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Notes from the Back Row

Thrillers and The Tipping Point



Since subjective guessing and presupposition are so hot right now I'm going to start my Oscar predictions early this year - Best Actor in a Leading role goes to Colin Firth for playing King George VI in The King's Speech. (Please note that I haven't seen all the films nominated, but hey, facts-schmacts!)

The King's Speech was one of those movies where you never laugh out loud, no tears are produced, your heart rate stays the same the whole way through, and yet somehow it's quite enjoyable. Working with strong visuals and a bang-on supporting cast, the always-bankable Firth sticks to the now-classic Tropical Thunder Oscar-Formula ("Never go full retard") and so the Oscar is his.

But that's getting ahead of things. This week the Village 8 is opening The Roommate, which looks really dumb (and way too much like Single White Female) but I'm stoked to see it anyhow because Leighton Meester stars as the bat-shit crazy chick. Of course, I'm generally a 90210- over- Gossip Girl kind of guy, but there's no denying Meester is the best-looking chick on either show. Plus, when Leighton was born her mom was serving time for taking part in a marijuana smuggling operation, so that makes both of them even hotter as far as I am concerned.

The good news about The Roommate is that Meester's co-star/victim is played by equally-hot Minka Kelly. The bad news is it's PG-13 and Christian E. Christiansen directs, with a name like that it's no wonder his movie looks like remake.

Also opening this Friday is Sanctum , the latest foray into the 3D world of James Cameron. He's only credited as an executive producer but they shot this film on underwater versions of the Avatar cameras and the story is based on a true caving-disaster story by Andrew Wight, Cameron's longtime collaborator.

The plot: a team of underwater cave divers/stock characters are exploring "the last uncharted place on the planet," when a freak storm fills the cave with water and traps them. In between father/son issues and comic relief about getting the clap in Mexico, there looks to be some tense, claustrophobic diving sequences and a few gory deaths.

Cameron and Wight's 3D technology creates true tension in Sanctum, but unfortunately feeling claustrophobic and on the verge of drowning is hard to pull off for an hour and 45 minutes. This is essentially a B-Movie and would have worked better if it were B-Movie length - like 88 minutes - but the real kick in the nuts is that Whistler still doesn't have 3D capabilities so much of the effect of the film is lost.

James Cameron also makes an appearance in the CBC's The Tipping Point , a 90-minute Nature of Things documentary that aired last week. James takes a flight over Alberta's toxic oil sands development and down the Athabasca River to meet the 1,100 residents of Fort Chipewyan, a mostly-native community that has a cancer rate three times what it statistically ought to be.

The Tipping Point also features scientists who put a pretty strong case forward that the oil sands, the largest industrial project on the planet, might not actually be as clean and healthy to live downstream from as the Government of Alberta promises. Ft. Chipewyan people catch fish covered in tumours and they're afraid to drink the water they've consumed for generations. It's all very Avatar- esque except real people are dying up there and no one in charge seems to give a shit. Sure, we need oil but for the prices I pay at the fuel pumps, is it too much to ask for oil that isn't systematically killing people? How much profit are 1,100 lives worth?

To watch the movie, Google "CBC tipping point," to get the link.