Movie Reviews By Robert Waldman
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Don't Breathe (PG) * * * *
Career criminals are a dime a dozen. Hats off to Sony Pictures for releasing Don't Breathe. Get ready to be scared silly as this horror thriller is causing goose pumps galore at Cineplex Odeon Theatres around B.C.
Good stories are few and far between. No matter what the genre creativity seems to be getting harder to come by. Smart writing makes Don't Breathe one of the best horror films in decades. Set in Detroit Michigan our story revolves around the criminal aspirations of three not so smart petty thieves.
All In Their late 20s I surmise the trio, composed of two men and a babe have had a taste of success robbing homes. When the group gets wind of a house with the potential of a higher return they set their sights on an easy mark, Little does the gang know that they may have bitten off more than they can chew when they enter the dilapidated house.
Warning signs can be foreboding. Good scares come early when a canine with fangs wants to chow down on the intruders. This dog from hell is only the warm-up as once inside it appears that the robbers may have encountered the ultimate villain.
Owned by a Vietnam War vet with health issues it doesn't take long for the hunters to become the prey as a deadly game of cat and mouse inside the house turns What should have been a plain and simple robbery into the ultimate fight for survival . Once again a low budget film like Don't Breathe proves you don't need a big star or any star for that matter or fantastic special effects to appeal to the masses. Here we have a largely no name cast going with the flow and becoming involved in a deadly fight to stay alive that will leave you in a cold sweat.
Talk about tense excitement. This is an excessively suspenseful tale that tells the sordid story of a crime gone way wrong and the dangers of home invasions gone sour. Don't Breathe will leave you breathless and your heart beating out if control.
Suicide Squad (PG) * * * *
Take a group of hardened criminals. Train Them for a perilous mission to save the world. Does that plot sound vaguely familiar? Well it should. if you are a golden oldie you may fondly recall 1967's Classic The Dirty Dozen with Lee Marvin and a cast of soon to be megastars taking on the Nazis in World War 2. Fast forward to 2016 where Warner Brothers total redeems itself for the bland Batman vs Superman with the inspiring Suicide Squad. Despite the obvious similarities with the storyline from The Dirty Dozen this sly big screen version of the famed DC comic strip is full value for your entertainment dollar at scores of Cineplex Odeon arenas as well as The Fifth Avenue Cinemas still left standing in its wake.
Super fine casting, outstanding special effects and a comprehensible plot sees a band of jailed hoods with superheroes get a chance at redemption when a dastardly plot of some unearthly power decides it's time to eliminate the human race. Well, not so fast. Led possibly by the quick quipped Will Smith as the ultimate gun for hire who easily puts Scaramanga's golden gun to shame this bit shy makes nice with his comrade in arms. Others broken free from jail include a fire rearing human, a reptile faced underwater hulk of a toad and Margo Robbie as eye candy and the pretty property of The Joker himself.
Few can forget the delicious performance of Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight. Paying homage to this classic villain and Heath's amazing portrayal is Academy Award winning who dazzles as the ultimate Casanova with horns. Together Jared and Margo are the ultimate power couple not to be outdone by some shady characters of the past.
To be effective super heroes need super villains. Here the film's,era mine the past and come up with a bewitching woman whose spell spells fear and heartbreak. Wild and raucous Suicide Squad also features a punchy soundtrack that jives well with the craziness unfolding in screen.
Made in Toronto Suicide Squad is a wild ride and a whole lot of fun!
Bad Moms (PG) * * *
Hot on the heels of the Republican National Convention comes Bad Moms. Like the title suggests this rather raunchy comedy from EOne Entertainment is now gunning for laughs at Cineplex Odeon theatres around B.C.
Made partly with Chinese money and backed by superstar comedy kingpin Bob Simonds Bad Moms take the wraps off of stuffy suburbia. In one corner you have do it all mom Mila Kunis, trying her best to hold down a job, raise two young children and deal with a rather unruly husband.
Trying to do all things right, on the other hand is mom of the century Christina Applegate. Egos collide between these feisty babes with children often being the pawns caught in the middle of their petty adult pursuits. Finally the gloves come off during a battle for the right to lead the PTA.
Sure, men come under fire a bit for family woes but Bad Moms is really about coming to terms with child rearing and how friendship matters. It's a case of the outsiders and underdogs going against the elite and privileged and so called picture perfect know it alls. The End result here is a pretty well acted comedy with maybe a serious theme or two touched on for good measure. Why even a sense of warmth emanates from the conniving madness at hand.
Written by the director of the first Hangover movie Bad Moms turns out to be not that bad of a movie. Just make sure you stick around for the unconventional yet refreshing end credits.
Cafe Society (PG) * * * *
When is a kiss just not a kiss? Maybe when the same girl is being wooed by two different men. Prepare for a delightful romantic lark with Mongrel Media's Cafe Society. Still going strong is the venerable New Yorker himself - Woody Allen, Trust this Dynamo to deliver the goods at The Fifth Avenue Cinemas and the international Village Cinema
Here we have an awesome all star cast doing what they do best - trying to cope with affairs of the heart Woody Allen style. Clearly one of Woody,s best this story hardens back to the 1930s. From New York to also Angeles we go following the footsteps of the equally neurotic Bobby. Perfect timing sees Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) rise to the occasion.
Baby steps sees this transplant try to land a job with his uncle - a top Hollywood agent played with relish by Steve Carell. Nepotism reigns mightily in The film world with these two deliciously playing their roles to perfection . Thrown In a gangster or two, some hilarious jokes related to Allen's well known heritage and a perfect atmosphere and Cafe Society, is an absolute delight.
Among the great cast who exhibit loads of on screen chemistry are Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively. If you like Woody chances are you will adore this romantic comical charmer.
The Legend Of Tarzan (PG) * * *
Monkey Man !
Sheer spectacle awaits those willing to brave the wilds for The Legend of Tarzan. Escape to the jungles to learn first hand the motivation and birth of a one of a kind hero. Newly minted from Warner Brothers this lavish adventure is now enthralling audiences at Cineplex Odeon Theatres around
Escapism is in high gear here. Based obviously on the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs novels this jarring tale is engaging from start to finish. Smart set up shots see how this human is largely left in the wilds in The Congo on his own before being raised by the apes. Oh, and once a bit older this jungle boy makes goo goo ga ga with the worldly blonde Jane. Continuing her meteoric rise to stardom is a delightful Margo Robbie who is a perfect match for this rough around the edges man in loin cloth who cleans up rather nice to become an aristocrat .
Alexander Skarsgard sizzles as the man as the little clothed transplant. Look for many a young lady's hearts to go pitter patter when they see this hunk swinging from the vines or swimming with the rhinos.
Good stories need bad villains. Fresh off his hit portrayal of ice cold criminal mastermind Blofeld in last year's James Bond hit Spectre comes Christoph Waltz. Talk about evil and cunning. Stunning stunt work, lively animals and a hero like no other turn The Legend of Tarzan into king size entertainment.
De Palma (PG) * * *
Directors come and go. Enjoy a documentary of one of the best directors in the business in the appropriately titled De Palma. Part of the retrospective on the uncanny career of filmmaker Brian de Palma courtesy of ace programming at the Van City film centre on Seymour this movie really puts it all together. Consider this Elevation Pictures a must see entertainment that will be enlightening for not only cinephiles but film fans in general.
Told in his own words words this is one documentary chalk full of film clips, both hits and near misses. Through it all we see the jovial nature of this master storyteller and learn of the role other creative geniuses like Hitchcock had on this upstart fresh out of film school. Born into a privileged life this maverick ultimately made it to the studio system where he joined the likes of Lucas, Spielberg and Scorsese in largely shaping the cinematic world we know today.
Insightful thoughts convey how key scenes from memorable classics like Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables and a slew of others came into being. Behind the scene studio intrigue and the rapport or lack thereof with actors and writers also open a door to the mysterious world of making movies.
Fully engaging from start to finish De Palma is a refreshing revealing look into the magic of movie making and the blood, sweat and tears that go into turning dreams into reality. Playing at the Vancity Theatre on
July. 12. 8:30 pm
July. 14. 4:20 pm
The Shallows (PG) * * *
Dare to dream. That might as well be the motto of the main character in The Shallows. Good timing by Columbia Pictures sets the mood for this summer assault of the senses. After a day at the beach swim on over to your favourite Cineplex Odeon sights to take in this chiller of a thriller.
Outdoor enthusiasts may find The Shallows to their liking. Beach front property is In Demand and an idyllic Mexican setting seems like prime real estate for tourist Nancy. Far away from the maddening crowd comes this girl brought to life in Fine fashion by lissome Blake Lively.
People go to the beach largely to relax, sun and swim. Number one desire of our Texas transplant is to ride the big wave. Taking a break from her dad and little sister the athletic lass seems to have some mommy issues that may cloud her judgement. Ever a fighter the gal must make use of her training when she realizes she is not alone in the water.
Despite being alone in the expansive water a sense of claustrophobia sets in as a shark starts to use these not so tranquil blue waters as a feeding ground. And number one course on the menu is Nancy. Just how this woman can stay alive makes The Shallows intriguing to say the least.
What Bruce the shark did for Jaws the same fate may apply to Nancy's nemesis here. Intense and horrific Ms. Lively turns in a Lively performance as a woman on deaths doorstep. Whether that spirit of hope and desire to live can stop the relentless charge from the water world's most feared predator helps turn The Shallows into a frightful night at the movies.
Central Intelligence (PG) * * *
Sly humour and excellent acting highlight Central Intelligence. Smooth operators Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are irresistible in This Warner Brothers comical adventure aided by Universal Studios . Get in on the laughs at Cineplex Odeon theatres around B.C.
Upbeat in tHe extreme Central Intelligence starts off 20 years earlier at Central High School where we first lay eyes on Bob Stone and Calvin Joyner. Much younger then Bob faces bullying while Calvin is the toast of the class. Leave it up to Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart to play these two likeable goofballs in their adult years.
Life has a way of taking some crazy turns . Now Stone is a C.I.A. Operative while Calvin is a bored and unhappy accountant. So when this businessman is approached in the most hilarious way imaginable by Stone to help on a national security matter all hell breaks loose.
Wonderful on screen chemistry from Johnson and Hart turn Central Intelligence into a hilarious romp. Spiced up with a few terrific cameos Central Intelligence is a lot of fun that never takes itself too seriously. And Johnson is particularly warm with his humour alongside a serious message that should not be lost.
Mr Right (PG) * * * *
All bets are off and fun kicks into high gear for Mr. Right. Presented by VVS Films this dazzling display of misplaced bravado features scores of hammy and campy performances. For something completely different check out this bit of hilarity.
Who's says originality has gone by the wayside in Hollywood. Not me or the creators of this sly yet not shy crime fiasco. Hit men are a dime a dozen but the zany character of Takes the cake. Quirky Sam Rockwell aces the part of a lone fun for hire whose way of taking out bad guys will have you in stitches. John Travolta - look out. With moves that would shame Fred Astaire Rockwell is in the zone and brings a certain degree of humanity to this soulless killer.
All work and no play can lead a hit man down. While Francis Goes about slicing And dicing bad guys like a Renoir or Picasso in their prime somewhere in The city lay a lady in wait also seeking Mr, Right. Closer klutz Martha has no luck with men. Comic master Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) nails this role cold as a mixed up love lorn lassie who accidentally meets the quirky Francis. Together these two misfits hit it off.
Part romance part gangster flick Mr. Right is fully original. Together Rockwell and Kendrick are unstoppable as an improbable live match mixing bullets and insanity. Fast and furious are the gunplay and sweet kisses in this kiss and kill fable. Totally outlandish and outrageous seeing Mr, Right will be the right choice for folks looking for a good time at the movies. Even Tim Roth gets into the act in this unconventional yet endearing story.
Hevn (PG) * * * *
Never forget. Never forgive. Explosive danger highlights a woman on a mission in Hevn. Downright chilling This thriller from Norway is as good as it gets. Get ready to feel totally squeamish at the International Village Cinemas in downtown Vancouver. Despite the English subtitles this Norwegian shot movie will make you think and sweat and is full of chilling surprises sprinkled liberally along the way
Funny how just a little thing can set one off. Explore the mind set of a mature woman who just happens to come a calling on a couple in a hilly community in western Norway far from the maddening crowd. On the surface travel writer Rebekka seems nice enough when seeking out to do a story on upright popular businessman Morten Holland and his charming wife Maya. Actress Siren Jorgensen comes on strong to the unflappable Frode Winther and love of his life Helene Bergsholm.
Over time this trio bond. Then things get dark in a hurry as our visiting scribe has a Haden agenda that firmly puts Mr. Hollander in her sights . Something wicked comes as an uncomfortable secret from the past surfaces turning an idyllic holiday retreat into a cauldron of catastrophes
Through the use of modern technology Rebekka charms her way into a family before hurling them into uncharted territory as sexual tension boils to the surface . Slow at times but full of tension this deceit-laden story serves up terrific dramatic performances and a soulful take on sexual indiscretions and a determined woman to get at the truth and mete out her own brand of cutting edge Justice. Call Hevn a Misery light,
First time film Director Kjersti Steinsbo makes an auspicious debut and succeeds in pulling off a troubling tale of vengeance and its disruptive impact on a family. Odds are good you will here from him again as this sly cinematic version of acclaimed novel The A Doll in the Ceiling at the very least is eventful and unpredictable, Expect to be on the edge of your seats for 1 hour and 40 minutes as you won't miss a beat in this high impact take no prisoners pressure-filled thriller that takes full advantage of the idyllic scenery of Norway's scenic natural enchanting beauty.
All bets are off when past demons return to wreck havoc on Earth in X-Men: Apocalypse. 20th Century Fox reaches new heights when master moviemaker Marvel pulls off a terrific story line. Get in on all the action at Cineplex Odeon theatres still left standing around B.C.
Global domination comes in many forms and sizes. Mutants are put under the gun when a mystery force capable of inhuman things ascends to new glory. Out to keep the world safe is top mutant leader Charles Xavier. Born to play this more youthful role is James McAvoy. Along with his super hero friends the group must not only face off against a mythical killer but also an old friend.
Back in top form , as Magneto is Michael Fassbender. Superb special effects and 3- D for a change that works makes X-Men: Apocalypse a rip roaring success . So expect many fan favourites to return in fine form in this well-paced thrilling action-packed extravaganza.
Given a poignant story showing depths of friendship and humanity unravelling and a wicked Pharoah inspired tyrant with a way past due expiry and the seeds are sown for global chaos. So get in on The battle royal in this global catastrophic yarn.
Now You See Me 2 (PG) * * *
Black Magic !
No voodoo is on display in Now You See Me 2.Instead EOne Entertainment reunites most of the cast from the original surprise hit. Catch the second act of this crowd-pleaser at Cineplex Odeon entertainment halls across B.C,
Yes, it may help if you have seen the original. What we have here is a group of four, check that that five sleight of hand artists who delight in tempting fate - and making a quick buck In The process. Known internationally as the four. ( now five) horsemen the group uses magic as a cover to be modern day Robin Hoods . At least that's their lofty goal.
But this time a trick from the past gone sour leads to all sorts of chaos. Back in the fold and able. To pull more than the odd rabbit out of the hand routine are Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and rookie intern Lizzie Caplan. Too bad the authorities and a jaded bad guy or two are out to get them.
Bottom line - if you like magic and caper type stories played up for laughs then this two hour and ten minute tale will appeal to you. Scenic sights sees our group get into all sorts of trouble in exotic Macao and then fabled London. And with stalwarts like old vets Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and the newly minted Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe along for the bride and the masses should dig this magic fiasco unless your simply not a good sport or convert .to the cause.
Maggie's Plan (PG) * * *
Please do not confuse Maggie's Plan with the title I have given for this review, The Meddler. Yes the former is a recent film from a rival studio. Part of the fun with Maggie's Plan, a devilishly good dark tinged romantic comedy from Sony Pictures Classics is the rather meddlesome style of the main character, Maggie. Check out the lengths this offbeat New Yorker will go to either keep or sabotage her own relationship at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.
Cast as Maggie in the pivotal role is Gerta Herwig who has made something of a habit out of playing mixed-up/ messed up young women in the big city. Written In a quirky Woody Allen type style this flick shows how a desperate to give birth single woman will go to whatever lengths to have a child.
Like the song says, men will come and they will go. Our hapless romantic teaches by day and meets up with an equally offbeat prof played by Ethan Hawke. Just how the two interact with one another creates an additional bit of chaos since our man is already married to another bizarre intellectual played by a thick French accented Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights). You get the picture.
Marriage, or lack thereof, is the driving force in Maggie's Plan. Plus desperation. Kids also come into play here as a series of relationships goes sideways proving lots of food for fodder and sentimental soul-searching.
Good intentions have a habit of going astray with Maggie's Plan well, not exactly going according to script. Whimsical at times though with more than a few serious moments makes this quaint little film different and decidedly good.
Money Monster (PG) * * *
Investors - watch out! Not since Gordon Gecko's infamous Greed is Good trademark has the financial world had to come clean. Now it's up to handsome George Clooney to shed some light in the dark forces of financial malfeasance in the appropriately titled Money Monster. Hot off the presses from Sony Pictures this decidedly different thriller is now taking stock at Cineplex Odeon cinemas around B.C.
Television is a powerful medium. Was it Marshall McLuhan or Andy Warhol who said we would all be famous for 10 minutes or something to that effect. Never mind that. In the huckster world of money and television no one does it better than Lee Gates. Under lots of pressure is George Clooney whose well-coiffed grey hair may be turning a touch whiter when one of his darling stocks takes a nose dive.
Out of money and out of luck is a disillusioned investor who decides to hold this know it all so-called financial wizard to task. Know your sins was part of the bad guy's motivation in recent James Bond offering Skyfall. Now I'm the sights of a rather unstable Kyle Budwell is a larger than life t.v. personality quite literally under the gun for all to see. Cast as the man on the trigger malcontent is Jack O'Connell whose as foxy as a Jack O Lantern. Well maybe not.
About the only thing standing on the way of Gates ( no relation to Bill) and a determined kidnapped is the program director, Patty Fenn. Pretty woman Julia Roberts shows nerves of steel as she tries to disengage a madman and save dozens of lives in the process.
Acclaimed director Jodie Fosters knows how to make tense thrillers and Money Monster is no exception . All around good performances and a sense of realism makes this 1 1/2 hour movie interesting, topical and timely.
Into The Forest (PG) * * *
Elevation Pictures reaches new heights with the release of Into The Forest. Like the title suggests 99% of this movie is set amidst trees and fauna. Get into Mother Nature big time at The Fifth Avenue cinemas if you enjoy the great outdoors - and danger.
People enjoy getting out of the big city and heading to the hills. A loving dad and two young daughters settle in for a relaxing time out at their secluded mountainous house. Robert, Nell and Eva seems to be the perfect modern family. Effective as the cloistered clan are Callum Keith Rennie, Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood. When a natural disaster hits too close to home the trio are left to manage things by themselves. Being on your own is one thing but the perils being cut off from technology can be scary and downright dangerous.
Perils galore confront the two girls who have to ramp up their survival skills to stay alive. Unexpected events throw a dark cloud on the rural dwellers who have to make a series of important decisions that will impact both their sanity and well-being.
Yes, you buy into the dilemma facing mostly the two girls when the Lowe goes out and the fear steps in. Consider Into The Forest to be a fairly realistic dire warning of problems that can occur and how one has to adapt in order to survive. Harsh at times with a dark tone Into The Forest takes in some serious subject matter that at times will leave some uncomfortable. Still the ability to bond and sisterly love speaks volumes in this one hour and forty one minute ordeal.
Despite a silly ending that seems quite out of place Into The Forest does a good job showing the lengths people must go to survive. Made with Canadian taxpayers money through Telefilm this is one experience that will linger longer after the curtain goes down.
Love & Friendship (G) * *
Let's go back in time to merry ye olde England to see how the upper class gets their freak in in Love & Friendship . Care and attention to affairs of the heart emerge early on as the credits unfold in his period piece tale from Mongrel Media now warming up folks at The Fifth Avenue cinemas.
Taken from the pages of noted English scribe the incomparable Jane Austen from her novella Lady Susan the schemers are certainly in court here. Spot on acting as the ultimate conniving meddler goes to Kate Beckinsale (Pearl Harbor) who steals the show as the not too ladylike like Susan Vernon.
Having a scorecard may come in handy as Ms. Vernon is only one player in a complicated game of catch the right partner in this devil's light of young men and women who go through the ropes to snare their Mr./Mrs. Right.
Full of wit and charm and sumptuous Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous / Masterpiece Theatre/Downton Abbey type decor director/screenwriter Whit Stillman proves to be quite effective in capturing the hearts and soul of these jaded class set.
Fans of romance and tradition should find Love & Friendship a welcome relief from fanboy/girl super heroes. See some super deeper acting here instead done up with elegant costumes and rather chipper dialogue and untold secretive passion blended slyly with ba kroon intrigue.
Live Theatre (G) * * * * *
Twinkle Toes !
Pure Magic and Pixie dust explodes on stage in Billy Elliot. First popularized on Broadway and London and ultimately on the big screen give it up to the local Arts Club theatre for mounting a supreme production. Feel good all over with this majestic musical now gaining considerable traction at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage on South Granville. Fit for all ages this uplifting tale is both poignant and timely.
Battle lines are drawn early for a family in upheaval during the turbulent Margaret Thatcher years. During the mid 1980s ground zero is an industrial town in North England called Durham. With the town backbone of coal mining in a state of disarray with a strike the only solution households are in an understandable panic. The Elliot clam are helmed by a mining father played by Warren Kimmel and his eldest son while young son Billy goes to school. Look out for newcomer Nolan Fahey whose shy demeanour masks some hidden abilities that move this story forward at warp speed,
Extracurricular time for the lean green fighting machine Billy is supposed to be sparring and learning boxing in the ring. Little does dad know that the lad has some hidden talent with dance. Thanks to a caring teacher the boy winds up taking dance lessons with the girls. Needless to say when the chickens come home to roost some differences of opinion rise to the surface. Elements of bullying, insensitivity and the desire to follow your dreams all play integral parts to this highly entertaining production
Full marks go to Bill Millerd for superbly directing a standout musical. Spot on casting with hilarious dance routines with impeccable comic timing make Billy Elliot a rousing time for 2 1/2 hours. Told in Two parts there is glitz and glamour along with the frayed nerves and tempers associated with a work stoppage. Smart dialogue that at times is salty and at other moments hilarious further will reel you in. There's even a rousing Cirque du Soleil type number sure to bring the house down. Bolshoi Ballet - look out!
If you want to catch a star in the making watch and enjoy the charisma of Nolan Fahey who makes just a smashing Arts Club debut. Look for this kid to follow in The footsteps of a once little known Michael j. Fox. Yes, his talent is exceptional and he is highly likeable.
Full of lively and memorable songs by Sir Elton John Billy Elliot is just a lot of fun for all ages.
For more information and show times for Billy Elliot which is only here until July 10 call (604) 687-1644 or go to www.artsclub.com
Captain America: Civil War (PG) * * * * *
Danger looms large in Captain America: Civil War. Destined to perhaps outperform the new Star Wars extravaganza this new Marvel thriller from Disney is non-stop excitement. Smart writing seal this adventure yarn Into the biggest hit of the summer. Smarten up and brave the long line-ups at Cineplex Odeon arenas across B.C.
Sky high fun is on tap when a series of miscues threatens to torpedo the crime fighting Avengers clan. Bad things can happen to good people. Give it up to the good old U.N or some other no -good organization who tries to put the Avengers under strict controls vetted by a host of governments. All this happened because of a few secret missions that went astray.
Able to make enemies out of friends, you now have Tony Stark and his gang facing off against Captain America and his cohorts. Both Robert Downey Jr, and Chris Evans go at it with their allies . Just wild special effects, super slick dialogue,more sly humour and an evil menace coalesce to make Captain America: Civil War a superb crowd pleaser. And a new super hero or two arrive on the scene to make this film even better! Even though it comes in 3-D this add on is not really necessary. What is necessary, whether you like super heroes or not,mins to enjoy the non-stop fun presented here.
And to get your money's worth, which is a no brainer here because this film is just a lot of fun, do be sure to stick through the credits. Two tacked on scenes, including one snippet at the very end, will further please die hardship to the max. Oh and let's not forget the welcome return of Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner et. al. plus a few new exciting newcomers to the fore.
Natasha (PG) * * *
Dazed and Confused!
Canada comes of age in the dramatic Natasha. Smart and Davy this Mongrel Media Release is hot to trot at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.
Coming of age tales are a dime a dozen. One class is is The Summer of 42. That budding romance tale was young love at its finest. Consider a dark side of love to surface in Natasha. Here love and lust mixes with immigration woes as we track the plight of a couple of Russian immigrants to of all places Hogtown.
Life is good for an upwardly mobile family of Jewish Russian immigrants. When a wedding of convenience happens in Toronto a 14 year old daughter named Natasha is supposed to blend in but family issues put her on a collision course. Able to tuen heads as the aloof newcomer is Sarah K. Gordon. Given a loner attitude and sordid detachment the young lass harbours I'll will to all and a host of issues. So what a surprise it is when cousin Mark comes a calling. Young., street smart and not initially fond of his show Canada hospitality to a foreigner is Alex Oserov, equally street smart at 16.
Together these kids make a strange couple. Things heat up and the temperatures rise as loyalty, old style traditions and raging hormones boil to the surface. Uniform good acting and solid direction by David Bezgozmis give Natasha lots of oomph,
Demolition (PG) * * * *
Tragedy can affect people in different ways. Bad news sees a see saw change in an aspiring businessman in Demolition. Made up of truly interesting people this deft character study from VVS is interesting in the extreme. Witness firsthand some highly effective if not infectious performances at The Fifth Avenue Cinema.
When a family tragedy hits an up and coming middle aged man his life as well as others gets turned upside down. One could argue the actions following a loved one's death by Davis Mitchell are rather odd, to be charitable. Another strong performance from Jake Gyllenhaal rings true here big time.
People mourn in different ways. Mr. Mitchell meets a new woman in one of the oddest yet most creative ways imaginable. Carrying quite a bit of baggage in her own life is single mom Karen Moreno. Naomi Watts clicks with her work here. Customer service is supposed to be this displaced flower child's specialty yet she has considerable struggle with son Chris. Breakout performances in Hollywood are few and far between. Rivetting is the screen presence of Judah Lewis who brings more soul to the movie As does veteran actor Chris Cooper ( The Bourne Identity) as a grieving dad
Completely original with dynamite tension and performances that are compelling have director Jean-Marc Vallee (The Dollars Buyers Club) unleash another unqualified winner.. And the writing in of a host of social issues smartly will get you thinking while pulling at your heartstrings.