Dispatched from the West Coast

You know, I really like vanillaSo what I saw of Vancouver was nice — it’s amazing what you can cram into 25 hours when you don’t sleep for more than four of them. Turns out that doing this trip right after TIFF was the best way to do it; I’m still on festival time, which means I don’t need as much sleep and I can throw down distressing amounts of coffee.

Mmm, coffee.

I’ll need more of that today, since no one was available to sub for me at the “Sydney Walsh White” screening Wednesday night, and Sony barred press from the Thursday night sneak of “Resident Evil: Extinction”, meaning I have to see both of those today. (Fortunately, I found a megaplex that’s running them within 15 minutes of one another — let’s hear it for festival time!)

While I’m doing that, perhaps you’d like to check out the other stuff that’s opening today:

The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford“: It’s long, it’s slow, it’s beautiful, and — as Walter Chaw pointed out on the Film Freak Central blog — it’s the millennial doppleganger to Peckinpah’s “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”. Warner’s opening it on a paltry handful of screens across North America, with the most minimal expansion strategy; basically, they’re hanging it out to dry, which is a crying shame. Not that it’d be a hit if it was on 2000 screens, but it’s the kind of intensely visual film that ought to be experienced on the big screen, rather than on DVD. Dang it.

Good Luck Chuck“: Dane Cook is a comedian. I like his stuff okay. But he’s absolutely terrible as an actor; after this and “Mr. Brooks”, he really shouldn’t be allowed to play anyone who isn’t hit repeatedly in the face with a frying pan for the duration of his on-screen appearances. Oh, and he has to be called “Dane Cook”, because I swear there are moments in this movie where he doesn’t respond to his character’s name. And as if two “Fantastic Four” movies weren’t evidence enough, it turns out Jessica Alba can’t do funny, either. But Dan Fogler made me smile a couple of times.

In the Shadow of the Moon“: I weep like a grandmother whenever I watch “For All Mankind”, so basically if someone makes another documentary about the Apollo program and finds even more previously unreleased NASA footage, I am the first one at the press screening. Well, third. But the subway was slow. So maybe I’m biased, but I thought this was pretty wonderful.

“In the Valley of Elah”: Paul Haggis weighs in on the occupation of Iraq, and deems it bad for children and other living things. Tommy Lee Jones’ performance as a military father trying to find his AWOL son is one of his best, so it’s impossible to completely dismiss this as just the simpering, contrived work of a self-indulgent filmmaker whose excesses have only been enabled by his previous success, but I sure did try.

That said, your mileage may vary; Chris sure liked it a lot more than I did.

And now, I depart for the wild worlds of Amanda Bynes and Milla Jovovich. I am somehow disappointed that I’m not seeing “Resident Evil: Hairspray”, in which the two of them face off against an army of fat-suited John Travolta zombies.

… oh, great, that’s gonna wake me up screaming for weeks.

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