Several years ago — and I’m sure this is meaningless to non-Vancouverites — there used to be a little theatre downtown, under Royal Centre. I loved that place. It had several tiny, shoebox cinemas. Some of them only had about 30 seats. And unlike most “Famous Players” theatres, they showed new films that were just a little off the beaten track.
One of my favourite evening activities was to show up there not knowing what film I’d see, and pick one almost at random. In those shoebox cinemas, I accidentally saw The Girl in the Swing, Withnail and I, Europa, and several others that I might not have seen otherwise.
When Royal Bank took over the property and renovated it to expand its offices, Vancouver suffered a great loss. I sometimes try to do the same thing at the Hollywood Theatre on Broadway, but it’s really not the same. Nobody else in town has a half-dozen living room sized cinemas.
In the same spirit, when I rent a video, I sometimes like to grab one that I haven’t heard of and avoid reading the synopsis on the back. How could a synopsis do anything but ruin your appreciation of a movie? And how could it really provide you with any meaningful way to judge the difference between one movie and another?
For example: “A man with super powers is willing to sacrifice himself to save the world.” Now is that movie Superman, or is it The Last Temptation of Christ?
Anyway, as I came home from work on Friday, I grabbed a movie almost at random so that I could have one of those Royal Centre surprise movie experiences. Was it a comedy or drama? No idea — all I knew was that it starred Sarah Polley, and if I can confess to something, I’ve developed a bit of a crush on Sarah, so that probably played some part in choosing it.
The movie was No Such Thing, written and directed by Hal Hartley. All I can say is, go out and rent it now. It’s not your regular movie. Neither is it too weird to digest. Sarah Polley is utterly brilliant (though maybe a little typecast) as the pure, innocent girl, and Robert John Burke is perfect as the embittered monster. But I won’t attempt to provide a synopsis for you. That would ruin it. Just go grab it. Watch it. Preferably late at night. Let me know what you think.
Oh, and much of it is set in Iceland. Wonderful place. It looks so desolate and moody. I’d love to spend time there being all melancholy by the sea and stuff. I’m sure that’s a national Icelandic pastime.