A&E » Film

Notes from the back row

The eve of destruction

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What’s your favourite end of the world movie? Can’t decide? That’s the good thing about movies, we can watch a bunch of different people’s takes on the end of the world and not have to really experience it. Not yet anyhow. But these days I find myself waking up far too early in the morning with a weird, nervous feeling. Is the end upon us? Is it gonna be a plague that wipes us out like in The Shining (still Steven King’s best novel and a decent made-for-TV movie). Or will things just freeze up overnight like last year’s The Day After Tomorrow? Could be, could be. I think my favourite post-apocalyptic movie, and not just because it’s slightly ridiculous, is probably 1995’s Tank Girl starring Lori Petty and Malcolm McDowell.

Tank Girl takes place in the not-so-distant future where the world is basically hooped and one bad-ass corporate giant (McDowell) has a monopoly on the world’s two most valuable resources: Water and Power. "You control the water and power, you control the world."

Luckily for us all, there’s spunky, punky Tank Girl, played excellently by Lori Petty, (yeah she was so good in Point Break , killed it in this, then pretty much disappeared. What gives?) Tank Girl sticks it to the man, all the while ripping around in her tank and just looking like she’s having a lot of fun. The fact that she’s aided by mutant humanoid Kangaroos makes things even better.

Tank Girl is based on an underground British comic book and is one of the best comic-to-screen adaptations to come along in the last 10 years, a decade where comics have been quite pillaged by Hollywood screenwriters who’ve run out of original ideas. One could probably investigate the social significance surrounding the surge of superhero movies lately – do we feel as if we need to be saved? Is the future that bleak? Yes it probably is, most likely more so than we ever imagined. But if the world is coming to an end and we do have to start protecting OUR vast amounts of water and power, I’d be much happier if we had Lori Petty in a phallic looking tank on our side, taking no shit and fewer prisoners. Yeah, that wouldn’t be so bad…

But enough of this crazy talk, those American elections have us all on edge. Instead let’s focus on what’s important here, distracting ourselves with the newest and greatest moving pictures the world can offer. It’s actually not a bad week at the old cinema.

First up, Ray , a biopic film about the life of famous blind piano man Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx plays Ray and does an admirable job, giving us a glimpse of the man whose music is so well known, but who’s heroin addiction and womanizing perhaps is not. Charles led an amazing and troublesome life, and the film chronicles it quite well. But in the end it comes off more like a really good episode of MTV Behind the Music than anything really hard-hitting or enlightening. For a heroin junkie, Ray never seems to have it that bad. The movie glamorizes him enough that we don’t get to see him shitting his own pants or sleeping in the gutter. Still though, Foxx does a really good job and even though Ray tries a bit too hard to tug at the heartstrings (Oscar season’s coming up) it’s still worth checking out, if only to get you back into the music of one of the last century’s great performers.

From great acting to none at all. Cartoon movies are pretty big these days. And Pixar cartoon movies are the top of the heap ( Toy Story, Finding Nemo). Well now, after all the hype, The Incredibles, Pixar’s take on superheroes, has finally arrived. The story centres on retired superheroes; middle-aged, regular dudes with superpowers helping when they can but basically living a low-pro lifestyle, suburbs, children, all that. For a cartoon it’s pretty clever, avoiding the easy trap of relying on flash-in-the-pan pop culture references while still delivering an entertaining story and a decent comment on marriage, middle-age and fitting in. It gets a bit cliché ridden and the characters sometimes seem like sitcom rip-offs, but at the end of the day it’s an amazingly well-animated movie with good characters, comedy, and a strong family values message.

Pixar studios sticks with what works and while there’s nothing really wrong with The Incredibles , when it comes to saving the world, I’ll take Lori Petty on a tank, shooting first and flashing that cute little grin later.

At Village 8 Nov. 5-11: Ray; What the Bleep Do We Know; The Incredibles; Alfie; Napoleon Dynamite; Grudge; Team America; Shark Tale; Polar Express.

At Rainbow Theatre Nov. 5-11: Shall We Dance.

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