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So many contenders for 2019's 10-best list, plus a festival of new and classic Italian films

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Inequality and the class divide are explored through two families. The film is precise and comic until a startling change of tone that’ll have you marveling at the audacity of Korean director Bong Joon Ho.

The Two Popes:

Literate, articulate, intelligent and sometimes funny is this meeting of two contrasting popes, Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and his eventual successor, Francis (Jonathan Pryce). Superb acting and visual design.


Three of those 10 are Netflix movies, an indication of one of the big changes in movies this year. The streaming services are getting the crowds and the stars these days. Disney and Apple have joined in and started their own and AT&T in the US is working on one too and may contract all Warner Brothers’ films for its exclusive use.

Netflix is delivering quality too. Remember Roma last year? Among this year’s contenders they have The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes.

So, is the movie-going experience in danger? Still not clear but you can’t blame people who’d rather stay home and avoid that expensive popcorn and that guy who keeps turning on his cell phone light.

The other BIG story this year is Disney, not only for starting their streaming service but for the cash they’re making in regular movie houses. All five of the highest grossing films of 2019 are Disney products: Frozen II, Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4, The Lion King and the new biggest money-maker of all time,Avengers: Endgame.

 That’s come a long way from a rabbit, a mouse and a bunch of dwarves and may raise calls to break up the company.

James Cameron meanwhile, whose Avatar lost the all-time-biggest status to Endgame, thinks he can get it back by re-releasing his film.

Welcome to the New Year.


And meanwhile, now playing:

The ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL at the VanCity Theatre for the next six days has an attractive mix of new and classic films. The Champion (pictured above) has won a best new director award. The Traitor is a veteran director’s look at the Mafia. Martin Eden was declared “A Blast” by A. R. Scott at the New York Times. Among the oldies, there’s the original long cut of one of the best westerns ever made, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, plus three films from the Italian horror genre called giallo, notably Blood and Black Lace by one of the masters, Mario Bava. And also note the 60th anniversary screening of a real classic: La Dolce Vita. There’s more info and the whole schedule at  

 Oh, and that horror film, the first to arrive for 2020, is THE GRUDGE. It’s small, was not previewed around here but has an interesting history and apparently some fan anticipation. It started as a movie series in Japan, was re-made in the US 15 years ago and made enough money to spawn two sequels. This new film is trying to revive the excitement with a story set concurrently with those old ones. There’s a house haunted by a vengeful ghost who attacks anyone who enters. This one was filmed two years ago in Winnipeg and has been through development hell. However, it’s got some good actors and the director, Nicolas Pesce, is praised as a visual stylist, so maybe … 

More in New Movies

Disney wildlife times two, a blast at American politics and a traumatic teen drama

Also a couple of small but amiable comedies, one of them Canadian

More streaming ideas take you to Brazil, low-life China and two Jesse Eisenberg films

As well as a cleverly-plotted trip to Barcelona thanks to Netflix

Movie theatres are shut down, so what’s streaming?

Some modest recommendations and stay for the last one, an alarm about what has happened to the internet.
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