Friday, August 29, 2014


Om Puri: Papa Kadam
Manish Dayal: his oldest son Hassan
Charlotte Le Bon: Marguerite, a sous-chef
Helen Mirren; Madame Mallory, proprietress of an upscale restaurant

This charming movie about people trying to make the best of their lives is not entirely original. But that does not take away from some fine performances (notably Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal) nor the lovely setting in Southern France.

Perhaps a little too predictable, it is still pleasant enough to watch with enough humorous moments to keep the tone light and easy.

for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality.


Original title: Tu dors Nicole
In French with English subtitles

Julianne Côté: 22-year-old Nicole
Marc-André Grondin: her older brother Rémi
Francis La Haye: JF, the band drummer
Simon Larouche: Pat, the band bass guitarist
Catherine St-Laurent: Nicole’s best friend Véronique
Godefroy Reding: 10-year-old Martin

Boring. This one-word-synopsis pretty well says it all.

Showing snippets of her boring summer spent at home, this episodic glimpse at the life of Nicole goes nowhere. Shot in boring black and white, my guess is the script was written on the back of a beverage coaster and probably took less time to complete than consume the aforementioned beverage.

Not only is there no plot, the “events” have been dredged from similar movies so there’s nothing new to be seen. It is just barely watchable, mostly to see if something does happen. At the risk of giving away too much I’ll not say more but you can guess.

for brief sexual situations.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Ellar Coltrane: 6-year-old Mason
Patricia Arquette: his mother Olivia
Lorelei Linklater: Mason’s 8-year-old sister Samantha “Sam”
Libby Villari: Mason’s grandmother
Ethan Hawke: Mason’s father
Marco Perella: Professor Bill Welbrock
Brad Hawkins: Jim, an Afghanistan/Iraq War veteran
Jenni Tooley: Mason Sr.’s new girlfriend
Zoe Graham: Mason Jr.’s new girlfriend

The thing that sets this apart from all the other movies about growing up is the unconventional method used: the same four principal actors play their role during the 12-year period it took to film. Usually actors who look like their younger counterparts are brought in to advance the story.

Episodic in nature, about every two or three years there is another series of events centering around the lives of the four. But the passage of time occurs without warning: from one scene to the next they have aged. Snap! Just like that.

Another thing that sets this one apart from most movies is its length: with a running time of 166 minutes following the usual trailers means a three-hour viewing session. Not everyone has that much time to spend watching a film.

The acting is uniformly good although the kid’s parents are the best of the bunch.


for language including sexual references as well as for teen drug and alcohol use.


Philip Seymour Hoffman: Günther Bachmann, head of an anti-terrorist team
Nian Hoss: his assistant Irna
Grigoiry Dobrygin: Issa Karpov, an illegal immigrant
Rachel McAdams: civil rights lawyer Annabel Richter
Homayoun Ershadi: Dr. Faisal Abdullah, Muslim philanthropist
Willem Dafoe: Tommy Brue, banker
Robin Wright: C.I.A. officer Martha Sullivan 

True to fashion, this spy-thriller makes it difficult (impossible?) to figure out who is lying and who is telling the truth, who is covering up and who is not. Heading up the cast with a remarkable performance (one of his best ever) Hoffman leads us through the murky world of bad guys (and the murky world of good guys too) as he pushes his own agenda against some very strong resistance.

Without the usual car chases, the fisticuffs and general mayhem so often seen in movies of this sort, the film requires some mental commitment on the part of the viewer. But it is worth the effort.

 for language.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


In Polish with English subtitles

World War II began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. More than 6 million Polish citizens died during the war. In 1944 a Soviet-backed Polish provisional government was formed as a satellite state of the Soviet Union. Renamed the People’s Republic of Poland this Marxist-Leninist government was not overthrown until the Revolutions of 1989.

Agata Trzebuchowska: 18-year-old novitiate nun
Agata Kulesza: her Aunt Wanda
Dawid Ogrodnik: Lis a saxaphone player

It has all the earmarks of an art film aimed at a small niche market:
  • no costly celebrity actors
  • modest sets, no expensive special effects
  • fairly short, shot in black and white

In addition, to set it apart from mainstream blockbuster films, it was filmed in the so-called Academy ratio, the squared-off aspect ratio of 35mm film that went out of style with the introduction of widescreen movies back in the ‘50’s.

It is a simple story with the principal cast member having very little to say: her near-silent character relies upon facial expression and a dozen lines to tell her side of the story so there’s very little acting required for the role. The pacing is ponderous, slow and the outcome often predictable. 

This one is certainly not for everyone.


 for thematic elements, some sexuality and smoking.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Jenny Slate: part-time comedian Donna Stern
Jake Lacy: an unlikely bar patron Max
Gabu Hoffman: Donna’s BFF Nellie
Gabe Liedman: their friend Joey
and others no doubt

I am not a big fan of humour that relies upon getting laughs about day-old female underwear and intimate details about the stand-up comedian’s sex life. And from the opening scenes it is apparent the patrons of the sleazy smoky bar are of the same opinion as no one laughs. Other than that the jokes are of the potty-mouth variety including reference to noisy bodily functions, the sort of gags that appeal to 5 and 6-year-olds.

Given that the film is promoted as a romantic comedy the comedy side is practically nil. As for the romance it is basically a one-night stand and there’s not a lot of romance in those type of encounters. So that aspect is practically nil as well.

It didn’t take long before I realized this is a big waste of time so I walked out.

 for profanity, sexual situations, crude humour.


Vincent Piazza: Tommy DeVito, one of the Varitones trio
John Lloyd Young: his friend 16-year-old Frank Castelluccio
Christopher Walker: mob boss Gyp DeCarlo
Johnny Cannizzaro: Tommy’s brother Nick, the trio’s bassist
Michael Lomenda: their friend Nick Massi
Renée Marino: Mary Delgado
Erich Bergen: Bob Gaudio, songwriter of the hit “Short Shorts”
Mike Doyle: music producer Bob Crewe
Elizabeth Hunter: Frankie’s 7-year-old daughter Francine
Donnie Kehr: loan shark Norm Waxman
Erica iccininni: Journalist Lorraine
Freya Tingley: 17-year-old Francine

Perhaps it is not a fair comparison but having seen the stage version this film is far less entertaining, prone to go off on tangents that add little or nothing to the narrative and it is too long, far too long. Using the narrative device of some band members directly addressing the camera from time to time, I find jarring: a reminder of the fact we are sitting watching a made-in-Hollywood-movie rather than simply being swept up in the story. Voice-over would have been a much better technique as it is less intrusive.

Another thing I found unsettling was the confusing side-story about Tommy’s money problems, presumably from gambling or playing the horses or partying? That was never made clear. And the band’s commitment to helping him out is pushing the “code of honour” a bit too far given the amount involved.

But the chief shortcoming in my view is too much talking between the musical numbers, the reason why this group was so well know. Knowing a bit about them is fine but that should not bog things down.

 for language throughout.

  • Frankie and the rest of the group arrive at Gyp’s house in two Cadillacs, and park with the blue one in front of the red one. When Bob leaves and gets in the red one, he could not have driven off the way he did without first moving the blue one out of the way.
  • This is one of my classic all-time favourite nitpicks: at the end of the telephone conversation the other party hangs up and Frankie is left listening to the dial tone. In reality the dial tone is only heard after picking up the phone before dialling. That’s why it’s called a dial tone.
  • After performing at the Ohio State Fair the group is approached by a police officer who says “Welcome to Cleveland”. The state fair is held in Columbus, Ohio not in Cleveland.
The aging makeup for the last scene is so poorly done it is almost comical.