RTR D: Lucy Walker. UK. 104 min. Monday, September 11, 3:15 PM VARSITY 8; Wednesday, September 13, 12:30 PM CUMBERLAND 2; Thursday, September 14, 5:30 PM VARSITY 3 Rating: NNNN
Mount Everest's symbolic importance and Tibetan attitudes toward blindness are mirrored in this funny, touching and gorgeous documentary. In 2004, American climber Erik Weihenmayer, the first sightless person to climb Everest, organized a ludicrously risky expedition: he led a half-dozen blind Tibetan teens to the peak of Everest's neighbour, Lhakpa Ri. Though the editing lessens the impact of the trek's arduousness, the climbers' mounting tension is palpable. It's unclear whether the battle between Weihenmayer's goal-oriented team and the kids' more laid-back European teachers is due to national differences or oxygen deprivation, but watching the super-driven Weihenmayer become more Zen about the whole experience is almost as rewarding as the huge grins on the kids' faces.
SPEC D: Philippe Falardeau w/ Olivier Gourmet, Paul Ahmarani. Canada/Belgium/France. 105 min. Monday, September 11, 9:30 PM PARAMOUNT 1; Wednesday, September 13, 11:45 AM PARAMOUNT 2 Rating: NNNN
In André Turpin's whimsical dramatic comedy about fathers and sons, two world's fairs and electric cars, writer-driector Falardeau invokes places and events as disparate as the Belgian Congo, Expo 67 and JFK's Ich Bin Ein Berliner speech while using both Belgian and Quebecois cultural clichés as fodder for sly humour. The intricately plotted story (a puzzle conspicuously lacking in loose ends) never becomes precious, thanks to the emotional weight of its two stars the dogged, put-upon, opportunistic Gourmet and the fanciful humanist Ahmarani and the potent patrilineal narrative threads.
SLEEPING DOGS LIE
VAN D: Bobcat Goldthwait w/ Melinda Page Hamilton, Geoff Pierson. U.S. 89 min. Monday, September 11, 9:45 PM PARAMOUNT 2; Wednesday, September 13, 3 PM PARAMOUNT 1 Rating: NNNN
The most striking thing about demented comic Goldthwait's Sleeping Dogs Lie is that the story of a young woman seeking romantic fulfilment has a genuine sweetness behind the studied outrageousness of its premise. Don't let anyone tell you what that premise is, because the opening is mind-boggling if you walk into it cold. It's uneven as hell. Goldthwait demonstrates admirable control of tone in a film that wants to be all over the place, and Hamilton deserves particular praise for holding the movie together with her starring performance. You have to admire a film that successfully argues that, just maybe, complete honesty isn't the best basis for a relationship.