Wednesday, April 27, 2005

BORN INTO BROTHELS:
CALCUTTA’S RED LIGHT KIDS




Documentary

BACKGROUND
After earning a master's degree at the University of Cambridge, Zana Briski studied at the International Center of Photography in New York. In 1995 she made her first trip to India, producing a story on female infanticide. In 1997 she returned to India and began her project on the prostitutes of Calcutta's red light district, which led to her work with their.
Zana has won numerous awards including first prize at the World Press Photo Foundation Competition. She is the founder of Kids with Cameras, a non-profit organization that teaches photography to marginalized children in communities around the world. The group uses photography to capture the imaginations of children, to empower them, building their confidence, self-esteem and hope.

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
12-year-old Avijit, considered the most talented but perhaps the least motivated of the gang
Suchitra, who has a million-dollar smile
Kochi, a shy girl of 10, trapped into following the family line of prostitution
11-year-old Puja, the most daring, who becomes the best street photographer because of her persistence

REVIEW
The movie is about the efforts of one woman trying to improve the lives of seven children (four girls and three boys aged 10 through 14) living in Calcutta's red-light district. Being a professional photographer herself, the one thing she can teach them is how to take photographs. This she does by providing each with a point-and-shoot camera. Some of the photos are good enough to be entered in an international competition.

CLASSIFICATION
for strong sexual profanity and sexual slang terms, some drug content.

P.S.
The film won an Oscar at the 77th Academy Awards for Best documentary feature

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

GUNNER PALACE




Documentary

BACKGROUND
Iraq has become the new training ground for terrorists, replacing Afghanistan. It is a place where terrorists can experiment with new tactics to use against U.S. forces using live targets. Those live targets include Iraqi civilians and the soldiers shown in this film.

REVIEW
In September 2003, four months after the end of "major combat” in the U.S.A.-led war on Iraq, a small camera crew followed a group of soldiers showing us what they are now doing having "won the war". In addition to their role as police officers, social workers, crowd-control specialists and bomb-disarmers they take part in street patrols and raids. But these patrols and raids all look alike so it becomes monotonous after a while.
One telling point about how these men see themselves:“we’re not here fighting to protect our country, we’re here fighting to stay alive”.

CLASSIFICATION
on appeal for strong language throughout, violent situations and some drug references.

P.S.
The bombed out palace of Uday Hussein became the headquarters of the United States Army's 2/3 Field Artillery unit – a group called "gunners" - hence the name of the movie.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

SAINT RALPH




Comedy/drama

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Adam Butcher: Ralph Walker, a ninth grader in school
Shauna MacDonald: his Mom
Michael Kanev: his friend Chester
Gordon Pinsent: Father Fitzpatrick, the head of St. Magnus, a private catholic boys' school
Campbell Scott:physical education teacher Father Hibbert
Tamara Hope: Claire, candy striper in a local hospital
Jennifer Tilly: Nurse Alice

REVIEW
Once past the uncomfortable first fifteen minutes focused mostly on the raging hormones of male teenagers, the movie settles down to more serious matters. A little suspension of belief goes a long way towards enjoying what is essentially “the little train that could” type of story. The movie is charming and funny at times with an inspirational message thrown in as well.

CLASSIFICATION
for some sexual content and partial nudity.

P.S.
I can identify with this movie: in 1953, when the action first begins, I was the same age as Ralph and also lived in Hamilton, Ontario. Strange coincidence.

Definition: candy striper
n.
A volunteer worker in a hospital.
[From the resemblance of the volunteer's red and white striped uniform to a candy cane.]

DEAR FRANKIE




Drama

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Jake McElhone: Frankie, a hearing-impaired nine-year old
Emily Mortimer: his mother Lizzie
Mary Riggans: his grandmother Nell
Sharon Small: Marie, owner of the local fish ‘n chip shop

REVIEW
A delightful film with some great acting and expertly edited. The movie is about a mother’s willingness to do just about anything for her son. Set in Glasgow, the accent sometimes makes it difficult to understand everything that is being said. But it is worth the effort.

CLASSIFICATION
for language.

Monday, April 11, 2005

FEVER PITCH




Romantic comedy

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Jimmy Fallon: Ben, a school teacher
Drew Barrymore: Lindsey, corporate executive

REVIEW
A very enjoyable movie with lots of chuckles about two people trying to cope with their very different interests and life styles. Unlike some romantic comedies, the principals seem to really like each other; they have a certain chemistry that works. Two bonuses: the sound track is great and there are no swear words.

CLASSIFICATION
for crude and sexual humor, and some sensuality.

P.S.
Although the action centers around baseball, this is not just another sports movie.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

MILLIONS




Kids adventure/fantasy

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
James Nesbitt: Ronnie, recently widowed father of the two boys
Alexander Etel: Damian, an over-imaginative 7-year-old with an encyclopedic knowledge of the saints
Lewis McGibbon: bossy older brother Anthony

REVIEW
This is a charming movie about values. And about two very different brothers having to deal with the same situation. Both boys are endearing. Although suspension of reality is a requirement, the story is not that far-fetched. This is a quick-paced movie without any vulgarity. How refreshing.

CLASSIFICATION
for thematic elements, language, some peril and mild sensuality.

P.S.
The northern English accent is delightful, but understanding what is being said might be difficult for some.

THE UPSIDE OF ANGER




Drama

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Joan Allen: Terry Wolfmeyer
Erika Christensen: Andy, one of her daughters
Evan Rachel Wood: Lavender “Popeye”, another daughter
Keri Russell: Emily, daughter
Alicia Witt: Hadley, daughter
Kevin Costner: Denny Davies, a former World Series baseball star
Mike Binder: Adam “Shep” Goodman, a sleazy sports-radio producer

REVIEW
Movies with one person having more than one major role are often flawed. Such is the case with this one: Mike Binder wrote, directed and stars in this film. The movie is about anger and how one woman handles it and the effects it has on those around her. Despite being a serious issue, the movie is also funny at times. The acting is all over the place: Costner does a fine job, Allen has moments that are totally off kilter.

CLASSIFICATION
for language, sexual situations, brief comic violence and some drug use

FOR NITPICKERS ONLY
Despite having already made one phone call to Sweden, a little later Terry calls the Long Distance operator to ask for the number again.

Friday, April 1, 2005

INSIDE DEEP THROAT






Documentary

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Gerard Damiano director of the movie, a former hairdresser from Queens
Linda Lovelace, female star
Harry Reems, her co-star
Comments by lawyer Alan Deshowitz, talk-show hosts Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett, writers Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, publishers Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt, film stars Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson,writer and activist Gloria Steinem and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Psycho sexual Therapist

REVIEW
A fairly balanced documentary of one of the most controversial and financially rewarding movies ever made, Deep Throat, which came out in 1972. According to this film, it was made for $25,000 and earned an estimated $600,000,000 for its mob-connected backers (in 1972 dollars!). Since this is a film about a pornographic movie it too borders on being pornographic because of the frequent clips from the original movie. Consequently, this movie is not for everyone.

CLASSIFICATION
for strong sexuality including graphic images, nudity and dialogue. And let me tell you, they ain’t kiddin’.