Poverty tales in The Florida Project, musings on death in Lucky and a celebration of learning in Ex Libris
Not all the time. This film directed by Richard Curtis and the script drawing on a journal by the real Christopher, C.R. Milne, gives us so much more and some of it quite dark. A.A. came back from World War I suffering post traumatic stress. He has horrid flashbacks now and then. His scenes with his son (Will Tilston) walking the nearby woods and thinking up characters like Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger are warm and bonding. Mom on the other hand (Margot Robbie) is a social climber and party girl. There’s trouble when the books become big sellers, the fans become demanding and young C.R. has to be a celebrity. Young Tilston is very good as showing childish outbursts along with dimpled sweetness. Later, as a teenager, C.R. defies his dad by joining the army in World War II. That sets up a dramatic bit that feels like a cheat. The scenes earlier, about childhood wonder, family tensions and the demands of fame, are far more effective. (5th Avenue) 3 out of 5
TAKE EVERY WAVE: No, better than that: take the big ones. They’re the real challenge, certainly in this documentary about the life of Laird Hamilton, the star big wave surfer. We get some truly spectacular scenes of him riding giant waves that curl down over him and seem to consume him only to let him burst out of the wall and glide away.
In this film by Rory Kennedy (Robert F. Kennedy’s daughter) we learn about his life and what drove him. With dad off at sea, taken to Hawaii by his mother bullied by the local kids, Laird turned to the ocean “where I could hide.” He became a surfer, not for competition but to feel the thrill of riding every bigger waves. He became a celebrity, appeared in a couple of movies and made his own films. “I’m the alpha male here” he said in a fit of arrogance. He also changed the sport with foot straps to stay on the board, motorboat tows out to the waves and later an invention called the foil. He could fly and flip and even people who thought he was crazy thought he was the coolest. The film uses photos from his boyhood, magazine covers from a few years ago and lots of video to show him, as he puts it, “pushing out into the unknown.” (International Village) 3 ½ out of 4
THE SNOWMAN: Director Tomas Alfredson has said the problems with his new film were caused by time and budget constraints. He couldn’t film all the scenes he wanted. That may explain the story gaps in the later going but there’s more to complain about. He starts the film slow and mushy. A main character wakes up groggy and doesn’t communicate. People stare a lot, have obscure conversations and don’t draw us in. It takes forever to get what’s going on and by the time our attention is really needed, it’s too late. I had similar complaints about how Alfredson presented his version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. His best film remains that nifty vampire flick, Let the Right One In.
Here we’ve got a slow-paced police hunt for a serial killer, based on a popular novel by Jo Nesbø. It’s set, and filmed, in Norway, although it’s British and stocked with actors with British accents. On the other hand, J.K. Simmons (American) putting on a Norwegian accent, is strange to behold. Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson are the main stars. He’s Det. Harry Hole and she’s a new police recruit. They investigate a missing woman case (and a scarf wrapped around a snowman) which reveals a number of likely suspects and the possible re-appearance of a serial killer from years before. The film tries to catch the gritty mood of the Dragon Tattoo films but only manages to perplex us. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 out of 5
The Others …
GEOSTORM: Another of Hollywood bad ideas on climate change. A network of satellites, don’t protect us as they’re supposed to. They attack us. Gerard Butler stars. Warner Brothers did not screen it for the media. (Scotiabank, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres)
SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME: A faith-based film in which Renée Zellweger and Greg Kinnear correct infidelity and homelessness at the same time. Big stars (Jon Voight and Djimon Hounsou too) but a rocky start and arriving here unpromoted. (International Village)
UNA: Based on a stage play, this film stars Rooney Mara as a woman who goes to confront a man (Ben Mendelsohn) who sexually abused her years before. It’s at the Park now, and will play at the VanCity starting Nov 3.
LEATHERFACE: Another follow up to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the horror classic from more than 40 years ago. This one is a prequel showing what the title character was like before he became Leatherface. Imagine, one of these films played the 5th Ave. My favorite example of inappropriate booking. (Park Theatre)
BOO 2: A MADEA HOLLOWEEN: Tyler Perry’s movies always end up at International Village. Does anybody go see them. He’s playing Medea again this time in a haunted campground where monsters, goblins and the boogeyman threaten. Watch for spoofs of classic and recent horror films.