Samsara is stunning, The Words is thoughtful, Farewell My Queen is deluxe, Iron Sky and For a Good Time, Call...dumb
FIRST POSITION: As the Vancouver International Film festival is just three weeks ago, films from last year are still drifting back. This one is about the tough slog of making it the world of ballet and unfortunately reminds me there was a better version that came through a couple of years ago. Only When I Dance showed two dancers from Brazil in three grueling competitions to get noticed and win a job.
This film is mild by comparison. The drama is softer and the tension is weaker although we’re following more dancers. There are six of them on their way to the Youth America Grand Prix. Most notably there’s a teen from Colombia, an orphan from Sierra Leone now living in the U.S, a boy whose soldier father is off in Kuwait and the daughter of an Isreali choreographer. We get their stories, some of which are compelling, watch their preparations and see short segments of their dancing, plus the drama backstage. Not much that’s really intense, though. Watchable but short of thrilling. (VanCity) 3 out of 5
Playing in tandem with …
THE ISLAND PRESIDENT: This is a rousing documentary about a minor player on the world stage who became a hero to environmentalists. Mohamed Nasheed was President of the Maldives, a tiny nation in the Indian Ocean. He’s since been deposed. Something about firing a judge who didn’t rule his way. Just days ago, there were demonstrations going on, indicating he’s still popular. The film shows why. He’s smart, active and vocal about his nation’s biggest threat: climate change. The Maldives stand to be flooded by the rising oceans, a prospect he dramatized by holding a cabinet meeting underwater. A camera crew followed him to the United Nations, to England and to the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit and caught some extraordinary scenes of arm-twisting, lobbying and deal-making. There’s also a terrific jab at Canada for trying to “completely hide from everything.” He, on the other hand, is credited with making the summit a partial success. (Van City Theatre) 4 out of 5
IRON SKY: The VanCity Theatre is also trying a late-night cult movie presentation, this Friday and Saturday and again in two weeks. Like most of these shows intelligence is optional.
This film has very little. It does have obvious humor and a forced spoof of modern institutions. In that it reminds me of the slapdash comedy of a few years ago called Idiocracy. Come to think of it, that one has developed an appreciative following more recently. Iron Sky may too for its alleged humor about Nazis surviving since the 1940s on the dark side of the moon, forced into attacking the earth and coming up against a U.S. President who looks a lot like Sarah Palin and sees war as a re-election boost.
The film originated in Finland and on the internet. It was constructed out of story ideas and money that fans sent in and somehow ended up with a lowest common denominator feel. For instance, delegates to the U.N. (here called United World Confederacy) get into a big brawl over sustainable energy. The film looks cheesy much of the time, like an old-time serial, although the space ships and technology are acceptable computer creations. The film is in English with an international cast of lesser-known actors and Udo Kier as the nominal fuehrer of this 4th Reich. 2 out of 5
FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL: I see it as the Bridesmaids effect. Here’s another female comedy that deals with friendship and dares to be raunchy. I just wish it were funny. Lauren Miller and Ari Graynor play women who for economic reasons have to share an apartment although ever since one spilled a cup of urine on the other years earlier they really don’t like each other. They’re quite an odd couple too, one is neat and proper, the other loud and brassy, working several small jobs one of which is voicing a phone sex line from her bedroom. “I just always tell them I want to lick it,” she said.
Well, the economy being what it is, both women get into the act, develop a proper business plan and make lots of money. The gay friend who hooked them up in the first place (Justin Long) calls it “Some f----ed up version of the American dream.” If there was some actual satire here it might be bearable. As it is, it’s pure sitcom stuff with salty talk instead of wit and one daring turn. The women fall in love with each other. Nonsensically, I say. Lauren Miller, who also co-wrote, is married to Seth Rogen who has a creepy cameo as a caller to the phone line. The director, Jamie Travis, also from Vancouver but now in Toronto, keeps things light and inconsequential. (Scotiabank) 2 out of 5
THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY: It starts promising, like a Hitchcock film maybe. An innocent is drawn into a dispute he knows nothing about. By the end, though, it’s become confused. A Bourne knock-off with little to recommend it. British actor Henry Cavill (next year’s Superman) stars as an American visiting his family in Spain, where his dad (Bruce Willis) did something shady for the CIA. Before long, dad is dead and mom, brother and his girlfriend are kidnapped by thugs who want a briefcase back or they die. Henry knows nothing about it or even who to ask. Sigourney Weaver offers to help but is clearly not on his side. A lot of badly photographed fights and chases through Madrid follow as well as a plot that can’t manage to free itself from unbelievability. (International Village and 3 suburban theatres) 2 out of 5
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