Joaquin’s raging revenge, Amy’s fight against body shaming and a different boy-and-horse yarn
Girard uses a fictional gesture to look back in time. A heavy rain storm during a football game at McGill University opens up a sinkhole. An archeologist is lowered down and finds relics from three eras: 1837 (the Patriotes’ rebellion), 1687 (smallpox ends a romance between a native woman and a French fur trapper) and 1535, when Jacques Cartier first encountered and was welcomed by the Iroquois in their village Hochelaga. The film shows all three stories in impeccably-rendered flashbacks while the archeologist delivers a lecture on his findings, most notably about where exactly the village had been. Historians can’t agree on that or even on why it disappeared. The film, with some even older flashbacks to a shaman’s prayers, only speculates on that. Girard’s aim is a message of unity and he imagines a number of interconnected details to convey it. A bit like an historical pageant. (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5
LEAN ON PETE: He’s a horse and unlike most boy and a horse films, he’s not a pet. The boy is cautioned about that. Don’t get attached to him because he’s just a horse and may have to be sent away some day. Take the warning. This movie will canter off into directions you won’t expect. It’s magnificent and features an extremely natural lead performance by Charlie Plummer as a lost kid making his way. His mom is gone; his dad is a screw-up and Steve Buscemi of all people plays a sort of father-figure. None of his wise-crack quirkiness though. Just barking and swearing as a mangy horse owner at low-status track around Oregon. He gives 15-year-old Charley a one-time job, helping with a flat tire, and then more as other things need doing.
That puts him close to Lean on Pete, a quarter horse nearing the end of his career and gradually becoming his only friend. So when the day is announced, that Pete will be sent off to Mexico (for something unspecified but not hard to imagine), Charley has to protect him. They’re both lost souls; they’ve been abandoned; they need each other. To escape, they just walk away. The film is immensely moving as it develops that version of togetherness. Charley tells his life story to the animal as he leads him towards Wyoming where he thinks he has an aunt. Lots happens, good and bad, and I won’t spoil more of the story but take note that you’re in for a fine film. It’s warm-hearted and harsh, in equal measure. The director, Andrew Haigh, is a Brit who captures the desolate side of today’s American west perfectly and Plummer won a big acting award for the role at the Venice Film Festival. (International Village) 4 out of 5
SUPER TROOPERS 2: I went in prepared to hate this and didn’t. Not all of it anyway. There’s lots of low humor but quite a few of the many jokes worked. And many of those showed actual knowledge about Canada which is surprising because the five comics who wrote and star in the film are Americans who’ve been working together since college and love frat boy humor. I was expecting a lot of cheap jokes about Canada in this story about Vermont cops in a border dispute in Quebec. And sure, beer, kilometer speed limits, French accents, all the usual joke targets are here, but they go both ways. Guns, health care and American exceptionalism get worked over too. Jay Chandrasekhar, the group member who also directs these films, comes often to work in Montreal and Vancouver. That may explain some of that. The film even mentions Justin Trudeau without even identifying him.
This is a sequel to the massive cult hit of 17 years ago. The plot has a ridiculous premise—a bit of Quebec is found to really be part of the US. Mounties are replaced with state troopers; people are told they’re now Americans (they resist, by the way) and a smuggling operation is discovered. The results are pretty funny, though sometimes pretty raunchy. Pronounce the word caulk. They do. Brian Cox is back from the first film and a few other name actors, Rob Lowe, Linda Carter and Fred Savage have joined in. Two BC guys, Will Sasso and Tyler Labine, play Mounties. The biggest flaw? The Ontario Provincial Police show up but shouldn’t. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5
SUBMERGENCE: Wim Wenders has made wonderful films like Wings of Desire, Paris Texas and the dance documentary Pina. The spy genre though, judging by this film, isn’t his thing. Not even when he’s got two attractive stars, James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander in the lead. They play lovers but generate no heat (even in a sex scene) and then for the whole second half are completely separated. He’s in an African jail, imprisoned by some jihadists. She’s preparing for a deep-sea dive in the Arctic and fretting that he’s not answering her texts. You can hardly get further apart than that.
They met by chance and had a fling. He’s a British intelligence officer claiming to be a water-system engineer. She’s a “bio-mathematician” intent of testing her theories on the origins of life at the bottom of the ocean. He reads her from John Donne’s poetry, you know “No man is an island …”. That seems to mean something in this context, maybe ironically because he’s locked up so much and told “Your friends don’t care about you.” He refuses to sign a confession. She trains and trains for her dive. Not much else happens except for moping and dull dialogue.The film is sluggish. The snap it needs isn’t there. Wenders may have thought this is a moody, art house film. It isn’t. (Park Theatre and VOD) 2 out of 5