Spider-Man new and improved, a classic rock festival and talking away the troubles in Northern Ireland
Directed by Nick Hamm and written by Colin Bateman, both born in Northern Ireland, the film is absolutely accurate about the distain the two men have for each other. Paisley once called The Pope the anti-Christ and McGuiness blithely explains away the deaths his side has caused. But gradually, talking about their wives and youth and other matters they find some hints of common ground. The script subtly reveals that development without judging either one. There’s a fair amount of humor though, and tension. The driver is from British intelligence and the car is sending pictures and sound back to his MI-5 boss (John Hurt) and his boss Prime Minister Tony Blair (Toby Stephens). There are no recordings, so we don’t know what they said, but the film works as a pure fantasy about what brought these two enemies together. The history is clear. They made a deal and then shared government duties as first minister and deputy. (5th Avenue) 3 out of 5
13 MINUTES: I’d never heard of this story before although it’s now been told three times on film. In 1939, a young carpenter named Georg Elser tried to assassinate Hitler by planting a timer-activated bomb in the Munich beer hall where the Führer was to speak and years before had attempted a coup. Unfortunately, he left minutes before the bomb went off. Elser was arrested, held in Dachau concentration camp and endlessly interrogated. Apparently Hitler could not believe he had acted alone.
He was tortured too, as the film graphically shows, but never changed his story. He was upset by the war Hitler had brought on and in particular what his movement had brought to the small towns, the fear, the anti-Semitism and the corruption of the young blonde boys now strutting around in Nazi uniforms. We get all this background in flashbacks coming out of his interrogation sessions. An affair with a married woman becomes prominent in his recounting and when she’s brought in and also threatened, he breaks. It’s a harsh process to watch except for the artistry with which it’s presented. The acting is strong, particularly from Christian Friedel in the lead. He’s a rising star in Germany. Johann von Bülow impresses as a icy cool Gestapo agent. One of the writers also scripted Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, about a student anti-Nazi effort and the director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, made another Hitler story, The Downfall (and plans a third). This one isn’t as dominant and unlikely to inspire as many internet parodies but it does keep your interest and reveals an important tale. (International Village) 3 out of 5
RADIO DREAMS: Here’s a fascinating oddity that perfectly reflects the psychic traits of Iranians. Not in the Middle East where they’re the cultural leaders, but in a small radio station in San Francisco where they’re trying to keep their ethnic connections alive. There’s an absolutely correct air of mordant humor and fatalism here on one day of programming that’s expected to be extra special. Kabul Dreams, Afghanistan’s first rock band (the real guys) are in and slated to play live with local favorites Metallica. While we’re waiting we watch the regular goings on at the station.
The programme director favors weighty subjects like a feature on a dead Salvadoran poet. But then he’s a poet too and famous back in Iran. He’s played by Mohsen Namjoo, who actually is famous back home as an artist, scholar and musician, and according to one New York Times profile, the Bob Dylan of Iran. He’s irritated every time a commercial for hybrid burgers, pizza or a hair removal service interrupts the artistic mood he wants. But the woman who sells the ads is the daughter of the boss and you can’t talk to him about anything but wrestling. So flows the quirky humor in this film by Babak Jalali, an Iranian now living in England. And what of the rock that’s supposed to be played and symbolize overcoming differences? Fully in the same vein. (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5
HERMIA & HELENA: I don’t understand the rapturous reviews some people have given this film. I sat there for at least half of it wondering where is this thing going. And then before it got to much of anything, it was over. The acting is very good, granted, and there’s atmosphere aplenty but the story, really a bunch of scenes in the life of a young woman, don’t add up to much. She’s from Argentina and goes to New York to study and write a translation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Some think the film riffs on the play. The names in the title are the only crossover I detected. And since the film regularly flashes back further and further into her life, whatever connection is intended gets more than elusive.
She, Camilla by name, is played by Agustina Muñoz as a rootless young woman who has trouble making connections. She’s got a boyfriend back home, an ex in New York and a guy who’s already graduated who helps and advises her. But she’s not close to any of them. In the one substantial scene in the film she meets with her father, an American who she’s also not close to because he’s been remote from her life. She asks if he believes in genetics. Aha, finally a point. Director Matías Piñeiro is getting at something. What it is beyond impressions of the lives of artists and bohemians, I’m not sure. (VanCity Theatre) 2 out of 5