Vancouver

Sure as Shootin'

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Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
Ucha Pind (2021)

Though parts of it are culturally specific, “Ucha Pind” easily trumps Hong Kong movies in the number of times ruthless characters double-, triple-, quadruple-cross one another. It sets up the titular village as a lawless gangland under tyrannical rule, but a few dauntless and reckless outsiders, who may or may not be working with one another, are willing to challenge boundaries. The violence is also gratuitous and graphic, traits seemingly more characteristic of H.K., South Korean or even Hollywood films.

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City Still on Fire

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Well Go USA

MOVIE REVIEW
Raging Fire (2021)

Donnie Yen and Nicholas Tse face off in “Raging Fire.” Finally, we have a bona fide Hong Kong action flick more than a decade after the once prolific and self-sustaining industry began to suffer a talent and capital drain mostly to the burgeoning and lucrative mainland Chinese film scene – and also to Hollywood, where Mr. Yen has landed a few supporting roles in high-profile tentpoles such as “Rogue One.”

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Court of Last Resort

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Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
Chehre (2021)

Any time a movie character on the road suddenly finds themself stranded on some god-forsaken stretch of earth, in rotten weather and with no cell reception to boot, and then a helpful stranger appears out of nowhere to offer refuge, that should raise all kinds of red flags for viewers. But Sameer (Emraan Hashmi) apparently hasn’t seen “Misery” or the recent “In the Earth,” so he follows Bhullar (Annu Kapoor) to a chateau where a group of giddy seniors eagerly awaits a visitation.

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Alien Nation

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Rhythm Boyz

MOVIE REVIEW
Chal Mera Putt 2 (2021)

The gang’s all back in “Chal Mera Putt 2,” the sequel to the Punjabi diaspora blockbuster about a ragtag of undocumented immigrants living together in Birmingham, Britain. To uninitiated gringos, think “Limbo” reimagined as a rowdy comedy. Though the sequel attempts to replicate the original’s success formula, it seems far less concerned with immigrants toiling away at dead-end jobs or evading threats of deportation and more with their romantic prospects. For them, family affairs such as matchmaking, celebrating Diwali and funeral processions all must be conducted over FaceTime.

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Pedal to the Mettle

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Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
Tunka Tunka (2021)

The inspirational sports movie “Tunka Tunka” revolves around the wholly fictional competitive cyclist Fateh Singh Sidhu, as an adult played by the singer Hardeep Grewal in his big-screen debut – who also serves as the screenwriter. Despite the dearth of song and dance numbers, the film is not entirely devoid of conventions and clichés. Nevertheless, Mr. Grewal leaves no doubt that he understands the assignment and has done his homework.

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A Very Long Entanglement

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Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
Puaada (2021)

An intoxicating mix of rom-com and thriller, “Puaada” gets more hilarious the more dire the situation its characters face. It starts out pretty ordinary – Jaggi (Ammy Virk), a humble milkman from the countryside, only has eyes for Raunak (Sonam Bajwa), an educated daughter of snobbish Air Force officer Mr. Dhillon (Hardeep Gill). Despite her façade of playing hard to get, they’ve been an item for two years. He unexpectedly shows up and sabotages her first meeting with a suitor arranged by her parents, yet his own haphazard efforts to impress them have been laughable, to say the least.

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A View to a Thrill

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Courtesy photo

MOVIE REVIEW
Bellbottom (2021)

Is there anything Akshay Kumar can’t do? Over the course of “Bellbottom” he does a lot of manful striding, filmed from a low angle, so we can best appreciate his magnificence. He rides a motorbike with sunglasses but without a helmet. He has a training montage in the woods involving a lot of chin-ups and exercises with tires. He is invited to sing at a wedding reception, which then involves a montage of him and Vaani Kapoor (badly underused as his clever and perky wife Radhika) having a much better time on a train in Scotland than usual. And as a spy/analyst specializing in airplane hijacks – which were an unfortunately regular occurrence in India in the mid-’80s – he is able to boss around senior politicians of several different countries, up to and including Indira Gandhi (Lara Dutta) herself. And while this adoration is a little silly, it’s not remotely ridiculous. Somehow in the context of the plot, Mr. Kumar's star wattage is justified.

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Climb Down Ev'ry Mountain

MOVIE REVIEW
Alps (2011)

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Yorgos Lanthimos

A young girl practices gymnastics under the tutelage of a near-psychotic coach. Another studiously memorizes lists of light fittings. And they are part of a bizarre group whose leader assigns each member code names based on the Swiss Alps. From these mysterious beginnings, the audience is required to unpick exactly what this eccentric gang of four is up to and why. The resulting puzzle is similar in tone to director Yorgos Lanthimos’s unforgettable debut, “Dogtooth,” but this time we’re following several different characters in their respective stories and the dots are more difficult to join for a while.

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Suicide Missionary

MOVIE REVIEW
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011)

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55th BFI London Film Festival

The ticket-holder line for the Vancouver International Film Festival special screening of Takashi Miike’s 3-D “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai” snaked around the corner of the theater even in the miserable Vancouver drizzle. But these weren’t the typical Miike fanboys. Many were middle-aged and chatted about their fond memories of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 masterpiece, “Harakiri.” They wondered how this remake would measure up with caution in their voices: “It’s like remaking ‘The Godfather’.” For a film rarely mentioned outside critical circles compared to other Japanese films of the era, “Harakiri” — aided by Tatsuya Nakadai’s performance — developed a devoted following among cinephiles and even casual fans of Japanese cinema.

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