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Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Al Purdy Was Here

(out of 4) Brian D. John­son makes a strong trans­for­ma­tion from Ma­clean’s film critic to doc­u­men­tary di­rec­tor with this en­gag­ing ac­count of the late Al Purdy, the colour­ful rebel poet who be­came a CanLit star. A ma­jor part of the saga in­cludes the build­ing of his house, the A Frame, while this wart­sand-all bio goes back to when writ­ing po­etry was a ma­jor fac­tor in build­ing iden­tity and Cana­dian cul­tural aware­ness. And there’s a stun­ning sur­prise near the end. In­cludes per­for­mances by Bruce Cock­burn, Tanya Ta­gaq and Sarah Harmer, as well as in­sights from Mar­garet At­wood, Michael On­daatje, Leonard Co­hen and Purdy’s widow, Eu­ritha Purdy (4:45 p.m., Is­abel Bader Theatre). Martin Knel­man

The Mar­tian

Give Ri­d­ley Scott a great story and even the sky is no limit. This re­turn to outer space for the Alien and Prometheus di­rec­tor, adapt­ing Andy Weir’s best­selling novel, makes for a crack­er­jack ad­ven­ture that cel­e­brates in­ge­nu­ity over con­trivance. Matt Damon is Mark Wat­ney, an as­tro­naut alone but not for­lorn on the red planet, af­ter a Mars mis­sion evac­u­a­tion leaves him lost and pre­sumed dead. As NASA and his crew­mates at­tempt a high-risk res­cue mis­sion, Wat­ney must use his wit and science prow­ess to buy time. Jes­sica Chas­tain, Chi­we­tel Ejio­for, Jeff Daniels, Kris­ten Wiig and Michael Pena join a stel­lar cast in one of the year’s best movies and 3D ex­pe­ri­ences (3 p.m., Princess of Wales). Peter How­ell

Rams

El­derly Ice­landic broth­ers Gummi and Kiddi run neigh­bour­ing sheep farms in a re­mote val­ley, but haven’t spo­ken in 40 years, in this lovely, un­pre­dictable film, win­ner in Cannes’ Un Cer­tain Re­gard slate. Di- rec­tor Grimur Hakonar­son tem­pers heart­break with flashes of dry hu­mour, car­ried on ex­cel­lent per­for­mances. The broth­ers’ fa­therly de­vo­tion to their flocks (com­plete with kisses planted on woolly fore­heads) seems all they have in com­mon, even if it adds ri­valry to their feud. What will it mean then when their live­stock — and their way of life — are sud­denly in peril? (4:15, Sco­tia­bank). Linda Barnard

Sherpa

Aus­tralian film­maker Jen­nifer Pee­dom’s thrilling Ever­est doc­u­men­tary is both vis­ual spec­ta­cle and po­lit­i­cal state­ment. Filmed in 2014, it fo­cuses on the fight for rights among Sherpa guides, who risk their lives to make it eas­ier for climbers to as­cend to the top of the world’s tallest peak. In par­tic­u­lar, there is Phurba Tashi Sherpa, ready­ing for a world-record 22nd climb. His fam­ily wor­ries for his safety — and not with­out rea­son. When 16 Sher­pas per­ish in one day in an April avalanche in the haz­ardous Khumbu Ice­fall, there is a power shift on the moun­tain. The guides as­sert them­selves, a change that has been a long time com­ing as their holy site evolved into the “Ever­est cir­cus,” a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar tourism pay­day and a place of moun­tain traf­fic jams, egos and en­ti­tle­ment (10 a.m., the Bloor). L.B

TWEN­TI­ETH CEN­TURY FOX

Matt Damon stars in Ri­d­ley Scott’s film adap­ta­tion of The Mar­tian.

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