Emily Blunt in a scary Quiet Place; Jason Clarke as hapless Ted Kennedy and soldiers turning bitter in World War I
Despite all that, this is a very good production, well-acted, trimmed enough for our modern tastes and a little less claustrophobic than I imagine other versions were. We see some of the assault and fighting, not just hear talk of it, although the central action is talk, and lots of it down in the bunkers. Asa Butterfield plays a young officer freshly arrived. He naively asked for this posting to serve alongside a former teacher of his but all too soon finds that the man has become bitter and dulls his trauma with alcohol. Sam Claflin gives a powerful performance. Paul Bettany plays a level-headed officer and Toby Jones brings some comic tones as a cook. That raises a quibble though. This play is about the officers, not the soldiers. They’re not in the mud of the trenches. They’re dry down in their bunker, fed well by their full-time cook and served wine in clean glasses. It seems a bit unreal although probably true. R.C. Sherriff wrote the play based on his own experiences in the war. It just feels a bit outdated. (International Village) 4 out of 5
FINAL PORTRAIT: Creating art is not easy, although the movies often depict it that way. A flash of inspiration and voila, a song, a novel, an opera. Stanley Tucci shows a more likely scenario, albeit a bit extreme towards the other side. Creation here is full of pain, self-doubt, destroying and starting again, over and over. Writers will understand perfectly.
The artist here is Alberto Giacometti, the Swiss painter and sculptor who worked most of his life in Paris. Geoffrey Rush portrays him as a crusty eccentric. He invited the American writer James Lord to come sit for a portrait. Just takes a day, he assures. Took almost three weeks as we see in this film based on a memoir that Lord later published. Giacometti would curse and fuss, lower his face in his hands, paint over the portrait and start again. It was a pure display of agony from the volatile artist, while Armie Hammer as Lord tried to stay accommodating, repeatedly changing his airline reservation back to the US and tolerating all manner of distractions. The artist’s wife and mistress (Sylvie Testud and Clémence Poésy) served up interruptions while his brother (Tony Shalhoub) offered appeals for understanding. Just like the sitting, it goes on too long but the film sparkles when the two men talk and spar over art. (5th Avenue) 3 ½ out of 5
THE MIRACLE SEASON: You looking for a wholesome family movie with a positive message? With maybe a female empowerment story about women working together? And a true story at that? Well, this one has it all and, although it happened in Iowa, it was filmed right here in Vancouver and Langley. You can catch sight of Banyen Books in one street scene. You’ll be inspired by the feel-good tone … if you can avoid slagging it as pap that should only be a TV movie.
The girls’ volleyball team at West High school in Iowa City were state champions seven years ago but just before their quest started for a never-before-done two in a row, the team lost a star player. Caroline Found, nicknamed “Line,” died riding a motorcycle. The team was dispirited, played lethargically and didn’t want to practice. The film shows how their spunky coach, played by Helen Hunt, got them back on track and playing with the motivational mantra “Live Like Line.” It’s like most any underdog sports movie you’ve ever seen but with an extra layering of sincerity. It’s bright, lively and colorful under the direction of Sean McNamara, whose many credits include another true sports story, Soul Surfer, about a teenage girl making a comeback after losing an arm in a shark attack. Helen Hunt was in that one too. Here she has the high-pressure, go-get-em drive of the highschool coach exactly right. William Hurt plays Line’s father and the team is a squad of upbeat young actors, both local and from away. (International Village and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5
Also now playing …
BLOCKERS: I couldn’t get to this one; it conflicted with another, and the plot didn’t seem promising. When one mother (Leslie Mann) snoops in her daughter’s social media posts and learns that three girls are planning to lose their virginity on prom night, she rallies three sets of parents to stop them. Kay Cannon who wrote the Pitch Perfect movies directed it and people are saying it’s pretty funny. Michael Phillips in Chicago compares it to Superbad which is interesting because the two Vancouver guys behind that film, Seth Rogen and his pal Evan Goldberg, are among the 15 producers on this one.