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Film Reviews and Listings April 26- May 2: Coriolanus and Chimpanzee

Shakespeare on CNN in Coriolanus and Monkey Business in Disney's Chimpanzee.
Coriolanus runs at UVic's Cinecenta April 29 and 30

Shakespeare on CNN


Modernizing Shakespeare can be a problematic indulgence, but actor-turned-first-time-director Ralph Fiennes has done a fine job with Coriolanus, a tale of war and politics that has been moved from classical Rome to the present day. Fiennes stars as Caius Martius, a bloodthirsty Roman general whose scarred body is a map of his brilliant military career. His latest victory over the neighbouring Volscian empire has added the honorific “Coriolanus” to his name, and put him in line to become an all-powerful Consul.

However, hostile political forces within the government stir up opposition to him amongst the people, and this gifted-but-obstinate warrior proves inept when the battle involves words instead of bullets. Denounced for a prideful intolerance that threatens the state, the “traitor” is banished and leaves on foot. Purging himself of his Roman name, Coriolanus finds common cause with his mortal enemy, Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler, 300), leader of the Volscians. Sporting a shaved head reminiscent of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, Coriolanus marches on the city of his birth with a nightmare of vengeance howling through his head.

The cinematographer from Oscar-winner The Hurt Locker adds immediacy with hand-held camerawork that mimics the look of war footage on CNN. The political machinations prove timeless, and the Shakespearean language fits handily alongside the tanks and automatic weapons. Fiennes is in fiercely top form, and gets able support from Vanessa Redgrave as his ambitious mother, Jessica Chastain as his wife and Brian Cox as his best friend. M


Coriolanus ★★★½

Directed by Ralph Fiennes

Starring Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes

R - 122 minutes

Corialanus plays April 29-30 at UVic’s Cinecenta




Monkey Business

The gentle spirit of world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall hovers over Chimpanzee, a Disney documentary that was three years in the making. Filmed in an Ivory Coast rainforest that has become a national park, the movie focuses on Oscar, a “toddler” chimp who is still mastering monkey basics like foraging for fruit or cracking open nuts (or just learning how to be a goof). About a year into filming, Oscar’s mom was killed by a leopard (off camera, thankfully) and the abandoned orphan was adopted, very unusually, by the tribe’s alpha male, Freddy. This fortuitous drama happens within a larger story of tribal conflict inspired by a nut grove – a tasty resource coveted by rival chimps that occupy neighbouring territory.

This being a Disney film, there is loads of “adorable” footage; and amiable Tim Allen provides a droll but heavy-handed narration. That cavil aside, much of Chimpanzee is fascinating. The intimacy and beauty of the cinematography is incredible, while the opportunity to realize just how much we have in common with our primate cousins provides food for thought. Pass the bananas and prepare to be charmed! M


Chimpanzee ★★★

Directed by Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield

Starring Tim Allen as narrator

G - 78 minutes

Continues at SilverCity





Weekly Film Listings:





THE FIVE­­–YEAR ENGAGEMENT -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) Emily Blunt and Jason Siegel star in a sweet-looking comedy about a couple who endure an unusually long engagement that causes stress for various family members. Starts Fri.

THE RAVEN -(Capitol/SilverCity) Edgar Allen Poe is the star of this gruesome thriller, which is set in 19th century Baltimore and features a detective who enlists the aid of the morbid author (John Cusack) when a madman starts killing people in ways that echo classic Poe tales. Starts Fri.

BULLY -(Odeon) A lot of interest -- and praise -- has been generated by this hard-hitting (as it were) documentary on the bullying that is sadly pervasive throughout the school system. Starts Fri.

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) The Aardman Studios crew (of Wallace and Gromit fame) set sail with this rollicking spoof of all things piratical. Featuring the vocal talents of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayak and Jeremy Piven.Starts Fri.

SAFE -(Odeon/Westshore) British bruiser Jason Statham plays a rogue cop who ends up having to protect a young Chinese girl from most of the villains (and corrupt cops) in New York City. Based on the trailer, this turbo-charged actioner is going to have a staggering body count. Starts Fri.




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


WOODS -(Capitol/SilverCity/Caprice) 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.

★★★ CHIMPANZEE -(SilverCity) A three-year-old chimp loses his mom and gets adopted by the tribe's alpha male, in a gorgeously filmed Disney documentary that is pretty gosh-darned cute. See review.

★★ DR. SEUSS' THE LORAX- (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 Jennifer Lawrence I found this derivative and a bit on the cheesy side.

★★ 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.


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.

THE LUCKY ONE -(SilverCity/Westshore, Roxy) 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.

★★½ MIRROR MIRROR -(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).


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 TITANIC -(Capitol/SilverCity) 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.

★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.

★★★½ the secret world of arrietty -(Caprice)



★★★ THE THREE STOOGES -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore)

★★ WANDERLUST -(Caprice)

SAFE HOUSE -(Caprice).




MOVIE MONDAY - Screening Happy. From the director of the wonderful Genghis Blues comes an unusual documentary that hops about the globe in pursuit of a deep understanding of what happiness is and what people think about it. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595FLIC.




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

★★★ 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.

★★★★ PINA -(Thurs., April 26: 7:10, 9:15 & Fri.-Sat., April 27-28: 3:00, 7:10, 9:15) This Oscar-nominated documentary by legendary filmmaker Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) is a wonderfully lensed portrait of avant garde German choreographer Pina Bausch. The braver fans of modern dance will love it; others, not so much.

★★★½ THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY -(Sat.-Sun., April 28-29: 1:00 matinee) 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.

★★★½ CORIOLANUS -(Sun., April 29: 3:00, 7:00, 9:20 & Mon., April 30: 7:00, 9:20) Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in an edgy and stirring adaptation of Shakespeare's classic drama of war and politics, with the action relocated from classical Rome to a modern setting. With Vanessa Redgrave. See review.

★★★½ MONSIEUR LAZHAR -(Tues.-Thurs., May 1-3: 7:00, 9:00) Oscar nominated and the big Genie winner, this drama from Quebec features an Algerian immigrant in Montreal who gets hired as a replacement teacher at a junior high when a teacher commits suicide. His efforts to reach out to the grieving students, combined with his own personal tragedy, make for some touching and heartfelt cinema.




AFRICAN ADVENTURE: SAFARI IN THE OKAVANGO -(noon, 3 pm, 6 pm) NOTE: no 6 pm show on May 1

★★★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. NOTE: no 4 pm or 7 pm shows on May 1.

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. NOTE: no 5 pm or 8 pm shows on May 1.