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Hit and Run and Premium Rush, Trump bullies critics, Jane Fonda and Frank Langella play seniors and ghost stories go Boo

California cool: Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard created and star in Hit and Run.

They come in pairs this week: two chase movies; two about seniors and two ghost stories. Except for Donald Trump. He shows again how singular a character he is.

Here’s the list:

 Hit and Run:  3 ½ stars

Premium Rush:  3

You’ve Been Trumped:  4 ½

Robot and Frank:  3 ½

And If We All Lived Together?:  3

The Awakening:  2 ½

The Apparition:   1 ½ 

HIT AND RUN: It happens here a lot too. An actor rounds up a bunch of his friends and makes a movie, usually small and low-budget.  In L.A., Dax Shepard (of TV’s Parenthood) and his fiance Kristen Bell, playing his girlfriend, had some well-known pals they could draw in: 

 

Bradley Cooper, a big star ever since The Hangover, Beau Bridges, Kristin Chenoweth  and others,  including … well… Tom Arnold. He’s the unwelcome one here. He plays it way too broadly as a bumbling sheriff prone to crashing his van off the road and into grassy fields.

The action is somewhere in rural California where Dax plays a guy hidden away in witness protection. When his girlfriend, who has a PhD in conflict resolution, gets a job offer in Los Angeles, he figures it’s been long enough; he can dare to drive her there. Wrong. A jealous rival finds his secret and rats him out to the former associates, including Cooper, who he testified against. They come after him and we get a string of car chases. Yes, too many, each too long, but exciting nevertheless. It’s the dialogue between them  that makes this film worth watching. It’s smart, playful and dotted with black humor. Think Smokey and the Bandit with a dash of In Bruges.  (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 3 ½ out of 5

PREMIUM RUSH:  Rush is right. This movie tears by bicycle through the streets of New York, between lines of cars, blindly across intersections, sometimes against on-coming traffic, stopping now and then to give us a graphic display to show the route and doing anything it can to get our heart racing. Of the two fun films this week, this is the somewhat less smart one, but only because it doesn’t bother with reality and subtlety  and just goes full throttle forward.  And right, left, up and over and more.

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike courier sent to deliver an envelope to an address in Chinatown.  In no time he’s got both a bicycle cop and a crooked cop in a car (Michael Shannon, in fine raging form) on his tail. The chase scenes are exhilarating. The bike people will like the sheer love of riding the movie conveys. Safety experts are going to be appalled. The story involves Chinese gangs, gambling, immigration (legal and otherwise) but the fun is in circles being ridden around it. Both critics and enthusiasts of urban cycling will fine ammunition in here. (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 3 out of 5 

YOU'VE BEEN TRUMPED: There was a depressing story in the papers this summer about a golf tournament at a new course in Scotland. Depressing because, as this film vividly shows, that course should never have been built.

 

Donald Trump thought it up, hyped it with his familiar arrogance and plopped it down in an ecologically sensitive area of sand dunes. He just leveled or moved them, bullied local critics, even insulted some of them publically and went so far as to have their water cut off for a time. The film shows it all. The film maker, Anthony Baxter, was briefly arrested but reappeared for a terrific verbal tangle with the great developer at a press conference. A compelling film that will have your blood boiling angry. (VanCity Theatre) 4 ½ out of 5

Playing in tandem with:

KIVALINA V. EXXON: Another story of economic development pushing people around. Or trying to. The title invokes a court case in which the residents of a tiny Alaskan island try to fight back against big oil, a toxic mine and ultimately climate change.

ROBOT AND FRANK:  Yes, there have been comic book movies this summer, but also a lot of fables. This one takes a slight science fiction approach to talk about seniors, impending death and the debts children owe their parents.  Also, as it’s set in “the near future,” technology without ethics and disappearing libraries. Weighty matters but presented in a small and charming story of a former burglar who hasn’t quite reformed. 

 

More in New Movies

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

Opening and closing VIFF films announced along with a high profile line-up

Both The Hummingbird Project and The Front Runner have Canadian connections
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