Murder on the Orient Express told once again and a true original, Jane
Those early scenes are from over 140 hours of film that was shot in the 1960s for The National Geographic Society, clipped for a TV story and them stashed away and forgotten. Until 2014. Brett Morgen, known for documentaries on Kurt Cobain and The Rolling Stones, restored the footage and made this remarkable film. He took special care with the sound, got Philip Glass to add music and Goodall herself to, in effect, narrate the pictures. The scenes are extraordinary. A chimp is seen using a tool. A mother disciplines her young. There’s a chimp war. Just as fascinating is the behavior of Goodall’s own child, a son who shows some chimp-like traits. Goodall speaks of harmony (“I became closer to myself, more attuned to the spiritual power I found all around”) but also recognizes a sense of harsh reality creeping into her view of the world. This film is magical. (The VanCity Theatre, once on Saturday afternoon and again for an extended run starting Friday the 17th). 4½ out of 5
DADDY’S HOME 2: I didn’t get to the preview of one of the big movies of the week and I’m glad. Because it didn’t happen. The film hadn’t been downloaded, took forever when they tried to and a couple of hundred people were eventually told to go home because it wasn’t working. So much for this sequel to an unlikely hit from two years ago. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are back as competitive dads but this time their own dads (John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, respectively) arrive to cause chaos at Christmas. A bit like the mothers in Bad Moms Christmas, although apparently much cleaner. It’s playing in 10 theatres around here.
INFINITY BABY: Bob Byington of Austin, Texas has built a following for his quirky films that have been criticized as droll but insubstantial, vague and insufficiently developed. That description certainly fits this one which explores immaturity through two stories that seem hardly connected. They only touch each other.
Kieran Culkin plays a young man committed to playing the field romantically. He’s not after a serious relationship, just some short-term fun. When he’s ready to dump a girlfriend, he takes her home and has mom (Megan Mullally) help talk her away. Lots of potential there, but not much is made of it. Meanwhile, Culkin works for a hard-driving uncle (Nick Offerman) who’s company has 100 babies that need homes. They’re mistakes produced in a stem-cell research project and will never age. (Immaturity by metaphor?) Culkin supervises two inept salesmen who have to find parents willing to adopt them. Their selling point? That baby ambience will stay forever. Some of this is funny, a lot is cynical. (There’s even a reference to Dick Cheney). Not much of it means a lot. (Rio Theatre Friday/The Park starting Saturday) 2 out of 5
MY FRIEND DAHMER: Ready for something really warped? How about the early years of one of the most notorious serial killers the US has ever produced? Jeffrey Dahmer kidnapped, killed and cannibalized some 17 young men. We see none of that but we do watch him earlier, some 12 years before his 1991 arrest, trying to fit in at his high school and block out an uncomfortable homelife. Mom (Anne Heche) was mentally unstable and dad was ineffective. Jeffrey was weird. He collected roadkill and used acid to burn the flesh of the bones. “God, Dahmer, you are such a freak,” says one kid.
At school he acts out by throwing deliberate fits in the hall. That attracts a coterie of wise acre pals who form a “fan club” and urge him to do more. “You might be a genius,” one says. The leader, John "Derf" Backderf later wrote about those days in a graphic novel, the basis for this movie. It’s a creepy film to watch. You’re always looking for early hints of what we know Dahmer will become. It’ll probably freak some parents out. One of the highpoints is an awkward prom date that’ll make you cringe. One thing missing is any indication that Derf ever wondered if his encouraging helped shape him. Still, it’s a well-made film that features a former Disney star, Ross Lynch, utterly convincing as the lonely outsider. The film has been winning awards at horror movie festivals. (Park Theatre) 2 ½ out of 5