Caught hook, line and sinker

FILMS WORTH WATCHING by Robert Alstead

The End of the Line looks at greed and fisheries mismanagement.

Out on August 14, Adam is a romcom with a twist. It’s a tale of a beautiful girl meets boy with Asperger’s syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. Adam (British actor Hugh Dancy) has the ability to encyclopaedically recall facts and numbers – particularly anything to do with space – but he is not wired to comprehend nuance, innuendo, irony or suggestion. He takes everything literally. Any subtleties of body language or tone of voice go over his head. Naturally, this makes social situations and meeting people incredibly awkward and stressful for him.

This might not sound like promising material for a romance, but the film pulls it off reasonably well. Following his father’s death, Adam lives alone in a Manhattan apartment. Egged on by his older friend and mentor Harlan (Frankie Faison), he begins to woo – in his own inimitable way – his attractive, upstairs neighbour Beth.

Naturally, there is scope for awkward situation comedy as the romance follows a bumpy path and Adam is drawn into Beth’s social circle. Fortunately, writer-director Max Mayer doesn’t overcook these scenes, which constitute the best part of the film. The relationship between Adam and the gruff Harlan is also portrayed with gentle humour and warmth.

As Mayer seeks a credible resolution to his set-up in the second part of the film, the story gets weaker. A secondary plot, in which Beth’s father (a smooth-talking Peter Gallagher) is put on trial for fraud, leads to some rather forced speechifying about the nature of truth. The story feels contrived, but it’s not a total disaster. The performances are strong, holding the film together.

Quite different in tone is the documentary The End of the Line (31st), which presents an all too familiar story of global fisheries’ mismanagement and greed. The vividly shot documentary is based on the book by Daily Telegraphenvironment editor Charles Clover, seen here tracking near-extinct, blue fin tuna to posh London restaurants and lambasting the response of politicians – “you can’t negotiate with biology” – when dealing with no holds barred, fishing industry titans like Mitsubishi.

A series of marine scientists concur that, having fished the big stuff out, we’re now working our way down the food chain. Eventually, there quite simply won’t be any fish left in the sea. On the positive side, Clover, an engaging English gent, suggests that unlike many ecological problems on terra firma, if we act now, by creating marine parks and policing the oceans properly, we will see an almost immediate improvement in the situation. Canada is well represented, with footage of angry East Coast fisherman following the Atlantic cod fisheries collapse and interviews with Canadian marine biologists, including voices from UBC. Rupert Murray’s team brings memorable footage from around the world to connect the dots between consumer tastes and ocean depletion. The film is grimly fascinating and offers prescriptions for better fisheries management.

Rounding off this month are a couple of music documentaries: Soul Power(out August 7) is a funky documentary that revisits the music festival that took place in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Congo), just weeks before the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The film offers more than a dozen performances by musicians at the top of their game, including six songs from James Brown, “the man who will quiver your liver… splatter your bladder… freeze your knees.”

In It Might Get Loud, rock’n’roll axe heroes Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2) and Jack White (White Stripes) find themselves together on an empty sound stage sharing stories and cranking out some tunes. (Out August 14.)

Robert Alstead made the Vancouver documentary You Never Bike Alone.www.youneverbikealone.com. He writes at www.2020Vancouver.com

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