Notes from the Back Row 

Vengeance with a vengeance

Revenge, as we know, is a dish best served cold. Thanks to the movies we also know that revenge is awesome because it provides us with movies where we don't feel bad about cheering for a murderous protagonist who hacks/blows people to bits for almost 90 straight minutes. Revenge movies are acceptable, socially sanctioned violence and murder because, "those bastards deserve it! They killed her family." Revenge makes for entertaining escapism because it's a primal human instinct inside all of us. Subconsciously, we all like a little revenge from time to time.

Columbiana , directed by France's Olivier Megaton ( Transporter 3) serves its revenge at the hands of Cataleya, a young Columbian girl whose parents are murdered by a vicious crime boss. Fast forward fifteen years or so and Cataleya (Zoe Saldana of Avatar, Star Trek ) is a slinky, pissed off assassin in various stages of undress kicking ass and exacting her revenge with both style and grace. Columbiana is written/produced by mad Frenchman Luc Besson ( Nikita , The Professional, Taken, Unleashed ) and Luc sticks close to the formula - solid action, hot girls and guns. The Bourne- esque fight sequences are not groundbreaking but they deliver. Columbiana is not ridden with epiphanies but it certainly is fun to watch.

As is Our Idiot Brother , kinda. It's a non-crude comedy starring Paul Rudd as a stoner/slacker organic farmer whose happy, trusting ways betray him and force him to seek refuge in New York, couch surfing with his three sophisticated-yet-unlikeable sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer) while causing them nothing but grief with his laisser-faire attitude and best intentions. Unproven director Jesse Peretz dips into slapstick a bit but for the most part this is a character-based flick with a heart. And of course, there are big lessons to be learned at the end but isn't that always the way?

It sounds a bit hokey and Forrest Gump -ian but Our Idiot Brother mostly avoids drifting too far over the sappy line while also managing to elicit a few light laughs while milking yuppie and hippie clich├ęs for all they're worth. Much of the credit belongs to the cast, especially Rudd, who drifts though his character with an almost Dude-like expertise. Our Idiot Brother is also R-rated and has Zooey Deschanel posing at least partially naked - never a bad thing. It's inoffensive, sort of humorous and a good first-date-with-a-girl-from-a-higher-pay-bracket movie.

Speaking of high, Hollywood Execs are still convinced vampires are so hot right now that there's a remake of Fright Night playing at both the Whistler Village 8 and the Garibaldi 5 in Squamish. This time it's vamps in the suburbs - picture Disturbia meets Lost Boys - with Colin Farrell as the dangerous stranger and Anton Yelchin as the inquisitive kid. This one also features the return of McLovin in the buddy role.

Director David Gillespie ( Lars and the Real Girl) puts well-rounded characters on the screen and isn't afraid to slip some sex and social criticism into his PG-13 Disney vampire flick. Fright Night is better than expected but real horror and vamp fans might find it lacks bite.

As do I apparently. This week marks the end of my eighth year writing Notes from the Back Row. However, after 416 columns my friend Sheree recently told me I've lost my edge, that my shit is getting watered down. It doesn't bother me though because so is hers. So is everyone's. You stick, you peak, you get old, you die. And if you're lucky, somewhere in there, you get revenge.




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