Thursday 14 November 2019
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Animals and Landmines Star in the Best Movies and Television This Week – Reviews by Anne Brodie

Reviews by @annebrodie

Cats have ruled the streets is Istanbul for thousands of years, they are part of life, adored by locals, cared for by devoted guardians and basically doing that they please. The wonderful doc Kedi lets us follow them through their daily routines from their eye level thanks to new technology – robotics, drones and special camera packs. We’re right in on the action as Ceyda Torun profiles dozens of cats each with its own distinctive personality, as they stand guard like gargoyles on buildings, sleep in awnings and pipes, steal fish from the market – no one minds – and increase in population. The city teems with felines and the humans who are momentarily or forever transformed through sweet encounters. Sadly, encroaching urbanisation is a threat.  Kedi is bittersweet balm for the weary and it’s on now at Hot Docs Cinema for two weeks.

Not sure that The Great Wall starring Matt Damon and Tian Jing is balm for the soul. It’s a middling action fantasy set eons ago, concerning European mercenaries looking for gunpowder in China who are forced to battle monsters to defend said Wall. Poor Matt delivers timeless lines in the style of Tony Curtis in Son of Ali Baba “yonda lies the castle of my faddah”.

Fist Fight is low-hanging fruit, a comedy about a school teacher who gets another fired and is challenged to an after-school fight by the newly jobless man. That’s because “snitches get stitches”. Ice Cube and Charlie Day square off in the schoolyard as hordes of students cheer and goad them on like fans at the ancient Coliseum.  As we edge ever closer to the last days of civilization.

The horror film A Cure for Wellness is allegedly about anambitious young executive sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. He soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem”. Lameness aside, and I didn’t see it, the film is reported to be linked to five fake local news websites that have been spreading hoaxes about vaccinations, Trump, and other topics and a fake water brand to generate interest and publicity. Not nice.

A Man Called Ove is a timely comedy based on the international bestseller by Fedrick Backman about a rigid widower (Rolf Lassgård) who is forced to retire to his tiny gated community in suburbia. He takes his growing anger out on the neighbours by spying on them and bullying them into correction and fear. An Arabic refugee family moves in across the street and give him an unexpected fresh start in life.  It’s wonderful and not too sweet, directed by Hannes Holm.  Ove has won two Oscar nominations – Best Foreign Language Picture and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Also nominated for Best Foreign Language Picture is the fact-based Danish film Land of Mine concerning a dark chapter in its history following Germany’s surrender in 1945.  Teenaged German POWs are forced to disable millions of German landmines along the west coast beaches. These are just kids who miss their mommies, dream of a brighter future but who may starve or be blown to pieces before they complete their mission.  The mission was all about Danish vengeance against Germany and history tells us that few survived.

I, Claude Monet; the Intriguing Story of the Man Behind the Impressionist Masterpieces is part of Cineplex Events’ ongoing In the Gallery series February 22 and 26, 2017. Monet the founder of the impressionist movement and the most successful painter of the 19th and 20th centuries was a deeply flawed man. His canvases were vivid and sun-drenched and positive. In private, Monet suffered from narcissism, depression and suicidal thoughts.  He begged friends for money and spent it all on paint while his first family starved; then he ran away with his benefactor’s wife.  His gardens at Giverny France were built so he could study the movement of light over colour through the days and seasons and produce the wonderful pieces he left as his legacy.  The film’s shot on location in Paris, London, Normandy, Venice and Giverny.

CTV’s Cardinal, a moody police procedural shot in Sudbury and North Bay – called Algonquin Bay – may be the most Canadian series of all time, an adaptation of Giles Blunt’s award-winning mystery novel Forty Words for Sorrow. It looks Canadian, shot in familiar scenes of deep midwinter as winds from Lake Superior lash the open spaces. The accents, communities, colloquialisms and ways of life are pure Northern Ontario.  And the folks are polite, even the serial killer.  Cardinal’s a police detective (JAG’s Billy Campbell) on the trail of the killer of a First Nations girl who may have kidnapped a young man who’s gone missing.  Cardinal is also under suspicion and investigation for corruption and is secretly surveilled by his new partner (Karine Vanasse – Polytechnique).  The series bears striking similarities to the Wallander noir detective series, both Norwegian and British, same tropes, same tone, same music.  It’s gruesome, but well-made and brainy and ten years too late to be cutting edge TV.  Good news, it’s just been sold to BBC Four.

New technology has revolutionized the film landscape in ways that heighten the nature documentary. New cameras, drones, robots and innovative techniques lend themselves to an intimate connection to the world of nature in BBC America’s Planet Earth II a new, six-part series premiering Saturday, February 18, 9/8c and simulcast on AMC and Sundance TV. The original series aired ten years ago and the difference between the quality then and now is striking. Get truly up close and personal with all manners of flora and fauna in this gorgeous series narrated by Sir David Attenborough and scored by multi-award winning composer Hans Zimmer. This is thrilling stuff.

You like Murdoch Mysteries? We do. The history-minded detective series, set firmly in downtown Toronto and the GTA at the turn of the last century stars Yannick Bisson and has proven to be an international phenom. And there’s now a real hands-on Murdoch world for local fans to visit. The Murdoch Mysteries Escape Room experience offers four adventures starting with game “The Secret of Station House No. 4,” launches February 23 at the historic George Brown House in Toronto. Three “experiences” will follow each with an hour of challenges to opportunities to use your brilliant deductive reasoning and logic as Murdoch would, to crack the case and save the great Detective himself. Tickets are available at www.​secretcityadventures.​com/murdoch

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