Movie Reviews By Robert Waldman
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Read Robert's Interview with Ali Liebert
The Belko Experiment (PG) * * *
Few can doubt the daily danger omnipresent in Columbia, one of the deadliest places in the world. Known far and wide for the illicit drug trade audiences get a stark reminder of the mindless mayhem confronting that country in The Belko Experiment. Forget about drugs though. Something evil descends on a closed knit community in this harrowing experience from Touchwood PR now freaking folks out most likely at the International Village Cinemas. Go to Cineplex.com for Showtimes and theatre locations,
Choose where you work wisely. Young and old, White and Latino with a nice ethnic mix of Asian and black individuals make up the work force at Belko Industries. Here the tech savvy ply their trade at this ultra modern industrial facility that does important work for various levels of government and military agencies. Wall to wall security from roof to floor abounds in this modern compound. Why even CEO Barry Norris is not immune from witnessing first hand the security protocols under the glaring glow of Tony Goldwyn.
Even with all the armed guards and serious precautions somehow something evil has invaded the work space. So begins a very unsettling and tense standoff as a mystery voice on the sound system begins to terrorize the captive population with nary a helping hand in Sight. Talk about unyielding and relentless violence, How the prisoners at their own job location try to survive the onslaught of the violence is mind numbing,
Perfect pacing and an eerie science laden atmosphere with great tension among those wanting To survive helped make The Belko Experiment quite the little journey into hell. Play it safe and just scratch Bogota off of your travel plans. Instead see this heart-pounding jaw-dropping movie that effectively questions man's inhumanity to man in the face of unspeakable horror.
The Dinner (PG) * * * * *
Election fever seems to be gripping the globe. Right now we all were surprised by the snap election call in Great Britain and R pending ballot count in France. Loyal British Columbians go to the polls with dreadful choices on May 9. Without question you will be making the right. Without question you will be making the right choice by taking in The Dinner. Just be sure to make your reservations for this movie from Taro PR opening at the International Village Cinemas.
Perfect timing sees the release of this well conceived drama. Oscar calibre performances abound here.Handsome Richard Gere ( An Officer and a Gentleman) puts his nice guy image to the test as Stan Lohman, a politician on the move and on the make with a governorship on his mind. Contrast this consummate successful go-getter with brother Paul.
A man with some issues funnyman Steve Coogan ( A Night at the Museum) surprises all with a sure-fire Oscar nod as a conflicted man wrestling with problems most of us can relate to. Together these two share an interesting past but over members of the family somehow impact their two lives in ways unimaginable.
One night the pair and their engaging wives decide to go out for dinner. Nothing unusual here. Stan being on the public payroll likes to go first class so the four cozy up at a fine eatery. Impressive is the way director Oren Moverman cooks up delicious dishes delivered with pomp and ceremony by first class waiters and maitre d's whose knowledge and preparation of cuisine is second to none.
Sparks fly in between the dishes as we witness elements of this family's past and current woes sure to make any man or woman shake in their boots. Emotions run high as all these four relatives unravel themselves in each other's pain, sorrow and hopes when confronted with life-altering events.
Frank discussion of relevant social subjects we all face serves to heighten the tension in this overpowering film that truly features standout acting, dialogue and moving characters. Stirring performances by Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall as suitable table mates makes The Dinner an unforgettable night out where the stakes are sky high and the results compelling.
The Green Hell (G) * * * *
Fast and Furious - look out. And please do not confuse The Green Hell with The Green Mile. Instead get inspired by this thrilling car driven juggernaut from Touchwood Pr that gets it's own special screening in a limited engagement at Vancouver's prestigious Park Theatre. Part of the Cineplex Events series this amazing show is well worth the effort to seek out.
Full of history and uncanny vintage footage this documentary on Formula 1 racing is a car enthusiast's dream. Director Hannes Michael Schalle is an obvious admirer of racing, so how he managed to cobble together vintage clips and news reel footage of Germany's famed Norburgring race track is a marvel. Complete with insightful interviews from those who were there we see the construction of the track and the importance this enterprise played in Germany from the late nineteenth Century through the Hitler years and well into the 1970s.
Part of German pride this economic powerhouse helped usher in Europe's love affair with the automobile as perennial heavyweights Mercedes Benz and Porsche fought it out for bragging rights at winner's circle and as a way to improve and expand their manufacturing base and their own car popularity among consumers. A bit late on the scene but not to be outdone the British were not far behind as the likes of Stirling Moss and Aston Matin were to become household names throughout the 60s and 70s.
Thrilling races at the track are wonderfully captured in this highly enjoyable look at the development of road racing in Germany and beyond and Formula 1's impact on a public yearning for more.
May 10 Wednesday. 7:00 PM. The Park Theatre Vancouver
May 25 Thursday 7:00 PM. The Park Theatre Vancouver
Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 (PG) * *
From out of nowhere a few years back a Canadian cop buddy movie called Bon Cop Bad Cop entered what had always been a traditional bastion of Hollywood. Against all odds the film was a success not only in Canada but also in the U.S. Back for more mayhem in this entertainment One release are that original dynamic duo for Bon Cop Bad Cop. And the good news is that the results aren't that bad. Check out a unique slice of Canadiana at Cineplex cinemas across B.C.
Baggage comes in all shapes and sizes. And here we're not talking about disgraced United or American Airlines. Two aging police make very strange bedfellows when trying to out out if business a car fencing operation. Suffice it to say that the antics of The Fast and Furious crowd have nothing on the friendship of Martin Ward and Dave Bouchard. Often at odds and with family problems of their own Colm Feore and Patrick Houard work well off of one another.
Nothing is quite as it appears in this story. So when a simple car theft ring turns out to be anything but all bets are off as our Canadian lawmen face off against some heavy handed criminals and aloof officials in this free-spirited lark.
Call it a black comedy of sorts. Director Alain Desrochers succeeds in building up some interesting characters and layers them well with issues that cloud both their determined minds and set ways. . Include a certain twist that ups the ante considerably and we are witnessing an odd but fun little cop/buddy movie.
Norman (PG) * * *
Modern politics get raked over the coals in Norman. Perfect timing with the current British Columbia and Great Britain elections now in full bloom comes this savvy flick from Mongrel Media now seeking your votes at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas. Much a labour of love gathered here are some top line actors seemingly yukking it up at government expense. Share in the joy.
Front and centre in this black comedy are a shady New Yorker and an obscure Israeli politician. No one seems to take much stock of the rather restless Norman Oppenheimer. Here Effective casting sees Richard Gere come on strong as the ultimate wannabe Wall Street huckster. Too bad that Woody Allenesque approach seems to rub many people the wrong way. This is the type of guy who in a harmless sort of way manages to get in your face - although in a nice sort of way. Norman is the poster child for invading one's own personal space.
Sheer luck sees the mensch meet Eshel , an up and coming Israeli politician played with convincing zeal by Lior Ashkenazi. Strange things can happen in The world of politics , as in life, so when Eshel becomes the Prime Minister it opens up a whole set of doors and can of worms for Norman and friends.
Mostly a vanity project Norman offers some real good campy performances and may be inspired in parts by bribery scandals that have plagued leaders in the land of milk and honey in the past as well as other world leaders. Somewhat of a guilty pleasure it's fun to watch this wacky nudnik ply his trade. Among those crossing this well-meaning (?) vagabond's path include first rate actors like Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi and Hank Azaria. Fans of politics, business and money may like this insight into the messed-up mind of a delusional manipulator and scammer par excellence. Sounds like most politicians when you peel away the veneer.
Maudie (PG) * * * *
Spellbinding performances highlight Maudie. Said to be taken from a true story this inspiring with a capital I story is now winning hearts over at the Fifth Avenue cinemas. From out of nowhere comes this heroic tale from Mongrel Media. Oh, and I failed to say this nearly two hour charmer has won scores of awards at various film festivals around the world. How rightfully so.
Snowy Canada is front and centre in this saga. For a change Telefilm Canada comes through with flying colours as we see how a little lady from the Maritimes takes on a series of challenges. Diminutive in stature but with a gift all her own is Maudie . Left largely to fend for herself the physically challenged lass is revealed compassionately by Sally Hawkins. Expect Ms. Hawkins to be nominated and likely to win an Oscar for her work here.
Living in a coastal Maritime hamlet Maudie has both walking and speaking problems and gets largely abandoned by her family. Not willing to stand still or sit idly by this woman has desires and by chance hooks up with an also less than perfect fisherman played nicely by Ethan Hawke. Together their relationship gets off to a rocky uncomfortable start. Through time however a hidden talent emerges and Maudie gains recognition for her abilities - and herself.
Never say never. Heartfelt in all respects Maudie shows how one can overcome physical challenges and does so in a joy-filled way. Even more surprises come your way in this three hanky movie that will have you pulling for this outcast - all the way!
Perfume War (PG) * * * *
Most of the time social values have nothing in common with business goals. Indeed they should. Able to counter this trend is the story behind the movie Perfume War. Sit back and settle in to your seat at The Park theatre in Vancouver to watch a truly inspirational movie.Based on a true story this motion picture from Loud Baby Productions shows just how good an independent film can be.
This documentary shows the special bond of two life long friends and the impact of war on both of them. Some of the nicest and best people in the world come from the Maritimes where we first meet college friends Barb Stegemann and Trevor Greene. Almost inseparable as friends the pair get separated by war. Always ready to fight injustice commander Greene finds himself doing good in Afghanistan until his tour of duty is cut short by a deadly attack.
Left largely for dead due to the heinous attack few would give this brave soldier any chance to survive. Let alone thrive and perhaps even prosper as time goes by. Not willing to give up or shatter Trevor's dream stand by your friend Barbara embarks on a one woman crusade to make things better for women in Afghanistan and by extension men as well. Knowing that the root of much evil in this undeveloped region are poppies and opium this talented altruistic woman embarks on a plan to help cultivate a less damaging crop which will make perfume and according to her make life better for this once thriving nation.
Using a local farmer somehow Stegemann manages to develop a perfume. Just how she gets the manufacturing process going and penetration into the cut-throat corporate world of the fragrance industry is a textbook David versus Goliath story with local and global inspirations.
Through conviction and dogged determination we see how a woman with little more than a dream and a heart of gold manages to make a difference in a desperate region as her friend manages to come back from what most would see as an almost impossible injury. More than a few tears will likely be shed at this emotional movie. Most striking of all is that it's all true.
The Fate of the Furious (PG) * * *
Just like the filmmakers of the James Bond series no one on the crew of the first Fast and Furious movie could have imagined how successful they have become. Count up to eight as The Fate of the Furious hits Cineplex screens throughout B.C. And the rest of the free ( and not so free) world. Being able to keep stories fresh is the key to longevity in a series as the 007 movies pioneered so well. Proper preparation and attention to story line is what Universal Films has ushered in with this car heavy series. Fans will not be disappointed.
Brought back to the fold are a cast of familiar characters. Only this time one member of the team has gone rogue. Back in the saddle as the alleged leader of this high flying muscle car driving gang is Dominic Toretto . No one plays smug as good as Vin Diesel. From the sandy shores of car crazy Cuba to such hotspots as London, New York and Russia we track Terreto who has gotten involved with a nefarious criminals leaving his colleagues in the dust.
Over the top stunts and wild car chases are what these ever popular films are all about. Lots of wisecracks and skimpy clad babes simply fuel the fire and add to the teresterone of the plot which sees a band if evil hackers try to use stock and trade ton ripple commerce and rule the world. Shades of this plot-line have appeared before. Only here the ante is raised sky high with the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Charlize Theron perfectly in sync I. This thrilling film whose theme of the importance of family feels sincere and rings true.
Fun from start to finish The Fate of the Furious will leave you wanting to out the pedal to the metal while giving your family a hug.
Their Finest (PG) * * *
My in my can the British really act. Take the story behind The Finest Hour. Set during World War 2 this noble effort from Elevation Pictures tells a simple take of love among the ruins. Enjoy this crafty romantic drama at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas and select Cineplex Theatres around B.C.
To win a battle you need public support. Successful campaigns seem to always have a pr element. During the Churchill era part of the military machine was to win over public support by way of a film department bankrolled by the government. To add a woman's touch to the proceedings enter a novice writer , Catrin Cole played by Gemma Arterton. Teamed up with Buckley, a rather snobbish resident scribe the pair turn their talents to mount a winning movie. Able to ice this part in a memorable way is Sam Claflin.
Anyone who knows anything about making a movie knows it can be complicated and trying - sort of like winning a battle on the war front. Complications aplenty arise as the question of casting and censorship rise to the fore, not to mention finding he right script.
Full of melancholy and warmth The Finest hours is full of surprises and really beautiful understated performances. Add in the presence of acting giants like Bill Nighy and Richard E. Grant and you end up with a wonderful piece of puffery aimed squarely at the older set. Those golden oldies will not be disappointed.
Gifted (G) * * *
Being smart can be good - or bad. One small child gets embroiled in a tug of war like no other in Gifted. Convincing performances and a heartfelt dilemma hits home in this telling Tale from Fox Searchlight Pictures out to make a lasting impression at the international village cinemas and other Cineplex Cinemas around B.C.
Just ask any parent. Raising children can be a vexing matter. Now imagine the concerns of another family member or friend trying to rear a little one. Stress is the order of the day when an uncle does his best to bring up his niece. Chris Evans (Cellular) leaves his Captain America shield behind to play a down home hero to diminutive Mary Adler. Look for big things to come from soon to be big star McKenna Grace who brilliantly stands out through her Sensational portrayal of the six years young Dynamo. Indeed Evans must delve deep into His playbook to pull this fatherly figure off convincingly well,
Just while things were going well a wrench is thrown into the process when news leaks out that our Mary has a way with figures with some even considering her to be a genius. Due to her ability to compute things take a turn for the worse when two disgruntled family members vie to take care of the young lady or others will follow suit.
Sparks fly constantly into this emotional tug of war triumph.
Life (PG) * * * *
Chill out. Get ready for a cold sweat. Homage to Alien must be made to new Sony bonafide thriller Life. Do not confuse this movie with the popular Milton Bradley game from the 1970s. All bets are off at this space extravaganza now transfixing eyes at Cineplex Theatres around B.C.
Over her years space movies have become popular. Here the effort sees a team of scientists on mission to Mars busy doing research with an international crew. Diverse and multicultural the crew run into unforeseen difficulties when a new specimen ism fought aware.
Beware of new things . Sound Advice like that should have been noted by this space station team. Among the members of the explorers are Vancouver born Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and Jake Gylenhaal. Star power like this may bring in the crowds but it's up to a slimy slug like creation to harness the energy. Nicknamed Calvin by the father of the menace this monster in the making is a star all its own. Grisly and gruesome the tension in this tale is taut if not palpable. Edge of your seat chills are on tap in this continual fight for survival saga that will surely make you squirm.
Power Rangers (G) * * *
Down to Earth fun explodes in a family friendly sort of way in Power Rangers. Of course this big budget epic is based on the hit show of television fame. Geared towards The Transformers kind of crowd this wholesome treat from EOne Films is full value and just delighting audiences at the International Village Cinemas and other Cineplex screens around B.C.
Back story is really important to this film. Ominous things are at the beginning when two alien rivals wind up in a battle for Earth. When one lethal lady is left for dead a deep freeze begins. Flash forward a century or so and we see the impact of old grudges as a lovely little American coastal community becomes ground zero for a fight for the planet Earth.
Here's where the fun really kicks in. Five youthful outsiders somehow unite in a showdown as their town is under siege. Each one of these teens has emir own sets of problems often related to family or bullying. So the outcasts come together and descend into a surreal world full of evil sorcery, fantastic spaceships and a very evil nemesis.
Done with tongue firmly in cheek the lure of Power Rangers is the way five normal kids with issues can overcome their differences and problems to bond together in aid of the common good. No doubt scores of kids and older folks will be able to relate to the story. State of the set special effects, stupendous stunts, that ever say die attitude and some menacing hissing at villains make Power Rangers a winning effort for those into pure fantasy anchored in everyday life and on your edge living.
Beauty and The Beast (G) * * * * *
Get ready for the movie of the year. Let your imagination run wild as the house that Walt built continues to dazzle with Beauty and The Beast. Bold as can be check out a host of flawless performances in this family friendly Walt Disney Picture now inspiring all at Cineplex Theatres around B.C.
Taken from the hit animated classic of the early 90s this full on live action movie takes us back in time to a lovely French village . From the opening frames we see how a rich prince lives the life of Reily only to access. Given the opportunity to be nice to a stranger the rich elite selfish pig learns the hard way that mistakes can be made and before you know it he is turned into an ugly creature.
Left alone and living the life of a recluse years later a opportunity for redemption presents itself when by a stroke of luck a pretty villager mysteriously comes his way. Enter Belle, a charming lass who is wanted by all but is a bit of an outcast nonetheless among the fellow commoners. Ready to charm all onlookers is a now grown up Emma Watson.
Besides being a terrific love story where the soul of Beauty and The Beast lies is in its ingenious set pieces, music,costumes and one of a kind production numbers. Full of comedy it is marvellous to see a host of normal everyday inanimate objects come to life. Ingenuous dialogue and great jovial chemistry sees the fun in Beauty and the Beast never let up.
Put simply Beauty in the Beast will have you singing and smiling all the way home. Consider this motion picture experience to be perfect fare for the entire family.
Window Horses (G) * * * *
Canada is known far and wide for a lot of good things. Apart from our breathtaking natural beauty and welcoming attitude to others our citizens are known for b one tolerant and accepting of others. Among our most precious assets is the National Film Board of Canada. Often heard on Oscar night a string of strong films helps broaden our nation's appeal to a global audience. Count Window Horses to continue this tradition with its creative flair and an underlying degree of humanity. Feel the warmth of this crowd-pleaser at The International Village Theatre on March 10.
Timely in the extreme on the heels of the international refugee crisis comes this wonderful take that touches our souls on so many levels. Inspirational directing from writer Ann Marie Fleming shows the plight of a young Chinese girl living in North Vancouver with her grandparents. Deep down inside our Miss Ming dreams of Paris and becoming a poet. Against all odds she wins the right to appear at a poetry conference in Iran of all places. At first her grandparents are bemused and shocked but ultimately cave in to their charges desires.
Left with no parents for guidance the determined lass heads off to Shiraz, Iran's fifth largest city. Once inside this once thought of as a hostile region Window Horses opens our eyes to see how plain people,talking and interacting with one another can in fact bridge political gaps.
Elements of Iranian and Chinese history are gently interwoven into this special story of a little girl lost trying to find her identity. All in all the film works flawlessly with gentle humour and an open approach that plays no favourites, takes no sides and just comments on how people can like and approve of one another despite political leaders who may want to keep their electorate down.
Wonderful creative animation with vivid colours and a calming attitude makes Window Horses a delight for all ages to experience. It's whimsical, it's charming and having the voices of Ellen Page and Nancy Kwan makes the story all the more special.
The Artist's Garden (G) * * * *
In Full Bloom!
With spring just around the corner and summer ready to burst out what better time to do some gardening - or go to the movies. Again Cineplex Events takes the cake by combining art, the big screen and this time the great outdoors in their captivating presentation of the spellbinding documentary The Artist's Garden. Just like the self-explanatory title suggests this motion picture experience from Touchwood PR looks at how gardens and flowers became key subjects of American Painters.
Back-ended by a string of interviews by noted art experts and curators The Artist's Garden takes us on a whirlwind tour of notable American painters at the turn of the 20th Century. Riding high on the works of masters from France these men and women artists hailed most notably from the East Coast and ushered in the new movement called American Impressionism.
Told in simple English that everyone can understand this documentary shows the importance of progress and modernization and how the spread of industry helped attract artists and new benefactors who welcomed a new style. Flush with gorgeous photography of modern gardens our story shows how the tranquil landscapes became prime subject matter for an emerging class of American artists who drew inspiration from their European counterparts, most notably Claude Monet.
Whether you are an art connoisseur or not this easy to understand movie gives us a glimpse into both North American history and the role art and nature have been in defining our culture.
The Park Theatre: Wednesday March 22 @ 7:30 pm
Silvercity Riverport Theatre: Wednesday March 22 @ 7:30 pm
Cineplex Cinemas Coquitlam: Wednesday March 22 @ 7:30 pm
I Am Not Your Negro (PG) * * *
Hard to comprehend. But easy to understand is the smart new documentary I Am Not Your Negro. How suitable and timely this movie is especially during the era of Trump and waves of intolerance sweeping across Europe. Share this telling portrait of the Black Experience in America by way of Mongrel Media. Check Out this award winning film already nominated for an Oscar in the best documentary category which will likely play at VanCity Theatre and International Village Cinemas in Vancouver.
Funny how history has a way of repeating itself. There is nothing remotely funny about this expose of how Negros have fared over the years in The United States. New York born Raoul Peck was fortunate enough to secure the rights to film a book that had just 30 pages written in manuscript form by noted author James Baldwin.
Through the use of news footage dating back to the Civil Rights era with Black History in the slave era we see how Peck takes us on an unforgettable journey linking the lives of cultural icons Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. That would be enough for one movie or expose in truth but Peck updates the Negro experience and ups kthe ante considerably by including recent events that have ( or should have) shocked the conscience of a nation ( and outer world) with recent incidents of racial profiling and innocent shootings of blacks by police giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Even Hollywood gets into the act with clips from classic John Wayne movies, King Kong and others showing the stereotyping of blacks by whites and the impact of this legacy of manipulation . Insightful in the extreme are vintage clips of Baldwin who almost predicts a Black presidency. Seeing footage of segregation and the struggle for black children to attend public schools and the venomous hate hurled their way will make some squirm and others think.
Narrated by Sam the man Samuel L. Jackson this Amazon Films release is a wonderful look back at history and history in the making,p. It's quite a sobering ordeal.
The Last Word (PG) * * *
Deliver the goods. Top quality acting can come with age. Perfect casting sees versatile thespian Shirley MacLaine ( Irma La Douce) shine in The Last Word. Brought to Vancouver by Elevation Pictures this inspiring drama gets a nice screening at The International Village Cinemas.
Dare to dream. That's the bottom line as The Last Word explores the unusual relationship between two women. Madame MacLaine plays Harriet Lauler a rather cantankerous 81 years young woman who comes across a young upstart played with poise by bright and shiny Amanda Seyfried. Here the hook is that MacLaine wants a writer to help write her obituary and the likely candidate is reporter Anne Sherman played by Seyfried. How the two interact with the project at hand is the key to whether the Film succeeds or falters. Lucky for us a smart script and compassionate compelling performances turns the tide.
Hit or miss can be the way Hollywood deals with morbid subjects like dying. One such film that wonderfully portrayed final days was The Bucket List. Almost as appealing is e heartfelt nature and tender touch that is pleasantly presented here. Family planning with a difference offers some sleight humour to the pain caused with confronting your own mortality. Full of spunk that's said to be Shirley MacLaine in real life and on screen she perfectly captures the flavour of fun and determination and drive to savour the moment and enjoy life,
With a good soundtrack and some surprisingly effective and engaging back-up performers The Last Word helps send a positive message about death and how much better it is to live life to the fullest.
The Shack (G) * *
Give me some of that old time religion. You rally need to be sort of righteous to appreciate the meaning of The Shack. Let's just say to play it safe those who are of the religious mind set may find this EOne Film to their liking. Geared toward Church goers and those into or curious about religion may fine their prayers answered by checking out this certainly different kind if film likely at the International Village Cinemas .
Humour is absent but hope springs eternal as we follow the path of Mack Philipps. Now married with a loving wife and three small children Sam Worthington plays this rather confused character wearing his heart in his sleeve. Together the clan make a habit of going to search. But a tumultuous past and a degree of uncertainty cloud Mack's mind ultimately causing him to question his life and life itself.
More troubles come this already confused man's way when a simple camping trip turns into anything but. Caught off guard and left to bear a horrendous loss our uprooted man somehow may have met his maker when he is miraculously transported to some dine of Shangri-La.
Destiny sees our Earthling meet some out of this world figures. Led by the humble Papa The Shack becomes surreal with all sorts of iconic images coming your way. Busy as ever Octavia Spencer offers a certain charm and warmth as Papa who message here is unmistakable. To find your way you must face your demons and our lost traveller must wrestle with some pretty big issues.
Unless your the spiritual type or enjoy all things religious with an imaginative shadow of God casting some sort of spell on you this rather nebulous offering may be too surreal,to move you or affect you in any sort of way. Big issues are definitely served up warmly in this drama that is colourful, at times shocking, and clearly different that most standard Hollywood fare. One good thing that the film does offer is truly inspiring and majestic scenery. Shot in British Columbia whether you like or believe or care about God you will fall in love with our gorgeous forests, mountains and waterways - which are right in our own back doors.
Bitter Harvest (PG) * * *
History is full of incidences of cruelty. Long ago Joseph Stalin ruled Russian With an iron fist.Relive some troubling times in Eastern Europe through Bitter Harvest. Lessons to bel earned here see equally applicable in today's modern world. Fans of history and quality drama period pieces should openly embrace this effective D Films release now playing at the International Village Theatre.
Dark in tone but hopeful in desires our story is set In a simple village in the Ukraine. Young love is in bloom with a rather charismatic lad with a political pedigree fawning senselessly and endlessly over a childhood sweetheart. How many times have we seen this romantic dilemma splashed on the silver screen. Under the forever hopeful,stares of Max Irons and Lucy Brown you buy into the actions and mindset of star-crossed lovers Yuri and Olena. Think of the pair of a more modern Romeo and Juliet.
Besides being a bit romantically aloof in showing their desires for each other at the start their special connection and commitment comes of age and intensifies as the invading Russian troops lay siege to the land and it's all important grain producing abilities. Under direct orders from ruthless Russian ruler Stalin this region becomes embroiled in a bitter conflict which spells dire consequences for not only Yuri and Olena but also also all the residents of what was a once upon a time tranquil region.
With great atmosphere, interesting characters on both sides of the conflict, topical costumes and realistic battle scenes show sing a rebellion in the making all coalesce to turn Bitter Harvest into a worthy look at a very bad time in the early 30s that one should never forget.
The Sense of an Ending (PG) * *
Don't you just love British Cinema. Known far and wide as historically being some of the finest actors the world has ever known that stately British Isle flavour is in full evidence in The Sense of an Ending. Presented by Elevation Pictures this high time drama is now holding court at The International Village Cinemas.
Certain directors love to take liberties it's time travel to tell a story. Depending on the material presented this technique can work or be wrought with problems. Said to be taken from a best selling novel The Sense of An Ending can't help escape that tawdry school boy British bastion so popular in the 50s and 60s. Two aging acting superstars play elder versions of a younger pair on the loose and on the make in London.
Now an older Jim Broad net bids his time while working at a simple camera shop while a mystery letter comes his way sent by a rather reclusive Charlotte Rampling (Zardoz). Never mind that the two now lead totally different lives. Something in the past is haunting and beings them together.
Decades earlier our prime couple were involved directly or indirectly in a romantic tryst. Those school boy days house a very dark secret long forgotten but now exposed in he fullness of light turning a series of lives completely upside down. Slow and downright podding this sordid tale is high in drama and tension. Understated performances do well capture the hearts of young love but due to be seeds of time the spark has long expired. What we're left with is a race mundane tale of revenge and missed opportunities making this film not too eventful or that engaging. Indifference more likely is wha you come away with in this sombre drama that shows that secrets should remain private forever.