Even if you’re not into radical shredding, ollies, and skatecore headbanger music, there’s a good chance that the documentary Hicks on Sticks will grab your attention. Directed by Soren Johnstone, it’s a voyage into the early days of skateboard culture in B.C. The main focus is what happened during the summer of 1999 when a “travelling circus” of top-level boarders and a couple of noisy bands hit the road on an eight-city tour of B.C. and Alberta. With a large, portable skate park in tow that had to be arduously assembled and disassembled for each show, these self-identified “gnarly dudes” worked their asses off as proselytizers for the religion of skateboarding (in between sucking back unholy amounts of beer and partying till dawn).
The tour was the brainchild of Ian Comishin, a young, hardworking entrepreneur who was just getting his skateboard business off the ground and saw the road show as a great promotional opportunity. He and the other guys all had similar experiences of growing up alienated in small towns where all they ever wanted to do was skateboard, and their desire to reach out to the next generation was profound. But passion can only take you so far, and as the film unfolds it becomes apparent what a disaster — financial and otherwise — the tour is destined to become.
Hicks is a smart, warts-and-all portrait of a fascinating subculture peopled by crazy idealists who were also overgrown boys trying to exist outside the constraints of the adult world. Honest, funny, and containing lots of well-shot footage of gravity-defying skater stunts — and the occasional ambulance trip to the hospital — this is a fun ride.
Hicks on Sticks ★★★
Directed by Soren Johnstone
Starring Ian Comishin, Josh Evin
PG – 118 minutes
Plays Feb. 6 and 7 at UVic’s Cinecenta
In the opening minutes of Rust and Bone, we see Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) stealing and scamming his way from Belgium down to the Cote d’Azur where his sister can put a roof over his head. Coarse and feral, Ali soon gets a job as a bouncer at a club. That’s where he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard, Oscar winner for La Vie en Rose), a gorgeous Orca trainer who works at a Marineland. Not much later, Stephanie loses both her legs in a horrifying accident that leaves her emotionally shattered. Later she phones Ali and the two begin an unusual relationship that has the potential to change both their lives.
As love stories go, this one is visceral and harsh. Ali accepts Stephanie’s status as a double amputee with an unblinking shrug. For all his flaws — he can be a brutally uncaring father to his young son, and loves the adrenaline rush he gets by participating in lucrative and illegal bare-knuckle fights — Ali still retains his humanity, despite having seen nothing but the tough side of life. The scene where he insists on carrying a reluctant Stephanie into the water, a baptism that transforms her from a cripple to someone temporarily freed from physical limitation, is marvelous.
This multiple award-winner (including Best Film at the 2012 London Film Festival) is raw and unsparing in its depictions of working-class life. Rust is honest and earthy, and rises above its melodramatic elements in a powerfully anti-romantic portrayal of sex, poverty and violence. And impressive as Schoenaerts is, this is Cotillard’s film all the way: her ability to inhabit a character is flawless, and she is superb at conveying the gradual rebirth of someone who thought she had lost everything. The final half-hour feels a bit rushed, and uses a stale device to tug at our heartstrings while knitting together some loose ends. That quibble aside, this is a very strong film, one deserving of an audience. M
Rust and Bone ★★★½
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Starring Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts
R – 120 minutes
Continues at the Odeon
BULLET TO THE HEAD -(SilverCity/Westshore) Sylvester Stallone stars as a hitman who joins forces with a cop to put the hurt on a common enemy, a violent thug who has killed people close to both men.
STAND UP GUYS -(Capitol) Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin star in a hip crime comedy about some aging conmen who get back together for one last job.
WARM BODIES -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) Zombie love is the subject of what promises to be a highly unusual romcom, as a zombie with a heart saves a human girl . . . and sets strange events in motion. Ahhhh.
★★★ DJANGO UNCHAINED -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) Quentin Tarantino’s latest is a gory tale about a freed slave-turned-bounty-hunter (Jamie Foxx) tracking down the brutal plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) who has bought his wife. This mash-up of spaghetti western and blaxploitation flick is clever, but many people will find the idea of Tarantino riffing on a holocaust for his own movie-making amusement rather offensive.
★★ GANGSTER SQUAD -(Westshore) A great cast gets to overact while playing with guns in a luridly fictionalized and very brutal crime thriller about the struggle of the LAPD in 1949 to run mobster Mickey Cohen and all his goons out of town. With Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, and Emma Stone.
★½ HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as witch-whacking bounty hunters, in a horror-thriller that is witless, charmless, and shockingly dull-witted. The Brothers Grimm are owed an apology.
★★★ THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) This long-expected Lord of the Rings prequel has a young Bilbo Baggins head off with a posse of dwarves to reclaim some treasure stolen by a mean old dragon named Smaug. Hobbit fans will love it, people with less of a passion for those with hairy feet should merely be entertained. With Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, and Andy Serkis as the perfidious Gollum.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA -(Caprice) A hotel where vampires and sundry other monsters hide out from humans gets a big scare when a backpacking dude shows up looking for a room. This animated comedy features the voices of Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Andy Samberg.
★★★½ LIFE OF PI -(Odeon/Uni 4/SilverCity/Caprice) Oscar winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) helms this visually gorgeous adaptation of Yann Martel’s magical and spiritual novel about a young man’s epic adventures while lost at sea — most of which are shared with a terrifying Bengal tiger.
★★★★ LINCOLN -(Odeon/Uni 4) Stephen Spielberg directs award-winning playwright Tony (Angels in America) Kushner’s account of Abraham Lincoln’s darkest days as he fights the Civil War and also fights political battles in his cabinet over plans to free America’s black slaves. The superb cast includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field.
★★½ MAMA -(Westshore) In this tastily gothic horror offering two little girls are abandoned in the woods the day their mother is murdered by their father. Five years later they are found by an uncle, who takes them in. Unbeknownst to him, a supernatural entity who’s been looking after the girls comes along for the ride.
★★★½ LES MISERABLES -(SilverCity/Caprice) Victor Hugo’s sweeping tale of love, poverty and an obsessed policeman stalking a reformed criminal in 19th century France inspired the best of the mega-musicals, and now makes a stylish migration to the silver screen. This elegant, emotionally powerful film manages to be both epic and intimate. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway.
★★ MOVIE 43 -(Capitol) An incredible cast — including Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Gerard Butler — star in a series of interconnected movie “pitches” where gross-out humour is the common thread. Occasionally very funny but mostly just outrageously vulgar.
★★ PARENTAL GUIDANCE -(Caprice) Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play grandparents who agree to look after their grandkids, only to get into trouble when their old-style parenting approach comes into conflict with that of their progressive kids. Lame but harmless, and occasionally good for a giggle.
PARKER -(SilverCity) Jason Statham stars in a solid-looking actioner about an honourable crook who is betrayed by his gang and left for dead. I betcha he’s interested in a little revenge! Co-starring Michael Chiklis and Jennifer Lopez.
★★★ QUARTET -(Odeon/Uni 4) Dustin Hoffman turns in his directorial debut with this droll and heartfelt comedy about a retirement home for classical musicians where the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of a diva’s diva (Maggie Smith). The great cast includes Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, and Pauline Collins.
★★★½ RUST AND BONE -(Odeon) The superb Marion Cotillard (Oscar winner for La Vie en Rose) stars in this unusual and rather bleak romantic drama from France.
★★★ SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK -(Odeon/Uni 4) A bi-polar man (Bradley Cooper, The Hangover) is trying to put his life — and his marriage — back together when he meets a fascinating woman (Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games) with problems of her own. This quirky (and over-rated) romantic comedy is directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter).
★★★ THIS IS 40 -(Caprice) This sequel to the raunchy Judd Apatow comedy Knocked Up shows an older Pete and Debbie, complete with two kids, who now find themselves colliding with a mid-life crisis. Despite some sloppiness, this is an insightful, touching, and very funny movie.
★★★ WRECK–IT RALPH -(Caprice) John C. Reilly provides the voice for a video-game villain who tires of being a bad guy and sets out on a quest that throws an entire video arcade into chaos. This occasionally-inspired animation lark includes the voices of Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch.
★★★★ ZERO DARK THIRTY -(SilverCity) This grapping thriller about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden is now on the hunt for a handful of Oscars. Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and starring Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life).
★★★★ EVEREST -(3 pm & 9 pm Sun.-Thurs.)
FIRES OF KUWAIT -(10 am & 8 pm Sun.-Thurs.)
JANE GOODALL’S WILD CHIMPANZEES -(11 am & 7 pm Sun.-Thurs.)
★★★½ MYSTERIES OF THE GREAT LAKES -(noon, 4 pm)
SHARKS -(2 pm, 6 pm)
★★★★ SKYFALL -(7 pm, Fri.-Sat. only)
super speedway -(1 pm, 5 pm)
MOVIE MONDAY – Is screening a gamer double bill: Indie Game: The Movie, followed by King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters. The first doc is all about the making of contemporary video games; the second looks a fierce rivalry between two very different competitors who both hope to be the world’s best player of Donkey Kong. 6:30/8:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
AWARENESS FILM NIGHT -is screening a collection of 10 short films from around the world on creating healthy, cooperative, resilient and happy communities. There will also be several post-screening presentations with a local focus. WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13, 7 pm, at Edward Milne Community School theatre, 6218 Sooke Rd.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★ HICKS ON STICKS -(Wed.-Thurs., Feb. 6-7: 7:00, 9:15) Boarders (and others) will enjoy this Canadian doc about the efforts of several guys to bring the gospel of skateboarding and heavy-metal music to the hinterlands of B.C. and Alberta. See review.
★★★ FLIGHT -(Fri.-Sat., Feb. 8-9: 3:00, 7:00, 9:45)
THE GOLD RUSH -(Sat.-Sun., Feb. 9-10: 1:00 matinee)
★★★★★ LAWRENCE OF ARABIa -(Sun., Feb. 10: 3:00, 7:00 & Mon., Feb. 11: 7:00 only)
THE WORLD BEFORE HER -(Tues.-Wed., Feb. 12-13: 7:10, 9:00)