The real story of the Canadian-Iran caper; Atom Egoyan’s take on the West Memphis 3 and I, Frankenstein
THE VISITOR: Aficionados of the truly bizarre should love this one. There’s nothing normal about it at all. It arrives for its Vancouver debut 35 years after it was made, having been rediscovered by a Texas company that last year brought us the equally odd Miami Connection. This one is a science fiction thriller made in Atlanta by Italians with a cast that includes Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, Mel Ferrer, Sam Peckinpah, Shelley Winters and five years after Chinatown, John Huston. He’s an omniscient figure who won’t explain what he’s up to because it’s “beyond human knowledge or understanding.”
So mysterious is his mission, that at one point he hires out as a babysitter. He’s trying to keep an eye on an evil child, whose father is being pressured by the men who finance the basketball team he owns to sire another child for a reason that’s never very clear. His wife doesn’t want to and ends up in a wheelchair. She’s also “accidentally” shot by her daughter. Glenn Ford arrives to investigate and Shelly Winters hires on as a housekeeper. Where is all this going? Where films like The Omen, Close Encounters, The Fury and Rosemary’s Baby have gone before. Also Star Wars, The Bad Seed and Bad News Bears. There are ideas here from all of them, creating a mishmash that plays along defying predictability. With flashes of inspiration and high technical quality, the film is cheesy but off-the-wall entertaining. (Cinematheque) 3 out of 5
ICE SOLDIERS: Sturla Gunnarsson grew up in Vancouver but his latest film is showing only in Surrey, in just one theatre. Too bad, because there is some fun to be had here, even though the story and even the production are flawed.
It seems, according to this fanciful tale, while the Americans were pre-occupied with the Cuban missile crisis back in 1962, they didn’t notice a Russian plane that crashed in the Canadian Arctic. Three tall, blond men miraculously survived, killed the scientists from a nearby camp and raped a woman before walking off across the tundra. Fifty years later, another scientist is looking for them while an oil company is using him as a cover to do some illegal exploration. The three are found, in a huge ice cave, revived and, wouldn’t you know it, they want to resume their mission: get to New York City to inflict terrorism. They are soldiers who were genetically altered by a Nazi scientist working for the Soviets. Nutty stuff, sure. What were they doing for 50 years? When told there was a survivor, why does the oil company woman not even ask who? And why are there trees in the Arctic? Better stuff is coming including a wisecracking Indian played by Adam Beach and a terrific snowmobile/pickup truck chase. American actor Dominic Purcell plays the scientist and Canadian Michael Ironside plays a colonel. (Silver City Guilford) 2 ½ out of 5
THREE NIGHT STAND: The humor is snappy modern; the aftertaste is more than a bit bitter. This English-language sex comedy from Quebec gets you laughing and then asks you to keep chuckling as it turns increasingly mean-spirited. Maybe the audience at the Rio, where it’s playing, will be able to follow along and enjoy it.
Sam Huntington plays a video-game designer who takes his wife (Meaghan Rath) on a weekend holiday in the Laurentians where he will finally give her a wedding ring he could never afford before. Surprise, the B&B they’re staying at is now owned by a woman he used to date (sexy Emmanuelle Chriqui) and still carries a torch for. He’s prone to overacting as he tries to explain that he didn’t know. The script takes up every opportunity to throw suspicion on him, put him in situations with the host, and also bring into the mix a woman from his office, her yoga-obsessed man, a young movie star and his doting mother and finally the host woman’s jealous husband. Sometimes light and funny, sometimes clumsy, and increasingly reeking of deliberate manufacturing, the film peaks with Sam’s wife proclaiming “I haven’t been attracted to you for two years. You gross me out.” Yes, it’s still a comedy, among its highlights being two sex scenes, one in a very cold car; the other in a snowmobile. If only they were funny. (The Rio on Broadway starting Saturday) 2 out of 5