Friday, May 26, 2006


Animated cartoon

Bruce Willis: RJ the raccoon
Nick Nolte: Vincent the bear
Garry Shandling: Verne the turtle, the leader of the forest animals
Steve Carell: Hamilton (aka Hammy) the hyper-active squirrel
Wanda Sykes: Stella the skunk
William Shatner: Ozzie the possum
Avril Lavigne: his daughter Heather
Eugene Levy: Lou the porcupine
Catherine O'Hara: his daughter Penny
Allison Janney: Gladys, head of the homeowner's association
Thomas Haden Church: Dwayne the Verminator
Omid Djalili: Tiger the cat

This one is not just for kids. Adults will find it humorous with more than a few pointed references to some of society’s current ills. As a counter balance we see the positive aspects of working together and the benefits of having strong family ties.
There are the requisite crude bodily noises that children expect in a movie of this sort but Hammy’s beginning recitation of the alphabet is right-on. The music is so-so despite the involvement of Hans Zimmer (an off day perhaps?).
With a simple story line, the movie is over before you realise it. Still it is entertaining and a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half.

for some rude humor and mild comic action.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Action adventure

Tom Hanks: Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology
Jean Reno: Captain Bezu Fache with the French version of the FBI
Audrey Tautou: Sophie Neveu, French government agent and cryptologist
Ian McKellen: Sir Leigh Teabing, an expert in theology
Alfred Molina: Bishop Aringarosa, a member of the Catholic clergy
Paul Bettany: his associate Silas

Most critics at the annual Cannes film festival panned the movie. It was described variously as "grim", "unwieldy" and "plodding".

Sure it’s shot in dark muted colours in keeping with the nature of the story but that doesn’t make it grim. There are some lengthy passages during which some historical background material is presented, but that is all very necessary to understand what is going on and certainly does not make it unwieldy. As far as plodding goes, that’s the last thing I’d say about it because of the frequent car chases, crisp editing, some unexpected turn of events and lots of running around in Paris, Zurich and London.

I wonder if we saw the same film?

for disturbing images, violence, some nudity, thematic material, brief drug references (about 20 seconds worth) and sexual content (missed that part).

I won’t even begin to get into this subject.

So much has been made of the fact many things presented in the novel and in the movie that are supposedly true yet there is much evidence to the contrary. Since I consider this to be a work of fiction, there does not seem to be any point in rehashing what has already been said.

There has been a lot of controversy and protestations because of the central message the movie has to say. Some people might be upset about that so perhaps not going to see the movie is the best thing for them. But that’s a personal choice.

Friday, May 19, 2006



Sam Shepard: Howard Spence, former big time Western movie star
Eva Marie Saint: his mother
Jessica Lange: Doreen, one of Howard’s fans from years ago
Gabriel Mann: her son Earl, a singer in a local bar
Sarah Polley: Sky, a native of Butte, Montana
Tim Roth: Sutter, private investigator working for an insurance company
Fairuza Balk: Amber

The movie has the potential to be a good one but just doesn’t make it.
For starters, there is the basic story line: someone seeking answers to his past is not an unusual event but to do so in the manner Howard does makes no sense.
The acting is uneven: Earl when he is not singing is over-the-top and totally unbelievable, Doreen and Sky do a fine job but Eva Marie Saint comes across as though she was reading from cue cards! Maybe she was?
In addition, the absence of people out in the streets of Butte is surreal. It makes this charming town look like a stage set not a real place.

for language (couple of f-words) and brief nudity (very brief)

Howard goes down the stairs to the basement in his mother’s house. I think the lights come on a millisecond before we hear the sound of the switch.

Earl’s sofa is too wide to fit through the window.

Howard’s car has a flat tire on the driver’s side. The next shot shows Earl changing the tire on the passenger’s side.

Sam Shepard collaborated in the writing of the script. Once more the combination of screenwriter and actor in a leading role is less than the sum of its parts.


Based on a true story

In 1979 Steve Bateman joined his father Richard at the family shoe-making firm, WJ Brooks Ltd. and eventually took over as Managing Director in 1993. Sales of traditional, hand-stitched leather dress shoes were already in trouble back then as cheap fashionable imports flooded the market. Many Northamptonshire shoe factories collapsed, went into bankruptcy and the old, distinctive buildings turned into flats. WJ Brooks was heading the same way and Steve was forced to make redundancies (the British way of saying laying off people).

Kinky boots: the term is most often connected to the type of thigh-high boots used by Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman and by Madonna on her Re-Invention World Tour; what can be considered kinky by some can be seen as elegant and trendy by others.

Joel Edgerton: Charlie, the grandson of the founder of Price & Sons
Jemima Rooper: his fiancée Nicola, a real estate agent
Chiwetel Ejiofor (pronouced Chew-it-tell Edge-oh-for): drag queen Lola
Sarah-Jane Potts: Lauren, one of the laid off employees
Ewan Hooper: George, the senior assembly man
Nick Frost: arm-wrestling champion and tough guy Don

Because the movie is about an alternative sexual orientation, it might put some people off from seeing it. But there is no reason not to go since there is nothing risqué or anything that might offend anyone.
In fact, it is a story about a group of people who work together to achieve something in their lives. Based on a true story (with some liberties taken I’m sure) it’s often funny and well acted throughout. The music and dancing are a bonus.

for thematic material involving sexuality (drag queens) and for language (the odd swear word).

Saturday, May 13, 2006



Robin Williams: Bob Munro, an executive in a soda company
Cheryl Hines: his wife Jamie
Joanna 'JoJo' Levescue: their 15-year-old daughter Cassie
Josh Hutcherson: their 12-year-old son Carl
Jeff Daniels: Travis Gornicke, full-time RVer
Kristin Chenoweth: his wife Marie Jo
Hunter Parrish: their eldest son Earl
Chloe Sonnenfeld: their daughter Moon
Alex Ferris: their youngest son Billy

If potty humour is not your thing, better skip this one. On the other hand, there are some funny moments interspersed with these crude remarks that make it an entertaining evening out (but not on a first date). A bit of a mixed bag but overall good for a laugh.

for crude humor, innuendo and language



Kurt Russell: Robert Ramsey, former Mayor of New York
Emmy Rossum: his daughter Jennifer
Mike Vogel: her secret fiancé Christian
Josh Lucas: Dylan Johns, professional gambler
Mía Maestro: stowaway Elena Gonzalez
Freddy Rodríguez: ship's waiter Marco Valentin
Jacinda Barrett: Maggie James, single mother
Jimmy Bennett: her son Conor
Richard Dreyfuss: Richard Nelson, an architect

Like all remakes of an earlier blockbuster, this one suffers from the fact that many people already know the story. There are a few new twists but the film suffers from a real feeling of déja-vu. The special effects outdo the original (hey it’s been 30 years already) and the stunts are first rate.
All told though, it’s fine entertainment as long as you don’t spend too much effort trying to find holes in the plot.

for prolonged sequences of disaster and peril.

Carpe diem, uttered by Richard Nelson, is generally translated from the Latin as “seize the day”.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Action adventure

Tom Cruise: Ethan Hunt, semi-retired Special Agent
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Owen Davian, evil international arms dealer
Michelle Monaghan: Ethan’s fiancé Julia, a nurse in a local hospital
Billy Crudup: John Musgrave, Ethan’s boss at IMF
Ving Rhames: Luther Strickell, part of Ethan’s team
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Declan, team member
Maggie Q: Zhen, team member
Keri Russel: Lindsey, a field agent and Ethan’s protegé
Laurence Fishburne: John Brassel, Chief of Intelligence

Packed with almost non-stop action, great special effects, lots of stunts and fabulous locations, the only thing missing is any sense of excitement. Most of what we see is déja vu, not only in the earlier versions of Mission Impossible, but in other action movies as well. But it makes the time pass quickly.

for intense sequences of frenetic violence and menace, disturbing images and some sensuality

The Romans built the wall in 270AD that even today surrounds Rome (including the Vatican). Exclusive of the battlements and the huge towers that are four stories high, it rises to a height of 45 not 60 feet as mentioned in the IMF planning meeting.

After Zhen and Ethan go down a manhole, Ethan pulls on the circular manhole cover and drops it in place. These things are purposely designed to be too heavy for someone to easily move and weigh over 100 lb. so there is no way he could have done that alone, let alone with one hand.

According to the official website, the producers took full advantage of Tom Cruise’s well-known enthusiasm for performing his own stunts.

Why the object of interest is called a rabbit’s foot is never explained because it looks nothing at all like that. Perhaps I missed something?