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Logan Lucky, Step and Dave Made a Maze: late summer fun at the movies and a dash of uplift

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When Dave’s girlfriend (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) arrived home after a weekend away, she finds that he (Nick Thune) has made a cardboard construction in the living room. He says it’s a maze and he’s trapped inside. She calls a couple of friends, they bring along some others, a TV documentary crew and a couple of Flemish tourists and they all go inside to free Dave. What they find is massive, with several rooms, strange hallways, origami birds and creatures, a minotaur and several booby traps. For a while  they all turn into puppets. Sounds crazy and it is. But a trip, nonetheless. And with no meaning that I can detect. But this isn’t a film you require one for. Dave says he made the maze because he needed to create something. Maybe there’s a metaphor there. Don’t belabor it. Enjoy the surfaces, the cardboard designs, the archetypical film director, the diverse characters and the clever overall concept. (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5 

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD:  I wish I had better things to say about this one for Ryan Reynolds’ sake.  It’s being promoted and (in some quarters) accepted as an action-comedy with rousing great fun. If that were true, some of the gloom might dispel after that accident on his new one, Deadpool 2, currently filming here in his hometown. But not so. The fun is hit and miss, the comedy is intermittent and the film feels artificial. There’s lots of action but it’s frenetic rather than entertaining. And stories like it have been done before and better. In Midnight Run for instance.

 

Reynolds plays an executive security contractor; Samuel L. Jackson a world–class hitman. Circumstances that only happen in manufactured movie scripts bring them together. They’ve got 27 hours to get Jackson from Manchester, England to the Hague in the Netherlands to testify in a war crimes trial of a despot ex-president of Belarus. He’s scenery-chewed by Gary Oldman. Naturally a lot of people are trying to stop them and we get multiple gun battles, car chases and crashes, a boat chase, a prolongued motorcycle stunt ride, lots of explosions and much bantering between the two leads. Jackson is cocky as usual. Reynolds is bland and easily exasperated. The closest they get to anything deep is a recurring debate on who is better, the guy who protects bad guys or the guy who kills them. A busload of nuns prefer Jackson. That’s one of the better comic bits. In a flashback we learn he met his wife (Salma Hayek)  in a bar fight. That’s more typical of the humor in this film. The director, Patrick Hughes, last helmed The Expendables 3. Much of that ambiance has carried over.  (Scotiabank, Marine Gateway and many suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5

INGRID GOES WEST: Stalker, obsessive fan, whatever you call it we’ve seen stories like it before. This one though is absolutely contemporary. Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) attaches herself to social media personalities and believes they’re actually friends. An opening incident gets her some time in a mental facility. Then she comes into some money, moves to California and “befriends” one of those modern celebrities famous only because they dispense life-style tips on Instagram.

 

Taylor Sloane, played by Elizabeth Olsen, has what looks like the ideal life out there in Venice. She’s got a spiffy home, posts pictures of it and herself on line and has lots of followers. Ingrid mistakes her warm reply to a comment on her website as an offer of friendship.  To really get into her life, she steals her dog and accepts warm gratitude when she brings it back, claiming she’s found it. She eats what Taylor eats and hangs out where she’s known to frequent. They spend time together; the opportunities slyly stage-managed by Ingrid. Taylor’s boyfriend (Wyatt Russell) is oblivious but her brother (Billy Magnussen) recognizes she’s pretty well a stalker and the film advances to a darker ending. It seemed a comedy early on; then grew into a sharp warning about people sucked in too far by social media. Pretty good work by first time director and co-writer Matt Spicer. (International Village) 3½ out of 5                        

NOCTURAMA: This looks like a meditation on terrorism. Or maybe on modern revolutionaries. Maybe there’s no distinction implied. There are brief references to Chile 1972 and Paris 1968 and even 1830, when, as I learned in a history course many years ago, the rebels were too middle-class and separate from the people to stage a real revolution. There’s also an intriguing theory spouted by one character that real democracy inevitably creates enemies and brings on its own downfall. Heady stuff for a movie but this one by France’s Bertrand Bonello is both frustrating because it refuses to explain itself and mesmerizing. 

 A group of college-age young people are on the move, apparently aimlessly, through Paris. Eventually, it is revealed, there’s nothing aimless about them. They’ve set off bombs at public buildings, office towers and in a line of cars. They’ve set a statue of Joan of Arc on fire. Why? We don’t know. David (Finnegan Oldfield) appears to be the ideologue but he doesn’t spout reasons. The group has a black kid named Mika  and a middle Eastern guy named Omar but most, including Dave’s co-conspirators, his friend Greg and girlfriend Sarah, are white.

When they hide out in a locked up department store overnight they forget about politics or oppression or whatever drives them and revel in the luxury goods there. Is that the real failing of modern revolutionaries, they can be distracted by sharp clothes and fancy sound systems and pop music? Seems a facile point to make, though the film makes it very well.  You’ll be engrossed by the playful tone. When that slowly turns fearful and then very dark you’ll be back to the question: Why? (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5 

 

 

 

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