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Notes From The Back Row

Getting old

At my age, I know well enough that nearly anything marketed to cater to the teenage crowd is going to be crap. Pointless stories, overdone explosions and macho dialogue abound.

But what about 2002’s Blue Crush ? It’s a movie for 13-year-old girls but I’ve seen that scenic little surf movie probably 30 times. It’s the perfect flick to chuck on for a hungover afternoon nap or when you’re trying to figure out how to make a pineapple upside down cake. Director John Stockwell combines tons of gorgeous Hawaiian scenery with surfing action and hot chicks to make the perfect Cinderella story for our time. Stockwell has crafted a classic, and this week he’s trying to do it again with Into the Blue , a pop-song of a movie that opens Friday at the Village 8.

Forget the fact that Into the Blue has a simple plot that relies heavily on absurd coincidences or that the characters aren’t very engaging and they spend most of the movie acting like fools. Never mind that the extended musical/dance interludes are obvious filler for a film short on real content. Who cares? Stockwell uses the same tricks that made Blue Crush a hit (and Kate Bosworth a star) – pop soundtrack, hard-bodied young actors and plenty of tits and ass, this time with hot, of-the-moment girl Jessica Alba.

Alba plays the hot and patient girlfriend (the best kind) of Paul Thomas, a scuba diving bum living in the Bahamas. In the kind of luck that only happens in the movies, the couple discover a crashed plane full of cocaine and a sunken pirate ship a mere 200 yards from each other.

Scott Caan plays Thomas’s brother who, along with his hot girlfriend, wants to sell the coke to finance the salvage operation for the ship. Of course, some badass drug smugglers come looking for their product and Into the Blue tries it’s hardest to become a sexy action thriller.

It doesn’t really ever get there, and while Scott Caan turns in the only solid performance Jessica Alba always looks good on the big screen. This is a movie for horny teenagers and scuba fans and while it lacks the charm of Blue Crush in favour of action, Into the Blue is one of those "yeah-it-sucks-but-I’ve-got-nothing-better-to-do" movies that anyone can enjoy after a couple of tokes. Escapism at its most mediocre.

On the other hand, the best movie playing this week is The Constant Gardener , a much more adult film from Brazillian genius Fernando Meirelles ( City of God) starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Wiesz. Fiennes plays an unassuming English Diplomat living in Kenya with his activist wife. After she’s murdered, Fiennes embarks on a mission to discover why and ends up smack in the midst of all kinds conspiracies and political skullduggery, and he learns a thing or two about his lovely wife as well.

Meirelles combines elements of the thriller, romantic drama and global-political expose genres to perfection. His camera work is amazing and the film builds and recedes perfectly until it hits like a blast from an elephant gun. It entertains and makes you think and really is one of the best films of the year and will cause a stir come awards time, especially the cinematography.

What’s not winning anything, except maybe the hearts of a bunch of elderly women, is 1930s wartime love/drama/heartfelt crapfest Ladies in Lavender. It’s not an especially bad film and I bet my grandma would like it. But a quaint, geriatric film about two aging sisters that rehabilitate and pine over a young man who has washed up in front of their cottage just isn’t my cup of tea. Call me immature but at my age, I’ll take the Jessica Alba ass close up please.

AT VILLAGE 8 Sept. 30-Oct. 6: Into the Blue; Ladies in Lavender; Exorcism of Emily Rose; Constant Gardener; 40 Year Old Virgin; March of the Penguins; Lord of War; Wedding Crashers; Just Like Heaven; Flight Plan; Corpse Bride . On Tuesday, Oct. 4: Me and You and Everyone We Know .

AT RAINBOW THEATRE Sep.t 30-Oct. 6: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.