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The Rock to the rescue again, brothers separated at birth and Whitney Houston’s wild life

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Fernando Cardona, a new and expressive face to me, plays Jose, a delivery guy for a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn. He lives in a crowded apartment with a bunch of other guys who work at various jobs and Sundays he’s the star player on a neighborhood soccer team. They’re about to play for the championship. Problem: Jose’s boss needs him to work that day. He can’t refuse because he’s trying to advance in his job and eventually bring his wife up from Mexico. He also can’t tell his teammates and spends all week looking for a solution. An ingenious one emerges, but will it work? The film deftly raises the tension while it balances the major themes of loyalty to comrades and ambition to improve one’s status. A modest but very emotive film. (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5

INFINITE FOOTBALL: I’m not totally sure how seriously to take this one. It could be a put on by the Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu who is known for his appreciation of absurd humor. I loved his playful dissection of revolutionary memories in 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006). That was fiction; this is a documentary in which he interviews a small-time bureaucrat who dreams of improving the game of soccer. Cut off the corner, ditch the off-side rule, restrict the players by drawing extra lines on the field, he says. It’ll speed up the game and maybe prevent injuries like the one that stopped  him playing years ago.

 

The changes make sense only to him but Porumboiu listens anyway, at length, and hears much else: about the Nevada cattle ranch that inspired them, strategies of citrus growing, the problems of the European Union and what God really meant when he was quoted in Revelations about rebuking and punishing those he loves. There’s also a scene in the bureaucrat’s office where he has to deal with other bureaucrats and a couple of petitioners. The film switches to animation at the end. It’s an oddity, dry in presentation and in humor. (VanCity Theatre) 2 out of 5     

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION: The gang from the popular series is together for a third outing but you might not be in a mood to applaud. I find these films rather souless. I didn’t see the second but with this one it seems the the writers have worked much too to make it hip and modern. The personal relations are artificial and not even all that funny, not considering the talent we hear performing: Adam Sandler, as Dracula, Andy Samberg as his son-in-law, Mel Brooks, Fran Drescher and more.

 

Drac is looking for love. His daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) books an ocean cruise where he becomes attracted to the captain, Ericka, voiced by Kathryn Hahn. Uh oh! We know and he doesn’t that she’s actually a great granddaughter of Van Helsing, the vampire hunter himself. She’s ready to carry on his work and he’s on board too, although almost decaying in his wheelchair. Sound fun? It’s not. The original idea, the hotel for monsters, is gone and there’s a mandatory theme tacked on all about the importance of family. Pretty phoney, the content and not very sincere.  The animation, though, done here in Vancouver at Sony Imageworks, is excellent. (International Village, Marine Gateway, and suburban theatres) 2 out of 5

THE LOCKPICKER: There’s a remarkable performance by a total new comer in this study of teenage alienation and depression. And of the urge it can provoke to answer back with rage. Keigian Umi Tang is his name. He plays a boy named Hashi in a Toronto high school where he’s an eternal outsider. He buries himself into writing poetry and listening to his ear buds which most of the time give him the voice of a girl who says she wants a “completely different life.”

 

Her words haunt him because she’s committed suicide and he has visions now and then of her dropping off a roof. Out of those elements Randall Okita has constructed an affecting portrait of a youth adrift, a loner among the hard partying kids around him, upset with bullying that he witnesses and imagining what he could do to in response. We see the visions he experiences and through the spare but completely believable acting feel his anguish. The film conveys it accurately, gently most of the time and with great atmosphere, both in look and texture. It’s moody but not at all dour. It played at the film festival a couple of editions back and on Tuesday gets a special screening in three cities. Here it’s at the VanCity and will include a talk by Okita, the director, and a panel of experts who deal with depression and suicide prevention among youth. 3 ½ out of 5  

Also now playing ….

SOORMA: We don’t often get tips about coming Bollywood movies. But this one is from Sony. They promote, although not enough to pre-screen for us. So all I can tell you is that it’s an inspirational tale about overcoming diversity. Sandeep Singh a star field hockey player in India, was paralyzed for almost two years after he was shot during a train trip. Through determination, he made a comeback, became a leading scorer again and led his national team to the London Olympics. The promotion in India included taking him to ride on that train again, the first time since the accident 12 years ago. The film, starring Diljit Dosanjh, plays in Richmond and at two theatres in Surrey.

 

More in New Movies

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

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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

Opening and closing VIFF films announced along with a high profile line-up

Both The Hummingbird Project and The Front Runner have Canadian connections
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