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Dinosaurs loose again in 'Jurassic World.' Alternative: Real stories in The Best of Hot Docs

One giant movie and 10 select documentaries are the newcomers this week. So let me tell you about this while there’s time.

The Cinematheque, our art house of essential cinema, is holding its annual open house tomorrow, June 13. You can tour the projection room and the extensive library of books and films, try threading some 8mm film onto the sprockets and show off your voice doing voiceovers. And there’s a free screening of a classic: Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like it Hot which is best enjoyed with a big audience. It plays at 2 p.m. but tickets are available starting at noon when the doors open. (Howe at Helmcken downtown.)

This week’s reviews:

Jurassic World: 3

Rolling Papers:  3 ½

Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi: 4

The Wolfpack: 4

Live from New York: 3

JURASSIC WORLD: Who would have thought that after all that rampaging destruction we saw in the three films that came before, this dinosaur theme park could ever be a functioning enterprise? Screenwriters, that’s who. So here it is, operating for 10 years now and already on a downturn. “Nobody’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore,” says its manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) explaining that the investors are demanding a new attraction to lure the tourists. Somewhere in the dense foliage of the northern part of the island it already exists: a genetic hybrid of a T-Rex and something secret. “Progress,” she calls it.

 

“Maybe progress should lose for once," replies the ex-Navy man (Chris Pratt) who works like a lion tamer with a herd of raptors and has come to know these animals. He talks of “millions of years of instinct” and the dangers of raising social animals in isolation. Naturally his warnings aren’t heeded. The new creature given the name Indominus Rex escapes its compound, threatens Claire’s visiting nephews and terrorizes the tourists on Main Street in a series of ever-bigger scenes. None match the tension of the car stuck in a tree or the raptors stalking the kitchen in the original film but a few come close: Pratt hiding under a land rover as rex sniffs around; the nephews menaced in the glass globe of a park ride.

 

There’s excitement and fun here and the computer-generated animals look great. But there’s less of the sense of wonder and discovery that made the first film such a favourite. Maybe it’s true. We’ve seen it all before. At times this one feels like one of those monster-creature confrontations Japan used to turn out regularly. However, there’s much written in to think about:  messing with nature, manufactured vacation experiences, fickle consumers and commercial imperatives. Also a ridiculous one: a military guy wants the raptors trained for warfare. No boots on the ground. That’s out of step with the intelligence we perceive in the rest of the film. (Park, Dunbar, Scotiabank and many suburban theatres) 3 out of 5 

BEST OF HOT DOCS: The annual tour of some gems from Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival is here (until Tuesday at the VanCity Theatre). I’ve seen four of the 10 films and though none of those equal Going Clear, that compelling Scientology documentary that has just finished playing here, they are a good alternative to the dinosaurs raging this week.

You can find the whole schedule and film descriptions at the VanCity website: http://www.viff.org/theatre. Notice the deal they’re offering: $12 each or 3 films for $27.

I’ve seen these four …

ROLLING PAPERS:  This one is probably the most relevant to us right now. Marijuana shops (excuse me, dispensaries) are sprouting like pot plants and we’re debating the impact. In Colorado they’ve legalized pot and the film examines how life and society has changed. (SPOILER ALERT: The worst fears did not come true).

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