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Notes from the back row


Feet Banks is off this week as he ushers his offspring into the world. Congratulations, and God help us all when there's a Feet clone scampering around a playground somewhere!

This past week is a tough one to top for the movies. It's worth a trip down to the city for the Vancouver International Film Festival, which always screens some great flicks. Last Saturday I saw Antichrist from Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier. It's a disturbing-as-hell horror film about a couple that tries to patch up their marriage after the death of their son.

A good film, if you're into male and female genital mutilation.

This upcoming Friday there's a 2 p.m. screening of Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire . It was a huge hit at the Sundance Film Festival and it could be a long shot to screen at the Village 8.

It's about an overweight, illiterate Harlem teen who's pregnant with her second child. She gets a chance to turn her life around when she's invited to enroll in an alternative school. Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz star but don't let that fool you, this is no Glitter. The movie is getting positive buzz across the board.

Beyond that there's a screening of Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro , starring perennial hack Vincent Gallo as a once-promising artist who's become a shadow of his former self. Kind of like Gallo, except that his career was never promising.

You'll notice I'm delaying as long as possible the task of writing about this week's releases. For good reason. The biggest release this week is Couples' Retreat , a romantic comedy about a group of couples looking to patch up their respective relationships. They all head to a tropical island resort where some discover they have more problems than they thought.

It's a shame that so many talented actors are compelled to do paycheque movies like this one. Stars like Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Kristen Bell deserve far better. Although in Vaughn's case it's important to note he hasn't made a good film since Wedding Crashers , unless you count an unmemorable cameo in Into the Wild .

Since then he's done some excruciatingly unfunny work like The Break-Up , Fred Claus and Four Christmases , which has the honour of being the first film I've walked out on since Keeping the Faith . An actor who showed such promise in Swingers ought to be doing better work than this. And Favreau? Maybe the Iron Man director ought to stick behind the camera.

That's it for new releases at the Village 8 this week, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything worth checking out there. Zombieland is already a cult hit just two weeks into its young life, drawing legions of fans to three or four screenings in just its first weekend.

The film takes place just a year into the future, if a poster for Roland Emmerich's 2012 is any indication. I like Woody Harrelson but I have a hard time watching Jesse Eisenberg. Man's more awkward than Kristen Stewart at a movie awards show. They made the world's most unsettling couple in Adventureland .

Let's just say that this week is a good respite for movie theatres from the storm they're unleashing on October 16. Hipsters and parents alike will flock to theatres for the opening of Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are , an adaptation of Maurice Sendak's famous children's novel that many thought for a while would never get produced.

Starring the voices of James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara and Chris Cooper, this one has Sendak's enthusiastic approval and a screenplay by Jonze and Dave Eggers.

Jonze, you'll recall, is the quirky mind behind Being John Malkovich and Adaptation . For this one he channels his inner child in what one hopes is an enchanting treatment of a children's classic. He's been developing the film since the early '90's so you have to hope it's a labour of love that pays off.