Summer action with those Caribbean Pirates, Baywatching lifeguards and a couple of adult tourists
Other than that this is a pretty standard story. Dwayne Johnson plays the head of a lifeguard crew and Zac Efron a cocky new recruit who is only there to fulfill a community service obligation. He’s a disgraced Olympic swimmer with two medals and big ego. Predictably they clash, while another newby swoons over a blonde, Sports Illustrated model Kelly Rohrbach, and a third newby (TV-familiar Alexandra Daddario) aims to be responsible. They’re only lifeguards, their superiors and a dimwitted cop remind them repeatedly as they investigate a crime element moving into the bay. The film has Chinese backers so it’s not surprising a Chinese landholder is a good guy and a victim while the villain is Indian. She’s played with snarling gusto by Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra better known here for the TV series Quantico. The film is dumb and frivolous summer entertainment, features a couple of huge action scenes and yes the original stars show up. David Hasselhoff has two scenes (one to suggest a sequel) and Pamela Anderson has a very late walk-on. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 out of 5
PARIS CAN WAIT: Here’s a delightful film that’ll have you thinking about a holiday trip, good food and good company. I found it nostalgic because a few years ago my wife and I and a couple of friends travelled the same roads and the film captured the atmosphere perfectly. It also added a bonus: a flirtation to spice up the story.
Diane Lane takes the trip up the centre of France to Paris. (We drove south.) She’s the wife of a movie producer (Alec Baldwin) who’s called away to a shoot in Hungary and accepts an offer from a business partner to drive her. It’s only seven hours, except at his pace it takes two days.
Arnaud Viard plays the driver as a rakish bon vivant. He knows all the best spots along the way. He shows her a Roman aqueduct, a cathedral, a textile museum, another one honoring the Lumiere brothers, great food at small restaurants and a riverside picnic. What a tour. He also implies he has a different attitude to marriage than she does (he follows natural human passions, he explains) and is said to have “no scruples”. He makes sly propositions that are temping and re-awaken a midlife sparkle in her. Eleanor Coppola wrote and directed the film based on a real trip she was taken on years ago. Not by Francis Ford, her husband, but an associate. She’s 80 now and has stepped out nicely from the documentaries she made previously to this light and easy celebration of life. (5th Avenue) 3 ½ out of 5
CHASING TRANE: THE JOHN COLTRANE DOCUMENTARY: You learn a great deal about the man, not so much about his music in this film about the great jazz saxophone innovator. You hear a lot of it though and you get many personal appreciations of it from a great cast of jazz stars (Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter and others, many who played in his bands), Bill Clinton, also a noted sax player, biographers, music critics and non-jazz people like the rapper Common, John Densmore of The Doors and Carlos Santana. He says the first thing he does when he’s in a new hotel room is put on Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme. It drives out any negative spirits.
They all say his spirituality is embedded in his music. He got it from his two grandfathers, both preachers, and the black church in North Carolina where he was born. One of his compositions, after a 1963 church bombing, was “an elegy screaming with pain” but also hope. Years later he visited Nagasaki, Japan and spoke out against war. He was a heroin addict for a time (Miles Davis fired him because of it) and when he kicked the habit, he shattered the notion that drugs aid creativity. “I could play better and think better and everything,” he said. Denzel Washington speaks his words and Coltrane children and siblings recall personal scenes. It’s an inspiring portrait of “a country bumpkin” who grew into an “artistic genius and a spiritual giant.” (VanCity Theatre) 3 ½ out of 5
THE WEDDING PLAN: This film from Israel is far more concerned with the concept of faith than any run of the mill romantic comedy. Not religious faith, but truly believing that something you want is sure to come your way. It’s a tricky distinction because the lead character is a very religious woman and, like the writer-director Rama Burshtein, part of an ultra-orthodox community in Tel Aviv. She doesn’t look or act like it though. She’s cheery and dresses in colors and when her fiancé dumps her, refuses to lose hope. She buys the dress and books the wedding hall anyway with the confidence that in the month to come God will find her a new groom.
Played with endearing warmth by Noa Koler (who won the Isreali equivalent of an Oscar for it) she tries various ways to find the man herself. She goes on dates with comic results. She travels to the Ukraine to the shrine of a key rabbi in Hassidic culture. Tradition says she’ll get what she wants in return. One of the men she meets is a handsome singer played by Oz Zehavi, a major heartthrob in Israel these days. Another is played by TV star Amos Tamam. The tension mounts as the wedding day comes near and on that day she says “Anything can happen.” A Catholic woman I know called it “religious propaganda.” I don’t , even though there is a song in the film that says “A God-fearing woman is to be praised.” It’s not as interesting as Burshtein’s last film, Fill the Void, which criticized parts of that culture, but as a fantasy it does entertain. (VanCity Theatre) 3 out of 5