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    Categories: Entertainment

Capsule reviews of Edmonton Film Fest features

Just Eat It

The Edmonton International Film Festival started yesterday with the opening night premiere of Cut Bank, starring John Malkovich, Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Dern, Oliver Platt, Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer.

The smorgasbord of cinema continues until Oct. 4, concluding with the closing night premiere of Gone Doggy Gone.

Here are capsule reviews of three of the other noteworthy screenings taking place during this year’s fest.

Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story – Sept. 30 @ 7 p.m., encore on Oct. 1 @ 4 p.m.

Jen and Grant love food but can’t stand food waste. They embark on a six-month challenge to not buy food, only eating what is considered scraps from someone else’s table or supermarkets. They dig through dumpsters while they talk with farmers, food producers, grocery vendors, restaurant chefs, and pretty much everyone else who has a voice in a system that, according to the filmmakers, sees one-third of all food go to the rubbish bin.

Their trials and tribulations see them going from the depths of struggling to make-do (and still enjoy their meals, if possible) to the heights of jackpot finds including several boxes of high-quality chocolate to dozens of cartons of eggs. In a way, it’s a compelling story for several reasons, the least of which is the people at the centre of the entire adventure.

I wasn’t so very interested in the couple as they try to get by on their new diet. I was, however, captivated by the “big picture” of food and food waste as they provided a sort of corollary note to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book that recently found itself on my bedside table. It’s definitely an important message movie, if only a bit amateurish and all over the map – at times hilarious and other times really just annoying.

Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood – Sept. 29 @ 7 p.m., encore on Sept. 30 @ 4 p.m.

For die-hard entertainment historians such as myself, this seems like it would have been a good idea to make a documentary about Canadians’ influence on Tinseltown.

Except that doc’s director, Leslie Bland, puts up such a ham-handed effort at the whole “Hollywood-ness” of the project that she uses a gimmick that makes this entire experience 80 per cent unbearable. She pretends that goofy doc host Tracy Thomas is reading the script of the movie itself. Thomas announces the titles and names of all of the people who appear, every single one. You see Howie Mandel on screen, the titles read “Howie Mandel – comedian” and the voiceover says, “Comedian Howie Mandel” as Mandel himself is already talking. It got real old real fast. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to just pick up your things and leave the theatre.

Another five per cent of Gone South was unbearable because Thomas herself is gratingly perky. Blech.

While part of this was interesting in that there is a cursory history lesson on who Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer and Mack Sennett were and how they influenced the film industry, all of that was crushed like a tomato under the weight of endless Canadian actors, directors and others talking about their experiences in “The Biz.” So what? Do we really need to hear what it was like for Alex Trebek (“Game Show Host Alex Trebek”) to first come to the Tinseltown? I say no.

Save yourself the six toonies and a loonie on the price of admission. Skip this screening and pick up a history book at the library instead.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Sept. 29 @ 6:30 p.m.

It’s nice to know that not all Swedish cinema is entirely bleak and depressing like The Seventh Seal or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It turns out that they have a particularly peculiar sense of humour, rather dry and droll in fact. I like it. It’s good for more than a few guffaws.

Based on the novel by Jonas Jonasson, this recent Swedish action comedy is, as you might have guessed, about a 100-year-old man who climbed out a window and disappeared. Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson, who is only 50 but has a metric ton of prosthetic face makeup) has always enjoyed explosives, so much so that he detonates a fox that kills his cat.

On the eve of his centennial, he escapes from his retirement home and sets off on a train adventure, somehow accidentally getting involved in the drug trade. The story otherwise has a Forrest Gump feel to it as we see glimpses of Karlsson’s life and experiences with major historical figures. Hilarity ensues at every step and misstep.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.