Film Reviews and listings April 19-25

Featuring Cabin in the Woods and The Three Stooges.

Cabin in the Woods is the latest offering from Joss Whedon.

Help! A Horror Movie Crawled Into My Head!

From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Serenity, writer Joss Whedon has proven to be a very clever brat. And he’s in top form with Cabin in the Woods, a horror meta-movie that deconstructs the cliche of 20-somethings who set out for a fling in the wilds and wander instead into a world of pain. The tropes fly thick and fast, from the menacing old coot who gives them directions, to the discovery of a 100-year-old diary that recounts a tale of demonic sadism. But even before the first zombie crawls out of the graveyard to introduce himself to the new neighbours, we watch a weird parallel storyline where a team of science-nerd bureaucrats is not only monitoring our five lambs to the slaughter, but also manipulating events and physically controlling the cabin and the surrounding woods. Think Truman Show meets Dawn of the Dead.

The five cabin mates happily conform to genre stereotype, from the trampy girl and her near-virginal gal pal to the two studly athletes and their dope-smoking buddy, Marty. (An endearingly paranoid goof, Marty almost steals the show: despite being stoned down to the last synapse, his ingrained fears about society’s “puppet masters” give him early insight into what is happening at this unique killing ground.) And so, as the dwindling cabin members struggle to understand what is happening to them, we in the audience are trying to figure out exactly what Whedon’s crazy script is up to.

Audacious to be sure, and often very funny, Cabin plays with the vast lore of horror cinema while winking at the audience, which is expected to get all the references, from Hellraiser to The Evil Dead. Intellectually it may be too ambitious — aren’t horror flicks supposed to make you scream, not think? Regardless, this is one trip to the woods you definitely want to take. M

 

Cabin in the Woods ★★★½

Directed by Drew Goddard

Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth

R – 95 minutes

Continues at the Capitol & SilverCity

 

Nyuck Nyuck, Who’s There? The Three Stooges!

Depending on whom you talk to, the original Three Stooges were either purely funny or purely stupid (or maybe both at the same time). Their brand of lowbrow slapstick was incredibly popular more than a half-century ago, and it’s easy to see how the Farrelly Brothers, present-day maestros of comedic mayhem, would want to pay tribute to those nose-tweaking nabobs of nyuck-nyuck.

The new The Three Stooges, predictably, is a shameless showcase of face slapping, eye poking and all those things kids shouldn’t try at home. The serviceable plot shows three babies with instantly recognizable hairstyles dropped off at an orphanage many years ago. Three decades have passed, but these goofs still haven’t been adopted. Then terrible news strikes — the orphanage has to close unless $830,000 is forthcoming — and our trio set off to the big city with ludicrous dreams of saving the day. The resulting fishes-out-of-water story is very silly and often quite funny.

Although the three leads do decent impersonations of the original Larry, Curly and Moe, Stooges benefits greatly from sly performances by Jane Lynch (the gym Nazi from Glee) as Mother Superior and Larry David as perpetually grumpy Sister Mary-Mengele. The plot actually has a few twists, while the movie as a whole has an old-fashioned innocence that’s surprisingly sweet.

 

The Three Stooges ★★★

Directed by Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly Starring Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Jane Lynch

PG – 92 minutes, Continues at The Capitol, Uni4,

SilverCity, & Westshore

 

Perfectly Potable

 

If I were heading out to a cabin in the woods, there’d be some steaks and a case of wine in the trunk. And one of those bottles would definitely be Tribunal, a red blend from California that delivers oodles of flavour way beyond what you’d expect from its $20 price tag. There are a half-dozen varietals in the blend, from Zinfandel to Cabernet, and the result is a lush, fruit-forward charmer with spice, cascades of cassis and black cherries, and more than a lick of oak. Drink up!

 

 

Film Listings April 19-25

 

 

Opening

 

THE LUCKY ONE -(Westshore/Roxy, daily at 3, 5, 7 & 9 pm) Sudsy novelist Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) is back at it with this romantic drama about a young Marine just back from three tours of Iraq who goes looking for the woman he thinks was his “lucky charm” throughout the war. Starts Fri.

 

Continuing

 

★★ AMERICAN REUNION -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore/Uni 4) The original American Pie was a raunchy but sweet-natured comedy classic. The sequel is like week-old pastry: crude, crumbly and tasteless.

★★★½ THE CABIN IN THE

WOODS -(Capitol/SilverCity) Noted screenwriter Joss Wedon (Buffy) has a great deal of fun deconstructing the horror genre in this demented tale about five kids who go to party at a remote cabin and get way more than they bargained for. See review.

★★ DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX- (SilverCity/Caprice) This is an over-stuffed, garishly coloured eco-parable that is preachy and only fitfully engaging. Featuring the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift.

★★½ THE HUNGER GAMES -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) With Twilight fading fast, the latest teen sensation is undoubtedly this fantasy account of a future world where every year 24 young people are selected to fight to the death on live TV. Everyone else seems to love this movie, but other than for the great lead performance by JenniferLawrence I found this derivative and a bit on the cheesy side.

★★★½ JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI -(Odeon) Sushi fans should swoon thanks to this delightful portrait of Japan’s 85-year-old master of sushi, theYoda of raw fish.

★★ JOHN CARTER -(Caprice) Although Edgar Rice Burroughs is most famous as the creator of Tarzan he also wrote a series of epic sci-fi adventures about a Civil War vet who magically travels to Mars, there to have astonishing adventures. The resulting movie? Not so great.

JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND -(Caprice) There’s lots of action and adventure in this fantasy tale of a rescue mission to a mysterious island that is home to lots of strange — and dangerous — critters. With Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine.

LOCKOUT -(Westshore/Capitol) Guy Pearce (who should have known better) stars in a sci-fi thriller about a guy who has to rescue the American President’s daughter from an outer space prison that has been taken over by inmates.

★★½ MIRROR MIRROR -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore/Uni 4) Here’s an over-the-top but still entertaining retelling of the Snow White fairy tale starring Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, and Armie Hammer. Directed by noted visual stylist Tarsem Singh (The Cell).

★★★½ THE RAID: REDEMPTION -(Odeon) Fight fans won’t believe the brutal perfection achieved by the Indonesian martial artists performing in this blood-soaked tale about a SWAT team that gets into trouble raiding a tenement building ruled by a ruthless mobster with an army of thugs.

★★★ SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN -(Odeon) Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) directs Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in a whimsical tale, part satire and part romantic comedy, about a fisheries expert who becomes a consultant to a sheik who wants to bring the sport of fly fishing to the desert.

★★★½ the secret world of arrietty -(Caprice) This Japanese-influenced animated tale features a family of four-inch-tall people who live secretly amongst normal humans — until their daughter gets discovered. Although aimed at younger kids, this is a delight for all fans of great animation.

★★★ THE THREE STOOGES -(Capitol/Uni 4/SilverCity/Westshore) The Farrelly Brothers helm this spirited and appropriately innocent tribute to the original icons of lowbrow physical comedy. See review.

★★★½ TITANIC -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) James Cameron celebrates the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the supposedly unsinkable Titanic by re-releasing his epic version of the story, the second-highest grossing film of all time.

★★★ 21 JUMP STREET -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) The TV show about undercover cops in high school jumps to the silver screen, getting a spoofy and raunchy makeover in the process. As guilty pleasures go, this one is pretty darned funny. Starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

★★ WANDERLUST -(Caprice) Two impoverished yuppies explore the world of a hippie commune in a hit-and-miss comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston.

★½ WRATH OF THE TITANS -(Odeon/SilverCity/Caprice) Wrath of the classics scholars will be more like it, as Hollywood delivers a particularly cheesy tale about how half-mortal Perseus braves the underworld to rescue his father (a.k.a. Zeus) as Ares and Hades unleash the brutal Titans upon the world. This fantasy epic stars Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, and Rosamund Pike.

 

Leaving Thurs.

MIRZA: THE UNTOLD STORY -(Capitol)

★★★ THE IRON LADY -(Caprice)

GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE -(Caprice)

 

Imax

 

AFRICAN ADVENTURE: SAFARI IN

THE OKAVANGO -(noon, 3 pm, 6 pm) NOTE: no 6 pm show on April 25

★★★½ MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:

GHOST PROTOCOL -(8 pm, Fri. and 7 pm Sat.) Tom Cruise is back for a fourth outing with the IMF crew, in a particularly turbo-charged action flick with good performances, a tricky plot and amazing stunts. This is great in IMAX!

★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN

EXPRESS -(10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, & 7 pm Sun.-Fri.) Here’s a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.

TORNADO ALLEY -(11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm Sun.-Thurs.)  Take an incredible trip into the violent heart of tornadoes via never-before-seen footage collected by a fearless (crazy?) storm chaser.

 

Screenings

 

MOVIE SUNDAY -Visuaal art fans will enjoy this screening of Picture Start, a profile of three Vancouver artists — Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, and Ian Wallace — who are world-renowned pioneers in the realm of photoconceptualism but remain little known in their own country. SUNDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca

WRITING SHORT SCREENPLAYS -Movie Monday and CineVic are sponsoring famed script writer Ric Beairsto for a three-hour workshop on the craft of short story writing for the screen. Please pre-register by calling CineVic at 389-1590 or emailing office@cinevic.ca. SUNDAY, 1-4 pm, at CineVic, 1931 Lee Ave.

AFTERNOON AT THE MOVIES -is a new fundraiser for Mount St. Mary Hospital. They are screening Amazing Grace, a compelling and moving account of the English member of parliament who fought the status quo and finessed legislation that ended slavery in the British Empire in the 18th century. SUNDAY, 3:30 pm, at UVic’s Cinecenta.

MOVIE MONDAY – Screening Stand-up Samurais. Comedy fans will enjoy this candid look at the on-the-road life of those funny folk who stand there all alone up at the mic and try to make us laugh. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca.

SOCIAL JUSTICE FILM NIGHT – is featuring Militainment, an eye-opening doc about the various ways that media propagandize in favour of current wars, at the same time as TV shows, toys, and video games present war as entertainment. THURSDAY, 7 pm, at the BCGEU Hall, 2994 Douglas.

OPEN CINEMA -screens Surviving Progress, a hard-hitting documentary inspired by historian Ronald Wright’s acclaimed book A Short History of Progress. Wright will be in attendance. WEDNESDAY, April 25, 7 pm at the Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad.

EYELENS FILM FESTIVAL   The Gulf Islands Film & Television School is relocating its annual Eyelens Film Festival to Victoria. Some notable extras include an appearance by the “other” Bart Simpson (an actor featured in Sundance hit Big Boys Gone Bananas) and a Vancouver improv troupe. This free event starts SATURDAY, 1 pm, at Oak Bay Secondary School.

 

Cinecenta

 

Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Tickets are available 40 minutes prior to showtime. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.

SCARLET ROAD -(Wed., April 18: 7:00 only) This possibly unique documentary celebrates Rachel Wotton, an Australian sex worker who fights not only for rights for sex workers but has a strong commitment to the idea that people with disabilities should have full access to exploring and expressing their sexuality.

SHAMELESS: THE ART OF DISABILITY -(Thurs., April 19: 7:00 only) B.C. director Bonnie Sherr Klein will be present for a Q&A after a screening of her documentary profiling fiveartists, all with different disabilities, who challenge media representations of disability.

★★★ THE IRON LADY -(Fri.-Sat., April 20-21: 3:00, 7:10, 9:15) Meryl Streep finally got a date with Oscar for her amazing turn as Margaret Thatcher, in a biopic of England’s first female prime minister that explores her polarizing politics and the price she paid for power. Smoothly directed, although a bit of a standard “greatest hits” kind of biography.

BIG MIRACLE -(Sat.-Sun., April 21-22: 1:00 matinee) Drew Barrymore stars in a heartfelt movie (based on real events) about a news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who work to save a family of grey whales trapped by ice in the Arctic Circle.

★★★★ A SEPARATION -(Sun.-Tues., April 22-24: 7:00, 9:20) This Oscar-winning drama from Iran features a marital dispute that widens into deceit, confusion, and tragedy. Easily one of the best films in recent years.

★★★ THE GREY -(Wed., April 25: 7:00, 9:15) Liam Neeson heads up a manly cast in an adventure-thriller about the survivors of a plane crash whose struggle to survive in snowy wilderness is exacerbated tenfold by a wolf pack that wants them for dinner. A bit talky, but a well made and thoughtful movie.

 

 

 

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