Saturday, February 24, 2007


In French with English sub-titles

Michel Côté: Germain Dagenais, a political advisor
Karine Vanasse: his 18-year old daughter Nathalie
Dominique Leduc: her mother Jeanne
Laurence Leboeuf: Natalie’s best friend Angélique
Christian Bégin: Detective Michel Desrennes

Parents have a difficult time, even well-to-do ones who can afford to send their children to law school. We get to see how one family deals with some major issues and the impact these have on their relationships.

Excellent acting by Nathalie and her father, coupled with solid camerawork makes this a very compelling film.

for scenes of nudity, sexual content and brief explicit sex.

During a discussion with her father, a strand of hair gets caught in Natalie’s mouth. The scene changes to focus on her father and then back to her. Her hair is nicely combed and nothing is amiss. The change of viewpoint repeats once more but now the strand of hair is back in her mouth.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Romantic comedy

Hugh Grant: Alex Fletcher, former lead singer of a popular musical group
Chris Riley: his agent Brad Garrett
Drew Barrymore: Sophie Fisher, a replacement plant-waterer
Kristen Johnston: her older sister Rhonda
Haley Bennett: Cora Corman, teenage singing superstar

More often than not romantic comedies aren’t. Usually one of the two elements is missing but not this time. There are enough one-liners and innuendo to keep you smiling (and maybe even a real laugh once in a while) and the romance part is not so overdone that it is believable. How refreshing.

for some sexual content.

Brad comes into Alex’s kitchen and puts his can of Coke down on the counter so that the brand name can be clearly seen. Neither one touches it but when they leave the can is now turned around and the label is no longer visible.

Alex and Sophie have a lengthy discussion in a coffee shop. The camera shots over his shoulder looking at her have his right hand holding his coffee cup but shots from her perspective have his hand in his lap.

Sophie has a large tea in front of her. Although she doesn’t touch the cup, it gets turned around so sometimes we don’t see the name of the coffee shop on it.

After giving a concert, Sophie holds out an unopened bottle of water to Alex while he is talking. The very next shot he finishes his sentence to take a drink from it since the top somehow got removed in mid sentence.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


In Japanese with English sub-titles

Iwo Jima is a tiny, barren, desolate, volcanic island located about 550 miles south of Tokyo and was the last remaining outpost of the homeland. To the US, the island’s importance lay in its location, midway between Japan and American bomber bases in the Marianas. Beginning in the summer of 1944, the Japanese home islands had been hit by strikes carried out by long-range B-29 bombers. However, the Americans had no fighters with enough range to escort these big superfortresses so many aircraft were lost to Japanese fighter-interceptor attacks.

Iwo Jima, with its three airfields, was ideally located as a fighter-escort station and as a sanctuary for crippled bombers returning from bombing raids over Japan. Both the Empire of Japan and the United States of America wanted control of Iwo Jima, but for entirely different reasons.

Ken Watanabe: Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, garrison commander
Tsuyoshi Ninomiya: Baron Nishi, former Olympic equestrian medalist
Kazunari Ninomiya: Private Saigo, conscripted former baker
Ryo Kase: Private? Shimizu, latest arrival and a bit of a loner

There have been few war movies seen from the enemy’s perspective. And there have been even fewer that have the air of realism to it (Das Boot comes to mind) but this one combines that with believable acting entirely in their language, not in poorly spoken English.

Unlike a lot of movies about international conflict, this one does not have an anti-war message about it. In fact it has no hidden agenda; simply showing us a group of people who are not all one-dimensional as the propaganda would have us believe.

The attention to detail is remarkable. For example the dimly lit caves and the muffled background noise of machines on the move recreates the situation to the point we almost can feel it ourselves. Despite the fact it is lengthy (2 hours and 20 minutes) it is compelling viewing and does not seem that long.

for graphic war violence.

The Mark-II hand grenades used by the allies were primed to explode by releasing the safety lever in the process of throwing the ordinance. By contrast the Japanese Type 91 hand grenades were armed by striking the firing pin against an hard object, frequently the soldier’s helmet, which set off the primer and ignited the delay mechanism.


Based on a true story

Chris Cooper: Senior F.B.I. Special Agent Robert Hanssen
Ryan Phillippe: his aide, probationary Special Agent Eric O'Neill
Laura Linney: Eric’s “handler” and mentor Kate Burroughs
Caroline Dhavernas: Eric’s wife Juliana

It’s refreshing to go to a spy movie that you can actually follow and not get totally confused with sub-plots, red herrings and all the other ruses so often employed by filmmakers.

Right at the beginning the U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft tells us the outcome so this is not a thriller-type movie. Waiting to find out what happens is not what keeps us in our seats. Instead, it is good solid acting coupled with excellent writing that fleshes out the principal characters as real people. The absence of heroics makes it all that more believable.

for profanity, sexual material and drug content.