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It’s one of those universal truths: as condos go up, music venues shut down. Whether you live in London, New York or even here in Victoria. One need only look as far as the former home of Steamers (now a bike shop topped with heritage apartments) for proof of this adage — and when Melissa James moved from Montreal to Vancouver, she saw evidence of the trend everywhere.
People who like classical music, character-driven farce and/or films with a European sensibility should hurry up to Cinecenta for The Concert. This Russian-French co-production opens at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, as a politically disgraced ex-conductor goes about his janitorial chores. Still haunted by memories of 30 years ago when he was celebrated as “Le Maestro,” Andrei Filipov is dusting the director’s office when a fax comes in, a last-minute invitation for the Bolshoi Orchestra to perform at the famed Chatelet Theatre in Paris. Quicker than you can say “great comedic premise,” Filipov pockets the fax and puts in motion an elaborate scam whereby he and his old orchestra mates can sneak off to Paris and finally complete the performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto that Brezhnev cut off halfway through as a deliberate public humiliation.
■ The Process with Larry Weinstein – Get a sneak peek at the latest work by filmmaker Larry Weinstein (Mozart Balls, Inside Hana’s Suitcase): a “controversial political opera” about a former Canadian prime minister. Weinstein will walk the audience through the mostly-completed work, which will premiere across Canada April 16. 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Odeon.
■ Lesson Plan ★★★ — A documentary based on a classroom experiment called the Third Wave led by an unorthodox history teacher named Ron Jones in 1967. Jones started the movement to demonstrate to his students how easy it is to be led into a fascist regime.
■ You Are Here ★★★ — Put your thinking caps on for this one. It’s a slow contemplative movie about the existence of self in a collective consciousness. It is sort of like The Matrix except without the special effects and bad acting from Keanu Reeves.
■ The Fall of Womenland ★★★ ½ — This is a moving story of cultural assimilation, and the decline of the Mosuo people, a matriarchal women-led society in south-west China. All Mosuo stay with their mothers from birth throughout their lives; taking on their mother’s surnames, remaining in their maternal home even after finding
sanctum -(SilverCity/Uni 4) This 3-D action-thriller follows a crew of cave divers as their efforts to trace an underwater river soon turns into a desperate struggle to survive against every nasty trick that nature can throw at them. Starts Fri.
■ Cascadia ★★ ½ — Scheming sisters, betrayal, infidelity, shopping addiction, corrupt politicians, beautiful Victoria locations, Melissa Szewczok, comeuppance!
■ !Women, Art, Revolution — Director Lynn Hershman Leeson has assembled extensive interviews with some of North America’s most prominent female artists over the past 40 years to create this look back at how female artists finally broke into the art scene in the 1970s.
With movie-making being such a generally crass enterprise these days, the audience for romantic comedies probably feels much like a hopeful but increasingly desperate single person who keeps going on first dates that end badly. Such will be the case with No Strings Attached, which stars Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in a flabby and predictable tale about two “sex friends” who find their strictly physical relationship getting rocky when some genuine emotions rear their problematic heads.
blue valentine -(Odeon) Oscar-nominated Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, Fracture) and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) are the protagonists in a frank, hard-hitting drama that shuttles back and forth in time to explain the breakup of a marriage. This one has been getting raves. Starts Fri.
no strings attached -(Capitol/SilverCity/Caprice) Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher star in a romcom about a couple who plan on keeping their relationship strictly physical but end up wanting something more. Gee, haven't we seen this plot a few dozen times already? Directed by Ivan Reitman. Starts Fri.
First came Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crow, which recently inspired the popular graphic novel by Posy Simmonds. Now adapted for the silver screen, Tamara Drewe is a modern black comedy that owes more to the sexy spirit of Bridget Jones than the bleak moralism of Hardy. Ex-Bond girl Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) stars as the titular Tamara, who is returning in triumph to her tiny hometown in Devon. Although she left as an ugly duckling — mostly due to a schnozz the size of a teacup — some rhinoplasty and a glam job as a lifestyle journalist in London have transformed Tamara into a confident and desirable beauty.