OV D: Peter Pearson w/ Keir Dullea, Dayle Haddon. Canada. 94 min. Friday, September 15, 4:45 PM ISABEL BADER; Saturday, September 16, 8:45 PM VARSITY 2 Rating: NN
Pearson's 1973 film about small-town Saskatchewan is both a long-form video for Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind and a great argument for higher education. In this year's selection for the Canadian Open Vault, Rick (Dullea) is an aging playboy who dresses like Clint Eastwood and gets everything handed to him, including the affections of obviously self-hating women. The only one who rejects him is university-educated Joanna (Haddon), and her resistance to his "charms" kicks off the High Noon-style denouement. The film's nudity and words like "dink" and "bugger" might've been risqué once, but from this vantage point you just want Rick to grow up and the other women in his life to grow a pair.
TALES OF THE RAT FINK
RTR D: Ron Mann w/ John Goodman, Jay Leno (voices). Canada. 76 min. Friday, September 15, 6 PM VARSITY 8; Saturday, September 16, 11 AM PARAMOUNT 2 Rating: NNN
Mann's sprightly account of the career of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth offers the same pleasures as his earlier films like The Twist, where archival footage, lively animation and cheery music (this time a surf-inflected score by the Sadies) carry us easily through a straightforward look at a some forgotten corner of pop culture. This time it's hot rods and custom cars. Roth was in on the ground floor. His trademark Rat Fink character and flame-painted hot rods are still around. The film also claims him as the inventor of message T-shirts, fibreglass auto bodies and more. Mann puts words in Roth's and his cars' mouths via celebrity voices, a move that's historically suspect but entertaining.
WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS
MAST D:Spike Lee w/ Ray Nagin, Terence Blanchard. 240 min. Friday, September 15, 6 PM RYERSON; Saturday, September 16, 11:45 AM VARSITY 8 Rating: NNNNN See review.
CWC D: Neil Armfield w/ Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish. Australia. 108 min. Friday, September 15, 9 PM VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN); Saturday, September 16, 11:45 AM PARAMOUNT 4 Rating: NNN
There's no sugar-coating this junkie love story about an aspiring artist named Candy (Cornish) and her boyfriend, Dan (Ledger), a poet and petty thief smacked around by life on smack. While the plot's as thin as an addict's arteries Dan pimps Candy out so they can score off chemist pal Casper (an underused Geoffrey Rush) even as they struggle to get clean the performances carry the day. Cornish is both sweet and sorrowful as the fragile free spirit swallowed by addiction, and Ledger proves again that his strength lies in his ability to portray weakness while never appearing unsympathetic, making this hard Candy much easier to swallow.
AFTER THE WEDDING
GALA D: Susanne Bier. 120 min w/ Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassg'rd. Denmark. Friday, September 15, 9:30 PM ROY THOMSON HALL; Saturday, September 16, 3 PM VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN) Rating: NNN
This well-made Danish drama looks like a conservative, high-end TV movie and plays like nighttime soap opera, but with a good, harsh undercurrent. The story a Danish aid worker living in India goes to Copenhagen to receive a grant for his orphanage and becomes entangled with the rich donor and his family has some good twists. But the show really belongs to Lassg'rd as the rich, secretive and highly manipulative industrialist who turns what could have been a stereotype into a powerful character study.