Wednesday, August 31, 2005



The Republic of Kenya (formerly British East Africa) borders the Indian Ocean. Located between Somalia and Tanzania, the capital and principal city of Nairobi is a regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa. Kenya has been hampered by corruption and by reliance upon several primary goods whose prices have remained low.

Ralph Fiennes: Justin Quayle, British diplomat and part-time gardener
Rachel Weisz: Tessa, his wife and ardent activist
Danny Huston: Sandy, Justin’s colleague at the British High Commission in Kenya
Gerald McSorley: a British Embassy intelligence officer

This is a well acted movie about conspiracy with lots of twists and turns. It’s promoted as a thriller but there’s hardly anything thrilling about it. It’s more a “who dunnit”, a thought-provoking type movie, one that brings to light some of the nefarious things that go on in life. The use of a hand-held camera adds to the realism of “being there” and is used to good effect.

for language (infrequent use of the f-word), some violent images (brief and somewhat out of focus) and sexual content/nudity.

There’s plenty for the traveller to see with locations in London, Berlin, and the North African countryside.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Animated war movie

The homing pigeon is a variety of the domesticated Rock Dove that has been selectively bred to find its way home over extremely long distances. Homing pigeons were used as early as 1150 in Baghdad and later by Genghis Khan to carry messages in a small tube attached to one leg.

During World War I the French army had 72 mobile pigeon lofts which advanced with the troops. The US Army Signal Corps used 600 pigeons in France. One of their pigeons was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for heroic service delivering 12 important messages during the battle of Verdun.

During WW II the Allied Forces used about 250,000 messenger pigeons. The Dickin Medal, which is the highest possible animal's decoration for valour, was awarded to 32 pigeons.

Ewan McGregor: voice of Valiant, a rather small pigeon
Tim Curry: voice of Von Talon, the Lead Falcon
Ricky Gervais: voice of Bugsy, the boor of the group

Although promoted as a film for kids, it would seem to me to be way over their heads. Based on the true story of pigeons used as messengers during WW II, there is very little of interest to children and hardly anything even remotely funny (apart from the usual rude body noises that seem to be a requirement of animated movies today).
Older members of the audience will find the movie mildly entertaining, with the occasional chuckle or smile at the more subtle jokes that crop up from time to time.


Monday, August 22, 2005



Rachel McAdams: Lisa Reisert, Manager of a luxury hotel
Cillian Murphy: Jackson Rippner, fellow passenger on the "red-eye" flight to Miami
Brian Cox: Lisa's father
Jack Scalia: Charles Keefe, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security

Nicely paced with an absence of gore, this movie is chock-full of surprises but is not all that scary. Although the situation might be a bit contrived, the dialog is not: it seems so real. Great acting by the principals and excellent camera work.

for some intense sequences of violence, and language.

In the airport bar, Lisa orders a drink which comes with a straw. She and Jackson clink their glasses together for a toast and in the next shot we see Lisa drinking from the glass… but the straw has now disappeared.

Colby Donaldson, runner-up in the TV reality series Survivor: The Australian Outback, plays a credible Chief of Mr. Keefe’s bodyguards.

Sunday, August 21, 2005



Steve Carell: Andy Stitzer, electronics store clerk
Paul Rudd: David, coworker, a little whacked out
Seth Rogen: Cal, another coworker, enjoys seeing “new things”
Romany Malco: Jay, coworker, horny black guy
Elizabeth Banks: Beth, a bookstore employee
Catherine Keener: Trish, small business owner
Jane Lynch: Paula, Andy’s boss

Whether you like this movie or not depends entirely upon your sensibilities. If raunchy, off-colour jokes peppered with swearwords and explicit graphic descriptions makes you feel ill at ease, then it’s best to skip this one.

For the rest of us it’s a must-see. Too often comedies are nothing more than a chuckle here or there, maybe a big grin once in a while. This one is a “laugh-out-loud” type of comedy. How refreshing.

for pervasive sexual content, coarse language and some drug use

While Andy and David are in the coffee shop, the plasticized menu at David’s elbow moves about by itself from one scene to the next.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005



Drew Barrymore was born on February 22, 1975. Being from a family of legendary actors (John, Lionel, and Ethel Barrymore), she quickly found her way to the spotlight. When she was only 11 months old, she made her first television commercial for Puppy Choice dog food. Other TV spots soon followed for Pillsbury chocolate-chip cookies and Rice Krispies cereal. She made her first movie at the age of two when she appeared as a boy in the made-for-television film Suddenly, Love. At the age of five, she moved to the big screen and played William Hurt’s daughter in the philosophical science-fiction film Altered States.

In 1982 she was cast as Gertie in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The success of E.T. made her quite popular and she did three movies in less than three years. But at the same time, Drew's personal life was taking a drastic turn. At the age of nine, she discovered alcohol when she got drunk at a party thrown for actor Rob Lowe. A year later, she had moved on to marijuana; cocaine came soon after. During this time, she made a series of television movies but by 1989, she was caught in a downward spiral. Her risqué role in the thriller Far From Home caused a lot of controversy and her heavy partying forced her mother, Jaid Barrymore, to commit her to a drug rehab clinic.

She soon escaped from the clinic and using her mother's credit card, she returned to California, but she was quickly apprehended. To make amends, she appeared in an after-school special, 15 and Getting Straight, about the virtues of a drug-free life. Nevertheless, she was still heavily addicted. It was so bad that, in July 1989, she attempted to commit suicide. Another stint in a rehabilitation clinic followed, but this time the treatment was successful.

What she did next shocked many: she decided her mother was a bad influence (her father, John Drew Barrymore, had never been part of her life) and obtained a legal separation from her. She was only 15.

In 1990, she wrote her autobiography, Little Girl Lost, with the help of Todd Gold. It mostly dealt with her struggle with drug addiction and her life in the fast lane. Knowing she had to get a grip on her life to re-establish her career, she appeared in five movies in just two years. At this point, she had reinvented herself into a wild girl with roles in movies such as Bad Girls, Boys on the Side, and Mad Love. She also appeared nude in the best-selling January 1995 issue of Playboy magazine.

By then, she was getting older and seemed to start realising that there is more to life than publicity stunts and shock value. She set out to build a distinguished career and took on more serious acting roles. In 1998, she also established her own production company, Flower Films. From then on, she had more control over her projects. She acted in and produced Never Been Kissed, Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. She also appeared in Freddy Got Fingered, Riding in Cars with Boys, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind , and 50 First Dates .

Her romantic life has been as rocky as her childhood. In 1994, she was married to Jeremy Thomas for a little over a month and, in 2001, she was married for five months to Canadian funnyman Tom Green. She really seems to have a thing for musicians. She was once briefly linked to singer Jamie Walters and is currently engaged to Fabrizio Moretti, drummer of the band The Strokes.

Brian Herzlinger: instigator and principal narrator
Fellow East Coast film-school grads Jon Gunn and Brett Winn
Producer Kerry David (collectively known as the Drew Crew)

Sometimes even the wildest dreams are worth pursuing. What transpires can be both amusing and at times, very touching and personal. Such is the case with this movie although it suffers a bit from being a tad too long.

for mild thematic elements and language.

Brian’s website is still up and running at


True war story

Joseph Fiennes: Major Gibson, leader of the P.O.W.s
Bratt: Lt. Colonel Mucci, commander of the 6th Ranger Battalion
James Franco: Captain Bob Prince, leader of the mission
Connie Nielsen: Margaret Utinsky, an American nurse working in a Manila hospital

Despite being overly long, the movie has a look of authenticity about it. There are no great heroics, no “flashy” parades, no over-the-top pyrotechnics. What we see and hear comes across more like a documentary than a film about one of the little known events at the end of World War II.

for strong war violence and brief language (one swear word in my opinion hardly justifies this aspect of the rating)

Saturday, August 6, 2005


Action comedy

Wildly popular during its six-season run on CBS, The Dukes of Hazzard TV series premiered in January 1979 and focused on the ongoing adventures of Bo and Luke Duke, two cousins living in Hazzard County somewhere in the Deep South.

Johnny Knoxville: Luke Duke
Seann William Scott: his cousin Bo
Jessica Simpson: their cousin Daisy
Willie Nelson: Uncle Jesse
Burt Reynolds: Commissioner “Boss” Hogg

The movie will have great appeal to any male teenager:
 perhaps 70% of the movie involves fast cars (police pursuits, airborne leaps, racing, demolition derby)
 with interludes of young female bodies (many in their underwear, sometimes in body-hugging short shorts, all with ample cleavage)
 several seduction scenes by Daisy (although her acting is terrible, she seems to have a knack for this kind of thing)
 and the jokes: corny one-liners, off-colour crude jokes and at least three hilarious knee-slapping “in the crotch” blows.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

for sexual content, crude and drug-related humor, language and comic action violence.

After getting a phone call from Boss Hogg, the Deputy hangs up and we hear a dial tone. A dial tone is there only when initiating a call, not when terminating one.

When another Deputy hears his name being called on his walkie-talkie, the first thing he says is “10-4”. There are over two hundred 10-Codes in current usage, approximately 50 of these are used by the police, fire and other types of radio operators. Code 10-4 means “message received” and is said in response to the sender’s directives not to acknowledge an incoming call.

During one of the police pursuits, Luke uses both hands to get halfway out the window. The point-of-view changes and somehow he now has a bow and arrow in his hands. After shooting off one flaming arrow, he then ducks back in the car and from the interior shot we see that the bow has somehow disappeared.

Although their car sustains damage from ramming and banging other cars, often when the camera angle changes the damage is no longer evident, only to return in a later shot.

If you’ve made it to the end, stick around for the outtakes while the credits roll. At least you’ll get a real laugh from some of them.

BTW, I agree with holllywood tuna that "there should be some sort of law in Hollywood that she can only be allowed to wear bikinis in her movie roles. Face it. We’re not interested in the acting abilities of" Jessica Simpson

Thursday, August 4, 2005


In Spanish with English subtitles

Mirella Pascual: Marta Acuña, an exemplary employee of a small, old, dilapidated sock factory located somewhere in Uruguay
Andres Pazos: Jacobo Köller, the factory owner
Jorge Bolani: his more energetic brother Herman, owner of a much more successful sock factory in Brazil

Unlike so many movies with lots of dialogue and bustling action, this one is quite the opposite. The writers have chosen to let the images tell the story, relying on very little dialog to “fill in the blanks”. Excellent performances from all three principals, all of whom are so true to life, reminding us of people we have seen or met. With it’s measured slow pace, the movie is probably best seen with your feet up and a big bag of popcorn at your side.


The film was Uruguay's entry to the Academy Award competition for Best Foreign-Language Film. It did not get nominated, which is no surprise to many, as it seems the Academy has a long-standing aversion to Latin American cinema.


Original title Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei
In German with English subtitles

Though unconnected to its American counterpart that had the same name (Students for a Democratic Society), the German SDS shared a similar place in German society. It was the leading left-wing student organization throughout the sixties.

Daniel Brühl: Jan, an anti-globalisation activist
Stipe Erceg: his roommate and pal, Peter
Julia Jentsch: his girlfriend Jule, a server in a upscale Berlin restaurant
Burghart Klaußner: "Hardi" Hardenberg, an affluent businessman

Although it’s a bit too long and sometimes becomes bogged down expounding the principals of idealism, the movie has enough going for it that it’s worthwhile sitting through these things. The acting is first class and the story moves along at a good clip, sometimes taking unexpected turns.

(but in my opinion hardly deserved) for some profanity, one brief scene of sexuality and drug use.