Wednesday, April 23, 2008



Dennis Quaid: Carnegie Mellon University English professor Dr. Lawrence Wetherhold
Ashton Holmes: his son James, an undergraduate at the college
Ellen Page: his 17-year-old daughter Vanesssa a high school senior
Sarah Jessica Parker: ER physician Dr. Janet Hartigan
Thomas Haden Church: Lawrence’s adopted brother Chuck

With time taken to develop the principal characters we get to see them more as people than simply actors going through the motions. Without any over dramatic scenes the relationships begin to unfold, although sometimes with a bit of a “stretch” to make it believable. The acting is fine and some of the dialog pretty sharp.

for language, brief teen drug, alcohol use and for some sexuality. This is not justified; a PG rating would be more appropriate.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Romantic comedy

Jason Segel: Musical composer Peter Bretter
Kristen Bell: his girlfriend televison actress Sarah Marshall
Bill Hader: Jason’ step-brother Brian
Mila Kunis: Front desk employee Rachel Jansen
Russell Brand: Brit rock star Aldous Snow

A new form of comedy has been making its appearance more frequently than ever in movies: the raunchy comedy. Characterised by its sex-oriented theme, it appeals mostly to the young males in the audience (early-to-mid twenties) although I notice quite a number of females show up as well. No doubt because the on-screen nudity involves both sexes and therefore there is something for everyone.

Starting off with a quick flash of male nudity only five minutes into it seems to set the scene. Although the lingering sight of the male sex organ provoked a few titters and couple of giggles, it was but a prelude to some of the other hijinks to come. And in case you missed it, this full frontal shot reappears three or four more times. Anything for a laugh I guess. With potty mouth dialog (even the girls use the most vulgar references to the male appendage) and uneven acting the whole thing drags on forever.

I could not wait to walk out.

R for sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Romantic comedy

George Clooney: Jimmy "Dodge" Connolly, captain of the Duluth Bulldogs football team
Jack Thompson: Senior Editor of the Chicago Tribune
Renée Zellweger: Lexi Littleton, newspaper writer
Stephen Root: sports journalist Suds
John Krasinski: university star football player Carter “The Bullet” Rutherford
Jonathan Pryce: sports promoter C.C. Frazier
Peter Gerety: Football Commissioner Pete Harkin

It comes with great credentials: a couple of established stars, some clever dialog, upbeat sound track, high production values (sets, costumes etc) and quite a few amusing moments. Yet it is nothing more than a pleasant diversion. Given that the key part of the story is sports orientated means it will not appeal to all. But more importantly the pace is ponderous; it tends to drag on too long (almost 2 hours). Cut out half an hour and we’d all be better off.

for brief strong language (= couple of four-letter words).

 Black players were not allowed in the American professional football leagues until the late ‘30’s, some 10 years after these events took place.
 While sitting on her boss’s desk, Lexi is smoking a filter cigarette. These were only introduced to the market place in 1954.
 A defensive fighting position is one of several types of earthwork constructed in a military context. One type is the foxhole (U.S. Army slang) which is only large enough to accommodate a soldier's entire body and equipment. Despite what he says, Carter and his platoon clearly are in something other than a foxhole, probably a bomb crater.
 The stadium announcer makes reference to a “Hail Mary” pass. The typical Hail Mary is a very long forward pass thrown near the end of a half or end of a game where there is hardly any possibility for any play to work. The term was first used by the Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Roger Staubach (a staunch Catholic) to describe his game-winning touchdown pass in December 1975 with only 24 seconds remaining.
 As Dodge is walking towards the stadium exit a surveillance CCTV camera can be seen above the door. The first ever CCTV camera was not used until 1942.

A common colloquial expression in the English language "to buy a pig in a poke (a burlap sack)” is to make a risky purchase without inspecting the item beforehand. The phrase can also be applied to accepting an idea or plan without a full understanding of its basis.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


In Italian with English subtitles
Original title: La Sconosciuta

Xenia Rappoport: Irena, an Ukrainian refugee
Alessandro Haber: the apartment building porter
Claudia Gerini: Valeria Adacher, wealthy jeweller
Clara Dossena: her 4-year-old daughter Thea
Pierfrancesco Favino: her father Donato
Piera Degli Esposti: their maid Gina
Michele Favino: Mold, a very nasty fellow

The first five minutes seem like an promotion for some pornographic website and then it’s all forgotten. Problem is, in no way is this an essential part of the story. In fact we’re left to guess what the heck is going on. Never did figure that out.

But that is just the first of many events that take place which don’t make any sense at all. Given that it is a thriller you expect some things to be something other than what they appear. But there is a limit to how many incomprehensible plot devices you can foist on the viewer.

Apart from that as soon as the story gets moving along we are subjected to a series of flashbacks giving us some idea of Irena’s earlier life. But the frequency they appear seems only to reinforce the porno website aspect of the whole thing.

One more thing: it’s too long at almost two hours.

for disturbing images, explicit portrayals of violence, full frontal nudity and sexual activity.

Given its location it would be impossible for Irena to see the safe from the doorway of the workshop.

Saturday, April 5, 2008



Michael Angarano: high school student Arthur, bus boy in a Chinese restaurant
Kate Beckinsale: his former babysitter Annie, now a waitress
Amy Sedaris: Annie’s friend and co-worker Barb
Gracie Hudson: Annie’s 4-year-old daughter Tara
Jeannetta Arnette: Arthur's mother Louise
Griffin Dunne: Arthur's father Don
Sam Rockwell: Annie’s husband Glenn
Nicky Katt: Barb’s husband Nate
Olivia Thirlby: new student Lila

The acting is uniformly excellent and very believable. As evidenced by the huge cast the movie is about relationships, both the family sort and the romantic type. Given that all this takes place in a small town it’s not surprising their lives intertwine and it takes some effort to keep things sorted out.

It’s almost like there are two movies in one as a lot is going on. But there is little joy, very little.

for language, some violent content, brief sexuality and drug use (one puff!).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Based on a true story

Jim Sturgess: 21-year-old Ben Campbell, a graduating M.I.T. student
Josh Gad: Miles, one of his best buddies
Sam Golzari: another buddy Cam
Kevin Spacey: M.I.T. math Professor Micky Rosa
Kate Bosworth: Jill Taylor, a student at M.I.T.
Jacob Pitts: Fisher, another student
Laurence Fishburne: Cole Williams, head of security at Planet Hollywood casino

Although it starts of at a pretty good clip it bogs down mid-way through with too much of the same thing. Consequently it is too long and will tax the patience of all but the most dedicated blackjack player.

In addition to eliminating some of the repetitious card playing the whole romance thing could be cut out because it is not germane to their endeavour nor is it even a little bit believable. I suspect it’s there simply to get the PG rating.

Even though you might expect childish behaviour of some college students the antics of the Chinese fellow are ridiculous given the circumstances.

Despite these shortcomings it presents a terrific story about the "little guy" who takes on the big bad corporate machine and beats him at his own game. There are some fine performances by several people to pull this off.

for some violence and sexual content including brief partial nudity.

 Ben is seen riding his bike across the bridge over the Charles River with his bag slung over his right shoulder. When he dismounts it has switched places and is now on his left shoulder.
 Ben wants to enter Harvard Medical School. Annual tuition and fees are $41,647 while room and board is approximately $10,400. HMS is a four-year program so the total would be about $200,000 not $300,000 as he mentions several times.
 While riding down the Las Vegas strip the team pass the famous Eiffel Tower. These events took place in the mid-90’s well before construction of this half-size replica even began.
 When they come out of a hotel they walk beside the elaborate musical fountain display that is in front of the Bellagio hotel. The hotel only opened in October 1998.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


War drama

Ryan Phillippe: squad leader Staff Sergeant Brandon King
Channing Tatum: his best friend Sergeant Steve Shriver
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Pfc. Tommy Burgess
Abbie Cornish: Steve's girlfriend Michelle
Timothy Olyphant: Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Boot Miller

All anti-war movies invariably show the impact military confrontation has on the individuals involved including injury, death, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the like. This film deals with one other thing, some of the policies of the United States armed forces that are not that well publicised.

The acting is generally quite good; the pacing fine but some editing is in order as it is a tad too long. Although it is expected some brawling will take place the fight following the service somehow does not ring true.

for graphic violence and pervasive strong language.

 From personal experience (as victim not the “perp”) when an automobile side window is smashed it shatters completely rather than just create a perfectly round hole.
 When King gets in the car, although he didn’t touch it, the window has got its act together and is now almost completely gone.
 King gets a pretty bad gash above his left eye with the edges of the cut rough and irregular. Rather than get stitches he applies a butterfly bandage. As an experienced soldier he would know that these are used for a small cut that tends to gape a bit. The correct bandage would be Steri-Strips wound closure tapes.
 In any event the two bandages have a mind of their own. Sometimes the gap between them at the bottom is no more than a sixteenth of an inch, other times they are almost half an inch apart.
 And the wound itself moves about. It arches sometimes to the edge of his eyebrow but more often it’s a good half-inch above.