Sex Tape for adults, Planes for kids and The Purge for the ghouls among us

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SNOWPIERCER:  Here’s something I don’t understand. This film got  good reviews in The New Yorker  and elsewhere, was directed by Korea’s  Bong Joon-ho who has a cult following and stars Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt and others, popular actors all. And yet, it’s playing in only one theatre around here, out in Abbotsford. (Also on video on demand).  Ridiculous. It’s far more interesting than many films that come around.


It’s science fiction and a class warfare allegory. It’s the year 2031. A failed climate-change solution has brought on a permanent winter and the few human beings left are on a train that continuously circles the earth. The plebs are crowded into a car mid-train. There’s a prison and quarantine car behind but rumors of high-living swells up ahead. Chris Evans leads a revolt to get to the front and capture the engine. Tilda Swinton brings official announcements (and threats) from the front and in a brightly colored classroom car Allison Pill teaches praise for the man who built and runs the train. There’s a disco car and a garden car. As the rebels fight their way forward they learn about class structure. “Everyone has their pre-ordained position” they’re told. Breathless acting, terrific set direction but fairly obvious themes enliven this film based on a French graphic novel.  (Abbotsford and VOD) 3 out of 5


THE PURGE: ANARCHY:  The original film a year ago was a surprise hit. I thought it was bad. With this sequel I’ll go further. I think it is evil. It’ll make people terrified about crime again, while the statistics show crime is actually decreasing. Not in here where we see guys stalking the roads at night, cruising on motorcycles and firing guns from semi-trailer trucks in an annual government-sanctioned blast of payback and bloodletting. For 12 hours, all crimes, even murder are legal. It lets off steam, culls the unwanted and reduces unemployment. Ridiculous premise; tensely exciting but nasty movie.


Last year’s original was all in one house under siege. This one goes out into the streets with a group of people including a couple whose car breaks down, a mother and daughter  and a mysterious loner on some sort of quest he won’t explain. They have to elude the guy in the hockey mask with GOD marked on the front, the guys in dune buggies, the bikers and truckers as they try to get across town. A clever plot turn puts them inside a nightclub where the rich are putting  “A Most Dangerous Game” spin on the evening. James DeMonaco, who both wrote and directed, doesn’t do much with the class-warfare sub-angle or with trying to explain the baser motives of people. But he does keep things moving along briskly.  (International Village and suburban theatres)  2 ½  out of 5

MADE IN AMERICA: Part concert film, part storytelling to inspire, part stock-taking of the American dream and only partially successful in any of those categories, this documentary by Ron Howard is still worth watching. At times it's thrilling with energy as excited crowds chant, wave and sing along with a high-level line up that Jay-Z brought together for a festival in Philadelphia a couple of years ago. There's Pearl Jam exuding energy with "Better Man", The Hives doing "Take Back the Toys", Gary Clark with a deep blues, Jill Scott sounding both operatic and cabaret, Jay Z of course, and many more. The surviving members of RUN DMC do both "Tricky" and "Walk This Way" and explain backstage how that hit came about. Joe first thought it was "hillbilly gibberish."


More in New Movies

Reviews of an unexpected charmer, a really red wedding and a local boy who shines in a mediocre movie

Also: documentaries about Toni Morrison and the power of water and an action thriller with Gerard Butler

Local kid gets potty mouth in Good Boys, British teen is musically Blinded by the Light and a stunning history is uncovered

And in other films: Octavia Spencer accuses, Cate Blanchett breaks down, Julianne Moore manipulates, Leslie Jones faces the Angry Birds and four teen girls attract sharks

Women mobsters in The Kitchen, country ways in Honeyland and TV journalism as Mike Wallace did it

Also: stardom as David Crosby endured it, a dystopian tale and a wise dog yarn, both filmed in Vancouver, and two more that I haven’t seen
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