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Reviewed: A new Alien chapter, the ordinary lives of Certain Women and Lovers who cheat

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This film is very funny about the travails of childhood, or as Greg calls it a time of “zero control of your own life.” Mishap follows mishap for him. An embarrassing video goes viral and he plots a typically elaborate scheme to get his reputation back. He tries to divert a family road trip to get him to a video game Expo where he plans to win against an on-line celebrity.  The film is chock full of a kid’s view of modern family life. Mom controls screen time. No “devices … just family time,” she demands. She’s good at guilting. Dad is always sneaking in calls to the office. Some of it is cheeky; most is pretty accurate about “what it’s like to be a kid in the 21st century.” There’s some gross humor but also a lot of clever incidents tossed in. My favorite is a perfect spoof of the shower scene in Psycho. Kids won’t get it. I enjoyed it. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5  

MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA: The most original animated film of the year somebody at Indie Wire has written. If you’re talking visually I can agree. There’s a wide variety of styles in the artwork, from crayon-like, to watercolors, pop art, pastels and more. .

 

The writing is quite prosaic though. That might be fitting because the story takes place in a high school but does hold back the quality. It’s a first film by Dash Shaw, a celebrated graphic novelist, and amid the wise cracks and social commentary he’s put just too much of an adolescent vibe

Two buddies (voiced by Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts) toil to produce a school newspaper that the students aren’t interested in reading. They’ve tried to get attention with a prank issue and are now ready to go after real news. Jason’s character, conveniently named Dash Shaw, finds proof of corruption in a new addition being built at the school, tells his editor (Maya Rudolph), a snooty skeptic (Lena Dunham) and the lunchroom lady (Susan Sarandon) and almost on cue an earthquake rattles the school and sends the new addition sliding into the sea. The film turns into an elaborate disaster movie with lots of noise, action, color, quick gags, heroics and deaths. Some of it is clever. High school can be like falling into a pool of sharks. Other jokes and observations are facile. So, a limited success. (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5 

VANCOUVER: NO FIXED ADDRESS: This is a good introduction to our housing crisis, but only that. It skims over the surface, while newspaper stories have for months looked down deep. I wanted to see a stronger statement of outrage about housing prices, homes as a commodity, speculation, the loss of community, the dangers to the local economy. They’re all here but spread thin as filmmaker Charles Wilkinson tries to cover too much and also be fair. The voters in the provincial election seemed to be more angry than that.

 

Thank heaven for David Suzuki. He addresses the fading idea of community and healthy neighborhoods straight on.  “Is that a city anymore?” he asks and near the end asserts “This is my home.” We only get the usual from condo king Bob Rennie (build more and up) and mayor Gregor Robertson (If only the city had more power). Meanwhile housing collectives are forming, people make do with tiny living quarters and one man talks of living in a van down by the water. The film has lots more, including rising rents, homelessness and a reminder that this all used to be First Nations land (an unnecessary bit of political correctness in this context). Even incomplete, it’s a valuable overview.(VanCity Theatre. A panel discussion will follow the screenings Fri and Wed. Wilkinson will be at both and CBC Radio’s Stephen Quinn will moderate tonight’s.) 3 ½ out of 5

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING: Like a good cry in a movie? In a story of young love based on a best-selling Young Adult novel? I doubt you’ll get it with this one, although you’ll get close. The story it develops  is an elaborate metaphor for love impeded. You’ll sympathize, to a point. Then you’ll recognize it’s just too far out to be credible and then you’ll get hit with a wham of a plot twist that might just break the spell. Accept that possibility, and you might abide and even like this one.

 

Amandla Stenberg, well-remembered from The Hunger Games, is endearing as an 18-year-old shut-in. She’s got a severe immune deficiency that makes going outside dangerous. She hasn’t done that for 17 years. Her mother who is also a doctor won’t allow it. Then a cute guy (Nick Robinson) moves in next door. Their windows face each other.  They communicate with facial gestures, then texting and even a picture window full of pictures of oceans. She’s never been to one. Of course young love sprouts, awkwardly at first like with most teenagers, and then dangerously and even assertively. Before you know it an actual touch happens, then a kiss and finally a runaway trip to Hawaii. The consequences are severe, more to the integrity of the story actually because of some late information that inserts a melodramatic bolt into proceedings that the film can’t recover from. Notice a location called Moderne Burger, the most noticeable sign that this was filmed, most of it anyway, here in Vancouver. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5

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