Movies at a Glance & New DVDs


     New Reviews every

Titles highlighted in BLUE indicate Movies Coming Up in NEW DVDs.



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(2 hrs 27min) ** ½  Based on the 1929 bestseller by Erich Maria Remarque, the original  U.S. anti-war film was seen first in 1930 and starred Lew Ayres (Dr. Kildare series). It won Academy Awards for Outstanding Film and Best Director Lewis Milestone, and the latest version is Germany's official film submission to this year’s Academy Awards. In 1916, young Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) proudly enlisted in the German army with his patriotic friends and they are sent to the western front in World War 1 where they witness a soldier killed by French machine guns and his uniform and boots sent home for recycling. In the trenches Paul meets Katczinsky (Albrecht Schuch), older and more experienced than his two friends, Ludwig (Adrian Grunewald) and Albert Kropp (Aaron Hilmer). There are numerous battles with death and destruction everywhere, all well shot. A bloody, intense French attack results in numerous German casualties and Paul’s job is to collect the dog tags of the deceased. 18 months on, the Germans are losing the war as America is sending troops into France. Political figure Erzberger (Daniel Brühl) tries convincing his superiors to sign a ceasefire with the French generals who demand complete surrender. Erzberger and General Friedrich (Devid Striesow) are given 72 hours to sign. With the treaty signed for the war to stop at 11am on November 11th, Erzberger orders his troop to attack in the final 15 minutes and that sees even more unnecessary deaths. Though visually excellent, the rest is excessively long and repetitive.  (Netflix)
THE AMBUSH (1hr 42min) *** ½  Recommended. In Arabic with subtitles. French film director and cinematographer Pierre Morel’s film is based on an actual event about three Emirati soldiers at the United Arab Emirates’ Mocha military base in Southern Yemen in 2018, looking forward to their returning home in a week, when they were sent on a final routine mission to patrol and they were ambushed by heavily armed militants. Following years of civil unrest, in 2015 the foreign backed Al Houthi Militia overthrew the government of Yemen and seized control of the country, war breaking out between rebels and loyalists. Yemini President Hadi reached out to his international allies for help. At the base, Ali (Marwan Abdulla Saleh), Bilal (Khalifa Al Saadi) and Hindasi (Mohammed Ahmed), due to return home, hear about possible insurgent activity in hostile territory foothills. While driving through a remote narrow canyon, two Humvees, wrapped in cages designed to absorb rocket propelled grenade impacts and with remote-controlled machine guns, are hit by RPG rockets, and the two armored personnel carriers get separated. They radio for back up and their commander realizes that the assault was premeditated and he must react. Meanwhile they are attacked by swarms of insurgents, firing with AK-47s, mortars and RPGs, also laying mines in the road, and they surround the disabled armed vehicle  It will take an hour before Mocha Base’s commandant Colonel Mazrouie (Abdulla Saeed Bin Haider) arrives with a rescue team of drones, Falcons (F-16s) and Apache-attack helicopters. The outstanding direction by Morel, with solid support from his photographer Thierry Arbogast, is absolutely superb. The final act is a blast with the arrival of devastating air power, and the mountain range is blown to smithereens, and those alive are forced to run from the raging fire storm. The story’s pacing and wall-to-wall action is incredibly strong, and the film has become the country’s highest grossing Emirati film ever made.
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (1hr 40min) *** Writer/director Martin McDonagh, stars Colin Farrell and Brendon Gleeson brought us 2008’s brilliant In Bruges and they’re back with an Irish theme, grimly funny without the black humour and it’s depressing. On a remote west coast island off Ireland in 1923, slow witted, cow herder Padraic (Colin Farrell) is told by best friend and drinking partner Colm (Brendon Gleeson) that their long lasting friendship has come to an end and he doesn’t want Padriac to speak to him again! “I just don’t like you no more.” But the local pub is a home from home and therefore it’s impossible to avoid seeing each other, but there’s to be no talking. “He’s dull and I have no more time for it.” Colm, an avid fiddler, wants to spend his time “thinking and composing.” something lasting and not chatting about nothing. Devastated Padriac shares a two-room cottage with his unmarried sensible sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) and his beloved miniature donkey Jenny. Siobhan is desperate to leave the island and a community she finds annoying. Also feeling oppressed is lonely Dominic (Barry Keoghan), the simple-minded son of a brutish police officer (Gary Lydon) Farrell’s pleading, puppyish features convey every shade of hurt and bafflement as distraught Padraic moves through stages of grief in a manner both amusing yet heartbreaking. If Pádraic continues to try and talk to him, Colm warns he will begin self mutilation by cutting off his own fingers … and he’s a man of his word! Colin Farrell gives a sensational sensitive performance, well deserved for Best Actor at the Golden Globes.
BROTHERS (2hrs) **** Recommended. Nominated for Best Canadian Film it’s the adaptation of the David Chariandy award winning novel Brother, co-written, produced and directed by Clement Virgo. A Caribbean black immigrant single mother Ruth (Marsha Stephanie Blake) brings up her two maturing sons Francis (Aaron Pierre) and Michael (Lamar Johnson) in “The Park,” the poorer Scarborough district of Toronto in the 1990s considered dangerous. Ruth works double or even triple shifts to support her young boys in their predominantly black and brown community with all the prejudices and low expectations that brings. Francis puts himself at risk in order to protect smaller Michael from constant bullies. Without their father, the two took care of each other as their mother was seemingly forever at her cleaning jobs, The film cuts back and forth from the boys being children to high schoolers and beyond, with Michael looking up to Francis. In high school Michael is attracted to Aisha (Kiana Madeira) and the feeling is mutual. They witness a fight which escalates into a shooting altercation and brutal crackdown from the cops. Francis changed after that incident and left home to live in a barber shop with his best friend DJ Jelly (Lovell Adams-Gray). They and their friends were helping Jelly prepare for a hip hop concert, hoping to get picked up by a famous producer, but he wasn’t. In a brawl, Francis punched one of them and got severely beaten by bouncers. At the shop the cops showed up, and with a concussion, upset Francis refused to comply, demanded what law they had broken and being warned by a cop not to take a step forward. Author Chariandy lives in Vancouver and teaches literature and creative writing in the department of English at Simon Fraser University. (Intl Village, Fifth Avenue)
CHAMPIONS (2hrs 3min) ** ½  Following yet another car accident, a regularly drunk minor league basketball coach Marcus (Woody Harrelson) avoids jail time but instead is given 90 days of community service which entails him coaching at a facility run by Julio (Cheech Marin) a Des Moines basketball team of young players called The Friends with intellectual and physical disabilities in order for them to compete in the Special Olympics North American Regional Championship in Winnipeg.  They are played by actors with intellectual disabilities. When Marcus is fired from his assistant coaching position for getting aggressive with lead coach Phil (Ernie Hudson), he is told he needs to know the players on a personal level, not just as ballplayers. Arrogant, self centred Marcus soon realizes that, despite his doubts, this team can go further than they ever imagined. This is the weak English language remake of a 2018 Spanish film Campeones, inspired by the true story of the Valencian Special Olympics team Aderes. Julio tells Marcus about the personal lives of the team members, and we see short vignettes of their jobs and homes.  Marcus takes a very personal interest in the facilty’s bus driver who is also a Shakesperean actress, Alex (Kaitlin Olson), resulting in an awkward one night stand and you know where that will lead. She also happens to be the sister of Johnny (Kevin Iannucci), a young man born with Down syndrome who is an avid Friends player. Two of the more interesting characters are Felder as an unusually skilled shooter who simply won’t accept Marcus as the new coach, and Tevlin as a woman who is way too short to succeed at basketball but who excels at motivating her teammates. Champions should draw appreciative North American audiences although totally predictable. (Fifth Avenue, Scotiabank Theatre, Metropolis, Riverport)
NEW: GUILLERMO DEL TORO’s PINOCCHIO (1hrs  57 min)  *** I know what you’re thinking and that this version actually was released last year and in fact has recently won an Oscar for Best Animated Film. That’s hardly new, but to me it is. This version is based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Italian Carlo Collodi and is a musical dark fantasy film made through stop-motion animation directed by Guillermo del Toro who also co-wrote the screenplay and co-produced the film.  The film opens with a lengthy sequence featuring wood carver Geppetto and his devoted son Carlo living an idyllic life in a comfortable cottage near their hometown.  They are inseparable and they plant a perfect cone as selected by Carlo in the hope it would grow into a perfect tree. But World War is looming and the planes are beginning to fill the skies. Father and son are working in the church when they must leave their work and head home, except Geppetto has left something behind at the alter and Carlo goes to pick it up when the bombs directly hit the church and it blows up in flames. Heartbroken Gepetto eventually decides to build a puppet out of a pine tree planted in Carlo’s memory. In that same tree Sebastian J Cricket has built his home and now it comes crashing down. The Wood Sprite appears and assigns him the job of looking after the puppet once she has brought the puppet she names Pinocchio to life and in return she will grant the Cricket one wish of anything he desires provided he is successful in looking after Pinocchio morally. Gepetto wakes up to a live raucous puppet who is full of antics and he secedes school would be the solution. On his way Pinocchio is intercepted by stage showman Count Volpe whose puppet show is failing when he and his pet monkey star Spazzatura notice a talking wooden puppet without strings – a miracle, perfect for his Circus! He persuades Pinocchio that instead of going to school he would share in the profits of starring Pinocchio in a stage show, a guaranteed moneymaker. A jealous Spazzatura reveals to Pinocchio that Volpe is conning him out of the money he falsely promised to send to his father. Hearing this, Volpe viciously beats Spazzatura, upsetting Pinocchio. The sold out show attracts the attention of dictator Benito Mussolini, the leader of Fascist Italy, who Pinocchio ridicules in his stage show. Now we are in the elongated dark territory of World War 2 I don’t remember seeing in Disney’s original and perfect animation. The other aspect I missed from the original was the music which had a number of hit songs and this has not a single one.  You know the rest of the story. Verdict: see the original if possible and then make a judgment. You know mine!  (Netflix)
FORSAKEN  (1hr 30min)  *** If you like old fashioned Westerns you will  enjoy Netflix’ latest addition to its acquired old films, this from 2015 starring father Donald and son Kiefer Sutherland with director Jon Cassar doing a masterful job. Long after the Civil War ended, John Henry Clayton (Kiefer) in 1872 returned after 10 years to the family homestead, hoping to reconcile with his disapproving widowed father, the Rev Samuel Clayton (Donald). John Henry had drifted aimlessly after the war, gaining a reputation as a feared gunslinger. In lawless Valour, Wyoming picking up provisions, Samuel warned his son about saloon owner James McCurdy (Brian Cox), buying up the townsfolk’s properties when he heard the railroad was coming, and whose gang leader Dave Turner (Michael Wincott) will commit murder to own the land. When John Henry met former flame Mary Alice (Demi Moore), her jealous husband Tom Watson (Greg Ellis) decided to sell their property to McCurdy, while McCurdy’s ultra-violent thug Frank Tillman (Aaron Poole) killed another owner reluctant to sell. The Claytons have a heart to heart about their problematic past relationship and why pious Samuel rejected his son. To regain his father’s approval, he worked tirelessly on the land and even subjected himself, now without a gun, to a severe beating by Tillman without defending himself, watched by Samuel. When Samuel became the target of a vicious beating, landing in hospital, John Henry armed himself to take revenge for his dad and the locals. Even with western stereotypes and clichés, it’s interesting, well acted, involving and actually thrilling. Verdict?  You won’t be disappointed with Forsaken.  (Netflix)
THE GOOD NURSE (2hrs 1min) ***  Based on the 2013 true crime book “The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder” by Charles Graeber is about serial killer Charles Cullen who used intravenous tubes to poison up to 40 patients. Compassionate nurse Amy (Jessica Chastain) has a cardiac condition which requites a heart transplant sooner than later. A year’s work will get her health insurance to cover the surgery. The single mother of two works tirelessly on the high stress night shifts at New Jersey’s Somerset Medical Centre’s ICU, pushing her emotional and physical limits. To help her, a kindly ICU nurse Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) is hired and the two become good friends instantly, Charlie also offering his services looking after the children. When their patients unexpectedly start dying, an abnormal amount of insulin was found in their systems and two investigating police (Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha) are assigned. They discover Charlie was dismissed from 9 hospitals due to sudden deaths which stopped, following his departure. He wasn’t accused as there was never any proof but Amy reluctantly agrees to assist them, knowing she is risking her life and her children’s. Unfortunately the screenplay is remarkably thin and languid and devoid of highs or lows till the explosive heartbreaking end, and therefore two hours feels excessively long. On the credit side, the superb performances by Chastain and Redmayne make this worth seeing. (Netflix)
INFINITY POOL (1hr 57 min) *** Brandon Cronenberg is following in his famous father David’s footsteps with a reputation as writer/director for his science fiction horror films Anti-viral, Possessor and now Infinity Pool.  Both have earned worldwide critical acclaim and Brandon’s latest thriller is doing just that. In fictional island Li Tolqa (exclusive resort for the super rich, surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire fences. author James Foster (Alexander Skarsgard) and his wealthy wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are holidaying but he needs inspiration, hoping to cure his writer’s block which has lasted six years. They connect with another couple, sultry blonde Gabi (Mia Goth) and her architect husband Alban (Jalil Lespert), and they leave the resort grounds for an illicit drive down to a private beach. Driving them home drunk, James has an accident, killing a local, and they leave him there. The police led by Thresh (Thomas Kretschmann) arrive the next morning, having discovered the body and explain they have a very explicit policy: murder must be avenged by a member of the deceased family. James is arrested and given a choice of being executed or there is a way out: a cloning for the extreme wealthy of the culprit. Clone James will be murdered while the original James watches!  When Em wants out, James lies he’s lost his passport so she should go on instead. She is horrified to see deranged Gabi pulling a curious James into a fantastical chaotic world of vicarious hedonistic sexual pleasures and gore-galore repulsive violence.  James’ life spirals out of control. It’s visually engrossing, ambitious and thought provoking, but the extreme brutality is definitely not for the squeamish.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4  (2hr 49min) ** ½` If you’re into non-stop wall to wall over-stuffed over-the-top repetitive martial arts and/or shoot-out combats with an enormous body count, you’ve come to the right place. What was so attractive about Chad Stahelski’s first three films was their simplicity in storyline. In the convoluted Chapter 4, Wick, impeccably dressed in black, is still chained to his obligation to the crime lords known as the High Table, the consortium that controls virtually everything, and because of his high crime committed at the New York Continental Hotel  he must face the consequences. Meanwhile the Hotel manager Winston Scott (Ian McShane), a friend of Wick’s, and his concierge Charon (Lance Reddick) are summoned to the ruthless Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skardgard), a senior member and new Head of the High Table and blames Winston for his failure to kill John. To punish Winston, de Gramont strips him of his duties as manager, orders the New York Continental blown up, and kills Charon. De Gramont then travelled to Paris to enlist old friends into foes like Caine  (Donnie Yen), Wick’s blind, retired High Table assassin friend, threatening otherwise to kill Caine's daughter. Wick can clear his name by challenging the marquis to a duel to the death in a final showdown, which must take place at sunrise in front of the Basilica. If Wick doesn’t reach the summit, Winston would be killed. If Wick is the victor, Winston lives and his Hotel will be rebuilt. Naturally the 222 concrete steps leading up to the Basilica are filled with de Gramont’s killers, determined that Wick be stopped! Nearing the top, he is attacked ferociously and tumbles all the way down to the bottom. It’s visually stunning in locations and set pieces but with an excessive amount of stunts (Fifth Avenue, Scotiabank Theatre, Park Royal, Marine Gateway, Metropolis, Riverport).
LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER.  (2hrs 6min) *** ½ Recommended is this electric version of D.H. Lawrence’s controversial erotic novel by director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre and the intense passionate chemistry between Lady Constance Chatterley (Emma Corrin) and rugged gamekeeper Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell), both stunningly brilliant in their numerous torrid sex scenes. Sir Clifford Chatterley (Matthew Duckett) and his new bride Connie Reid have moved to his estate in the Midlands when WW1 broke out and he served in the Army. Just six months later, he was discharged and returned home in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down and unable to ‘function’ normally. Both wanted to have a child and he suggested she should find a suitable man to impregnate her and no one need know it was not their child. He hired a new gamekeeper, Oliver, who was given his own stone cottage on the grounds. Oliver had an unfaithful wife and they didn’t live together. Lonely on her walks in the grounds, Connie and Oliver met and it was lust at first sight. Starved of love, she kept seeking him out and they had sex regularly in different locations and in every conceivable position, even outdoors in the pouring rain, and their carnal passion make engrossing viewing of their passionate, unclothed, very sexy scenes in erotic poses. Although never caught in the act, word got out and Connie asked for a divorce but was refused. Here we have a couple both unhappily married to other people and determined to live together, but what of their future acceptance as such? It’s an impressively mounted production, skilfully adapted, fast paced and impeccably performed by two interesting performers.  (Netflix)
LIVING (1hr 42 min) *** ½  Lonely widower Mr. Williams (Bill Nighy), an aging dignified bureaucrat in a 1953 London Public Works town-planning department, faces a stomach-cancer fatal illness. With six to nine months left to live, Williams, a man of routines having lived 30 years of an empty life, is aware of his fleeting time and goes on a boozy pub crawl in sea-side Brighton in the company of free-spirited writer Mr. Sutherland (Tom Burke) "I withdrew this cash and came down here to enjoy myself or live a little ... but I realize I don't know how!” He wants to leave behind his passionate dream goal of getting the authorities to build a playground on a former bomb-site with a modest roundabout and swing set for which mothers have been petitioning for ages but have been constantly rejected by smug county council departments. After work Williams goes home to his ineffectual son Michael (Barney Fishwick) and cold daughter-in-law Fiona (Patsy Ferran) who are eager to takeover the family home ASAP.  He has befriended a junior colleague formerly in his department, vivacious, optimistic Margaret (Aimee Lou Wood) who left the department for new challenges. There are two superb sequences with Williams enjoying the exuberance of Maggie’s company before he breaks his news. Recently employed office junior, Peter Wakeling (Alex Sharp) realizes that he could wind up like Williams, shuffling endless papers in order to look busy and impress bosses. Just when you think with Williams’ death it’s all over, it isn’t, so sit tight. Living is a faithful adaptation of Kurosawa's Ikiru in terms of story. Absolutely brilliant directing, writing and performances, especially by Nighy and Wood, result in a heartbreaking dramatic triumph. And just be prepared to shed a few tears!  (Fifth Avenue) 
LOU (1hr 47min) *** Allison Janey’s career spans 3 decades on screen and stage during which time she has won numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globes award, a BAFTA award, all for Best Supporting Actress, in addition to 7 primetime Emmy Awards.. Till now, the 62 year has never played in an action-thriller like Liam Neeson’s Taken.  On a 1980s Pacific Northwest island, Lou (Janey) lives alone in a remote rustic cabin in the woods with her faithful dog Jax. She is making out her will and planning suicide. Her rental-paying neighbour Hannah (Jurnee Smollett) and young daughter Vee (Ridley Asha Bateman) reside close by. An impending catastrophic storm is brewing just as Hannah’s estranged abusive ex-husband Phillip (Logan Marshall-Greene), a former special forces explosive expert thought to be dead, shows up, having just killed a  truck driver friend of Hannah’s. With the power out, Hannah heads to Lou’s to use her phone, after telling Vee to hide.  But Phillip finds Vee and persuades the child to join him in a journey, promising mummy will join them later. From then on it’s a chase movie through difficult terrain and torrential rain with Lou and Hannah determined to find Vee. Needless to say, it’s Janey’s unusual tough performance that makes this worth while watching.  (Netflix)
LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN (2 hrs 9min) ** Here’s a massive disappointment!  The terrific BBC series ended in 2019 with Season 5 and it had made a star out of Idris Elba as “the brilliant but emotionally impulsive rule-bending detective created who is tormented by the dark side of humanity while hunting down murderers.” In the last episode Luther, flouting the law but with good intentions, was arrested and on his way to jail. The arch villain is psychotic hyper-evil sadist David Robey (Andy Serkis) who has created a massive blackmail ring and when Luther (Elba) starts investigating the disappearance of one of Robey’s teenage victims, he gives orders over the phone to send in evidence to investigate Detective Chief Inspector Luther and they come up with a slew of criminal charges. Found guilty of committing illegal misconduct, Luther is thrown into a maximum security prison where the other convicted criminals riot, hoping to kill him. Robey, with huge financial reserves, has numerous accomplices willing to kill, blackmail, torture, kidnap, murder and destroy at his bidding. Luther escapes with the complete police force searching for him. He contacts his friend and former boss Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley) and then his replacement DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), who reluctantly agrees to letting him help but will eventually have to arrest him, but then Robey takes Raine’s teenage daughter Anya (Lauryn Ajufo) prisoner, threatening to kill her. Robey uses internet secrets to lure victims then capture, torture and ultimately brutally kill them.  How bad their secrets must be for them to commit mass suicide on camera in Piccadilly Circus!!  Sadly in the two hour unrelentingly grim drama, there is no humour, and I miss seeing Ruth Wilson’s psychopathic Alice Morgan (Netflix)
MARLOWE (1hr 57min) *** This is based on the novel The Black-Eyed Blonde by John Banville, and his attempt at a novel in the style of the Philip Marlowe 1930s series by Raymond Chandler. In this case it’s an overly complex, cluttered, confusing screenplay by writer William Monahan, under the pen name Benjamin Black, which suffers from comparison with previous Chandler / Marlowe films. However the production values are excellent from the set design to the lighting, hair, makeup and costume design, exquisitely photographed by Xavi Giménez with the direction by Neil Jordan and performances solid with the ever reliable Liam Neeson as the restless, lonely and presently unemployed private detective Philip Marlowe. In 1939 Bay City, L.A. and Hollywood, elegant young wealthy heiress Mrs. Clare Cavendish (Diane Kruger) offers Marlowe a very private investigative job to find her former movie-industry-affiliated lover Nico Peterson (Francoise Arnaud) who has suddenly disappeared. She thinks he is alive and hiding somewhere. Rumours indicate he was run over by a car outside the Corbata Club run by Floyd Henson (Danny Houston), but there were no witnesses. Nico’s disappearance leads to a series of strange twists and turns. Marlowe finds himself entangled with one of Bay City’s richest families, led by Clare’s faded celebrity actress mother Dorothy Cavendish (Jessica Lange),. “You’re a very perceptive and sensitive man, Mr. Marlowe. I imagine it gets you into trouble.” Other characters include crime boss Lou Hendricks (Alan Cumming) cruising around with his chauffer/enforcer Cedric (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Marlowe relies heavily on sympathetic coppers like Bernie Ohis (Colm Meaney) and Joe Green (Ian Hart) to keep him informed, and to you the general public to see if this the start of a franchise.
ONE FINE MORNING.  Un Beau Matin (1hr 53min) **** Recommended. In French with subtitles.  Brilliant French director/screenwriter Mia Hansen-Love’s romantic drama deservedly won Best European Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022. Lonely widowed Sandra Kienzler (Lea Seydoux) is a professional translator and interpreter at an international media conference. In Paris she lives in an apartment with her young daughter Linn (Camille Leban Marttins) and daily visits her long retired, philosophy professor father Georg (Pascal Greggory), suffering from a neurodegenerative disease affecting his cognitive abilities while losing his sight. Also visiting are his former wife of 20 years, remarried Françoise (Nicole Garcia), Sandra’s sister Elodie (Sarah Le Picard) and Georg’s most recent companion Leila (Fejria Deliba). His apartment is filled with memories and overflowing with books and knick-knacks gathered over decades. His condition is worsening and he needs personal daily care or to be placed in a care home. There are two main stories, one being Georg’s and the other Sandra’s. She is lonely and, in the park with Linn, she meets up with her husband’s friend from the past, unhappily married Clement (Melville Piupaud), maintaining a family life for his son’s sake. They start an erotic torrid relationship, but eventually she insists Clement makes a commitment. Meanwhile the family must find and place Georg in a care home they can afford and, before that, there’s the disposing of his personal valued possessions. From one rundown nursing home to another, the family observes mentally and physically frail residents, and they have to keep moving Georg from one depressing elder-care facility to another. Sandra is concerned Georg doesn’t recognize her anymore. The realistic and tragically sad story is based on the director’s own experiences of trauma and grief. Seydoux’s performance as a single mother with twinned crises is superb. It’s the most emotionally satisfying film I have seen in months.
THE QUIET GIRL (1hr 34min) *** The Irish coming-of-age drama has dialogue mostly in Gaelic with sub-titles, and will have special appeal to Art house audiences. 9 year old shy, neglected Cait (engaging 12 year old Catherine Clinch) exists in a dysfunctional poor Catholic family living in the countryside with noisy children and a mother pregnant for the sixth time. Cait is virtually ignored by her boozy gambler Da (Michael Patric) and neglected by overworked Mam (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh) till middle-aged wealthier distant cousin Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) and her farmer husband Sean (Andrew Bennett) offer to take in Cait for the summer till Mam has given birth. Again in this comfortably furnished house, Sean is withdrawn and silent while Eibhlín is totally the opposite, devoted and motherly to the quiet young child who is given a bath, a bedroom and from the cupboard, a young boy’s clothes to replace her tattered grubby dress. She came with no luggage and is promised new dresses from the village. Cait enjoys helping Eibhlín in the kitchen and filling the pail daily from the well. When she follows Sean into the milking shed, she helps him scrub down the floor. He times her when she runs off happily to the post-box to bring back his mail, and he bonds with her. Following a wake, a nosey neighbour reveals the couple had a son her age who accidentally drowned and it was his clothes she wore. With the promised new dresses, the three are a happy close family, but, with school fast approaching, her parents want her back. For the first time in her young life she is loved and happy. What is she to do?  (Park Theatre).
SCREAM V1 (2hrs 3min) *** Wow! Surprisingly entertaining black comedy and a totally unpredictable ending sequence, this will do great at the box office, thanks to writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, proven masters at teen driven horror. The core four survivors, Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) and older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera), along with twin siblings Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding), having left behind the trauma of the latest massacre in Woodsboro, are in New York City and will have yet another confrontation with the brutal knife-wielding masked killer Ghostface stalking Sam who was the daughter of original Ghostface Billy Loomis! The opening sequence starts with a vicious bloody slashing of a beautiful young woman, followed by more surprises. The Ghostface mask is a popular hot seller, especially at Halloween when they are everywhere. Is thios becoming a franchise? Sam is overly concerned about her sister and their roommate Quinn Bailey (Liana Liberato) Add to that Chad’s roommate Ethan (Jack Champion), and Mindy’s girlfriend Anika (Devyn Nekoda). Sam tries unsuccessfully to explain her problems to her therapist (Henry Czerny) and meanwhile she is attracted to her sexy neighbor, Danny Brackett (Josh Segurra). Still on the case since the first Scream are two returning survivors, persistent reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Ghostface survivor, now FBI agent Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), assistant to the current lead NYPD investigator, Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), who is Quinn’s dad. Who is trustworthy and who might be a suspect?  (Scotiababk Theatre, Park Royal, Marine Gateway, Riverport, Metropolis)
THE SEA BEAST (1hr 55min) **** Recommended.  Animation.  This brilliant fantasy epic should be in consideration for next year’s Best Animation Awards for writer/producer/director Chris Williams and his imaginative swashbuckling production with its stunning animation. Veteran Captain Crow (V/O Jared Harris) will be handing over command of his monster-hunting ship to his protégé and fearless second in command Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) who he rescued as an orphan clinging to debris in the raging ocean. They now hunt sea beasts across the ocean including the Red Bluster, a massive creature resembling a whale and a dragon. Stowing away to join them is feisty 11 year old Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) whose parents were killed supposedly by a sea monster. Crow is informed that this is his last chance to kill the Red Blunder and, if he fails, the task of hunting sea beasts will be handed over to slimy Admiral Hornagold (Dan Stevens). Attacked by the Red Bluster, Jacob allows Maisie to cut a line which attaches the Bluster to a ship, allowing her to slip away. Crow is furious and threatens them when the Bluster reappears, swallowing Jacob and Maisie whole. They realize that the Red Bluster is actually befriending them and so starts the trio’s many amazing adventures together. This is perfect entertainment for the family. (Netflix)
SNIPER: THE WHITE RAVEN (1hr 51min) *** Subtitles. Based largely on a true story, in 2014 Donetsk, Ukraine, ecologists settlers Mykola Voronin (Aldoshyn Pavlo) and Nastya (Maryna Koshkina) live and love happily in their semi-hidden rustic home-made dugout on their 2 hectare plot of land with electricity provided by a windmill he built, and they are expecting their first child.  They are brutally attacked by armed pro-Russian separatist rebels and, while Mykola is unconscious, they shoot and kill Nastya. He joins the Volunteers Battalion as a recruit and later, on proving his capabilities, he is enlisted in the Training Company for snipers. With his math skills, Mykola excels and is a natural for Sniper, and he chooses for himself the code-name “Raven,” a reference to a creation myth told previously by his wife, and wherever he goes, he carries her precious small wooden carved raven totem. Really interesting and exciting are the numerous sequences of heavily camouflaged snipers tracking down enemy snipers. With sub-titles, details of the characters’ personalities are limited, and a bit too much of the film, especially the basic training sequences, plays almost as a documentary. The photography is excellent and it is still well worth viewing. (Amazon Prime Video)
THE SON (2hrs 3min) *** In 2020 psychological drama film The Father, which follows an octogenarian man living with dementia, was directed and co-written by Florian Zeller and fellow playwright Christopher Hampton. Anthony Hopkins makes a brief appearance as Anthony Miller, the father of Peter Miller (Hugh Jackman) who gets a panicky visit from former wife Kate (Laura Dern) stating 17 year old son Nicholas (Zen McGrath) had not been to school for almost a month and refuses to say why. He is permanently depressed and Kate wants workaholic lawyer Peter, offered a dream job in Washington, to take Nick home to join his new wife Beth (Vanessa Kirby) and their infant son and Nick eventually agrees to attend school. Peter wants to understand and help his son just like his own father Anthony (Hopkins) did. Beth finds a knife under Nick’s mattress and refuses to answer why and he questions why Peter has a hunting gun in the closet.  Peter replies that his father bought it for him to go hunting but it was never used. Peter tries to care for Nick as he wishes his own father had cared for him. Peter drops in for lunch with his father’s (Hopkins), telling him he is giving up the Washington job to remain with Nick. Anthony’s harsh reply is “Your daddy wasn’t nice to you?  So what?  Just fucking get over it!” Beth is afraid of leaving the baby alone with Nick who is constantly in pain and “tired of it all.”  Peter notices “I catch myself saying things my father used to say to me.”  This is a devastatingly heavy, serious film to sit through for two hours. Unfortunately a strong cast doesn’t alleviate a repetitious grim screenplay. Jackman’s performance deserves his nomination
SPOILER ALERT (1hr 52min) *** Based on the best selling autobiography “Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies” by Michael Ausiello, the romantic heartbreaking real-life film follows the 14 year gay relationship between TV Guide journalist Ausiello and amateur photographer Kit Cowan, ending their partnership with marriage when Kit was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of neuroendocrine cancer which led after 11 agonizing months to his passing in February 2015.  The film stars Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) as Michael and Brit actor Ben Aldridge (Fleabag) as Kit, both gay, with script by David Marshall Grant and gay relationship advice guru Dan Savage. In 2001 nerdy Michael notices cool Kit in a crowded queer bar and their looks signal simultaneous attraction. As they say, opposites attract. When Kit insists on seeing embarrassed Michael’s New Jersey apartment, there’s a room totally dedicated to Smurf memorabilia! He hasn’t yet settled into adulthood. When they undress for bed, uptight Michael has body issues, a self described “FFK” (Former Fat Kid). Kit admits to never having had a long term relationship and has never come out to his doting parents Marilyn (Sally Field) and Bob (Bill Irwin) but stability with Michael gives him the courage to admit it and they admonish Kit for not sharing his very personal information earlier. We go through 13 years of bliss via annual Christmas portraits (Michael’s obsession).  Both actors have a touching believable chemistry together and they have us hooked. Like most relationships, there are ups and downs and suddenly their relationship is on the rocks with Michael hitting the bottle and stoned Kit having a fling with a co-worker. They, not wanting to split, live apart and see a therapist. But then Kit finds out he has a form of cancer and now the two are forced to reckon with the prospect of losing each other. If you’re looking for a good tear jerker, you’ve come to the right place.
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS (2hrs 29min) *** This Ruben Ostlund black comedy epic won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.  Set in 3 Parts, Part 2 titled The Yacht is one of the funniest yet grossest segments I’ve ever seen.  Part 1 is titled Carl and Yaya, starting with an endless boring audition where muscular shirtless young male models are put through their paces posing and emoting before a committee. Model Carl’s (Harris Dickinson) career is on the skids. In Part 2 his social-media influencer/model girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean) gets them a cabin on board a luxury super yacht, full of aging uber-rich passengers, including a Russian capitalist oligarch Dimitry (Zlatko Burić) who sells fertilizer, a British arms dealer Winston (Oliver Ford Davies) and wife Clementine (Amanda Walker), a software creator (Henrik Dorsin), and a fastidious woman (Mia Benson) insisting the sails are dirty and need washing, although this ship doesn’t have sails. The alcoholic Marxist-quoting reclusive American captain Thomas Smith (Woody Harrelson) is lured out of his cabin for the formal Captain’s Dinner when he is introduced to his wealthy passengers. They are enjoying the richly extravagant multi-course dinner when suddenly a major storm hits the ship and there is bedlam. Everyone spews up their dinners, toilets overflow and people are sliding over the vomit and excrement covered floors! In Part 3: The Island, deserted and on which the 9 hungry survivors watch an explosion from a grenade blowing up the yacht. The ship’s toilet manager, Abigail (Dolly de Leon), is the only below-deck Asian cleaning crew member to survive and she now gets the balance of power to shift. Way too long and vastly disappointing!
THE WHALE (1hr 57min) *** ½  Now 54, Canadian/American actor Brendan Fraser’s return to film is writer-director wunderkind Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale which won him Best Actor at TIFF as Charlie, the grossly obese 600 lbs. gay English professor who now teaches persuasive writing for an online university by zoom (with the camera turned off as he lied about it malfunctioning). It’s the adaptation of Samuel D. Hunter’s 2012 play of a sweet, optimistic gay man who decides to eat himself to death. He lives stranded on a couch in his gloomy apartment in Idaho, assisted by his caring, health care worker Liz (Hong Chau) providing him with food and medical equipment. His blood pressure is at drop-dead levels and his congestive heart failure will become fatal. With no health insurance, hospital is out, which angers Liz.  His estranged daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), is bitter about him not seeing her since she was eight and he left unfaithful wife Mary (Samantha Morton) who obtained full custody and prevented Charlie from seeing Ellie. He desperately wants to reconnect with her, offering to pay if she would talk to him again. She relents when he promises to leave her a six-figure inheritance and to help her with her school work. Charlie’s quiet life is interrupted by Thomas (Ty Simpkins), a young missionary of a Mormon-like cult who wants Charlie to embrace Jesus Christ. Student lover Alan was a cult member, and his sexuality caused him to jump off a bridge. Fraser wears a mix of latex suit plus digital prosthetics, allowing him to give a funny and absolutely devastating performance. Be forewarned: prepare to shed a few tears. (Intl Village)


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