Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 TOP TEN

In alphabetical order

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 we already know, that global warming is something real and we must deal with it. His presentation is slick using the most modern visual aids so we can see for ourselves the problem as it exists. Gores’ easy approach is not so much of a lecture but just being with someone who has become something of an expert on this subject. The one thing that seems out of place are the political highlights of his career that don’t really belong here.

Apart from being way too long (almost 2½ hours) this is a movie with a lot going for it: excellent performances throughout, a good story line, fast-paced action and great cinematography. It also looks and sounds very realistic to the point those of us who are somewhat squeamish have to look away during some of the scenes.

Police drama
This is one gritty, tough-guy movie with language and violence to match. For fear of giving away too much of the plot, I'll say little except it can get a bit confusing so pay attention to what’s going on, especially at the beginning. In addition to the crisp editing (which makes the 2 hours fly by) there are excellent performances by several of the actors. Nicholson for one is at the top of his game. This part was made for him.

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.

Idi Amin was such a complex man prone to fits of anger one minute then becoming the most charming person in the room. His moods changed so rapidly it is a wonder anybody can portray him. But Forest Whitaker gives one of the most riveting performances seen in years. The supporting cast does an excellent job too. Based on historical fact, it is inevitable that some of the awful things that took place during Amin’s reign come to light. Several scenes make for unpleasant viewing but if you can handle it, this is one terrific movie.

W. Somerset Maugham's epic love story has been beautifully adapted to film with great attention to making it look and feel authentic. The acting is top notch, done with feeling that mirrors life resulting in real, believable characters. The story is well-paced allowing time for character development and provides more than a few opportunities to linger on many beautiful images, not only of the countryside but also of the actors themselves. Some of the shots are nothing less than spectacular.

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.

A wonderful character study not only of the Queen but of her advisors as well. There are really good performances by most of the cast. There is no way of knowing exactly what transpired during private conversations between the principals but the dialogue rings true and that’s what matters.

Based on a true story
Obviously this is not a film for everyone. Some will find it too painful to see a film about a tragic event the morning of September 11, 2001 that resulted in the death of nearly 3,000 people and has changed all our lives.
Those who chose to see it will be rewarded with a superbly crafted movie that shows the behind-the-scenes activities that transpired that day. Capturing the mistakes people make when under stress, like stumbling over their words or talking too rapidly to be easily understood enhances the feeling of “being there”.

Based on a true story
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.


Warning: this movie is not for everyone!
Don’t consider for a moment inviting your mother (or anyone else of the polite-gentile persuasion) to see this one with you. Nor should you make it your first-date-movie because that could well be your last.
Please note that Borat’s racist, sexist remarks, his frequent use of profanity, the anti-Semitic scenes, the demeaning comments about gays and Muslims could be offensive to many. Others will find themselves laughing at the sheer foolishness of it all.

Set in a small New England town the movie has uniformly believable acting and some really great performances. It has an unhurried pace about it which allows time for character development. It’s also a bit of emotional roller coaster but overall, it’s one terrific movie. Please note that it well deserves the R rating for strong sexuality and nudity, language and some disturbing content.

True wartime story
Terrific acting makes you forget you’re not watching the real thing. Half the film takes place in the office of the interrogator, and you might think it a big bore, but the cross-examination in fact is riveting stuff.

With so many women in the film (and hardly any men) you have to pay attention to the many characters and their relationship to one another. But it is worth the effort to see the fine performances and range of emotions by several. Part murder mystery, part comedy it is an entertaining show. However, it is too long, by about half an hour, as several tangents lead nowhere and only serve to drag it out a bit.


Children’s movie
It’s really not fair judging a children’s story from an adult’s perspective so I wish there was some way to give this movie two ratings. Children will love it because it has all the requisite elements of a “good” movie: cute animals, simple story, rude body noises, smart-talking animals with an attitude and a nice ending. Adults on the other hand might not find these enough to give it more than a “ho-hum” rating.

The story is about two unscrupulous people who collaborate to produce a really awful Broadway play. The result is a really awful movie. Only loyal fans of the old-fashioned musical theatre will like it, provided they are not offended by the glorification of Hitler, they do not take offence with the ruthless stereotypical portrayal of homosexuals or are unfazed by the irreverent depiction of little old ladies with walkers and who get a kick out of crude off-colour sexist jokes.
Not meeting any of these criteria, I did not.

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