Notes from the back row 

It’s Jen and Ben week


Remember last month when I was talking about how Squamish is much more Hollywood than Whistler? Well to prove it, the partially-shot-in-Squampton, feel-good romantic comedy Catch and Release opens Friday at the Village 8.

Directed by Erin Brockovich scribe Susannah Grant, Catch and Release is a PG-13 romantic comedy starring Jennifer Garner as the loneliest girl in the world. Seriously, after her fiancé dies she has to seek friendship and support with his old buddies, since she, mysteriously, has no friends, family, or even work-friends to console her. One wonders who she would have invited to the wedding?

Aforementioned dead fiancé ends up having a few secrets and said dead-husband-buddies turn out to be a pack of clichés (the womanizer, the lovesick nice-guy, and the fat funny dude) whose big-hearted character evolution seems to be either cheese-coated or, in the case of Oylphant’s womanizer, totally random. Still, amongst all the dramatic traipsing around Kevin Smith ( Clerks etc.) proves to be the film’s comedic bright spot and squeaks by as the only character you give a crap about (if any). Looks like Silent Bob has real skill in front of the camera too, (and probably had some input into how his lines were written). Still though, Romantic Comedy. That should be warning enough.

Speaking of Jennifer Garner, didn’t Elektra totally suck? Yes it did. Not Jen’s fault, of course, yet I’m not really sold on her. Probably a nice girl, but makes shitty movies ( Catch Me If You Can being the exception that proves the rule). You know who is sold on Jennifer Garner though? Ben Affleck — he married her. And, coincidentally, he’s got a new flick out this week as well, also opening Friday.

Smoking Aces stars Affleck as a mustachioed bail bondsman set on claiming the big-money mob-bounty placed on the head of Buddy “Aces” Israel, an ex-Vegas showman turned gangster, turned State’s witness. Besides Affleck, who ain’t bad, and his crew, a veritable grab bag of assassins, gangsters, Nazis and retired cops are also after Buddy, who’s holed up in Tahoe with FBI agents played by Ray Liotta and Ryan Reynolds. With a star-studded cast (perky songbird Alicia Keys plays a killer), director Joe Carnahan (Narc) has put together a convoluted, hyper-active drive-by of a film with flashy showmanship behind the wheel, logic riding bitch, and real substance way back in the trunk, dead.

It’s highly stylized, with strong camera work and gunfights, but as far as empathizing or learning any great truths with the characters… yeah, no. Ten years ago this would be considered a Tarantino rip-off, now it’s just a rip off. Still, the January movie doldrums needed a fast-paced, throwaway action flick just so teenage boys (and me) would have something fun to watch. Smoking Aces is just that.

The DVD of the week is a doozy. Jesus Camp is a documentary about a bunch of American Evangelical Christian Conservative Zealots, who, after learning about fanatics in Beiruit training and grooming young children to become suicide bombers/martyrs, decided Shit, that’s a good idea. We need to get something like that going over here.

Minister Becky Fisher started the “Kids on Fire” summer camp to teach children as young as 6 “How to take back America to Christ,” how to become “Jesus’s soldiers”, how to hate gays, why religion and politics need to be linked, and how to dance, in war paint, around a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush. It’s a very creepy film about religious brainwashing that is happy to show us (though a biased lens) how totally whacked in the head these people are, but without explaining why. On DVD Jan 30 th . Yikes…

AT VILLAGE 8 Jan. 26-Feb. 1: Epic Movie; Dreamgirls; Smoking Aces; Catch and Release; Queen; Blood Diamond; Departed; Hitcher; Casino Royale; Babel; Borat; Pursuit of Happyness.

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