The Vancouver International Film Festival is getting closer. On-line ticket sales and early screenings for the media have just started. The program is printed and being distributed. To find out where you can get one, see this site.

Meanwhile The Latin American Film Festival is on and these new films have arrived:

 

A Walk in the Woods:  2 ½ stars

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine:  3 ½

The Transporter Refueled:  2

Cartel Land:  4

VLAFF:  ---

 

A WALK IN THE WOODS: That’s all it is. A walk. No more. Easy to take but disappointing. Fans of Bill Bryson’s book talk about the many asides in there about nature, science and life (few made it to the screen) and the frequent bursts of humor (a fair number of those made it). Still, I came out thinking not enough had happened.

 

Robert Redford plays Bryson, back in the US after some years in England and anxious to test himself by hiking the Appalachian Trail. His English wife (Emma Thompson) insists he not go alone but the only friend willing to join him is one he hasn’t seen in years and shows up wheezing and out of shape and possibly still carrying an alcohol habit.

Nick Nolte plays him with a range of feelings and pretty well steals the movie with his grumpy complaining and womanizing side bars. Redford is stiff and philosophical and dull. (Paul Newman was originally to take the hike with him). There are jokes about old age but little rumination on the subject. The best I can say is the film rightly conveys the mix of camaraderie and irritation when two mismatched friends push themselves on such a trek. The trail runs from Georgia to Maine but I won’t tell you how far they get. (Fifth Avenue, International Village and a few suburban theaters) 2 ½ out of 5

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE:  Next month we’ll get a dramatic version of the Apple-man’s life written by Aaron Sorkin but based on an authorized biography. This film is not authorized. It’s another tough, well-researched documentary by Alex Gibney who won an Oscar for his Iraq war film seven years ago and most recently took apart Scientology. This time he’s motivated by one question: why was there so much public outpouring of grief when Jobs died? He admits at the end that he hasn’t found a definitive answer but brings together a great deal of fascinating information along the way.

 

He gives us the legendary portrait for sure—a visionary and a dreamer, pioneer of personal computing and of the Mac, i-phone, i-pod and i-pad, full of enthusiastic lines like “we could influence the world.” But also a ruthless bully. Jobs inspired his staff and then pushed them hard to produce. One of his engineers lost his wife and kids while he was under pressure to create the Mac computer. That’s only one of many contradictions Gibney illuminates. Jobs denied paternity of a daughter and claimed he was sterile until DNA showed him wrong. Later he traveled to Japan with that daughter where he studied zen  for the clarity and simplicity it showed him. He shortchanged his partner in sharing a bonus, amassed company profits in low-tax Ireland and rewarded execs with a shady scheme called “back-dated stock options.” There’s much more, both flattering and critical from old colleagues and observers, but tellingly, not from anybody currently at Apple or his family. The portrait isn’t complete, he was too complex, but he emerges in this lively attempt as a modern day Citizen Kane, or as his zen master says: “He’s brilliant but too smart, I think.” (VanCity Theater, Fri, Sat and Sun. only) 3 ½ out of 5

THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED: Just because your star quits after three films why should you? Not if you’re France’s action movie czar, writer and producer Luc Besson. Jason Statham gone? Chris Vance took over in a TV series and Ed Skrein in this fourth movie. Two more are already announced.