The movies are going fast and furious once again and in other culturally sensitive and socially activist places.


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It’s a full but mixed bag this week. From a lawyer’s fight against colonialism to light-hearted jokes about race relations and conventional popcorn diversions, you’re spoiled for choice. Three with Canadian content.

Twice Settled: 4 Stars

X fast: 2 ½

White men can’t jump: 2 ½

What does love have to do with this?: 3

Retrograde: 3 ½

Master Gardener: 2 ½

Dark Nature: 2

TWICE COLONIZED: It’s been in Toronto and Ottawa for a week, opens in Vancouver on Tuesday and will be more widely soon and definitely a must see. It’s a very personal view of colonialism from an activist who has felt it in two separate cultures. Aaju Peter was born in Greenland, raised in Denmark, and lives in Iqualuit, Nunavut.

Courtesy of Ánorâk Film Greenland

She is a lawyer who speaks passionately about how both Canada and Denmark “tried to make me white.” And how the Inuit suffer “the highest rate of suicide and unemployment. The highest rate of all.” One of her biggest problems is the seal hunt. Northern communities depended on it and they took it away. She wants an indigenous forum in the European Union to prevent such things from happening. She is angry. “Our children are starving. Our hunters are humiliated. Shame on all those bastards.” She also fights against the invasion of mining companies and other colonizers. It’s a stunning portrait that Danish director Lin Alluna took several years to film. (in theaters) 4 of 5

FAST X: Do you want action? They hit you here. There’s a lot of that. The story is repeatedly interrupted by car chases, police car crashes, and even helicopter crashes in locations around the world. There’s an endurance race in Rio, a long marathon in the center of Rome. A walk around (yes, around) a dam in the United States. This all started small 22 years ago, about street racers, and now it’s roaring into a #10 movie that cost more than $300 million and has four Academy Award winners in the cast. And up there, starring ahead of them, Vin Diesel, with an acting flair like the nightclub bouncer he once was and the solid presence he commands. However, this time he has been outshone.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Jason Momoa steals the show as a flashy enemy, strutting and grimacing for revenge. Diesel’s team brought down his father, a Brazilian drug lord, a few movies ago. Momoa, as his now-adult son, saw it all and wants revenge by inflicting “suffering” on Diesel’s self-identified “family” group. And there is another threat. The US government “Agency” the crew has been working with has a new boss and wants to shut them down. More opportunities to insert action scenes. They are exciting and well staged, but they are not new. We’ve seen plenty before in these movies, though one sequence is delightful when tankers approach our guys from both directions on a narrow road. The movies and cast have been remarkably consistent and very popular. This one is big, loud and in the sense of the story: weak. (In theaters worldwide) 2 ½ of 5

WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP: A cult classic from 1992 is updated today, but it’s hard to know why. It’s fun, energetic and totally unnecessary. That’s because it doesn’t have the same reflection on the concept of success and disappointment as the original. Without that depth, it’s just a standard story about two basketball hopefuls who have lost their chances of going pro. Kamal (played by Sinqua Walls) has a temper that kicked him out of consideration. Jeremy, played by white rapper Jack Harlow, injured his knees. But he is a hustler and a slick talker and he lures the guys into collecting games for money.

Courtesy of Disney+

The two join in these quests to get money to help their girlfriends. Kamal’s is trying to open a hair salon; Jeremy wants to be a dancer. He promised her that he won’t play basketball again and for a while he can hide it from her. And since he seems like such a weak player, a lot of guys play against him and lose their money on him. He and Kamal advance to a couple of tournaments, for thousands of dollars in prize money. But it is the road that is the heart of this film. Kamal and Jeremy joke a lot about race relations, a lot of it funny, scathing, and very contemporary. There’s spectacular basketball shots made effortlessly, some fighting, and some very strong language (not what you’d expect on a Disney channel). Even with the personal issues that the two bring up, the movie is only moderately affecting. (Disney+) 2 ½ of 5

WHAT DOES LOVE HAVE TO DO WITH IT?: We’ve seen comedies before about Pakistanis living in England. Old country customs vs new. Stay within the culture. Don’t marry outside. They are familiar themes and they get a brilliant new version in this film directed by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, Bandit Queen) and written by Jemima Khan. She is the ex-wife of Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan and the center of a political crisis that is now taking place. She was also a friend of Lady Diana and in the script she makes a couple of hints to Charles. He was still a prince at that time. All of that is in the context of a story about marriage protocols.

Courtesy of Mongrel Media

Lily James stars in this meditation on the subject. Her character, Zoe, had some bad connections and begins to explore other ways when a friend of hers Kaz (played by Shazad Latif) tells her that she agreed to follow her parents’ wishes. It used to be called an “arranged marriage”. He says it’s better now and it’s known as “assisted marriage.” Her parents recommend a suitable match and he will go to Pakistan to marry her. Sight unseen? A stranger? How can it be? Zoe asks. Is computer dating better? Or whatever is more common these days? Zoe asks to come and make a movie about those questions. Of course, she and Kaz will gradually become attracted to each other. However, the marriage goes ahead. It’s big and colorful and it takes a few surprise twists to shake things up. The film warmly entertains. And Emma Thompson tries to be crazy. (In theaters) 3 of 5

RETROGRADE: This little Canadian film is a very pleasant surprise. It’s compact, a portrayal of millennials that feels accurate, and a story of one woman’s obsession anyone could easily relate to. Molly (played by Molly Reisman) is very ordinary (in appearance and lifestyle) until, while helping a friend move, a traffic cop pulls her over for what seems like a mundane infraction.

Courtesy of Vortex Media

She is convinced that she is not at fault and decides to fight the $300 fine she is facing. That puts her up against the motor vehicle bureaucracy, the dim prospects for the legal system and the weak support she receives from her friends. She an she cites Tarot cards and horoscopes to define her place in the universe. She’s convinced that doesn’t mean she’s powerless and moves on, even though the chances for her seem slim. “It is a monumental task to revoke a police officer’s testimony,” she is told. We don’t know who’s right, but we’re on her side anyway. We have all been there. That feeling of affinity is well developed in Adrian Murray’s writing and directing. Murray won a directing award for this at the recent Canadian Film Fest. (It’s in theaters in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa) 3½ out of 5

master gardener: Paul Schrader seems to be hit or miss these days. long ago he wrote Taxi driver and raging bull and directed some good ones, including the most recent the card counter. But this is a lady. It is lethargic at times, unclear at others. The subject is one of his favorites: a man hiding from his past, striving to be righteous, hoping for redemption. The garden is a perfect symbol: goodness grows and represents the future. The gardener (Joel Edgerton) lovingly cares for it and does a voiceover to explain it. The wealthy widowed owner (Sigourney Weaver) is more than happy with it. You know that won’t last.

Courtesy of VVS Films

The woman’s niece (a mixed-race Mayan played by Quintessa Swindell) is invited to live on the estate and trouble ensues. The gardener has flashbacks to a neo-Nazi past that he is trying to hide. He has large swastikas tattooed on his back and spent time in prison. The niece is trying to avoid the drug dealers she used to hang out with. The script claims that an attraction is brewing between them, but we don’t detect any chemistry. However, the widow thinks the two are having a good time and fires the gardener. She takes the girl with him, and along the way, their problems come back to haunt them. And in the garden. You can’t waste a good symbol when you have one. The movie feels like this: deliberate and obvious. And less than convincing. (In theaters) 2 ½ of 5

DARK NATURE: Some elements distinguish this horror movie from the usual ones. It’s Canadian, it’s about women, and it was made by Calgary-based filmmaker Berkley Brady, who is metis and went to college in Victoria. And the movie is being watched. It has already been shown at several film festivals and will open today in 30 theaters across Canada.

Courtesy of Filmoption

It’s about trauma. Four young women go on a nature retreat led by a doctor/therapist (Kyra Harper) who recommends physical exertion to overcome bad memories. “You can’t regain consciousness without pain and discomfort,” she says. The trek into the mountains in Alberta’s Kananaskis country is tough, but the real test is psychological. We focus on a woman, Joy played by Hannah Anderson, who was attacked and strangled by her boyfriend. Every noise she hears as she withdraws makes her fear that he has followed her and she might jump out at any moment. The movie does a pretty good buildup of dread and trepidation. Joy has flashbacks and visions. A search in a deep cave is tense. But when a real creature appears, it breaks the spell. There is a lot of blood but much less credibility. (In theaters) 2 of 5

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