Sunday, January 20, 2008



Frank Langella: 70-year-old novelist Leonard Schiller
Lauren Ambrose: 25-year-old graduate student Heather Wolfe
Lili Taylor: Ariel, Leonard's 39-year-old daughter
Adrian Lester: Ariel’s ex-boyfriend Casey

There are few movies geared to the mature audience, relying on a well-written intelligent script to carry the story. As behooves any film about developing relationships it evolves at a measured pace, not to the point it is boring but to give adequate time for serious reflection.

Although all four principal actors do a fine job, that of Frank Langella really stands out. His non-verbal communication is almost as powerful as what is being said.

for sexual content, language and brief nudity.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Romantic comedy

Katherine Heigl: Jane, an adminstrative assistant
Edward Burns: her boss George, an advertising executive
Malin Akerman: Jane’s younger sister Tess
James Marsden: Kevin, the "Commitments" reporter for the New York Journal
Judy Greer: Jane’s co-worker and BFF Casey

What a pleasant surprise. Usually movies of this sort are highly predictable and cliché ridden to the point it is all déjà vu. Having said that I’ll have to admit it has its fair share of clichés but there are enough new twists to keep it interesting. Given that these romantic comedies are usually modern fairy tales there is no quibble about plot devices but you do have to suspend disbelief when you enter the theatre.

Although it bogs down a bit in the middle, overall it is very entertaining what with the jokes, the upbeat musical score and solid acting throughout. It’s a feel-good happy-type of movie and we all need some of that sometimes.

for language, some innuendo and sexuality.

 For the life of me I cannot remember whom it is that hails a cab and gets in. The key thing is it is taxi number 1X73. Several days later on her way to a fancy dinner party Jane flags down one of the 10,000 cabs in New York City. Guess what? It’s cab number 1X73.
 Jane’s car is in clear violation of the Highway Act as the rear view mirror is missing in all the shots with the windshield taking up the full frame.
 At the bar, the camera position remains stationary and Kevin doesn’t touch his Budweiser while singing Elton John's "Benny and the Jets" but the bottle turns by itself and we can just see the neck label in the last shot.
 When the two sisters visit their dad at his hardware store the “Open” sign is hanging on the inside of the door window. During business hours no storeowner would leave the “Closed” side so it’s seen from the outside.
 When the photographer takes a picture of the bride as she is about to go down the aisle the flash does not go off. Professionals always use flash even with exterior shots, if for no reason other than to provide any necessary fill-flash.
 And no professional photographer would shoot with a flash on the hot-shoe as this is how you wind up with red-eye because the flash is too close to the axis of the lens.

Thursday, January 17, 2008



Four-year old Marla Olmstead
Her father Mark, a factory worker and an amateur painter
Her mother Laura, a dental hygienist
Anthony Brunelli, owner of an art gallery
New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman

This is fascinating stuff and not just for those who like abstract painting. There is far more at stake here: it raises issues about parental responsibility, culpability, exploitation and just what constitutes art. So many questions, so few answers because the viewer is left to decide on his own.

for language. (Two, maybe three, mild swear words)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008



Morgan Freeman: automobile mechanic Carter Chambers
Beverly Todd: his wife Virginia
Jack Nicholson: self-made billionaire Edward Cole
Sean Hayes: Edward’s assistant Thomas

Although it gets off to a slow start, once the two ol’ geezers get going it’s a fun ride before they kick the bucket. Not that it is without some rough spots though as the whole premise could be seriously questioned. But hey, that’s what movies are all about.

As a combination buddy-movie and travelogue it works very well. Both leads are at the top of their form and there seems to be real chemistry between them, which adds to the movie experience.

for language, including a sexual reference.

 When Edward is standing at the end of the bed the TV program Jeopardy is on the monitor behind him. The contestant on the right continues to get the right answer apparently as her winnings increase from $2,400 to $3,200. But a change in the camera angle wipes out most of her winnings as she is back to $2,600.
 While flying in Edward’s private jet he is holding a book with his index finger between the pages marking his place. When seen from Carter’s point of view Edward is holding the book in the more usual manner, in the palm of his hand with his thumb keeping the pages open.
 During dinner at a posh restaurant Carter leaves the table with his wineglass half-empty. In the reaction shot of Edward the glass is almost full to the brim.
 Each time we see the list it has changed from the previous viewing with some items coming and going, others crossed off with one line or sometimes two.

Carter's story about the coffee beans is true according to

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


2008 Best Actor in a leading role
Best Cinematography


Established in 1870 Standard Oil was one of the world’s first and largest multinational corporations until it was dissolved in 1911. John D. Rockefeller was the founder, dominant partner and the major shareholder. His investment made him a billionaire and eventually the world’s richest man.

Standard Oil apparently used very aggressive competitive practices. For example, when a rival oil company planned on building a pipeline across some railway land to transport their product to market at the insistence of Standard Oil permission was denied. Consequently this forced the consortium to barrel off the oil, carry it across the railway line in carts then pump the oil into the pipeline on the other side of the tracks. It seems when Rockefeller learned of this, he instructed the railway company to park empty rail cars on the tracks preventing the carts from crossing over the rail line.

Daniel Day-Lewis: prospector Daniel Plainview
Dillon Freasier: his son H.W.
Ciarán Hinds: Plainview’s oil partner Fletcher
Paul Dano: Paul Sunday
also played by Paul Dano: Paul’s twin brother Eli, an evangelist preacher
Kevin J. O'Connor: Daniel’s half-brother Henry
Russell Harvard: the adult H.W.

Every once in a while there is a movie that gets it all right. Such is the case with this one. Two absolutely brilliant performances (Day-Lewis and Dano) are framed in beautifully shot majestic scenes of the undeveloped western United States. Production design (the overall look of the movie including costumes, sets etc.) is outstanding and the musical score is just perfect albeit not your usual sound track.

Although it runs for two hours and thirty-eight minutes it is not excruciatingly long: it takes that much time to cover some 30 years and needs the unhurried pace to allow for adequate character development. In a word, it is just the right length.

for some violence.


Animated biographical true story

In 1951 Mohammed Mossadegh was elected Prime Minister of Iran. He became enormously popular when he nationalised the British Petroleum company which controlled the county’s oil reserves. In 1952 U.S. President Eisenhower authorised a covert operation to protest against Mossadegh. Following violent demonstrations he was deposed in August 1952 and replaced by Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. With American financial backing the Shah modernised the Iranian infrastructure and at the same time crushed all forms of political opposition. His autocratic form of government (one run by a self-appointed ruler as sole dictator) met with opposition culminating with major demonstrations in January 1978 by supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini. The so-called Iranian Revolution of strikes and demonstrations paralysed the country and its economy with the result the Shah fled in January 1979. Four months later the Ayatolla was installed as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Shortly thereafter Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein decided to take advantage of what he perceived to be disorder in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and its unpopularity with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolution, and with the Shah ousted, Hussein had ambitions to position himself as the new strong man of the Middle East. He also sought to expand Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf by acquiring territories that Iraq had claimed earlier from Iran during the Shah's rule. The Iran-Iraq War began on September 22, 1980 but by 1982 Iranian forces managed to push the Iraqi army back into Iraq. The war then continued for six more years until 1988, when Khomeini accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations.

Chiara Mastroianni: the older Maryjane Satrapi
Gabrielle Lopes: the young “Marji”
Catherine Deneuve: her mother
Simon Abkarian: her father
Danielle Darrieux: her grandmother

Taking a rather novel approach this film is mostly in black and white (with just present-day scenes in colour) making use of simple line drawings. And it works because our focus is on the story rather than admiring the usual elaborate almost life-like animation generally seen. The music is note perfect (no pun intended) and the voices fit the characters beautifully.

The period of growing up is never easy for anyone but we see that the changing political situation can make it even more difficult.

for mature thematic material including violent images, sexual references, language and brief drug content.

Persepolis was the ancient capital of the Persian Empire built around 560 BC during the reign of Cyrus the Great. It is situated some 70 km northeast of the modern Iranian city of Shiraz.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Family adventure

Alex Etel: 12-year old Angus MacMorrow
Emily Watson: his mother Anne
Priyanka Xi: his older sister Kirstie
Ben Chaplin: hired hand Lewis Mowbray
David Morrissey: Captain Hamilton, ranking officer of the artillery unit

Really decent family-fare movies are something of a rarity as it is difficult to appeal to such a wide range of ages, interests and expectations. But this one pulls it off with an intriguing tale of monsters combined with fast-paced slapstick whenever things start to slow down too much. It has the requisite rude bodily noises that children have come to expect and parents have learned to tolerate.

Both the acting and script are adequate enough. Some of the scenery is striking and the musical score does the job although sometimes a little overwhelming.

There are a few scary moments but based on the reaction of the children in the audience it would seem anyone over 5 or 6 can handle them without difficulty. I guess kids are becoming somewhat inure to such things.

for some action/peril, mild language, brief smoking.

 When Anne comes out of the house several military personnel salute her. In the British Commonwealth only military officers are saluted, never a civilian, since the salute is to the commission they carry and not to the officers themselves.
 It is unlikely the British army would still be using WWI trench observation binoculars to survey the loch for monsters.
 As a code word used internationally as a distress signal “mayday” is always said three times in a row, not just once as the sergeant does, so it is not mistaken for some similar-sounding phrases.
 Angus is seen laying on the beach. He sits up and there is a small pebble stuck to his right cheek. Between that shot and subsequent close-ups the pebble comes and goes.


Comedy, musical

Raymond J. Barry: Pa Cox
Margo Martindale: Ma Cox
Conner Rayburn: 8-year-old Dewford "Dewey" Cox
John C. Reilly: the older Dewey
Kristen Wiig: his wife Edith
Tim Meadows: the band’s drummer Sam
Jenna Fischer: backup singer Darlene

This is not a total write-off despite some serious shortcomings. As a spoof you have to expect some measure of exaggeration and over-the-top antics but repeating the same one-liner four times is going a bit too far, even though it was funny the first time. There are other funny moments but too few.

The nudity scenes fits with the general conception of what goes on during road trips but the close-up male frontal nudity makes no sense and is totally out of place. And it’s done twice.

Some of the original music is really quite good. In particular the one called “Let’s Duet” is replete with double entendres with bang on phrasing of the clever lyrics.

for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language.

 The black guitar player has a silver slide on the small finger of his left hand while playing. He stops playing to pass the guitar over to Dewey but the slide is no longer on his finger.
 Dewey calls his wife from a hotel room and when she hangs up on him we hear the dial tone. The dial tone is there only when you pick up the phone to make a call not when it is terminated.
 Dewey was 6 years old in 1946 (and 14 years old in 1953) so he was born in 1939 or 1940 consequently in 2007 he would be 67 or 68 not 71 as he stated.
 His DOB is shown incorrectly on his tombstone as 1936.

The title obviously is in reference to the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the line”.