This week’s new movies include several that are wonderful and some that are huge, but I also have to salute the one I have already covered.
Kímmapiiyipitssini: the meaning of empathy is a moving and thoughtful documentary about the current drug overdose crisis. It’s by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, a talented filmmaker in the making. He shows a more compassionate way of dealing with victims that his mother, a doctor, introduced to southern Alberta by modeling the Vancouver approach. I gave the film 4 stars when it was shown at the DOXA festival. It’s now back to the Vancity Theater. Check out the notes here.
And read them here …
Eternals: 3 stars
Red Notice: 4
End of the river: 3½
13 Minutes: 2½
ETERNAL: Chloe Zhao won a few Oscars for Nomadic country and critical praise for The horseman, two calm, character-driven dramas. So what is she doing directing and co-writing a Marvel movie? She says she’s been a fan of science fiction and anime for a long time and wanted to put a more human spin on a superhero movie. This is exactly where she failed here. Not his fault, really. There are just too many characters to present: 10 of them, with little time to get to know them. In addition, there are a lot of stories to tell. The result is a film that is too long and looks like it.
The history of the comics written by Jack Kirby has a complex mythology about space beings, gods perhaps, who thousands of years ago sent a group of superheroes to protect the world. Earth against evil beings called Deviants. The Eternals chased them away, retreated but stayed and gathered when the creatures reappeared. Kirby imagined them as beings with an agenda. In the movie, they’re just hungry monsters. The Eternals have individual powers to fight them. Thena (Angelina Jolie) creates a sword from nothing; Ikaris (Richard Madden) shoots laser beams from his eyes, Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) shoots fireballs (and became a Bollywood star during the downtime). Etc. There is a debate about the rules by which they live. The Eternals are not allowed to interfere in human affairs. Humans must learn from their mistakes, they are told. This main theme is soon interrupted by the great battle that is coming. The story is confusing, but the film is a visual treat and has some firsts for Marvel, a sex scene, and a gay character. (Fifth Avenue, Scotiabank, Marine Gateway, and suburban theaters.) 3 of 5
RED NOTICE: Three of the biggest movie stars right now in a Netflix movie? And get very limited early engagement in theaters? What’s up with this? COVID-19, what is it. Delayed twice from last year, picked up by Netflix, and on a few big screens now, this is a goalless comedy game deeper than the good old fun. Big fan favorite Ryan Reynolds, Biggest earner Dwayne Johnson and Marvelous Gal Gadot get tangled up in some kind of jewel heist. Dwayne is an FBI agent who pursues Ryan and Gal, who are jewelry thieves competing to be proclaimed the best in the world.
The film imagines three clusters of egg-shaped jewelry that Anthony gave to Cleopatra, a Middle Eastern potentate who wants them all on display at her daughter’s wedding, and our three characters trying to find them, along with an Interpol agent (Ritu Arya) watching them. Two eggs are found; the whereabouts of the third are unknown (with the exception of the character of Gadot) and the chase, the competition and the double pass are in progress. The film takes on a wacky tone and quick momentum from the start and never lets up. It is witty. Ryan and Dwayne exchange some very funny retorts, and Gal escapes one of the greatest threats ever: “And I know your browser history, too.” Rumors say the film cost $ 200 million to make. Looks like it might be true. (Vancity, and four times in Hollywood, plus theaters in the suburbs and around BC) 4 out of 5
SPENCER: Kristen Stewart isn’t the first person I imagine playing Lady Diana, but she’s absolutely believable in the role. She has the accent, the looks quite often, and a very moving feeling of loneliness. She’s almost a stranger when the royals come together for a Christmas weekend at a huge estate in Norfolk. Charles is far from her; the queen is evasive and Camilla, seen from across the guest room, is furtive. A military security assistant (Timothy Spall) is there to watch Diana and constantly remind her of the rules of protocol. She also has dresses chosen for her for breakfast, lunch and dinner. His discomfort is palpable as he grows older.
It’s the weekend Diana decided to rebel and leave her marriage and the brutalizing rules of royalty. The film strongly shows this progression, although what is imagined is a question. She hugs a scarecrow in a field because it reminds her of her father. She sneaks into the abandoned house next door as she grew up there and imagines scenes of her as a little girl. It’s a different image of Diana that all these TV movies have given us. His psychological state is adrift. She is in a bad mood and acts. She imagines Anne Boleyn as a confidante and herself as a victim as well. Pablo Larraín’s film is almost surreal, more of an impression than a true image. Naturally. Much of it is guesswork. You will find both comedic and heartbreaking elements in it, which makes this film uneven, albeit well presented. (International Village, Fifth Avenue, and select suburban theaters.) 3 of 5
ONLY ANIMALS: Here is a movie that you can fully enjoy, especially if you like puzzles and mysteries. It is so cleverly constructed that you are bound to be drawn into it. In the center, a woman who has disappeared in a rural, cold and snowy France. What happened to him is revealed little by little through the stories of others. It’s a bit like the classic Rashomon where different people have different interpretations of the same events. Here, people have only a small connection, with some having simply crossed paths with the main story. Big or small, the evidence is mounting.
Difficult to say more because the pleasure is to see the story unfold. No spoilers, but be aware that the woman is the wife of a city businessman visiting an agricultural area. There is a waitress, a lonely farmer, a bartender, a social worker having an affair, her husband trolling the internet, and a PC user in Africa delights his friends with his surfing. A gendarme investigates and television broadcasts from time to time. How are all these elements connected? Brilliantly by director and co-writer Dominik Moll. Based on a novel. (Vancity Theater.) 4½ of 5
LOTUSLAND: High house prices in Vancouver, a crisis for some, have been well covered in the newspapers for several years now. If you’ve read them, you won’t find much new in this documentary. If not, that’s a pretty good overview, as many of the usual voices say. Jim Pattison says Asian buyers discovered us after Expo86. Ian Young from South China Morning Post said many came in roundabout ways and some were dirty. Shachi Kurl of the Angus Reid Institute reports what people have told his pollsters that they are overpriced and “miserable.” Attorney General David Eby says something should be done about it.
The film puts most of the blame on foreign money and much on money laundering, which it says added $ 30,000 to the cost of a home. He lets people blame Ottawa and barely mentions Vancouver’s role. The city has welcomed foreign money and made it possible to build huge houses that no one can afford. Now he wants apartment buildings on residential streets. A real estate agent says build, build. But a Chinatown activist says: Why build more houses that people can’t buy. Attila Luca’s film covers all angles, but in doing so, finds itself without a noticeable attitude of its own. Saturday’s screening includes a panel discussion that could add to it. (Vancity Theater.) 2½ of 5
END OF THE RIVER: This is a documentary with bite. Everything revolves around California, claims to be relevant around the world, and even with doubts about it, carries a powerful message. Water is a threatened resource, he says, in large part because, as the sunny state shows, competing interests seek it out. The film explains the water battle which was shown in the 1974 film Chinese district. In this film, Los Angeles draws water from an agricultural area further inland. It’s happening again, but this time from an area near San Francisco where two rivers feed a delta and agriculture has thrived for decades.
There is a plan to build a tunnel and bring the water south to LA. The film speaks for the farms and for the salmon in the waterway to the Pacific and for the whales that feed on them. FOX News mocked activists for putting “two-inch fish” on people and Donald Trump repeated the same. The film covers a lot more, including the power wielded by agricultural interests to obtain water. Almond growers are some of the most discerning users and anyone who buys products from California, wholesale, most of us, should be interested. (Available on demand from Apple TV / iTunes and other platforms.) 3½ out of 5
13 MINUTES: It’s time four Oklahoma families must take shelter when a giant tornado arrives. But it takes almost an hour to get into this film, so much the filmmakers try to be authentic. They try to keep the stuff exciting and first let us know the people who are going to be blown away by it. Focusing on its impact on real people is an admirable goal, but it cuts off the thrill. And why is this the time for a young man to finally tell his parents he’s gay? Why is this the time for a young woman to tell her boyfriend that she is pregnant, and he replies that he doesn’t want anything to do with the baby because he is married and already has two children? There is also the wife of an undocumented immigrant and a much more relevant couple, a television meteorologist and his rescue wife.
Director Lindsay Gossling and co-writer Travis Farncombe are both Canadian. He’s a longtime storm chaser himself and that adds to the authenticity here. They filmed in a town in Oklahoma known for its tornadoes. And when the storm finally arrives, it is mind-blowing in its power and destruction. But then it’s gone, like real tornadoes coming and going. The film is educational by showing both the mistakes and the wise actions people make. Good intentions. So-so film. (International Village and Cineplex Langley, with VOD broadcast coming November 19) 2½ of 5