FILMS WORTH WATCHING by Robert Alstead
We all like something for free, don’t we? So what’s not to like about Fresh Air Cinema, a free, outdoor series of movie screenings offered around the Lower Mainland this summer? This mobile cinema company has been setting up its giant, inflatable movie screens, sound systems and generators in parks and outdoor locations, showing Hollywood classics like Jaws, E.T., Pretty Woman, Stand by Me and Back to the Future, films audiences don’t tire of watching again, especially when you can bring the kids and a picnic and it’s en plein air. The dusk screenings are free, thanks to some corporate partnership. And there’s the rub. Chevron has been sponsoring the big Summer Cinema Series of screenings in a prime Stanley Park location at Ceperley Meadow/Second Beach.
The oil giant, whose logo is emblazoned on the online trailer and microsite on Fresh Air Cinema’s web pages, must reckon that free movies with prize giveaways can buy goodwill. Maybe it will also divert eyes away from its involvement in the “Amazon Chernobyl” that was so excellently documented in Joe Berlinger’s Crude(reviewed in CG in October 2009). Chevron is currently fighting tooth and nail against an $18-billion fine handed down by an Ecuador court in February for poisoning the Ecuadorian Amazon and its people. There are four copies of Berlinger’s multi award-winning Crude at the Vancouver Central Library. And they’re free too.
Higher Ground (due out 26th) follows a born-again Christian woman from her childhood inculcation into religion to her later years where she begins to question her faith. The drama has earned impressive reviews, particularly for actor-director Vera Farmiga in the lead role and for the even-handed and respectful portrait of Christian fundamentalism. Farmiga’s portrayal includes both critical and supportive views of faith and a particular brand of evangelicalism. Importantly, in an industry – well, at least in Hollywood – that doesn’t really do faith, the film tries to take an in-depth look at the challenges faced by the believer, exploring the relationship between spirituality and feminism, sexual desire and cultural aspects of evangelical Christianity.
Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know), another woman who wrote, directed and stars in her second film, The Future, is also concerned with finding the deeper essence of life, although perhaps in a more light-hearted manner. Her quirky drama follows a thirty-something LA couple comprised of dance instructor Sophie (July) and her boyfriend Jason (Hamish Linklater), an online support technician. The couple experiences a joint mid-life crisis after agreeing to take a cat from the pound until its injured paw heals. A month before their newfound responsibility is set to begin, the idiosyncratic hipster couple quit their jobs and resolve to use what they see as their precious last days of freedom to find something that gives their lives more meaning. That’s a task that proves harder than expected and events take an unusual course.
July, who is also a performance artist, offers whimsical and surrealist touches as the film plays with aspects of the couple’s existentialist angst: the cat narrates, a T-shirt crawls. The weirdness won’t appeal to everyone, but her bittersweet romance has earned praise for its unique exploration of the themes of love, intimacy and relationships between both lovers and strangers. (opens Aug. 5th).