Thursday, August 31, 2006


True sports story

Mark Wahlberg: Vincent (Vince) Papale, 30-year old substitute teacher and part-time bartender
Michael Rispoli: owner of Max’s bar in South Philly
Greg Kinnear: first year coach of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles Dick Vermeil
Kevin Conway: Vince’s working class dad
Elizabeth Banks: Max’s cousin and new bartender Janet

As usual when one of the senior crew is responsible for more than one key production area (Ericson Core is both Director and Cinematographer) the results are often less that ideal. Both aspects generally suffer: in this case the acting is generally mediocre at best while the cinematography is pretty unexciting with only the few overhead shots even remotely of interest.

Although it is a good story, one that to many would be considered inspirational, it is unfortunately not one that’s been well told. Die-hard Eagles fans will no doubt overlook any shortcomings. But the rest of us can’t.

One more thing: it has one of the worst endings I’ve seen in years. Seems like someone stood up on the set one day and said “That’s it. Go home.” And they did.

for sports violence

During the open try-out it is evident it was filmed over a period of time because the shadows cut across the yard lines at different angles from one shot to the next.

Bit of an exaggeration to title the movie as Invincible.
 Definition: incapable of being conquered, overcome, or subdued.
Granted Vince has to deal with some difficulties, but don’t we all? That hardly warrants his being described as someone who is invincible.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Bilingual (French and English) with English subtitles

The plot involves people and events associated with Canada’s national game, hockey. As such it is good to keep in mind the following:

Peter Pocklington is a Canadian business man who made his fortune in the meat packing industry. He is the former owner of the National Hockey League team Edmonton Oilers.

Wayne Gretzky, nicknamed "The Great One," is described in The Official Encyclopedia of the NHL as "the greatest hockey player of all time.” He played for the Edmonton Oilers and wore #99 on his jersey.

In what became known as “The Trade”, Pocklington traded Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. This upset Canadians to the extent that a member of Parliament demanded the government block it. To many hockey fans, Pocklington became the most-hated man in the NHL, if not in all of Canada. Pocklington was burned in effigy in many parts of the country.

Gary Bettman has served as Commissioner of the NHL since February 1993. He has come under heavy criticism from many Canadian hockey fans for his attempts to increasingly Americanize the NHL and has the reputation of being anti-Canadian. A diminutive man, this has also been a subject of derision.

Don Cherry is a hockey commentator for CBC Television and co-hosts the "Coach's Corner" intermission segment on the long running sports program Hockey Night in Canada. Known for his outspoken, opioniated comments he is not well liked by everyone.

Patrick Huard: Quebec Provincial Police Detective David Bouchard
Lucie Laurier: his ex-wife Suzie
Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse: their 15-year-old daughter Gabrielle
Colm Feore: Ontario Provincial Police Detective Martin Ward
Sarian Boylan: his sister Iris
Rick Mercer: Tom Berry, bombastic hockey television commentator
Peter Pickleton, owner of a hockey team
Harry Buttman, Hockey League Commissioner

To quote the official website “a feature film where the cultural differences of our country are at the heart of the story. It is a film where Anglophones speak French, where Francophones speak English and, in perfectly Canadian fashion, nobody can understand one another.”

They could have also added “nobody can understand the plot.” It’s all rather confusing but perhaps not all that important since clearly there are good guys and bad guys at odds with one another. Lots of clever lines and some outright chuckles as they poke fun at the stereotypical English and French Canadians.

A couple of scenes are a little too graphic and several jokes may be offensive to some.

for some sexuality and violence.

When Tom Berry is interviewing the two detectives, he starts out with his tie nicely centered but part way through it’s off to the side.

Tête carrée: literal translation square head. Historically viewed as derogatory term for an Anglophone (an English speaker in the province of Quebec), nowadays often used in a humourous manner.

Thursday, August 17, 2006



Greg Kinnear: Richard Hoover the dad, a motivational speaker
Toni Collette: Sheryl the mom
Paul Dano: Dwayne the teenage son
Abigail Breslin: Olive the 9-year-old daughter, a beauty pageant addict
Steve Carell: their Uncle Frank
Alan Arkin: Richard’s dad and potty mouth grandfather

Good performances by all and crisp editing make this an entertaining, sometimes funny movie that weaves together an eclectic family group all working together, albeit somewhat reluctantly for some. Although there are a lot of chuckles at the family’s misadventures, it’s not hard to see the reality of it either.

for some sexual remarks, drug use and language (quite a few f-words)

Marcel Proust (July 1871 – November 1922) was a French intellectual, novelist, essayist and critic, best known as the author of In Search of Lost Time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Sports adventure/Comedy

Will Ferrell: Ricky Bobby, NASCAR race car driver
John C. Reilly: his teammate and best friend, Cal Naughton Jr.
Leslie Bibb: Ricky’s wife Carley
Amy Adams: Ricky’s assistant? Susan
Sacha Baron Cohen: former Formula One race car driver, Frenchman Jean Girard

Whether you like the movie or not depends upon whether you fall into one of the following categories
1. big fan of Will Ferrel
2. a teenager (the “target audience”)
3. a NASCAR fanatic

Since I do not meet any of the foregoing, sitting through the movie was painful. All around me I heard chuckles and even outright laughter at some of the dumbest gags and the most inane dialog to come along in years. Sexual situations, crude jokes and innuendoes were greeted with audible sounds of oohs and ahs. Must have been lots of testosterone in the theatre that night.

The story line is so predictable, the outcome is a given and the acting generally is pretty poor. And of course if that’s not enough, Will Farrel “does his thing” getting undressed and acting a fool.

By the way: the audience very much enjoyed all the stupid “outtakes” that are shown before the end credits. They should have been left on the cutting room floor where they belong.

for crude and sexual humor, language, drug references and brief comic violence.

1..When Ricky is saying grace while sitting down at the table, his glass of lemonade is sometimes full and other times about one quarter missing.

2..While Ricky is being held down on the pool table, his fingers change position between the closeups and medium length shots. Sometimes his pinky is down the side, sometimes on top together with the rest of his fingers and in one instance his entire hand is grasping the inside of the rail and the next shot it’s laying on top.

3..After talking to someone on the phone, the caller hangs up on Cal and we hear a dial tone. The fact is the line goes dead when the call is terminated. The dial tone is only heard prior to dialing.

4..When Ricky and Susan are in the bar, neither one touchs their drink but his glass is sometimes half full, sometimes just a third and when Susan gets up off her chair and approaches him, it’s almost empty.

5..When Ricky’s father picks up the tickets to the race being held on Sunday he gets them from the ticket window clearly marked for the Saturday race.

This movie beats them all in product placement. Chances are the producers made themselves a ton of money even before the first showing in a theater. It’s so bad there is a real ad for Applebee’s midway through. That’s a little too much.

Monday, August 14, 2006


In German and Turkish with English subtitles

If your idea of a good documentary is trying to read the lyrics of Middle Eastern and rap songs sung in rapid-fire Turkish, then this is one movie you should not miss.

For the rest of us, it is a big waste of time and the reason I walked out (but not before three others did.)

for some drug use.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006


Based on a true story

The Port Authority Police Department is one of the largest police departments in the United States. Yet, many people do not know of its existence. The PAPD suffers from this lack of recognition because of its unique policing mission which places its officers within the jurisdictions of other police departments.

The PAPD is responsible for policing the facilities owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a bi-state public agency. Among others, these facilities include:
- Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark Airports
- The Subway System that runs between New York City and New Jersey
- The Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square, New York City
- Port Newark and Port Elizabeth
- The George Washington and the Staten Island Bridges
- The Lincoln and Holland Tunnels
- the former World Trade Center

Nicolas Cage: Sergeant John McLoughlin of the Port Authority Police Department
Michael Peña: PAPD rookie Officer William (Will) Jimeno
Maria Bello: John’s wife Donna
Maggie Gyllenhaal: Will’s wife Allison
Michael Shannon: Marine Sgt. Dave Karnes

Heard in the lobby:
“I was transfixed, not wanting to take my eyes off the screen for a moment”

I think these comments represent the majority of those who chose to see this movie about the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

for intense and emotional content, some disturbing images and language.

Thursday, August 3, 2006



Ian McShane: former investigative reporter Joe Strombel
Scarlett Johansson: Sondra Pransky, an American student journalist
Woody Allen: Sid Waterman, a vaudeville magician, the Great Splendini
Hugh Jackman: prominent wealthy aristocrat Peter
Julian Glover: his father Lord Lyman

It is usually not a good sign when someone has more than one role in the production of the movie: in this instance, Woody Allen is writer, director and actor. He does none of them well. The writing is replete with goofy one-liners that are mildly amusing at best and the story line seems déjà vu. As the director he should have reshot many scenes with Scarlett Johansson in them because her acting is not up to par, seemingly just going through the motions (at least for the first half). And as actor, what can you say? Woody Allen does his thing and it’s often annoying, especially his habit of repeating himself ad nauseam.

for sexual situations, profanity

While Sondra and Sid are walking quickly past the dental office you can catch a glimpse of the cameraman’s reflection in the windows behind them.

While having breakfast, Sondra’s glass of orange juice is one third empty when viewed from Sid’s perspective. But seen from behind Sondra, it is almost completely full.


True story

The majority of those living in Rwanda are Hutus. The Tutsis, although a minority, are very similar to the Hutus: they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions. But the Belgian colonists who arrived in 1916, saw the two groups as distinct entities, and even produced identity cards classifying people according to their ethnicity. The Belgians considered the Tutsis as superior to the Hutus. Not surprisingly, the Tutsis welcomed this idea, and for the next 20 years they enjoyed better jobs and educational opportunities than their neighbours. When Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda independence in 1962, the Hutus took their place.
The Tutsi formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) with the aim of overthrowing president Juvenal Habyarimana. When Habyarimana's plane was shot down at the beginning of April 1994, the presidential guard immediately initiated a campaign of retribution. Leaders of the political opposition were murdered, and almost immediately, the slaughter of Tutsis began.
The Rwandans were largely left alone, apart from a small contingent of UN troops, mainly because of the deep-seated racism that prevented the international community from doing something before it was far too late.

Hugh Dancy: Joe Connor, a recently graduated British schoolteacher
Claire-Hope Ashitey: Marie, star athlete and a Tutsi student
Dominique Horwitz: Captain Delon, a UN officer from Belgium John Hurt: Father Christopher, head of the Ecole Technique Officielle in Kigali
David Gyasi: Francois, the school's Hutu custodian

With excellent performances and shot on location, it is almost like being there. A well-developed story that is confusing at times having to sort out who the people are,Tutsi or Hutu. It is filmed with remarkable restraint so we can only imagine what takes place without being shown all the gory details.

for strong violence, disturbing images and language.


Concert film and biography

Leonard Norman Cohen, (born 1934 in Montreal, Quebec) is a Canadian poet, novelist and singer-songwriter. Cohen began his career in literature, publishing his first book of poetry in 1956 and his first novel in 1963. Following his breakthrough in the music industry in the late 1960s, Cohen became one of the most distinguished and influential songwriters of the late twentieth century.
Cohen's songs are often emotionally heavy and lyrically complex, owing more to the metaphoric word play of poetry than to the conventions of song craft. His work often explores the themes of religion, isolation, sex and complex interpersonal relationships.
Cohen's music has become very influential on other singer-songwriters, and more than a thousand cover versions of his work have been recorded. He is iconic in his native land, having been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour.

There is no better way to appreciate a great talent than to see their body of works performed by others. Such is the case with Cohen’s songwriting ability filmed during a tribute show in 2005. Interspersed with the songs are his personal reminiscences and comments from various artists about the impact Cohen has had on their lives, and on ours.

for some sex-related material (if they say so…)

The movie title comes from what is widely considered as Cohen’s comeback album entitled, I’m Your Man.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006



Colin Farrell: Detective James “Sonny” Crockett
Jamie Foxx: Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs
Naomie Harris: his girlfriend Detective Trudy Joplin
Gong Li: Isabella, the drug dealer's associate
Luis Tosar: Arcángel de Jesäs Montoya the dealer

To be fair it’s not a bad movie, but anyone expecting to see an updated version of the original TV show will be disappointed. About the only thing they have in common is the name. In fact it is just one more movie about the underworld drug scene; this time set in Miami.

Like many movies of this type it is shot in dark, gritty, blurry fashion (so it’s often difficult to make out what is going on) with rapid-fire dialog filled with incomprehensible cops and robber’s jargon. And of course the plot is purposely confusing with bad guys outwitting the good guys (or is it the other way around?).

However there are two main problems:
 it goes on for far too long (at 2 hours and 10 minutes)
 and it’s not very thrilling (truth be told it's somewhat boring)

for strong violence, language (some f-words) and some sexual content (hardly worth mentioning)

Mojito (pronounced mo/hee/tow) is a traditional Cuban cocktail which became quite popular in the United States during the 1980’s. It is a blend of rum, powdered sugar, mint, lime juice and club soda.