Friday, June 29, 2007


In heavily accented Glaswegian (a Scottish dialect) with English subtitles (I kid you not)

The Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) initiative was set up under the United Kingdom Home Office Crime Reduction Programme in 1998 with £170 million funding of 684 CCTV projects. CCTV is a situational measure that enables a locale to be kept under surveillance remotely. This makes it possible for the police, and other law and regulatory agencies such as private security, to respond to incidents when alerted, and to have information about what to look for when they arrive.

These cameras have been installed in a wide range of locations, including car parks, town and city centres, and residential areas. The camera images are viewed in control rooms by licensed Public Space Surveillance CCTV Operators who watch over the banks of monitors. Each is connected to a recording device of some sort, where they are available to be watched, reviewed and/or stored.

Recently Britain has become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years. Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

“The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts.”

Kate Dickie: Jackie, a Glasgow CCTV Operator with City Eye Control, Division E
Tony Curran: Clyde Henderson, someone Jackie recognizes
Martin Compston: Clyde’s roommate Stevie
Natalie Press: his girlfriend April

Although the slow pace and paucity of dialogue may be of annoyance to some, the use of this technique allows us to figure out for ourselves what is going on without having to be told. Relying more on the visual aspect of story telling (rather than the usual emphasis on the narrative) the blurry, dark, poorly lit images and the frequent use of a hand held camera serve to set the mood as does the crisp editing.

The acting throughout is top notch and the stark realism of this seedy part of a big city is depicted with clarity.

for nudity, language and some violence but should be X for the graphic, explicit, prolonged sex scene portion.

Trifle: Noun. Slang for an alcoholic drink.
A fiver: Noun. A five-pound note.
Wanker: Noun. A contemptible person or an idiot or an incompetent person. Term not used in polite society.
50 p = fifty pence, half a pound.
Bird: Noun. Slang for a female.

Thursday, June 28, 2007



Unlike most autobiographies, this one does not follow the traditional timeline to parallel the subject’s growth over the years. Instead, it offers up a combination of frank on-camera interviews along with mock grainy newsreels of key events in the life of Phyllis Barbara Lambert (née Bronfman), C.C., G.O.Q., M.Arch., O.A.L., F.R.A.I.C., F.R.S.C., R.C.A., and LL.D.

A letter in the alphabet often appears on screen and is then followed by Ms. Lambert’s thoughts pertaining to that letter. But even then there is no formal “going through the alphabet” from a to z with the result at the end when not all have been addressed you get the feeling this was an idea that simply petered out.

But even if it is a bit unorthodox, the film provides a wonderful insight to one of the world's leading architectural activists. The fact she has done it pretty well on her own with little moral support of her family only adds to her achievement.


The title is a play on words of the classic movie Citizen Kane produced by Orson Wells and released in 1941 in which movie clips for the first time were used to advance the storyline.

Saturday, June 23, 2007



Dan Futterman: Daniel Pearl, reporter for the Wall Street Journal
Angelina Jolie: his wife Mariane
Archie Panjabi: Asra, fellow journalist and family friend
Will Patton: Agent Randall Bennett, a U.S. security official
Irffhan Khan: the Captain, Pakistan's head of counter-terrorism
Denis O'Hare: John Bussey, Editor of the Wall Street Journal

This fact based recounting of the kidnapping of an American journalist has the feel of a documentary in part because of the frequent use of a handheld camera. The editing is crisp and the pacing excellent. An attempt has been made to keep things simple by the use of a whiteboard with all the personages shown schematically. It doesn’t work that well because it is all very confusing. But the main thing is the effort being made to find Daniel Pearl and that comes across clearly enough.

Although several actors put in a good performance, there is nothing so compelling as Angelina Jolie’s: she is at the top of her game and probably the best thing she’s ever done.

It must have been tempting to take a position for or against the opposing factions. But the producers maintain a neutral stand and just let the story unfold without imposing their point-of-view.

for language.

Friday, June 22, 2007



Gabriel Byrne: Stewart Kane, owner of the town garage
Laura Linney: his American wife Claire
Sean Rees-Wemyss: their son Tom
Eva Lazzaro: his best friend Caylin-Calandria
John Howard: one of Stewart’s fishing buddies Carl
Stelios Yiakmis: Rocco, another one

Terrific acting by Byrne and Linney is supported by the rest of the cast. The way it plays out, the movie seems like a real-life story (maybe it is?) with enough time given for character development. The result is they come across as real people.

Although it proceeds at a fairly slow pace, you do not get bored. Several questions remain unanswered leaving it to the viewer to provide their own interpretation of the events that unfold.

The cinemaphotography has some great shots of the Australian outback but a bit repetitive as we get to see the same lake more than a few times.

for disturbing images, language and some nudity.

Stewart takes a photo of Rocco holding up the fish he caught. His rod creates a shadow on the left side of his face. The published picture does not have this shadow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Drama, Comedy
Mostly in French with English subtitles

Steve Buscemi: The Tourist
Juliet Binoche: Suzanne
Nick Nolte: Vincent
Bob Hoskins: The Customer
Natalie Portman: Francine
Ben Gazzara: The Husband

The title is somewhat misleading: the movie is about love in Paris (in all its various forms) not about loving Paris. This potpourri of eighteen short films by as many directors is an ambitious project to convey in just 5 minutes some aspect of the human endeavour in and about one of the arrondissements (neighbourhoods) of Paris.

Despite its impressive credentials (the list of directors reads like a who’s who with many top notch actors taking part) the time constraint obviously made it difficult to incorporate all three elements of good story telling (a beginning, a middle and an end) with the result a few go nowhere.

Overall what we get is an uneven film experience. Some of the segments are deserving of a 4 star, others less. A couple are really dull but there several that are brilliant. Some hit the mark while a few are way off. But stick around for the last segment about the experience of a postal worker from Denver. That alone is worth the price of admission.

for language and brief drug use.

Une profiterole is a cream puff.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Original title: Nuovomondo
In Italian with English subtitles

Prior to the opening of Ellis Island, immigrant processing was the responsibility of the state. In 1855, the State of New York began processing immigrants through the facilities at Castle Garden in response to a massive influx of immigrants, many escaping famine in Ireland. This did not prove to be the best possible site, though, because as the new immigrants left the facilities, they were routinely exploited by con men, who sold them phony tickets to various destinations, took their money in exchange for non-existent jobs, or found other ways to part the unwary immigrant with his or her money.

In 1892 the United States government selected Ellis Island for the new federal immigration center for the entire country. On the island, it would be easier to screen and protect the new immigrants before they proceeded out onto the streets of New York.

As the immigrants arrived in the Ellis Island Great Hall, exhausted and overwhelmed from their long journey, they were herded through inspections. In order to gain entry to the United States, they needed to be disease-free and prove the ability to earn their way in their new home. Inspectors examined them, looking for any sign of illness, and those with suspicious symptoms were marked and detained for further inspection. They were also asked a myriad of questions as to their origins, their past, how much money they had, where they were going, and their intentions in America.

Many were detained for various reasons, and some had to have relatives come to claim them. About two percent were turned back. In these heartbreaking cases, families were often forced to decide on the spot whether to split up or go back with those that were denied access.

Once they passed the inspections, immigrants collected their baggage and exchanged their money for U.S. currency. There was also a railroad agent available from whom they could purchase tickets for the next leg of their journey.

Vincenzo Amato: Salvatore Mancuso, a poor Sicilian farmer
Francesco Casisa: his oldest teenage son Angelo
Filippo Pucillo: his youngest Pietro
Aurora Quattrocchi: Salvatore’s mother Fortunata
Charlotte Gainsbourg: Lucy Reed, a British lady

There are more than a few really creative and innovative shots along with some lovely images of the Italian countryside and some mystical ones. The acting comes across as natural and the conditions depicted look real.

However with just the least amount of effort editing out the repetitive extended parts this would be a marvellous picture instead of one that tends to drag on and on.

for brief graphic nudity.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Animated cartoon

One of the little-known species of penguin in the Southern Hemisphere is distinguishable by his small stature and spiky yellow feathers projecting sideways. The explorers who first discovered them were so amused to see the penguins jumping over rocks that they named them the Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome).

Shia LaBeouf: Cody, a teenage penguin
Jeff Bridges: his hero, the famous surfer Big Z
Mario Cantone: a sandpiper, Mikey Abromowitz, surfing talent-scout
James Woods: Mikey’s boss, surf promoter Reggie Belafonte
Zooey Deschanel: beautiful penguin lifeguard Lani Aliikai
Jon Heder: surfing contestant Chicken Joe
Diedrich Bader: reigning surfing champ Tank Evans

They’ve cranked up the technical side of things one more notch with this latest CGI effort. The degree of realism is remarkable, whether it’s the sea and wave action or just the 3-D effect achieved by the subtle play of light.

Although the story is not all that original, it does have a good message to tell. It would have been better if there were a few more jokes along the way because there are very few, apart from a couple of cute moments that will prompt a smile or two.

for mild language (the kind that appeals to kids because they’re not supposed to say those words) and some rude humor (the obligatory potty jokes and crude bodily noises).

Thursday, June 7, 2007


In Farsi with English subtitles

apartheid (a-part-height)
though pronunciations of the last syllable as [eight], [ite], and [ide] are also heard.
the policy or practice of political, legal, economic, or social discrimination against members of a minority group.

Gender apartheid
the strict gender-based segregation currently practiced in places such as Afghanistan, Iran and some other countries.

theocracy (thee-ok-ruh-see)
A nation or state in which the clergy exercise political power and in which religious law is dominant over civil law.

Sima Mobarak Shahi: First girl
Safar Samandar: Soldier at the Azari arena
Ida Sadeghi: Girl soccer player
Mahnaz Zabihi: Soldier girl
Shayesteh Irani: Smoking girl

This movie is about a subject not often discussed outside the Islamic world, the controversial policy of gender apartheid. Critics contend that in most or all circumstances it is a violation of human rights whereas its supporters assert that it is necessary to maintain decency, sacredness, modesty, or the family unit.

The film takes place in Iran, a theocracy where the President and legislature are constitutionally subject to the supervision of two offices reserved for Islamic Shiah clerics only: the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council. As expounded by several soldiers in the movie, the traditionalists in power consider women to be delicate flowers who should not be subjected to the rowdy behaviour and vile language of males at soccer games. Consequently this is their justification for not allowing women into stadiums.

But dealing with a controversial subject is the only good thing about the movie. Apart from one or two people, the acting is terrible, often coming across as though they were reading from cue cards for the first time. In addition, the extensive use of a hand-held camera gives the film a look and feel of something done by an amateur for his own entertainment. And there is little evidence any effort has been made to edit the stock film as many sequences go on forever.

for language throughout, and some thematic elements.


IMAX documentary

There’s no doubt the Alps never looked better on the screen. But after a while it becomes somewhat repetitive since there are just a limited number of ways to view them. On the other hand several shots are truly impressive, especially of the climbers on the mountain.

Unlike most IMAX films this one actually has a story to tell. But several things distract from the overall enjoyment of the movie: the extraneous bits such as the bungee-jumping and the family playing cards do not add anything germane to the subject matter and the ADR of the professor is amateurish and not up to professional standards at all.

for General Audiences.

ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement) is the re-recording of dialogue in a sound studio during post-production. ADR is frequently used to replace the original recorded sound track because of its poor quality (often due to high levels of background noise) or to change the delivery or the inflection of a line.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


2008 Best Original Song


Glen Hassard: The Guy, a Dublin street musician
Markéta Irglová: The Girl, a young Czech immigrant
Bill Hodnett: The guy’s Dad, owner of a vacuum cleaner repair shop

What a refreshing change: most current movies tend to be lavish expensive productions with a cast of thousands (ok, I exaggerate a bit), often are way too long with convoluted and overly complex story lines, with the incessant use of the f-word and lots of computer graphic images instead of the real thing.

Well, this one is none of the above. Instead we get to see a charming film with very little plot and acting that comes across as so real it seems like the movie is a documentary. Music is a big part of the film, not surprising given the fact the story is about a talented musician. But the music is never intrusive; it just melds in perfectly with the story. All of the songs are written and performed by the principals and some are a real joy to hear.

for language. This has got to be a mistake! Apart from a couple of swear words right at the beginning (the guy says one JC and a GD) there is no cursing, no foul mouthed expressions, no obscene language at all. I have no idea how they came up with this classification, as there is absolutely no justification for it.

In real life Glen Hassard is the lead singer and songwriter of the Irish rock group called The Frames. The band’s website is at

Monday, June 4, 2007


Original title: Karov La Bayit
In Hebrew with English subtitles

National military service is compulsory for Jewish men and women over the age of 18 living in Israel. Men serve three years in the Israel Defence Forces while women generally serve two years. Once the soldiers complete their IDF combat training some choose to serve in the Mishmar HaGvul, the Israel Border Police. They undergo additional training in counter-terrorism, riot control as well as regular policework before being assigned to one of the Border Guard units around the country.

The Border Police deals with matters of internal security and combating terrorism, securing the seam region, controlling public disturbances and dispersing demonstrations, hostile terrorist actions and preventing crimes in the agricultural sector. They perform random I.D. searches on those who look suspicious (i.e., any and all Palestinians) and serve mainly in Arab villages and towns, near the country borders and in the West Bank. Approximately 20% of all Border Guard personnel are located in the City of Jerusalem alone. In this army the soldiers work a shift and go home at day's end.

Sharon Reginiano: the Commanding Officer
Naama Schendar: 18-year-old soldier Mirit
Smadar Sayar: her partner Smadar

The boredom and tedium of the job is reflected in the slow pace of this movie about women serving in the Israel army. The editing could be better because some scenes drag on too long in this low-budget production.

The story is a good one combining coming-of-age with the realities of growing up in a hurry. It comes across as very believable, in part because of the fine acting by all.

for some sexuality and violence.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Romantic comedy

Katherine Heigl: Alison Scott, TV Production Assistant
Leslie Mann: her older sister Debbie
Seth Rogen: Ben Stone, 25-year-old web site developer
Paul Rudd: Debbie’s husband Pete

Clearly aimed at the 18 to 24 male demographic (who are significantly more likely than average to go to the movies at least once a month, at 34 percent, compared with 20 percent for all adults) the movie relies on comedy that is raunchy, vulgar, and obscene.

The f-word is used extensively as are obscene terms for bodily functions and parts of the anatomy (even from Debbie’s 12-year-old daughter) along with explicit indecent gestures, nude scenes, lap dancing and people making out.

Hidden beneath all this there is a tender story of two people in a relationship and trying to make it work. But that is lost in this grossed-out male fantasy film which goes on far too long, clocking in at 2 hours and 9 minutes.

for sexual content, drug use and language.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


In Dutch and German with English subtitles.

Carice van Houten: singer Rachel Stein (renamed Ellis de Vries)
Derek de Lint: Gerben Kuipers, leader of the Dutch resistance
Thom Hoffman: Doctor Hans Akkermans, another member of the resistance
Sebastian Koch: Gestapo commander Ludwig Muentze
Waldemar Kobus: Muentze’s subordinate Günther Franken
Halina Reijn: Günther’s girlfriend Ronnie

Unlike most movies about the resistance to an occupying army, this one is not all about blowing up things to help the war effort. Instead, it shows how real people dealt with the situation and that things were not always black and white.

Although the movie is almost two and half-hours long, it does not seem like it because the story never gets boring. This is a big budget movie and the production values are consequently top notch. So is the acting with great performances by all, especially van Houten.

for violence, sex, nudity and profanity.