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Growing up on Sing Street; floundering on Mother’s Day and a sneak peak at one oddball DOXA film

But there’s more: a drag queen singing, a conflicted detective, a Maori chess teacher, a hot comedy duo and a video game’s move to the big screen


Along with the enormous press reporting on his death, Prince is being remembered at the movies. Cineplex Theatres and The Rio are bringing back his biggest film, Purple Rain. He stars as a kid with a band, a rival and a rocky love life. Cineplex Theatres (The Park, Riverport, Coquitlam and Strawberry Hills) are showing it Monday evening at 7 and The Rio has it May 14, at 7 and 10.

The VanCity Theatre is more adventurous. Late tonight and Monday afternoon it’s showing Sign ‘O’ The Times, an 84-minute record of an intense 1987 performance, said to be one of the best concert films ever made. Except for a VHS release years ago, it’s not been available on video. The Rio is also showing it May 19.

These are new this week;

Sing Street:  4 stars

DOXA: Aim for the Roses:  4

Mother’s Day:  1 ½

The Dark Horse:  3 ½

Viva:  3 ½

Too Late:  3

Keanu:  2 ½

Ratchet & Clank:  2  


SING STREET: You’re going to melt with nostalgia watching this endearing film. Partially for the era in music, the 1980s when Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Cure and all those others ruled the videos. I detected a touch of Flock of Seagulls in one scene. And mostly for the highly evocative recall of a time in everyone’s life, the teen years when you try different styles to find your own. It feels genuine. John Carney is back home in Ireland and draws on memories of his own growing up there. It’s just as much a crowd-pleaser as his big hit, Once, the street-busker film that also became a stage play and won a best song Oscar.

Most of the cast are newcomers. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo plays a teen who is bullied at a strict Catholic school  but attracted to a mysterious street-smart girl across the way. He invites her to appear in a video he’s making for his band and then decides he’d better actually start a band. The rest of the film shows him finding his way, through musical styles, hair styles and personal dramas at home and at school. Turns out he has talent and his band gets to play the school prom. Then what? There’s humor and compassion and a lot of music. Even U-2’s Bono has praised it. The message is firm: Go for it. Good advice. (5th Avenue) 4 out of 5

AIM FOR THE ROSES: Here’s an early tip to the opening film of this year’s DOXA documentary film festival which starts Thursday and runs until May 15. This first film, which also screens the afternoon of the last day, is one of the most unusual you’ll see because of its sheer novelty.


It tells two stories. One happened years ago in Ontario when a stunt driver named Ken Carter set up to jump a car across the St. Lawrence River to an island on the American side. Into a patch of roses. Hence the title. Years later Vancouver composer Mark Haney wrote an album’s length of music about the event highlighting the double bass, a guitarist and a cycle of songs. One of them echoes Mr. Kite. Haney and Adrian Mack of the Georgia Straight talk a lot about the music. Carter, his co-horts and visitors, including Evel Knievel, are heard in film clips and in extensive re-creations by actors. Many of them also sing. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before and utterly entertaining and unpredictable.  (4 out of 5 stars)

For more on the festival visit or come back here next Friday.

MOTHER’S DAY: Here’s what you get in Garry Marshall’s latest attempt to link to a special day. Many big stars. Multiple story lines, about motherhood naturally. (He previously explored Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve). Lots of color and light. Few laughs. Little entertainment. But many cheap sentiments.


This is a pasted together script with facile bits of plot. Jennifer Aniston is a divorced mother of two. Her ex-has married a, in her words, “tweener,” who is now in effect a stepmother. Elsewhere, a young woman Britt Robertson) is scared to meet the birth mother who gave her up for adoption and two sisters (Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke) have upset their own mother with their marriages, to a south Asian man and to a woman, respectively. The South Asian’s mom enters the story too and renounces bigotry. Jason Sudeikis is a widower still mourning his wife (Jennifer Garner, seen in videos) and Julia Roberts is a host on a TV shopping channel. Surprisingly these stories all intersect and the effect is completely artificial. One character does a stand-up comedy show holding a baby and when a scene comes along with a runaway RV chased by police and that is followed by Sudeikis rapping The Humpty Hump Song at a Mother’s Day party you know you’ve exited the real world. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 1 ½ out of 5

THE DARK HORSE: Oh, oh, you might think. Another mental illness story. Grim it’ll be. Then it seems to turn into another inspirational teacher story. We’ve seen lots of those. And then it’s a sports story though with chess as the competition. That’s what makes this New Zealand film interesting. It keeps evolving into something more. Ultimately it’s all three of those genres and as a bonus has a central character who is a Maori and offers a glimpse into his society. 

More in New Movies

Disney wildlife times two, a blast at American politics and a traumatic teen drama

Also a couple of small but amiable comedies, one of them Canadian

More streaming ideas take you to Brazil, low-life China and two Jesse Eisenberg films

As well as a cleverly-plotted trip to Barcelona thanks to Netflix

Movie theatres are shut down, so what’s streaming?

Some modest recommendations and stay for the last one, an alarm about what has happened to the internet.
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