Film reviews and listings June 28- July 4

Robert Moyes reviews Take this Waltz and Pixar Studios' Brave.

Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams star in Take This Waltz, opening in theatres June 29.

With Adultery On Her Mind

Canadian actor Sarah Polley hit it out of the park with her directorial debut. Away From Her was a huge art-house hit and Polley was Oscar-nominated for writing the screenplay, adapted from a story by Alice Munro. Her sophomore film as writer-director, Take This Waltz, is, almost inevitably, a bit of a step back.

A portrait of a young couple whose marriage comes under stress, Waltz is gentle, observant, funny, sexy . . . and ultimately a bit trite.

But its secret weapon is Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, My Week With Marilyn), who gives a stunningly expressive performance as Margo, a happily married woman who finds herself rocked to the core when she meets a man with whom she has immediate and overwhelming sexual chemistry.

Her husband, Lou (decently played by slacker-raunchmeister Seth Rogen), is an amiable, decent guy who is absorbed with writing a cookbook and has no idea that Margo is swooning over the soulful artist who lives across the street.

When husband and wife go out for a fancy dinner on their fifth anniversary, it’s the audience and not Lou that’s painfully aware of what’s at stake in the relationship.

Set mostly in Polley’s own neighbourhood in Toronto, Waltz is a smart and lyrical piece of filmmaking, one that renders its moods with emotional honesty.

The intimacy and occasional immaturity of the relationship between Margo and Lou is well rendered. And these two exist in a larger, turbulent world of friends and family — most notably featuring comedian-actor Sarah Silverman as Lou’s alcoholic sister.

Definitely worth two hours of your time. M

 

Take This Waltz ★★★

Directed by Sarah Polley

Starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen

R – 116 minutes

Opens Friday at Odeon

 

 

Pixar Goes Disney

Pixar Studios, whose animation triumphs range from Finding Nemo to Wall-E, has always been indie-rock compared to Disney’s more mainstream animation aesthetic, which is closer to, say, Celine Dion. Pixar was bought by the “Mouse House” a few years back and their new movie, Brave, clearly reveals fingerprints from the heavy hand of Disney. Nonetheless, it’s a charming and funny entertainment.

Set in medieval Scotland, it features a headstrong young princess, Merida, who would rather remain a tomboy than submit to her mother’s will and become betrothed to an eligible prince from one of the neighbouring clans.

Spirited to the point of recklessness, Merida buys a spell from a witch with hopes of “changing” her mother. Things go disastrously awry, and she must use all her courage to not only save her mother but also unravel the mystery of a mythic curse that has affected all the tribes for years.

Merida is a delightfully feisty heroine, the artwork and soundtrack are first rate, and Billy Connolly is hilarious voicing the blustering but good-hearted king. A sharper storyline would have made Brave even better. M

 

Brave ★★★

Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and “Sam & Max” creator Steve Purcell

PG -100 minutes. Continues at the Capitol, Uni 4, SilverCity, and Westshore

 

 

FILM LISTINGS: June 28 – July 4

 

Opening

 

★★★ TAKE THIS WALTZ -(Odeon) 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. Starts Fri. See review.

MAGIC MIKE -(Capitol/SilverCity) Channing Tatum stars as a male stripper whose new girlfriend challenges him to rethink his lifestyle. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

PEOPLE LIKE US -(Odeon) Chris Pine (Star Trek) stars in a drama about a man who is requested to deliver $150,000 of his deceased dad’s estate to a sister he has never met. Starts Fri.

TED -(Odeon/SilverCity) Mark Wahlberg stars in a twisted comedy about a young man whose old teddy bear comes to life — and proves to be a foul-mouthed bad influence on him. Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, most famous for the TV satires Family Guy and American Dad! Starts Fri.

LOLA VERSUS -(Capitol) Greta Gerwig (No Strings Attached) stars in a comedy about a woman, just dumped three weeks prior to getting married, who relies on her friends to help her come to terms with turning 30 as a single woman. Starts Fri.

★★★ CHIMPANZEE -(Caprice) 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. Starts Fri.

THE AMAZING SPIDER–MAN -(Capitol/Uni 4/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. Starts Monday, July 2.

 

Continuing

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN:  VAMPIRE HUNTER -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) 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 special effects-driven gorefest is from the Russian director of Night Watch, himself a noted vampire specialist.

★★★ THE AVENGERS -(SilverCity) 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 -(Odeon/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. See review.

CHERNOYBL DIAIRES -(Caprice) Horror fans may enjoy this dark thriller about some “extreme tourists” who visit the abandoned city where the workers at Chernobyl lived. Wouldn’t you know, though — those pesky tourists soon realize that they’re not, uhm, alone!

★★ DARK SHADOWS -(Caprice) Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp in a tepid adaptation of the campy 1970s soap opera that featured a family of dysfunctional vampires. Fangs, but no fangs.

★★ 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 -(Caprice) With Twilight fading fast, the latest teen sensation is 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 cheesy.

★★★ MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4) Those mouthy NYC zoo escapees are up to their usual colourful antics in a wittily entertaining animation romp.

MEN IN BLACK III -(SilverCity/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.

★★★ THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS -(Caprice) The Aardman Studios crew (of Wallace and Gromit fame) set sail with this rollicking — and extremely silly — spoof of all things piratical. Featuring the vocal talents of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayak, and Jeremy Piven.

★★★½ PROMETHEUS – (Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) Ridley Scott returns to his sci-fi roots with a creepy, visually stunning prequel to the classic, still-terrifying Alien. Starring Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace.

★★ ROCK OF AGES -(Capitol/Caprice) Tom Cruise stars in a flabby and unfunny rock musical paying tribute to the over-the-top world of 1980s heavy metal music. Note: leaves Tues., July 3.

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD -(Capitol) A “planet killer” asteroid is hurtling towards Earth and Steve Carell and Keira Knightley develop a sweet friendship during the six weeks they have left. Oh, and it’s a comedy. Note: leaves Tues., July 3.

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.

THAT’S MY BOY -(SilverCity/Westshore) The egregious Adam Sandler is back with a new low brow “comedy,” this one featuring SNL’s Andy Samberg as his wayward son.

 

Leaving Thurs.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING -(Caprice)

★★★ SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN -(Caprice)

BATTLESHIP -(Caprice)

★★★½ BERNIE -(Capitol)

 

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 Bill Cunningham New York. This popular doc is a touching and entertaining portrait of Bill Cunningham, an octogenarian who rides around NYC on his bike snapping candid shots of fashion and other fashions. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca.

 

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.

THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD -(Wed.-Thurs., June 27-28: 7:10, 9:15) A teenager caught up in a blood feud in Albania is the portagonist of this psychologically complex drama by the director of Maria Full of Grace.

★★★ THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS -(Fri.-Sat., June 29-30: 7:10, 9:00) The Aardman Studios crew (of Wallace and Gromit fame) set sail with this rollicking — and extremely silly — spoof of all things piratical. Featuring the vocal talents of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayak, and Jeremy Piven.

KEYHOLE -(Sun., July 1: 7:00 only & Mon., July 2: 7:00, 9:00) The latest from ineffably weird Canadian director Guy Madden is a psychological thriller set in a haunted house that features a gangster (Jason Patric), a drowned girl brought back to life, and other oddities. Oh, and it’s loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey.

THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY -(Tues., July 3: 7:00, 9:20) Cinecenta continues its own 15-hour odyssey with the segments seven and eight of filmmaker and historian Mark Cousins’ epic history of cinema artistry (which has a global moreso than a Hollywood perspective).

BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS! -(Wed.-Thurs., July 4-5: 7:10, 9:00) When Dole used heavy-handed legal tactics to try to quash an unflattering documentary about harsh practices with farmworkers, the filmmaker struck back with a countersuit — and this documentary record of Dole’s efforts to muzzle free speech.

 

 

 

 

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