Remakes, love stories for Valentine’s Day and an exceptional Canadian film now in theatres
Neither she nor her dad (played by William Hurt) are fazed that Farrell is a thief or that he’s got a magic horse on his side. He can jump off cliffs and fly over New York’s streets. Late in the proceedings both Jennifer Connolly and veteran star Eva Marie Saint have small but key roles to further the often-cited theme of destiny and that “we are all connected.” Nice sentiments, perfect for Valentine’s Day heart-warming, but obscure in this telling. Maybe it all fits together if you’ve read the 1983 novel this comes from. It seems a major character has been left out. Maybe that has caused a certain vagueness. At one point Farrell has to turn to a native-American (Canadian-actor Graham Greene) for an explanation. We all have a miracle inside us that has to come out. But chaos, he warns, has a powerful drive too. Okaaay. But not all that helpful. A loopy fantasy in a good-looking film. (International Village and many suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5
GLORIA: If you’ve seen the trailer for this film from Chile, you’ll be expecting a lighthearted comedy about an older woman living it up, clubbing, finding romance. Well, that’s what she’s trying to do. She doesn’t always achieve it and the film has a much more melancholy tone. But with an endearing performance by Paulina García, it’s a kindhearted and sympathetic study of a middle-aged divorcee’s search for love.
Garcia is well-known in Santiago as a stage actor. She comes across effortlessly on screen as a real person, rather ordinary in appearance, especially behind those glasses. She reminds me of what Tina Fey might look like in 20 years. But she’s got spirit. Whether chatting up a guy in a dance club or sitting home alone with her cat, she hides her sadness well. Then she hooks up with a divorced man (Sergio Hernández) after he uses the pickup line: “Are you always this happy?” For a while, yes. The relationship seems genuine. They play together, enjoy sex and discuss the “greed” that has taken over in Chile. But erratic signs from him and feisty pride and vanity from her threaten. A mature love story for a change, and much welcomed. (5th Avenue) 3 ½ out of 5
BEIJING LOVE STORY: Five of them actually and together they’re better than this year’s Valentine’s Day offerings from Hollywood. They include every age group from teens to seniors and are cleverly linked so that they work as one entity. The link is sometimes thin as when a couple vacationing in Greece, get a brief phone call from a daughter and the film later switches to her story.
She represents teenage love. A boy spots her at a bus stop, pursues her, helps her defy her parents and get on a TV show to play cello and in an excess of joy dreams he can fly his bike. The other stories are realistic. Three young men cruising the clubs pair up with women they ogle. One is about to get married; one already is. There’s big trouble for him later on. Another links with a woman of a higher class. The couple off in Greece pretend they’re having an affair but that’s only to spice up their marriage. The most touching story involves seniors brought together on a blind date. It hijacks a plot I saw in an American movie not long ago but it works anyway. So does the whole film which is based on a popular TV series in China. There are well-known actors here and the director, Chen Sicheng, who also acts, keeps things glossy, urban and moving briskly. (Silver City Riverport) 3 ½ out of 5
TWO OTHER ROMANCES: I haven’t seen these – can’t be in three places at once – but I’ll pass along some observations I’ve found.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: David Mamet’s acerbic Sexual Perversity in Chicago was toned down, sweetened up and re-titled for a 1986 movie. Now that’s been remade with a black cast including the suddenly famous Kevin Hart. His Ride Along film was a big hit just weeks ago. His motormouth and ability to appear to be improvising carries this film. More critics like it than hate it, many praising Hart’s vibrant dialogue duels with Regina Hall and calling the film “frisky fun.” Don’t try it if endless foul language isn’t your thing. (Scotiabank and suburban theatres)
ENDLESS LOVE: This one’s from a novel about romantic obsession and how destructive it can be. It was toned down into a teenage romance starring Brooke Shields and has suffered the same transformation again, this time with Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde as the lovers. Scott Spencer, who wrote the novel, denounced the film in The Paris Review without even seeing it. He’s read the script though and calls it “dreary.” Sour grapes? I don’t think I’ll investigate further. (Scotiabank and many suburban theatres)