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Recent Movies: Edwin Boyd, Vito, Headhunters *********************************

July 22, 2012
Edwin Boyd
Based on a true story, this film depicts the life of a Canadian World War II veteran who becomes a bank robber after being unable to ably support his family in Toronto .
This is a fine film which is highly welcome as it depicts a part of Canadian history in a way that is exciting and informative.  It is also nice to see an English Canadian film that has a clear plotline and does not try to draw us in to sympathize with characters who are psychotic for no apparent reason.
Period detail is strong in the depictions of Toronto in the 1950s and 1960s though it was a bit much that every outdoor scene had snow on the ground.  This seemed to reinforce a false stereotype of Canadian seasons being winter all year long.
The only other criticism would be that the film’s fine storyline could have been enhanced.  War flashbacks might have been used to connect Boyd’s past with his downfall into a life of crime.  The film could have also delved into the past for his family life – expanding on the troubled relationship with his elderly father.
But the directing, acting, and period detail make this film worth seeing regardless.
Rating (out of four stars):  * * *
The subject of this U.S. documentary is Vito Russo, a gay activist in the early days of gay liberation and an AIDS activist in the 1980s shortly before his death in 1990.  He was also a film lover and had written “The Celluloid Closet” which exposed how early film-makers in Hollywood were restricted from being direct about gay characters in their films.
This film is superb in many ways – not only for the fascinating subject but mostly for the amzaing film footage and photos used throughout.  Interviews with those who knew him were also very moving. Some of the best excerpts included those of my favourite performer Lily Tomlin.  They included her comedy sketches and interviews with her as she was a great friend and collaborator of Russo.
Although the 60s, 70s, and 80s were a very volatile and difficult period in different ways, this era is also one of the most fascinating times in recent history. The film “Vito” does this era justice by not just exposing it but evoking the feisty spirit as well.
Rating:   * * * 1/2
Notable Achievement:   Film Footage Collection
This Norwegian crime-thriller centres on a successful corporate headhunter who also has a hidden life as an art thief in order to maintain an expensive lifestyle by lavishing his wife with gifts.  After a heist that involves someone he has recently met, his life turns upside-down.
This film does very well in many areas but goes over-the-top in others.  As a suspense drama, it is wonderfully executed by director Morten Tyldum.  There are also some powerful and believable plot twists that are essential for a good thriller.  There is also a believable and welcome redemption of one of the characters in the second half.
While some non-reality is the norm in movies, there’s a scene that follows a car accident that is just too far-fetched.  A few other scenes are excessively violent while one is just downright gross!
Without these downturns, this would have been a fine film.

Rating:   * * 1/2


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