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Notes from the back row

Sappy stinker



Toot-toot! All aboard the Crap Train. Actually, to be fair I should rename it the ‘Sap’ train because while Night in Rodanthe , opening Friday at the Village 8, isn’t a total steaming pile, it’s certainly sappy as all bejeezus. Much like the novel it’s based on, written by Nicholas Sparks (the dude who wrote The Notebook, which was actually a better flick than this one).

Richard Gere and Diane Lane reunite (Remember Unfaithful ? Me neither…) to play two middle-aged souls who realize ‘it’s never too late for the second chance of a lifetime.’ I copied that line from the movie’s trailer, right after I puked in my mouth a little bit.

Two damaged and lost souls meet at a deserted beach inn, during off season when the real romance happens, and a literal hurricane of love and reinvigorating adult drama and conversation occurs. Yawn.

Don’t fault Gere or Lane, who both deliver. Lane in particular looks great and seems to have cornered the market for sappy old-lady romantic melodramas along with Diane Keaton, but this is just not my kind of flick. My midlife crisis is still a few years ahead of me.

I suppose the film’s message of ‘love is not just a game for the young to play’ will appeal to the lonely old ladies in town (although it seems you still have to be good looking to score). Wait a minute, this is a ski town — there are no lonely old ladies, just Cougars on the usually successful prowl.

So here ya go Coug’s — when you wake up and he’s gone, don’t cry. Start drinking, then catch Night in Rodanthe at the late show. It’ll either fire you up for another night’s hunt or send you home to shovel ice cream into yourself watching the new Sex and the City DVD that just came out.

Younger audiences have it a bit easier this week. Totally awesome Michelle Monaghan ( Gone Baby Gone) and bad-driver-but-good-actor Shia LaBoeuf ( Transformers) team up in Eagle Eye, a political thriller about two strangers who are thrust together in the most ridiculous of circumstances by a calm female voice that seems to be able to use all our technology against us. Cashing in on terrorist and big-brother paranoia at the same time, Eagle Eye — directed by D.J. Caruso ( Salton Sea, Distubia) — is an adequate flick with some pretty serious carnage and thrills through the first half. Later it falls more into action territory with a lot of chasing and running away (kind of like what ruined The Island ), but Caruso cribs the Hitchcockian theme of ‘the wrong guy’ decently and there is enough ‘maybe this could actually happen’ to make the film watchable. Not pants-filling, but definitely watchable.

The Crap Train isn’t scheduled to roll through Vancouver this week but if you make the incredibly slow-and-painful drive down there you can catch Choke, the latest flick to be based on a Chuck Palanhiuk novel. He’s the dude that wrote Fight Club.

Choke stars Sam Rockwell as Victor, a con man and sex addict who pretends to choke in high-end restaurants so he can fleece cash out of the people who ‘save’ him. He uses the money to care for his deranged mother but Victor is no saint — most of the time he’s banging strangers in dirty washrooms or attending 12-step meetings with his masturbation-obsessed buddy. Although not as slick as the novel, Choke is smart, seedy, immoral, funny as hell, and contains a scene where Victor gets jerked off by a milkmaid. This is my kind of flick.