Notes from the Back Row 

Throw-down at the Showdown

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Okay kids, it’s that time of year again. The second-most important local film event of the year, The 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown. That special time of year when small groups of poor saps who call themselves filmmakers find an excuse to act like meth addicts and stay awake for three days straight obsessing over minute details. Nothing separates the milk from the cream like 72 straight hours of amateur filmmaking.

Luckily for you, you only have to watch the eight best films of the batch, it takes about three hours, on Tuesday, April 18, at the conference centre. It’s one of those not-to-be-missed evenings on the official Whistler Cool Calendar (the Dub-CC,) up there with the last ever amateur night at the Boot (this Saturday!) and opening day on Whistler Mountain.

Don’t worry, Whistler locals have a history of mopping up at this contest (the film showdown, not amateur night – we’re all big winners then) so chances are someone from our quiet mountain town will truly amaze the 1,000+ crowd Tuesday night. It’s a great time and a real indicator of the amount of filmmaking talent in this valley. (Even though everyone’s sound is always shitty.) So buy your ticket now, it’s worth it.

As far as proper, professional movies go the good old Village 8 is opening Thank you for Smoking, a good-natured, satirical film in the vein of Dr. Strangelove or Wag the Dog.

Smoking stars Aaron Eckhart ( In the Company of Men) as the tobacco industry’s ultimate spin man, designed to deflect attacks from any and all anti-smoking groups. Directed by Jason Reitman (his dad directed Ghostbusters) this is a snarky, funny film that pokes its sharp wit at not only the tobacco industry, but firearms and alcohol too – and Hollywood, and irresponsible American journalism, and soap-box politicians. Even with the "Moral flexibilty is the key" message and a tendency to pull its satirical punches a bit in favor of gut-splitting comedy, Thank You For Smoking is well worth checking out, if you’re into laughing your ass off.

Speaking of asses, as in sucking asses, Disney’s newest animated feature, The Wild , is also opening Friday. Maybe it’s just me, and it’s way easier to see how redundant kids movies are once you’re old as the hills, but seriously – didn’t we just see a movie about a bunch of animals escaping from the zoo eight months ago? It was called Madagascar and it wasn’t too shit-hot either. And yet, still better than this.

Totally designed to sell merchandise, The Wild is about a Lion king from the Central Park Zoo who has to find his son, a pussy-brat who was whisked off because he was worrying about the fact that he couldn’t roar loud enough. Yippee.

Don’t worry, for all you simplistic folk there’s plenty of racial stereotypes in the form of Italian alligators, Indian pigeons, and Canadian geese. With a few Kraut bugs tossed in for good measure. Sure, there’s plenty of kid-friendly messages about respect and all that malarkey, but the most entertaining part is that, for a minute there, you actually believe that a squirrel is going to screw a giraffe. Of course it’s Disney so they don’t.

Scary Movie 4 is also opening for people who like easy, forgettable laughs and Anna Farris. People like me.

And that’s it movie fans, make sure to check out the 72 Hour, because it ain’t as easy as it looks. My final word on smoking is don’t do it, but if you ever go to prison say you do. You never know when a couple squirreled-away cartons of ciggies is gonna save your behind.

AT VILLAGE 8 April 14-20: The Wild; Scary Movie 4; Thank You For Smoking; Ice Age 2; V For Vendetta; Inside Man; Lucky Number Slevin; Benchwarmers; Take the Lead.

RAINBOW THEATRE: closed April 14-20.

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