Notes from the back row 

Hockey heroes a hard sell in Canada

New this week we have Miracle, the inspiration-packed tale of how the underdog 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team beat the more skilled Russians in Lake Placid and united a country troubled by desperate times. You know the sort of trouble I’m talking about: the cold war, hostages being held at the US embassy in Iran, the fact that the ’80s sucked in general.

But truthfully, the fact that Team USA actually beat Team USSR, a team that had recently handed the NHL all-stars a 6-0 smackdown, is amazing. Coach Herb Brooks, played very well by Kurt Russel, deserves all the credit in the world for what he and his team accomplished. It pretty much was a miracle.

There is, however, one major problem. Up here, we hate Team USA. I know I do. When it comes to hockey, nothing makes us happier than beating the Americans to the gold, (2002 Olympics), and nothing hurts us like losing to them (2004 World Junior tournament). This is all very natural because we are Canadians and it’s our game and that’s just the way it is. Therefore a Disney movie about an American hockey team – accompanied by a swelling soundtrack – that transcended the game and inspired a nation just isn’t gonna do it for me. South-of-the-border hockey fans might love this Mighty Ducks- for-adults jive , but me, I cheer for the Russians.

Other than that, well, it’s slim pickins this week. Catch that Kid is a children’s heist flick about a girl who wants to rip-off a bank for $250,000 to pay for an experimental operation for her ailing father. The guy who runs the bank is really mean so it’s all okay. Add to that the fact that her mom works installing the new security system and her easy access to go-carts and you basically have a pre-pubescent Italian Job .

After three decent Spy Kids movies and the not-so-good Agent Cody Banks (no relation) I think I’ve seen enough kids-doing-adult-stuff movies full of "Yay-Family" values. I have to admit, back when I was a kid, nothing would have made me happier than taking the bank for 250 large and I imagine kids today are no different. Now I’m older and I realize crime doesn’t really pay unless you can figure out a way to sell it to kids nationwide.

Also, Barbershop 2 opens this week, if you’ve really got nothing better to do.

However, all is not lost. Or rather it is. Lost in Translation is finally available on DVD. Written and directed by Sofia Coppola Lost in Translation star Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as emotionally isolated Americans in Tokyo. It’s a love story with no sex and that’s a tough sell these days but this movie is brilliant. Simple, smart and minimalist, Lost in Translation is also very funny and touching and entertaining and all those things that most movies aren’t these days. Lost in Translation is nominated for four Oscars, including best picture, which it should win easily. Bill Murray is amazing, the script rules, the camera work is superbly delicate and it really is the best movie made last year. You should go rent it now and hope your children grow up to be as talented as Sofia Coppola.

Not up for any awards but still worth checking out is Cabin Fever , another horror movie about five friends in a cabin in the woods (I’ll never get sick of those, really). This time, there’s no serial killer or monster or evil zombies, just a strong idea, buckets of blood and a flesh eating disease. As a tribute to the great horror movies of the past and camping trips in general, Cabin Fever delivers.

The Rainbow theatre is screening The Missing for both the 7 and 9:15 shows. It’s a western that bites a plot from an old John Ford classic. I hate it when they play the same crappy movie for both shows.

At Village 8 Feb. 6-12: Catch That Kid, Barbershop 2, Miracle, Big Bounce, Last Samurai, Cold Mountain, Big Fish, Lord of the Rings, Something’s Gotta Give, Along Came Polly, Butterfly Effect.

At Rainbow Theatre Feb. 6-12: The Missing.

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