Film reviews and listings July 19-25

This week's reviews: Ice Age 4 and Fathers and Sons. Listings include opening, continuing, screenings, Cinecenta, Imax and more.

The fourth installment of the Ice Age series makes the prehistorical hysterical.

 

 

 

 

The Prehistorical Goes Hysterical

The Ice Age animated series started strongly, then gradually fell victim to weak plotting. With their fourth outing, Continental Drift, they’re back on top and doing what they do best: laying on the buddy banter while having crazy adventures.

The story begins as that acorn-chasing squirrel precipitates a catastrophic sequence of tectonic shifts that separates Manny the wooly mammoth from his wife and teenage daughter. Suddenly adrift on a small chunk of iceberg with buddies Diego the sabretooth tiger and Sid the sloth, the three cling to the faint hope that they can reconnect with all the other animals at a distant land bridge. The subsequent plot is largely driven by ongoing battles with pirates, who are a zoo’s worth of motley brigands led by the sinister Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage).

The animation is marvelously stylized, complete with some great visual jokes. The repartee amongst the principals is sharply written, and the none-too-subtle moral about the importance of family and friends comes off as sweet rather than sugary. The ongoing subplot involving that prehistoric squirrel remains inventive and feverishly funny. Providing a lot of the comic relief is a new character, Sid’s grandmother (voiced by the delightful Wanda Sykes), an obstreperous and wacky crone who’s as detached from reality as Mr. Magoo. And a bonus comes in the form of the Simpson’s cartoon that precedes the feature: baby Maggie is dropped off at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center and has some darkly hilarious adventures before triumphing in the end. Fine stuff! M

 

Ice Age: Continental Drift ★★★

Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier

Starring Aziz Ansari, Joy Behar

PG – 94 minutes

Continues at the Odeon SilverCity, Uni 4 and Westshore

 

 

 

Ties That Blind

I’ve never been a huge fan of Vancouver director Carl Bessai (Emile), but he has pulled off an impressive coup with Fathers & Sons. With a mix of drama and comedy, he explores several different middle-aged men and their relationship with their fathers. This is not only a multicultural mash-up, but the script itself allows for lots of input and improvisation from the actors. The result is fresh, funny, and occasionally raw – and good enough to have won the Vancouver Film Critics Circle’s best B.C. film award.

There are four separate subplots, beginning with a Jewish fellow who is at the funeral of his mother — where grief becomes horror when he discovers that this great vulgar bear of a man who shows up unexpectedly is the father he never knew. Four very different brothers have a reunion to scatter their dead dad’s ashes and hear the details of his will. A conservative South Asian accountant is bitterly resentful of his flamboyantly gay father, a Bollywood choreographer. And finally there is a disconnect between an Afro-Canadian businessman who dreams big and his mellow father, a talented jazz musician who is content just to teach piano to kids and never wanted to court the success that could have been his.

These storylines unspool in engaging, often unexpected ways that can play against ethnic stereotype (for example, the South Asian man is introducing his white fiancée, which would normally be taboo to an older generation but the father sees this as a great opportunity to bring his dancers to a party). Some of the scenes — especially the ones with the quartet of squabbling brothers — have real bite, while the Jewish father-and-son relationship is an edgy combination of slapstick comedy and violence. More interested in difference than universality, Fathers does an impressive job of outlining various realities of what it means to be a father or a son. M

 

 

Fathers & Sons ★★★ ½

Directed by Carl Bessai

Starring Stephen Lobo, Manoj Sood and Tyler Labine

Screens Mon., July 23 at 6:30pm at Movie Monday

Eric Martin Pavilion in the 1900 block of Fort Street

 

 

Perfectly potable

Downshifting from icebergs to ice cubes, let’s set sail on the good ship Golden Cadillac, that classic ’70s cocktail. Mix one ounce each of Galliano liqueur and cream, plus two ounces of white crème de cacao, and shake over ice prior to serving in a fancy glass. If you want to get decadent, add a half-cup of vanilla ice cream in place of the cream and ice, then blend before serving. Note: these can be addictive!

 

 

 

Listings July 19-25

 

 

Opening

 

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) A diabolical terrorist leader named Bane poses a terrible threat to Gotham. But will Batman care enough to save the city that branded him a criminal? I’m guessing yes. With Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Anne Hathaway as Cat Woman. Starts Fri.

INTOUCHABLES -(Odeon) This heart-warming French film features a young aristocrat who becomes a quadriplegic after a hang-gliding accident and hires a black man from the projects to be his caretaker. Starts Fri.

IN THE FAMILY -(Caprice) Small-town Tennessee is the setting for this drama about a six-year-old boy “with two dads” who is at the centre of a custody battle after one of the men dies in an accident and his sister wants to take the boy. Starts Fri.

THAT’S MY BOY -(Caprice) The egregious Adam Sandler is back with a new lowbrow “comedy,” this one featuring SNL’s Andy Samberg as his wayward son. Starts Fri.

★★★ SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED -(Odeon) This award-winning indie comedy features three magazine writers sent out to interview a guy who sent in an ad looking for a companion interested in time travel. Fun, quirky and uncategorizable.

 

Continuing

 

★★ ABRAHAM LINCOLN:  VAMPIRE HUNTER -(Odeon) In this departure from strict historic truth, the 16th President of the U.S. discovers that vampires are planning to take over the country and decides to kill them. All of them. This silly and heavy-handed gorefest is from the Russian director of Night Watch, himself a noted vampire specialist.

★★★½ THE AMAZING SPIDER–MAN -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Little-known actor Andrew Garfield suits up as everyone’s favourite webslinger in what’s certain to be one of the summer’s monster hits. Co-starring Emma Stone.

★★★ THE AVENGERS -(Caprice) A mob of Marvel-ous superheroes comes together to help prevent a global apocalypse, in a decent but uninspired orgy of one-liners and special effects. The galaxy of greatness includes Iron Man (Robert Downey), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain America (Chris Evans).

★★★½ THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL -(Uni 4) A diverse group of British seniors seek out an affordable retirement hotel in India, only to find it in shabby disarray. But despite the initial disappointment, India’s exotic charms win them over. This heartfelt comedy-drama has a great cast that includes Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Judi Dench.

★★★ BRAVE -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson provide the voices for Pixar’s animated tale that is set in ancient Scotland and tells of a headstrong young princess who must rely on her courage to undo a beastly curse. Decent entertainment, albeit occasionally a bit plodding.

★★★ ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT -(Odeon/Uni 4/Westshore) After their continent is set adrift, Manny, Diego, and Sid have some crazy, rollicking, humour-filled adventures. This is very fine family entertainment. See review.

★★★ MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED -(Capitol/Caprice) Those mouthy NYC zoo escapees are up to their usual colourful antics in a wittily entertaining animation romp.

★★★ MAGIC MIKE -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Channing Tatum stars as a male stripper who takes a protegé under his wing, then eventually has to rethink his lifestyle. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

MEN IN BLACK III -(Caprice) Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as alien-bashing crime fighters in a third outing for this wacky sci-fi comedy series. And thanks to a time travel aspect, Josh Brolin has fun playing the younger version of Jones’ character.

★★★½ MOONRISE KINGDOM -(Odeon) The ever-quirky Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) is in fine form as he tells a tale about two very young lovers who run away, thus sparking an unusual search. The great cast includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand.

★★★ SAVAGES -(Odeon/SilverCity) Oliver Stone is in brutally fine form with this hyper-violent tale involving a pair of SoCal pot dealers who fall afoul of nasty Mexican gangsters and turn murderous in order to get back their kidnapped girlfriend.

SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN -(SilverCity/Caprice) Supposedly Charlize Theron steals the show as the evil queen, in an exotic retelling of the classic fairy tale. With Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame.

★★★ TAKE THIS WALTZ -(Capitol) The latest from actress-turned-director Sarah Polley is a bittersweet portrait of a young marriage that is threatened when one of the partners is dangerously attracted to someone else. Starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen.

★★½ TED -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) Mark Wahlberg stars in a twisted — and sometimes laboured — comedy about a young man whose best friend is a foul-mouthed teddy bear that is a very bad influence on him. Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, most famous for the TV satires Family Guy and American Dad!

★★★½ TO ROME WITH LOVE -(Odeon/Uni 4) Woody Allen’s winning streak with glamorous European cities continues with his latest comedy, which takes a sly look at adultery, fame, and self-delusion. The great cast includes Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin.

Leaving Thurs.

★★★½ PROMETHEUS – (SilverCity)

★★ ROCK OF AGES -(Caprice)

jatt & juliet -(Capitol)

KATY PERRY: PART OF ME -(Odeon/SilverCity/Caprice)

 

 

IMAX

DINOSAURS: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA -(11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm) Those “terrible lizards” come back to life in a feature that complements the fascinating dinosaur exhibit currently on at the RBCM.

★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS -(noon, 3 pm, 7 pm) Here’s a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.

TORNADO ALLEY -(4 pm, 8 pm)  Take an incredible trip into the violent heart of tornadoes via never-before-seen footage collected by a fearless (crazy?) storm chaser.

TO THE ARCTIC -(10 am, 1 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm)

 

 

SCREENINGS

 

MOVIE MONDAY – Screening ★★★½ Fathers & Sons. This recent film by Vancouver writer-director Carl Bessai uses four separate storylines to chart the complex relations between fathers and sons. Darkly funny and often affecting, this award-winner is well worth a look. See review. By donation. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca.

 

 

Cinecenta

 

Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.

DR. ZHIVAGO -(Wed.-Thurs., July 18-19: 7:00 only) The great David Lean directed this adaptation of the beloved Russian epic that spans 50 years full of political turmoil and great, often unfulfilled romantic passion. Starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.

BEING FLYNN -(Fri.-Sat., July 20-21: 7:10, 9:15) Robert De Niro stars in a drama about a young aspiring writer who must cope with addiction as well as trying to deal with the demands of his delusional father.

★★★ THE GIRLS IN THE BAND -(Sun.-Mon., July 22-23: 7:15, 9:00) Even those who aren’t jazz lovers should enjoy this fascinating documentary about how sexism relegated women to the periphery of the jazz scene — and how that didn’t stop some of them from making great contributions.

THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY -(Tues., July 17: 7:00 only) Cinecenta concludes its own 15-hour odyssey with the final three segments of filmmaker and historian Mark Cousins’ epic history of cinema artistry (which has a global moreso than a Hollywood perspective).

JOFFREY: MAVERICKS OF AMERICAN DANCE -(Wed.-Thurs., July 25-26: 7:15, 9:00) Dance fans will love this portrait of the iconic and groundbreaking American dance company that merged modern dance with classical ballet.

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