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People Like Us, Magic Mike, Ted and new films by Sarah Polley and Tyler Perry reviewed

Michelle Williams is a restless wife in Sarah Polley’s new film, Take This Waltz.

An errant wife, a cursing teddy bear and male strippers draw the attention this week. But a heart tugger about a man’s second family is the new one to see and for students or film as art, there’s a Fassbinder retrospective.

Here's the list:

Take This Waltz:  3 stars

People Like Us:  3 ½

Magic Mike: 2 ½

Ted:  2 ½

Madea's Witness Protection: 2

Films by Fassbinder: --

 

TAKE THIS WALTZ: Sarah Polley undercuts her second directing effort, which she also wrote, by allowing too many coincidences in. Imagine this. A restless young wife from Toronto meets a self-assured man in Louisburg, Nova Scotia, finds he’s got the seat beside her on the plane going back and then, get this, discovers he lives right across the street from her. Why she’s never noticed him is a mystery since he leaves home every morning pulling a rickshaw to earn money carrying tourists around. That illogic nags and the film never really recovers. Too bad because it does a very good job of developing a relationship between the two and precisely detailing the emptiness in her life that leads to it.  

Michelle Williams is the wife who describes her husband (Seth Rogen) as perfectly sweet and kind. Dull, though, always frying chicken for a cookbook he’s writing. Luke Kirby plays the neighbor, a would-be artist, interesting conversationalist and proponent of doing things “hard.” The film sets up a pull-and- draw-away ballet to bring the lovers together (in a swimming pool in one scene) and then goes much further than we ever expected or were prepared for. Sarah Silverman, as an alcoholic friend, seems to represent a warning about excess but intentions get fuzzy near the end. The actors are fine; the film is bright and colorful; the story is uneven. (5th Avenue, International Village and a couple of suburban theatres) 3 out of 5   

PEOPLE LIKE US: We haven’t had a movie with this strong an emotional payoff in a while. But you’ll have to wait to the very end. You won’t need a hanky before that. You will though get a highly involving and apparently true story delivered with good writing and very good acting.

 

Chris Pine plays a fast-talking wheeler dealer in New York who is being investigated for breaking federal trade rules just as he gets word his dad has died in Los Angeles. He hated his father, misses the funeral, gets a slap from his mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) and then a discreet assignment from the family lawyer. His father wanted him to deliver $150,000 to a woman and her son, no reason given. Chris holds on to the money, insinuates himself into their lives and finds out she’s a single mother struggling with a job and a brat of a son and, more importantly, that she (Elizabeth Banks) is his half sister. His father had secretly kept two families. Chris doesn’t tell her, though, which we know from hundreds of movies is not a good idea. The inevitable revelations and recriminations come as scheduled but lead to a satisfying outcome. (International Village and many suburban theatres) 3 ½ out of 5        

MAGIC MIKE: You wouldn’t want to venture in here if you have anything of a prude in your psyche. Not because these male strippers go full-frontally nude. In fact, they keep the package well inside their thongs. It’s because of the simulated sex they play out; by themselves on stage, with women in the audience and on top of a few they bring up on stage. All that with a club full of women cheering ecstatically. Even at the preview screening the other night they cheered the first time Channing Tatum showed off his rear. All he did was get up out of bed and walk to the bathroom. Many more tushes get flashed in this comedy directed with great style and quite a few snickers by Steven Soderbergh.

 

More in New Movies

Locally-filmed The Predator, a mommy blogger’s Simple Favor and bad blood Under the Tree

Also Nicolas Cage really flips out over Mandy and The Cakemaker romances his lover’s widow

A vengeful mom, a demonic nun and Michael Caine’s memories of the swinging 60s

Also: a tulips and Mafia fantasy in Italy and the troubling lives of three skateboarders

Opening and closing VIFF films announced along with a high profile line-up

Both The Hummingbird Project and The Front Runner have Canadian connections
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