Monday, March 28, 2005


IMAX documentary

The age of the Viking Ages lasted nearly 300 years from the 8th through the 11th centuries. Among other things, they are credited with being the first to reach North America well before Columbus.

An excellent historical overview including reference to some of the myths associated with the Vikings. As to be expected with any IMAX production, some of the visuals are absolutely stunning. It is very informative and edited so the screen fades to black just when things start to get gory.

for some violent imagery (mostly artwork)

We are reminded that the Vikings are with us even today: we name the days of the week after Saxon gods (apart from Saturday). These were mostly the same gods worshipped by the Vikings. So the Viking god Woden is our Wednesday, the Thunder god Thor is Thursday and the Goddess of Love Freyja is our Friday.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Original title: Shijie
In Mandarin and Russian with English subtitles

Located in the Fengtai District 16 kilometres from the city proper, the World Park in Beijing features 106 of the most famous sites from 14 countries and regions the world over. Visitors can take an electric train and a motorboat through the park to simulate a trip around the world. The park also has a fountain operated by laser beams, a plant maze and a fairyland in which children and adults alike can enjoy themselves. Regular international parades provide the tourist with a chance to view folk customs from different countries. The park's promotion says, 'you can see the world without ever leaving Beijing'.

A dancer named Tao
Her boyfriend, a security guard named Taisheng

The movie takes place in a make-believe world so that affects the lives of the people working there. The movie focuses on three couples and their friends showing the difficulties of relationships and their low level of expectation. But it does it at a snail’s pace. Two and a half-hours is far too long for a movie that’s not of epic proportions. And most of the time the action takes place in dimly lit places so you’re forever squinting to see what the heck is going on.

for crude and sexual humour, language and some drug references.



In the early 70’s, Ryan Larkin while working for the National Film Board of Canada, produced some of the most influential animated films of his time.

This movie is unique in that it incorporates state-of-the-art CGI animation with the more traditional forms of an autobiography (interviews etc). But more so, it presents the principal characters in a very unusual way: they are but fragments of themselves with the missing pieces representing the loss of that human component?

for mature themes, profanity.

Nominated Best Animated Short Film at the 2005 Academy



Two animators, Ryan Larkin and Chris Landreth, are the subject of this documentary. Both are very talented, both have been acknowledged as outstanding contributors to their field, and both have been Oscar nominees. But that is pretty much where the similarity ends. How their careers are playing out and where they are today is a fascinating study in divergent paths people take.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Animated comedy

StanleyTucci: Herb Copperbottom, dishwasher at Link's Greasy Spoon
Dianne Wiest: Mrs. Copperbottom
Ewan McGregor: their son Rodney
Mel Brooks: founder of Bigweld Industries
Robin Williams: a fast-talking robot named Fender
Greg Kinnear: Bigweld Industries’ new boss and corporate tyrant Ratchet
Halle Berry: Cappy, a beautiful Bigweld Industries executive
Paul Giamatti: Tim, Bigweld Industries front gate guard
Jim Broadbent: Rachet's mom Madame Gasket
Amanda Bynes: Fender’s kid sister Piper

There are many clever bits and tons of action that should keep the kids amused. The movie is a "follow your dreams" story but it’s a mixed bag: plenty of originality intermixed with a lot of recycled stuff. Unfortunately the rapid-fire delivery by Robin Williams makes it impossible to catch all the jokes. And there are more than a few including some of the “potty-mouth” type. Overall the movie is entertaining and quite inoffensive.


Monday, March 14, 2005



Quoting from their website “Now in its 27th Year the Superdog show is one of North America’s premier live entertainment events, enthralling audiences of all ages with a stunning, riveting canine spectacle unlike any performance ever seen before. From Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, Vancouver and Halifax with stops in Mexico, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, Superdogs create Poochmania wherever they appear.”

Matthew Harbour: 11-year-old Daniel
Patrick Goyette: Daniel’s father
Wyatt Bowen: William, one of Daniel’s best friends and instigator of pranks
William Phan: Colin, another of Daniel’s friends
Macha Grenon: owner of a dog kennel
Annie Bovaird: her daughter April

The movie can best be described as so-so. Not the worst movie about kids and dogs, but not the best either. The story lines revolving around the two dogs in Daniel’s life (Wolf and Gypsy) are not well developed, more like snippets once in a while. Although most of the dogs are cute, and their antics fun to watch, their show performance is too repetitive. Children wouldn’t mind, but adults will find it annoying.
The acting for the most part is only mediocre and not all that believable, probably because some of the bilingual cast are not as comfortable speaking their parts in English as in their mother tongue.




Boring. That in a nutshell is what I think of this so-called “charming” film about a retired salt mine worker. What little charm there is takes forever to become apparent. Hardly anything happens that’s worthwhile watching. Schultz ambles along from one depressing looking scene to another in search of his dream. Sure you feel sorry for him, but is it worth giving up two hours of your time? I don’t think so.

for mild language.


Original title: Der Untergang
True historical war story
In German with English subtitles

The Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 marked the beginning of the end of the German Third Reich. In December 1944 a massive offensive aimed at pushing the Allies back from German home territory was planned for the Ardennes region of southern Belgium. The führer, Adolf Hitler, moved his headquarters from East Prussia to the west to personally direct this attack. When it failed, the Germans made an orderly withdrawal between January 8 and 16, having used more of their resources than they could afford on this last desperate attempt to regain the initiative in the West.

Hitler returned to Berlin despite the fact the invading Soviet forces were closing in on the city. He moved into the fortified bunker beneath the Chancellery, the seat of the Reich government. In a state of extreme nervous exhaustion and trapped underground, he continued to direct the German war effort without accepting the inevitability of defeat.

Bruno Ganz: Adolf Hitler
Alexandra Maria Lara: Traudl Junge, his principal secretary
Juliane Kohler: Eva Braun, his long time mistress
Ulrich Matthes: Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda
Corinna Harfouch: Frau Magda, Goebbels’ wife and mother of their six children
Heino Ferch: Albert Speer, Hitler's chief architect
Thomas Kertschmann: SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein, Eva’s brother-in-law
Ulrich Noethen: Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS

This is by far the most accurate film I’ve ever seen of the last days of Hitler, his minions of the Third Reich. Everything looks so authentic and real. Most of the actors have a very uncanny likeness to the person they are portraying, even without the benefit of makeup. Some give truly incredible performances.
The film offers no commentary or judgement. It simply shows the facts.

for scenes of violence, some disturbing images and brief nudity.

The movie is over two hours long, but doesn’t seem like it.