Movies at a Glance & New DVDs

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                                                                     MOVIES AT A GLANCE.


(1hr 36min ) ** When directors/co-writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore collaborated last year on Bad Moms costing $24 million, it grossed $113 million and that unfortunately guaranteed a sequel. The subject is Christmas and what a burden it is for working moms who have the additional worry of planning and preparations leading up to the Christmas family festivities, and in particular the problems of Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn). Adding chaos to the confusion is the unexpected arrival of their meddling moms, controlling perfectionist Ruth (Christine Baranski), suffocating Sandy (Cheryl Hines) and broke Isis (Susan Sarandon). Ruth wants the house redecorated for 184 guests she's invited for Christmas Eve, Kiki's bought the house next door, and Ruth needs another loan. Carla falls for a hunky "sexy Santa" contestant Ty (Justin Hartley) while waxing his nether regions. This is for those who enjoy crass crude humour. (Intl Village)
BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2hrs 44min) *** ½  It's 35 years since director Ridley Scott and star Harrison Ford captivated audiences with their neo-noir science fiction classic."Blade Runner." Now its sequel has Scott as producer, Ford returning as Rick Deckard, and with two hot additions, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve and Canadian superstar Ryan Gosling. The year is now 2049 and LA blade runner police officer K (Gosling) has the job to "retire" any remaining Nexus 8 replicants (bioengineered humans) which have been replaced by more docile Nexus 9. He discovers a buried box with a secret – the bones of a female replicant who required a caesarean section, but replicants couldn't have a pregnancy!! Birth records confirm twins with identical DNA were born that day. K must find Deckard somewhere in the ruins of Vegas to determine who is human? Villeneuve's direction is spot-on while the photography capturing the bleak mood is stunning by Roger Deakins (Scotiabank Theatre)
COCO (1hr 49min) *** (Animation in 3D) Disney with Pixar return with another visually stunning, imaginative, musical-fantasy adventure centred on family traditions.. It’s based around Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), an annual Mexican festival holiday focusing on families and friends celebrating the lives of their deceased loved ones. 12 year old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) longed to be a musician (but forbidden by his family) like deceased singer / songwriter / movie star idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), and wonders if he is his missing grandfather. When he secretly steals and strums Ernesto’s guitar, he is transported to the Land of the Dead where he encounters his dead relatives he’d only seen in photos and helpful con-artist ghost Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), and his wild adventures begin. Coco drags occasionally, is too complex to be involving, the music is passable, but the vibrant gorgeous production is sheer delight. (Dunbar, Intl Village, Metropolis)
NEW: THE DISASTER ARTIST (1hr 45min) *** In 2003 Tommy Wiseau’s semi-autobiographical independent romantic drama The Room (length almost 57 minutes) cost $6 million to make (the financing of which has remained a source of intrigue) and grossed $1,900 at the box office! Wiseau was producer, director, writer and star, and the film received negative reviews for its acting, screenplay, clunky dialogue, production values, score, direction, and cinematography. Despite the criticism, the film received a positive reception from audiences for the same reasons, with some viewers calling it the "best worst movie ever" and has since gained cult status.  The 2017 film is based on Greg Sestero’s 2013 memoir about his life and experience making The Room while playing the role of Mark. Shy model/aspiring actor Sestero (Dave Franco) first met Wiseau (James Franco) at an acting class in 1998 San Francisco and they became best friends, determined to find success in the movies. With his long black hair, dark shades and Slavic-like accent, eccentric Wiseau was an imposing hulk and not particularly likeable. He suggested Sestero should leave his parents’ home and go with him to Los Angeles where he owned another rarely used apartment. With his all-American good looks, Sestero had no problems being signed by an agent (Sharon Stone) and finding a bartender girlfriend Amber (Alison Brie). Interestingly, Wiseau’s jealousy raged anytime Sestero’s attention shifted to flirtatious Amber! Wiseau was untalented and looked like Dracula and decided he would write, direct and star in his self-financed drama The Room. He held auditions for hundreds of actors, most never having performed in a film before. Wiseau rented a studio and purchased two brand new film and HD cameras. Confused about the differences between 35mm film and high definition video, he decided to shoot the entire film in both formats simultaneously, requiring two crews to operate. The film's budget skyrocketed as a result of excessively long dialogue sequences taking hours or days to shoot due to Wiseau’s inability to remember his own lines. The completed dramatic film was shown to a full house including cast and crew, and how was it received?  The cast includes Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Melanie Griffith, Megan Mullally, Jacki Weaver, Brian Cranston and Judd Apatow. To nail Wiseau’s voice, Franco listened to it obsessively in his car.  Following the closing credits are a series of uncanny side-by-side recreations of scenes including dialogue as both Francos and the rest of the cast’s work is shown next to the original film’s same scenes. Nominations for outstanding James Franco as director and actor! (Scotiabank Theatre)
THE FLORIDA PROJECT (1hr 55min) ** ½ Running 30 minutes too long, The Florida Project is centred on the occupants of a three-storied, low income, lavender-painted motel, the Magic Castle ($35 a night), one in a row of cheap motels, home for impoverished itinerant single parent families, on the outskirts of DisneyWorld in Orlando. The manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe) was the law enforcer, handyman, and compassionate friend to all the renters. The film focuses on their exuberant, excitable unsupervised children on summer vacation. Among the inhabitants are unemployed confrontational Halley (Bria Vinaite) and her sassy 6 year old daughter Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends Jancey (Valerie Cotto), Scotty (Christopher Rivera) and Dickey (Aiden Makik). The uneven film works best as a character study and the mostly non-professional performances are amazingly natural. It's ideal for Art House audiences. (Intl Village)
NEW: GOD’S OWN COUNTRY (1hr 45min) **** Recommended.  Winner of the Best British Independent Film of the Year, Best Actor Josh O'Connor and Best Debut Screenwriter Francis Lee.  With a tiny budget of $1 million, this simple British dramatic love story with the feel of Brokeback Mountain won its director/writer Francis Lee’s debut the directing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival as well as numerous other awards around the world.  24 year old Johnny (Josh O’Connor) is the repressed dour son of sarcastic, disapproving Martin Saxby (Ian Hart) and grandson of brusque Nana (Gemma Jones) and their home is a remote failing sheep farm on the Yorkshire moors. Their conversation is minimal. His father is crippled by a stroke and is bitter that he is unable to handle the farm chores. Deidre spends her days cleaning, cooking and ironing. The farm work is left solely to Johnny who, after a long hard day heads to the local pub for nightly binge drinking to his family’s disapproval when he returns home. He is lonely, his school friends gone to university, and so he is attracted by a young lad (Harry Lister Smith) in the cafe for quick sex. To help with the lambing season, Martin hires ruggedly handsome, charismatic and skilled Romanian migrant Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) to assist Johnny for a week with the birthing and mending a stone wall. The following day the lads set out to camp near the grazing sheep.  With one ewe, her lamb appeared lifeless but gentle Gheorghe managed to resuscitate it. He also sheared off a dead lamb’s fleece in order to trick a sheep into accepting another lamb as its own!  Gheorghe is annoyed when Johnny, initially aggressive, calls him a “gypsy” and in a rough mud tumble they have sex, both ignoring it the following day. Gradually they warm towards each other and have passionate sex, and on their return to the farm, Johnny suggests Gheorghe should move into the house, but he declines. Martin has another serious stroke and Nana remains with him at the hospital. This time Gheorghe moves in with Johnny, gently breaking down his emotional walls while the film soars. His sullen looks give way at last to a smile. Home from hospital, Martin thanks Johnny for bathing him and for his work. While the boys are in the pub, Johnny again asks Gheorghe to stay longer. In the toilet the same lad joins Johnny. They have sex and are discovered by a shocked and hurt Gheorghe. Is that the end? The sex scenes are graphic and beautifully photographed while the casting is perfect. This impressive bold and brilliant heartbreaking drama, written by newcomer Francis Lee, deserves widespread recognition. (Vancity Theatre)
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)
LAST FLAG FLYING (2hrs 4min) **** Recommended. Here’s a certainty for Academy Award nominations!  Director/writer Richard Linklater has assembled the perfect cast consisting of Steve Carall, Brian Cranston and Laurence Fishburne. In 2003, “Doc” Shepard (Carell) sought out his two closest comrades from the Vietnam war 30 years ago, Sal Nealon (Brian Cranston) and Richard “the Mule” Mueller (Fishburne), to accompany him to the Arlington funeral of his son, recently killed in Iraq combat. Sal owns a seedy bar and the Mule is now a preacher, totally different from their former hell-raising selves. Doc served 2 years in the brig for taking the fall when they mis-used his supply of morphine recreationally at a time when it was needed desperately. We are treated to an extraordinarily funny, sad and intimate re-bonding road trip, relying on the actors’ amusing back and forth banter, revealing a still unbreakable closeness. But facts are revealed contradicting the Army’s report and Doc vehemently refuses the burial. (Intl Village)
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS (1hr 44min) *** This is  Canadian Susan Coyne adaptation from Les Standiford’s book The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirit. In 1843 Victorian London, author Charles Dickens (Martin Stevens), back from a successful American tour for Oliver Twist but with three subsequent failures, was in debt, dispirited and with writer’s block. Inspired by his Irish nanny’s ghostly bedtime stories to his children, he decided to write about Christmas, due in 6 weeks. He drew inspiration from everyday events, characters, dialogue, and flashbacks to his poverty-stricken childhood, and his now legendary characters would surround him offering advice and criticism. Rejected by publishers, he decided to print and distribute it himself but then struggled for an ending (“If I can’t finish it, I will never write again”). Director Bharat Nalluri is responsible for the best, most unique, appealing Christmas film this year. (Intl Village) 
MUDBOUND (2hrs 14min) **** Recommenced.  Director / writer Dee Rees and co-writer Virgil Williams have created an immensely powerful and honest ensemble piece with impeccable performances throughout. Easily one of this year’s Best Pictures and a strong contender during Award season. It’s a gem of an historical movie centered on two hard working farmer families, one white and one black, struggling to eke out a living on the mud flats in 1940s rural rundown Mississippi delta. Laura (Carey Mulligan) and newly wed husband Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) left the city to farm while their black neighbours Hap (Rob Morgan) and wife Florence (Mary J Blige) tended to the cotton crop. Henry’s brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and Henry’s son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) were called up to fight in Europe during WW11, only to return to hatred, bigotry and racism. Brilliant! (On Netflix)
SWEET VIRGINIA (1hr 33min) ** ½  In a remote Alaska town, a hitman named Elwood (Christopher Abbott) shoots 3 men in a bar. Motel owner Sam (Jon Bernthal) is having an affair with Bernadette (Rosemarie DeWitt), widow of one of those killed, while another widow Lila (Imogen Poots) hired Elwood to kill her unfaithful husband but not 3 men, one being the husband of close friend Bernadette. She would pay him from her inheritance, but she learns that hubby was bankrupt and the bank owns her house. Elwood planned another robbery with an assistant at Bernadette’s, not knowing her close relationship with Sam. We’re heading towards the climax except it is anti-climactic!  High on atmospherics and moody background music, it’s a slow build to the menacing end with a few short sharp violent scenes interspersed. Director Jamie M Diggs does his best with the China Brothers’ disappointing script.  (Park Theatre)
THOR: RAGNAROK (2hrs 10min) *** ½ Here's the most fun-filled glitzy 2 hours we've seen in ages, a guaranteed world-wide hit, thanks largely to New Zealand indie comedy director Taika Waititi who has breathed new life into the franchise. God of Thunder Thor (Liam Hemsworth) gets beaten up, imprisoned, wounded, has his hammer smashed, even having his locks shorn while he cracks jokes and seemingly has a whale of a time in spite of his malicious shape-shifting brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and evil older sister Hela, Goddess of Death, (Cate Blanchett) whose ambition is to conquer Asgard which Thor must protect. Imprisoned on dumpster planet Sakaar ruled by eccentric Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), he is forced into a gladiatorial tournament against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)!! Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) eventually assists the Revengers escape through a giant wormhole called the Devil's Anus, heading for the final showdown with Hela. The compelling screenplay offers witty one liners, exhilarating action sequences, awesome CGI effects and stars galore. (Scotiabank Theatre, Metropolis)
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (1hr 55min) **** Recommended. Here’s a certainty for numerous nominations at the Academy Awards.  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 is a "must see."  (Scotiabank Theatre)
WONDER (1hr 52min) *** Isabel (Julia Roberts) and Nate (Owen Wilson) Pullman’s son, “Auggie” (excellent Jacob Tremblay) was born with facial birth defects. During 27 operations, he was home schooled by Isabel. Because of his problems, sister Via (Izabela Vodovic) was unintentially left out. His parents decided that Auggie needed to attend Middle School in preparation to face the outside world. Shocked by his appearance, he was regarded as a freak and kids avoided or bullied him. He befriended Jack (Noah Jupe) and Summer (Millie Davis) till he caught Jack badmouthing him. His teachers knew he was brilliant and gradually Auggie won over his schoolmates, all except for Julian (Bryce Gheisar) and his followers. Ignored by best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell), Via was persuaded by fellow student Justin (Natji Jeter) to join him a theatre group’s production. The heart-warming delightful movie was filmed around Vancouver. (Intl Village, Metropolis)
NEW: WONDER WHEEL (1hr 41min) *** There is surprisingly no comedy but lots of family melodrama in 81 year old Woody Allen’s 48th and latest film which is centred on four characters. Narrating the story is young single NYU student and summer lifeguard Mickey (Justin Timberlake), an aspiring playwright “obsessed with the tragic human condition.” He is a survivor following a stint in the navy during World War 11 and currently lives in Greenwich Village. Set in Coney Island, New York in the 1950s, 40ish hot tempered redhead Ginny (Kate Winslet) is married to occasionally abusive Humpty (Jim Belushi) who operates the carousel.  She was married to the love of her life, a jazz drummer, ruined through infidelity, and they produced a son now 10, Richie (Jack Gore) who loves going to movies (and skipping school) and is at heart a serial pyromaniac. The once aspiring actress works “playing a waitress” at Ruby’s Clam House and, in their small apartment adjacent to the fairground and its huge Ferriswheel, the constant noise gives her a permanent headache. Humpty loves fishing with a small group of buddies thereby providing dinners, and also going to the Dodgers games which bored Ginny refuses to accompany him. Ginny has kept recovering alcoholic Humpty off the bottle but she takes a swig occasionally for her migraines. Into their lives after 5 years comes Humpty’s estranged daughter Carolina (Juno Temple) from his first marriage, having fled from her gangster husband having blabbed to the FBI about the mob. She still loves him in spite of continuous warnings from frustrated Humpty. She is convinced they will kill her and, although enraged dad rants and raves, he softens when she pleads for shelter and, although Ginny wants her gone, he sends her to night school.  On the beach Ginny meets friendly seductive Mickey, though not letting on about her age or marital status, and their secret affair becomes intimate with neurotic Ginny hoping this will be her escape from a loveless marriage and the amusement park.  Meanwhile Richie continues his fascination with fire, and Ginny seeks help from a therapist but needs an extra $10 a week which Humpty refuses to give from his secret stash.  Sexy Carolina meets horny Mickey on the boardwalk and there is instant mutual attraction. What will happen when the convoluted triangle is exposed, and the mob’s goons show up hot on the trail of Carolina?  Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and production designer Santo Loquasto deserve special commendation. Although reminiscent of Cate Blanchett’s Blue Jasmine, Winslett’s performance as a frustrated neurotic woman becoming unglued is this film’s highlight. (Fifth Avenue)

                                                          NEW DVDs

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday December 5
AMERICAN ASSASSIN. Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, David Suchet, Taylor Kitsch
BETTER WATCH OUT. Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Patrick Warburton, Virginia Madsen
THE DANCER. Gaspard Ulliel, Mélanie Thierry, Lily-Rose Depp, Soko, Amanda Plummer, William Houston.
DESPICABLE ME 3 (animation) Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate, Russell Brand

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday December 12
ALL SAINTS  Barry Corbin, Cara Buono, John Corbett, Chondra Corbett, Nelson Lee, Myles Moore
DETROIT John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie
GAME OF THRONES Season 7 Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
HOME AGAIN Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Lake Bell, Nat Wolff, Pico Alexander, Candice Bergen
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE  Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges
VICEROY"S HOUSE Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, Lily Travers
NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday December 19
DUNKIRK Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, James D'Arcy
LEATHERFACE Stephen Dorff, Lily Taylor, Sam Strike, Sam Coleman, Vanessa Grasse, Jessica Madsen
THE LEGGO NINJAGO! MOVIE (animation) Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Michael Peña,  Jackie Chan, Olivia Munn
MOTHER!  Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Kristen Wiig
STRONGER. Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Clancy Brown, Frankie Shaw
VICTORIA & ABDUL. Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Michael Gambon, Olivia Williams, Eddie Izzard, Simon Callow

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday December 26
FLATLINERS. Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland
THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US. Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Dermot Mulroney, Beau Bridges, Vincent Gale

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday January 2
AMERICAN MADE  Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Caleb Landry Jones, Jayma Mays, Lola Kirke
BATTLE OF THE SEXES Emma Stone, Sarah Silverman, Steve Carell, Elisabeth Shue, Andrea Riseborough
BRAD'S STATUS Ben Stiller, Austin Abrams, Jenna Fischer, Michael Sheen, Jemaine Clement, Luke Wilson
BREATHE Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville, Diana Rigg, Dean-Charles Chapman
A QUESTION OF FAITH  C. Thomas Howell, Richard T. Jones, Jaci Velasquez, Kim Fields, Amber Thompson

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday January 9
THE FOREIGNER Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Murphy, Katie Leung, Rufus Jones, Caolan Byrne
FRIEND REQUEST  Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham
IT Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff
MARSHALL Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, James Cromwell, Sophia Bush
MY LITTLE PONY: The Movie (animation) Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Liev Schreiber, Michael Peña
ONLY THE BRAVE  Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, Jennifer Connelly

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday January 16
HAPPY DEATH DAY Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton
LOVING VINCENT (animation) Saoirse Ronan, Chris O'Dowd, Douglas Booth, Helen McCrory, Jerome Flynn
THE SNOWMAN  Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday January 23
CHASING THE DRAGON  Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Philip Keung, Yu Kang, Kent Cheng, Kent Tong, Wilfred Lau
GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN  Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE  Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Amy Schumer, Beulah Koale, Scott Haze