Tom Cruise upstaged by visual effects in Oblivion. Plus: My Awkward Sexual Adventure, Japanese B-movies and Projecting Change

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Comedies like this are often gross and raunchy. This one is sweet, even as it ushers him through a “gentlemen’s” club, a rub and tug massage parlour, into cross dressing, a bit of S&M, on to a national newscast from a gay pride parade and a tongue work out with a half a melon. The story does go too wild a few times but reigns itself back in for smart dialogue, congenial characters and a funny, zippy pace.  (International Village) 3 ½  out of 5

SHINTOHO: The Cinematéque promises “Nudes, Guns and Ghosts” in this celebration of B-movies Japanese style. It’s got five films left to show of a series of eight from the now-gone Shintoho studio which produced art when it started but in the mid-50s, led by a former carnival showman, started grinding out exploitation flicks. Sunday’s offering, for instance, is FLESH PIER, in which a cop investigates a call-girl ring.

The same director made one of the three films in the series that I’ve seen:

YELLOW LINE, a noir with a heady mix of deep cynicism about powerful people, a killer with existential issues and a journalist investigating white slavery. The story is neat. A woman is taken hostage by the killer and ends up a dancer in the very club her boyfriend, the reporter, is trying to expose.  3 out of 5

Two horror entries, VAMPIRE BRIDE and THE GHOST CAT OF OTAMA POND, remind me of the B-movies that used to play on the bottom half of double bills. The sets, the makeup, the special effects and the acting are basic. Their stories are better than usual though. The VAMPIRE is hardly that, but she is a rising movie starlet turned into a hairy monster by an old witch and sent to get revenge on a trio of envious women who pushed her over a cliff. THE GHOST CAT inflicts a curse on a woman and the film takes an elaborate flashback to a case of village corruption a century earlier to explain it. (Both are 2 out of 5)

Echoes of Hammer and AIP films and lots of appeal for fans of low budget “psychotronic” fare. For more info visit

PROJECTING CHANGE: Starting Wednesday, this short but ambitious festival is back for a 6th year with a new, wider mission. When it started it was primarily about the environment, broadly interpreted. Now it takes in empowerment, identity, culture, and global connection. A good indication of that is the film Bully, tough-minded and moving about an on-going problem and included here. Also, How to Survive a Plague, about the gay movement’s fight for better AIDS drugs. 

Among the other 11 films showing over five days is a study of visual pollution by billboards (This Space Available), a Vancouver photographer’s return to the civil-war-ravaged country of his youth (Liberia 77), a call for healthy architecture (Biophilic Design) and rap music’s reach (Mongolian Bling).   


The films screen at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts on W. Hastings street.  For more about them, about the speakers, workshops, youth days and other events, including an all-day yoga retreat, visit

NOTE: All images in this feature are supplied by the producers of the movies or of the event  and are the exclusive property of their copyright owners.


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