Film reviews and listings Sept. 20-26

Robert Moyes reviews Resident Evil: Retribution and Queen of Versailles.

Milla Jovovich stars in Resident Evil: Retribution.

Alice In Zombieland

Here’s the Resident Evil story thus far. Alice (Milla Jovovich) used to be head of security for the Umbrella Corporation, a massively evil business entity — think Apple as run by Adolph Hitler — that specialized in weaponizing viruses. One such virus escaped from the lab and turned most of the globe’s citizens into zombies. Alice, meanwhile, turned into a hero. As this fourth sequel rolls into theatres, Alice is being held prisoner in the main research headquarters of Umbrella Corp, located near Vladivostok. An extraction crew has been sent to get her out and back to North America.

The clever gimmick of the movie is that, although Alice is soon freed from the headquarters, she still has to fight her way through large “simulations” of Manhattan, Moscow and American suburbia — all of which were test sites where zombies and other “bio-hazards” could be released at will to show off the capability of viral weapons to interested buyers. But during all the global chaos, Umbrella Corp has been taken over by its own computer, and this so-called Red Queen is determined to annihilate Alice and her rescuers. In short, there is a lot of gore and splatter to wade through as a mix of zombies and Umbrella Corp’s own army are mowed down.

The series is written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and has its own amusingly grandiose visual style that combines the sterile futuristic corporate/laboratory aesthetic, common to much science fiction, with feverish action scenes where highly ritualized combat choreography coexists with flesh-ripping mayhem. Anderson is married to Jovovich, and he clearly relishes strong women: the cast features Michelle Rodriguez and Sienna Guillory as evil beauties who kill men with a sneering savagery that Arnold Schwarzenegger might envy. The plot doesn’t always make sense, but fans of this kind of colourful carnage presumably won’t care (or even notice).

Resident Evil: Retribution

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

14A – 96 minutes

Continues at the Capitol, Westshore & SilverCity

 

 

A Truly Monster Home

Although the most obvious monster in Queen of Versailles is the 80,000-square-foot mansion that real estate uber-mogul David Siegel is building, there are also a few vampire bankers and overgrown egos that play supporting roles. This fascinating documentary, filmed over more than two years, is an intimate portrait of the Siegel clan: the billionaire patriarch and king of the time-share world, his wife the beauty queen, their seven kids, and a squadron of supporting players in the form of nannies, maids, chauffeurs and the people selling vacation getaways in order to keep the Siegel coffers overflowing.

As the film starts, David and Jackie are posing in a throne-like chair and talking about their pampered lives. In particular, they focus on the new home they’re building that was inspired by a recent trip to Versailles. Although you want to hate them, they are actually a bit likable notwithstanding the absurdity of their ultra-posh lifestyle. And then their world falls apart because of the Wall Street meltdown in 2008. Siegel’s empire runs on cheap bank loans, and suddenly the money dries up. His brand-new $400-million tower in Las Vegas is threatened with foreclosure, he starts selling off his private jet and other luxuries, and even puts his dream mansion on the market. And the cameras keep rolling.

Dramatic, weird, weirdly funny — it’s impossible not to laugh when a newly-poor Jackie is at the airport and discovers that her rental car doesn’t come with a driver — and surprisingly touching, Versailles is fantastic people watching. And viewers unsympathetic to the Siegels’ plight may be inspired to revive the Occupy movement.

PERFECTLY POTABLE:

Dating from the 1930s, the rum-based Zombie is a classic way to reduce inhibitions (and, eventually, all thought processes). The ingredients are: 2 oz white rum, 1 oz dark rum, 1/2 oz over-proof rum (which should be held back and floated on top of the finished drink), 1/2 oz apricot brandy, and 1 oz each of lime juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, papaya juice, and superfine sugar. Stir in a tall glass over lots of ice. And do behave! M

 

Queen of Versailles

Directed by Lauren Greenfield

PG – 100 minutes

Continues at the Odeon

 

 

Film Listings

 

Opening

 

DREDD 3D -(Odeon/SilverCity) In a remake of the silly sci-fi flick starring Sylvester Stallone, we once again visit a fascist future where a supercop acts as judge, jury, and executioner. Starts Fri.

END OF WATCH -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4) Jake Gyllenhaal stars in a crime drama about a pair of L.A. cops who are marked for death after they confiscate some drugs and guns from a violent cartel. Starts Fri.

HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) It’s horror time again as a mother and daughter move to a new town and buy a house right next door to where a young girl slaughtered her parents. And wouldn’t you know it, the nightmare isn’t over yet. Starts Fri.

FAREWELL MY QUEEN -(Odeon) Diane Kruger (Troy) stars as the doomed Marie Antoinette in a drama set in the early days of the French Revolution. Starts Fri.

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) Clint Eastwood plays an ailing and aging baseball scout who takes his daughter (Amy Adams) along on one last recruiting trip. This bittersweet comedy-drama also stars John Goodman and Justin Timberlake. Starts Fri.

 

Continuing

★★ THE BOURNE LEGACY -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) The hyper-kinetic spy series gets a flaccid and disappointing reboot with a new director and new actor (Jeremy Renner). Co-starring Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton.

★★½ THE CAMPAIGN -(SilverCity/Caprice) A veteran congressman (Will Ferrell) who is used to running for office unapposed is shocked to find himself facing an inexperienced but effective challenger (Zach Galifianakis). This gleefully crass comedy does a (mostly) good job of skewering obvious targets like political corruption, hypocrisy, and smug media participation in a shameless circus.

★★★ CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER -(Odeon) People bored with standard rom-com fare will savour this quirky, funny and insightful account of a divorcing couple who are still best friends. Is she really breaking up with him? Starring Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) and Andy Samberg (SNL).

★★★ THE DARK KNIGHT RISES -(Caprice) A diabolical terrorist named Bane poses a terrible threat to Gotham, as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes to an exciting but rather bloated conclusion. With Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Anne Hathaway.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS -(Caprice) Greg is totally ready for summer when suddenly his plans all fall apart. What’s the poor guy gonna do now?

★★½ THE EXPENDABLES 2 -(Westshore/SilverCity) Expect lots of manly mayhem as a group of aging mercenaries (played by aging Hollywood mercenaries like Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris and Bruce Willis) go up against a very nasty adversary. This is good, cheesy fun.

★★★★ FINDING NEMO 3D -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) The classic Pixar tale of a clown fish from the Great Barrier Reef who goes looking for her missing son gets a ninth anniversary relaunch in 3D. With the great character voices of Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres.

★★★ HOPE SPRINGS -(Odeon/Uni 4/Caprice) Meryl Streep can’t endure her marriage any more and drags her reluctant husband (Tommy Lee Jones) off to intensive couple’s counselling to try to revive intimacy and romance. Although the trailers make this look like a comedy it’s really a dramedy that does a good, although sometimes heavy-handed, analysis of a dying marriage.

★★★½ LAWLESS -(Odeon/SilverCity) This extremely violent, western-flavoured drama set during the Depression features a clan of Virginia moonshiners who don’t appreciate it when the new special deputy rolls into town demanding a big cut of their profits. Starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Guy Pearce. Based on a true story.

★★★½ MOONRISE KINGDOM -(Caprice) 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.

★★½ PARANORMAN -(SilverCity) In an amusingly morbid slice of family animation, a misunderstood boy who can talk to the dead is the only hope to save his town from an army of zombies and ghosts activated by a centuries-old curse.

★★★ PREMIUM RUSH -(Capitol) The always interesing Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 500 Days of Summer) stars in a zippy, low-tech thriller about a bike courier in NYC who picks up a mysterious package and starts getting chased all over the city by a dirty cop. This is a kinetic and fun night at the movies.

★★★½ QUEEN OF VERSAILLES -(Odeon) Anyone curious about the lifestyles of the filthy rich should enjoy this documentary chronicling the rise and fall of a billionaire couple who spend zillions on an über-mansion inspired by Versailles, only to see their tacky dreams get hammered by the recent financial collapse. See review.

★★ RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) The ever-gorgeous zombie stomper Milla Jovovich is back for more gory, ass-kicking action in the fifth iteration of this popular sci-horror series. See review.

★★½ ROBOT & FRANK -(Odeon) Set in the near future, this unusual comedy features an aged ex-jewel thief (Frank Langella) who gets a “robot butler” from his son. Initially indignant, the dad soon decides to go back into business — using his programmable robot as an obliging accomplice. Although almost really clever, this is an unsatisfying and surprisingly tone deaf movie.

★★½ THE WORDS -(Odeon) Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) stars as a suddenly-acclaimed author who finds out that there is a steep price to pay for stealing another man’s book.

 

Leaving Thurs.

★★★ MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED -(Caprice)

★★★ MAGIC MIKE -(Caprice)

★★½ TOTAL RECALL-(Caprice)

THE POSSESSION -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore)

 

IMAX

AIR RACERS -(11 am, 2 pm, 6 pm) Paul Walker narrates this pulse-pounding documentary about the world’s fastest race, as amazingly nimble planes negotiate a tricky course at 500 MPH.

★★★ THE DARK KNIGHT RISES -(8 pm, Thurs.-Sat. & 7 pm, Sun.-Wed)

DINOSAURS: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA -(noon, 3 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 -(10 am, 4 pm) Here’s a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.

TO THE ARCTIC -(1 pm, 5 pm, & 7 pm — Thurs.-Sat. only)

 

SCREENINGS

 

MOVIE MONDAY – Is screening Rainman. It’s been 24 years since Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman starred in this celebrated — if not always accurate — portrayal of a man with autism and the brother who has to learn to come to terms with him. By donation. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca

SOCIAL JUSTICE FILM NIGHT -is screening an award-winning doc about the five-year struggle of farmers in Peru whose health and human rights have been sold out by the government in favour of a mining development run by Canadian interests. THURSDAY, 7 pm, 2994 Douglas Street (BCGEU Hall).

VICTORIA FILM FEST JUDGING -The VFF is inviting the public to a series of screenings of short documentaries to help select the entries for next year’s Fest. The “View & Vote” screenings take place every MONDAY over lunch hour at the downtown public library. For info, call 250-389-0444.

 

Cinecenta

 

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

 

GATOS VIEJOS (Old Cats) -(Wed., Sept. 19: 7:00, 9:00) From Chile comes an intriguing drama about a content, sophisticated couple in their 80s whose life gets tossed upside down when their “wild child” daughter and her lesbian lover come crashing through the door, complete with a troublesome get-rich scheme.

LA MALETA MEXICANA (THE MEXICAN SUITCASE) -(Thurs., Sept. 20: 7:00, 9:00) This incredible story chronicles the recent discovery of 4,500 negatives taken by three world famous war photographers during the Spanish Civil War.

OPERACI N DIABLO (THE DEVIL OPERATION) -(Fri., Sept. 21: 7:00, 9:00) Real-life corporate terrorism is portrayed in this account of a social-activist priest in Peru who is harassed and videotaped because of his efforts to protect peasant farmers from the dire effects of an American-owned gold mine.

JUAN DE LOS MUERTOS (JUAN OF THE DEAD) -(Sat., Sept. 22: 7:00, 9:00) Part zombie movie and part political satire (and entirely in debt to Shawn of the Dead), this Cuban film follows a 40-something slacker in Havana who realizes that very strange things are happening!

UN CIENTO CHINO (A CHINESE TALE) -(Sun., Sept. 23: 7:00, 9:00) An introverted shop owner in Buenos Airies has his life changed forever by a chance encounter with a young man from China who does not speak a word of Spanish.

★★ COSMOPOLIS -(Mon.-Tues., Sept. 24-25: 7:00, 9:10) Robert Pattinson (Twilight) stars as a financier-vampire as David Cronenberg directs an adaptation of Don Dellilo’s cerebral novel about a day in the (disintegrating) life of one of Wall Street’s “masters of the universe.” The novel is probably masterly, but the film is oppressive: stilted, talky, and inhuman.

THE LADY -(Wed.-Thurs., Sept. 26-27: 7:00 only) Luc Besson directs this moving biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize winner from Burma who has nobly defied her country’s thuggish military dictatorship for many years.

IRON SKY -(Wed.-Thurs., Sept. 26-27: 9:30 only) This truly crazy sci-fi flick from Finland features a group of Nazis who have been hiding on the dark side of the moon and are now launching an invasion of Earth. Yikes!

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