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Multiplex Madness - Friday Film Review Wrap Up

Categories: Movies

composite imageFrom left, images from Breakaway, The Last Circus, Bellflower, What's Your Number and Machine Gun Preacher. (Alliance, Mongrel Media, Kinosmith, Fox)


Director: Evan Glodell

It's the mutant-son-of-Michael-Bay meets the low-fi indie aesthetic of Humpday in this movie by writer, director and professional pyromaniac Evan Glodell. Glodell also stars as Woodrow, a young man warped by repeated viewings of Mad Max, who builds flame-belching muscle cars with his friend Aiden. Milly finds Woodrow's shy guy act appealing and soon the two are item. But betrayal and beat-downs cloud Woodrow's mind, setting up the high-octane finale. Visually Bellflower is a cinematic cousin to Halifax's Hobo with a Shotgun with its gaudy colour scheme and Glodell's flare for flames. There is a certain beauty in the way the black Buick Skylark (named Medusa) fishtails across the street. But sandwiched between the gearhead gratification is a badly-acted tale about arrested development and a young man who still uses the term "making out." Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


Director: Robert Lieberman (He made a Mighty Ducks movie!)

 Vinay Virmani doesn't quite carry the role of hockey hero in Breakaway. (Alliance)

What is it about hockey that makes directors overcompensate? Following in the footsteps of the misbegotten musical Score, comes Breakaway. The Indo-Canadian-on-ice comedy features appearances by Russell Peters, Rob Lowe, Drake, Ashkay Kumar and if you last through to the credits, Ludacris. Unfortunately the one area where Breakaway lacks true star power is its lead Vinay Virmani. In his first starring role, Virmani (who also wrote the screenplay) plays Rajveer Singh, who just might be the next Sidney Crosby. Breakaway uses Rajveer's dreams of playing in the big leagues to stickhandle its way around issues of racism and blending Canadian traditions with cultural ones. Speaking of family, Virmani's own father is the producer behind Breakaway and there are some timely issues hidden beneath the multicultural melodrama. (Particularly of a young son being being teased for his turban at school.) But the romance between Virmani and Camilla Belle as the coach's sister is Breakaway's biggest problem. Rajveer's smug come-ons are about as subtle as a slapshot. Early reviews from India suggest even Breakaway's intended audience don't appreciate a spoon-fed story. Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


Director: Mark Mylod (known more for his TV work)

 Anna Faris in What's Your Number. (Fox)

Hollywood's favourite funny girl Anna Faris gets another shot with this paint-by-numbers romcom about a gal looking back through her previous hook-ups. All you really need to know about this film is that its main plot point hinges on a relationship column in Marie Claire magazine. Anna is the improbably named Ally Darling, a lovable airhead on the verge of a nervous breakdown because her sister's impeding wedding. (Weddings are to romantic comedies as asteroids are to action films.) To find her ideal mate, Ally decides to revisit all 19 men she slept with. For Faris fans this is great device, because it gives her a reason to slip into a variety of costumes and characters. For example, in Washington Ally splurges on a pantsuit to woo her George Bush-loving guy. The problem is the conceit makes Ally out to be a shallow self-hating fool - while Faris is an amazing chameleon, this kind of bimbo seems beyond her. Also Chris "call me Captain" Evans stars in his third film of 2011 as the cute and often-pantless next-door neighbour. Rating: 2 out of 5.


Director: Alex de la Iglesia (Spain's Guillermo del Toro)

 The Last Circus - carnival colours in a lurid tableau. (Mongrel Media)

The Last Circus begins with a clown in a dress slicing soldiers with a butcher's knife and from there, it gets weird. A tragicomedy about growing up in a culture of death, The Last Circus is set in Spain, beginning with the Civil War and then jumping ahead to 1973 and the waning years of the Franco dictatorship. Javier is the son of the killer clown who rightly becomes a Sad Clown, playing the straight man to the circus' biggest star, Sergio the Happy Clown. Beneath the facepaint, Sergio is an maniacal sadist who takes out his frustrations on Natalia, the alluring trapeze girl. You could call The Last Circus a black comedy, but that doesn't quite do justice to the lurid and times brutal picture Iglesia paints. Not all viewers will follow the Sad Clown's downward spiral, but safe to say The Last Circus is the definitive clown combat movie. Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Director: Marc Forester (The guy who ruined Bond)

 Gerard Butler plays a flawed man trying to save the children of Sudan. (Alliance)

Gerard Butler returns to his tough guy roots in this movie about Sam Childers, a bad-ass biker who found God and fought to save Sudanese orphans. Don't be late, because Machine Gun Preacher compresses Sam's transformation from addicted thug to crusading Man of God into a tidy 20 minutes. It's testament to Butler's muscular performance that the journey is believable - that and the fact it's based on a true story. Machine Gun Preacher avoids the usual White-Man-Saves-the-Poor pitfalls by offering up a more complicated story. The situation in Southern Sudan is a mess and there are no easy solutions for this hillbilly Rambo. On the homefront, Sam substitutes one compulsion for another, sacrificing everything for his new flock while his family shrinks away. The now omnipresent Michael Shannon steals a couple of scenes as Sam's struggling brother Donnie. As with many biopics, Preacher is a movie in a search of an ending. Rating: 3 out of 5

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