Monday Movies: The Old actor and the sea

All is Lost finds its way, The Counselor in need of guidance

The Old actor and the sea

Cinema icon Robert Redford clearly suffered to make All Is Lost. The film presents a harrowing account of a solo yachtsman’s attempt to survive a mounting series of challenges, after his 39-foot sailboat has a devastating collision with a rogue shipping container in the middle of the trackless Indian Ocean.

The unnamed “our man” awakes to find water pouring into his boat after it was holed by a sharp corner on the trailer-sized container. With all his navigation and communication electronics ruined, he grimly sets about crudely patching the large puncture just above the water line.

Within a day he is set upon by a massive storm, one that he and the boat barely survive. Nothing if not resourceful, the sailor digs out an old-fashioned sextant and a book on celestial navigation, slowly charting his limping progress towards the distant shipping lanes, where he hopes a passing freighter will respond to his distress flares. That’s assuming, of course, that his meagre rations of food and water can sustain him, and those circling sharks find something else to eat.

Austere and rich in equal measure, Lost is cinema at its most pure. Nearly wordless, this one-man tour de force of acting sees Redford create a richly-drawn character out of simple actions and a face that displays an evolving series of emotions, as this gifted and determined sailor does everything he can to survive … while slowly realizing he will likely perish.

Writer-director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) does a great job of pacing as he works on an exceptionally small canvas. The film is intensely claustrophobic at times, and quietly harrowing, but Chandor includes sunny moments and underwater shots where the floating hull and nearby schools of fish create a mood of dreamy, otherworldly beauty. This won’t be to all tastes, but Lost is well directed and marvelously acted.

Rating: ★★★1/2

No movie for good actors

Revered author Cormac McCarthy has some serious apologizing to do. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author is no stranger to Hollywood: No Country for Old Men did the best of several adaptations, winning four Oscars.

Known for his western settings, gothic themes and dense prose, McCarthy sets his sights on the illegal drug trade along the Tex-Mex border in The Counselor. Unfortunately, and despite a killer cast and legendary director Ridley Scott at the helm, the movie is a stunning misfire. Sluggish, stilted and riddled with pretentious dialogue, this laughably “macho” crime thriller is as appealing as a bullet-riddled corpse in a designer silk suit.

The film’s “counselor” (Michael Fassbender) is a slick lawyer with lots of unsavoury clients. Ethical up till now, he has money problems and decides to buy his way into a $20-million drug deal where the product is shipped up north by a Mexican cartel. His partners include the glamorously decadent Reiner (Javier Bardem) and the mysterious Westray (Brad Pitt). There are scenes of pet cheetahs chasing down jackrabbits while Reiner and his posh yet menacing girlfriend (Cameron Diaz) sip cocktails and savour the cruelty, and dialogue that ranges from the gynecologically misogynistic (don’t ask) to the pompous (“you don’t know someone ’til you know what they want”).

The plot is your basic double-cross, but still manages to be somewhat confusing. There is little momentum, just tedious set pieces intermingled with moments of intense violence. And well before “the counselor” realizes that he is sliding down to hell, most people in the audience will have felt like they got there way ahead of him.

Rating: ★★

(All Is Lost continues at the Odeon; The Counselor continues at the Odeon, Empire Uni 4 & SilverCity)


Let’s head to Italy and open the cork on a savoury Chianti Classico from Tuscany. The 2010 Peppoli hails from the fabled house of Antinori and is nicely framed in oak, with notes of dried cherry, spices, and dark chocolate. A bit of a splurge at $26, but I’m sure you’re worth it.


ENDER’S GAME -(SilverCity/Westshore) Yet another teen book series comes to the big screen, this time featuring a young boy with exceptional powers who is cultivated as a military leader destined to save the Earth from a deadly alien attack. With Harrison Ford.

LAST VEGAS -(SilverCity/Westshore) Four sixty-something pals head to Las Vegas for a last hurrah. The geriatric laughs will be generated by Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline.

FREE BIRDS -(SilverCity/Westshore) Animation goes to the birds in this comedy about a mismatched pair of turkeys who travel back in time to change the course of history . . . by getting a certain very tasty fowl off the holiday menu. With the vocal talents of Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson.

DIANA -(Odeon) The very talented Naomi Watts looks convincingly beautiful as the doomed Princess Diana, in a biopic that focuses on the last two years of her life, including her secret love affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.

ABOUT TIME -(Odeon) Writer-director Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill) has been getting great reviews for this romantic comedy about a young man who knows how to time travel. When he decides to do something about his nonexistent love life, things become more complicated than he imagined. With the great Bill Nighy, and Rachel McAdams as the heart throb.

★★★★ RUSH -(Caprice) Gifted mainstream director Ron Howard (Apollo 13) delivers high-octane thrills and lots of human drama as he tackles this biopic about the legendary 1970s rivalry between Formula 1 race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

★★RIDDICK-(Roxy, 8:45) 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.

SWEET SUMMER SUN: HYDE PARK LIVE -(Odeon) For those who missed out on the latest mini-tour by the Rolling Stones, check out this one-night-only showing of the documentary based on their recent, extremely well-reviewed performance in Hyde Park as they played their hits for an ecstatic hometown crowd. Mon., Nov. 4 only.


ALL IS LOST -(Odeon) Cinema icon Robert Redford is great in a near-wordless performance as a solo yachtsman whose life is threatened after his sailboat has a devastating collision with a rogue shipping container in the middle of nowhere. See review.

BAD GRANDPA -(SilverCity/Westshore) Head jackass Johnny Knoxville spins off his “crazy grandpa” character into a full-length comedy about an irascible and incorrigible 86-year-old troublemaker who takes an accident- and crime-ridden journey across America with his 8-year-old grandson. Spike Jonze (!) co-wrote the story.

THE COUNSELOR -(Odeon/SilverCity/Empire Uni 4) Ridley Scott helmed this pretentious, inert and disappointing crime thriller about a lawyer who learns the (very) hard way that it’s a bad idea to get involved in the illegal drug business. Written by Cormac McCarthy and starring Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Michael Fassbender, and Cameron Diaz. See review.

★★★★ CAPTAIN PHILLIPS -(Odeon/SilverCity/Empire Uni 4/Westshore) Talented director Paul Greengrass (Bourne Supremacy) tells the true tale of a ship captain (Tom Hanks) whose boat is captured by Somali pirates. Tense but also thoughtful, a thriller with a brain.

★★½ CARRIE-(SilverCity/Empire Uni 4/Westshore) Stephen King’s horror classic gets a competent but unnecessary remake at the hands of Kimberly Peirce (***Boys Don’t Cry). Chloe Grace Moretz plays the shy high school outcast, while Julianne Moore is her religiously obsessed mom.

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 -(SilverCity/Westshore) The wacky animated comedy about an infamous machine that churns out scary food-animal hybrids was popular enough to merit a sequel. Consider yourself warned! With the vocal talents of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and Will Forte.

★★½ DESPICABLE ME 2 -(Caprice) 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 ENOUGH SAID -(Odeon) The latest from delightfully quirky writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Please Give, Friends With Money) features a divorced woman who sets her sights on a man – only to learn that he is the much-loathed ex-husband of her new gal pal. This sweet, clever, sexy, and insightful sort-of romantic comedy stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener and, sigh, the late James Gandolfini.

ESCAPE PLAN -(SilverCity/Caprice) Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up in a brutal actioneer about two convicts who will do anything to break out of the world’s most secure prison. ΗΗΗ½ GRAVITY -(Odeon/SilverCity/Empire Uni 4/Westshore) Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in a harrowing, brilliantly-executed thriller about two astronauts aboard a space station who survive an accident only to find themselves drifting helplessly through space, with little hope of rescue or survival.

★★★½ PRISONERS -(Caprice) Quebec director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) has been getting great praise for this bleak and violent police procedural about two kidnapped girls and the dad who will do anything to get them back.

RUNNER RUNNER -(Caprice) A smart college student with a knack for gambling (Justin Timberlake) hooks up with a sinister offshore entrepreneur (Ben Affleck) who runs an online poker empire from a corrupt Caribbean island. This has become one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year.

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 WE’RE THE MILLERS -(Caprice) 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.


MOVIE MONDAY – screens Still Mine, a marvellous – and under-seen – drama. Themes of aging are powerfully and poignantly explored in this heartfelt true-life story about an 89-year-old New Brunswick farmer who ends up having to fight both a city hall bureaucrat and his wife’s debilitating illness. 6:30 pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC.


GOOD OL’ FREDA -(Fri.-Sat., Nov. 1-2: 7:00) Beatlemania takes on a slightly more subdued note in this documentary focusing on Freda Kelly, who was lifelong secretary for the Fab Four.

ALL THE WRONG REASONS -(Fri.-Tues., Nov. 1-5: 9:00) The complex and increasingly muddled relations between four co-workers at a big-box department store are at the heart of this dramedy by director Gia Milani. This is the last film made Glee’s Cory Monteith.

SHORT TERM 12 -(Sun.-Tues., Nov. 3-5: 7:00) A 20-something who works as a supervisor at a foster-care facility experiences both personal and professional challenges.

THE STONE ROSES: MADE OF STONE -(Wed.-Thurs., Nov. 6-7: 7:00) Influential British rock icons The Stone Roses, who broke up in the mid-’90s and reunited in 2012, are profiled in a documentary praised as “warm an energetic” by The Guardian.


★★½ THE WORLD’S END -(Fri.-Sat., Nov. 1-2: 3:00, 7:00, 9:10 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.

★★½ DESPICABLE ME -(Sat.-Sun., Nov. 2-3: 1:00 matinee) 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 surprising amounts of mean spiritedness.

★★★★ BLUE JASMINE -(Sun., Nov. 3: 3:00, 7:00, 9:00 & Mon., Nov. 4: 7:00, 9:00) 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.

★★★★ SUNSET BOULEVARD -(Tues., Nov. 5: 7:00, 9:10) They don’t get any more classic than this 1950 Billy Wilder film noir about the relationship between a failed screenwriter (William Holden) and a faded silent movie star (Gloria Swanson) who dreams of reclaiming lost glory via a new film.

★★★ SALINGER -(Wed.-Thurs., Nov. 6-7: 7:00, 9:20) J.D. Salinger, the reclusive literary icon who gave us Catcher in the Rye, surrenders a few of his secrets in this occasionally lurid but undeniably interesting documentary with contributions from ex-lovers, estranged family members, literary lions, and such luminaries as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Tom Wolfe, and Gore Vidal.



HIDDEN UNIVERSE -(11 am, 4 pm, 7 pm)



SPACE JUNK -(noon, 5 pm, Fri.-Wed., 8 pm)

TITANS OF THE ICE AGE -(10 am, 2 pm, 6 pm; NOTE: no 10 am show Wed.)

TO THE ARCTIC -(10 am, Wed. only)






Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s close connection to director led to rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

The Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

This image released by SYFY shows Meredith Garretson, left, and Alan Tudyk in the new series "Resident Alien." (James Dittinger/SYFY via AP)
B.C.-shot ‘Resident Alien’ invader gets lift-off with viewers

New Syfy series catching on, proving TV doesn’t have to come from premium cable

Nico Rhodes, Lucas Smart, James McRae and Kosma Busheikin (from left) recorded their set for the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival’s online video series at the Harbour City Theatre in December. (Photo courtesy François Savard)
Music starts next week at online Nanaimo International Jazz Festival

Ten free, virtual performances to occur over three weeks in March

The original artwork created by local artist Emily Thiessen, is featured as the Commercial Alley’s eighth installation. (City of Victoria)
 The original artwork created by local artist Emily Thiessen, is featured as the Commercial Alley’s eighth installation. (City of Victoria)
Victoria calls for artists to fill Commercial Alley gallery

Competition open to artists in the Capital Regional District

Cowichan Valley author Teresa Schapansky’s books for young readers have become a phenomenon on Amazon. (Submitted)
Cowichan author tops Amazon charts

Award-winning author Teresa Schapansky learned of a need for low-level readers in the classroom

Nadia Rieger restocks some of the art supplies at the Crows Nest Artist Collective. Their move to stocking more art supplies over the course of the pandemic was a response to increased demand, which she thinks shows people have been turning to creating art to cope with mental health struggles due to lockdowns and restrictions on other activities. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Vancouver Islanders using art to conquer COVID blues

It seems people have been turning to their creative sides to stay mentally and emotionally healthy

Chris Bullock, Parksville artist, stands next to his ‘Mermother’ series, on display at the McMillan Arts Centre until Feb. 29. Bullock himself will be at the MAC from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. every Saturday until the end of the month. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville artist Chris Bullock’s unique illustrations on display

‘I’m heavily influenced by old comic book styles from the 1950s’

VIU music instructors Hans Verhoeven, Ben Henriques and Ken Lister (from left) are presenting a weekly jazz performance series with pianist James Darling (not pictured). (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
VIU music instructors presenting online jazz concert series

Musicians getting ‘back in shape’ performing American Songbook standards

Nanaimo’s Todd Cameron won the $1,000 Fan Favourite prize in Vancouver radio station CFOX 99.3 FM’s one-minute movie contest for his version of ‘The Big Lebowski.’ (Photo courtesy Todd Cameron)
Nanaimo man’s 60-second stop-motion ‘Big Lebowski’ remake wins fans’ choice award

Todd Cameron takes home $1,000 prize in Vancouver radio station contest

Kathryn Calder, City of Victoria’s artist in residence, is facilitating a performance and songwriting workshop for youth. (YouTube)
Online music workshops available for Greater Victoria young artists

Artist in Residence Kathryn Calder to host songwriting, performance series

Most Read