When Cultures Clash

Just in case you managed to catch up to everything that opened last week, a whack of new stuff lands in theatres today, including a couple of major TIFF titles. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Coriolanus“: Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in a propulsive modern update of the Shakespearean tragedy, and enlists Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox and Vanessa Redgrave for invaluable support. Don’t wait for the DVD.

“The Divide”: After blowing most of his “Frontier(s)” cred with the crapfest that was “Hitman”, Xavier Gens regroups with this apocalyptic thriller about apartment dwellers boarded up in their survivalist super’s basement after a nuclear event. Phil thinks it’s okay.

“The Front Line”: Jang Hun re-creates the final battles of the Korean War in this epic battleground drama. And if the distributor had provided a screening copy, I’d have had a review in today’s paper.

Haywire“: MMA fighter Gina Carano plays a corporate operative seeking vengeance after a job goes bad in Steven Soderbergh’s first proper action movie. Well, “proper” in that Soderbergh’s tackling the genre in his own specific way. But I love what he does, so I’m fine with it.

“In the Land of Blood and Honey”: Angelina Jolie tackles the Balkans in her directorial debut. Susan finds it flawed but worthy.

“Not Since You”:  Jeff Stephenson’s modestly budgeted reunion drama stars Desmond Harrington, Kathleen Robertson and Liane Balaban, among others. Glenn loathed it, which is all I need to hear.

Red Tails“: I’ll be seeing Lucasfilm’s  Tuskegee Airmen movie — which I’m pretty sure is just a delivery device for the “Phantom Menace” re-release trailer — later today. Hope it’s good. UPDATE: It ain’t.

“A Separation”: Asghar Farhadi’s drama about the compromises and miseries of modern Iranian life starts out rivetingly, but fell apart for me in the final quarter once its dramatic aims become clear. (I’ll  just say that the film isn’t anywhere near as sympathetic towards certain characters as it claims to be.) Glenn feels otherwise.

Underworld: Awakening“: Having sat out the last one, Kate Beckinsale is back in the  rubber suit for another totally pointless movie where vampires shoot werewolves with machine guns. Really, that’s the gist of it.

“The Viral Factor”: Dante Lam’s Hong Kong actioner stars Jay Chou and Nicholas Tse as rival brothers racing to recover some stolen smallpox. Phil likes the action sequences, is unimpressed by everything else.

There, that’s everything. Well, almost; there’s a Soviet sci-fi series at the Lightbox that’s kind of cool, and of course I’m introducing “Man Bites Dog” there tomorrow night. So, you know, if you don’t have enough to see this weekend, there’s those things.

5 thoughts on “When Cultures Clash”

  1. Norm – any plans to warn newbies to Man Bites Dog what they are getting into?

    I vividly remember it at TIFF (was it still Fest o’ Festivals then?) and how a pumped up, laughing audience was shocked into stunned silence when things really go south.

    I’d argue the merits of the film with anyone, but I’ve never been able to watch it again.

    1. Yup, it was the Festival of Festivals — quite possibly the best one, in retrospect, with “Reservoir Dogs”, “The Crying Game”, “El Mariachi”, “In the Soup”, “Dead-Alive”, “Strictly Ballroom”, “Bad Lieutenant”, “Leolo”, “Requiem pour un Beau Sans-Coeur” and another dozen movies that set my tiny head spinning.

      I’ll walk them up to the edge of a warning, but after 20 years of other filmmakers co-opting the picture’s best tricks I wonder whether that’s even necessary.

  2. “Scott Speedman’s entirely sensible refusal to have anything to do with the series after Underworld: Evolution means that they had to ditch his character for most of the action, replacing him with a body double (or digitally reconstructing his face from existing footage, which is briefly cool.”

    Seriously? The worst non-participatory character fix ever was Bruce Lee in Game of Death 2, using eye close-ups deemed too silly for Part 1, but apparently a-okay for Part Duh because more money could be had. Yes, Lee was six feet under by then, but it sounds like a similar case where they needed a character, the actor wasn’t available/compliant, so they used whatever trickery was at hand.

    I wonder if actor contracts have embedded in them ‘Actor signs over all rights to reuse and recreate likeness in whatever fashion, in perpetuity, for any venue created by Producer. Actor also agrees to sign over concept of immortal soul for use in future entertainment mediums yet to be invented.’

    – MRH

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