Your Weekend Film Roundup: What To See  (And What to Skip) In the Theatres

It’s a good week to go back to the movies, with three of this week’s ten releases earning an A rating.  Jordan Peele’s new film, Us (Rating: A), is a follow-up to his ground-breaking debut, Get Out. It features Lupita Nyong'o as the mother of an upper middle-class family on summer holiday who are confronted by malicious doubles of themselves.  Reviewer Jim Slotek calls the film is smart, challenging and “artfully chilly”

Kim Hughes has high praise for The Mustang  (Rating: A) with Belgian actor, Matthias Schoenaerts, as a violent inmate of a Nevada prison who gets a chance for redemption through a  prison program to tame wild horses.  Liam Lacey reviews Jia Zhang-ke’s  Ash Is The Purest White  (Rating: A), an intimate, eighteen-year epic, with a knockout performance by Zhao Tao as a smalltime Chinese gangsters’ moll.

Salma Hayek, Alexander Skarsgård and Jesse Eisenberg in The Hummingbird Project

Salma Hayek, Alexander Skarsgård and Jesse Eisenberg in The Hummingbird Project

Otherwise, we have The Highwaymen (Rating: B), a neo-Western starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as the aging Texas Rangers assigned to kill Bonnie and Clyde. Newfoundland director, Deanne Foley’s An Audience of Chairs (Rating: B minus), , about a  concert pianist with mental health problems who  loses custody of her daughters. Coriolanus (Rating: B Plus) offers Robert LePage’s acclaimed multi-media production, shot off the Stratford stage,  The Quietude  (Rating: B-minus), is an Argentinian pot-boiler with Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) and Edgar Ramírez (Carlos), about a family of wealthy ranchers, burdened with secrets and sins.

The Aftermath (Rating: C), is set in post-War Germany with Alexander Skarsgård as a German widower and Keira Knightley as a married English colonel’s wife, thrown together with predictable results. Though Skarsgard often gets sexy typecasting,  Kim Hughes says he’s downright dowdy in Canadian director, Kim Nguyen’s financial thriller, The Hummingbird Project (Rating: C plus),who, along with his cousin (Jesse Eisenberg), plans a high-tech cheat to beat the stock market.

Also this week, we have a preview of North America’s biggest documentary film festival, Hot Docs International Film Festival (April 25-May 5,) And with this week’s podcast, we offer some perspective on Hollywood’s latest sex scandal and discuss the fearful cunning of Us (meaning the movie, not ourselves). Have a great weekend!


Canadian Film Fest: From lo-fi sci-fi to sex-worker scandal in Canada's oldest black community

By Liam Lacey

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What to watch (and what to skip) in the theatres this week

Now that the Oscars are a distant memory, we’ve revived the Your Weekend Film Roundup, with an assortment of low-season indie curiosities and gems.

To start with, we note that Captain Marvel isn’t the only female-centred film out there. We offer Canadian filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy’s topical sci-fi Level 16  (Rating: A Minus), a drama about a 16-year-old girl,  Vivien (Katie Dougl as) and her best friend, Sophia (Celina Martin) in the boarding-school/prison where inmates are trained to be passive, sweet and uncurious. Our reviewer, Thom Ernst, compares this smartly-scripted dystopian drama to Black Mirror and A Handmaid’s Tale.

Level 16: A girls’ school they’d approve of in Gilead

Level 16: A girls’ school they’d approve of in Gilead

From Iceland, whose main exports are sweaters, cod and quirk,  comes Woman at War  (Rating:: B) which introduces us to Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), choir director by day, bow-wielding eco-warrior by night. This off-beat crowd-pleaser is slated for a Hollywood remake, with Jodie Foster reportedly attached to direct and star.

On the subject of remakes, Julianne Moore and John Turturro star in Gloria Bell  (Rating: A-minus) in which Chilean director Sebastián Lelio preserves the warmth and charming awkwardness of his own 2013 Spanish language, hit, Gloria, says our reviewer, Kim Hughes. Moore stars as a divorced middle-aged women with an unquenched enthusiasm for love and disco dancing. It’s celebration of a woman who, even if she gets her toes stepped on, keeps on dancing.

Romantic perseverance is the theme of Five Feet Apart  (Rating: B-minus) about  two teens with cystic fibrosis who are not allowed to be physically close to each other. Kim Hughes praises the gifted young stars, Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse, but is less enthusiastic about the script for this “watchable weepie” 

We have a couple of movies about people who, to steal from Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch, have passed on, are no more, have ceased to be, are stiff, bereft of life – in short, are dead. To Dust  (A-minus) is a kind of buddy-movie, in which a widowed Orthodox cantor, Shmuel (Son of Saul’s Géza Röhrig) asks a college science prof (Matthew Broderick) to help him understand what exactly has happened to his wife’s corpse.. Reviewer Jim Slotek calls it an “odd, dryly funny, existential and slightly blasphemous.”  Jim also reviews Quebec director, Denis Côté’s new film, Ghost Town Anthology, a contemplative chiller about a small town that’s dying, and then starts filling up with its population of the walking dead, who are less interested in scaring the living than passively watching the dwindling population.

On this week’s podcast, we talk about Captain Marvel  vs. the anti-feminist internet trolls and have a clip of  Bonnie Laufer Krebs’ interview with Marvel’s Lashana Lynch. We also talk about Steven Spielberg’s beef with Netflix and offer some ideas about how we’d cast the movie about the college admission scandal.

Have a great weekend.