An educating look at the sexual revolution
AN EDUCATION ★★★★
Carey Mulligan offers a spellbinding performance as a young woman who gets carried away by her affections for an attractive and worldly older man played by Peter Sarsgaard, and is forced to face the life-altering consequences.
Set against the dawn of the sexual revolution, in London circa 1961, this Lone Scherfig f ilm ( from a Nick Hornby script) scratches at the tangled roots of feminine identity, and the surge of empowerment that comes from sexuality.
It also looks at the consequences of carnal engagement, and that’s where An Education really scores its biggest points as it treads the fine line between tragic mendacity and self-creation.
This isn’t just a story of one girl trying to find her way in the early 1960s; the movie actually captures an ephemeral changing of the moral guard as housewives left the home and schoolgirls started to take control of their own sexuality.
Special features include director commentary, cast and crew interviews, making-of and more.
SHERLOCK HOLMES ★★
If you thought the legendary character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a bit of a tweedy goof before, then you’ll be very surprised by this incarnation of the great detective by Robert Downey Jr.
Turning the pipe-smoking, violin-scratching super sleuth into a randy, pit-fighting bruiser with a pocketful of gadgets, director Guy Ritchie takes the symbol of intellectual deduction and transforms him into testosteronelaced mush.
Because there’s good chemistry between Downey and co-star Jude Law, who plays Watson, the buddy part of the reel works.
But just about everything else feels a little forced, from the out-of-place love interest (Rachel McAdams) to the entire production design that uses computer-generated effects with cheesy period sets.
The result is a cartoonish, and frequently nonsensical, thriller that just feels garish and tasteless by the f inal frames.
Special features include digital copy, Sherlock Holmes reinvented, stills and more.
PETROPOLIS ★★★ 1⁄ 2
Peter Mettler, the award-winning cinematographer behind Manufactured Landscapes, refocuses his view on the environment with this Greenpeace-produced short documentary feature that takes an aerial view of the oilsands.
Beginning with a smooth shot up the Athabasca flood plain, where tall evergreens and blue water suggest an unspoiled landscape and robust wilderness, things start to change. The river begins to look different. So does the sky.
And then, everything we once recognized as earth and water begin to merge.
The ground looks like a gigantic, oil-covered urban puddle that stretches far into the horizon.
Through title cards with statistics, the f ilm paints a bleak picture. Petropolis says the oilsands operation poisons clean water, uses 40 per cent of Alberta’s natural gas production daily, and ranks as the world’s eighth-biggest greenhouse-gas emitter.
Special features include seven short interviews with residents, scientists and environmentalists, slide show and more.
THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD (APRIL 1) ★★★ 1⁄ 2
If you haven’t seen anything the Yes Men have done before, this is your chance to catch up on the world’s most thoughtful pranksters.
Social activists with a talent for making believable websites, the Yes Men’s (Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum) game is misrepresentation: they set up bogus corporate sites, include contact numbers, then wait to be solicited by conference organizers looking for keynote speakers.
In this reel, we watch them make a few clever stings as they play spokespeople for Dow Chemical and Exxon, among others.
Because their approach is largely positive — they announce things that are too good to be true — the tag team is highly sympathetic. They are also incredibly funny. There are a few laugh-outloud moments, but their Haliburton spoof featuring bubble survival suits is pure genius.
Special features include deleted scenes, Making Europe Fun and Interesting and more.
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL ★★
Former actress turned director Betty Thomas ( The Brady Bunch Movie) takes the reins on this sequel to the highly popular revamp of the singing rodent tag team.
In this new adventure, Alvin and his siblings, Simon and Theodore, are forced into taking some time off as a result of injury — opening up the f ield to a crew of other singing rodent acts, including a naive all-girl vermin revue.
The animation is top-drawer stuff, thanks to the big budget, but the story is little more than tabloid rewrites of everyday showbiz shenanigans — without any added dimension — making for a rather empty trip.
Special features include singalong content, Meet the Stuffies, Shake Your Groove Thing, games and more.