Friday, June 30, 2006


Action adventure

Kevin Spacey: Lex Luthor, Superman's number one enemy
Parker Posey: Catherine (Kitty) Kowalski, Lex’s associate
Eva Marie Saint: Martha Kent, Superman’s surrogate mother
Brandon Routh: Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper and Superman
Sam Huntington: Jimmy Olsen, the paper’s copy boy
Kate Bosworth: Lois Lane, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter
Tristan Leabu: her son Jason
James Marsden: her fiancé Richard White
Frank Langella: Perry White, Editor-in-Chief
Marlon Brando: Jor-El, Superman's biological father

There are few movies that warrant a running time beyond two hours. This is not one of them. Despite the fact there is lots of action almost from the get-go, better editing would eliminate some of the dull parts that drag on too long and you wind up having to sit through a 2½-hour film.

As a new twist to the story, we see that Superman has a romantic side to him and has to deal with relationships while “saving the world”. It’s a lot to ask of anybody.

for some intense action violence.

Saturday, June 17, 2006



Since his unsuccessful attempt at becoming President of the United States in 2000, former Vice-President Al Gore has been on a mission: to tell the world what most people accept to be true, that global warming is something real and we must deal with it.

His presentation is slick making use of the most modern visual aids so we can see for ourselves the problem as it exists. Although most of the film takes place in a small amphitheatre, Gore's easy approach makes it not so much a lecture but simply listening to someone who has become something of an expert on the subject.

The one thing that seems out of place is including the highlights of his political career. In my opinion there are other public forums where this would be more appropriate.

for mild thematic elements



A Prairie Home Companion first aired on public radio station in 1969 on Saturday nights from 5 to 7 p.m. It was created and hosted by Garrison Keillor from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Kevin Kline: Guy Noir, former P.I. now Vice-President in charge of security
Meryl Streep: Yolanda Johnson, eldest of the singing Johnson Sisters
Lily Tomlin: Rhonda, her younger sister
Lindsay Lohan: Yolanda's teenaged daughter Lola
Garrison Keillor: G.K., the show’s emcee
Maya Rudolph: stage manager Molly
Woody Harrleson: Dusty, one of the singing duo called the Old Trailhands
John C. Reilly: his companion Lefty
Virginia Madsen: the woman in the white trench coat
L. Q. Jones: Chuck Akers, an old-time C&W singer
Tommy Lee Jones: the Axeman

Entertaining, especially if you like country and western music, it’s easy to see why the real show was so popular all those years. Meryl Streep is made for this movie and it showcases her talent as a singer as well as an actor. First rate acting throughout although Lindsay Lohan’s role could have been played but most anyone.

for risqué humor (= one song with off-colour lyrics)

The call letters of the host radio station were WNT not WLT.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Animated comedy

Owen Wilson: Lightning McQueen, car #95 a rookie NASCAR-type race car
Michael Keaton: car #86 a racing veteran, Chick Hicks
Richard Petty: car #43 The King a former series winner, a 1970 Plymouth
John Ratzenberger: Mack the truck
Michael Wallis: the Sheriff, a 1949 Mercury police cruiser
Larry the Cable Guy: Mater the tow truck
Bonnie Hunt: Sally Carrera the motel owner, a Porsche 911
Paul Newman: Doc Hudson the town judge, a 1951 Hudson Hornet
George Carlin: Fillmore, a 1960 Volkswagen bus
Paul Dooley: his neighbour Sarge, a 1942 WWII Willys Army jeep
Cheech Marin: Ramone, a 1959 Chevy low-rider
Jenifer Lewis: his wife the owner of Flo’s V-8 Café, a 1950’s show car
Tony Shalhoub: Luigi the owner of Casa Della Tires, a 1959 Fiat 500
Guido Quaroni: Guido, his forklift buddy
Guest “appearances” by race car drivers Mario Andretti, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Michael Schumacher, sports broadcaster Bob Costas and late night TV host Jay Leno

Although geared to people of all ages, young children will probably be bored after the first 10 minutes once the action leaves the race track and becomes a story about new friendships and misadventures. For the most part it moves along at a good clip but at two hours it is simply too long. There are few outright laughs but certainly a lot of amusing and clever things throughout the movie. The animation is first rate and even has something new: reflections off the shiny bits.

Neatly woven into the story are several important lessons: the need to be dedicated and to be hard-working, to be loyal and to accept the fact that winning is not everything.


Some of the sight gags include the scrolling news headlines on television appropriately labelled Braking News.
It’s worth while sticking around for one last chuckle following the end credits.

Friday, June 9, 2006



The Strait of Dover is the narrowest part of the English Channel being only 21 miles from Dover to Cap Gris Nez. In 1875 Captain Matthew Webb made the first observed and unassisted swim across it from England to France in 21 hours and 45 minutes.
In the next 50 years ten swimmers managed to emulate the feat (or claimed they had) so in in 1927 the Channel Swimming Association was founded to observe, authenticate and ratify cross-channel swims in the Strait of Dover.
 Total number of ratified swims under CSA rules up to 2004:
948 successful crossings, 456 by men and 214 by women.
 Fastest swim: Chad Hunde (USA) on the 27th September 1994
in 7 hours 17 minutes.
 Oldest male swimmer: George Brunstad (USA), 70 years old when he crossed on the 27th and 28th of August 2004, taking 15 hours 59 min.
 Slowest crossing: Henry Sullivan (USA) in 26 hours 50 minutes
 Shortest ever attempt: Bruno Tajana (Swiss) gave up after just 100 yards while the water was still only knee-deep

Peter Mullan: Frank Redmond, foreman in a Glasgow shipyard
Brenda Blethyn: his wife Joan
Jamie Sives: their son Rob, a stay-at-home dad
Sean McGinley: Frank’s best buddy, also a factory worker at the shipyard
Billy Boyd: Danny Campbell, who thinks highly of Frank
Ron Cook: Norman, the shy quiet type
Benedict Wong: Chan, owner of a local take out store

Sometimes our simmering secret desires manifest themselves in the strangest of ways. Such is the case with this endeavour, undertaken by someone who should be seriously contemplating how to take it easy rather than pushing himself to new limits.

Even with this premise of hope, somehow the movie lacks punch, in part because of several sub-plots which tend to “muddy” the main point of the whole thing. With few exceptions, the acting is just so-so and the pacing somewhat ponderous.

for some language.



Ray Winstone: Captain Morris Stanley, head of the policing unit
Guy Pearce: gang member Charlie
Richard Wilson: his brother, 14-year old Mikey
David Wenham: town boss Eden Fletcher
Emily Watson: Captain Stanley’s wife Martha
John Hurt: Jellon Lamb, bounty hunter
Danny Huston: the elder brother and ringleader, Arthur

WARNING: this movie is not for all!

It’s bloody, brutal, violent, realistic and gory. In a word, it is not for the squeamish.

It’s also slow, with time given to develop all the main characters and a chance to figure out just what they are thinking or planning to do. So it’s not for those who crave fast paced action movies although there is no lack of action when it does take place.

Because things happen so quickly at the beginning of the movie, it is important to keep in mind that there are three brothers, one of whom gets away (Arthur) while the other two are captured. Captain Stanley very much wants to capture Arthur so he makes the proposition to Charlie.

for strong grisly violence.

The beautiful sunrises and sunsets of the Australian Outback are such a contrast to what else is being shown.

Saturday, June 3, 2006



Vince Vaughn: Gary Grobowski, part owner of a Chicago tour bus company
Jon Favreau: his best friend, Johnny O, owner of a local bar
Jennifer Aniston: Brooke Meyers, employee of the Marilyn Dean art gallery
Vincent D'Onofrio: Gary’s older brother and business partner Dennis
Cole Hauser: Gary’s younger brother and business partner Lupus
Judy Davis: Marilyn Dean

Although promoted as a romantic comedy, it really isn’t. It is more about relationships, personalities, values and issues and how people deal with them. Along the way there is some romance and certainly there are times when it’s downright funny. But it is not a romantic comedy as such.
Some of the scenes drag on a little too long but there is some great acting by Jennifer Aniston that more than compensates.

for sexual content, some nudity (backsides only) and language (quite a few four-letter words)

When Brooke walks down the condo hallway she is almost at the bedroom door before the point of view changes to Gary’s perspective from the sofa. Now she’s somehow backed up and is only midway down the hallway.

When Gary and Johnny O are in his bar sitting side-by-side discussing some things, Gary’s beer bottle changes orientation between shots.