Spider-Man: The Homecoming stars Tom Holland a young Peter Parker living with his mother in Queens New York who gradually awakens to the fact that he has special powers. It’s a strange sensation for a kid who doesn’t really fit in anywhere. He develops his inborn spider like abilities and receives advice from Tony Stark as to how to put his powers to good use and become an Avenger. However a villain The Vulture warns him go stay out of his way or he’ll ruin him and his family. Parker becomes the superhero Spider-Man under Iron Man’s tutelage and so his quest to rid humanity of evil and evildoers begins.
13 Minutes Oliver Hirschbiegel’s 13 Minutes is a tense drama that recreates the true-life story of Georg Elser who planted a bomb behind the lectern in the Munich beer hall where Hitler was speaking on November 8, 1939. Eight people were killed, but Hitler left early. This poor young man had seen his friends and family either fall under the Nazi fog or resisted and paid the price. His will to resist was strong enough for him to rob a steel factory for parts, to speak his mind and denounce Hitler during interrogation. Its tense stuff and these events really occurred, and I like Hirschbiegel’s work but this was less gripping than I’d hoped and it would have been better set in greater context.
Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney lead Nick Hamm’s The Journey, a dramatization about Ian Paisley a British loyalist, Protestant minister and Democratic Unionist Party and deeply passionate about Ireland’s unbreakable ties to British. In forty years of “the unpleasantness” as Irish Republicans attempted to reunite Ireland, Paisley never spoke to his nemesis IRA leader Martin McGuinness. They met for the first time in St Andrews in Scotland in 2006 to hash out a peace agreement to end decades of violence and division. So far, its fact based. The filmmakers have reimagined a trip they are forced to take together to the airport the day before the agreement is to be signed – or thrown out – to paint a picture of political warriors who shared deep-seated hatred for one another. The limo breaks down and their young driver – Freddie Highmore – suggests they go for a walk in the woods. Fact is, he’s a British agent and has been ordered to “extend” their trip so the men can reach an understanding. These lions of British cinema Spall and Meaney are fierce competitors as characters and as actors. Paisley roars with anger, Meaney is wily and slick. Theirs are superior performances of people in extraordinary circumstances but the film falls short because a) you know it’s made up and b) too narrow a focus.
The Postman’s White Nights by 80 year old Russian master Andrei Konchalovsky won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2014 and making its Canadian debut. Konchalovsky recreates the true events that took place in a remote river village forgotten and abandoned by the modern world. It is a throwback to hundreds of years ago, the houses are timber and inadequate for the winter, there are no jobs and no government services and the people live mainly on potatoes, fish and vodka. It is unreachable except by boat and the only one around belongs to the postman, also a villager. He knits the community together, helps where he can, keeps track of things, and is the sole connection to the mainland. Oddly there is a state of the art spaceport a few kilometres away and he knows the General because he finds him the best fishing holes. But life changes in the village when the postman’s boat motor is stolen and his girlfriend moves to the city. This remarkable and absorbing film is filled with rich details of a life so different from ours it’s like another planet. It’s a joy to watch. People from the village play their own parts in the film.
Nicole Garcia’s From the Land of The Moon (Mal de pierres) stars Marion Cotillard in a psychological portrait and romance set in the 30’s, a repressive time and place in rural France, a pre-modern environment with limited freedoms for women. Cotillard’s character is wilful and overtly sensual and scandalises her village; her mother is desperate for someone to marry her so arranges a union with a farm labourer promising him money. When she is diagnosed with kidney stones – and her long period of suffering is finally acknowledged by her family – she’s sent to a Swiss spa where she begins an obsessive affair with a man at death’s door. She dreams of running away with him as his condition worsens and she appears to step further into madness. It’s hard to know if she is suffering from mental challenges or as a symbol of womanhood shuffling off the coils of tradition. It’s dark, unsettling but riveting.
Year of Living Dangerously (1982) is a gripping and beautifully executed story of two American reporters covering the Indonesian overthrow of President Sukarno in 1965. Dir: Peter Weir Cast: Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt as a man.
Our Miss Brooks (1956) A high school teacher has to rescue the professor she loves from his overbearing mother. Light hearted fun focusing on a woman who seems torn between a certain kind of feminism and her wish to fulfil the status quo. Arden’s great comedic talent is on full display. Dir: Al Lewis Cast: Eve Arden, Gale Gordon and Don Porter.
Palm Springs Weekend (1963) College students on spring break turn Palm Springs into a disaster area as they explore life without supervision for the first time and test the boundaries of their hormonal urges. Mindless fun. Dir: Norman Taurog Cast: Troy Donahue, Connie Stevens and Ty Hardin.
Tour De Pharmacy – HBO Canada A sports mockumentary, a fictional, lighthearted look at the 1982 Tour de France. Virtually all of the competitors are doping, shady characters are in charge and events spin wildly out of control. The breakdown is seen through the eyes of five riders – wait till you see who stars as the Informant! Andy Samberg produced, co-wrote and stars supported by John Cena, Daveed Diggs, Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Julia Ormond, Dolph Lundgren, James Marsden, Kevin Bacon, Nathan Fielder, Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Joe Buck, Mike Tyson, J.J. Abrams, Phylicia Rashad, Chris Webber, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Lance Armstrong. Just wow.
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