Horror and heartbreak
The Arab-Israeli conflict seems intractable at the best of times and may appear more hopeless than ever after watching The Attack, a heart-wrenching drama about love and loss that has a suicide bombing at its core. The central character is Amin Jaafari, a distinguished Arab surgeon who lives in Tel Aviv and is a paragon of humanism in a world where intolerant fundamentalism is the norm.
Ten minutes into the film there is a terrorist bombing in a restaurant that kills 16 people and brings many more injured to the hospital where Amin works. That act of political terror suddenly turns personal when evidence indicates it was Amin’s kindly and loving wife, Siham, who blew herself up that day. At first in denial, the emotionally devastated Amin eventually heads to Nablus in the Occupied Territories to connect with family and try to discover how and by whom Siham was radicalized. What he discovers causes him to reexamine his life, his marriage, and everything he thought he knew about his life in the Middle East.
Attack is one of those quietly devastating films that starts slowly, drawing you deeper and deeper into a world where extremist ideologies have a compelling emotional power that simplifies arguments to an us-versus-them paradigm. We go on a fraught journey as Amin replays scenes in his mind, trying to understand how his soulmate could have chosen this secret and deadly path without him ever knowing. By the film’s end, a once happy and fulfilled Amin finds himself not only emotionally gutted but also alienated from the fierce beliefs of both Palestinians and Israelis.
The Attack continues at the Odeon
Fork in the Road’s Oliver Block 249 red is a yummy combination of merlot, syrah, cabernet, and petit verdot. One of the more impressive Okanagan blends, it was harvested three years ago, then sat in oak for 15 months. The resulting wine is rich and plummy, with lots of dark fruit flavours lifted up with hints of chocolate and spice. Usually priced at $19, it is on sale at a not-to-be-missed 41 per cent off (by the case) at Artisan Wine Shop, 644 Broughton. Cheers!
20 FEET FROM STARDOM -(Odeon) The lives of talented but nearly anonymous back-up singers in some of the biggest bands in the world are explored in a much-praised documentary that includes archival footage and interviews. Featuring Darlene Love, Merry Clayton … and slightly more famous performers like David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, and Ray Charles.
THE FAMILY -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore/Empire Uni 4) Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star in a black comedy about a Mob guy who goes into Witness Protection and gets himself and his family relocated to a small town in France. A bad idea, as it turns out.
INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 -(Empire 6/SilverCity/Westshore) One of the better fright flicks of recent years gets a sequel, as the poor old Lambert family once again find themselves doing battle with evil entities from the darkest corners of the spirit world. With Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey.
★★★½ THE ATTACK -(Odeon) This thoughtful and quietly devastating drama features an Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv who uncovers a dark secret about his wife in the wake of a suicide bombing. See review.
★★★★ BLUE JASMINE -(Odeon) Cate Blanchett is headed for an Oscar nomination for her role as an emotionally fragile woman struggling to recover after her life as a glamorous socialite implodes. Complete with a great cast, this is one of Woody Allen’s best films. Ever.
CHENNAI EXPRESS -(Empire 6) South India is the setting for this exuberant, Bollywood-style action-comedy starring Shah Rukh Khan.
★★½ CLOSED CIRCUIT - (Empire 6) Eric Bana stars in a timely albeit disappointingly tepid British political thriller about a lawyer asked to represent a man accused of a terrorist bombing. When he looks a little too deeply into the case, Britain’s security apparatus starts to take a threatening interest in his activities. See review.
THE CROODS - (Caprice) A prehistoric family taking an unexpected “road trip” into a magical land is the plot of this whimsical animated charmer (which has been getting great reviews). With the vocal talents of Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, and Ryan Reynolds.
★★½ DESPICABLE ME 2 - (Westshore) The 2010 original, about a loathsome criminal mastermind who was reformed by the love of three young orphan girls, was a goofy delight. The sequel, although still clever, is much more scattershot, with an unimaginative plot and unwelcome dashes of mean spiritedness. Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, and Russell Brand supply the voices.
★★½ ELYSIUM -(SilverCity) Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in a futuristic sci-fi thriller where the Earth has become a polluted ghetto and the lucky few get to live in luxury on a floating space station orbiting languidly above. Well, that’s about to change. It’s hard to argue with the politics, but this new film by the writer-director of District 9 is too heavy-handed and cliched to take seriously.
FRUITVALE STATION -(Odeon) There is lots of buzz around this truth-based reenactment of the turbulent last day of a young black man in 2008.
JOBS -(Empire 6) Ashton Kutcher stars in a promising portrait of Steve Jobs, the college dropout who started a computer revolution that helped define and beautify the wireless world.
KICK-ASS 2 -(Caprice) Expect more hard-edged laughs and jokey violence in this sequel to the big hit about a teenage girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who was trained as a vigilante by her father. The costars include Jim Carrey, Morris Chestnut, and John Leguizamo.
LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER -(Odeon/Empire Uni 4) Forest Whitaker heads up an amazing cast in a drama about a black butler at the White House whose long tenure there overlapped with many powerful domestic and international political events. Costarring Vanessa Redgrave, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, James Marsden, Jane Fonda and Alan Rickman.
★★½ THE HEAT -(Caprice) In this raucous and sometimes hit-and-miss comedy from Paul Feig (Knocked Up), Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) play odd-couple cops who will have to learn to work together if they are to stand a chance of taking down the drug lord who’s their assigned target.
★★ THE LONE RANGER -(Caprice) More proves to be less, as the classic western TV show from the 1950s that featured a masked lawman and his Native American sidekick gets a predictably bombastic treatment from director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean). Starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY -(Caprice) In this prequel to the 2001 animated smash about fuzzy plush-toy monsters, we go back to the early days when Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) met at university.
THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES -(Empire 6/SilverCity) Only the bones were left after the critics universally savaged this derivative, overwrought tale of a young woman who discovers that she has unusual powers as she gets drawn into a battle involving a band of angel-like creatures struggling to squash a demonic threat to the entire world.
★★★ THIS IS THE END -(Empire 6) In this truly wacked comedy, stars such as Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Jonah Hill play themselves as they party at James Franco’s house -- only to find themselves confronting a terrifying, demon-filled apocalypse. Although a bit oversold and rather slapdash, this is very funny (and very rude).
ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US -(Empire 6/SilverCity) This musical documentary chronicles the meteoric rise of Niall, Zayn, Louis and Harry from their small-town beginnings to world fame as boy-band superstars.
★★★½ PACIFIC RIM - (Caprice) Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) helms this Transformers-ish epic about monsters that attack Earth and are opposed by giant robots controlled by human “pilots.” This is a skillfully directed and highly imaginative tribute to all those schlocky Godzilla movies of old.
PLANES -(Empire 6/SilverCity/Westshore) The same people who made Cars have taken to the skies with a similar family-friendly animated tale about a crop-dusting plane with dreams of winning a famous aerial race.
★★½ RED 2 -(Caprice/Roxy, 9:00) Newcomer Anthony Hopkins joins Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis, and Mary-Louise Parker as they reprise their roles as retired CIA “black ops” agents marked for death by their own agency. Although not as good as the 2010 original, this is entertaining enough, mostly due to the sly dialogue and killer performances.
SMURFS 2 -(SilverCity/Westshore) The blue munchkins are back for more pint-sized adventures, this one involving a sorcerer and a diabolical kidnapping.
★★ RIDDICK -(Odeon/SilverCity/Empire Uni 4/Westshore) Vin Diesel blasts back into outer space for the latest iteration of this gory and terrifying sci-fi series about a fugitive who once again finds himself battling alien predators and bounty hunters who want his head -- literally. See review.
★ R.I.P.D. -(Caprice) Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds star in a dismal action comedy that is nothing more than a crass ripoff of Men In Black. Bridges, who plays an “undead cop” who patrols the Earth looking for weird monsters to exterminate, should probably return the Oscar he received for Crazy Heart.
TURBO -(Caprice) The latest from Dreamworks Animation is a family comedy about an ordinary garden snail who acquires magic powers – and the chance to achieve his dream of winning the Indy 500. With the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, and Samuel L. Jackson.
★★½ THE WORLD’S END -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) In a disappointing but occasionally funny follow-up from the makers of Shaun of the Dead, five old friends reunite for a pub crawl only to find themselves in a droll sci-fi action-adventure of epic proportions. Starring Simon Pegg.
★★½ WE’RE THE MILLERS -(Westshore/SilverCity) Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston star in a crass comedy about a long-time pot dealer who hires a stripper and two feral teens to pretend to be his middle class family as cover for when he smuggles a massive load of weed across the border from Mexico to the States. Intermittently quite funny, this is a case of talented performers struggling with a second-rate script.
★★★ WOLVERINE -(SilverCity) Hairy-faced and Adamantium-clawed Hugh Jackman travels to Japan to confront the diabolical Silver Samurai, in an entertaining Marvel Comics smackdown that combines X-Men flair with martial arts and Yakuza elements. Directed by James Mangold (Walk The Line, 3:10 to Yuma).
★★★ WORLD WAR Z -(Roxy,7pm) Countries topple and armies shatter in the face of a zombie pandemic, as a shaggy-haired Brad Pitt tries to save the world. This is an intense and intelligent movie that uses zombies to embody the more plausible horror of a SARS-like threat to the planet.
FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES- (2pm)
KENYA: ANIMAL KINGDOM - (11am, 3 pm)
★★½ MAN OF STEEL -(Fri.-Sat & Thurs., 8 pm; Sun.-Wed., 7 pm)
★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS -(Fri.-Sat., & Thurs., 7 pm)
★★★½ SHACKLETON’S ANTARCTIC ADVENTURE -(noon, 5 pm)
MOVIE MONDAY - is screening Rasta: A Soul’s Journey, a documentary featuring Bob Marley’s granddaughter as she provides insight into the roots, evolution and impact of the Rastafarian movement. 6:30 pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★½ FRANCES HA -(Fri.-Sat., Sept. 13-14: 7:10, 9:00) Greta Gerwig, the new indie It Girl, stars in this droll comedy-drama about a 20-something wannabe dancer in New York who is having trouble putting her life together.
★★★★ THE HUNT -(Sun.-Mon., Sept. 15-16: 7:00, 9:15) The great Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) stars in this bleak and absorbing Danish drama about how the people of a small town turn on a popular teacher once he is falsely accused of being a child molester. Directed by Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration).
GOLD FEVER -(Tues., Sept. 17: 7:00, 9:15) The fourth annual Latin American and Spanish Film Week begins with this documentary about the efforts of people in a remote Guatemalan village to resist the arrival of a predatory mining company interested in local gold deposits.
CHICO & RITA -(Wed., Sept. 18: 7:00, 9:00) Nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature, this is a passionate celebration of the music and culture of Cuba told through the fictional lives of a young piano player and a beautiful singer.
LA REVOLUCION DE LOS ALCATRACES -(Thurs., Sept. 19: 7:00, 9:00) The struggle of an indigenous woman in the Mexican city of Oaxaca to wield political power even after she was elected president of the municipal council offers a startling look into gender inequality and other challenges of present-day Mexico.