After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Sarah’s Key, Vincere, Cosmonaut and Our Idiot Brother

(Page 2 of 2)

The story is about his “other wife”, Ida Dalser, a woman who came to him like a groupie at a political meeting (after he dramatically proved God doesn’t exist). He carried on an extended affair with her, accepted her money to finance his newspaper and then dumped her, after she bore a child. Through the rest of the film, as he rises politically, she fights to have her boy acknowledged as his son. She also claims to have married the future Il Duce, who had gained a real wife and fathered four children. For her troubles, she’s put under house arrest and later confined to a mental hospital. Her son is taken away and a priest advises her to stop hollering. There are many heart-wrenching scenes as she keeps on arguing her case, talks defiantly to a review panel, shouts out of barred windows to anyone outside and tries to escape. The acting is startling and vibrant from Giovanna Mezzogiorno as Ida and Filippo Timi as both Mussolini and, later in the film, his son. A dark, highly emotional film that also stages scenes from three decades of political turmoil with great flair. (VanCity Theatre) 4 out of 5


Playing in tandem (as Double Italia) with …

COSMONAUT: An iconoclast? How about brat? As a child, she runs out on her first communion because she’s a Communist. As a teen, she’s gets into arson over at the Socialist Party’s office and pure peevishness at home, when she stubs her cigarette into the cake at her mother’s re-marriage. She’s willful and selfish and that makes this Italian coming-of-age saga a bit hard to warm up to.

Her sensitive side is less apparent although Marianna Raschillà gives a very good performance as the young outsider, quietly chafing as others get credit for her ideas at political meetings and carrying a torch in vain for the group leader. Later, she beats him up. “No one goes out with girls like you,” he says. The film, set in the 1960s, captures a mass of mixed emotions any teenager can relate to, and is brightly directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli, someone to watch out for. The title invokes the early successes of the Soviet space program which inspire the young Communists and bring us a few too many but generally fascinating news clips from the time. 3 out of 5


OUR IDIOT BROTHER: This is a tepid comedy with good actors performing meandering material. Paul Rudd is the brother. He’s not stupid, just naïve and hapless. Right off the top he’s selling vegetables at a farmer’s market and, rather innocently, some pot to a cop.

When he’s back from prison, his girlfriend has taken his farm and Willie Nelson, his awkwardly named dog. So, he bunks down in the homes, one by one, of three sisters. Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) is a lesbian, although, as he observes, maybe not as much of a one as she thought when she lets on she’s pregnant. Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) can sell an article to Vanity Fair but needs him to vouch for the scandalous details in it. And Liz (Emily Mortimer)’s life as an overly-careful mother is upset when he blurts out what her husband (Steve Coogan) is doing with a ballerina besides making a film. Paul manages to unsettle everybody by saying exactly what’s on his mind. It’s mildly funny and occasionally captures some real dynamics of family life, especially the pretensions. (The Ridge, Dunbar, International Village and many suburban theatres)  2 ½ out of 5


Also now playing …

COLOMBIANA: Now you can see what’s happened to  Neytiri, or Zoe Saldana, since Avatar.

Or maybe you won’t want to. The studio didn’t screen this for critics, not usually a good sign. Zoe plays a woman who saw her parents murdered in a gang war in Columbia when she was young (and played beautifully by Amandla Stenberg). Fifteen years later and living in the United States she hunts down the killers, who through some sort of CIA connivance are now also there. This is from the Luc Besson action film assembly line and is directed by one of his main men, Olivier Megaton. Expect lots and lots of shooting and kinetic action that defies reason. (Scotiabank and many suburban theatres)

NOTE: The images are movie stills supplied by the studios and are therefore the exclusive property of their copyright owners.


More in New Movies

Disney wildlife times two, a blast at American politics and a traumatic teen drama

Also a couple of small but amiable comedies, one of them Canadian

More streaming ideas take you to Brazil, low-life China and two Jesse Eisenberg films

As well as a cleverly-plotted trip to Barcelona thanks to Netflix

Movie theatres are shut down, so what’s streaming?

Some modest recommendations and stay for the last one, an alarm about what has happened to the internet.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.