Thursday, July 28, 2005


In Hebrew and German with English subtitles

In 1909, after the Austrian government passed a law known as "the Aryan Paragraph" which forbade sporting clubs from accepting Jewish members, a group of Jewish athletes responded by forming a sports organisation of their own. Known as "Hakoah Vienna" (from the Hebrew word for strength), the club sought to give Jewish athletes a place to turn to, and to confront stereotypes that Austrian Jews were intellectual giants but physical weaklings. The members of Hakoah Vienna were champions in a number of sports in Austria and Europe, but their most famous athletes were the members of the women's swimming team, who soon came to dominate competition throughout the nation. Hakoah Vienna's female swimmers were the core of Austria's 1936 Olympic Team, held in Germany, though some had serious reservations even participating in what was seen by many as a propaganda triumph for Adolf Hitler.

Ann Marie, one of the former champion swimmers of Hakoah Vienna
Judith, eldest surviving member of the group
Hanni, her sister
along with Greta, Elishvea, Anni, Trude and Hanne

More of an insightful documentary than one presenting something entirely new and different, it will appeal mostly to students of history. Seeing how these women coped with the difficult situation in their native country is but one more stinging condemnation of the Nazi era.


Friday, July 22, 2005



Vince Vaughn: Jeremy, a Washington divorce-mediator
Owen Wilson: John, his partner
Christopher Walken: Treasury Secretary William Cleary
Jane Seymour: his wife
Rachel McAdams: Claire, one of the bride's sister
Isla Fisher: the bride’s other sister Gloria

This movie has to be every young man’s dream come true: lots of beautiful half-undressed women ready for a one-night stand who like raunchy humour and aren’t offended by filthy language. And if that’s not enough, what if one of the beautiful girls is very much a nymphomaniac and does the "Mrs. Robinson move" on one of the boys? It doesn’t get any better than that.

So if you are a single, male, 18 to 25, then this movie will probably rate 5 stars; for the rest of us, it is something less than that.

for sexual content, partial frontal nudity, sexual situations (including one episode of under-the-table “tickling”) and profanity.



Generally rugby is seen as a dangerous game. Thus, many assumed that the game could not be adapted for those confined to wheelchairs. This has proven to be a misconception.

Quad rugby is a sport with roots going back to wheelchair basketball: the quadriplegic equivalent to the old-fashioned game of basketball. Wheelchair rugby was originally called murderball due to the aggressive nature of the game. Some continue to use this now "politically incorrect" description.

It was introduced in the United States in 1981 by Brad Mikkelsen, who, with the aid of the Disabled Student Services at the University of North Dakota, formed the first team, the Wallbangers, and changed the game's name to quad rugby. Since then, it continues to be a growing sport amongst young disabled athletes who have strong upper body strength. It has become so popular it is now a paralympic event. Team USA has dominated the sport for years.

Some Quad Rugby rules:
 Played on a regular sized basketball court by four players from each team.
 During the games, team players pass a volleyball back and forth.
 The team must pass the ball into the opponent's half-court within 15 seconds.
 A player with the ball must pass it within 10 seconds.

The game is played by quadriplegics. These are people who are not paralyzed, per se, but have impairment in some or all four limbs. Most players have broken necks and the higher in the spine the injury occurred, the less mobility the person will have. The guys with the most handle the ball while the guys with the least are defensive tackles. The game is tough, like bumper cars on steroids, and wheelchairs and their occupants are upended frequently and violently.

Joe Soares, Head Coach, Canadian National Wheelchair Rugby Team 2001–2004
Robert, his nonathletic son
Mark Zupan, Team USA lead player with a shaved head and a tattoo that reads 'Hit me, I'll hit back'
Christopher Igoe, Mark’s best friend
Bob Lujano, a quadruple amputee who can eat pizza with his elbows
Keith Cavill, a former Motocross competitor still recovering from his spinal injury

The film covers the two principal rivals in the sport, Team Canada and Team USA, for two and a half years including the 2004 PARALYMPIC GAMES in Athens. It's interesting to see how strong is the desire of some to overcome their difficulties without feeling sorry for themselves. An inspirational story, it is informative and entertaining at the same time.

for language and sexual content

Tuesday, July 19, 2005



Freddie Highmore: Charlie Bucket
Helena Carter: Charlie’s mother
Noah Taylor: Charlie’s father
David Kelly: Charlie’s kindly Grandpa Joe
David Morris: Charlie’s grumpy Grandpa George
Philip Wiegratz: Augustus Gloop, a glutton of a kid
AnnaSophia Robb: Violet Beauregarde, highly competitive (highly irritating) child
Jordan Fry: Mike Teavee, an unpleasant kid addicted to playing vicious video games
Julia Winter: Veruca Salt, a spoiled brat
Johnny Depp: weird Willy Wonka, sole owner of the Chocolate Factory

Maybe it got better, but after one hour of watching the childish antics of four unpleasant kids and the puzzling behaviour of the cold, cruel, creepy, uncaring and unsympathetic owner of the factory, I had seen enough of this bizarre movie and left.

for quirky situations, action and mild language.

When the “lucky” group of five children and their escorts proceed across the courtyard towards the Chocolate Factory, the sun is casting shadows to their left whereas the shadow caused by the factory is directly in front to them.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Crime thriller

Daniel Craig: a self-described "businessman, whose product happens to be cocaine”
Kenneth Cranham: major crime lord, Mr. Price (Jimmy to his friends)
Colm Meaney: Gene, Mr. Price’s right-hand man
Michael Gambon: Edward Temple, an associate of Jimmy who wants a favour done
Jamie Foreman: Duke, one of the many low-life gangsters
Sienna Miller: Tammy, girlfriend of one of the gang members

Definitely not a “date movie”. In fact, unless you like brutal gangster type movies this isn’t for you.
Beautifully acted (sometimes too real, if you know what I mean) with plenty of double-dealing to complicate the plot. In fact, that is only one of the problems most people will have with the film. The other two are trying to sort out who all the characters are (keep in mind the list above to make life easier) and trying to understand the dialog when they revert to "gangster-slang" with a strong Cockney accent. At best you can only guess what was said. For those willing to make the effort, the payoff is worth it.

for graphic brutal violence, strong profanity, sexuality, nudity, pervasive language, and drug use.

It’s not giving away too much to mention the fact the Ecstasy pills were apparently stolen from a Serbian crime lord, who has sent his best hit man to London to get them back. Duke, the hothead who stole them, could mess up the whole deal.
Although they do have a layer cake for dessert after one of the private meetings, the title refers more to the layers of people within the crime business.


In French with English subtitles

Michel Côté: Gervais Beaulieu, head of the family
Danielle Proulx: his wife, Laurianne
Pierre-Luc Brillant: their oldest son, Raymond
Marc-André Grondin: their fourth son, Zachary

This is a compelling story about a family dealing with changing values during the 60’s and 70’s. The acting is excellent and the attention to detail of the period pieces is superb (except for one instance noted below).


Zac is left sitting in the car while his father takes in some of his “famous” spaghetti sauce to an older brother. This took place in 1979. In the background we see pass by a VIA passenger train of LRC cars. These were not put in service until ten years later in the late ‘80’s.

LRC is a bilingual acronym for Light, Rapid, Comfortable or Léger, Rapide, et Confortable trains.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Science fiction

The War of the Worlds was a science fiction novel written by H.G. Wells in 1898 describing the invasion of Earth by aliens from Mars, who use laser-like Heat Rays and chemical weapons (the Black Smoke) to overcome any resistance. The invaders devastate much of eastern England, including the city of London.

On October 30, 1938, as a Halloween special, Orson Welles presented a live radio adaptation on CBS. The announcer began by explaining that what was to follow was based on the famous H.G. Wells novel. Then the program itself started as an ordinary music show, only occasionally interrupted by news flashes. Initially, the news is of strange explosions sighted on Mars. The news reports grew more frequent and increasingly ominous after a meteorite--later revealed as a Martian rocket capsule--lands in New Jersey. A crowd gathers, and the events are related by the on-the-scene reporter Carl Philips up until the Martians incinerate curious onlookers with their "heat ray".

Many people missed or ignored the opening remarks of the program, and in the atmosphere of growing tension and anxiety in the days leading up to World War II, took it to be an actual news broadcast. Panic ensued, with people fleeing the area, and others thinking they could smell the poison gas or could see the flashes of the fighting in the distance.

Several people rushed to the "scene" of the events in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey (a small farming community northeast of Trenton) to see if they could catch a glimpse of the unfolding events. A couple of astronomers from Princeton University went out looking for the "meteorite" that had supposedly fallen near their school. Some people, who had brought firearms, reportedly mistook a local farmer's water tower for an alien spaceship and shot at it. The size of the crowd increased as more and more people rushed to the area. Eventually police were sent to help control the panicked crowds. To people arriving later in the evening, it really did look like the events being narrated on the radio broadcast, with panicked crowds and flashing police lights streaming across the masses.

Because of the panic caused by this radio play, TV networks have deemed it necessary to post bulletins directed to their viewing audience to inform them some TV stories are in fact fictional-drama, and not really happening. Disclaimers of this sort were shown during broadcasts of the 1983 television movie Special Bulletin and most recently NBC placed disclaimers in an October 1999 TV movie dramatising the possible disastrous effects of the Y2K bug.

The Los Angeles CBS affiliate radio station, KNX, re-broadcasts the radio program every year on Halloween.

Tom Cruise: Ray Ferrier, a crane operator on the New Jersey dockyards
Justin Chatwin: his 16-year-old son Robbie
Dakota Fanning: Robbie's 10-year-old little sister Rachel
Tim Robbins: a cellar-dwelling survivalist, Ogilvy Fox

As disaster movies go, this is one of the best. The story is compelling enough to keep you riveted to the screen most of the time, although it does get a bit repetitive here and there. The acting is excellent and the special effects are fantastic.

for frightening sequences of science fiction violence and disturbing images.

Saturday, July 2, 2005


Romantic comedy

In 1964, Elizabeth Montgomery launched into television stardom as the beguiling and likable Samantha Stephens. The series Bewitched ran until 1972 for an incredible 254 episodes and solidified its place in the pantheon of TV legends.

Nicole Kidman: Isabel Bigelow, new arrival in town (the San Fernando Valley)
Will Ferrell: Jack Wyatt, an arrogant washed-up actor
Jason Schwartzman: Jack’s manager Ritchie
Michael Caine: Isabel’s father Nigel
Kristin Chenoweth: Isabel’s neighbor Maria.
Shirley MacLaine: Iris Smythson, an actress playing the role of Endora
Steve Carell: Uncle Arthur

Sometimes it’s hard to improve on the original. Such is the case with this movie. In addition, Will Farrel quickly becomes very annoying as a pushy “star” of the new TV series and even resorts to doing his thing (running around nude). Nicole Kidman as a sweet, innocent newcomer almost makes up for his antics. Almost.

for some language, including sex and drug references, and partial nudity.

The movie has more blatant product placement than any other I’ve seen lately including the Volkswagen bug, Green Giant canned vegetables, Paul Newman’s Own Popping Corn, a retail store called Bed Bath and Beyond, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf coffee shop etc etc


Original title: La marche de l'empereur

Although it looks like an IMAX film with gorgeous scenery and huge close-ups, the voice-over is so much better. We are actually given a lot of information during the course of the film rather than just snippets once in a while. Consequently we get to learn a lot about the life cycle of emperor penguins living in Antarctica. Fascinating stuff.



Original title: LaLehet Al HaMayim
Mostly in English with subtitles for the Hebrew and German dialog

The State of Israel, like most countries, operates two security services: Shin Bet for internal security matters and the Mossad for foreign operations.

Lior Ashkenazi: Eyal, a Mossad agent and master assassin
Gideon Shemer: his boss Menachem
Carolina Peters: Pia Himmelman who lives and works in an Israeli Kibbutz
Knut Berger: her brother Alex, a Berlin teacher of immigrant children

A very believable story with wonderful acting. Unlike most “thrillers”, there is the absence of big bomb explosions we have come to expect from Hollywood. Interwoven with the main story are a number of others, which tend to give it a real-world feel about it.

for some language including sexual references, and for brief nudity.

Any armchair traveller will be enraptured with locations like Istanbul, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and Berlin.