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This Week in Film: April 13, 2007

The multiplex is not where you want to be this weekend. First of all, there are two film festivals going on right now: Sprockets and Reel World. Hence, there's a very good chance you'll discover an unheralded gem (and leave me a comment here if you do). Plus, our resident cinema aficionados Matt and Mohit (on the MoviesTO podcast) should enlighten us this week with their astute and insightful fest coverage, so stay tune, film buffs.

Second reason to avoid the multiplex: this is the lull period of the year when studios are clearing their shelves -- disposing their junk if you will -- and getting ready to unload their summer blockbusters next month (starting with Spider-Man 3 on May 4th).

That said, this might be a good time to catch up on a fine classic like Army of Shadows by French noir master Jean-Pierre Melville, playing at the Cinematheque (April 13, 14, 15 and 18). The revived 1969 war thriller showed up on many critics' 2006 year-end lists, and has already earn its canon-worthiness in the same company as the auteur's masterworks Le Samourai and Le Cercle Rouge.

What? You still want your multiplex fix? Well, the movie getting a lot of attention this week (largely due to its eye-catching ad campaign) is the voyeur thriller Disturbia, which -- unbeknownst to the majority of the generation it's marketed for -- is a total rip-off of Rear Window. The derivative flick about a snoopy teenager who suspects his neighbor might be a killer has been getting decent-to-middling 60% reviews according to Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. That high watermark, as I recall from school days, equates to a "C" grading, which translates to barely acceptable and hardly exceptional.

Nonetheless, with the box office letdown of Grindhouse, I won't be surprise if Disturbia surpasses expectations or even ends up being the top grosser this weekend (that Halle Berry vehicle A Perfect Stranger is a close contender). Whereas I called Grindhouse "cathartic escapism" last week, Disturbia might be nothing stronger than a placebo tablet with popcorn on the side -- so long for taking gambles with the mass audience.

Opening this Week:
Disturbia
Army of Shadows *
Requiem
A Perfect Stranger
Journey to Armenia
Sleeping Dogs
After the Wedding
Pathfinder

(* = Recommended)

(Photo: Cinematheque Ontario, DreamWorks SKG)


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