Sunday, August 26, 2007


Sports drama
Based on a true story

Bob Satterfield was born November 1923 in St. Louis and was a heavyweight boxer who fought from 1945 – 1957. He retired with a record of 50 wins, 25 losses and 4 draws. Ring Magazine places him at number 58 in their list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

Josh Hartnett: Erik Kernan, sportswriter for the Denver Times newspaper
Alan Alda: his boss Sports Editor Ralph Metz
Kathryn Morris: Erik’s wife and fellow journalist Joyce
Dakota Goyo: their 6-year-old son Teddy
Samuel L. Jackson: Battlin’ Bob Satterfield aka Champ
David Paymer: Whitley, Editor of the glossy Sunday supplement
Teri Hatcher: Andrea Flak, executive for the Showtime cable tv network

Although it’s almost two hours long, the crisp editing and intriguing story make the time fly by. As a sports drama there is some footage of boxing matches but without all the gore often seen in these types of movies.

The acting is all over the place. Samuel Jackson nails his role and his performance is worth the price of admission alone. The other guys (Hartnett, Alda and the little kid) do quite a good job. But the women do not come off as well: it’s hard to imagine anybody dressing to go to the office like Morris does and her hard edge makes her less likeable. Hatcher hardly makes an effort to do more than look pretty.

for some violence and brief language.

He was known professionally as Bob Bombardier not Battlin’ Bob.

Joyce is wearing a white sweater while talking with Erik outside. From one shot to the next the sleeve on her right arm is either on her shoulder or part way down her arm.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Original title Les 3 p'tits cochons
In French with English subtitles

Claude Legault: Mathieu Quintal, bill collector
Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge: his younger brother Christian, Tae Kwon Do instructor
Paul Doucet: Remi, the eldest of the three brothers
France Castel: their mother Lucille
Isabel Richer: Mathieu’s wife Geneviève
Julie Perreault: Christian’s live-in girlfriend Hélène, a policwoman
Sophie Prégent: Remi’s wife Dominique
Mahée Paiement: Josian, one of Mathieu’s collegues
Marie-Hélène Gendreau: Karine, student of Tae Kwon Do
Marie-Laurence Moreau: Valerie, one of Remi’s friends

This film should not be confused with the children’s story of the same name. Walt Disney brought to the screen an animated version of the classic tale about learning from the mistakes of others. This movie is about making mistakes and not learning anything from others.

With some failed attempt at humour it tries to justify the infidelity-related mid-life crisis two of the brothers are experiencing. Yet it goes to great lengths to show them engaged in their sexually explicit liaisons. No doubt the “voyeurs” in the audience will appreciate this attention to detail. In fact it panders to the lower tastes and desires of those who enjoy watching X rated movies on the big screen.

Instead of putting so much effort in to producing a porn movie, they could have spent more time getting better actors. Certainly not everyone is gifted with thespian talents but frankly I’ve seen better acting in high school plays than what Mahée Paiement can do.

for brief violence, nudity, language and scenes of sex.

Calling someone “un cochon” in French is more than describing the person as a pig. It is a derogatory term and implies that he or she is a really dirty, scummy, filthy, undesirable person. In this case the title of the film is most apropos.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Also know as: Omaret Yacoubian
In Arabic with English subtitles

Erected in downtown Cairo in 1934, the Yacoubian apartment building was one of the largest, most luxurious edifices of its day. Over the years, however, the building fell into disrepair, and the rooftop dwellings that had been used as servants' quarters were rented out to the destitute and downtrodden. Thus the edifice named for its Armenian builder came to represent a cross-section of Egyptian society.

Pasha was a high rank in the Ottoman Empire, typically granted to governors and generals. Although the word now serves as a non-hereditary title, English speakers have commonly used Pasha as if it formed part of a personal name, as for instance in Zaki Pasha.

LE is the abbreviation for livre égyptienne, French for Egyptian pound. It is also referred to as EGP. Currently 100 EGP = US$17

A Copt is a native Egyptian Christian. Copts are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East. According to ancient tradition, Saint Mark introduced Christianity to the Egyptians shortly after the ascension of Christ during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. Although integrated in the larger Egyptian nation, the Copts have survived as a distinct religious community forming today between 10 and 20 percent of the native population.

Upper Egypt is the narrow strip of land that extends from modern-day Aswan to the area just south of Cairo.

Adel Imam: Zaki Pasha, a wealthy bachelor
Essad Youniss: his sister Dalawt
Khaled El Sawy: Hatem Rasheed, a newspaper editor
Nour El Sherif: Haj Azzam, wealthy owner of an upscale car dealership
Mohamed Imam: Taha El-Shazli, the son of the building’s janitor
Hind Sabry: his girlfriend Buthayna (or is it Bosnaina?)
Bassem Samra: a handsome young soldier
Yousra: Christine, French songstress in an upscale restaurant

The length of the movie (almost 3 hours) will no doubt be a deterrent to many considering going to see this wide-ranging view of secular life in modern-day Cairo. My guess is only those who are native to the country or have visited it (I’ve been twice so I guess I qualify on that count) would have the patience to hang in to the end, as there is no evidence of any attempt at serious editing.

Since the plot involves the lives of the building tenants, there’s always something happening so it jumps from one to another and like any good soap-opera, that keeps your interest high.

for some sexuality and violence.

The soldier is wearing a white T-shirt under his pyjamas but a few minutes later when he removes the top of his pj’s somehow the T-shirt has disappeared.

While Taha is being pursued he exits the park and bangs into a panel truck. The camera view shifts from outside to inside the truck and now he’s at least 10’ away from the truck.

When Zaki and Buthayna are returning one evening to his apartment, although it is quiet dark you can see the name of the building on the left-hand side over the entrance to be the Regent Hotel.

Typically the streets of Cairo are teeming with people, cars, buses, trucks (even donkeys) as would be expected of a large metropolitan city with a population of some 16 million. Personally I’ve never seen a street in Cairo that has that “just washed look” . I think the producers have sanitised the city somewhat.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Drama, comedy
In English and French with English subtitles

Adam Goldberg: Jack, an American interior designer
Julie Delpy: Marion, a professional photographer
Marie Pillet: her mother Anna
Albert Delpy: her father Jeannot
Alexia Landeau: her sister Rose

According to the end credits the movie was Directed by, Written by, Principal Female Cast Member played by, Co-produced by, Original Music by, Film Editing by, and Still Photography by Julie Delphy. Obviously someone with great talent but in my opinion when someone has more than one principal role in the making of a movie, it tends to be something less than the sum of its parts.

For example the editing is sometimes choppy and if the Director were not the person doing the editing that probably would not be acceptable. Another example: there are times the dialog seems totally improvised (not necessarily a bad thing mind you) but if the writer and Director were not the same person there would be a rewrite of the script then a reshoot to give it that “polished” look of a full production movie. And of course Delphy’s own performance suffers at times because she is directing herself and does not have that independent assessment of her acting.

Having said that, it’s not a bad movie at all. Playing on the troubles any couple encounters when they have different value systems (such as their relationship with an “ex”) or if family gets involved in their relationship there are lots of poignant moments along with really funny things that act as a countermeasure.

for sexual content, some nudity and language.

This is a real family affair. The supporting cast are Delphy’s real mother, father and sister.

Friday, August 17, 2007



The moustached and long-tusked walrus is most often found near the Arctic Circle, lying on the ice with hundreds of companions. These marine mammals are extremely sociable, prone to loudly bellowing and snorting at one another, but are aggressive during mating season.

Walruses use their long tusks for a variety of reasons, each of which makes their lives in the Arctic a bit easier. They use them to haul their enormous bodies out of frigid waters and to break breathing holes into ice from below. Their tusks, which are found on both males and females, can extend to about three feet and are, in fact, large canine teeth, which grow throughout their lives. Male walruses, or bulls, also employ their tusks aggressively to maintain territory and, during mating season, to protect their harems of females, or cows.

Partially funded by The National Geographic Society, the movie has amazing close-ups of wild animals and incredible underwater photography. The narration comes across more as a story-telling session rather than the more staid informative narration generally used in other documentaries. To keep it “family-friendly” there are no gory scenes nor anything particularly disturbing.

There are quite a few amusing moments (both visual and from the comments) along with a lot of interesting facts including those offered by the kids during the end credits.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007



The Simpsons is animated American sitcom seen on the Fox television network. As a satirical parody of the “Middle American” lifestyle the show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and lampoons many aspects of American culture, society as a whole and television itself. It debuted on December 17, 1989 and is currently the longest running American sitcom. Time magazine named it the 20th Century’s best television series.

Dan Castellaneta: Homer Simpson, safety inspector at a nuclear power plant
Julie Kavner: his wife Marge
Nancy Cartwright: their 10-year old son Bart
Yeardley Smith: their 8-year old daughter Lisa
Harry Shearer: Homer’s neighbor Ned Flanders

Even newbies to the Simpsons will find this entertaining as there are lots of laughs by way of old fashioned slapstick, pointed satire, ridicule, sight gags, wise-cracking dialogue and one-liners. There are a few crude jokes but generally speaking it’s pretty much above that.

The targets this time are inept government, religion and environmentalists. And Homer of course.

for irreverent humor throughout.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Fantasy romance

Charlie Cox: Tristan, a 18-year old Englishman
Sienna Miller: Victoria, a rather vain young lady
Henry Cavill: big bully Humphrey
Claire Danes: the walking-talking fallen star Yvaine
Peter O’Toole: the king of Stormhold
Michelle Pfeiffer: the not so ugly witch Lamia

After half an hour I had enough and walked out. What transpired I think is all pretty silly. Here’s what I saw so you can be the judge:

Tristan falls in love with the prettiest maiden in the village (what else is new?) who is betrothed to the town-braggart (surprise) but will marry the new guy if he fetchs her a falling star (now that’s true love) which turns out to be a even more beautiful girl. But an ugly witch wants to snatch her heart out so she (the ugly witch) will gain immortal beauty and now Tristan has all kinds of problems.

for fantasy violence and some risque humor.

Thursday, August 9, 2007



Chiwetel Ejiofor: Dewey Hughes, Program Director for radio station WOL-AM
Don Cheadle: prison DJ Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene
Taraji P. Henson: his girlfriend Vernell Watson
Martin Sheen: E.G. Sonderling, station owner
Cedric The Entertainer: on-air personality Bob Terry aka Nighthawk

Some of the things that transpired when Petey goes on the air for the first time demand a certain amount of credulity to accept. And possibly his girlfriend was not quite so ebullient as portrayed. But apart from these minor issues this fact-based movie has a lot going for it.

As starters it is entertaining with more than a few amusing moments. The performances of the three lead actors are all first-rate and the story is one few of us are familiar with. One note of caution though: the profanity might make some people uncomfortable.

for pervasive language and some sexual content.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007



Jane Austen (1775 – 1817) was an English novelist whose works include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Nothanger Abbey and Persuasion. Her social commentary and masterful use of both free indirect speech and irony eventually made her one of the most influential and honoured novelists in English literature. Her novels were all written and set around the Regency Era (the years between 1795 and 1830, a time characterised by distinctive fashions, politics and culture.) Her work dealt with a limited social circle in society—that of the provincial gentry and the upper classes.

As England's first truly important female novelist, Jane Austen had difficulty in establishing a reputation for herself, despite the fact that she counted the Prince Regent among her admirers of the time. Adhering to a common contemporary practice for female authors, Austen published her novels anonymously; this kept her out of leading literary circles.

Anne Hathaway: 20-year old Jane Austen
Julie Walter: her mother Cassandra
James Cromwell: her father a country pastor
James McAvoy: Tom Lefroy a penniless student of law
Ian Richardson: Tom’s rich uncle Judge Langlois
Maggie Smith: wealthy noblewoman Lady Gresham
Laurence Fox: Mr. Wisley, Lady Gresham’s ward and heir

It seems to me that if you go to all the trouble of making a movie with big production values the least you can do is make sure the dialog can be heard. Such is not the case as often what is being said is masked by some noise or simply muttered rather than spoken out loud.

The story is one we’ve seen before so it lacks originality. What it has instead is a plethora of characters that serve only to muddle the situation: there’s Cassandra, Jane’s sister (not to be confused of course with Cassandra, Jane’s mother who has the same name) and her betrothed (whatever his name is) and some countess from France who keeps popping up for some reason and Tom’s friend who appears from time to time and on it goes.

Perhaps those taken with the author will find it worthwhile trying to sort this all out. For the rest of us it is simply too much of an effort.

for brief nudity and mild language.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007



Mary Elizabeth Winstead: McClane’s college-age daughter Lucy
Bruce Willis: New York City Detective John McClane
Justin Long: computer geek Matt Farrell
Cliff Curtis: FBI Agent Bowman
Timothy Olyphant: Thomas Gabriel, disgruntled former employee of Homeland Security
Maggie Q: Mai Lihn, his right-hand girl
Kevin Smith: Warlock, another computer geek

There is not likely to be any movie that can top this one for non-stop over-the-top action. The explosions, car chases, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat just keep coming one after the other and even a military aircraft shows up at one point. There is hardly a moment to catch your breath. But that is the reason for going to see a movie like this and it delivers as promised. Even the plot is a little far-fetched but we're not here to quibble…anything is possible I guess.

For what it is worth, I find the Matt Farrel character less than endearing. Granted as a computer geek his sartorial style is appropriately scruffy but his stringy beard and unshaven face along with his mousy, whiny manner just puts me off.

While we’re at it: surely they could have found someone to play the role of Warlock with some sort of conviction. Smith’s acting is pretty lousy by most any standard. Even though it is a minor role, he is not on par with the others.

for intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation.

Many of the stunts and escapades are simply impossible but that is the nature of the movie so there is no point listing them at all.

Little attempt has been made keeping cuts and blood consistent from one scene to the next. They come and go; move around; disappear; get shorter or longer; they seem to have a life of their own.

While being pursued McClane drives past the tollbooths leading to a tunnel. There are no toolbooths in any of the Washington D.C. tunnels.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Romantic comedy

Catherine Zeta-Jones: Kate, the chef of an upscale Manhattan bistro
Bob Balaban: her therapist
Patricia Clarkson: restaurant-owner Paula
Abigail Breslin: Kate’s 8-year old neice Zoë
Aaron Eckhart: replacement sous-chef Nick

You would be hard pressed to find anything original in this movie but that doesn’t mean to say it’s not a pleasant diversion. Although somewhat predictable, there are moments when it takes a twist. The humour is of the amusing sort rather than “laugh-out-loud”.

The acting by Zeta-Jones is first rate but again the role does not call upon her to push herself to the limit. Eckhart on the other hand has the more challenging role and needs to work on some aspects a bit more (hint: the romantic part).

for some sensuality and language (very little of either I might add).

Taking a stroll with Kate, Zoë hops up on to the empty park benches and carefully steps over each armrest as she comes to it. She stops at the end of the benches when Kate says she has something to say to her. When they are finished talking Zoë jumps down from the bench having magically returned to the one where she began her walk.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


True story

Zach Grenier: Squad leader aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger
Christian Bale: U.S. Navy pilot Lieutenant Dieter Dengler
Steve Zahn: U.S. Navy helicopter pilot Lt. Duane Martin
Jeremy Davies: a civilian Air America pilot, Eugene (Gene) DeBruin

Unlike most war stories this one is not loud and bombastic. Apart from the opening scenes, this fact-based story is all about how people deal with an unpleasant situation, the effect it has on them and their relationships with others.
The slow pace allows for ample character development and the performances of the three buddies are nothing short of amazing. Shooting mostly with existing light and right in the midst of it contributes to the feeling of watching a documentary.

With crisp editing (sometimes too crisp as we don’t get to see what comes next) and an unusual sound track that adds just the right tone to things, the two hours slip by if you are into this kind of thing.

for some sequences of intense war violence and torture (and I might add because of some really yucky stuff they get served).

Dengler’ squadron commander refers to him as a "Flight Lieutenant". This is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and in many Commonwealth countries including Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There is no such rank in the American armed forces.

Dengler tells his buddies he is engaged to be married upon his return to the U.S.A. yet he is wearing a wedding band.

While being interviewed, Dengler takes a drink of water and puts down the glass, now half full. As he gets up to leave, the glass is now three-quarters full.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


2008 Best Film Editing
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing


Blackbriar rather than Treadstone is now the code name of the clandestine secret black-ops branch of the CIA that violates laws both in the United States and abroad. If exposed by a rogue agent (Jason Bourne) there would be nasty repercussions. Having lost his memory Bourne has only one objective initially: to find out who he really was and how he got to be the way he is.

Matt Damon: CIA trained assassin Jason Bourne
Scott Glenn: CIA Director Ezra Kramer
David Strathairn: CIA Station Chief Noah Vosen tasked with eliminating Bourne
Paddy Considine: Simon Ross, an investigative reporter for The Guardian
Joan Allen: CIA internal investigator Pamela Landy
Julia Stiles: CIA secretary in Madrid Nicky Parsons

Your senses of hearing and sight are absolutely assaulted with lots of sound (music, screeching tires, gun shots, yelling, car crashes, breaking glass etc) and out of focus, blurry images coupled with lighting-crisp editing that are characteristic of the Bourne series. So too have the sensational car chases the improbable leaps and realistic hand-to-hand fighting.

As usual Damon plays the major role in a quiet unassuming manner with Bourne making use of his intellect to outsmart anyone who is out to get him.

It’s riveting stuff.

for violence and intense sequences of action.

Bourne says that Paris to Tangier, Morocco “is only about 300 miles.” In fact, these cities are more than a 1,000 miles apart.

In CIA jargon “assets” are people on the agency payroll who act as spies and/ carry out nefarious assignments.

Friday, August 3, 2007


2008 Best Animated Cartoon

The film was produced by Pixar Animation Studios which has won seven Academy Awards and is best known for its feature films Toy Story (1995) • A Bug’s Life (1998) • Toy Story 2 (1999) • Monsters Inc. (2001) • Finding Nemo (2003) • The Incredibles (2004) and Cars (2006)

In May 2006 the Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion making it a wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney.

Patton Oswalt: Rémy, a farm rat in rural France
Peter Sohn: his chubby brother Émile
Brian Dennehy: their father Django, the leader of the rat clan
Ian Holm: Skinner, the new boss of a prestigious five-star Parisian restaurant, Chez Gusteau
Lou Romano: Alfredo Linguini, newly hired “garbage boy”
Brad Garrett: deceased famous chef and author Auguste Gusteau
Janeane Garofolo: Colette, the kitchen's sole woman cook
Peter O'Toole: Anton Ego, the harshest food critic in Paris

Just when you think it can’t get any better, Pixar comes out with the best animated cartoon ever. Combining state of the art computer generated images with a well-developed story line it is most entertaining. The main theme is one of following your dreams. The romantic comedy aspect is somewhat unexpected.

The realism is incredible (in particular the trip down the Seine) and the detail simply amazing (especially some of the food preparations). And to top it all off, the musical score is exquisite, a real delight to the ears.

Although the movie runs almost two hours, it does not seem like it.


Ratatouille (ra-ta-TOO-ee) is a traditional French Provencal stewed vegetable dish, regarded by some as "a peasant dish" and therefore quite unsuitable to be served in a five star restaurant.

Thursday, August 2, 2007



Health insurance coverage of the non-elderly U.S. A. population according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute:
60 % through their employer-sponsored plan
15% from Medicare
5% from private insurance companies (including HMO’s)
20% are uninsured (approximately 45 million people)

Those who lose or don't have access to coverage through their jobs often find that buying insurance on their own is expensive, and many have trouble finding anyone willing to sell them a policy at all. They will be denied coverage if they have certain pre-existing conditions (cancer, diabetes, AIDS, multiple sclerosis or being pregnant). Also it is very difficult to get coverage if the individual is overweight, has high blood pressure or asthma. In fact some private health insurance companies will even go so far as to deny coverage to anyone with acne or hay fever.

As people lose coverage at work and find they are denied coverage or cannot afford to buy a policy on their own, they then have to resort to public health programs such as Medicaid which is jointly funded by the states and federal government. Among the groups of people served by Medicaid are eligible low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with limited income.

There is also a health care program called Medicare which is administered by the United States government covering people who are either age 65 and over (the elderly group) or who meet other special criteria.

As with the other films by Michael Moore the subject is one we’ve all heard about before but he adds his own twist to it. In this instance, the focus is on the health care system in the United States. True to form, Moore paints the worst picture possible for the U.S.A. and then the rosiest one he can find elsewhere. By making this sort of comparison between America (the only developed nation without universal health care) and countries like Canada and England he gets his point across in a most entertaining manner. Unlike his earlier movies, this one has a softer tone about it without the ranting and anger although at almost two hours it is a tad too long.

We’ve come to expect Moore playing a little loose with the facts but sometimes it borders on intellectual dishonesty. Case in point: his comment that Cubans live longer than Americans has the implication this is the result of their socialised health care system. In a small measure this could be true but Cuba is a country with a high emigration rate so the birth is recorded but the death does not because the person is no longer living there. This skews the longevity rate and anyone who has looked into these statistics (as Moore must have before making this observation) would understand this and not include it as a “favourable fact” the way he does.

for brief strong language.

The end credits include a note that if you want to marry a Canadian to get good health insurance go to