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The film I've been most anticipating is finally here and though Civil War is not exactly what I expected it's one I'll remember. You will too, in this post insurrection attempt USA, with the noisy divisions down there and the gun-toting militias who've been talked about for years. JFK gave a speech warning about them and look how long ago that would have been.

Meanwhile notice that Wicked Little Letters, the English comedy with foul language but terrific acting, has now expanded. It was in only three theaters last week. It's now in 60.

Oscar winner The Zone of Interest is now streaming on Prime Video, and elsewhere there these ...

CIVIL WAR: It's a potent warning to not let things get this far. The US, sometime in the future, is divided but way more than right now. Nineteen states have seceded and two, California and Texas, have formed a Western Alliance that threatens to overthrow the president. Those two states? Politically aren't they quite different? And what have they got against the president? Except that he shut down the FBI, not much is mentioned. Still, the country isn't fuctioning properly (not even the currency, says a line that brings a big laugh). Government attacks with air strikes. Bands of local militia, armed with big weapons, control the roads and are ready to shoot anybody. Even lynch people, as the aftermath in one scene shows.

It's a grim vision, alarmist I'd say, that writer-director Alex Garland has dreamt up here. In previous films he dealt with the environment and with AI, and yes zombies, and says here he's only starting a conversation about polarization and populism. But with so little background, the politics are muddled.

Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

Journalism is a strong theme, though. The story follows four (Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson (an old hand) and Cailee Spaeny (a wanna-be) on a road trip to Washington hoping to interview the president (Nick Offerman). But Dunst's character is worn down after years as a war photographer. She had hoped the pictures she sent back would sway people to avoid war. Not so. They dehumanized them. Spaeny, as the new kid, isn't disillusioned. She's eager to get perfect photos.

And so they push on, the tension rising immensely when they come across roadblocks and trigger happy gunmen. That, more than the politics, is compelling. (In theaters) 3 ½ out of 5

WHAT JENNIFER DID: She phoned 9-1-1 in Markham, Ont. one night 14 years ago, screamed that three men had invaded her home, killed her mother and injured her hand, left her tied up and scared. It's a true story, was big in Toronto news casts and is now a compelling true crime feature on Netflix. You'll be completely absorbed as you watch people who know her and police who investigated tell what they understood. We see them both in new interviews, news footage from the time and most compellingly: tape of three interviews the police did with her.

Why three? Facts that didn't make sense had to be cleared up. It was a home invasion but why were no valuables taken? If the intruders shot the parents, why did they leave one witness, Jennifer, alive? If she was tied up how did she work her cell phone? It's thrilling as we get more and more details. She had a boyfriend who worked in a Boston Pizza place and dealt marijuana. Her parents, Vietnamese immigrants, wanted better for her and she only pretended to be going to university. There's more, and it's thrilling as the police uncover it all. And affecting in what it says about some immigrant experiences. (Netflix) 4 out of 5

FOOD, INC. 2: The first came out six years ago, was nominated for an Oscar and won an Emmy. This one, again directed by Robert Kenner, this time with Melissa Robledo, gives us more of the same, which is an exposure of the modern food industry. The emphasis is on industry. In this scenario, farms are industrial facilities. Family farms are disappearing. The result is that both the land and our health is damaged. Both films tell that story, based on the participation of investigative authors Michael Pollan and the author of Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser.

I haven't able to compare the two to say how the new one differs but it seems it goes more deeply into the human health issue. A food scientist in Brazil came up with the concept of ultra-processed foods and explains it and the effect. Food companies pack in more flavor and calories. That product fools people into eating more and obesity, diabetes and other problems grow. Americans consume twice as much of these ultra-processed foods than, say France. Three times as much as Brazil.

Other issues the film covers: the environmental cost of industrial agiculture, the disappearing small farm, how fragile the food industry is now, the lobby power of the food industry (e.g. Trump allowing a meatpacker to keep operating under the Defence Production Act), and even the situation of farm workers (with references back to slavery). Taken together, it's an alarming analysis and a powerful film. (In theaters: Vancouver now, Toronto and Montreal next week). 4 out of 5

THE GREATEST HITS: This would be a charming, evocative love story if the concept were more realistic. As it is, it's pleasant but bland. Nicely visualized though, and offering plenty of time to browse through the vinyl LPs at a used record store. Harriet (Lucy Boynton) does that because she can't get over the boyfriend she lost almost three years ago. He died in a car accident, which she survived with only a bonk on the head.

He reappears to her whenever she hears a song that they heard at some key point in their time together. Not just as a vision. He appears for real. They're together again for however long the song lasts.

Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

What makes him so special, we don't get to know, except that he's handsome and is played by David Corenswet, the next movie Superman.

Searclight Pictures

A potential new boyfriend (Justin H. Min), who she meet at a grief-counselling group, tries but can't divert her from him. The story becomes too fantastical at that point and a time-travel plot kicks in. They actually met sometime before, although only she knows it. She claims to see the future and is searching for just the right song to bring back the past so that she can change it, i.e. prevent the car accident, and her boyfriend's death, from ever happening. Interesting premise, exploring how hard it can be to let go. But pretty far out. (Streaming at Disney+) 2 ½ out of 5

WITH LOVE AND A MAJOR ORGAN: Here's another love story with a loopy premise. Canadian this time, and originally a stage play. It seems to be an alternate world that Anabel (Anna Maguire) lives in. Technology isolates people from showing their feelings for others. She, however, can't do that although both her mom and a therapist say control your emotions. All of society seems to be telling her that, but out on a hike she sees a crying man tear out his heart. Metaphorical? Probably but the film directed by Kim Albright in British Columbia presents it as real in romantic entanglements.

Courtesy of Filmoption

Anabel does too. She meets a man (Hamza Haq) in a park, contrives to meet him again and then records a love message on to a cassette for him. He doesn't answer, so she tears out her heart and sends it to him with a note hoping it will do something for him. It does. He starts feeling emotions. She, however, no longer does. Both characters have mother issues which are raised too. It doesn't all make sense and there's trouble melding all these factors but the film is engaging, well-acted and well-directed. The issues it raises are certainly au courant. (Theaters in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) 3 out of 5