Reviews of In the Fade, timely, the new Maze Runner, loud, and Hollow in the Land, local

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He makes one family into an oh so easy target. The dad is in prison. The son ((Jared Abrahamson) is a hot head who gets into fights and is accused of murdering his girlfriend’s father. He runs off somewhere. His sister (Dianna Agron, from TV’s Glee and last year’s Novitiate) wants to find him and prove he’s innocent. That puts her in conflict with the cops, local people and normal no nos like break and enter. She’s also a lesbian and pretty much marginalized anyway but in a needless complication, her lover is the wife of the murdered father. In another, the more she investigates, the more the police suspect she might be the killer. That plays loose with credibility. However the actors, especially Agron, perform well and there’s an almost claustrophobic accuracy in the small town ambience.  (Park Theatre) 2 ½ out of 5             

SOME OTHER GUYS: If your TV signal is from Telus Optik you might do well to check out this film available free on their channel 707. It’s about The Big Three a band that was a hit in Liverpool before the Beatles, went to Hamburg before them and was also managed by Brian Epstein. Badly, though. They were hard rockers; he tried to turn them pop. They made only a few records.


The film is from Alberta, where their guitarist, Brian Griffiths, emigrated to when the band broke up. The film shows his return to visit and reminisce with his former mates 50 years later. It’s full of information and trivia  about the Merseybeat era. Music fans will be delighted. None of the Beatles appear, except in archival footage, but former Beatle Pete Best and the celebrated fan club manager Freda Kelly do. Also singer Cilla Black and others. It’s entirely engrossing. (Telus Optik) 4 out of 5

GEEK GIRLS:  Seemed simple enough. Montreal filmmaker Gina Hara wanted to document geek culture because she was a part of it herself. You know, video games, comics, films, science fiction and cosplay (dressing up in character for fan conventions). But the boys wouldn’t talk to her and in Japan “where geek history began” and anime and manga, are prominent, girls were scared to talk. She pressed on and in Toronto, Montreal and as far away as NASA’s Jet Propulsion lab in California she got a number of women willing to tell her about their pastime.  What emerges is a fascinating portrait of a subculture.

Several are in it to feel better about themselves. Their normal life makes them feel powerless. Some feel they’re outcasts and seem to enforce that feeling either by diverging from regular society or joining with others like themselves. They include comic book writers and bloggers, a game designer, a voice for black causes and eventually a couple of very reticent young women in Japan, speaking anonymously. A distressing sequence along the way shows why it takes courage. Some horribly negative comments received by a blogger scroll by. They’re insulting, racist and violent. I wish the film had more about the trolls who sent them. Were they reacting to something specific or just general misogynists? The women talking are articulate and even introspective. The film tries to encourage them. “Always follow your passion,” says one woman.  (Cinematheque)  3 ½ out of 5 

A SKIN SO SOFT: The mission of this documentary, also from Quebec, is far less clear. There are very few words spoken (a few grunts though) and mostly we get scenes of bodybuilders in action. That includes a lot of posing (on stage or for photos, or just for practice) with occasional oiling, weightlifting and “neuro rehab techniques” to loosen up mobility. One guy eats breakfast intensely; another takes a dog for a walk and one coaches his wife’s workout routine.

We follow six men doing things like that. Except for a wrestling match for one and a truck pull for another, it’s all everyday stuff but pushed to extremes. Even washing a car look like a workout. Nobody analyzes anything for us. We just watch these big men straining, wincing and pushing themselves for an hour and a half. Denis Côté, who has made quirky fun films like Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, gets serious here with a straightforward stare at obsession. (Cinematheque) 3 out of 5


More in New Movies

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Also: loud comedy from an Uber car, grim living in an English family and Jews eluding the Nazis in wartime Berlin

More action from Spider-Man, a pagan cult in Midsommar and Wild Rose hurting to sing country

Also: Because We Are Girls, a stunning real story from here in BC, and Too Late To Die Young, a Chilean film that hides its politics
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