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A new and splendid Beauty and the Beast plus two contrasting Canadian films, the Goon sequel and Weirdos

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Doug “The Thug” (Seann William Scott) who was recruited by a Halifax minor league team in the first film, after he was seen fighting in the stands, is about to become a father. He’s out of hockey (and in a joe job at an insurance office) after a fight with another tough guy played by a guy who actually did play hockey (here in Richmond). Wyatt Russell is the son of Kurt and Goldie Hawn. He’s made to speak the line “I hate this sport,” but that’s late in the film. Earlier he gets taken on by Doug’s old team, because the new owner (Callum Keith Rennie) is his dad. Doug is itching to get back at him. The script makes it happen and then takes the contradictory route of both relishing hockey violence and denouncing it. The film is nicely constructed and directed though, including the little actual hockey playing we see. It’s also funny, in a low sort of way, and to its credit, very Canadian. (International Village and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5

For comparison, there’s a more serious drama about masculinity in hockey in the locally-produced, Prince George-filmed, HELLO DESTROYER. It’s duller and darker, as I remember it from the film festival, but strong in its point of view. It had four nominations at last week’s Canadian Screen Awards and the VanCity Theatre is bringing it back on Tues and next Sat.

A NEW MOON OVER TOHOKU: The Japanese are known to be extremely reticent to talk about their difficulties. That makes this film remarkable for the stories Linda Ohama got from survivors of the triple disaster that hit the country six years ago. A major earthquake brought on a tsunami on a northern coast and that caused explosions and a radiation leak at the Fukishima nuclear power plant. Entire neighborhoods were flattened and thousands of people were displaced. Ohama, who lives here in Vancouver, went back to the land of her ancestors as a volunteer and over two years filmed people telling what they went through. It’s a touching record of survival amidst devastation.

 

A man cries because his town, where he built some 50 houses, is gone. A doctor lost her clinic. Her daughter was only two weeks old and her husband felt helpless that he couldn’t even phone. A woman who was supposed to warn people of any natural disasters feels guilty that she didn’t because she was out of town. “It’s unforgivable,” she says. Some feel guilty just because they survived. There are many more stories briskly edited and supported with dramatic footage taken during the disaster and since. One man invokes the “Samurai spirit” to aid a revival and what a barber calls “the joy of living”. Both Justin Trudeau and David Suzuki have praised the film. It’s life affirming. (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5  

KEDI: Everybody I talked to at VIFF who saw this film loved it. I do too but maybe not quite as much. It’s infinitely charming as the camera follows various stray cats around Istanbul, Turkey and shopkeepers and other locals talk about them.

The animals have distinct personalities. There are the café beggars, the rat fighter we see in action in a dark alley and another tough cat identified as “the neighborhood psychopath.” The city has so many because they come as working pets on ships in the harbor, disembark briefly and then miss the boat when it leaves. Yes, there’s a cat lady too; she shelters 55 of them. The film is a treat for cat lovers but a little repetitive for the rest of us. There isn’t enough original material for its 80 minute running time. (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5

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