, Wall, the Middle-East divide

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In the countryside around, Alison meets cowboys, miners and farmers who talk about the delight they feel watching the night sky. Remarkably, there are still people who build entire mythologies on what they see, just like ancient people did. One, whose daughter has died, imagines she’s now a star up in the sky watching him from above. A young man tells of apparitions he sees; another wonders if there are other beings out there but unwilling to come down because they think we’re evil. McAlpine has poetry and theatre in her background and there’s a lot of that same sensibility in this, her first feature. Her questions aren’t strong but the responses she gets are. And the dramatic images are, the sky moving in time lapse photography, dust falling like rain or planets imagined and enhanced with visual effects.  (VanCity Theatre) 3 ½  out of 5 

NICO, 1988: That would be about 20 years after Andy Warhol made her a star and not long before she died on a visit to the son she had neglected. From The Velvet Underground to Ibiza, a highs-and-lows packed life but I’m a bit at a loss as to why this film was made. Sure she was a star and she had demons inside and what we see is based on memories shared by old friends and associates. But the film cautions that there were so many changes made that it is “not to be viewed as factually accurate.” The best we can imagine then is it’s an impression.  Played by actors and directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli in Italy.


The picture is potent and sad. She was a beautiful model, came to hate her beauty and turned into, as she said it, a fat junkie. Danish actor Trine Dyrholm does a mesmerizing portrayal of her out on her last tour, including singing her songs, old and new. She argues with her handlers, yells at her band, gets annoyed with interviewers who persist in asking about her Nico days (her real name was Christa Päffgen, German). She was haunted by memories of the war, the destruction of Berlin, the lies she told about her father and her failure as a mother. All that comes out brilliantly in the film, if you’re interested.  It’s truthful and affecting but also gloomy. So too with Dyrholm’s singing. Some is flat and tortured; a song in Prague is joyous and pumping (until the police shut it down). Apparently, Christa had both sides.  (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5      

MILE 22: This may be the most violent film of the summer, possibly the year. You get to see several point-blank gun shots to the head and a couple of glass-shard stabbings to the face. Or this innovation: pulling a guy’s chin along the shattered glass of a car’s broken window. If there were some reason for these things, I’d say, OK. But I couldn’t find one, except as another opportunity –the 4th—for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg to work together. They’ve settled into an average action movie style and messed up a lot of it.  


Wahlberg plays a CIA guy in a South-East Asian country given the job of figuring out the bona fides of an “asset”. That’s a guy offering to share some sensitive information (possibly about terrorists and nuclear material) but only if he’s taken out of the country and given asylum in the US. The mystery is still there when Wahlberg starts to take him to the airport. That’s 22 miles away, if you care, and that’s where the bad guys attack, chase, shoot and generally try to intervene. It’s a promising idea for an action film, but this one is foiled by bad editing, staging and confusion. And in one extended sequence, apparent copying of a couple of Indonesian movies, called The Raid.  They did it better. Iko Uwais, who starred in them, plays the “asset” here and also choreographed the fights. Lesser results, though. We don’t care about the characters including the sarcastic jerk Wahlberg plays or his cohort (Lauren Cohan) who, when she’s not in physical danger, is on the phone arguing child custody with an ex-husband. (That’s for Mile 22. (Scotiabank, Dunbar, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 out of 5

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VIFF announces the opener, closer and a very promising schedule for this year’s festival

A scene from Parasite, the Cannes winner that will be also screen at VIFF
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