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Reviews of Spielberg’s new one, Daniel-Day Lewis’ last and the new Paddington

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 Liam Neeson plays an ex-cop, now laid-off insurance man, who on the train ride home is propositioned by Vera Farmiga. She plays a mysterious woman who wants him to find a passenger on the train who doesn't belong. There's no description, just a name, "Prin." A bit of money draws him in and then big threats follow, against him and his family. He's got a strict deadline--when the train reaches the end of line-- to find the answer. There's a clinically precise feel to Jaume Collet-Serra's direction but not enough tension. The logical flaws undercut it. And when the train takes a spectacular crash off the tracks the film derails too. An old police buddy (Patrick Wilson) shows up to investigate and that clinches what we've come to realize: the story creaks with too much that's contrived. (Scotiabank, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5 

CANADA'S TOP TEN FILM FESTIVAL: Once again this annual series collects the best we've produced -- sort of. Some major films are missing. That Tragically Hip concert documentary for instance. Mina Shum's Meditation Park is awaiting a March release date so it's understandable that it's not available. But the animated film The Breadwinner is already out there. 

So what's in? A film set here in the downtown eastside for one. LUK'LUK'I tells of five people on the fringes while the 2010 Winter Olympics take place nearby. Directed by Metis filmmaker Wayne Wapeemukwa, it has won major awards at both Toronto's and Vancouver's film festivals and will also be shown at SFU on Jan 25 as a fundraiser. The opening film tonight is the emotional drama, NEVER STEADY, NEVER STILL, about a woman struggling with Parkinson's disease. It will be introduced by the director, Kathleen Hepburn. Others include, RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD, the Quebec zombie film, LES AFFLAMES and ADVENTURES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL, a comedy about home schooling. For more about these and all the titles visit http://www.thecinematheque.ca/

BLUE: We've heard the message before but here, even when many of the pictures are gorgeous, it hits again powerfully.  It's stark and alarming. The oceans are sick.  Half of all marine life had been lost in the last 40 years. In just 32 years there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. That's if things go on as they are. This Australian documentary shows the story from several countries around the Pacific and from down in its waters.

 

The seas are suffering under industrialisation. Tuna, for instance, aren't growing as big anymore because more juveniles are being caught. Sharks are taken for their fins alone. As much as a third of all the fish on the market have been caught illegally. Various experts, including Dr. Jennifer Lavers, who grew up in Alberta, and Valerie Taylor, a veteran driver who helped out on the movie Jaws, tell and show more horror stories. A ghostly bleaching of undersea reefs, seals tangled in fish nets, a crab stuck in a bottle top, plastic bits sucked out of a bird's stomach. The film is also a call to action. It says there's still hope although you have to go to its website for specific ideas people have proposed. To hear more about all this, stay for a panel discussion after the first show Friday. (VanCity Theatre)   4 out of 5 

BIRDBOY: THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN: Late in the film one of them explains it this way: “We have neither father nor mother. In the garbage we seek our future.” That’s a grim view of the world and clearly not for children, although it’s animated and has animals that are sometimes cute. Their world isn’t cute at all. Birdboy is a heroin addict hiding from the world in a lighthouse. Fascist cops are trying to kill him. There’s a bird than can peck you bloody and a mother who turns into a giant spider. These are all from a Spanish graphic novel by Alberto Vázquez, who served in several different capacities to turn it into a film. It won a Goya, Spain’s top awards, probably not for its story but for the extravagant and widely varied visual style.

 

The story is haphazard. It takes place on an island that used to be pristine and has been ravished by industrialisation, and maybe an atom bomb. Three friends want to escape, one of them from her carping step-father and her mother who squeezes blood out of a Jesus doll to berate her for turning away from religion. Another character has to inject his harpy of a mother with drugs. Down at the dump rats fight each other and intruders over garbage. There’s humour too as when the three friends try to buy a boat and are offered only a giant rubber duck. It’s very chaotic, this youthful blast about the state of the world. (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5

More in New Movies

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Locally-filmed The Predator, a mommy blogger’s Simple Favor and bad blood Under the Tree

Also Nicolas Cage really flips out over Mandy and The Cakemaker romances his lover’s widow

A vengeful mom, a demonic nun and Michael Caine’s memories of the swinging 60s

Also: a tulips and Mafia fantasy in Italy and the troubling lives of three skateboarders
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