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Notes from the back row

Something for everyone



Be you a man, woman or child there's something for everyone this week at the Village 8. Ladies first: not to be confused with The Astronaut's Wife - a 1999 Rosemary's Baby rip-off widely considered to be Johnny Depp's worst film, The Time Traveler's Wife is aimed at female audiences of any age that appreciate sappy love stories. Starring Rachel " The Notebook" McAdams and Eric Bana ( Munich) the film is about two perfect soulmates repeatedly finding and losing each other and how true love transcends time, space, and 107 minutes of your life.

Although totally chick flick, it's not all bad - finally we have a time traveling movie where someone thinks to write down the winning lottery numbers from the future. It's cheesy, melodramatic and occasionally confusing but both McAdams and Bana turn in strong performances (good thing too because the supporting cast is almost invisible) and The Time Traveler's Wife plays like a hybrid of Benjamin Button and Ghost (the screenplay, actually, was written by the same guy as Ghost). Despite the occasional flash of wit and charm this should have just been called The Time Traveler and included a scene where Bana gets hit in the nuts with a tree, starts hopping around and steps in dinosaur shit. Sounds childish but it probably would have been a better movie.

Speaking of children, Band Slam , also opening Friday, stars Vanessa Hudgens ( High School Musical) in a teen dramedy that's a lot like The Commitments but for 12-year-olds, with worse music, and the dramatic pay-off of an early episode of Degrassi, all filtered through the current hipster Nick and Nora meets Juno trend. Which means, for 'tweens, it's not that bad at all and with two strong(ish) female roles it might be a real box office contender against all the little boy fantasy flicks of the summer.

The big boys and girls get District 9, an out-of-nowhere sci-fi Apartheid allegory about what would happen if a ship full of a million refugee aliens parked in Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty years later, the aliens are still around, widely disliked and living as a social underclass in a J-burg slum while Multi-Nation United, the company hired to deal with them, tries desperately to figure out how to use their weapons technology while herding them into concentration camps. The flawed hero is Wilkus Van Der Merwe, a MNU company man who ends up on the wrong side of the company and must seek safety amongst the aliens he was once in charge of segregating.

First time director Neill Blomkamp, who lived in Vancouver for a while, has teamed with Peter Jackson ( Lord of the Rings) to deliver a film that is pretty much the opposite of a Hollywood blockbuster but might end up being the best picture of the summer. Mixing thrilling sci-fi with sun-bleached docu-style camera work to capture big effects and thought provoking (but not too heavy) socio-political overtures Blomkamp rushes through his first film a little bit but the ending really delivers. District 9 rules.

The Perfect Getaway is a bit predictable but the script is knowingly textbook B Grade thriller and the execution is solid. Quips fly with always bankable Steve Zahn ( Strange Wilderness, Rescue Dawn) acting up against Milla Jovovich ( Resident Evil) and Tim Olyphant ( The Girl Next Door) in this Honeymoon-from-hell story. Although lacking in nudity Getaway has good action, acting (Jovovich really cranks it up for the last act), decent gore, a stunning tropical location, a Bad Taste homage and a killer chase scene with the best camera/editing work since Seven Samurai . This is a film geek's perfect date movie and although it's not playing in Whistler it rounds out a good week of family fun at the cinema.

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