Wednesday, January 26, 2005


= no stars

Original title: La Mala educación
Sexually explicit drama
In Spanish with English subtitles

Enrique Goded: an up-and-coming Madrid filmmaker
Ignacio: Enrique's childhood schoolmate and first love
School principal Father Manolo

This is not a particularly good movie unless you are a big fan of film-noir set in the world of homosexuals. To start with, it has the most convoluted multi-layered plot in years flipping back and forth between any one of the three versions of the story. There are elements of sexual abuse with much screen time devoted to gay sex. The world of drag queens and drug addicts is very much in evidence throughout the movie.

for strong sexual content throughout, language and some drug use.

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O -- morally offensive because of several intense homosexual encounters, implied pedophilia, recurring drug content, transvestism, boys masturbating, brief nudity, frequent use of rough and crude language.



b. Walden Robert Cassotto, 14 May 1936, New York, USA
d. 20 December 1973, Los Angeles, California, USA
better known as Bobby Darin, his entry to the music business occurred during the mid-1950's following a period playing in New York coffee-houses. An unsuccessful attempt at a hit with a cover version of Lonnie Donegan's "Rock Island Line" was followed by a move towards pop novelty with "Splish Splash". Darin's quirky vocals ensured that the song was a worldwide hit. The solo release, “Dream Lover" with its enticing vocal performance allied to strong production, took it to number 1 in the UK and number 2 in the USA. Already assured of considerable status as a pop artist, Darin dramatically changed direction with his next recording and emerged as a finger-clicking master of the supper club circuit. His signature song "Mack The Knife” was a million-seller and effectively raised Darin to new status as a serious singer.

Kevin Spacey: Bobby Darin as an adult
William Ullrich: the young Bobby Darin
Brenda Blethyn: his mother Polly
Caroline Aaron: his sister Nina
Bob Hoskins: Nina’s husband Charlie
John Goodman: Bobby’s manager Steve Blauner
Kate Bosworth: movie star Sandra Dee
Greta Scacchi: her overly-protective mother, Mary

Seen as a musical rather than as a straight-forward biography of Bobby Darin, it’s not bad. Spacey does a very credible job of re-creating the popular singer both in voice and singing style. However, he looks far too old for the part (where’s makeup when you need it?). Some of the scenes are a little “over the top” but that is in keeping with the quasi-documentary style of the movie.

for some strong language and a scene of sensuality.

During one of the street scenes in the Bronx, several people are sitting on a truck’s open tailgate, which is covered with a blue cloth. The point of view changes to the dancers and immediately back to the viewers to get their reaction. Now they are standing and the blue cloth is no longer draped over the tailgate.

When at the pond, Bobby Darin jumps into a rowboat and that creates ripples going across the water. Then he sits down and the boat pulls away across a perfectly flat undisturbed surface.

Released in 1960, the song Beyond the Sea was originally a French song called La Mer. Although not one of his biggest hits, it apparently was one of Bobby's personal favorites

Friday, January 21, 2005



Dennis Quaid: Dan Foreman, head of marketing for the magazine Sports America
Topher Grace: Carter Duryea, a 26-year-old whiz kid working for GlobeCom
Scarlett Johansson: Dan's 18-year-old daughter Alex
Marg Helgenberger: Dan's wife

This is a story that is all too familiar. It’s about people caught up in the inequities of corporate buyouts and how it affects them and their families. But it’s not all sad and weepy. There are funny moments too, just like in real-life. The acting for the most part is excellent.

for some sexual content and drug references.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Sports drama
Based on a true story

In January 1999, Coach Carter's reaction to the poor academic performance of his athletes caused a national uproar (particularly on sports talk radio) and prompted a visit to Richmond High School from the highest state official, Gov. Gray Davis.

The Grade Point Average (GPA) system is used by academia throughout the United States. A formula that takes into account the actual grades obtained for each course results in a GPA value between 4.0 (the highest passing grade) down to 0.7.
For example, a student getting an average grade of C will have a GPA of 2.0. Students can easily determine where they stand academically and so they can figure out what grades they need in order to reach their goals. Many institutions of higher learning use the student’s GPA as a competitive measure for determining admission to that institution.

Samuel L. Jackson: Ken Carter former basketball player, now owner of a sporting goods store
Rob Brown: honor student and star player Kenyon
Rick Gonzalez: wannabe gangster Cruz
Antwon Tanner: funny-guy Worm
Robert Ri'chard: Carter's son Damien
singer Ashanti: Kenyon’s girlfriend Kyra

This is a movie about a group of high school athletes who are being held accountable for their actions. As such, there are lessons to be learned for all of us. It is an inspirational-type movie with excellent acting and a strong story line. The fact it happens to be true (or mostly true) is a bonus.

for violence, sexual content, language, teen partying and some drug material.

In the game between the Richmond Oilers and the Bay Hill Cougars, one team calls a time-out and the announcer says “With one minute and twenty seconds remaining blah blah blah.” The team huddles around the coach and we hear him saying something like “Well guys we only have one minute and twenty seconds to win this game…”. Upon resumption of play, just before the referee throws the ball in the air, we see the scoreboard in the background: it shows the time remaining as 1:22.

Coach Carter takes two empty boxes out of the trunk of his car and places one on-end inside the other. When he gets to the door of the gym, he puts them down to pick up the lock and chain that had been placed on the door handles. He then turns to drop the chain in a box and we see that no longer is one inside the other, they are both sitting on the ground.

Although it runs for 2 hours and 15 minutes, somehow it doesn’t seem that long.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005



This is the sequel to Meet the Parents that came out in 2000, but now it’s two years later.

Ben Stiller: male nurse Gaylord Greg Focker (aka by his father as Gay)
Robert De Niro: uptight CIA retiree Jack Byrnes
Blythe Danner: Jack’s wife, Dina
Teri Polo: their daughter Pam, and Greg’s fiancée
Spencer and Bradley Pickren: Jack and Dina's grandson, Little Jack
Dustin Hoffman: Greg’s dad, Bernie, a retired attorney
Barbra Streisand: Greg’s mother, Roz, a sex therapist

This movie is one you either love or hate. Comedy is such a personal thing that giving any kind of rating simply reflects one’s preference for a particular type of comedy. This is the kind I like.

Sure there are some potty jokes and even a couple of outrageous moments that go a little too far, but a lot of people won’t be offended by that sort of thing. In fact, many will find it hilarious.

for crude and sexual humor, language and a brief drug reference.

While Greg is taking a shift driving the RV at night, we see the passing scenery behind him. Obviously it is on a loop because the same pattern of five lights (3 yellow/orange ones in arc and below them 2 smaller ones) reappears several times while the scene plays out.

During the dinner party at the Fockers’ house, the bottle of wine in front of Bernie changes orientation by itself several times as no one touches it during that time.

Jack is told to remove his shirt so he takes it off and throws it on the floor. When the massage is finished, he gets up and leaves the room without it. In the next shot we see him going down the hallway, but somehow his shirt caught up to him and he’s now wearing it again.

While playing around with Roz, Bernie gets whipped cream on his face. Each time the camera cuts to Roz and back to him, the cream is in a different location.

The family name rhymes with hawkers, well at least it’s supposed to.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Original title: Mar adentro
Based on a true story
In Spanish with English subtitles

Belen Rueda: Julia, a lawyer with a serious crippling illness
Javier Bardem: the Spanish poet Ramon Sampedro
Mabel Rivera: his dedicated sister-in-law Manuela
Celso Bugallo: his older brother Jose
Joan Dalmau: his elderly father Joaquin
Tamar Novas: his teenage nephew Javi
Lola Duenas: Rosa, a poor, lonely single mother

Despite the serious nature of Ramon’s undertaking, it is not heavy-handed nor all that grim. His self-depreciating humour keeps things light. The acting throughout is excellent.

for intense depiction of mature thematic material.

When Ramon first appears in court he is wearing a cap. Although no one approaches him, the cap is no where to be seen when he is about to leave.

The film gets its name from Ramon’s obsession with the sea.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005



The show opened in London in 1986 and in New York in 1988, which makes it the longest-running show currently on Broadway.

Minnie Driver: prima donna Carlotta
Emmy Rossum: Christine Daae, a young member of the chorus
Patrick Wilson: Raoul, her childhood sweetheart.
Miranda Richardson: ballet mistress Madame Giry
Gerard Butler: the Phantom who haunts Paris' Opera House

If you are not a big fan of Broadway musicals, I suggest you skip this one. If you do like this type of entertainment, I suggest you bring a cushion. Unlike the live stage performance, there is no intermission and sitting 2 hours and 23 minutes is a long time.

The sets are lavish, full of rich warm colours and the costumes first rate. Some of the performances lack real emotion but the songs are fabulous.

for brief violent images.

When the Phantom gets out of the gondola in his musty dark crypt, Christine remains in it lying down with her stockings visible beneath her flowing dress. When he finishes the song and helps her out of the boat, she no longer has her stockings on.

On several occasions, there is a serious lip synchronisation problem when Christine is singing. This is particularly noticeable just after she passes beneath a curved arch in the graveyard. When we see a close-up of her face, her lips are not moving in time with the words being sung. Shortly thereafter, as she is singing in front of a stained glass window, this problem is also very much in evidence.

While singing a duet with Raoul from the opera Don Juan, Christine is wearing a dress with wide shoulder straps. The camera focuses on the performers in turn as they sing their portion of the song. The nit is only once during these back-and-forth shots are the straps up on her shoulders. In all the other shots, they are off her shoulders to give her the “vamp” look of the character she is portraying.

Saturday, January 8, 2005


  • Action, adventure

    Dennis Quaid: Capt. Frank Towns, pilot of a twin boom C-119 cargo plane
    Tyrese Gibson: his co-pilot A.J.
    Miranda Otto: Kelly Johnson, project leader of a team of international wildcatters
    Hugh Laurie: Ian, an executive of the oil company
    Giovanni Ribisi: Elliott, a traveller who just happened to wander in one day
    Jacob Vargas: the Mexican cook Sammi
    Kevork Malikyan: Rady, a non-denominational Middle Eastern employee

    I always figured there are two types of adventure movies:
  • one, like Raiders of the Lost Ark, that have back-to-back events with no time in between to catch your breath
  • and the other has interludes between the action bits.
    Now I’ve found out there’s a third type: one that has interludes and then predictable moments of adventure. That makes for dull viewing. Especially when the movie title gives it all away. There is no suspense left to maintain your interest when you know how the misadventure turns out.

    for some language, action and violence.

    Co-pilot AJ is going through the checkoff list before taking off. One of the questions is something to the effect “All windows and hatches closed and locked?”. Captain Towns looks around the cockpit and then answers, “All secure”. The camera angle changes to an exterior shot and we clearly see that the co-pilot’s window is fully open.

    One night following a confrontation with some smugglers, one of the men gets shot. The others proceed to pick him up and lug him back to their base camp which is not that far away. After a closeup of the injured man, the wide angle shot shows them arriving at the camp and it’s broad daylight.

    The principals of flight are well-known: as an aircraft’s wing moves through the air, the cross-sectional shape of the wing causes the air moving over it to travel faster than the air moving under it. The slower airflow beneath the wing generates more pressure, while the faster airflow above generates less. This difference in pressure results in lift.
    The nitpick here is that with seven people laying prone on top of the wing behind plastic windshields there would be such turbulence that no lift would result. Consequently, the aircraft would never make it off the ground much less transport the survivors to safety.


True story

The majority of those living in Rwanda are Hutus. The Tutsis, although a minority, are very similar to the Hutus: they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions. But the Belgian colonists who arrived in 1916, saw the two groups as distinct entities, and even produced identity cards classifying people according to their ethnicity. The Belgians considered the Tutsis as superior to the Hutus. Not surprisingly, the Tutsis welcomed this idea, and for the next 20 years they enjoyed better jobs and educational opportunities than their neighbours. When Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda independence in 1962, the Hutus took their place.
The Tutsi formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) with the aim of overthrowing president, Juvenal Habyarimana. When Habyarimana's plane was shot down at the beginning of April 1994, the presidential guard immediately initiated a campaign of retribution. Leaders of the political opposition were murdered, and almost immediately, the slaughter of Tutsis began.
On the ground at least, the Rwandans were largely left alone by the international community. UN troops withdrew after the murder of 10 soldiers. In July, the RPF captured the capital city Kigali. The government collapsed and the RPF declared a ceasefire.

Don Cheadle: Paul Rusesabagina, manager of a Belgian-owned four-star hotel
Sophie Okonedo: Paul’s wife Tatiana
Nick Nolte: Colonel Oliver, senior officer of the U.N. peacekeeper Canadian contingent

Sometimes one person can make a big difference in the lives of many. Such was the case with Paul: his initial concern was just for the safety of his family, but when presented the opportunity to help others, he readily did so. But not everybody did and that is the tragedy the survivors have to live with. Excellent performances make this a riveting story, but obviously it is not for everyone.

for graphic violence, disturbing images

The vans have the wrong spelling of the hotel name, missing the “s” in Milles Collines.

When the Hotel Manager hands the Rwanda Army General a bottle of VAT 69 Blended Scotch Whisky, without hesitation he unscrews the bottle. Listen carefully and you can hear the distinctive “fizz” sound when a bottle of soda is opened. The nitpick is there should be no fizz sound because Scotch Whisky is not a carbonated beverage.


Sports drama

Clint Eastwood: Frank Dunn, aging boxing coach/trainer and owner of a rundown gym
Morgan Freeman: his pal Scrap, one of Frank’s former boxers
Hilary Swank: Margaret Fitzgerald (aka Maggie), waitress and wannabeboxer

This is a carefully crafted movie that is in no hurry to get to the end. The slow pace allows for great character development and provides an opportunity to see something of the training that’s required prior to a boxing match. Excellent performances abound.

for violence, some disturbing images, thematic material and language.