Notes from the back row 

Stirrer of the pot

With a job like this, it’s always nice to get e-mails from readers — especially complaints. Praise is cool too but there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with knowing you really pissed someone off. I don’t get that many complaints but not long ago I got some about documentarian Michael Moore. People either love or hate that guy and after I favourably reviewed his recent U.S. health care system movie, Sicko, I got to hear from a couple of the haters.

So the DVD of the week is Manufacturing Dissent, a made-in-Canada documentary that turns Moore’s various filmmaking techniques right back at him and portrays him as a left-wing, propaganda-spewing, fame whore who employs dubious journalistic techniques like editing stuff together out of context or omitting those facts which don’t suit his message (that part’s kind of true, acutally). In this anti-Moore flick (there are dozens) the filmmakers start off as fans hoping to interview the big guy but after being repeatedly ignored and brushed off by Moore and his handlers the film starts leaning towards criticism. Moore comes off looking like another American prick who wants to be famous and will do whatever it takes.

It should please some of the complainers out there but I don’t care enough about politics to buy in. Moore mixes fact and fiction to make his point, to him the ends justify the means — which might not sit that well with ethicists but doesn’t bother me. Ultimately Michael Moore reinvigorated the documentary film genre and he pissed off a lot of people. He’s a shit disturber, and despite his faults, I always admire a shit-disturber.

On the other hand, there is some crap on screen at the Village 8 this week, Rush Hour 3 , and the fact that they even made another one of these odd-couple, cop-buddy movies is a bit disturbing. The film recycles from itself, it reeks of homoeroticism and, despite referencing everything from Indiana Jones to all the Bruce Lee flicks, it ain’t very good. If you liked the endless bickering that was Rush Hour 2 you’ll be pleased to know that this one is better. But that isn’t saying much.

The best new flick this week is the strange-yet-cool Stardust , a fantasy-romance flick about a young man who needs to recover a falling star in order to impress a girl. But the star turns out to be another girl (Claire Daines) and the adventure begins. Enter a witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) keen to cut out the Star’s heart and the chase is on. Add in a group of princes who need a magical ruby she carries to ascend to their throne and a dancing, cross-dressing pirate (Robert DeNiro) and you get a Princess Bride -style fantasy adventure for today’s youth. At 128 minutes the pacing and tempo are a bit off but it’s an adventure, horror, comedy, fantasy, romance flick that looks magical and is worth checking out.

Lastly, for true low-brow comedy check out Hot Rod, where Saturday Night Live’s Andy Samberg plays a wanna-be stunt-man out to make 50,000 bucks to save an ailing stepfather and finally win his approval. While there are a few chuckles in this ’80s nostalgia flick (PG-13) it’s certainly not comedic gold and plays a bit like Napolean Dynamite meets Talladega Nights but nowhere near as funny as either. Hot Rod is aimed at young male slackers with glazed eyes, short attention spans, a big bucket of popcorn, large drink, two kinds of candy, and a still-warm lighter in their pockets.

And if you don’t like the movies, or my drug reference, or the number of hyphens in this column, bring on the complaints.

AT VILLAGE 8 Aug. 10-16: Hot Rod; Stardust; Rush Hour 3; Ratatouille; Bourne Ultimatum; Chuck and Larry; Underdog; Hairspray; Simpsons.

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