Saturday, November 26, 2005


Sports drama
In French with English subtitles

Maurice Richard was one of the best players in NHL history. Not an outstanding stick-handler nor great skater, he excelled through sheer force of will. Driven by desire so fierce his glare unhinged rival goaltenders, the Montreal Canadians star set numerous records. "The Rocket" thrilled fans everywhere and was regarded as a cultural icon among Quebecois who revered him as "Saint Maurice”.

Born in Saskatchewan and educated at England's Oxford University, NHL President Clarence Campbell is often described as imperious and arrogant. Most French Canadians regarded him as a symbol of the disdained anglophone ruling elite. In March 1955, against the advice of many, he attended a Montreal Canadians home game and the consequences made headlines worldwide.

Roy Dupuis: Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, hockey player
Julie LeBreton: his wife, Lucille
Michel Barrette: her father, Père Norchet
Diane Lavallée: her mother, Alice
Pierre-Francois Legendre: Maurice’s brother-in-law, Georges
Stephen McHattie: Dick Irvin Sr., Montreal Canadians Head Coach
Tony Calabretta: Frank Selke, Montreal Canadians General Manager

An honest depiction of one of the greatest stars of the game and an insight into the internal politics of hockey as practised back in those days. The acting is uniformly excellent, the sports action well done and the story well written. Even for the non-sports fan, it is an entertaining movie because a lot of the story takes place off the ice.


Everything is historically correct even to the salt shakers on the tavern tables which were used to “salt” each draft beer, a practice no longer in vogue.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Original title: Rois et reine
In French with English subtitles.

Emmanuelle Devos: Nora Cotterelle, a 35-year-old single mother
Mathieu Amalric: her ex-lover Ismaël Vuillard, a talented musician
Nathalie Boutefeu: Chloé Jenssens, Nora’s sister
Valentin Lelong: Elias Cotterelle, Nora’s father

This is one awful movie about grim things like suicide, terminally ill people, mental institutions, broken relations, self-guilt and dishonesty. The acting at best is mediocre and often worse. There are frequent noisy shouting matches and the flashbacks absolutely confusing because no attempt has been made to make the person look any younger in the earlier episodes. So you don’t immediately know if it’s a flashback or the present. By the time you figure it out, it’s back to the other time period.
One other thing: everything moves at a snail’s pace with lots and lots of words. Consequently the movie is more than 2½ hours long.


When I came into the theatre at showtime there was no one there. “Did they know something I didn’t?” I asked myself. I soon found out the answer to that one. When I walked out part way through, the film played on to a completely empty theatre.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Romantic comedy

When these events take place in 1797, the French Revolution was underway and the English nobility were very worried something similar might happen there. So they decided to assimilate more with the lower class. They organised Assembly Room dances held in village halls that provided the opportunity of the two classes to intermingle socially, something that previously was never done. These dances effectively broadened the marriage prospects of both classes.

Since women had no status in eighteenth century England, the law stipulated that only male offspring could inherit property so women knew they must marry well. Frequently their mothers took on the task of finding a suitable husband for them before they became “too old”.

Keira Knightley: Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennet, 20-years old and second eldest of five sisters
Brenda Blethyn: the mother
Donald Sutherland: the father
Rosamund Pike: the oldest daughter, Jane
Simon Woods: Mr. Bingley, a rich young bachelor, recently moved into a nearby estate
Kelly Reilly: Mr. Bingley’s sister Caroline
Matthew MacFadyen: Mr. Bingley’s wealthy best friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, 28- years old
Tom Hollander: Mr. Collins, a clergyman
Dame Judi Dench: Mr. Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Rupert Friend: Mr. Wickham, a lieutenant in the local militia

A classic story beautifully filmed and marvellously acted.

for some mild thematic elements.

This movie will undoubtedly be nominated (and probably win) several Oscar awards including Best Picture, Cinematography, Production Design, Art Direction, Costume Design, Acting in a Leading Role, Acting in a Supporting Role as well as several technical awards such as Sound Production. It is simply that good.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Animated children’s story

Zach Braff: Chicken Little
Garry Marshall: his dad Buck Cluck, a former high school jock
Joan Cusack: Abby “The Ugly Duckling” Mallard
Steve Zahn: Runt of the Litter, a friend who’s very much into music
Amy Sedaris: Foxy Loxy, all-star school athlete
Dan Molina: Fish Out of Water
Don Knotts:Turkey Lurkey, Mayor of Oakley Oaks

The movie will never become as popular as the old classic story despite the fact it has been brought up-to-date in a more modern setting.
From the reaction of the audience it seems your satisfaction with the movie is inversely proportional with your age: the little tykes loved it, their parents less so. The frantic pace, too much time spent at the ball game and the absence of any adult-only humour makes it a bit of a drag.
Suggestion: send the kids with their baby-sitter and pick another movie for yourself.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Romantic comedy

Uma Thurman: Rafi Gardet, recently divorced 37-year old
Meryl Streep: Lisa Metzger, Rafi’s psychiatrist
Madhur Jaffrey: Rita, Lisa’s psychiatrist
Bryan Greenberg: David Bloomberg, 23-year old artist

A very entertaining movie with its share of chuckles, twists and turns. Although several issues become apparent, they are handled with a sense of humour (at least by some). Excellent acting by Thurman and Streep.

for sexual content and for language.

While Rafi and David are riding in a convertible with the top down, the rear view mirror is missing when seen from the front of the car but it’s there when looking from the rear.
New York City cabs have the same number on both the license plate and on the dome light. The license plate of the cab Rafi and David take is 7N30 but that is not what is on the dome light.

Haven’t quite figured out what the title has to do with the movie.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005


IMAX 3D documentary

Operation Red Flag's mission is to maximize the combat readiness, capability and survivability of participating units by providing realistic training in a combined air, ground and electronic threat environment while providing for a free exchange of ideas between forces. Established in 1975, Red Flag is a two-week realistic combat training exercise involving the elite aerial forces from all four branches of the U.S. military, plus their Guard/Reserve components. NATO and the air forces of 27 other countries have joined the U.S. in these intensive exercises which take place on the vast bombing and gunnery ranges at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Red Flag is the last in a series of advanced training programs for pilots and their crews before being sent into actual combat. The objective is to make the exercises as real and challenging as possible -- to push the pilots, the ground crews, the mechanics, and rescue personnel to their limit.

Captain John "Otter" Stratton, 30-year old F-15C Instructor Pilot

Aviation enthusiasts will find the movie an exciting first-hand look into the life of military pilots and the difficulties they encounter in trying to “make the final grade”. Spectacular photography of mock aerial combat is combined with details about the role of all the other support aircraft. Fascinating stuff.


Sunday, November 6, 2005


Sports drama

Betting is illegal in 49 states, but giving people advice on betting is not.

Matthew McConaughey: former football player turned Las Vegas odds maker
Al Pacino: Walter Abrams, owner of a sports betting hot line business operating out of New York city
Rene Russo: Toni, Walter’s long-suffering wife
Jeremy Piven: Jerry, one of Walter’s star sports line win-predictors

This is a terrific insight into another one of those “grey zone” activities that are legal but just. Helping people to gamble for some is a question of morality. Not for these guys. It’s their living.

And it’s a business full of energy; especially as played by Al Pacino who’s at his volcanic best…it’s almost scary to watch.

There are several loose ends, questions that don’t get answered but hey, the movie does not pretend to be a documentary.

for pervasive language (frequent use of the f-word and other swear words), a scene of sexuality (can hardly tell if they’re naked or not) and a violent act (not really).

Promoted as “based on a true story”, perhaps those who make use of these hot lines know without having to be told, but for the rest of us there is nothing in the credits or elsewhere providing any clue as to who was the real person.

Saturday, November 5, 2005



Lou Pucci: Justin Cobb, a 17-year-old high school senior
Tilda Swinton: Justin’s mother Audrey, a rehab clinic nurse
Vincent D'Onofrio: Justin’s father Mike, a furniture salesman
Chase Offerle: Justin’s younger brother Joel
Vince Vauhgn: Mr. Geary, the school debate team coach
Keanu Reeves: Justin’s orthodontist Dr. Perry Lyman
Benjamin Bratt: Matt Schramm, popular television soap opera star
Kelli Garner: Rebecca, one of Justin’s classmates

The movie is about discovery and growth within ourselves and others. What makes this one different from other “coming of age” movies is that it does not seem like one. Everybody looks and acts normally, they don’t wear flashy clothes, and no one has on heavy makeup. In a word, it looks real. How refreshing.

for drug and alcohol use, sexuality involving teens, language (the f-word) and a disturbing image (have no idea what they’re talking about..nothing disturbed me).

In any other movie the following "goof" if not edited out would be a nitpick; in this one it’s just part of the natural look about it:
Justin comes into the kitchen from some other room and catches his jacket on the doorknob which spins him around and almost drops him to the floor.


Historical drama

Joseph McCarthy was born in 1908 on a farm in Appleton, Wisconsin. After graduating from Marquette University, he worked as a lawyer but was not very successful and had to supplement his income by playing poker.
In an election to become a circuit court judge, McCarthy shocked local officials by fighting a dirty campaign. This included publishing campaign literature that falsely claimed that his opponent, Edgar Werner, was 73: he was actually 66. In addition, he said Werner was senile and was guilty of financial corruption. There was no evidence either claim had any merit.
McCarthy entered federal politics and won a seat as the Republican Senator for the state of Wisconsin. In May 1950, afraid that he would be defeated in the next election, he came up with the idea that he should begin a campaign against communist subversives working in the Democratic administration. With the war going badly in Korea and communist advances in Eastern Europe and in China, the American public were genuinely frightened about the possibilities of internal subversion.
For the next two years McCarthy investigated various government departments and questioned a large number of people about their political past. Some people lost their jobs after they admitted they had been members of the Communist Party. McCarthy made it clear to the witnesses that the only way of showing that they had abandoned their left-wing views was by naming other members of the party.
This witch-hunt and anti-communist hysteria became known as McCarthyism.

David Strathairn: Edward R. Murrow, to many the most distinguished and renowned figure in the history of American broadcast journalism
Ray Wise: Don Hollenbeck, CBS-TV news commentator
Frank Langella: William S. Paley, CBS Network Chairman of board
George Clooney: Fred Friendly, CBS News producer
Robert Downey, Jr: Joe Wershba, a newsroom employee
Patricia Clarkson: Shirley, a colleague of Joe
Grant Heslov: Don Hewitt, a newsroom reporter

For those interested in American history and television journalism, this is a “must-see”. Others would find it a bore because the movie puts you right in the middle of the action. Mostly centred on the continuing battle between Senator McCarthy and the media, there are side issues brought to light as well. The acting is top-notch throughout.

for mild thematic elements and brief language.

Shot in black and white, this perfectly fits with the time period when these events took place.

The initial "S" in Paley’s name stood for nothing. He added it in his early business years since it “has a nice ring about it”. He had no formal middle name.