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Music people as seen by Terrence Malick, bank robbery as revenge by seniors and a Smurfy surprise

Also the seeds of David Lynch’s art, a wrestling rom-com and European films at the Reel to Real Festival

I try to cover as many movies as I can but next week, and the one after I won’t have them all. I’m going to miss some because I’ll be travelling. But that’s then. This week still has all these to read about.

Song to Song: 2 ½ stars

Going in Style: 2

Smurfs: The Lost Village: 3 ½

David Lynch: The Art Life:  3 ½

Reel to Real festival:  various

Chokeslam:  2

The Case for Jesus: --

SONG TO SONG: Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman, plus a host of music stars, some just glimpsed (Johnny Rotten, Tegan and Sara, Florence of the Machine), others with more presence (like Patti Smith, Iggy Pop) and  above all Terrence Malick working his artful flair. So what could go wrong? A few things and they’re annoying. Chief among them is Malick getting much too artsy again. This is basically a love story but he tells it with far more voice-over than dialogue and with lots of camera movement and zooming to give it a surrealistic sheen. Mostly it makes it remote. This story of seduction and deception is unusually dull.

 

Mara plays an aspiring songwriter. She sleeps with a hustler/producer (Fassbender) to further her career but falls in love with another singer (Gosling) who the hustler cheated by stealing his songs. Fassbender’s character is also mentoring (of sorts) a singer/waitress played by Portman. The film would be far more compelling if it was strictly about him. Instead it’s about two overlapping love triangles generally focused on Mara’s character. The problem is she’s not interesting, mopes a lot (“What if I don’t become an artist?”) and doesn’t display any talent. She’s adrift and at one point takes a lesbian interlude. Fassbender gets lines like “The world wants to be deceived.” 

The look is authentic. Malick filmed his scenes over several years at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, his hometown. He’s got huge crowds, the collateral musicians and for a touch of decadence gleaming glass houses. We get loads of music but not much pizzazz. (5th Avenue) 2 ½ out of 5  

GOING IN STYLE: Three Oscar winners in a remake of a celebrated film from 1979 and this is what we get? What a disappointment. This film starts out well but soon wears out its welcome with too many very obvious old-people jokes and seemingly not a lot of empathy for seniors. Here they’re merely stock figures in a heist film.

 

Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin are the old guys and that’s Ann-Margaret with them. She’s a two-time Oscar nominee herself and a veteran of geezer films with both Grumpy Old Men in her resume. She’s aged well; the guys haven’t. They’re about to lose their pensions because the company they worked for is shutting down and moving overseas. They decide to rob the bank that’s making it happen. What looks like a good modern-day spin on the story isn’t followed nearly far enough. Getting back at the financial system dwindles away into just another caper film, with distracting complications like seniors’ sex and a kidney transplant that one character needs. There’s an insincere feel for old-people’s issues in this erratic film. There’s snappy dialogue by the three stars but that wears thin too and we’re not involved very long. (Scotiabank, Marine Gateway and many suburban theatres) 2 out of 5

SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE: Cynical wags have long joked about the Smurfs, asking what is it about Smurfette, the lone female in that village of men? This film, which incidentally is a major improvement on the two that came before, takes up that question directly. It repeats a storyline I wasn’t aware of, though fans know it and the second film alluded to it in a dream sequence. Smurfette was created and planted in the village as a spy by the evil wizard Gargamel. Consequently she, now voiced by Demi Lovato, does a lot of soul searching about who or what exactly she is. A few times she’s accused of being a traitor?

More in New Movies

Widows of criminals doing it for themselves, the seed of modern politics and the perils of war reporting

Also an ingenious take on the migrant crisis, and a second appreciation this year of Ingmar Bergman that adds to what we already know from the first

Melissa’s forgeries, Rami’s dead-on Freddie Mercury and a cult classic re-imagined

Also: a bit of opera (real with Maria Callas and fictional in Bel Canto) and an ode to BC’s chief geographical feature in This Mountain Life
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