Notes from the back row 

Oscar week is here

The striking writers have let up and the show must go on. It’s officially Oscar week. Fantastic news for people who are really into celebrity fashion and gossip but for those who don’t care whether Jen and Brad and Angie will all be there at the same time and really just wanna watch some movies this is also a good time of year because it means they should start playing better flicks in the theatres.

Be Kind Rewind finally opens this week, as does the funny-looking high school medication comedy Charlie Bartlett . Unfortunately, neither is playing up here – maybe next week.

The Village 8 is screening some Oscar heavyweights this week but they’re also opening Vantage Point , a high-energy thriller with lots of running, confusion, beating drums and cars chasing each other. The plot centres around the assassination of a U.S. President but what makes the film interesting is that it’s told in Rashomon style.

Rashomon is an old Japanese flick directed by the master Akira Kurosawa in which the same sequence of events is told from multiple points of view, revealing a larger truth. It’s an awesome movie and easily available on DVD. In Vantage Point (the title kind of hits you over the head a bit doesn’t it?) those points of view keep revealing clues as to who done it. What looks like a woman hugging a dude is actually someone slipping secret information and when you see it from this angle, the conspiracy unfolds… Yawn.

It’s not all mindless action, it’s actually kind of smart and the acting is solid — Forrest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, Matthew Fox. And Dennis Quaid – he’s fine in this movie but honestly Dennis Quaid doesn’t really do it for me. He always seems to come off kind of whiny and useless. I’ll take Randy Quaid any day. I don’t know, maybe I’m being a little too hard on Dennis. He was pretty good in Traffic and The Parent Trap.

Speaking of hard-ons – Lindsay Lohan, who also stared in The Parent Trap, posed nude for a New York fashion magazine this week. Lindsay’s had a rough go of things lately. The media has painted her a drug fiend, a criminal, and a slut, making many directors wary of working with her, but I smell a comeback.

In other entertainment news, Blu-Ray beat out HD DVD as the newest and greatest format to watch movies on. What does that mean? It means pretty soon we’re all gonna have to go out and drop $500 bucks on new Blu-Ray players and/or Blu Ray compatible laptops. Awesome. How much longer until I can just download whatever flick I want for five bucks? (That’s what the Hollywood writers were striking about — they got robbed on the DVD format and want their cut of online sales.)

But that’s the future. Presently there are a few decent DVD’s just out — the generic-but-entertaining American Gangster, the solid war pic In the Valley of Elah , and Michael Clayton starring George Clooney, who’s up for a best actor Oscar that everyone, George included, seems to agree will go to Daniel Day Lewis. I don’t care too much about the Oscars this year, except to point out that Canadians are well-represented. We might even win the Best Animated Short category with I met the Walrus , a 5-minute taped conversation that took place in 1969 when a Toronto teenager managed to sneak into John Lennon’s hotel room and interview him. The whole thing is set to pen-and-digital animation and it rules. Apparently CTV is going to show it right after the Oscars finish on Sunday night. Check it out.


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