Wednesday, October 27, 2004



Post-war Britain found itself no longer a global world power with its economy in a state of decline largely because of relying upon trade with its commonwealth partners instead of developing new alliances with the European Economic Community. Consequently Britain continued to suffer from shortages of basic goods such as sugar and tea, nylon stockings and the like. For many, this was simply a continuation of the rationing that took place during the war.

Imelda Staunton: Vera Drake, a middle aged “domestic”
Phil Davis: Stan, her devoted garage-mechanic husband
Daniel Mays: Sid, her fun-loving tailor son
Alex Kelly: Ethel, her painfully introverted factory-worker daughter
Eddie Marsan: Reg, a shy young neighbour
Ruth Sheen: Lily, Vera’s two-faced black-market friend
Adrian Scarborough: Frank, Stan’s brother and business partner
Heather Craney: Joyce, Frank’s snobbish wife

A fact based film set in the early 1950’s we see Vera as a very kind and motherly individual who works outside of the home to provide a little extra income. A person with a heart of gold, she is much loved by all.

The acting throughout is excellent with Imelda Staunton doing an outstanding job (nominated for Best Actress in the 2004 Venice Film Festival). The realism throughout the film is exceptional.

for some sexual scenes and simulated medical procedures.

While Vera is seen preparing a pot of tea there is a loaf of bread on the table; towards the end of that scene without her even approaching the table it has turned slightly.

When the WPC is about to leave the house her tie is loose; directly after when she goes to enter the car it’s nice and tight.

When they agree to meet “3 weeks later” that would be Monday December 13 not Saturday December 18.

This film is so British there is hardly a scene that someone is not “putting the kettle on” or actually drinking tea.


Original title: Le Monde selon Bush

Originally produced for the French television network France 2 the film was inspired by journalist-author Eric Laurent's two books on the Bush administration. It is the fifth film by William Karel examining American political power.

As would be expected the film covers a lot of the same material we’ve seen or heard about before:
 how the September 11 attack gave a "clueless" Bush his raison d'etre, the "crusade" against terrorism
 the false pretext under which the second war on Iraq was waged
 the big lie linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11
 the overt connection Bush’s government has with Saudi Arabia
 that Bush is a puppet to corporate interests, to religious zealots
 that George Bush Sr., first as Vice-President and then as President from 1988 to 1992, armed and financed Hussein
 the Bush family's long term ties to the Bin Laden clan and Saudi Arabia

But the film also includes new material amongst the 26 people interviewed:
 Norman Mailer the well known author’s observation that “We have the worst President in U.S. history. He's arrogant. He's stupid in all ways but one: He's immensely shrewd about the American people, particularly the less intelligent half of America -- they're very happy with him because they realise how stupid he is and they say to themselves, 'If that stupid guy can be president, so can I.' "
 and it goes further back in history to the days when Prescott Bush, the president’s grandfather, was banker to Hitler's Third Reich
 in short, the film points out that the family has a history of dealing with people of questionable moral and ethical values despite their public display of religious rectitude (reminds me of Jim Baker and Tammy Faye)

for General Audiences

Unlike Michael Moore’s documentary on the same subject, this one does not suffer from the filmmaker’s personal opinions and comic jibes. As such it is a more serious film with a lot more material for consideration. In light of this, voting for this man seems just plain daft (unless you have some personal gain in doing so … which might explain why he got elected in the first place?)

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Original title: Diarios de motocicleta
In Spanish with English subtitles

Based on Guevara's personal diary, which he kept during his travels and later published as well as his friend Granado's memoir Con el Che por America Latina. Guevara later went on to become better known as Che (for his habit of ending his sentences with that and calling his friends 'Che'- which is an Argentinean expression for buddy). He gained international fame (or notoriety?) by fighting alongside Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro before moving on to do battle in Bolivia, where he died violently, reportedly at the hands of the C.I.A.

Gael Garcia Bernal: Ernesto Guevara, a 23-year old medical student
Rodrigo de la Serna: his 29-year old biochemist friend Alberto Granado

The movie takes place in 1952 and chronicles the travels of two friends who are out to see the world. Although they have a few scheduled stops in mind, most of the story takes place during the unplanned encounters on their trip around the South American continent. It also makes for a wonderful travelogue and some of the scenery is simply stunning. The movie finishes near the end of their journey and says nothing of what impact they have on the world after that.

which is totally unwarranted and out of line for the occasional f-word and one instance of sexual innuendo.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


IMAX documentary

The species Equus has been on earth for 5 million years or more but only domesticated some 3,000 years ago. Horses and asses have had a profound impact on human history in areas such as migration, farming, warfare, sport, communication, and travel.

Horses today come in a variety of ten colours. Three of them are featured in the movie: a coal black horse, a chestnut (a reddish brown horse) and a bay (a brown horse with black legs).

This is the story about three horses all born the same night that go their separate ways. Although there are some interesting facts, the movie is mostly about images of the horses and where they live. Some of the Australian scenery is quite stunning.

for General Audiences


IMAX documentary

This historical overview of special effects used in movies begins at the beginning: movies use our retained perception to create the impression of movement itself. But movie makers have gone way beyond that and now can “fool” us into to seeing things not as they are, but as they want us to see them.

Making use of several films including Star Wars and Independence Day we get to see what goes on behind the scenes to create the illusions. Fascinating stuff for any movie buff.

for General Audiences

Wednesday, October 6, 2004



In 1955, with the help of massive American military, political, and economic aid, the Government of the Republic of South Vietnam was born with Ngo Dinh Diem as president. Shortly thereafter he claimed that the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam (NLF) wanted to take South Vietnam by force so in late 1957, with more American military aid, Diem began to counterattack.

In 1960 President Kennedy sent a team to Vietnam to report on conditions in the South and to assess future American aid requirements. The report argued for an increase in military, technical, and economic aid, and the introduction of large-scale American "advisers" to help stabilise the Diem regime and crush the NLF. Following the death of Kennedy the new president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, said that more aggressive action was needed and following a dubious NLF raid on two U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin a Congressional resolution gave the new president broad war powers.

In March 1965 Johnson sent the first combat troops to Vietnam and the NLF moved to a protracted war strategy to get the United States bogged down in a war that it could not win militarily and create unfavourable conditions for political victory. They believed that they would prevail in this type of war because the United States had no clearly defined objectives, and therefore, the country would eventually tire of the war and demand a negotiated settlement.

As the deaths mounted and American soldiers continued to be shipped off to Southeast Asia, the Johnson administration was met with the full weight of American anti-war sentiments. Protests erupted on college campuses and in major cities. One of the most famous incidents in the anti-war movement was the riot in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Things went from bad to worse for the Johnson administration with the NLF launching massive co-ordinated attacks against major southern cities. These attacks, known in the West as the Tet Offensive, were designed to force the Johnson administration to the bargaining table. In late March 1968, a disgraced Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not seek the Democratic Party's re-nomination for president and hinted that he would go to the bargaining table with the Communists to end the war.

Secret negotiations began in the spring of 1968 and soon it was made public that Americans and Vietnamese were meeting to discuss an end to the long and costly war. Under Nixon, American troops were being brought home while increasing the air war against the NFL. The intense bombing campaigns and intervention in Cambodia in late April 1970 sparked further violent campus protests all across America. At Kent State in Ohio, four students were killed by National Guardsmen who were called out to maintain order on campus after days of anti-Nixon protest.

The film covers just six years in the life of the former presidential candidate, John Kerry, from the time he joined the Navy until his 1971 testimony before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee as leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

While in Vietnam he commanded one of the Navy Swift boats that went up river from the Mekong Delta to draw enemy fire and destroy the opposition. He was awarded the Victory Cross for valour and a Purple Heart for being wounded.

for violent and gory war images.


Adventure, drama

Joacquin Phoenix: Jack Morrison, firefighter
John Travolta: Mike Kennedy, Captain of Engine Co. 33
Jacinda Barrett: Linda, Jack’s girlfriend/wife

While falling in and out of consciousness, we see in flashback the life of a firefighter (Jack) over a ten year period. There’s a nice balance with realistic scenes of fires in Baltimore and the quieter moments in the life of the men who battle these out breaks.

Travolta delivers a riveting performance as he demonstrates his pride of the men and his management skills during all kinds of events.

for intense fire and rescue situations, and for language.

While rescuing a man from the exterior of a burning building, Jack swings into and shatters one of the windows, but not the middle frame. In the immediate close-up of Jack we see the window in the background but the middle frame has somehow disappeared.

Responding to a fire during a snowstorm, within two blocks of leaving the station the roof of both trucks are completely covered with snow, an accumulation that would take a couple of hours with the trucks stationary.

Monday, October 4, 2004


Romantic comedy

Richard Gere: John Clark, a bored lawyer
Susan Sarandon: Beverly, his busy wife
Stanley Tucci: Link Peterson, an associate of John’s
Jennifer Lopez: Paulina, a dance instructor at Miss Mitzy’s Dance School
Anita Gillette: Miss Mitzy, owner of the dance school
Lisa Ann Walter: Bobbie, another dance instructor
Richard Jenkins: a private detective

For a change the movie fits the type: funny at times there is also an element of romance. Some of the dance scenes are beautiful to watch (presuming you are into ballroom dancing) and the acting throughout is excellent.

This is one of the very few movies I’ve seen that prompted the audience to applaud while the credits were rolling.

for some sexual references and brief language.

While sitting talking to Beverly in the bar, the shirt collar of the detective is crumbled; when he stands up to see her off it’s nicely pressed.