Movies at a Glance & New DVDs


     New Reviews every

Titles highlighted in BLUE indicate Movies Coming Up in NEW DVDs.

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ALI & AVA (1hr 35min)  ** ½  Critics have been unanimous in their approval for the two leads, Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar. Set in working class bustling multicultural Bradford, Yorkshire, the story is based on two real-life characters director/writer Clio Barnard encountered while filming other features, and their interracial romance is the screenplay’s theme. Hyperactive, part-time DJ Pakistan/English Ali (Akhtar) from a wealthy family is the friendly handyman/rent collector who local kids approve of as he likes their music so they can sing and dance with him. Residing in the house is his ex-wife Rina (Ellora Torchia), although they are separated and she’s dating someone. When Ali meets compassionate English/Irish widow Ava (Rishbrook), he introduces her as a teacher but she insists she is “a classroom assistant.” Ava lived with an abusive alcoholic husband and they had four kids, including adult son Callum (Shaun Thomas) who had a son with his girlfriend. Like his dad, Callum is partially a bigot, physically threatening Ava’s new friend while overprotecting Ava. Ali and Ava are two lonely characters with emotional struggles, really needing each other. The pacing is slow and nothing really “happens,” but the warmth and chemistry between the two leads is captivating.
BODIES BODIES BODIES (1hr 35min) *** Seven wealthy 20-somethings are having a Hurricane house party on David’s (Pete Davidson) parents’ estate while a devastating hurricane is brewing which will keep them imprisoned in the remote mansion. Arriving last are Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova). Sophie recently was in rehab and has been out of touch. Jordan ((Myha’la Herrold) warns Bee that Sophie is not who she seems to be. Older unknown eccentric Greg (Lee Pace), Alice’s (Rachel Sennott) boyfriend, simply aggravates David. Former actress Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) is David’s girlfriend. The hurricane takes down the electricity and cell reception, leaving them in darkness, but the booze and drugs continue to flow. They decide to play a murder mystery game called “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” when a game player is found dead outside. Friendships are fractured and accusations are rampant when more bodies are found! Dutch director Halina Reijn’s dark comedy is a new take on a very old murder mystery formula … and it works!. 
EMILY THE CRIMINAL (1hr 37min) *** Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is a former art student looking for a job.  She has a $70,000 college debt and also a minor felony conviction for aggravated assault. She has one close friend Liz (Megalyn Echikunwoke) from art school days who has a successful career in corporate marketing and is anxious to help Emily. At a catering position, co-worker Javier (Bernardo Badillo) hooks Emily up with a job paying $200 an hour called a “dummy shopper” credit card fraud, buying expensive items on stolen credit cards and reselling them before the store catches on, but safety rules dictate that she must never return to the same store, as emphasized by their underworld handler Youcef (Theo Rossi), whose boss is his suspicious older brother Khalil (Jonathan Avigdori),. Emily impresses Youcef in her first gig and they eventually make physical contact, to Khalil’s disapproval. The situations become more dangerous and she a hardened rougher, tougher criminal. When the bosses steal from Emily and Youcef, she devises a plan to steal from them. Well written and directed by John Patton Ford, his suspenseful crime drama has already impressed the critics.
FALL (1hr 47min) *** Three rock climbing enthusiasts, Hunter (Virginia Gardner), best friend Becky (Grace Caroline Curret) and Becky’s husband (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) are climbing a magnificent vertical rock face when Dan plunges to his accidental death.  51 weeks later, Becky is still mourning when Hunter has a proposition to get Becky back into civilization and that is to scale the deserted, dilapidated 2,049 ft B67 communication tower built in 1986 and situated in a flat valley 23 miles south-southwest of Sacramento. When Hunter suggests they could then scatter Dan’s ashes, Becky gives in and the girls set out. The climb up is OK, except nuts and bolts keep falling off the first 1800 feet rickety ladder in the centre of the Tower. The final 200 ft on a rusty exterior ladder leads to a flimsy metal platform from where Becky scatters Dan’s ashes. Their problems start when whole sections of the ladder break off!!  They are now stranded without food, water or shelter and with no way down!  Director Scott Mann and co-writer Jonathan Frank impressively add peril after peril such as no phone reception, and, even worse, no one knows they are there!. It is amazing how this was shot and the illusion that they’re really there is astounding. It’s a thoroughly engrossing fast paced suspense thriller with solid committed performances from both leads.  
FIRE OF LOVE. (1hr 33min) **** Documentary. Recommended. American award winning writer/producer/director documentarian Sara Dosa's  extraordinary film follows the lives of Katia and Maurice Krafft, the world's most volcanologist couple who observed at terrifyingly close hand spectacular active volcanoes, such as Mauna Loa, St Helens, Nyragonso, Krafla and Una Una. The French couple had accumulated countless hours of film footage, thousands of photographs, collected a diverse amount of samples and published numerous books. The film covers their meeting in 1966 till June 3, 1991 when they and 41 other daring people lost their lives in a fiery explosion at Unzen, Japan. Narrated by Miranda July, geochemist Katia’s first experience with lava flows and eruptions was on Mount Etna, while geologist Maurice at age 7 first went with his father to witness Stromboli’s eruptions. They married in 1970 and honeymooned in Santorini on the Aegean Sea. They decided not to have children but to spend their lives studying, examining and questioning grandiose eruptions. In protective gear they stand fearlessly on the verge of scorching rivers of lava, tons of cascading hot rocks and spewing volcanoes, knowing they were risking their lives. This is a totally unique and awesome experience at seeing up close nature beautiful, but yet so dangerous and destructive.
THE GOOD BOSS.  El Buen Patron. (2hrs) *** ½  In Spanish with suibtitles. In a Spanish provincial town, Blanco Scales is a family-run factory making industrial scales, supervised by charismatic unethical Julio Blanco (superb Bardem) who regards his employees as his “family” as he and his fashion boutique owner wife Adela (Sonia Marcha) are childless.  He is expecting a visit from a committee adjudicating for the local Business Excellence Award, the company being one of three finalists. and Blanco is determined to win. When he downsizes, loyal Jose (Oscar de la Fuenta) objects to the meagre severance package, and in retaliation Jose protests, pitching a tent and a bullhorn opposite the gates which the committee will notice. With time running out, Blanco smoothly settles other personal affairs and complaints, including those of production manager and childhood friend Mirailles (Manolo Solo). In consolation, Mirailles is taken to a strip club where Blanco is attracted to one of his company’s young interns, Liliana (Almuena Amor) and they have a one night fling, before he tries to fire her. Unbeknownst to Blanco, Liliana unexpectedly holds all the cards, leading to an amusing unpredictable conclusion. Well written and with an outstanding performance by Bardem, this is definitely recommended.
THE GRAY MAN (2hrs 9min) ** ½  One of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year and Netflix’ most expensive movie at $200 million turns out to be a massive mindless globe-trotting disappointment, in spite of the presence of reliable Ryan Gosling, not seen since 2018. Imprisoned in a Florida prison for murder, Court Gentry (Gosling) is offered by CIA recruiter and handler Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) to commute his sentence in exchange for working for the CIA as an undercover hitman in their Sierra program. He agrees and takes on the code name of Sierra Six. Years later in Bangkok, his target is ”suspected of selling off national security secrets." Six mortally wounds him and learns he had been recruited by the Sierra program and he gives Six an encrypted flash drive with incriminating evidence. Operation head Danny Carmichael (Rege-Jean Page) knows about the contents but is vague. Six sends the flash drive to former Sierra handler Margaret Cahill (Alfrie Woodard) and approaches Fitzroy for extraction from the Sierra program. Cahill decrypts the drive, revealing Carmichael to be corrupt and abusing the CIA for his own shadowy purposes. Carmichael hires sadistic former CIA agent Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans) to retrieve the drive from Six by any means, and the chase is on. Six teams up with CIA field agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) so she too is Hansen's target. Visually glossy with stunning photography in exotic locations, the generic plot with frenetic pacing is predictable and bland. We’ve seen most of this before in dozens of similar better action pictures. (Netflix)
I CAME BY (1hr 50min) ** ½ The tag I Came By is sprayed in large graffiti - style letters on walls by London’s black hooded, clad and masked punks, targeting the wealthy homes of the elite, and that includes graffiti artists Toby (George McKay) and Jay (Percelle Ascott). When Jay’s girlfriend Naz (Varada Sethu) tells him she is pregnant, he decides to quit the pranks and so Toby, despite the concerns of his frustrated widowed mother Lizzie (Kelly Macdonsald), disables the security system and breaks into the gated mansion of retired Judge Sir Hector Blake (Hugh Benneville of Downton Abbey). In the basement he detects sounds from behind a metal door covered by a shelving unit, and, on a second visit, he opens it to reveal a horrific sinister secret Blake is hiding. When Toby doesn’t return home, Lizzie gets the police to check over the house but they find nothing. Blake lures his club’s Iranian asylum-seeker masseur Omid (Yazdan Qafouri) to his home and drugs him but Omid escapes … temporarily. Lizzie takes risks to track down Toby but Blake is aware he is being watched and he reacts!  The horror-thriller designed to shock is co-written by Namsi Khan and director Babak Anvari, but unfortunately their screenplay is excessively long and incredibly uneven.  THE LITTLE THINGS (2hrs 5min) ** ½  Theatrically released in 2021, this neo-noir psychological crime thriller set in 1990 follows visiting Kern county Deputy Sheriff Joe "Deke" Deacon (Denzel Washington), formerly with Los Angeles homicide and now attaching himself to an ongoing case, and married Sgt. Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), as they search for a serial killer terrorizing and murdering young women, They set their sights on smirking weirdo Albert Sparma (Jared Leto). As the film opens, a young woman driving on a highway at night while singing along to the blaring radio, is unaware that a man following her has marked her as prey. Divorced Deke is a troubled man with traumatic memories and visions of an unsolved murder years ago and his failure to solve the case. Disturbing secrets of his past begin to pop up during the investigation and he is haunted by the ghosts of the mysterious killer’s victims.. Bodies pile up with no leads in sight, and their obsessions threaten to become desperation. Unfortunately the bogged down pacing is lethargic and dull with a repetitive score dragging on. (Netflix) 
NEW: LOU (1hr 47min) *** Allison Janey’s career spans 3 decades on screen and stage during which  time she has won numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globes award, a BAFTA award, all for Best Supporting Actress, in addition to 7 primetime Emmy Awards and nominations for 2 Tony awards. But never has the 62 year played in an action-thriller movie like Liam Neeson’s Taken.  On a remote 1980s Pacific Northwest island, Lou (Janey) lives alone in a remote rustic cabin in the woods with her faithful dog Jax. In an opening scene she is planning her suicide but before that she is making out her will, having withdrawn all her money from the bank to leave it and her home to a mysterious person, possibly her rental-paying neighbour Hannah (Jurnee Smollett) and young daughter Vee (Ridley Asha Bateman) who reside close by. An impending catastrophic storm is brewing just after a boyfriend of Hannah’s stops by to talk to her before diving off in his truck. That is observed by a man who is thumbing a ride since the rain has started to pelt down and the boyfriend stops to give the stranger a lift. The hitchhiker turns out to be Hannah’s estranged abusive ex-husband Phillip (Logan Marshall-Greene), a former special forces explosive expert thought to be dead, who beats and kills the driver and then drives the truck close to Hannah’s and she sees the mutilated body in the truck before it blows up.  With the power out, Hannah heads to Lou’s to use her phone, not before telling Vee to hide. But Phillip finds Vee and persuades her to join him in a journey, promising mummy will join them later. There’s a brilliant brutal and bloody scene when rain-soaked Lou, searching for her dog, seeks shelter in a cabin inhabited by two of Phillip’s co-conspirators, and takes them on, as a fugitive hardened former CIA agent, with surprising physical combat skills. From then on it’s mostly a chase movie in a dangerous storm, including the crossing of a dilapidated bridge, traversing.treacherous woods with an old lighthouse nearby, before the climax of personal, secret revelations being exposed in the raging surf.  Needless to say, it’s Janey’s unusual performance that makes this worth while watching.  (Netflix)    
LOVE IN THE VILLA (1hr 54min) ** Elementary school teacher Julie’s (Kat Graham) favourite obsession is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and on seeing pictures of Juliet’s famous balcony in Verona, Italy, she books accommodation in an overlooking villa for her boyfriend Brandon (Raymond Ablack) and herself. When he is hesitant she goes it alone, realizing he may be reluctant to propose. On arriving at the one bedroom “villa,” she finds she is sharing it with a cynical, pretentious British wine importer Charlie (Tom Hopper), in town for business at the week’s annual wine festival, discovering it was double booked. This being “a romantic comedy,” we are deluged with juvenile sight gags and corny subplots throughout the lengthy rom-com. With Verona fully booked, the two start a never-ending war of tedious one-upmanship, courtesy writer/director Mark Steven Johnson, Much later Brandon shows up with an engagement ring and Charlie’s girlfriend Cassie (Laura Hopper, Tom’s real wife) also appears. Obviously Julie and Charlie have fallen in love but it takes an eternity for them to admit it..Shortening the 2 hour film to 90 minutes might have helped salvage this bland predictable offering. (Netflix) 
MADE IN ITALY (1hr 34min) ** When his wife dies in a car crash, a well known artist (Liam Neeson) must sell their deserted villa in Tuscany so that his son (Neeson’s son Micheal Richardson) can purchase the art gallery belonging to his wife’s family in which he is manager. Jack Foster (Richardson) is getting a divorce from wife Ruth (Yolanda Kettle) and if the family sells the Gallery he's out of a job.  By selling the vacant villa unused for 20 years which belonged to his Italian mother Ruth (Yolanda Kettle), Jack can buy the Gallery. When father Robert (Neeson) and son reach the rundown villa in the picturesque countryside, they need a quick fix-up before showing it to prospective buyers. Jack meets divorced mother Natalia (Valeria Bilerllo) in her restaurant with obvious results. Re their estrangement, Robert explains he never talked about the car accident when Ruth died and Jack survived as he wanted to protect Jack from memories. When buyers arrive, Robert has changed his mind and isn’t selling! How can Jack purchase the Gallery? The disappointingly mediocre is entirely predictable and bland. (Netflix) 
MARCEL THE SNAIL WITH SHOES ON (1hr 30min)  ** ½  Mock documentary. Stop-motion Animation with Live Action.. “My name is Marcel and I’m partially a shell, as you can see from my body.”  This is the strange story of Marcel, a precocious and curious anthropomorphic one inch tall sea shell (V/o Jenny Slate) with a single big googly eye and a pair of miniature pink plastic shoes. He lives with his larger shell grandmother Connie (V/O Isabella Rossellini) and their pet lint Alan, and Marcel travels by rolling around inside a hollow tennis ball which he calls Rover. The original series and later trilogy of quirky unique 3 to 4 minute shorts debuting in 2010 saw Marcel being interviewed about his life, interests, hobbies and family! Marcel lives in LA in a sprawling Airbnb with an off-screen struggling documentary film maker Dean (director/actor Dean Fleicher-Camp) who befriends Marcel and, while asking questions, he started recording Marcel’s life, posting it on You Tube, thereby introducing him to a vast on-line audience. The feature-length adaptation of the popular original Marcel shorts is plotless, more a succession of short sequences with twee dialogue and no actual action.
MEDIEVAL (2hrs 8 min) *** The historical epic Czech drama, inspired by true events, is centred on the early life of national hero, Bohemian Hussite military commander Jan Zizka who, it’s said, never lost a war. Wenceslaus IV (Karel Roden) was King of Bohemia (Czech) and heir to the position of Holy Roman Emperor. There’s a pope in Rome and a French-approved Pope in Avignon.  Henry111 of Rosenberg (Til Schweiger) took advantage of  Wenceslaus’ weakness to seize the properties of lower class nobility, till mercenary knight Jan Zizka (Ben Foster) rebelled, after Rosenberg had killed most of his family.  On the Emperor’s death, brothers Czech Wenceslas and Hungarian King Sigismund (Matthew Goode) battled for control of the Empire throne. Žižka was hired by (fictional) Lord Boresh (Michael Caine), adviser to the Kings of Bohemia, to kidnap Rosenberg's fiancée, Lady Katherine (Sophie Lowe), to prevent Rosenberg's rise to power alongside Sigismund. In time, Katherine fell for Zizka, but it’s not a happy ending. The Central and South Bohemia locations are gorgeous, the numerous bloody battles are well choreographed and directed by Petr Jákl, also responsible for the mediocre screenplay and sparse dialogue, buried under a cacophony of sound. Foster’s performance is bland as is his romance with Lowe. Visually stunning but the 14th century story is complicated, confusing and the history unknown to Western audiences.
MOONAGE DAYDREAM (2hrs 10min) *** Although basically a Documentary on singer, songwriter, actor and superstar David Bowie, this is writer/director/editor Brett Morgan’s multilayered wildly creative collage of Bowie’s spiritual and philosophical wanderings over 50 years of this  collector of personalities career. Morgan’s multi-sensory visual approach punctuates the entire film with colourful psychedelic effects, animation and graphics interspersed with interviews and live clips.  Bowie’s voice tells his story although throughout it is drowned out by loud snippets of his own tracks. Told in a semi-chronological order, Morgan takes an impressionistic approach and included are his acting on stage (The Elephant Man) and in films (The Man Who Fell to Earth), as well as paintings and drawings. Bowie’s personal private archive of five million pieces was opened up completely to Morgan. He speaks humbly and candidly about his ever changing image. Morgan first pitched the idea to Bowie as a journey inside the unique artist’s brain. It covers very briefly his personal early life in East London with a cold mother to shots with his second wife Iman. His first wife Angie and child are not mentioned. Bowie himself would have approved of this unusual but absolutely distinctive fascinating portrait / documentary, a ‘must see’ for all fans. (Scotiabank Theatre)
MY OLD SCHOOL (1hr 55min)  ***  Documentary. Here’s a totally unique true to life film which has never been made before. The subject of this film does not want to show his face, but you hear his voice. The audio interview he granted is perfectly lip synced by Scotland’s Alan Cummings. The film uses 1990s animation to tell his story while teachers and former students, now outgoing adults, reminisce, give amusing testimonies while sitting in twos and playing off each other at desks. News footage and photographs add to the mystery. In 1993 16 year old “Brandon Lee” enrolled at Bearsden Academy, a preparatory school in an upper middle class suburb of Glasgow where he lived with his granny. He had private tuition in Canada while on tour with his opera singer mom. He impressed his teachers with his knowledge of biology and his ambition to study medicine at Dundee, and his classmates for his late night parties, the fact he could drive, and his performance as Lt. Cable in the school musical of “South Pacific."  As one of those students, film maker, writer and director Jono McLeod has a strange controversial story to tell.  On holiday in Tenerife with other students, the secret of Brandon’s identity, concealed in a second passport, is revealed as well as his age. In September 1995, his true story attracted widespread sensational news coverage. It’s an extraordinary compelling tale based on fact. 
PEARL (1hr 42min) *** ½   Pearl: An X-traordinary Origin Story is a 2022 slasher film directed by Ti West, and co-written by West and Mia Goth, who reprises her role as Pearl. The original X , set in the 1970s, was a 2022 slasher film, written, directed, produced and edited by Ti West and receiving critical acclaim,. It’s 1918 towards the end of WW1. Pearl (Goth) lives in a rural cabin on an isolated farm with her domineering, strict and cruel German-born immigration mother Ruth (Tandi Wright) and her silent, immobilized father (Matthew Sunderland), unable to speak and confined to a wheel chair, needing constant attention. She dances for the farm animals but the first shock is when she spears a goose with a pitchfork and fed it and other human remains to the creek’s hungry alligator. She spends any spare time dreaming of becoming a dancing movie star. Sister-in-law Mitzy (Emma Jenkins-Purro) informs her of upcoming auditions for a Church revue and she is determined to win but doesn’t. At the movies she is enchanted with the b&w musical Palace Follies. She befriends local film projectionist (David Corenswet) who shows her an early pornographic film and she ends up bedding him. Pearl is mentally ill and the sweet compassionate girl can instantly become an axe or pitchfork-wielding killer on a murderous rampage. This is not for the squeamish. (Intl Village, Metropolis, Marine Gateway, Riverport) 
POWER OF THE DOG (2hrs 6min) ** ½  Depression and loneliness permeate the entire film, adapted by award winning New Zealand director/writer/producer Jane Campion from a 1967 novel by closeted gay author Thomas Savage, best known for his Western novels. Two contrasting brothers, gentle, honest George (Jesse Plemmons) and malicious, homophobic Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) are joint owners of the biggest ranch in their Montana valley, raising cattle and horses. Phil has a seething contempt for weakness to match a thirst for dominance. When George unexpectedly marries young restaurant owner widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst), he brings her to live at the ranch and Phil begins a relentless campaign of destruction against her. He’s hostile towards Rose’s teenager son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) because he exhibits “ effeminate traits.”  However, he gradually begins to develop a friendship with him that troubles Rose, Phil revealing more about his life and his admiration for his late mentor, Bronco Henry. One night in the barn, Phil, braiding a lasso from rawhide as a present for Peter, tells him about a memory of him and Henry huddling together for warmth in extreme weather conditions. When Peter asks Phil if they were nude, he doesn’t respond.  The next day Phil is confined to his bed with a serious illness. Although beautifully shot and with strong performances, the screenplay is slight, dull and ponderous with the emphasis on unhappy personalities. (Netflix)       .   
THE SEA BEAST (1hr 55min) **** Recommended.  Animation.  This brilliant fantasy epic should be in consideration for next year’s Best Animation Awards for writer/producer/director Chris Williams and his imaginative swashbuckling production with its stunning animation. Veteran Captain Crow (V/O Jared Harris) will be handing over command of his monster-hunting ship to his protégé and fearless second in command Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) who he rescued as an orphan clinging to debris in the raging ocean. They now hunt sea beasts across the ocean including the Red Bluster, a massive creature resembling a whale and a dragon. Stowing away to join them is feisty 11 year old Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) whose parents were killed supposedly by a sea monster. Crow is informed that this is his last chance to kill the Red Blunder and, if he fails, the task of hunting sea beasts will be handed over to slimy Admiral Hornagold (Dan Stevens). Attacked by the Red Bluster, Jacob allows Maisie to cut a line which attaches the Bluster to a ship, allowing her to slip away. Crow is furious and threatens them when the Bluster reappears, swallowing Jacob and Maisie whole. They realize that the Red Bluster is actually befriending them and so starts the trio’s many amazing adventures together. This is perfect entertainment for the family. (Netflix)
SHANIA TWAIN: NOT JUST A GIRL (1hr 35min) *** ½  Documentary. Canadian superstar and trail blazer singer/composer Shania Twain tells the story of her extraordinarily successful career while sitting cross-legged in her home in Corseaux, Lake Geneva, Switzerland.  In Timmins, Ontario, she was one of five siblings struggling against poverty (“food was scarce”) and violence in the household. At age 8 she learned to play guitar and mom encouraged her to perform at the after-hours bar to help pay the family’s bills.  Initially a country music singer, she also wanted to sing rock. Tragedy struck when Shania’s parents were killed in a traffic accident in 1987, and at age 22 she looked after her younger siblings by taking a singing job at the Deerhurst Resort. In 1993 she signed a Nashville contract and her self titled debut album was released. Renowned record producer Mutt Lange, impressed with her original songs and singing, offered to produce and write with her. They met in June 1993 and were married in December! She is still the only female artist to have three consecutive Diamond albums. Shania had debilitating Lyme Disease, causing loss of voice. Her divorce and eventual second marriage aren’t included here. All the above and much more in detail including clips and photos are here in this fascinating documentary. (Netflix)
SNIPER: THE WHITE RAVEN (1hr 51min) *** Subtitles. Based largely on a true story, in 2014 Donetsk, Ukraine, ecologists settlers Mykola Voronin (Aldoshyn Pavlo) and Nastya (Maryna Koshkina) live and love happily in their semi-hidden rustic home-made dugout on their 2 hectare plot of land with electricity provided by a windmill he built, and they are expecting their first child.  They are brutally attacked by armed pro-Russian separatist rebels and, while Mykola is unconscious, they shoot and kill Nastya. He joins the Volunteers Battalion as a recruit and later, on proving his capabilities, he is enlisted in the Training Company for snipers. With his math skills, Mykola excels and is a natural for Sniper, and he chooses for himself the code-name “Raven,” a reference to a creation myth told previously by his wife, and wherever he goes, he carries her precious small wooden carved raven totem. Really interesting and exciting are the numerous sequences of heavily camouflaged snipers tracking down enemy snipers. With sub-titles, details of the characters’ personalities are limited, and a bit too much of the film, especially the basic training sequences, plays almost as a documentary. The photography is excellent and it is still well worth viewing. (Amazon Prime Video)
THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING (1hr 48min) *** Australian George Miller is a director, producer, writer and  physician. known for his Mad Max series. His current dark fantasy film, epic in scope and co-written with daughter Augusta Gore, is an adaptation of "The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye," by British novelist A. S. Byatt.  Incidentally a Djinn is “a spirit inhabiting the earth but unseen by humans, capable of assuming various forms and exercising extraordinary powers.”  Renowned London-based narratologist Dr. Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is in Istanbul delivering a conference on storytelling. At the Grand Bazaar, she buys an old glass vial which, when cleaning, she accidentally snaps the top off, resulting in thick purple smoke rising and revealing a massive black man with elfin ears who is a Djinn (Idris Elba), Reducing his size and speaking her language, he offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom.. Before she makes a decision, she persuades him to tell her his millennia-spanning tales of love lost and epic tragedies leading to to his imprisonment. The very long conversation, interspersed with their stories, is between two lonely people sitting in a hotel room in their white bathrobes, culminating with her three wishes which are pretty obvious.  (Intl Village)
NEW: TRUE THINGS (1hr 42min) ** ½ Despite strong performances from the two leads, Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke both aged 40, the story is dull, as is the bogged down feature we are viewing.  In Ramsgate on the Sussex coast, bored with life Ruth (Wilson) hates her mundane job as a customer service assistant in a benefits office, dreaming of running off with a lover who doesn’t exist, till one day a dyed-blond muscular man (Burke) with a roguish grin walks into her office to check on a claim. Recently released from 4 months in prison he openly flirts with her, offering to take her out for lunch. Hesitant at first, she is inexplicably intrigued, flattered and attracted, but she demurely declines. She sees him waiting for her after work, ditches her work friend Alison (Hayley Squires) and in no time they are having rough sex in the parking lot by his car. She is so totally fascinated and hung up with her new lover that she is prepared to ditch Alison, her parents and her work which is a fireable offense for government employees. Their conversation is minimal and their meetings are inconsistent. Their texts to each other are short as are their conversations after which he seemingly disappears for days, leaving her despondent. Alison sets her up with a nice guy at a bar looking for a relationship and when she strips in his car his reaction is “Are you crazy?  Put on your dress. We’re not having sex in my car!?  She then meets up unexpectedly with Blond (that’s the only name she has for him in her datebook) and he asks to borrow her car for business purposes. She reluctantly agrees but then he disappears for a week. When he returns she rushes out to pick up breakfast ingredients to find on her return a note saying “Had to run. See you.”  She texts him “I need my car” and when they meet at a bar she asks “What’s going on with us now?  I’d like to be your girlfriend” to which the love rat coldly and sarcastically replies “How old are you? 12?”  He is totally unreliable and she is heading for an emotional breakdown. Unfortunately the ending is disappointing. The film is hardly absorbing or inspirational and it underwhelmes as a sexy social drama.  Director/co-writer Harry Woodliff adapted the acclaimed novel “True Things about Me” by Deborah Kay Davies, and the result it is tediously overlong. (VOD, Apple, Google Play, Cineplex Store)
AN UNFINISHED LIFE  (1hr 48min) ***  This 2005 Lasse Hallstrom drama tells the story of former farmer Einar Gilkyson (Robert Redford) living on his run-down ranch in Wyoming (actually shot in BC) with his best friend and former ranch hand Mitch (Morgan Freeman), badly mauled by a bear while Einar who was with him was drunk. Feeling guilty, Einar tends to Mitch’s every need including giving him his daily morphine shot while in a smaller cabin next to Einar’s house. The bear was caught and caged in town, After 12 years, recovering alcoholic Einar is still grieving the accidental driving death of his beloved son Griffin, buried on the grounds. Since then, Griffin’s widow Jean (Jennifer Lopez) has been living with violent boyfriend Gary (Damian Lewis) and her preteen daughter Griff (Becca Gardmer), named after Griffin. Following a beating, Jean moves out with Griff and heads to Einar’s ranch, although he blames her for Griffin’s death as she was driving. She begs to stay for a month and reluctantly Einar agrees. She finds work as a waitress in the town’s café and befriends local sheriff Crane (Josh Lucas). Griff gradually bonds with Mitch but Jean stays clear of him. But then abusive Gary appears, determined to drag them back home. How will Einar react?  There’s nothing original here but it should please older audiences. (Netflix)
VENGEANCE (1hr 42min) *** The screenwriter of this one-of-a-kind sharp, dark, wildly amusing script is B.J.Novak, known for his role as Ryan Howard, as well as writer and director, in the NBC series The Office.  Ben Manalowitz (Novak), a self absorbed Brooklyn staff writer for the New Yorker, is a podcaster and radio host who gets a call from a stranger with a Southern drawl that his girl friend is dead. Ben has never had a girlfriend, preferring girls he’s hooked up with, but the name Abilene Shaw (Lio Tipton) is familiar and he agrees to attend her funeral in West Texas. There, her heartbroken older brother Ty (Boyd Halbrooke) states that Abilene was murdered and he wants Ben help him solve the crime. Abiline had talked about Ben enough for the family to suspect he was involved with her. Ben reckons she died of a fatal opiod overdose, suggesting they call the FBI but Ty doesn’t trust the police. When Ben is introduced to the weird red-neck Shaw family: mom (J. Smith-Cameron), granny (Louanne Stephens), sisters (Isabella Amara, Dove Cameron) and younger brother Stupido (Eli Bicke), he sees the potential as a story for the New York podcasting company run by enthusiastic Eloise (Issa Rae) and he digitally records everyone and everything to create a true-crime podcast winner. He meets philosophically-minded music producer Quentin Sellars (Ashton Kutcher) who talks to his simple recording artists about “the nature of the universe as it pertains to recording!”  Yes, there’s an explosive ending. It’s a promising debut for Novak and it is unique, entertaining and engaging.

                                                NEW DVDS ....

If title below in BLUE, check review above.

... starting Tuesday Sept 20
THE BLACK PHONE Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, Jeremy Davis, Madeleine McGraw, James Ransone
LOST ILLUSIONS  Benjamin Voisin, Cécile de France, Vincent Lacoste, Xavier Dolan, Gérard Depardieu
THE REEF: STALKED  Teressa Liane, Ann Truong, Saskia Archer, Kate Lister, Tim Ross
VENGEANCE B.J. Novak, Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher, Boyd Holbrook, J. Smith-Cameron, Dove Cameron
WRONG PLACE  Bruce Willis, Ashley Greene, Tracey Danger, Michael Sirow, Texas Battle

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday Sept 27
BULLET PROOF  Vinnie Jones, Lina Lecompte, Janvier Katabarwa, Danny Mac, Philip Granger, Glenn Ennis
THE MUNSTERS Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Daniel Roebuck, Cassandra Peterson, Jorge Garcia
THE SOUND OF METAL  Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Amalric
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday October 4
DC LEAGUE OF SUPER PETS  Animation. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, John Krasinski, Keanu Reeves
DEAD FOR A DOLLAR  Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, Rachel Brosnahan, Brandon Scott, Benjamin Bratt

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday October 11  
SWEET TOOTH Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Stefania LaVie Owen, James Brolin, Will Forte, Adeel Akhtar

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday October 18
BULLET TRAIN  Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Channing Tatum, Michael Shannon
FLUX GOURMET Asa Butterfield, Ariane Labed, Leo Bill, Makis Papadimitriou, Richard Bremmer, Gwendoline Christie
THE INNOCENTS  Rakel Leonora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Sam Ashraf, Mina Yasmin, Bremseth Asheim
MACK & RITA  Diane Keaton, Taylour Paige, Elizabeth Lail, Martin Short, Dustin Milligan, Wendie Malick
ORPHANS: FIRST KILL Isabelle Fuhrman, Julia Stiles, Rossif Sutherland, Lauren Cochrane, Matthew Finlan,
PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK Animation. Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, George Takei, Samuel L. Jackson
RUMBLE. Animation  Will Arnett, Terry Crews, Geraldine Viswanathan, Joe "Roman Reigns" Anoa'i, Tony Danza
A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON. Animation. Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Kate Harbour

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday October 25
THE INVITATION  Nathalie Emmanuel, Thomas Doherty, Alana Boden, Courtney Taylor, Hugh Skinner, Sean Pertwee||
NOPE Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Michael Wincott, Brandon Perea, Keith David, Donna Mills
OFFICIAL COMPETITION  Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martínez, José Luis Gómez, Manolo Solo

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday November 1
TOP GUN: MAVERICK  Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer, Glen Powell
RUBIKON Julia Richter, Mark Ivanir, Nicholas Monu, Daniela Kong, Konstantin Frolov, Hannah Rang

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday November 8
THE POWER OF THE DOG  Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee
SHE WILL  Alice Krige, Rupert Everett, Daniel Lapaine, Malcolm McDowell, John McCrea, Amy Manson

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday November 15
MOONAGE DAYDREAM. Brett Morgan Documentary of one of our greatest musical artists David Bowie

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday November 29
AINBO: SPIRIT OF THE AMAZON  Lola Raie, Naomi Serrano, Dino Andrade, Joe Hernandez, Thom Hoffman
EMILY THE CRIMINAL  Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Gina Gershon, Jonathan Avigdori