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Notes from the back row



"The trick is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable."

I don't know who said that, Katy Perry maybe, but it sounds like good life advice to me. 'Cause the world can get uncomfortable - just ask John C. Reilly in Cyrus, a three's-not-company dark comedy opening this week at the Village 8.

Reilly plays John, a lonely, divorced social outcast who meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party, falls for her, and can't believe she actually likes him back. But here's the rub, Molly lives with her "almost 22"-year-old son (Jonah Hill) and their relationship is so co-dependent it borders on incestuous. Much like the lighter-toned-but-still- awesome Mr. Woodcock , man and son do battle over the mother, but Cyrus takes things into that dark, creepy realm of weird that usually produces great results. For the first half of the film anyhow, then the directors, a couple of quirky brothers named Jay and Mark Duplass (Baghead), let up a bit and scramble to tie things up in the end, delving into some more traditional romantic comedy forced epiphanies while watering down the weirdness in the last half.

Still, Cyrus is one of those small movies that comes out of nowhere and impresses. Reilly and Jonah Hill have great chemistry/animosity and you can never go wrong with Marisa Tomei, who is aging better than almost any actress out there.

Speaking of aging, that's rarely comfortable and can you effin' believe it's been seventeen years since Dazed and Confused? Seventeen years and Milla Jovovich is still hot as a horseradish and back this week as Alice, the zombie-ass-kicker heroine of the underrated Resident Evil franchise.

Resident Evil: Afterlife, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Death Race), is the fourth film in the franchise and the first in 3D (but again not in Whistler). Apparently they used the Avatar cameras and built the film with 3D in mind from step one - this is the real deal, not crappy post-production 3D that we have been seeing lately. Anderson used a steadier camera and a more classic shooting style, and focused on set-building and long-take action scenes rather than the fast-cuts and handheld shakiness that dominates most action these days. The results look impressive.

He keeps it simple with the plot though, as Alice continues her mission to find survivors and lead them to safety. This is, after all, a video-game movie, though it's got Milla and Ali Larter in tight black suits fighting zombies and shooting guns in the rain/sprinkler spray. That's good enough for me.

The Toronto International Film Fest starts this week and if you've got the cash it will be worth it to fly out there to watch films on three Canadian heroes.

Force of Nature is a documentary/biography based around David Suzuki's Legacy lecture, which he explains as,= "a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I ant to say before I die." The film weaves lecture talk with scenes from Suzuki's life and long-running CBC show to craft what looks like an absolutely masterful film that ought to be essential viewing for every resident of the country. Saving the planet means sacrificing a bit of our cushy lifestyle but it has to be done.

TIFF is also premiering Fubar 2, in which Canadian classics Terry and Deaner go get jobs in Ft. McMurray. Remember Terry and Deaner? They're archetypes - at your high school maybe they were called losers or burnouts, metalheads or hashers, but really they were just honest people comfortable with who they were, no matter how uncomfortable the world got. Who knows what the secret of life is but Plan B is to just keep on givn'r.