The Colony (Jeff Renfroe) doesn't explore any new territory as far as post-apocalyptic thrillers go, but the local production is a serviceable contribution to a genre dominated by Hollywood. The action takes place after a very Canadian version of the apocalypse: it began to snow and never stopped. Humanity buried itself underground in small, self-sufficient colonies that can be wiped out by the common cold. A mysterious attack on a neighbouring colony instigates an Aliens-like recon mission that turns up some zombie-like cannibals. Director Renfroe knows his James Cameron. He craftily sets up the dank and dreary underground settings, then steadily ratchets up the tension around every corner. Unfortunately, the film also mimics Cameron's clunky dialogue and broad character arcs. Even if it seems kind of familiar, you'll enjoy a decent ride. 93 min.
Rating: NNN (RS)
Opens Apr 26 at Canada Square, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Mississauga. See here for times.
The Company You Keep (Robert Redford) follows an ambitious journalist (Shia LaBeouf) who finds out Jim Grant (Robert Redford), a former Weatherman SDS member, is practising law in Albany 30 years after he went underground, forcing Grant to become a fugitive again and seek out the former comrade who can clear his name. A mind-blowing cast (Anna Kendrick, Richard Jenkins, Nick Nolte and Julie Christie - plus Susan Sarandon in one of those one-scene Oscar-bait roles) adds heft to this thriller, and dialogue examining ethics and motivation, both political and journalistic, is deftly written. There are some plot holes (wouldn't a fugitive try to disguise himself just a little?), and things get way too tidy at the end, but good filmmaking nevertheless. 122 min.
Rating: NNN (SGC)
Opens Apr 26 at Varsity. See here for times.
Tai Chi Hero (Stephen Fung) picks up immediately after the events of last fall's Tai Chi Zero, with doofus warrior Lu Chan (Yuan Xiaochao) finally being embraced by the people of Chen Village after defeating a villain's steampunk railway train. Immediately married to the lovely Yu Niang (Angelababy) - who still kind of hates him - Lu Chan's happiness is threatened by a prophecy that Chen Village will be destroyed should the residents ever share the secrets of Chen-style kung fu with an outsider. (Also, the bad guy from the first movie has been recruited by a sinister executive from the East India Tea Company, so that's another headache.) It's all just an excuse for director Fung to stage a bunch of elaborate, inventive martial arts sequences, and on that level Tai Chi Hero pretty much satisfies. A third film, teased in the last seconds, might be pushing it, though. Subtitled. 103 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Apr 26 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Becoming Redwood (Jesse James Miller) suffers from that most rampant malady of the Canadian cinema: it's too earnest. Ryan Grantham puts in a strong performance as Redwood, an 11-year-old flower child who's bused from BC to northern California when his hippie dad's busted for dealing coke. Redwood escapes from his new home - and his nasty, Cinderella-ish step-family - into his mind, where he dreams of besting golfer Jack Nicklaus in the Masters. It's suffocatingly sincere and eager to please with its mishmash of sports film clichés and broken-home family drama. Even its okay performances and competent staging feel exaggeratedly slick, nothing under their veneer of quality. 99 min.
Rating: NN (John Semley)
Opens Apr 26 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Upside Down (Juan Solanas) is what happens when a director with a profoundly stupid idea isn't talked down, but rather enabled at every turn. Writer/director Solanas's fantasy romance is set in a place where two worlds are forever staring at one another, with opposite gravities keeping the people where they're supposed to be and a mega-corporation using the resources of "down below" to fuel the upscale lives of those "up top." When an idealistic downstairs resident (Jim Sturgess) falls for a dreamy up-top fashion plate (Kirsten Dunst), he'll move heaven and earth(s) to woo her - which would be fine as a metaphor for love reaching across class boundaries, but Solanas can't leave it there; he has to add layers and layers of unnecessary intrigue to what's basically a Cirque du Soleil routine expanded to feature length. 110 min.
Rating: N (NW)
Opens Apr 26 at Carlton Cinema. See here for times.
The Big Wedding (Justin Zackham) is a star-studded romantic comedy about a long-divorced couple who fake being married because of an impending wedding. Embargo in place. See review April 26 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 88 min.
Opens Apr 26 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Exhibition: Manet -- Portraying Life takes you behind the scenes of the Royal Academy of Arts's eagerly awaited exhibition of the French painter's portraits, featuring host Tim Marlow and expert guests. 100 min.
Opens Apr 28 at Coliseum Mississauga, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Metropolitan Opera: Giulio Cesare Live is a live high-def broadcast of the Handel opera, starring David Daniels and Natalie Dessay. 291 min.
Opens Apr 27 at Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.
Pain & Gain (Michael Bay) stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie as bodybuilders caught up in an extortion and kidnapping scheme gone wrong. Screened after press time - see review April 26 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 130 min.
Opens Apr 26 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.