THE BLUE BUTTERFLY (Léa Pool) is the story of a little boy with brain cancer who convinces his hero, an entomologist played by the too convincingly haggard William Hurt, to take him on a quest through the Amazon rain forest to find a magical blue butterfly that will tell him the secret of life. Every bit as unbearably sentimental as it sounds, it starts with the words "Why me?" and ends with "That's the thing about life." In the middle, there's very little going on to relieve the tin-eared, syrupy dialogue except for some nice pictures of bugs and monkeys and the dubious revelation that Pascale Bussières looks quite a lot like Owen Wilson. So tedious. 97 min. NN (Wendy Banks)
Opens Mar 5 at Canada Square, Grande - Yonge, Kennedy Commons, Winston Churchill.
FATHER AND SON (Aleksandr Sokurov) retreats from the massed ecstasy of Russian Ark into the hothouse half-dramas for which Sokurov's better known. An emotional twin to his 1997 film Mother And Son, this one tells the story of a father and his soldier son living with the psychic intimacy of lovers. Therapists might call this relationship troubling and possibly criminally co-dependent, but for Sokurov it may be an allegory of love itself, standing outside of time, place and conventional sexuality. Exerting masterful control over the material, Sokurov shoots scenes in a faint glowing mist, paralleling a musical score mixed at an almost subliminal level. The effect is dreamy, even when it verges on creepy. Father And Son is the pivot film in a planned trilogy. Next up, brothers and sisters. 97 min. NNNN (CB)
Opens Mar 5 at Cinematheque (see Rep Cinema's , page 87).
HIDALGO (Joe Johnston) has been trailered on every Disney DVD for the last six months. Finally, it arrives, overlong at 140 minutes and pedestrian. It does have an undeniable something in Viggo Mortensen's laconic performance as Frank Hopkins, an American cowboy and distance racer who enters himself and the eponymous mustang stallion in the toughest race in the world, across the Arabian desert through Iraq to Damascus. Omar Sharif is on hand as a desert sheik who owns the favoured horse. There's underhanded doings and great vistas. It's like Lawrence Of Arabia without all that annoying war. 140 min. NNN (JH)
Opens Mar 5 at 401 & Morningside, 5 Drive-In Oakville, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Elgin Mills, First Markham Place, Grande - Steeles, Paramount, Queensway, Rainbow Fairview, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Newmarket, SilverCity North York, SilverCity Richmond Hill, SilverCity Yorkdale, Silvercity Yonge, Varsity, Winston Churchill.
IN THIS WORLD (Michael Winterbottom) won the Berlin Film Festival's top prize last year, and proves Winterbottom wasn't finished with headline drama when he made Welcome To Sarajevo. In This World begins in Pakistan's Shamshatoo refugee camp, home to 53,000 displaced people. From there, it follows two Afghan refugees as they try to cross Iran, Turkey and most of Europe to reach their Emerald City, London. Shot on digital video and starring two young Pashtun unknowns, it's like Mohsen Makhmalbaf's lost Dogme film. For anyone who cares about migrants, it's also deeply moving. Winterbottom grew this film from documentary roots and drifts across the non-fiction hyphen with aggressive ease. If you liked Dirty Pretty Things, consider this a prequel. See interview, page 77. 88 min. NNNN (CB)
Opens Mar 5 at Cumberland.
LOVE, SEX AND EATING THE BONES (Sudz Sutherland) was named best Canadian debut at last year's Toronto film festival and best film period at the Los Angeles Pan-African fest. It's a certified crowd-pleaser, a laid-back romantic comedy romp about a security guard dreamer with a talent for photography and an addiction to stroke films - which gives it the weirdly appealing feel of I've Heard The Mermaids Boning. Hill Harper and Marlyne N. Afflack strike the right funnysexycool tone as a Toronto boy gone limp and the real woman who outstrips his porn-star fantasies. Sutherland finds the sweet spot between She's Gotta Have It and Girl 6 and achieves that rare thing - a genuinely funny, charming Toronto movie. See interview, page 77. 100 min. NNN (CB)
Opens Mar 5 at 401 & Morningside, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Paramount, Queensway.
The Other Side of the Bed (Emilio Martínez Lázaro) is a mostly unfunny farce in which two young couples play musical beds. Lacklustre war-of-the-sexes stuff, its primary selling point is that it's a musical. The hot young stars (including Paz Vega, of Sex And Lucía fame, naked here, too) occasionally burst into song. But the musical numbers are all top-40 Spanish pop tunes, and the dance routines look like something from a Crystal Lite commercial. In a world that contains Bollywood - or Grease even - there's no reason to see this. 114 min. NN (Wendy Banks) Opens Mar 5 atCarlton.
THE SNOW WALKER (Charles Martin Smith) features Barry Pepper as a cocky young bush pilot who crashes his plane in the Arctic. He's rescued from his arrogant ignorance of the North by his passenger, a brave but tubercular Inuit girl played with significant charm by Annabella Piugattuk. The message is worthy, if too well worn: our puny technology is no match for the majesty of the tundra; our only hope for salvation is through learning to live in harmony with nature and one another, etc. But it nails the genre perfectly, and if you like survival stories at all, you'll love it. 103 min. NNN (Wendy Banks)
Opens Mar 5 at Bayview, Canada Square, Kennedy Commons, Queensway, Varsity, Winston Churchill.
STARSKY & HUTCH (Todd Phillips) revamps the 70s cop show with the cast born to play it - Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear. This movie earns major points on cast and concept alone. Sometimes Stiller and Wilson just standing there in their 70s stud outfits are hilarious. But the drug plot involving Vince Vaughn and a bad moustache is sloppy and forgettable. That may be the parodic idea, but it makes for a listless movie. It's funny, but it's not Zoolander funny. 96 min. NNN (CB)
Opens Mar 5 at 401 & Morningside, 5 Drive-In Oakville, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Elgin Mills, First Markham Place, Grande - Steeles, Paramount, Queensway, Rainbow Fairview, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Newmarket, SilverCity North York, SilverCity Richmond Hill, SilverCity Yorkdale, Silvercity Yonge, Varsity, Winston Churchill.