The Bullet Vanishes (Law Chi-Leung) offers a Hong Kong twist on Guy Ritchie's sardonic Sherlock Holmes movies, complete with period setting, eccentric detective (Lau Ching-Wan as an inspector who likes to put himself through the victims' ordeals) and possibly supernatural mystery involving a murdered factory worker. The action is well staged, the mystery carefully plotted and the production values high. Though some of the cardboard villains can feel ripped out of Saturday morning cartoons and the fights can come out of nowhere, this production proves that Hong Kong can still crank out blockbusters that rival Hollywood's. Subtitled. 103 min.
Rating: NNN (Phil Brown)
Opens Aug 31 at Eglinton Town Centre, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
In My Mother's Arms (Atea Al Daradji, Mohamed Al Daradji) makes lost children a potent symbol of the ravages of war. In Sadr City, one of Iraq's most dangerous areas, 32 boys live in a two-room house that Husham and five other volunteer caregivers have turned into an orphanage. Shot over several months, the doc reveals the impact of trauma - especially on young Saif, who saw both parents killed in an explosion - while Husham attempts to raise funds for the orphanage, which has no state support. Though sketchily shot, the film has spectacular moments, especially when the older boys try to help the younger ones with their schoolwork and when a theatre artist is enlisted to get them to open up. But the landlord has evicted them, threatening the future of a few dozen of the nation's 5-million-plus young orphans. Devastating. Subtitled. 92 min.
Rating: NNN (SGC)
Opens Aug 31 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
The Matchmaker (Avi Nesher) is an awkward but occasionally affecting coming-of-age drama about a teenager (Tuval Shafir) who spends a transformative summer working for a shady matchmaker (Adir Miller) in 1968 Haifa. The teenage stuff is fairly generic, with our hero lusting after a friend's sexy cousin (Neta Porat), but the world of the matchmaker - whose survival of the Holocaust make him part of an underclass Israel would rather pretend doesn't exist - gives the film a tragic subtext that keeps us watching even when the story's at its most banal. Subtitled. 112 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Aug 31 at Grande - Yonge. See here for times.
For a Good Time, Call... (Jamie Travis) arrives about 10 years too late to wring laughs out of watching cute women say dirty words. These days, the story of an uptight prude (Lauren Miller) forced to live with an outgoing floozy (Ari Graynor) who teaches her about the joys of female friendship and professional phone sex is the stuff of sitcoms. This sure feels like one, complete with a wisecracking gay best friend and celebrity cameos. It's all light and sweet enough to pass by painlessly. You'll leave feeling momentarily satisfied but ultimately ripped off, much like a certain phone service. 86 min.
Rating: NN (Phil Brown)
Opens Aug 31 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Possession (Ole Bornedal) is a well told but only mildly scary Exorcist knock-off with a couple of okay twists in its highly predictable story. First, the heroic parent is the father, not mother, of the possessed child, which provides a psychological subtext for the increasingly hostile doings of the little girl who's acquired a demon in a box. Second, the demon comes out of the Judaic, not Christian, tradition, which puts a different spin on the climactic exorcism. Director Bornedal comes up with a couple of striking images but relies too heavily on close-ups of the creepy box. Some subtitles. 92 min.
Rating: NN (AD)
Opens Aug 31 at 401 & Morningside, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Empire Theatres at Empress Walk, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.