Sunday, February 27, 2005

MAN OF THE HOUSE




Comedy

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Tommy Lee Jones: Roland Sharp, Texas Ranger
Kelli Garner: Barb, one of the University of Texas cheerleaders
Anne Archer: Molly McCarthy, Barb’s English literature professor

REVIEW
This movie will have greatest appeal to 15 to 25-year-old males.
This is based on my “scientific” survey: when the theatre lights came up at the end of the movie, I checked who had been laughing the most. For the rest of us, it’s pretty mindless entertainment, short of much plausibility but with lots of "eye-candy" for all the men in the audience.

CLASSIFICATION
for violence, sexual content, crude humor and a drug reference.

FOR NITPICKERS ONLY
When Sharp and his partner can’t get in, with a shotgun she shoots the padlock off but does no damage to the door. The point of view changes and we see them entering but now the door has a big hole in it that a moment before wasn’t there.

During the football game, Sharp spots a suspicious looking character out on the field, which happens to be the team’s mascot. The clock behind him shows 2:44 remaining to play in that quarter. He then runs and tackles the mascot and when he gets up the clock now shows 2:58 meaning there’s an additional 14 seconds to play.

TURTLES CAN FLY




Drama

BACKGROUND
The Kurds are a group of people who have lived in the same mountainous region for 2,000 years. Following World War One they were promised their own state, carved out of the former Ottoman Empire. The British, French and Turks thwarted this after oil was found in the territory. Today over 3 million live in the northern part of Iraq, another 20 million in the surrounding areas. In 1988 Saddam Hussein's army brutally crushed an independence movement, killing over 300,000. The ruthless invaders raped thousands of women and the children of these encounters only added to the vast number of children orphaned by the death of their parents. Most of these children live in makeshift refugee villages and earn a meagre living by scavenging unexploded land mines that are sold to the United Nations Mine Action Authority or sometimes to local arms dealers.

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Satellite, a 13-year-old leader of a hundred or so younger kids
Agrin, a 15-year-old refugee orphan girl living in a nearby camp
Pasheo (or Hangao?) her armless brother
A blind toddler being cared for by them

REVIEW
Set in Turkish Iraq just weeks before the 1993 first American invasion of Iraq, the movie depicts the hardship that these people had to endure following the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s army. The cast of lost, physically and emotionally crippled youngsters, are actual refugees. Because they are non-professional actors, the movie comes across like a documentary (except for Pasheo’s gift of clairvoyance).

CLASSIFICATION
for violence, disturbing images and mature thematic material, all involving children.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

RORY O’SHEA WAS HERE




Drama/comedy

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Steven Robertson: Michael Connolly, afflicted with cerebral palsy and a speech impairment
James McAvoy: Rory O'Shea, a brash loudmouth with muscular dystrophy
Brenda Fricker: Eileen, supervisor of Dublin's Carrigmore Home for the Disabled
Romola Garai: Siobhan, employee in a supermarket

REVIEW
With such a mix of emotions, there’s something here for everyone. British comedy prevails (although spoken with an Irish accent) between insightful moments of reality. Hilarious at times, serious at others, it’s very entertaining and well worth seeing.

CLASSIFICATION
for language.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13




Action, adventure

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Ethan Hawke: Detroit Police Sergeant, Jake Roenick
Laurence Fishburne: notorious criminal, Marion Bishop
Drea de Matteo: the station secretary, Iris Ferry
Brian Dennehy: veteran police officer, Jasper "Old School" O'Shea
Maria Bello: Dr. Alex Sabian, psychiatrist

REVIEW
It’s an action movie all right. But not much else. However, it makes for a pretty mindless bit of entertainment with lots of shooting, shouting and swearing.

CLASSIFICATION
for violence and language (frequent use of the “f “ word)

FOR NITPICKERS ONLY
From the opening helicopter shot we see on a chimney the name of the area to be Quaker City which is in Ohio and a long way from Detroit or any of its suburbs where the story takes place.

Jake gets into a fight with one of the cops and winds up with a bloody left lower lip. Shortly thereafter when he goes down to the holding cell, his lip shows no signs of damage at all.

Once the police station is under attack, it seems reasonable that someone living in the area would call the police and/or a local TV or radio station to report the sounds of gunfire and explosions. At no point in time does any public security service (police/army) or any television/radio reporter ever appear.

During the siege at the police station, several people receive critical head wounds and die. In each case the camera lingers on their face while a pool of blood gathers. Once someone dies the heart no longer pumps blood so there should be no bleeding from any wound.

Jake is leading the group through a sewer tunnel and climbs up the ladder to get out. He then pushes on the circular manhole cover and slides it to one side. These things are purposely designed to be too heavy for someone to easily remove and weigh over 100 lb. each so there is no way he could have done that alone.

MAMAN LAST CALL




Romantic comedy
In French with English subtitles

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Sophie Lorain: Alice Malenfant, a 37 year-old journalist
St├ęphane Demers: her friend James, newspaper movie critic
Anne-Marie Cadieux: another friend Myriam, weather presenter on a local TV station
Patrick Huard: her long time lover Louis Saint-Amand, a radio personality

REVIEW
Although the issue is a serious one the movie is anything but. There are lots of chuckles and several outright laughs without having to resort to slapstick. How refreshing.

CLASSIFICATION
for some sexuality and violence.

THE ASSASSINATION OF
RICHARD NIXON




Drama, based on a true story

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Sean Penn: Samuel Bicke, a salesman
Naomi Watts: his estranged wife, Marie who works as a waitress
Don Cheadle: his best friend Bonny, an auto mechanic working in a run-down garage
Jack Thompson: Jack, his boss at the office-furniture store

REVIEW
Sean Penn gives a terrific performance of a troubled and disturbed man who comes to believe that the Government is fundamentally corrupt. A great character-study movie that shows how someone can come to a “reasonable conclusion” based on the facts as they see them. What they do about it is something else again.

CLASSIFICATION
for language and one scene of graphic violence

P.S.
For some reason the producers decided to change the spelling of his last name from Byck to Bicke.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

WILBUR WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF



0 stars

Drama

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Jamie Sives: Wilbur, the one who wants to do away with his life
Adrian Rawlins: his brother Harbour
Shirley Henderson: Alice, a single mother
Lisa McKinlay: her daughter Mary

REVIEW
What a dreary, depressing movie. The whole thing is morbid. It’s all about death: Wilbur’s ineffective attempts at taking his own life (we get to see four of them) and the passing away of his father with several visits to the graveyard. Then one of his friends tries to kill himself by drowning. And to cap things off, his brother gets the news he has a terminal illness. Who needs this stuff?

CLASSIFICATION
for language (use of the f-word) and some disturbing images.

HITCH





  • Romantic comedy

    PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
    Will Smith: Alex 'Hitch' Hitchens, a love consultant
    Kevin James: Albert, an accountant with a big New York City firm
    Amber Valletta: Allegra Cole, one of their wealthy clients
    Eva Mendes: Sara, a gossip columnist for a NYC tabloid

    REVIEW
    To get your moneys worth, close your eyes if the trailer appears because it includes about half the funny scenes. The whole thing is done is such a light-hearted manner it’s a joy to watch. Sure some of the situations are somewhat exaggerated, but that’s what comedy is all about. A big plus is the ending.

    CLASSIFICATION
    for language and some strong sexual references.

    FOR NITPICKERS ONLY
    While Hitch and Albert are sitting on the steps of some big building, Albert’s suit has a spot on the left shoulder that comes and goes between shots of them talking.

    P.S.
    The product plug of Grey Goose vodka serves to give this movie an upper-class feel to it. Grey Goose costs way more than other vodkas. Waaaaaaay more. Like triple the price. So it must be the best vodka available people have come to believe. But vodka is a grain-neutral spirit, and by definition is odorless and tasteless. Therefore one vodka can’t be much better than the other so it’s impossible to rationalize the price difference based on quality/taste alone.

    But Sidney Frank (the marketing genius who introduced J├Ągermeister to the North America market) promoted the brand based on the following:
  • “Grey Goose comes from France, where all the best luxury products come from.
  • It’s not another rough-hewn Russian vodka—it’s a masterpiece crafted by French vodka artisans.
  • It uses water from pristine French springs, filtered through Champagne limestone.
  • It is shipped in wood crates, like a fine wine, not in cardboard boxes like Joe Schmo’s vodka.”

    Guess that’s all it takes?

Sunday, February 6, 2005

THE WOODSMAN




Drama

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Kevin Bacon: Walter
Eve: Mary-Kay, Office Secretary at the lumber mill
Kyra Sedgwick: her co-worker Vickie
Benjamin Bratt: Walter’s brother-in-law Carlos
Mos Def: Sgt. Lucas
Hannah Pilkes: Robin, a young bird-watcher

REVIEW
This is a movie about someone trying to reintegrate himself into society. Because many people are judgmental, the task is not an easy one. Kevin Bacon does a superb job conveying the inner struggle the person has to deal with. You should be warned: some scenes are unsettling.

CLASSIFICATION
for partial nudity, harsh language (frequent use of the f-word), mature themes and violence

P.S.
Kyra Segwick and Kevin Bacon are married. They have two children.