Saturday, March 31, 2007


Animated cartoon

Angela Bassett: orphanage caretaker Mildred
Daniel Hansen : Lewis, an orphaned 12-year-old boy-inventor
Matthew Josten: his roommate Michael “Goob” Yagoobian, a baseball player
Stephen Anderson: the wicked Bowler Hat Guy
Ethan Sandler: Doris, his diabolical companion
Wesley Singerman: Wilbur Robinson, a space traveller from the future
Stephen Anderson: his slightly weird Grandpa Bud
Adam West: Uncle Art, the speedy pizza man
Harland Williams: the house robot Carl
Nicole Sullivan: Wilbur’s musical mom Franny

Although Disney Studios have produced many movies that have become classics, this is not going to be one of them. As starters, it doesn’t. Too much time is spent on one of Lewis’ inventions and hardly anything else happens until he gets to the school Science Fair. But that’s one-third of the movie gone already.

Things finally get going when they zoom off into the future to meet a bunch of oddballs and there are some mildly amusing moments. But no real laugh per se.

As expected of any Disney production, there are lessons to be learned. In this case, don’t give up.


Friday, March 30, 2007



Irrfan Khan: Ashoke Ganguli, Bengali immigrant to the United States
Tabu: his wife Ashima
Soham Chatterjee: their infant son Gogol
Kal Penn: the adolescent Gogol
Sahira Nair: his sister Sonia
Jacinda Barrett: Gogol’s girlfriend Maxine (aka Max)
Zuleikha Robinson: Moushimi, soon to be an arranged-marriage bride

There have been lots of movies about the generational and cultural conflicts that arise when bringing up children. What sets this one apart is the acting that is first-rate and the time devoted to the story, about 2 hours. But it takes that long to cover 25 years and not do it at a hurried pace.

Consequently it will not appeal to everyone. But anyone interested in a story about love and loyalty is in for a good time.

for sexuality/nudity, a scene of drug use, some disturbing images and brief language.

When Ashoke first sees the baby in the hospital nursery, it’s evident that the child is not a newborn, more like a one-year-old?

At the termination of Gogol’s phone call to his mother we hear the dial tone when she hangs up. The dial tone is heard before dialing the number, not at the end of the call.

Indian custom dictates that a "good name" be carefully selected as it is the one for public use. Since this process could take years, it is commonplace for Bengali parents to give their children a "pet" name until the more formal “good name” has been decided upon.

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (April 1809 - March 1852) was a nineteenth century Ukrainian author who wrote in Russian. The novel Dead Souls, the play Revizor and the short story Overcoat are counted among his masterpieces.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Fantasy, comedy, romance

Sean Biggerstaff: Ben Willis, gifted artist and stock clerk
Michelle Ryan: Ben’s girlfriend Suzy
Stuart Goodwin: Jenkins, the boss at Sainsbury's supermarket
Emilia Fox: Sharon, the checkout clerk
Michael Dixon: Barry, fellow employee
Shaun Evans: Ben’s long time friend Sean
Marc Pickering: wannabe kung fu master Brian

Just a quick glance at the poster and you can see why the movie is unconventional and controversial. It is also original and entertaining. Unlike most British productions the humour is not of the cerebral sort, but often funny nevertheless.

So far the movie has only been released in Quebec and the Régie du cinéma has given it their 13+ rating.

In Canada, theatrical movie ratings are a provincial responsibility and they use different rating systems and descriptors. When released in the rest of Canada later this year it will no doubt get their R rating (Restricted to persons 18 years of age or over) taking into account the visually explicit full frontal nudity. Perhaps the Quebec board missed that part?

Many companies have some type of loyalty reward program extended to shoppers either in the form of points that can be redeemed for something or sometimes a discount on the spot which is effectively getting cash back. These reward programs in Britain are referred to as Cashback.

Friday, March 23, 2007


2008 Best Actress in leading role
Best Makeup

In French with English subtitles

Jean-Paul Rouve: Louis Gassion, Edith’s father
Marion Cotillard: the adult Edith Piaf
Gerard Depardieu: Paris cabaret owner Louis Leplee
Marc Barbe: her singing coach Raymond Asso
Jean-Pierre Martins: boxing champ Marcel Cerdan

Making extensive use of flashbacks, often with one of her songs playing in the background, this is an in-depth look at the life of a very well-known singer of the 40’s and 50’s.

By and large though, the movie is really a one-woman show as the actress playing the leading role gives a wonderful, believable performance. The rest of the crew are there to fill out the empty space in the picture frame.

Although it runs for 2 hours and 20 minutes, it doesn’t seem quite that long.

for some sexual content, brief nudity, mild language and some drug references.

The title comes from her first big hit released in 1945.
BTW: Piaf is a Parisian colloquiaslism for “sparrow”.


War Drama

Since the 1880's, Irish nationalists had been demanding self-government from Britain. The British eventually granted this demand in 1914, but its enactment was postponed by the outbreak of the First World War. The separatist Sinn Féin party won the 1918 Irish General Election.

The Irish War of Independence began in January 1919 Ireland by the Irish Republican Army as a guerrilla campaign mounted against the British government forces still in. Although there were some large scale encounters between the two groups, most of the casualties were inflicted in assassinations and reprisals on either side.

In 1921 both sides agree to a peace treaty to end the bloodshed stipulating nominal Irish self-governance but continued British occupation. But many Irish were unhappy with the terms of the treaty resulting in the outbreak of a civil war. Families and former friends found themselves fighting each other.

Cillian Murphy: Damien O'Donovan a medical student at University College
Padraic Delaney: his older brother Teddy, leader of a guerrilla squad
Liam Cunningham: Dan, an intellectual he meets in prison
Orla Fitzgerald: Damien’s girlfreind Sinead

Historically accurate but a bit too long as it bogs down in several places, particularly when the townspeople debate the terms of the peace treaty. Although both sides of the argument are presented, we do not need that much detail to follow the ensuing story.

Production values are high and there is some fine acting throughout.

for crude and sexual humour, language and some drug references.

The title comes from the last verse of an Irish ballad written by Robert Dyer Joyce (1836-1883)
As round her grave I wander drear, noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e'er I hear the wind that shakes the barley.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


War movie
In Arabic and French with English subtitles

French Colonial Forces is a general designation for the military forces that were recruited from the French colonial empire from the late 17th century onwards. This military unit has played a substantial part in support of “mother France”.

In 1942 the Nazis occupied France while vast numbers of the French army were imprisoned in German camps. The colonies became the only source of a replacement army to continue the war effort in support of the Allies.

France conscripted its colonial citizens as soldiers from places such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. They were treated as second-class citizens, referring to them disparagingly as 'indigènes. Senior N.C.O.’s (sergeants and above) and all officers were native Frenchmen.

Jamel Debbouze: Private Said, an illiterate Algerian peasant
Sami Bouajila: his superior, fellow countryman Corporal Abdelkader
Roshdy Zem: Messaoud, the company marksman
Samy Naceri: the scrounger Yassir
Assaad Bouab: his younger brother Larbri
Bernard Blancan: squad leader, Frenchman Sergeant Martinez

Several things sets this war movie apart from the others:

    It is about a little known aspect of World War II
    Very believable (except perhaps for the romantic sub-plot)
    No high-tech effects are used

On the other hand, it also shares some of the things we see in better movies:

    Excellent performances by the principals
    Great cinematography
    Crisp editing

for war violence, brief language.


In German with Enlish subtitles

The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security), commonly known as the Stasi,was the main secret police and intelligence-gathering organisation of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The Stasi was widely regarded as one of the most effective intelligence agencies in the world with some 100,000 employees and as many as 200,000 informers.

Ulrich Mühe: Captain Gerd Wiesler, Stasi interrogator and surveillance specialist
Ulrich Tukur: his superior Lieutenant Colonel Anton Grubitz
Sebastian Koch: playwright Georg Dreyman
Martina Gedeck: his actress-girlfriend Crista Maria Sieland
Thomas Thieme: Minister of Culture Bruno Hempf

A really good film with great acting and a well-written story that does not seem contrived. Although it is somewhat lengthy (2 hours and 17 minutes) it does not seem that long as we are intrigued by the unhurried approach given to developing the character of the principals.

for some sexuality and nudity.

Saturday, March 3, 2007


True story crime drama

Jake Gyllenhaal: Robert Graysmith, editorial cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle
Robert Downey Jr.: Paul Avery, crime reporter for the same newspaper
Mark Ruffalo: LAPD Detective Dave Toschi
Anthony Edwards: his partner Bill Armstrong
John Carroll Lynch: suspect Arthur Leigh (Lee) Allen
Brian Cox: famous attorney Melvin Belli

Had they edited it down somewhat, this would have been a really great movie. As it stands though, 2 hours and 43 minutes is far too long and requires a great deal of patience to sit through to the very end.

What a shame because it is finely acted with some nice cinematography and several chilling moments.

for some strong violence, language, drug use and brief sexual images.

Although the producers have gone to great length to accurately recreate the ambience of the time (smoking at your workplace, people wearing plastic pocket protectors, IBM computers with huge tape drives, Rolodex files etc) a couple of mistakes got past them:

The calendar posted on one of the pillars in the newsroom changes to match the different time periods except when it gets to be July 1972 and the 1971 calendar is still on display.

When Robert slams down the receiver on the green telephone, the curly wire is draped across the numbers. His wife comes in the room and they talk briefly. When she leaves we can see the wire has been put right although neither of them came near the phone.