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12 MIGHTY ORPHANS (1hr 58min) *** ½ Here’s another of those Inspired by True Events stories and this inspirational underdog sports drama is based on the 2008 novel by sportswriter Jim Dent about a scrawny football team of orphans from a Fort Worth, Texas Orphanage during the Great Depression dubbed “the Mighty Mites” who went on to vie for the Texas state championships.. In 1927 arriving at the Masonic Home were Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson), his wife Juanita (Vinessa Shaw) and young daughter. Rusty, himself an orphan, was hired to teach science and maths but really to coach non-existent football. He selected and trained 12 eligible teen boys for the high school football league and taught them to rely on each other and to believe in themselves. Supporting Rusty was physician, Doc Hall (Martin Sheen) who recommended him to introduce football. Arriving simultaneously was troubled rejected teenager, Jake Austin Walker (Jake Austin Walker). The institution’s crooked, sadistic manager was Frank Wynn (Wayne Knight) who illegally violated the law by exploiting the abused kids for cheap labour. The screenplay is totally predictable but is also genuinely heart-warming, engrossing and vastly entertaining. The team eventually started winning games and became folk heroes. See it … I know you will not be disappointed.
BEANS (1ht 32min) *** ½  Voted Best Picture at the 9th Canadian Screen Awards 2021 along with the John Dunning Best First Feature Film Award for Tracy Deer’s directorial debut of the fictional, semi-biographical, coming-of-age story of a young Canadian Mohawk girl named Tekehentahkhwa, nicknamed Beans.  The Oka Crisis took place at Kanesatake, a Mohawk settlement near Montreal, when in 1990 Oka approved plans to expand a golf course but the Mohawks protested it would affect their sacred burial grounds, The result was barricades, violent confrontations, gunfire and a 78 day armed stand-off between warring Mohawks and Quebec Government causing massive traffic jams on the Mercer bridge.  The story covers the difficult daily lives of 12 year old Beans (Kiawentiio Tarbell), sister Ruby (Violah Beauvais), pregnant mother Lily (Rainbow Dickerson) and father Kania’tariio (Joel Montgrand) living with terrifying hatred from their white neighbours, yet having to continue as if all was normal. Beans is a triumph for newcomers Deer and Kiawentiio and a ‘must see’ for viewers unaware of Canada’s Oka Crisis history.
BODY BROKERS (1hr 53min) *** Based on true events, here’s .the story about the drug rehabilitation industry in Los Angeles, a multi-million dollar fraud scheme where drug addicts are shuffled in and out of treatment facilities for insurance payments. Each patient could be worth thousands of dollars under the Affordable Care Act.  With the growing number of drug treatment facilities, many are participating in kickback schemes known as “body brokering.” In return for referring a patient to a drug treatment facility, the broker receives a compensation of $500 to $5,000. Young drug addicts Utah (Jack Kilmer) and Opal (Alice Englrert) are approached by charismatic Wood (Michael K. Williams) who makes suggestions about kicking the habit and in return making money. Costing him nothing, Utah signs on and is flown to a Los Angeles facility where he is welcomed by intake nurse May (Jessica Rothe) and supervising therapist Dr White (Melissa Leo) Wood trains him how to manipulate new additions, while making a fortune. The premise is intriguing and interesting enough but Kilmer is not. (EST, VOD, DVD, Blu-ray)
THE CARD COUNTER (1hr 52min) *** Here’s another of those films lauded by the critics but probably not by mainstream audiences.  It helps if you are a card player or into poker and the first 30 minutes are spent at the tables explaining the finer points of poker. William Tell, actually Tillage (Oscar Isaac) was dishonorably discharged and spent 8 years in prison as punishment for his involvement as a US Army torturer of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Tell now gambles for a living and he counts cards (hence the title) which he learned in prison in order to win but not big, so as to avoid attracting attention. He drifts from town to town, casino to casino, cheap motel to cheap motel.  He meets financial backer La Linda (Tiffany Haddish) who runs a “stable,” playing poker for a group of anonymous backers who need to be staked. She recognizes Tell’s talent for card counting at blackjack and reading players’ eyes. Tell gets a note from college dropout Cirk “with a C” (Tye Sheridan) whose father had also been in the hellhole of Abub Griab which changed him mentally and. 4 years ago he shot himself. Cirk blamed  that on “enhanced interrogation” expert officer and now retired contractor John Gordo (Willem Dafoe) “I want to capture him, torture him and kill him.”  Gordo, a private contractor at GITMO, could not be prosecuted for crimes not on American soil. Only soldiers were jailed and not their commanding officers. We witness horrific flashbacks of the abhorrent pain and dehumanizing torture which grinning soldiers administered to nude, battered, hooded prisoners, while screaming music blasted hard and loud to drown the cries. When the photos were released publicly, Gordo disappeared.Tell offers to take Cirk on the road all costs paid as, he senses a glimmer of hope in “the kid” but will he drop his murderous threat? The ending is not what you might expect.
CENSOR (1hr 24 min) *** Set in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain in the mid 1980s, the film is centred on prim, quiet spinster Enid Baines (Niamh Algar) who is a dedicated part of a movies-rating board which view and edit countless low budget horror “video nasties” all the rage at that time. Their concern was the effect constant grizzly, cheap VHS screenings would have on a younger generation. Enid lives with her middle class parents (Clare Holman & Andrew Havil) and they’re all still grieving the loss of younger daughter Nina who disappeared when a child. After decades, the parents want her declared legally dead in order to move on, but not Enid. When Enid screens exploitation film “Don’t Go in the Church” by slimy, mysterious director Frederick North (Adrian Schiller) whose producer/distributor is predatory producer Doug (Michael Smiley) the woodland scenes, featuring two sisters in a familiar location, bring back horrifying memories of her childhood and a traumatic incident on the fatal day Nina disappeared. Enid is suspicious, determined to investigate more closely and then her mind start unraveling. She thinks red-haired Alice Lee (Sophia La Porta) in the movie is Nina, now grown up. Paranoia takes hold and she’s headed for a total mental breakdown. Impressive and engrossing  (VOD)
THE COMEBACK TRAIL (1hr 44min) *** What a cast: Robert de Nero, Tommy Jones, Morgan Freeman, Zach Braff and Emile Hirsch, This wacky comedy with solid performances hits the mark for me. In 1970s Hollywood, Max Barber (de Niro), the sleazy hustler producer of low budget exploitation films, borrowed $350,000 for his film Killer Nuns which didn’t sell a single ticket. Along with nephew partner Walter (Braff), he has 48 hours to repay gangster Reggie Fontaine (Morgan Freeman), or give Fontaine a cherished script titled Paradise which both want to produce, but Max refuses. He has an idea that he could collect an enormous insurance payout of five million dollars if the star of his next film had “an accidental death.” He persuades former popular cowboy star Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones) residing in a retirement home to sign on in a come-back performance in a super Western. Then he plans a succession of dangerous stunt sequences devised to kill Montana, but every one of his attempts fail. Fontaine is unhappy with the failures and takes his henchmen to the set to kill Max, but then he screens the footage and it is great!  Could this be an Award contender? Although best known for his dramatic abilities, de Niro has proved to be a natural at comedy and this is a perfect example. Stay for the closing credits which include an amusing trailer for Max’ failure Killer Nuns! (PVOD and PEST)   
THE COURIER (1hr 51min) *** ½ Based on historical events, by 1960 the nuclear arms race had intensified. The U.S. and Soviets now possessed weapons capable of wiping out humanity. As Khrushchev and the Americans traded threats, many feared the world was on the verge of imminent destruction, their nuclear arsenal getting bigger daily. M16 had received a note from the American Embassy in Moscow that a high ranking Soviet military intelligence officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), code name Ironbark, had information about Russia’s nuclear program to pass on. Rather than recruiting a trained agent to be his contact, the CIA’s unconventional plan was to conscript a businessman so bland that no one would suspect him of being a spy and he could travel without raising any suspicion. They conscripted an ordinary English international salesman of industrial equipment, Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch), happily married to Sheila (Jessie Buckley) and with a young son Andrew (Keir Hills).Wynne would be in Moscow regularly to “open a door to the top manufacturers in the west.” Since Penkovsky’s official Soviet job was to steal Western technology secrets, the KGB would not suspect him of now doing the opposite. CIA realized its importance and agreed, but Wynne’s wife was never to know. If you don’t know what followed, you really need to see the compelling factual unexpected outcome. (VOD) 
DEMONIC (1hr 45min) ** Neill Blomkamp’s name is associated with 2009’s box office and critical hits District 9 and Elysium. The low budget, supernatural, sci-fi horror thriller was filmed in B.C. and written, produced and directed by Blomkamp. The goal was to create a feeling of dread and a sense of brooding tension. Carly (Carly Pope) has not seen her mother Angela (Nathalie Bolt) since she killed 21 people in a nursing home. She’s now a part of a focus group at secretive medical tech company Therapod, running experiments on live patients, and is in a 'locked-in syndrome,' being aware but unable to move. Carly agreed to physician Michael Dolos’ (Michael J Rogers) request to be hooked up to electrodes, allowing her to enter her mother’s mind and communicate with her. A strange devilish creature with a sort of raven’s head hovers. The simulations guided Carly to a sanatorium on haunted land. Theories about her mother’s meltdown involved transporting individuals into a virtual reality simulation inside the mind of comatose people, and the black ops Vatican exorcism unit has been building up places like Therapod where doctors were in actuality priests, hunting down demons by luring them back to the scene of initial infection! Convoluted? Absolutely!
FINDING YOU (1hr 59min) This will be criticized by the majority of film reviewers and loved by the audience and I’m with the latter. When violinist Finlay Sinclair (Rose Reid) fails a prestigious audition, she travels to a coastal village in Ireland to begin a semester studying abroad. On her flight she is seated next to a pompous popular heartthrob movie star Beckett Rush (miscast Jedidiah Goodacre) and on her arrival at her boarding house run by her host family she finds he is also staying there while shooting a medieval fantasy adventure, akin to Game of Thrones. Her class study involves spending time with a nursing-home resident, cranky Cathleen Sweeney (Vanessa Redgrave) with a dark family secret, while Finlay is nagged by his manager/father (Tom Everett Scott) to sign a 5-movie contract and renew his on/off relationship with co-star Taylor Risdale (Katherine McNamara) in order to maintain a large supporting cast and crew. Meanwhile Finlay and Beckett are growing closer. It is totally predictable and overly long with numerous subplots, but it is fast paced, charming, entertaining, and with solid performances from most of its cast … and Ireland looks fantastic!. (VOD, EST, DVD, Blu-ray)   
FLAG DAY (1hr 48min) *** Jennifer Vogel’s memoir Flim-Flam Man: The True Story Of My Father’s Counterfeit Life, now adapted by screenwriters Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, is the subject of Sean Penn’s latest which he directed and stars in as con-artist John Vogel, with Sean’s daughter Dylan Penn playing Jennifer, and Sean’s son Jack Hopper Penn playing son Nick,  The film opens in 1992 with Jennifer being debriefed on her father’s troubles by a US Marshall, while on TV cop cars are following John in a high speed chase. He has been charged with hand printing $22 million in counterfeit bills and faces up to 25 years in prison. Jennifer idolizes her charismatic father who appears loving, full of fun and adventurous, but in the outside world he is irresponsible, deceitful and a fraud. The times he spends with his children make a lasting impression. He would then disappear for years. Jennifer, constantly at war with her alcoholic mother Patty (Katheryn Winnick), left home and stayed with John, both trying to get their lives back on track. He ends up robbing a bank while she went to college and earned a journalism degree and a job with a newspaper. Both Sean and Dylan Penn give deeply moving performances, making this worthwhile viewing. 
THE GREEN KNIGHT (2hrs 5min) ** ½ The much critically praised film is based on the medieval English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. At Christmas in King Arthur’s Camelot, a gigantic Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) with gnarly tree-like features arrives on horseback and challenges anyone to strike him with his magnificent axe on condition that in exactly a year that person should seek him out at the Green Chapel and receive a similar blow. Arthur’s nephew Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) agrees and with one blow beheads the Knight, who picks up his head, remounts his horse and, with a final reminder, rides off. The year passes quickly and as Christmas approaches, Gawain sets off on his journey, encountering all sorts of misadventures along the way including meeting a playful digital talking fox which follows him everywhere, He eventually arrives at the castle of Lord Bertilak (Joel Edgerton) and his seductive Lady (Alicia Vikander in dual roles, the first being Gawain’s commoner lover) and then he and the Green Knight come together again face to face. Hailed as a masterpiece by critics, the moody and melancholy David Lowery-directed, written and edited fantastical drama probably will have the opposite effect on mainstream audiences. Visually stunning but too much is left unanswered. 
THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD  (1hr 40min) ** If you want a kind of live action screwball cartoon comedy with non-stop violence resulting in ridiculously excessive body-counts and a blood bath, a trigger happy cast, goofy jokes, and the f word used in excess, this one’s for you and therefore ignore all negative reviews. In therapy for an overworked crisis, bodyguard-for-hire Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is relaxing on a Capri beach when loud and foul-mouthed fiery Latina Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hyek) arrives with guns blazing and mobsters chasing her. Sonia needs Bryce to help rescue from mobsters her notorious hitman husband Darius Kincade (Samuel L Jackson), and we’re in for non-stop shouting and shooting till he’s freed. Bryce and the Kincades are recruited by Interpol agent Bobby O'Neill (Grillo) to assist in locating Greek tycoon and terrorist mastermind Aristotle Papadopoulos (Banderas), determined to destroy the European power grid and infrastructure with a super-strong diamond-tipped drill, meant to spread the virus since the EU is imposing new sanctions on Greece. But the Greek and Sonia were once lovers. Apart from everyone yelling profanities at each other, other problems include the convoluted screenplay, juvenile humour and never-ending twists, turns and explosions, (Premium VOD & Premium EST)
I CARRY YOU WITH ME (1hr 51min)  ***  In Spanish This is a true love story involving two young Mexicans, aspiring chef from Pueblo, Ivan (Armando Espitia) and a wealthy school teacher from Chiapas, Gerardo (Christian Vazquez). When Ivan married Sandra (Michelle Gonzales) she didn’t realize he was gay. They had a son, Ricky, but then separated. In 1994, Ivan (Espitia) did odd jobs in a restaurant, although he had formal culinary education. At a secret gay club he met Gerardo (Vazqyuez) and the attraction was mutual. Ivan decided to cross illegally into the US for a better life and freedom as a gay man. He eventually arrived in New York City, taking menial jobs while learning English and Gerardo decided to join  him legally. New York documentary director/co-writer Heidi Ewing knew the couple and filmed them regularly from 2012, and so the real couple takes over the roles when reunited. Ivan had gone from dish washer to line cook to chef and now restaurant chain owner, with a staff of 80. He desperately missed Mexico and his son but, if he left, he couldn’t return as he was an illegal immigrant. Fascinating and factual!  (Cinema Clock)
THE ICE ROAD (1hr 48min) *** ½ When Mike McCann (Liam Neeson), a highly rated and experienced big rig driver, and his Iraq war vet brother with PTSD and aphasia Gurty (Marcus Thomas) are out of work, there remains one choice. Remote Diamond Mine in Northern Manitoba suffered a methane explosion and cave-in, killing eight and trapping twenty-six miners underground, The required 25 ton wellheads pulled by tractors can only be taken in by road but it’s April and the icy roads across Lake Winnipeg have started to melt. $200,000 will be split between whoever reaches the mine. Mike accepts.  A second rig will be driven by Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) and a third by tough ex-con Cree driver Tantoo (Amber Midthunder). The company’s insurance actuary Varnay (Genjamin Walker) insists of joining her. Each truck is carrying identical equipment in case there is an accident on the dangerous thawing road. In the mines, the trapped men have 30 hours of oxygen left.  Naturally there are accidents and treachery along the way. Writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh keeps the pace relentless and tensions high in sub-zero conditions. Who will survive the course?  Neeson fans will be ecstatic! (Netflix/POV/EST).
LITTLE FISH (1hr 41min) *** ½ The pandemic science fiction love story is set within global epidemic: Neuroinflammatory Affliction, a sever and rapid Alzheimer's-like condition in which people's memories disappear. For veterinarian Emma (Olivia Cooke) and photographer Jude (Jack O’Connell) it was love at first sight and they were married when the epidemic had started. Their friends, musician Ben (Raul Castillo) and girlfriend Samantha (Soko), fell out when Ben forgot how to play music, claiming “I don’t know her. What’s she doing in my house?” Emma jotted down memories before they disappeared.  Dr.Dormer (Carmen Moore) offered a “significant risks” cure by doing an oral cranial puncture “removing the lateral through the roof of your mouth.”  When Jude started to show early symptoms, Emma desperately tried to keep his memory intact with brain teases of shared memories  There’s a natural chemistry between these two tremendous actors, aided by a compassionate, intelligent screenplay by Mattson Tomlin. When Jude finally insisted they should follow the home instructions remedy: “You take this long needle and find this nerve at the base of the brain,” I noted “Not for the squeamish,” but it’s well worth viewing. (IFC Films Unlimited)  
THE LOST LEONARDO (1hr 35min) *** ½  An absolutely fascinating, intriguing and compelling Documentary of the  painting ‘Salvator Mundi’, but was it really by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci? It was bought in an auction in New Orleans in 2005 for $1,175.00 by ’sleeper hunter’(undervalued) Alexander Parish and Old Masters Art dealer Robert Simon and is of Jesus Christ. Badly damaged, it required years of restoration by skilled restorer Dianne Modestini before evaluation. It was viewed, critiqued and appraised by collectors, art critics, dealers, investigative journalists, historians, da Vinci experts and the world’s top museums.  By 2013 it was valued at $83,000,000 and  eventually sold to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev through his unscrupulous art-dealer, Yves Bouvier, who bought it for him for $127.5 million, with a personal markup of $44.5 million. On November 22, 2014, Rybolovlev accused Bouvier of fraud (his mark-up was 100%), notifying him, “I want you to sell all my paintings at the purchase price by Christmas. If you don’t, you will have problems.” Bouvier was forced to sell his 150 year old company because of pending lawsuits. At Christies, the Salvator Mundi was up for auction again, and the winner was Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, forking out $450,000 million, the most expensive painting ever sold. This unusual fast-paced documentary is surprisingly thrilling.
THE MAURITANIAN (2hrs 9min) *** ½ The true story is based on the 2015 best selling memoir of Mohamedou Ould Slahi who the US held without charge for 14 years and 2 months. He had been charged as the chief recruiter for the 9/11 terrorists, but without any proof.  In 2001, 2 months after 9/11, intelligence agents at a Mauritanian wedding arrested Slahi (Tahar Rahim). That was the last time he would see his mother alive. He found himself in Guantanamo Military Prison, Cuba where indefinite detention without trial and inhumane torture was considered a breach of human rights by Amnesty International. Keeping the identity of the detainees secret (Slahi was #241), Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques” for the ‘dangerous people’ When learning of his predicament, Human Rights lawyer Nancy Hollander (Golden Globes winner Jodie Foster), assisted by Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley), became his defense council. The military pushed for the death penalty, enlisting prosecutor Lt. Col. Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch). 70 uninterrupted days of horrendous torture followed, leaving nothing to the imagination  His journals, which he sent regularly to Hollander, would become his book. (VOD)
MOGUL MOWGLI (1hr 30min)  *** ½  Don’t let the title or you don’t like rap put you off seeing this effective and riveting drama. See it because of actor / rapper Riz Ahmed who has been nominated and won a slew of British film, TV and music awards including 2020’s. Best Picture nomination, Sound of Metal, earning him Best Actor nominations for the Golden Globes and Academy Awards.  He plays Zed, a charismatic British-Pakistani rapper based in New York who returns after two years to see his family in London at the suggestion of girlfriend Bina (Aiysha Hart), when he is diagnosed with a rare, progressive neurological disorder, ‘degenerative autoimmune disease’ or SPS (Stiff-person syndrome) - fluctuating muscle rigidity in the trunk and limbs which can set off muscle spasms. He was on the cusp of his first big break … a major tour. His mother Nasra (Sudha Bhuchar) complains he’s losing weight, while his father Bashir (Alyy Khan) is critical of the career he chose instead of becoming a salesman. He is attacked by a fan for refusing to give him a selfie and that lands him in hospital where he noticed a stiffness in his right leg and he starts having hallucinations. He is forced to cancel his tour and be replaced by rival rapper RPG (Nabhaan Rizwan). Will he recover?
NINE DAYS  (2hrs 4min) ** ½  Here’s one for the Art House crowd and Film Festivals and not mainstream audiences. The concept is definitely original and initially intriguing, but it is overlong, uneven, exhausting and depressing. It’s about life after death. Meet Will (Winston Duke) whose job is to chose a replacement for life when there is a death, and that he does with applicants who go through tests given by Will, living in his isolated desert home with a massive bank of old TV monitors and taking studious notes, to determine the most worthy during a 9 day trial. The successful applicant will be born months later as a baby while the rest will fade away into oblivion. Will has an assistant, Kyo (Benedict Wong), for helping question and for grocery shopping. On the screens they monitor previous winners’ daily lives. But today the unexpected suicide of Will’s prodigy 28 year old violin Amanda worries him. The replacement choice will be either Kane (Bill Skarsgård), Mike (David Rysdahl), Maria. (Arianna Ortiz), Alexander (Tony Hale) or Emma (Zazie Beetz).  There are moral questions with no correct or wrong answers. Why do they deserve to be born?  Some of this tends to be tedious, slow and repetitive. Director/writer Edson Oda’s wholly original and thought provoking debut deserves credit, as does the solid performance by Duke.
PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE (1hrr 26min) *** ½ This crowd pleaser is a ‘Mikros Image Montreal’ high-quality CGI animated adventure-comedy film, based on the television series PAW Patrol.  Ryder (Will Brisbine) is a 10 year old boy who is the leader of the canine PAW Patrol namely bulldog Rubble (Keegan Hedley), cockapoo Skye (Lilly Bartlam), Dalmation Martial (Kingsley Marshall), mongrel Rocky (Callum Shoniker), Labrador Zuma (Shayle Simons), recent arrival Dachsund Liberty (Marsai Martin) and the newest is German Shepherd Chase (Iain Armitage). The PAW Patrol is a heroic search and rescue responder team of cute, cuddly pups with big expressive eyes, and each has a special skill and a totally unique high-tech vehicle, especially designed by techno-wizard scientist Ryder.Their latest mission is to save Adventure City from its pompous, arrogant, corrupt, self proclaimed Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo), whose only real interest is himself and wrecking havoc with his ultra weird vanity projects which lead to a series of catastrophic events. As an example, the incompetent top-hated mayor commandeered a weather controlling science experiment that gathers up all the clouds, leaving blue skies, but, when over-loaded, the effects are disastrous. There are important lessons to be learned for youngsters. Chas has had PTS ever since he, as a pup, was abandoned in the middle of Adventure City and he has to learn to trust in himself and his abilities.
PETER RABBIT 2 (1hr 33min) *** In September 1893, English writer /artist /storyteller Beatrix Potter composed illustrated letters to Noah, the sick son of former governess Annie Moore, about "four little rabbits whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter,” the latter being pet rabbit Peter Piper. When The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published, it and then other Potter books were universally accepted. In the stories, other characters were included: Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten, Whiskers, Tiggy Winkle, Pigling-Bland and Jeremy Fisher. In this sequel to the successful 2018 film, the bunnies surrogate mother Bea (Rose Byrne) married neighbour Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) who once had problems with the animals eating his vegetables. With peace restored, Bea met in London her publisher Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo) who suggested modernizing the stories with individual books of the rabbits, placing them on a beach or blasted into space  Peter's book was titled The Mischief Maker or The Bad Seed and he, miffed and demoralized, headed off to Gloucester where he met old rogue bunny Barnabus (Lennie James) and new adventures began. The humour is mostly slapstick which will amuse youngsters but there is enough here for adults to be entertained … although not the Potter purists. (DVD)
PIG  (1hr 32min) *** This is Nicolas Cage’s best dramatic role and film in decades. He plays bearded, disheveled, anti-social, reclusive Rob, who retreated 15 years ago as a renowned chef into a shack in the Oregon wilderness, His only companion is a truffle pig, constantly forging for valuable edible fungi. They are picked up weekly by truffle dealer Amir (Alex Wolff) in exchange for goods. Amir sells the truffles to the city’s finest chefs.  One night, Rob is mugged and the pig kidnapped by unidentified thugs. Rob persuaded Max to drive him into Portland to find his beloved pig. He is barely recognized as the chef they knew. “I remember a time when your name meant something to people, but now? You have no value. You don’t even exist anymore.”  Rob’s plea to a renowned chef at a chic restaurant who once dreamed of opening a pub: “None of it is real. The critics aren’t real. The customers aren’t real. All that matters is your passion, and following it no matter the demands of the market, or others, or external stakeholders.” Director/writer Michael Sarnoski’s debut is a bleak look at a man who, at the top of the cut-throat industry game, left his chosen field to find something simpler.
POWDER KEG (1hr 46min) ** ½  In February 2015, there were three surprise separate shootings in peaceful Copenhagen, Denmark.  The film is based on the shootings and a quartet of men, one being the murderer. The event was called “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression,” and a key speaker was Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, the subject of death threats from Islamic extremists over his 2007 caricature drawings of Mohammad. The debate was to include discussion on the attack against the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, when al-Queda terrorist brothers forced their way into the newspaper offices, killing 12 and injuring 11.  The 4 men mentioned were all connected to the final location.  Dedicated Danish SWAT officer Rico (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones) is recovering from severe left-sided nerve damage following a drug bust operation. The second man is a documentarian, Finn Nørgaard (Lars Brygmann) an advocate of free speech without exceptions. The third man is Jewish, unemployed political science graduate Dan Uzan (Adam Buschard), constantly being rejected for job applications. The fourth man is fanatical Muslim Omar (Albert Arthur Amiryan), out on parole pending an appeal, determined to establish in Europe a Caliphate with Islam. He was determined to wreck his revenge on unsuspecting Danes. The film is uneven which contributes towards the slow pacing.  However, the ending is tense, the performances are solid and the story does reflect what is happening today in Europe. (Vortex Media, VOD/Digital)  
THE PROTÉGÉ (1hr 49 min) *** ½ If you enjoyed the John Wick films, you’ll enjoy this action packed thriller with direction by Martin Campbell (Golden Eye, Casino Royale). In 1991 Da-Nang, Vietnam, a child Anna (Eva Nguyen Thorsen) observed a bloody massacre, yet the terrified girl singlehandedly destroyed a roomful of traffickers. She became the protege of legendary assassin Moody Dutton (Samuel L. Jackson) and he trained her in the ‘family business, becoming the world’s most renowned contract killers. 30 years later, in London she owned a bookstore selling rare editions, and into it wandered mysterious rival assassin, Michael Rembrandt (Michael Keaton). When Moody was killed in his home, heartbroken Anna vowed to find and kill those responsible. Was it Rembrandt, who worked for dangerously bad but well connected people, and why is he trying to stop her investigations? There’s a contradictory scene when she has a vicious hand-to-hand battle with Rembrandt, yet mutual attraction finds them bedding!?  There are multiple effective violent and brutal stunt sequences, superbly shot and directed, but the main reason to see The Protégé is the indestructible, magnificent Maggie Q, 
SIX MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT (1hr 39min) ** ½  On August 15th 1939, bilingual undercover intelligence agent, Thomas Miller (Eddie Izzard), applied at the ladies’ finishing boarding school in Bexhill-on-Sea, to teach English to 20 German schoolgirls after previous English teacher.Wheatley (Nigel Lindsay) suddenly ‘disappeared’ and was later found drowned. Headmistress Miss Rocholl (Judi Dench), hires Anglo/German Miller on a trial basis. She refers to the students as “my girls,” promoting the school as a place of understanding between the British and German people, although the girls are daughters of influential Nazi High Command families, anxious for them to learn English for future service. The physical education teacher is secretly devout Nazi Ilse Ketter (Carla Juri). Miller discovers a hidden list of names of German spies working undercover in Britain, passing the information on to British Secret Service Colonel Smith (David Schofield). Miller overhears Ilse talking to a guest about a secret mission 'to fly the girls back to Germany the next day!' Smith is killed, Miller is arrested and British agent Captain Drey (James D’Arcy) arrives to bail him out and to be taken to where the Nazi collaboration evidence is hidden. But can Miller trust Drey? The mildly entertaining piece of history has generally solid performances, especially from Dench. (VOD)
STILLWATER (2hrs 20min) ** ½  Matt Damon plays stoic Bill Baker, a Stillwater, Oklahoma recovering addict, religious, unemployed oil rigger who picks up manual labour odd jobs. His wife committed suicide some time ago and his estranged daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin), studying in Marseilles, France, is in prison for 9 years and having served 5 years, accused of murdering her French-Muslim girlfriend Lina. Shades of the infamous Amanda Knox case in Italy! Allison lost respect for her father years ago although he visits her routinely in between jobs. When she gives him a letter in French for her lawyers, claiming she has new DNA evidence that the killer is Akim (Idir Azoughi) who she met at a club, but it is rejected. He move to Marseilles to personally check out her claims, and. not speaking French, he turns to his neighbour stage actress Viriginie (Camille Cottin), while befriending her daughter, 8 year old Maya (Lilou Siaivaud). She shuttles Baker around town and eventually he moves in with them. And what will he do when he actually meets Akim?  I expect this will have a brief theatrical release before heading to streaming platforms. 
SUN CHILDREN  (1hr 39min) *** ½  The Iranian film in Farsi with English subtitles was the winner of the Best Picture prize at last year’s Fajr Film Festival, It was co-produced, co-written and directed by Majid Majadi and its mesmerizing young star Rouhollah Zamani won at the Venice Film Festival the Marcello Mastroianni Award for emerging actors. All the children are actual street kids and they are totally natural..The film is dedicated to 152 million children in the world forced into child labour to support their families. 12 year old Ali’s (Zamani) mother is in a psychiatric institution after a severe trauma, and, to make ends meet, he and his fatherless young friends work in a tire yard, stealing tires off various luxury cars for gangster boss Hashem (Ali Nassirian). Haskem tells Ali that underneath the town is a tunnel which leads to unspecified buried treasure under the cemetery. If he’ll explore it, Ali has a room.  The tunnel’s entrance is the charitable School of Sun is for orphans, and the boys must enroll to gain access. The school is bankrupt and needs new donors. Ali persistently pleads to get them enrolled. The school’s kindly vice principal Mr. Rafie (Javid Ezati) keeps a protective eye on Ali and his group. The difficult excavation in the narrow dangerous tunnel continues and problems mount up for Ali who has borrowed an electric drill. Zamani’s heartbreaking performance especially makes this little gem worth seeing. (Hollywood Suite, Apple TV app/iTunes & VOD) 
SWAN SONG (1hr 46min) *** ½  “When I was a little kid, I would see this wonderful, brightly dressed, elegant little man walking around downtown, who looked very different than everybody else, Back when I grew up, it was pretty conservative in Sandusky, and everybody kind of looked the same. But here was this guy who wore a velvet fedora and a feather boa, and smoked long, brown More cigarette” so remembers writer/director Todd Stephens, The Liberace of Sandusky, Mr Pat was renowned hairdresser and drag performer Pat Pitsenbarger, played to perfection by 76 year old German character actor Udo Kier plays Mr. Pat, and he is perfectly cast. He had lived in a nursing home since a stroke, spending hours re-folding paper napkins while chain-smoking forbidden Mores. When probate lawyer Walter Shamrock (Tom Bloom) informed him former wealthy socialite client Rita Parker Sloan (Linda Evans) had died, she requested Pat to do make-up and hair for the funeral for which he would receive $25,000, Broke and reclusive, Pat decided on a cathartic walk into town, to re-live memories and to pick up the beauty supplies, shoplifting if necessary. It’s a funny, heart-warming and bittersweet comedy with Kier giving a mesmerizing performance. (Apple TV app/iTunes and other VOD platforms) 
TILL DEATH (1hr 28min) *** In this suspense packed horror action thriller, Emma (Megan Fox) and Mark’s (Eoin Macken) marriage is over, and not because of her fling with friend Tom (Ami Ameen). At their anniversary dinner, Mark presents Emma with a steel necklace. The next day he takes her blindfolded on a drive through the snow to their secluded house by the frozen lake. They share a bottle of champagne before going to bed. When she wakes, she is handcuffed to him and he shoots himself in the head. She can’t move without dragging the bloodied corpse around with her. Mark has sabotaged her every effort: the pistol has no bullets, her phone was water-logged, all objects for breaking the chain had gone, and the car was out of gas. Tom arrives, telling her the police were at Mark’s office to arrest him for tampering with evidence. Dangerous crooks (Callan Mulvey, Jack Roth), arrive, kill Tom and search for the locker where diamonds are hidden, but they need Emma for the combination and pass code. Mark’s written message to them was “the diamonds you seek are close to her heart,” indicating the diamonds are in the steel necklace and beheading her was the only way to retrieve them! The cat-and-mouse suspense and tension keep building and eventually she will have to confront her psychopathic armed assailants. (VOD/EST)
THE WORLD TO COME (1hr 38min) *** The first thing you’ll notice is the consistently stunningly exquisite photography by Andre Chemetoff, initially of the rural landscape from the first frame (actually filmed in Romania) but then throughout the production, including the interiors. The sensitive lesbian period romance with screenplay by Ron Hansen and Jim Shepherd from his short story will have immense appeal for the LGBTQ community and, interestingly, it is well directed by straight filmmaker Mona Fastvold. In January 1856 heavy snow blankets the landscape which contains a few secluded farms. “Ice in our bedroom this morning for the first time all winter” writes dutiful Abigail (Katherine Waterston) in her daily diary about their bland lives. She lives with her broody farmer husband Dyer (Casey Affleck) and 5 year old daughter who tragically dies of diphtheria. A new couple, vivacious Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) and her abusive hog farmer husband, Finney (Christopher Abbott), have rented a neighbouring farm,. A distant glance between the two women speaks volumes. There are marital issues in both bedrooms. Brief visits by Tallie to Abigail while Dyer is away are extended but the obvious attraction takes an eternity before their first kiss. The cast is first rate, the dialogue is austere and sparse, and there are too few moments of passion till the end’s flashback montage. (VOD/DIGITAL)          
WRATH OF MAN (1hr 59min) *** 23 years ago, rookie director Guy Ritchie and debuting actor Jason Statham started their partnership in the classic Cockney crime comedy Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, centred on crime and professional criminals. Here, brooding, stone faced, mysterious Patrick Hill (Statham), nicknamed H, joined for ulterior motives Los Angeles-based Fortico Security, a fortified armoured car delivery service that specializes in transporting vast security valuables around L.A. for reputable clients  Two months ago a daylight heist ended in a gun battle in which Fortico guards were killed. When his partner Bullet (Holt McCannely) is kidnapped, the robbers demand the $2 million in their cash truck, but H suddenly appeared and killed all six crooks. The film jumps backwards and forwards, and an important sequence is repeated three times at different angles showing different characters. Hill is determined to find the cold-blooded killer who shot an innocent unarmed bystander lying on the ground. The robbers were dressed as construction workers, and included Jan (Scott Eastwood) and Jackson (Jeffrey Donovan), and the plan was to rob all Fortico’s trucks on Black Friday. A must-see for all Ritchie/Statham fans! (PVOD).
ZOLA (1hr.30min) ***  Here’s a first: a biographical feature film based on Twitter thread, a highly addictive narrative composed in 148 tweets by Aziah "Zola" King, which went viral in 2015, leading to the Rolling Stone article “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted.” King admitted to embellishing details for dramatic effect. In Detroit, part-time waitress and exotic dancer A’ziah "Zola" King (Taylour Paige) met Stefani (Riley Keogh) at a restaurant and the two bonded over their mutual interest in pole dancing. Stefani invited Zola to join her on a road trip to Tampa, making a bundle pole dancing in strip clubs, Along for the weekend are Stefani’s dumb, doting boyfriend, Derek (Nicholas Braun) and mysterious domineering pimp SUV driver, X (Colman Domingo). In Florida, Zola taught Stefani to make $500 a pop, by showing off her attributes on her smartphone, bringing in $8,000 in one night. Zola belatedly realized that sex worker Stefani had duped others and Zola was a part of a larger plan. (PVOD) 

                                              

                                                       NEW DVDs....

+ INDICATES REVIEW AVAILABLE ABOVE

NEW DVDs ... starting on Tuesday September14
BLACK WIDOW Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, Ray Winstone, William Hurt
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp9pNPdNwjI
THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS  Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Eva Longoria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8IXVpCsypo
CENSOR Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller, Michael Smiley
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMC0_Ad4Phw
OUT OF DEATH Jaime King, Bruce Willis, Lala Kent, Kelly Greyson, Michael Sirow, Megan Leonard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7BxtU1Y49A
ZOLA  Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Ari'el Stachel, Colman Domingo, Ts Madison
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB0EJrV6k2U

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday September 21
CRUELLA  Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Mark Strong, Paul Walter Hauser, Joel Fry, Emily Beecham
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpZrVxvG3mk
A DARK FOE  Oscar Cardenas, Kenzie Dalton, Tokala Elk, Ava Locklear, Graham Greene, Selma Blair
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqdRqA7s2sI
F9. Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, "Ludacris", Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEE4RO-_jug
LADY OF THE MANOR.  Melanie Lynskey, Judy Greer, Justin Long, Luis Guzmán, Ryan Phillippe
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgIpY_oW7IA
LAST CALL Jeremy Piven, Taryn Manning, Zach McGowan, Jack McGee, Cathy Moriarty, Bruce Dern
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4oul2zLNdU
THE VIGIL  Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman, Fred Melamed, Lynn Cohen, Ronald Cohen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4c9eGgG2aI

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday September26
BLITHE SPIRIT Dan Stevens, Leslie Mann, Isla Fisher, Judi Dench, Emilia Fox, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Adil Ray
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFyLkgneywM

THE FOREVER PURGE  Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Will Patton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOrXpK-rUaI
TWIST  Michael Caine, Lena Headey, Rita Ora, Raff Law, Noel Clarke, David Walliams, Raf Law, Sophie Simnett
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uza1083ERn8

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday October 5
SIX MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT  Jim Broadbent, Judi Dench, Eddie Izzard, Carla Juri, James D'Arcy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SodO2VN0iYY
SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY Animation. LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sBiAMkU3IQ

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday October 12
ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Isabelle Fuhrman, Carlito Olivero
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-T9o5uM6q0

THE GREEN KNIGHT Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Barry Keoghan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoJc2tH3WBw
THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR Henry Thomas, Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegeli
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tykS7QfTWM
ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN. Documentary The Life of the world-traveling chef 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3Ef9bBHcOY

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday October 19
JOE BELL Mark Wahlberg, Connie Britton, Gary Sinise, Morgan Lily, Igby Rigney, Blaine Maye
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQha8k2eB2s
NO MAN OF GOD  Elijah Wood. Luke Kirby, Aleska Palladino, Robert Patrick, Christian Clemenson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7hxB9_aYWs
SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Samara Weaving, Úrsula Corberó
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc7154Ppy8c

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday October 26
ON THE ROCKS  Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Jenny Slate, Jessica Henwick
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk1OB5HDskk
STILLWATER. Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Deanna Dunagan, Camille Cottin, Tyler Ritter, Eric Roy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C6ZGC_IMrI

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday November 2
COME TRUE  Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron, Carlee Ryski, Christopher Heatherington, Tedra Rogers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe6F2cp5sHs
PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE Animation. Iain Armitage, Kim Kardashian West, Tyler Perry, Jimmy Kimmel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsUvTF0MBZs
PIG  Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin, Nina Belforte, Dalene Young, Gretchen Corbett, Julia Bray
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JZbisNkcoM