Into The Storm, wild; 100-Foot Journey, pleasant and Calvary, a priest in crisis
Nine new movies this week. I’ve seen six of them and enjoyed something about every one.
Here’s the list:
Into The Storm: 3 stars
The Hundred-Foot Journey: 3
Calvary: 3 ½
Alive Inside: 4
I Used to be Darker: 3
Doc of the Dead: 3
Step Up All In --
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles –
INTO THE STORM: This one is getting a beating from a lot of critics. Not from me. They complain about trite characters, inconsistencies and even a lack of subtlety. Huh? That’s not what you go to a movie like this for? You go for the special effects and the storms. You want to experience the tornados, feel the terror and awe as they come near and see the destruction they can cause. You want to see raw nature, like on one of those storm-watching evenings at the Wickaninnish Inn on the island. The film delivers all that with breathtaking force. I found more edge-of-the-seat thrills here than in any other this summer.
We get single tornadoes, multiples and ultimately “the biggest storm there’s ever been.” I suspect it’s exaggerated but it does make you reflect on the increasingly wilder weather caused by climate change. The film makes the connection too, briefly, without hectoring. It has stories to tell, many of them, about two groups of people: a crew of storm chasers intent on filming the tornadoes and the residents of a small mid-western town trying to hold a high school graduation ceremony outside, until the weather turns ugly. A son of the officious vice-principal not only has daddy issues but gets trapped under the rubble of an abandoned paper mill along with the school beauty. Convenient how all that happens, isn’t it? The actors are lesser-knowns, including Matt Walsh, from Veep, Sarah Wayne Callies from Walking Dead and Richard Armitage from The Hobbit. The storms are the real stars. (Scotiabank and many suburban theatres) 3 out of 5
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY: I can well understand why Oprah championed the novel and helped produce this film version. It’s the message: that we can all get along and it’s not all that hard. Just learn to understand the thinking of the other person (or nation or culture). Timely, but a bit idealistic right now. And in this particular context: comfort food. The story about feuding restaurant owners in the south of France is easy to take, very pleasant and easily resolves its conflicts.
Om Puri plays the head of an Indian family whose restaurant in Mumbai was burned in a sectarian riot (briefly shown but not elaborated upon). They start anew in southern France in a building recently vacated by another eatery just across the road from a 3-star restaurant run by the snooty Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren at her imperious best). “Who are these people,” she asks. She doesn’t like the music they play or the garish lights they put up. It’s a familiar European theme: the stiff northerners contrasted with the casual southerners. A mild “war” develops but not for long. On the Indian side, the son (Manish Dayal, an American TV actor known for 90210) wants to learn French cooking. He also starts seeing a young woman (Charlotte Le Bon, a Quebecoise now working on TV in France) who happens to be a souf chef in Mme. Mallory’s kitchen. Nice things happen. (5th Avenue, International Village and suburban theatres). 3 out of 5
CALVARY: Gallows humor weaves in and out but the greater part of this movie is serious. It’s a stock-taking of attitudes to the Roman Catholic Church, in Ireland, in the wake of the abuse scandals and, not surprisingly, they’re depicted as mostly negative. The film gets across what one writer has described as a “creeping hatred and buried anger at the Church.” It does so with both a priest’s crisis of faith and a mystery. Also something of a census of the people in his small north-coast village.
Brendan Gleeson gives a standout performance as a priest under threat. In the confessional one Sunday, a sex-abuse victim says he’ll kill him in a week, not because he’s a bad priest, but because he’s good. There’s more publicity to be had that way. So through seven tense days we see him interact with people in town including his troubled daughter (he was married before he became a priest), a young man asking about suicide (he tells him to find some women with loose morals), a doctor taunting him with a terrible story and a rich man offering money to buy penance. More than anything else he encounters cynicism. A mechanic says “Run along Father. Your sermon is over.” Somebody else burns his church down. Gleeson communicates a growing weariness as he struggles to keep his faith (and his temper) and then walks into a shattering climax. It’s slow in the middle but engrossing overall. (5th Avenue) 3 ½ out of 5