Movies at a Glance & New DVDs

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                                                                     MOVIES AT A GLANCE.


(2hr 10min) ** ½ The long and over-rated coming-of-age gay melodrama fortunately has the gorgeous scenery of Northern Italy to distract our attention. Surprisingly this was written and adapted by 89 year old James Ivory of the famed Merchant Ivory Productions. In 1983 the archaeologists Perlmans (Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar) welcomed an American doctoral student Oliver (Armie Hammer) for the six summer weeks to their countryside villa to assist in the revision of a book manuscript and with academic paperwork. 17 year old son Elio (Timothee Chalamet) took an interest in Oliver in spite of having a girlfriend and watching him flirt with local girls, and that slowly developed into love, till the time came to part and Oliver wanted to spend his final 3 days in Rome, and Perlman surprisingly encouraged Elio to join him or spend the rest of his life regretting it. (Intl Village) 
DARKEST HOUR (1hr 29min) ** Possibly this year’s most disappointing film, the British biographical war drama covers the period between the choice of Winston Churchill as UK Prime Minister through WW11’s early days to Dunkirk, which incidentally is a vastly superior film. After Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, Germany attacked Poland and the UK declared war. Chamberlain resigned and, as the only politician accepted by all parties, Churchill (barely recognizable Gary Oldman) on May 10 1940 became PM, confirmed by doubting King George V1. Tories led by officious Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) urged him to seek peace talks with Hitler through Mussolini.. Churchill had the support of his strong-willed, devoted wife Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) and terrified new secretary Elizabeth (Lily James). Repetitious bland scenes of Churchill dictating inspirational speeches and a ridiculous sequence of Churchill talking to “the people” on the tube makes this feel like 3 hours!  (Intl Village)
NEW: EVERY DAY (1hr 35min) ** The audience for this adaptation of David Levithan's 2012 New York Times romantic fantasy David Levithan best seller adapted by Jesse Andrews is young adults who would appreciate the teenage angst story of a person who wakes up each morning occupying a different body each time, male or female, thereby living a different life!  That person or soul doesn’t really have a name because they don’t have a real existence but have a spirit for 24 hours, and so he is mysterious teenager “A,” a being who wakes up every morning in a different body, accessing that person’s memories and thereby becoming them for a day before inhabiting yet another body. Set in Baltimore (actually shot in Toronto), the film opens with him as cool populas teenager Justin (Justice Smith), going to school to meet his 16 year old girlfriend Rhiannon (Aussie actress Angourie Rice) whom he totally takes for granted.  Based on Justin’s memories, A is conscious that Rhiannon and Justin are going through a problem period and so attentive A – Justin - suggests they cut class, sneaking off on a spontaneous drive to the beach where Rhiannon unburdens herself to A who actually has a rare connection and falls in love with her. She finds this new Justin warm and communicative! For both, it was a perfect day. The next day A is transfer student Amy (Jenny Ross) and the day after that A is skinny Nathan (Lucas Jade Zumann) and he tracks her down at a house party! From then on overwhelmed A tries to find a way to stay in the future close to Rhiannon and to convince her that the person she fell in love with on the beach was not Justin but A.  But the more the unconventional relationship develops, the more they find it difficult and frustrating being in a romance that changes every 24 hours with A morphing into someone different daily (16 in all, with one being Rhiannon!), and, with no permanent future, they are forced to make the ultimate difficult decision. With the constant changes in the diverse group, the personalities are not given time to develop and explore. Or yes, the shape shifter also manages to patch up the fraying relationship between Rhiannon’s mom (Maria Bello) and her portrait painting dad (Michael Cram). I am not the intended audience but female teens will enjoy this. (Intl Village)  
FIFTY SHADES FREED (1hr 41min) ** The Valentine’s Day film opens with the wedding of ‘Ana” (Dakota Johnson) to billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dorman) and she is introduced to the opulent lifestyle of her domineering husband, which includes her own bodyguard Luke (Brant Daugherty) just as Christian has his, Jason (Max Martini). While Christian is away on business, her friend Kate (Eloise Mumford), girlfriend of Christian’s younger brother Elliot (Luke Grimes), persuades her to sneak out without her bodyguard and join her for drinks. On returning home, she is attacked by stalker/former boss Jack (Eric Johnson), seeking revenge on the Greys and attempting to kidnap her. He possesses secret documents revealing much about Christian’s childhood. A furious Christian then learns that Ana is pregnant, and he isn’t ready for fatherhood. They fall out and while Christian’s away, Jack abducts Mia, demanding $5 million in ransom. You can guess the ending. (Scotiabank Theatre, Metropolis)
NEW: THE INSULT.  L’insulte (1hr 52min) **** Recommended.  Here’s a strong Lebanese contender for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. The film’s director / writer Ziad Doueiri left Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War to study in the US where he worked under Quentin Tarantino as camera assistant for his movies Jackie Brown, From Dusk Till Dawn, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Doueiri had expressed opposition to boycotts of Israel and in 2013 defended his decision to shoot The Attack in Israel featuring Israeli actors.  In September 2017, he was arrested in Beirut after returning from the Venice Film Festival in regards to that film but was later released with all charges dropped. The Insult is basically a heated courtroom drama, following a minor insult dispute in Beirut between a Palestinian Muslim refugee and a Lebanese Christian which exploded into racial riots in divided Lebanon, a nation that’s never healed since its bloody civil war. Christian owner of a car repair garage, Tony Hanna (Adal Karam) and his pregnant wife Shirine (Rita Hayek) live on a street under repairs and construction. When Tony’s damaged illegal drain pipe on his terrace pours water onto the street and on respected Palestinian construction foreman Yasser (Kamel El Basha), the latter knocks on the family’s door and requests permission to repair it, but antagonistic Tony slams the door in his face. Yasser repairs the pipe anyway and a furious Tony immediately destroys it. Yasser’s boss suggests he should apologize and heads to Tony’s garage where he blasts assassinated leader Bachir Gemayel’s incendiary anti-Palestinian talk and, without an apology from Yasser, Tony yells at him “I wish Ariel Sharon wiped you all out” which causes Yasser to punch Tony, breaking a couple of his ribs, leading to a lawsuit. (Note: Christians make up 40 percent of the population.) When the two men, wanting a fair trial, appear in the courtroom without lawyers, the judge throws them out. Tony approaches prominent Christian prosecutor Wajdi Wehbe (Camille Salamé), anxious to stir up conflicts with the Muslims. And an inexperienced but brilliant lawyer Nadine (Diamand Bou Abboud) offers her services to Yasser.  Spoiler alert: Wajdi and Nadine are father and daughter, and she is determined to prove herself to doubting dad! What follows is a totally gripping and engrossing heated battle of wits involving personal hardships and injustices and historical grievances on both sides, moving away from the specifics of the case. Performances, screenplay and photography are faultless. (Vancity Theatre)
I, TONYA (2 hrs) *** Here’s another battling mother and daughter film with powerful performances especially by award winning Allison Janey as hard boiled, foul-mouthed LaVona and by Margot Robbie as her physically and verbally abused figure skater daughter Tonya Harding.  The claim to questionable fame came in January 1994 at the US Figure Skating Championships, when US National Champion rival figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked with a police baton by an assailant hired by Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan). Kerrigan recovered to win a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics, and Tonya, dubbed the most hated woman in America, was banned for life from the US figure Skating Association. She took up boxing!  From age 3 Tonya loved to skate and was a punch bag for her ambitious, dissatisfied mom. She hardened, accepting the physical and mental abuse from mother and sadistic husband as being something she deserved. Heart-breaking and true! (Intl Village)
LADY BIRD (1hr 33min).**** Recommended Greta Gerwig’s sharply written and authentic dialogue of a family’s argumentative relationship is vastly amusing and perfectly performed by a carefully chosen cast. This, her 2nd directorial attempt, proves her potential.  Christine (Saorise Ronan) desperately wanted to live her life without hypercritical mom Marion (Laurie Metcalf) breathing down her neck, their volatile relationship careening between love and loathing. In her high school senior year, she attended the restrictive Eternal Flame Catholic School where her grades were abysmal. She was determined to join a liberal arts college on the East coast rather than the affordable local UC Davis. At drama club she dated multi-talented Danny (Lucas Hedges) only to find he was gay, and then had sex with bad boy Kyle (Timothee Chalamet) to find he wasn’t a virgin as previously stated. Sublime entertainment! Expect several Academy award nominations. (Fifth Avenue)
MOLLY’S GAME (2hrs).*** Based upon Molly Bloom’s memoir Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker, the biopic is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, renowned TV and Screenwriter, producer and playwright. In her early years, Molly trained under the watchful eye of her demanding psychologist father, Larry (Kevin Costner), to compete in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in freestyle skiing, but a freak accident led to a devastating back injury and scoliosis surgery. Molly (Jessica Chastain) became estranged from her father and worked for a despicable former celebrity, Dean (Jeremy Dean), to help run his underground celebrity poker game where a buy-in was for $10,000. When fired, she took his contact list and successfully established her own rival poker showroom, poaching his A-list players and raising the stakes to $250,000 to buy in!  But she landed in court after she was involved illegally with dangerous, wealthy Russian mobsters. (Intl Village)
NEW: MOM AND DAD (1hr 23min) ** Are you ready for something diabolically different in bloody black comedy-horror films?  If you are, read on.  Meet the bickering Ryan family: dad Brent (Nicolas Cage), mom Kendall (Selma Blair), high school sophomore daughter Carly (Anne Winters) and mischievous young son Josh (Zachary Arthur). Rebellious Carly is angry with both parents who she feels don’t understand her and won’t give her space; Brent doesn’t approve of Carly’s boyfriend; Carly is permanently annoyed with her considerably younger brother; independent Kendall thinks Carly is straying too far from the family. Carly is furious that she has to give up a movie date with her boyfriend because her grandparents are coming for dinner, and what does she have in common with them. The film opens at a railway crossing as a mother positions her child in a pram in front of the fast oncoming train! While the bored texting kids are at school ignoring their teachers, in homes a weird static is being transmitted into home television and radio sets and it’s causing homicidal parents to kill only their children!  At school the alarm bell goes off and the children troop out into the courtyard towards the school fence. On the other side are their parents, and, as the kids climb over the fence, their parents attack and massacre them in a bloodbath. There’s panic as the attacks spread. In the Ryan home, Josh watches horrified as the Asian housekeeper (Sharon Gee) kills her own daughter but acts normally with him. Carly had escaped with her friend Riley (Olivia Crocicchia) to her home, only to see Riley strangled by her mother. Carly’s friend Damon (Robert Cunningham) kills his father in self defense before he helps Carly get home to protect petrified Josh. Kendall has gone to the hospital to see her pregnant sister Jenna (Samantha Lemole) give birth to a daughter – well, you can guess what happens. Kendall heads home as does bored at work Brent and the majority of the film concerns the demented parents trying by any means to kill Carly and Josh, who, with Damon, have barricaded themselves in the basement. Both sides find ingenious ways to attack each other. When the doorbell rings, it’s Brent’s parents Mel (Lance Henricksen) and Barbara (Marilyn Dodds Frank) and they pepper spray and stab their berserk son, Brent! There’s mayhem in the Ryan home! It’s totally idiotic but not without some amusing demented scenes. Horror fans will enjoy!  (Rio Theatre)   |
PHANTOM THREAD (2hrs 10min) *** This is 3-time Academy Award winning Irish/English actor Sir Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film before his retirement at age 60. As imperious elegant perfectionist couturier Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), in London’s mid-fifties he fell for a strong-willed younger muse, Alma (European Vicky Krieps), invited on a first date when she modelled for him, and he proposed to her. He moved her into his stylish five-story London townhouse where he and his business partner and sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville) worked, starting early mornings when his seamstresses arrived. The couple’s problems started at breakfast, his time of quiet contemplation during which he sketched in silence, when Alma would deliberately interrupted his train of thought. She challenged his choices of fabrics, which led to a verbal battle as he expected to be obeyed and never questioned. She decided to go to extremes and exact her bizarre revenge. Day-Lewis plays the complex character to perfection but I wish I could say the same about Paul Thomas Anderson’s underwhelming, though exquisitely costumed melodrama. (Fifth Avenue)
THE POST (1hr 58min) *** Here’s the true story of the Washington Post’s successful fight for freedom of the press. Their publication of the “Pentagon Papers” in 1971 led to a Supreme Court decision that was a major victory for the press in its battle against censorship by the government. Producer/director Steven Spielberg’s film opens with war correspondent Daniel Ellsburg (Matthew Rhys) listening to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) lie about the Vietnam war and, with access to classified 7000 pages of the highly classified documents detailing deceptions by numerous presidents about their contradictory Vietnam policies, he stole, copied and submitted them to the newspapers. The Post’s publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and her editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) had to decide whether to publish and risk imprisonment or give in to her doubting Board members. Billed as a “thriller,” the film is hardly that, given that we know the outcome, and much of the verbose dialogue is ponderous or mundane. (Intl Village, Fifth Avenue)
THE SHAPE OF WATER (1hr 59min) **** Recommended  Mexican-American screenwriter, director, producer, novelist Guillermo del Toro’s captivating, imaginative romantic fantasy horror won the Golden Lion for Best Film at Cannes. In the Cold War era 1960s, timid deaf mute Eliza Esposito (Sally Hawkins), working as an overnight janitor at a mysterious US aerospace research centre, discovered a chained secret underwater Amazonian humanoid with fins, gills and scales (Doug Jones) and she was determined to free it, especially after Colonel Strictland (Michael Shannon) used a lethal electric truncheon to subdue “the Asset,” and his boss, General Hoyt (Nick Searcy), wanted the body harvested to study for the advancement of space travel technology. A Soviet spy, Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), secretly working at the lab, begged for more time to study. Eliza’s only friends were a gay neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins) and her night shift work partner Zelda (Octavia Spencer). Then Eliza fell in love!  Hawkins’ performance is exquisite, supported by a superb cast. (Fifth Avenue, Intl Village)
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (1hr 55min) **** Recommended. Here’s my favourite film of the year! British/Irish screenwriter/film director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) perfectly balances violence and humour, describing it as “about a 50-year-old woman whose daughter is murdered and she goes to war with the police in her home town, because she thinks they are more interested in torturing black people than getting justice!” In the black comedy drama, single, divorced Mildred Hayes (superb Frances McDormand) buys three dilapidated billboards and plastered on them “Raped while dying,” “And still no arrests,” “How come, Chief Willoughby?” Three years after her daughter’s rape and murder, there are no suspects and she blames Sheriff Bill (Woody Harrelson) and his incompetent crew including dullard, racist officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell). Her lack of respect infuriates Dixon who takes it out physically on anyone supporting her, whereas Willoughy, dying from terminal pancreatic cancer, is sympathetic. When someone sets fire to the billboards, she takes her revenge. Awesome, this Golden Globes winner is a "must see." (Intl Village)

                                                           NEW DVDs

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday February 20
DADDY'S HOME 2. Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, John Cena, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson
SOME KIND OF DIFFERENT LIKE ME   Greg Kinnear, Djimon Hounsou, Renée Zellweger, Jon Voight
THE FLORIDA PROJECT Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Kimberly Prince, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto, Caleb Landry Jones
THE STAR (Animation) Steven Yeun, Gina Rodriguez, Kelly Clarkson, Christopher Plummer,  Oprah Winfrey

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday February 20
COCO (Animation) Gael García Bernal, Anthony Gonzales, Benjamin Bratt, Edward James Olmos, Cheech
DARKEST HOUR. Gary Oldman, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, John Hurt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane
JUST GETTING STARTED Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, Rene Russo, Joe Pantoliano, Glenne Headly
LET THERE BE LIGHT. Kevin Sorbo, Sam Sorbo, Daniel Roebuck, Travis Tritt, Michael Franzese, Olivia Fox
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EPPING, MISSOURI  Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday March 6
THE BREADWINNER. (Animation) Saara Chaudry, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Ali Badshah, Ali Kasmi, Kawa Ada
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN  Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya
LADY BIRD  Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS  Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Simon Callow
NOVITAITE Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor, Liana Liberato
THOR: RAGNAROK Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins
WONDER WHEEL  Jim Belushi, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake, Kate Winslet, Jack Gore, Vittorio Storaro

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday February 13
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel
DISASTER ARTIST  James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor, Jacki Weaver, Josh Hutcherson
FERDINAND Animation John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, David Tennant
I , TONYA  Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Mckenna Grace, Sebastian Stan, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale
JUSTICE LEAGUE Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons
THE SHAPE OF WATER. Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spencer

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday March 20
DOWNSIZING  Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale
PITCH PERFECT 3. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, John Lithgow, Elizabeth Banks

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday March 27
ACTS OF VIOLENCE Cole Hauser, Bruce Willis, Shawn Ashmore, Ashton Holmes, Melissa Bolona, Mike Epps
MOM AND DAD Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Lance Henriksen, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Lance Henriksen
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI  Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro
LE TRIP A TROIS Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Martin Matte, Bénédicte Décary, Geneviève Schmidt, Julianne Côté

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday April 13
13 REASONS WHY (Netflix) Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Michael Sadler, Justin Prentice, Devin Druid
FATHER FIGURES  Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, J.K. Simmons, Ving Rhames, Terry Bradshaw, Glenn Close
INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Josh Stewart,  Bruce Davison
SWEET VIRGINIA Jon Bernthal, Christopher Abbott, Imogen Poots, Rosemarie DeWitt, Odessa Young
THELMA  Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins, Henrik Rafaelsen, Ellen Dorritt Petersen, Kaya Wilkins, Henrik Rafaelsen

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday April 3
MOLLY'S GAME Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Chris O'Dowd, Michael Cera, Graham Greene