Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Animated adventure

Ryan Newman: a blonde pigtailed little girl
Mitchel Musso: 12-year old DJ
Fred Willard: his father, a dentist
Catherine O'Hara: his mother
Sam Lerner: DJ's best friend Chowder
Maggie Gyllenhaal: Elizabeth (aka Zee), the baby-sitter
Steve Buscemi: Old Man Nebbercracker, the owner of the decrepit old house
Spencer Locke: Jenny, student selling school items door-to-door
Jason Lee: Zee’s boyfriend Bones
Kevin James: Officer Landers
Nick Cannon: his rookie partner Lister

This is an old-style adventure story pitting the good guys against the forces of evil but done using the latest CGI technology. Despite the fact the movie is fairly short (1½ hours), character development has not been overlooked. Each of the principals has their own body language, their own way of speaking and what they say actually seems real.

Although there are some scary images, the producers have stayed away from really frightening ones. What a relief for “fraidy cats” like me.

for scary moments for the really young (5 and under ?)

The movie is a natural for 3D viewing and some theatres will be showing it in this format. BTW: there’s one more chuckle just before the final credits.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Original title: Le Secret de ma mère
In French with English subtitles
Comedy, drama

Ginette Reno: Blanche, ex-wife of the deceased Jos
Céline Bonnier: her daughter Jeanne
Clémence Desrochers: one of Blanche’s four sisters Rolande
Catherine Bégin: Cécile, another sister, the “baby” of the family
Marie-Chantal Perron: Cécile’s daughter Annie
David Boutin: the young Jos
Joëlle Morin: the young Blanche

Over time we learn about one extended French-Canadian family and the secrets kept by Jeanne’s mother. Funny at times (including a couple of swipes at “the English of Westmount”) it also has its serious moments. Played out like a soap opera with flashbacks, it is entertaining although it can get a bit complicated if you’re not paying attention. The acting is excellent throughout.

for mature themes, profanity and sexual situations.

The period pieces have been well researched for historical accuracy including the stubby beer bottles that were used in those days and the availability of KIK cola.

Saturday, July 15, 2006



Frank Gehry (pronounced Gary), b. 1929 in Toronto, Ontario as Ephraim Goldberg. At age 17 he moved to California and later graduated from the U.C.L.A. School of Architecture. Today he is a naturalised American citizen and lives in Los Angeles.

An architect known for his sculptural approach to building design, he is best known for building curvaceous structures, often covered with reflective metal. His most famous work, and the clearest expression of his style, is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

One of his current projects is the expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario which is expected to be completed by 2008.

The famous Hollywood movie director Sidney Pollack shot this with a hand held video camera. The result comes across more like a “home-movie” instead of the usual classical style of a documentary.

But that doesn’t mean to say there is not a lot to be learned about this world-renowned architect from Canada. Although the views of some critics are included, it is not a balanced documentary since the man behind it is a long-time friend of the principal. But again, it doesn’t have to be.

for brief strong language (couple of four-letter words).

Monday, July 10, 2006



Prada, SpA is an Italian fashion company with retail outlets worldwide. The company was founded in 1913 by Mario Prada selling handbags, wallets, shoes and briefcases. In 1978 Mario's granddaughter Miuccia Prada inherited what was still a leather goods business and added a line of designer clothing that today rivals Gucci, Verace, Armani, Valentino and the like.

Anne Hathaway: Andrea (Andy) Sachs, a recent journalism school grad
Emily Blunt: Emily, First Assistant to Miranda
Stanley Tucci: Nigel, the magazine’s Fashion Coordinator
Meryl Streep: Miranda Priestly, Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious fashion magazine, Runway
Adrian Grenier: Andy’s boyfriend Nate, a line cook in a local restaurant
Simon Baker: Christian Thompson, a famous writer for a New York magazine

With rapid-fire dialog and terrific acting (especially Streep’s portrayal of the cold and reserved boss barking out unreasonable demands) coupled with crisp editing and a good story line, this is a very enjoyable comedy about the fashion industry.

for mature themes, profanity (a four-letter word repeated three times) and sexual situations

In the opening scenes, Andy is dressed warmly in a brown tweed jacket with a belt. Sometimes the crossed over belt length is down to the third button but in other shots it is very short, only a couple of inches long.

When called into Miranda’s office, Andy has a strand of hair hanging down over her right eye. However in each close-up shot of her, the hair is no longer there.

When Nigel and Andy are having some champagne in her hotel room, the face of a crew member can be seen in the window reflection.

Sunday, July 9, 2006


IMAX documentary

The one reason to go see this movie is because it’s in 3D. But apart from that, the stunning visuals we’ve seen before and the narration adds little to what has already been said.

What is new are the close-ups of various sea creatures devouring their food. This is too much information and frankly not all that pleasant to watch. Especially disturbing (and undoubtedly will result in some of the audience having nightmares) is the prolonged eating frenzy by huge squids. Some things are better left unseen.


Saturday, July 8, 2006


Action adventure

Keira Knightley: the lovely governor’s daughter Elizabeth Swann
Orlando Bloom: her fiancé Will Turner
Jonathan Pryce: her father the British Governor of Port Royal
Tom Hollander: Lord Cutter Beckett, owner of the East India Trading Company
Johnny Depp: Jack Sparrow, captain of The Black Pearl
Bill Nighy: Davy Jones, captain of The Flying Dutchman

Often sequels don’t live up to the original. Such is the case with this one. Although there is plenty of action, much of it is repetitive. And the movie goes on far too long. Instead of employing hundreds (no kidding … check out the final credits) of special effects experts, they should have hired a few more people to edit it down to size.

Despite these shortcomings, the movie is still entertaining with lots of one-liners and some slapstick resulting in pretty much non-stop fun.

for intense sequences of adventure violence and frightening images

Thursday, July 6, 2006


Sports Documentary

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) exists to assist member schools in operating student programs that foster achievement, respect, equity, enthusiasm and excellence in a safe and organised environment. It also monitors and expects adherence to the Coaching Code of Ethics.

Bill Resler, professor at the University of Washington and high school basketball coach
Darnellia Russell, the star player of the Roosevelt Roughriders
Her mother April
Joyce Walker, women's basketball legend and coach of rival Garfield Bulldogs

Most sports documentaries cover just one year, the year the team won/lost the championship. This one doesn’t. It covers a period of six seasons, focused mostly on one basketball player and her coach. Along the way there are some funny moments but mostly it’s about the serious side of the game and the lives of the players, at least some of them.

A classic “feel-good” movie, it also raises some issues that could have been explored in more depth.

for brief strong language (brief is right: one instance of a four letter word being heard off-camera).

Monday, July 3, 2006


Documentary recreation
With English subtitles as required

Tipton is in the Black Country, a part of the West Midlands. It used to be one of the most industrial and smoky towns in England but almost all of the factories have now been closed and knocked down. It's made the air in Tipton less dirty but unemployment has gone up in the last 20 years. The main neighbourhoods of town include Lost City (a grotty 1930's council estate), Prince’s End (a main road lined with decrepit council flats and shops), Tibbington (another rundown council estate) and Great Bridge (a bottleneck crammed with decaying old pubs and shops). Tipton was described by the BBC as "one of the few places in Britain with no middle-class".

Karachi is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea in southeastern Pakistan. A financial and commercial centre, it is the most populated city in the country.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Asia. It is bordered by Iran in the west, Pakistan in the south and east, and the People’s Republic of China to the east. Modern Afghanistan arose as an independent state in 1919, when foreign intervention ceased following the Anglo-Afghan wars. The country's recent history has seen it ravaged by the Soviet deployment of the 40th Army into Afghanistan in December 1979. The final USSR troop withdrawal took place in February 1989. The chaos and corruption that dominated post-Soviet Afghanistan resulted in the downfall of the government as it steadily lost ground to guerrilla forces and the Taliban movement seized power in 1996. They imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law and gave safe haven and assistance to individuals and organisations that were implicated as terrorists, most notably Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network. The only city in Afghanistan with over one million residents is its capital, Kabul. The other major cities in the country are Kandahar and Kunduz, a stronghold of the Taliban.

Since 2002 the three Guantanamo Bay detainment camps (Camp Delta, Camp Iguana and Camp X-Ray) have operated as military prisons within the United States naval base in the southern part of Cuba. The camp has drawn strong criticism both in the U.S. and worldwide for its allegations of torture and the detainment of prisoners without being charged with any crime nor having a proper trial. According to the U.S. government, many detainees are considered to be illegal combatants and thus not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention.

Asif Iqbal, resident of Tipton and soon to be married
Ruhel Ahmed, his friend, both 19-years-old
Shafiq Rasul, their 23-year-old friend
Zahid, Shafiq’s Pakistani cousin

This fact-based story of three Muslim Brits (the so-called “Tipton Three”) and their buddy Monir mixes documentary footage with "dramatisations" of real events that took place in 2001. What started out to be a simple trip back to their homeland wound up being a tortuous adventure for them all.

Not always easy to watch, this insight to the brutal treatment any adversary is subjected to by his captors is both riveting and revealing.

for language and disturbing violent content

Sunday, July 2, 2006



enigmatologist [noun]
someone who studies and writes mathematical, word or logic puzzles

New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz
Puzzle constructor Merl Reagle
Avid crossworder President Bill Clinton
Al Sanders, Project Manager for Hewlett Packard
Ellen Ripstein, a self-described nerdy New Yorker
Jon Delfin, Broadway pianist
Trip Payne, former winner of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
Tyler Hinman, a 20-year-old RPI student and youngest competitor

Like most documentaries, this is not for everyone.

Fans of crossword puzzles will be fascinated with seeing how a puzzle is actually constructed, how crossworders feel about doing them and watching some compete in an annual tournament.

Non-fans of crossword puzzles will be bored to death.

for some language and mild thematic elements.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY
Founded in 1824, it is one of the oldest engineering schools in the country with students from 68 countries around the world.
 Undergraduate Cost of Attendance for First-Year Students (2006-2007):
Tuition: US$32,600
Fees: US $900
Room & Board: US$9,915
Books & Supplies: US$1,770
All students are required to purchase a laptop for their course work: US$2,300
Total cost for First-Year Students: US$47,485