Movie Reviews: On the road to love in Cloudburst

Alex Cross is a crude assemblage of off-the-shelf characters, tired dialogue, and plotting that is unapologetically ludicrous.

Stella and Dot take an illegal road trip to Canada to get married in Cloudburst, playing at UVic's Cinecenta.

Cloudburst

 

Stories of love in the twilight years are anything but new — and even presenting such a tale as a road picture isn’t all that original either. But when the two leads are feisty, 80-year-old lesbians with a penchant for tequila, and the film is written and directed by award-winning Canadian director Thom Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden), the result is a bracingly profane and heart-breakingly funny crowd pleaser that has wowed film-festival audiences all across the country.

Cloudburst stars Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as Stella and Dot, lovers who have lived together in Maine for 31 years. Dot is now blind and not in the best of health, so a busybody granddaughter connives to get her admitted to a nursing home against the wishes of an enraged Stella. Later that night, Stella busts her out and the two gals roar off in the direction of Canada in a rattletrap truck to get married. They want to solemnize the relationship, but mostly these longtime companions are desperate to get legal rights. They pick up a scruffy young hitchhiker as cover — the police have issued an all-points bulletin for two old women — and the unlikely trio rolls down the road on a rollicking, obscenity-laced journey like one you’ve never seen before.

Fricker is a noted Irish actress and she does a fine job playing the grandmotherly straight woman to Dukakis’ obstreperous and foul-mouthed Stella — one of the most extravagantly appealing female performances in recent years. Sure, Cloudburst plays shamelessly to the audience, but for every easy laugh it earns there are darker moments too, as well as generous lashings of passion and poignancy that ring deeply true. If you aren’t shocked by a fiercely proud dyke who swears more creatively than a truck driver and has X-rated fantasies about k.d. lang, you’re gonna love this one!

Cloudburst ★★★★

Directed by Thom Fitzgerald

Starring Olympia Dukakis, Kristin Booth

93 minutes

Plays at UVic’s Cinecenta Oct. 28 to Nov. 3

 

 

The Doctor Will Kill You Now

Where to begin with the diagnosis of Alex Cross? The latest thriller starring gun-toting Dr. Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist and homicide detective with a Detroit police badge, is a crude assemblage of off-the-shelf characters, tired dialogue, and plotting that is unapologetically ludicrous. The setup involves a “diabolically clever” assassin with a military background and an enthusiasm for gratuitous sadism. His target is a trio of ultra-wealthy international investors planning a massive development in downtown Detroit. When Cross (Tyler Perry, best known for his TV work) and his team foil a bold second murder attempt, the killer turns on them, thereby launching a personal — and very nasty — feud between Cross and himself.

Cross’s decision to become a vigilante provokes a lame moment of moral introspection before a savage retribution gets underway, and the movie thunders along to a blowed-up-real-good pre-climax, then a chase-and-fight-to-the-death sequence, and a final audience gotcha that is breathtaking in its implausibility. On the plus side, Perry brings some charisma to the role, while writer-director-actor Ed Burns delivers a fine performance as Cross’s partner. This gory, disjointed, soul-sucking mess was directed by veteran Hollywood hack Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious), who should have known better — or tried harder.

 

Alex Cross ★½

Directed by Rob Cohen

Starring Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox

PG 13 – 101 minutes

Continues at the Capitol and SilverCity

 

Perfectly Potable

A lot of tequila gets gargled during Cloudburst, so let’s talk agave cactus. There are a couple of dozen choices for tequila these days, from utilitarian El Jimador at $30 to Gran Patron Platinum at $300. Cuervo Gold ($31) is always welcome in my blender, but for swank cocktails or fancy sipping, spend double that and more for Herradura or the amusingly named Cabo Wabo. The term “reposado” on the label means it has rested for some months, while “reserve,” as with wine, is a further mark of enhanced age and quality. Salud!

 

Victoria Movie Listings:

 

 

Opening

 

CLOUD ATLAS -(Odeon/SilverCity) German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) combines forces with Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix) to take us on an exotic trip as characters lead parallel and sometimes interlocking lives in various genre-based storylines in the past, present, and future. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugh Grant. Starts Fri.

THE PAPERBOY -(Odeon) This “swamp gothic” thriller is set in ’60s Louisiana and features a man on death row who may be innocent, and a bunch of scuzzy characters who are certainly guilty of something. Starring John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, and Nicole Kidman. Starts Fri.

CHASING MAVERICKS -(Odeon/Westshore) Gerard Butler plays a grizzled surf champ who agrees to mentor a young lad desperate to ride really big waves. Starts Fri.

FUN SIZE -(Odeon/SilverCity) A teen girl has to babysit her little brother the night of a big Halloween costume party. Hey, what could go wrong? The laughs start Fri.

SILENT HILL: REVELATION -(Capitol/SilverCity) This video game-inspired horror series goes 3D — if only to give some depth otherwise lacking to its cliché characters and stock situations. Starts Fri.

 

Continuing

 

★★ ALEX CROSS -(Capitol/SilverCity) It’s “diabolical serial killer time” as a detective goes up against a brutally clever maniac who has already slaughtered a member of his family. This unimaginative and badly plotted thriller is literally a hack job.

★★★½ ARGO -(Capitol/Uni 4/SilverCity/Westshore/Caprice) Despite some liberties taken with the facts, this account of a CIA agent who managed to smuggle six Americans to safety from Iran during the famed 1979-’80 hostage crisis is surprisingly even-handed, very suspenseful and truly entertaining. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck.

★★ THE BOURNE LEGACY -(Caprice) 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.

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 -(Caprice) 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.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) A hotel where vampires and sundry other monsters hide out from humans gets a big scare when a backpacking dude shows up looking for a room. This animated comedy features the voices of Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Andy Samberg.

★★★½ LOOPER -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) This trippy, noir-tinged sci-fi thriller is a stylish mash-up of hitmen and time travel. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Premium Rush), Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt.

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

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN -(Caprice) Disney Studios produced this rather fantastical family-friendly tale about a childless couple who end up with a young boy under distinctly magical circumstances. Starring Jennifer Garner.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) The once-interesting trick of using faux found footage to give a spritz of realism to horror flicks is becomeing duller with every sequel to this series about spooky doings in the suburbs.

★★½ PARANORMAN -(Caprice) 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.

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER -(Odeon) This coming-of-age romantic drama focuses on a freshman introvert who is befriended by a small group of slightly crazy friends.

★★½ PITCH PERFECT -(Westshore) It’s a gals-versus-the-guys vocal throwdown, as competing campus choirs seem to have gone to college only to major in Glee. Although not exactly Oscar bait, this is lots of fluffy fun.

★★★★ THE SEARCH FOR SUGAR MAN -(Uni 4) This musical documentary, a big Sundance winner, features the incredible quest of two South African men to discover whatever happened to a Bob Dylan-style troubadour from the early ’70s who never amounted to anything in his native America but became a huge superstar — and revolutionary influence — in South Africa at the height of the Apartheid era.

★★★ SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS -(Capitol/SilverCity) A struggling screenwriter accidentally gets mixed up with some really nasty criminals and lots of people die. With Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken. Not to all tastes, but this is a smart, darkly funny black comedy from the writer-director of In Bruges.

SINISTER -(SilverCity) Some gruesome “found footage” is at the centre of this horror flick that seems to owe a large debt to The Ring. Starring Ethan Hawke.

★★½ TAKEN 2 -(Odeon/Westshore) Liam Neeson reprises his role as a retired CIA tough guy who has to use his nastiest skills when his wife gets kidnapped by the vengeful father of the goon that Neeson killed in the last movie. Well-directed if rather soulless action porn that benefits from its Istanbul setting.

★★½ TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE -(Caprice) Clint Eastwood plays an ailing and aging baseball scout who takes his estranged daughter (Amy Adams) along on one last recruiting trip. This predictable but engaging comedy-drama also stars John Goodman and Justin Timberlake.

 

Leaving Thurs.

★★½ SAMSARA -(Capitol)

HERE COMES THE BOOM -(Odeon/Westshore/SilverCity)

★★ THE MASTER -(Odeon)

 

Imax

 

AIR RACERS -(1 pm, 5 pm & 8 pm, Sun.-Wed.) 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.)

HUBBLE -(10 am, Oct. 26 only, French language screening)

THE LAST REEF: BENEATH THE SEA -(11 am, 2 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm)

★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS -(10 am, 3 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 -(noon, 6 pm)

 

 

Cinecenta

 

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

KUMARE: THE TRUE STORY OF A FALSE PROPHET -(Wed.-Thurs., Oct. 24-25: 7:10, 9:00) Is this a documentary or sly performance art? You’ll have to make up your mind as you watch this autobiographical account of a college-educated American of East Indian parentage who moves to Arizona and deliberately sets out to become a guru.

★★★★★ THE WIZARD OF OZ -(Sat.-Sun., Oct. 27-28: 1:00 matinee) Put on those ruby slippers and head off for a classic  fantasy adventure!

★★½ THE CAMPAIGN -(Fri.-Sat., Oct. 26-27: 3:00, 7:15, 9:00) 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.

★★★★ CLOUDBURST -(Sun., Oct. 28: 3:00, 7:00, 9:00 & Mon.-Thurs., Oct. 29-Nov. 1: 7:00, 9:00) This bittersweet and wildly — make that profanely — funny road picture involving two octogenarian lesbians on the run to Canada in order to get married is a raunchy and very touching delight. This one has wowed festival audiences all across the country. Starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker. See review.

★★½ THE SHINING -(Fri.-Sat., Oct. 26-27: 11:00) Stanley Kubrick’s “art horror” adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about an isolated writer going mad has many fans, but for me it provoked more giggles than gasps.

 

 

SCREENINGS

 

MOVIE MONDAY – Is screening The Mystery of Sveva Caetani. This documentary explores the incredible life of a woman who was kept captive for 25 years, but whose artistic nature was finally allowed to flourish. Directed by local filmmaker Augustin Luviano-Cordero By donation. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca

 

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