Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Action, adventure

Chow Yun-Fat: Capt. Sao Feng
Keira Knightley: Elizabeth Swann
Geoffrey Rush: Capt. Barbossa
Orlando Bloom: Will Turner
Bill Nighy: the Flying Dutchman’s Captain Davy Jones
Tom Hollander: Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Company
Johnny Depp: Capt. Jack Sparrow
Jack Davenport: Commodore Norrington
Stellan Skarsgard: Will’s father Bootstrap Bill
Naomie Harris: the mystic Tia Dalma

Its fiercely loyal fans won’t agree but I think there is far too much of everything (except humorous one-liners from Capt. Sparrow). As starters, the movie runs almost three hours. Not too many people have that much time to sit through one of the most convoluted, confusing storylines seen in a long time. Then there are too many people switching allegiances so often you simply give up trying to keep things sorted out.

Because so little happens in the first half of the movie that is really important to the outcome, you’d be better off skipping all that and show up for the last hour or so. That way you get to see the CGI effects that are truly stunning and the battle scenes that are top notch. And you get to spend an hour and half doing something else worthwhile.

for intense sequences of action-adventure violence and some frightening images.

When a meeting is held on the spit of land, as the three “good guys” approach you can see from their shadows that it is around noon. After speaking briefly, their shadows in the long shot are way off to the side indicating a longer passage of time than the few minutes spent in discussion.

If you have the patience to sit through the seven minutes of end credits you will get to see a short clip of Elizabeth and a young boy gazing over a seascape. Perhaps this is a preview of POTC IV?

Monday, May 21, 2007


Animated cartoon

Rupert Everett: Prince Charming, a failed stage actor
Mike Myers: our hero Shrek
Cameron Diaz: his wife Princess Fiona
Eddie Murphy: Donkey, Shrek’s sidekick
Antonio Banderas: Shrek’s other buddy Puss in Boots
John Cleese: the frog King Harold, ruler of Far Far Away
Julie Andrews: Queen Lillian
Justin Timberlake: Arthur (aka Artie) Fiona's half-brother (or cousin?)

Sequels are Hollywood’s way of building the next version that is slightly different from, but based closely on the original. The concept of movie sequels is nothing new: the first car produced by the Ford Motor Company was the Model A in 1903 and the following year they came out with the next version, an upscale touring car called the Model B. So introducing a “line extension” of the original has been around a long time.

However the problem with movie sequels is twofold: they tend to suffer from déja vu (characters, plot etc) and by their very nature, they lack originality. So comparing a sequel to the original means it has two strikes against it even before beginning to look at it strictly on its own merit.

So despite the fact it’s tempting to so, I would rather not judge this movie as a sequel. Taken instead simply as a movie about the adventures of a well-known character, it has a lot going for it.

For starters, it is entertaining: there are a lot of amusing moments, from clever one-liners, silly sight-gags, mild “crude” jokes and old fashioned slapstick. The story unfolds with lots of action. Although some of the slower sections (and musical renditions) could be snipped a bit, the movie is not overlong.

There are some adult-only-jokes (a quick reference to Hooters for example) but not that many.

From a technical point-of-view this is far and away the best computer generated movie ever. The realism is remarkable and most noticeable in the rendering of water, the shadows that follow the contour lines of the undulating background, the textures of fur and velvet, the facial expressions (particularly of Artie) and every stitch in Shrek's ratty old sweater.

for some crude humor, suggestive content (? … guess I missed that part) and swashbuckling action.

Thursday, May 17, 2007



Zach Braff: Tom Reilly, lunch chef at a upscale NYC restaurant
Amanda Peet: his wife Sofia, an attorney
Charles Grodin: her father Bob Kowalski
Mia Farrow: her mother Amelia
Jason Bateman: Chip Sanders, employee of Sunburst Advertising Agency

The whole thing feels like a television sit-com based on the hackneyed premise of a character being out of his or her element. The complete absence of any witty dialogue means any comic relief comes from slapstick in its most primitive form including a food fight, inflicting pain on others, hitting people, falling down and slamming into things.

As would be expected from this third-rate comedy there are the requisite shot or two to a man’s lower regions that’s always guaranteed to get a laugh. And if this is not enough, there are tasteless references to the disabled along with juvenile “potty-mouth” humour.

To say the acting is terrible is unfair: it is awful (including such stalwarts as Mia Farrow of all things) with most simply reading their lines without any emotion.

for sexual content, brief language, and a drug reference.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Romantic comedy

Keri Russell: Jenna, waitress in Joe's Pie Diner and master pie-maker
Cheryl Hines: Becky, the “brassy waitress” in this small-town diner
Adrienne Shelly: Dawn, the “wallflower waitress”
Jeremy Sisto: Jenna’s husband Earl
Nathan Fillion: Dr. Pomater, the new doctor in town
Andy Griffith: the diner’s eponymous owner, crotchety Old Joe
Eddie Jemison: Ogie, Dawn's blind date

Right from the get-go it seems like we’re watching a sit-com. But beneath the appearance of a lightweight comedy there are serious issues being brought to light. There are no real belly laughs but quite a few chuckles although there are some uncomfortable moments too.

The casting is right on and the acting consistently good, particularly by Andy Griffin who fits the role perfectly.

for sexual content, language and thematic elements.

Jenna wears an apron with a narrow pouch for the Guest Check Pad she uses to take the order. Becky and Dawn give her a small scrapbook which she slides into the pouch which has conveniently grown twice as large.

While working on post-production for the film, director\writer\co-star Adrienne Shelly got into a confrontation with an illegal immigrant who was making noise in the apartment below her. Diego Pillco, 19, confessed that he fought with Shelly and accidentally killed her. He has been charged with murder. She was 40-years old.

Saturday, May 12, 2007



Julie Christie: Fiona Anderson
Gordon Pinsent: Grant, her husband of 44 years, a retired college professor
Wendy Crewson: Madeleine, Administrator of Meadowlake Nursing Home
Kristen Thompson: one of the nursing staff Kristy
Michael Murphy: one of the residents Aubrey
Olympia Dukakis: his wife Marian

What a combination: a well-crafted story, great acting, believable dialogue, excellent pacing and lovely cinematography. Although the subject of disease has come up before, I don’t think it has ever been handled with such insight and in such a straightforward manner.

The tremendous acting ability of both Julie Christie (who is at her very best) and Gordon Pinset allows us to gain some better understanding of what people have to go through in these situations, without having to spell it out for us with a bunch of words.

Certainly there are sad and touching moments but more importantly, this is a story of love. And it’s beautiful to see.

for some strong language.

Sunday, May 6, 2007



Adam Brody: Carter Webb, a struggling 26-year old writer
Olympia Dukakis: his ailing grandmother, Phyllis
Meg Ryan: Sarah Hardwicke, homemaker
Kristen Stewart: her teenage daughter Lucy
Makenzie Vega: the younger daughter Paige

This is one of those movies that really deserves the “good” rating. It’s not lousy nor is it great, just somewhere in between.

Really there is nothing wrong with it except for Sarah’s out-of-character reaction to Carter’s letter (why can screenwriters not do one more edit before handing over the Shooting Script and clear up things like this? But I digress….) and the acting for the most part is fine (although we’ve seen Meg Ryan in better roles). There are light-hearted moments that provoke smiles if not outright laughter and unlike so many movies of today, it moves at a fairly good clip and is not overly long.

If anything, this “coming-of-age” movie avoids many of the pitfalls so often are part of similar films, except perhaps for the ending.

for sexual content, thematic elements and language.

When Lucy and Paige arrive home they proceed to the front door in that order. The point-of-view changes to the house interior and somehow Paige now is in front.

While Lucy is sitting in a chair talking to Carter, we can see her in the mirror behind him. Trouble is, the mirror reflections of her waving her hands about do not match the direct shots that show her with her hands hanging down by her side.

Lucy parks the car just in front of the garage door on the left-hand side. After speaking briefly they get out of the car which has conveniently slid to the right to give her more space when she gets out.

While Carter is speaking with his ex-girlfriend, she hangs up and we hear the dial tone. Note to the Sound Engineer: the dial tone is there prior to dialling the number, not after. Get it?

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Comedy and drama

Molly Shannon: Peggy Spade, an executive assistant
Regina King: Layla, one of Peggy’s coworkers and best friend
Josh Pais: Peggy’s boss Robin
John C. Reilly: Peggy’s next-door neighbor Al
Tom McCarthy: Peggy’s brother Pier
Laura Dern: Peggy’s sister-in-law Bret
Peter Sarsgaard: Newt, an employee at the local animal shelter

Not every comedy is the “laugh-out-loud” type and this one fits the bill. Interspersed with amusing moments, there is a story of a much more serious nature: sometimes we feel a little alone, not quite “one-of-the-crowd”.

By keeping it simple, this somewhat odd little movie gives food for thought. We can all relate to some of the situations Peggy encounters. With enough time spent on her, it’s easy to see things from her perspective. Consistent with the overall tone, the acting is low-key (except for one person of course) and the casting bang on.

for some suggestive references.

Friday, May 4, 2007


Action, adventure

Tobey Maguire: Peter Parker/Spider- Man (aka Spidey)
Kirsten Dunst: his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson
James Franco: Peter’s best friend Harry Osborn
Thomas Haden Church: Flint Marko, an escaped convict
J.K. Simmons: Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson (aka JJ)
Topher Grace: Eddie Brock, an aspiring photographer

There is simply too much to this latest version in the series. It is too long at almost 2½ hours, there are too many bad guys (or bad things) and too much of just about everything else (the singing, the dancing, the tearjerker and the battle scenes to name but a few).

This is not to say it is easy to repeat a winning formula time and time again, but there is no reason to overdo it either. For the truly committed fans of Spider-Man, there can never be enough. For the rest of us, less would be better.

for sequences of intense action violence.