X-Men time travel, Woody Allen plays a pimp and Adam Sandler gets milder
Here's some sad news. The Dolphin Theatre is closing next Thursday. It's been a great place for families to see new movies for less and in their North Burnaby neighborhood. Now there are only cineplex prices for them.
Among the new films, the X-Men are big but I favor a small one from Paraguay you’ve probably not heard about. Also take note of two B.C. films and a festival of classics from Poland.
There’s great variety on this week’s list:
7 Boxes: 4 stars
X-Men: Days of Future Past: 3 ½
Blended: 2 ½
Fading Gigolo: 3
The Love Punch: 2
Stress Position: 3
Cruel & Unusual: 3 ½
Polish Masterpieces: various high ratings
7 BOXES: This is my favorite film of the last few months. It’s got more energy and momentum than any two of the comic book movies put together and it’s got an improbable story that’ll fully entertain you. I just don’t understand why it took so long to get here. It played at the Toronto film festival two years ago and has won great critical praise everywhere. It’s from Paraguay. Maybe distributors don’t see that as one of the world cinema hot spots.
Young Victor who works odd jobs around a street market is called for an urgent job. He has to load seven boxes on to his wheelbarrow and take them away to keep them out of sight of police snooping around. The man who was supposed to do the job but arrived late goes after him, originally alone, then with a whole gang, because he’s desperate. Victor just wants to buy a cell phone. A series of chases develop. The cops almost find him a couple of times. One box is stolen and the wheelbarrow goes missing. And that’s only a small part of an intricate story that also involves a pregnant woman, a crabby Korean restauranteur and a pesky but ultimately helpful girl. It’s a great thriller, fast moving and great fun. (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5
Playing in tandem with FINAL CUT: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN an acclaimed Hungarian film that tells its story of a love affair entirely through old movie clips from Hollywood and elsewhere.
The VanCity also has limited engagements of two very good B.C. films (see below)
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST: Brian Singer’s lawsuit troubles aside, he’s a smart director. This time he has to herd a huge cast as well as the giant special effects in a time travel story based on a Marvel Comics series from 1981. He’s got Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen from the first film, which he directed 14 years ago, and the actors playing younger versions of their characters, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Also Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Halle Berry and others. Plus: Peter Dinklage, moonlighting from Game of Thrones, as the villain who created robot Sentinels that hunt and kill mutants. The way to stop him is to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to prevent him from ever starting. X-Men from both times work together on that.
Result? The film works beautifully. I think it’s my favorite of the three Marvel movies that have come this summer. Complex visual effects blend seamlessly with the live characters. Excellent actors put across the grandiose dialogue as if it really means something. “Is the future really set?” could be said in any time travel movie. This one takes us back to 1973, to the Vietnam War peace talks in Paris and later to the White House lawn where Richard Nixon tries to announce a new mutant-eradication program. The X-Men and the shape-shifting Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) create wonderful havoc at both. And between the action scenes there are human stories. Fassbender and McAvoy have to overcome the funk their characters are in while other mutants have to learn again (as in all these movies) that their existence means something. If anything there are too many story strands here. For a while they’re in quite an impenetrable tangle. There’s a lot of humor though and the guy playing Nixon doesn’t look much like him at all. (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 3 ½ out of 5