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Multiple Cate Blanchetts in Manifesto, Salma Hayek’s dissent in Beatriz at Dinner and facing obsolescence in Cars 3

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CARS 3: Many kids name Lightning McQueen as their favorite character these days, presumably more because of the toys than the movies. But this new one will separate the younger and the older. While they can all enjoy the racing action and the thrilling animation it comes in, the younger ones may find the storyline more than a bit above them. It’s about aging, becoming obsolete, having to choose between retiring and re-purposing, and recalling the advice of your elders. The film is rich with these themes and because of that is a valuable follow up to the original which is already 11 years old now.  It also returns to its charm after the misstep that was #2.

 

Owen Wilson, as Lightning, is feeling old. He’s called “the elder statesman” of the racing circuit and, by a new trainer (Cristela Alonzo), “my senior project.” He’s losing races to a shiny black and brash newcomer named Jackson Storm (voice of Armie Hammer) and a new sponsor (voiced by Canadian Nathan Fillion) may relegate him to hawking mudflaps. Lightning has a horrific crash. He’s not injured but does he give up? High-tech training isn’t for him. A trip to a storied small race track turns into a wild demolition derby. He recalls his roots talking to some old-timer cars and reflecting on memories of his idol (voiced by Paul Newman through some recordings left over from the first film). That sets him straight and he’s off to one more race to prove himself. You know what to expect. That’s not what happens. The film takes a surprise turn and delivers a satisfying end to a complex story that’s swayed between bliss and melancholy all along. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 3 out of 5

THE COMMUNE: Back in the 60s and 70s some thought living and sharing all in a commune could be utopia. Thomas Vinterberg brings a different view. He’s the Danish director of several incendiary films and co-author of the Dogma 95 Manifesto cited elsewhere here today. More to the point, he lived in a commune as a teenager and his memories of what he saw there drive this film. He conveys the idealism and then the hard fact that people can’t just sublimate their emotions, like jealousy.



 

A couple inherit a large house, The husband, Erik, says it’s too big for only two people. The wife, Anna, says let’s bring in more and start a commune. They interview candidates, form a collective and hold house meetings to make all future decisions. It’s all peaceful and civilized, though hardly as freewheeling as what Vinterberg recalls in a note passed along by the producers. Also the group dynamic moves aside as the one couple’s story takes over. Erik starts an affair with a student at the architecture course he teaches and tells Anna about it. She, an anchor at a TV news show, has a surprisingly mature reaction. Have her move into the house too, she says. That doesn’t work out well. Anna can’t shake a feeling of rejection and starts a slow breakdown. That performance won Trine Dyrholm a big award at the Berlin Film Festival. The film isn’t grim; it understands. (VanCity Theatre) 3 ½ out of 5

THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MÄKI: Who? He was a boxer in Finland who in 1962 got a chance to win a world championship in the featherweight class. His opponent was Davey Moore, the American who the following year would die in a match and be immortalized in a Bob Dylan song. But that has no shadow here. We focus entirely on the sweet and striving preparation by Olli (Jarkko Lahti) who wants to satisfy his people’s desire for a winner.

More in New Movies

Poverty tales in The Florida Project, musings on death in Lucky and a celebration of learning in Ex Libris

Also films about big-wave surfing, fighting forest fires, creating Winnie the Pooh, querying van Gogh’s death and hunting a killer in Norway

Deep Throat vs Nixon, Jackie Chan vs the IRA and Olivia Cooke super in a serial killer tale from Victorian times

Also a suspense-cum-horror movie entertains by copying Groundhog Day

Borg vs McEnroe, one of two real-life male contests in today’s VIFF picks

The other shows Engels prodding Marx to get more revolutionary. Plus, ratings of two other films.
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