Sunday, August 31, 2008



The Mohawk Nation has three communities in upstate New York and the province of Ontario. The Akwesasne Territory is the largest and staddles the St. Lawrence River with sections in both Canada and the United States. The only road between the two sections is the Seaway International Bridge between Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York. Crossing the river by boat is the easiest route between the two sections when the river is not frozen.

Specifications of the two most popular types of mobile homes:
Singlewide: from 600 to 1000 sq. ft.  with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom
Doublewide: 1200 to 1700 sq. ft.,  3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

Melissa Leo: Ray Eddy, a dollar-store cashier
Misty Upham: Lila Littlewolf, an employee in the Mohawk bingo parlor
Charlie McDermott: Ray’s 15-year-old son T.J.
James Reilly: T.J.’s 5-year-old brother Ricky
Michael O’Keefe: a NY state trooper

Two things set this movie apart from the others: an uncomplicated story about two people struggling with life’s circumstances and the acting which comes across as completely natural. The extensive use of hand-held cameras gives the viewer a “fly-on-the-wall” perspective and the limited budget keeps things simple and uncluttered. How refreshing.

for some language. Officially rated R but this has got to be a mistake. I see enough movies (about 120 a year) to know what constitutes an R rating; there is nothing in this movie that warrants that kind of warning.

When the delivery van pulls into the driveway it stops close to a pile of snow on the driver’s side. When T.J. goes out to speak to the passenger the truck is now six feet removed from the snow pile. After he goes back inside we see that the truck has returned to its original position.

Saturday, August 30, 2008



n. (pl. el·e·gies)
A musical composition that is melancholy or pensive in tone.

An alchoholic drink of peach and champagne.

Ben Kingsley: 64-year-old Professor David Kepesh
Penélope Cruz: one of his students Consuela (pronounced con-swell-ah)
Dennis Hopper: David’s long time friend, well-known poet George
Patricia Clarkson: another of David’s friends businesswoman Carolyn
Peter Sarsqaard: David’s son Kenny

Terrific acting with Kingsley and Cruz at their very best, a solid story beautifully shot with a musical score of classical music this one will win some awards. Casting is bang on (except for Sarsqaard) and with time given to develop the character of each it’s easy to understand the issues they have to deal with.

for sexuality, nudity and language (far too many f-words)

Monday, August 18, 2008



Steven Spurrier: Alan Rickman, Parisian wine merchant
Dennis Farina: his friend Maurice Cantavale
Bill Pullman: Jim Barrett, owner of the Chateau Montelena vineyard
Chris Pine: his son Bo
Rachael Taylor: the summer intern Sam Clayton
Freddy Rodriguez: Gustavo Brambila, an employee of the Chateau

An interesting story about the development of the American wine industry, the film moves along at a reasonable clip. The acting is somewhat uneven: both Spurrier and Rodriquez are fine but Pullman never seems to get into the role. Some of the shots of the Napa valley are enough to make you want to get up and go see for yourself.

for brief strong language, some sexual content and a scene of drug use.

It’s unlikely Gustavo would have ever seen a $50 bottle of wine much less tasted one: that’s $250 in todays currency.

Although based on a true story it seems certain liberties have been taken with the truth. The most egregious example would be the frequent bouts between Jim and his son.

Sunday, August 17, 2008



Megan Krizmanich: student council Vice President
Colin Clemens: star basketball star
Hannah Bailey: guitarist with an alt rock band
Jake Tusing: self-proclaimed "supergeek”
Mitch Reinholt: the cool good looking all-round athlete

Following five individuals and their friends through their high school senior year just barely meets the criteria as a documentary. In fact it is more like a “reality-type” television show that has become so popular of late.

There is nothing new here as the subjects chosen clearly represent a cross-section of middle income students all of whom are appropriately labelled on the film’s website: Princess, Jock, Rebel, Heartthrob and Geek

Mildly entertaining but hardly worth the effort to go see it.

for some strong language, sexual material, some drinking and brief smoking, all involving teenagers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008



Richard Jenkins: Dr. Robert Doback
Mary Steenburgen: Nancy Huff
John C. Reilly: Dale Doback
Will Ferrell: Brennan Huff
Adam Scott: Brennan's younger brother Derek
Kathryn Hahn: his wife Alice

Vulgar and infantile with sight gags that will make you gag, replete with four-letter words, rude and silly childish behaviour. After ten minutes I walked out.

for profanity, nudity and sexual situations.



Ross Patridge: Matt
Elise Muller: his girlfriend Catherine
Steve Zissis: Chad
Greta Gerwig: his girlfriend Michelle

I can think of no reason why anybody would want to see this low-budget boring film with a group of unknowns, a flimsy story line, unsteady, jerky, handheld camera work and lousy acting.

I walked out after 15 minutes.

for profanity, sexual situations, nudity and violence.


Original title: Mission Antarctique
Portions in French with English subtitles

The last of the seven continents to be discovered, Antarctica (from the Greek Aνταρκτική “Opposite of the Arctic”) remained neglected by the rest of the world because of its isolation, hostile environment and lack of resources. The first confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by a Russian expedition. There are no permanent human residents and no evidence of any pre-historic indigenous population. Approximately 98% covered with ice only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there: mosses, lichen, algae, penguins and fur seals.

The Sedna IV is a 50 metre (165 ft) three-masted schooner that has been used for scientific expeditions and the filming of documentaries. Built by Abeking & Rasmussen in Germany in 1957 as a fishing trawler, she was refitted as a sailing vessel in 1992. In 2001 a Canadian film crew acquired the ship and fitted it out with a film studio complete with editing equipment. Also on board is high-precision scientific equipment to gather, compile and analyse data to fulfil the expedition's scientific research program.

Narrated by Donald Sutherland
Captain Jean Lemire, biologist and filmmaker
Mechanic Stéven Pearson
Mariano Lopez, mental health caregiver

Their mission: to observe and document what climate change is doing to Antarctica. What they saw and experienced is a bit of an eye-opener. Not simply the stunning views but what they had to cope with. With intelligent narration and a lovely musical score, the two hours plus goes by quickly.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008



Ann Savage: the Mother
Guy Maddin: Darcy Fehr

Guy Maddin makes bizarre movies best appreciated by those into “niche-cinema”. Fans of Guy Maddin will no doubt love it. The rest of us will not.

This pseudo-documentary of Maddin’s hometown gets off to an unusual start with repeated takes of the Mother reading her lines. It then lurches into black and white out-of-focus shots of a very wintry place with a monotone voice-over by Guy Maddin describing what we see on screen, none of it very interesting. It’s asking too much of anyone to sit through that for very long.

PG for mature themes and some nudity.

Guy Maddin produced, wrote, directed, stars in and even gets a credit as an “additional camera operator”. As I’ve said before, usually the movie is not worth seeing when someone takes on more than two principal roles in making the film. Imagine the results when one person has five?

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Original title: Un été sans point ni coup sûr
In French with English subtitles

Pier-Luc Funk: 12-year-old Martin Garneau
Roy Dupuis: Gilbert Turcotte, coach of the pee-wee baseball club des Aristocrates
Patrice Robitaille: Martin’s father Charles
Jacinthe Laguë: Martin’s mother Mireille

The movie is a lightweight, one-dimensional story about a young fellow and the relationship with his father. Everything is mediocre (acting, cinemaphotography etc) except the great attention to period detail.

One thing that is amiss is the inclusion of two events, one that raises the spectrum of conjugal difficulty and the other some questions about a young girl. Then we never hear a word about them, as if they never existed. Both should be edited out since red herrings have no part to play in anything but a mystery and this is not one.


Friday, August 8, 2008


Mostly in English with subtitles as required.

Breakdown sections of a musical piece (better known simply as breaks) are short interludes from all the other elements of the song such as vocals and basslines. Disc jockeys learned to string these breaks together as a strong rhythmic base providing dancers an opportunity to display their skills.

Breakdancing evolved as part of the hip hop movement among African American and Puerto Rican youths living in Manhattan and the South Bronx sections of New York City during the early seventies.

A b-boy or b-girl is a practioner of breakdancing.

The four basic elements of breakdance:
 Toprock: a string of steps performed standing up
 Downrock: moves done while on the floor
Power moves: impressive acrobatics borrowed from gymnastics such as the flare, headspins, backspins, handglides and windmills
 Freezes: halting all motion in a stylish pose usually to finish the set

A crew is a group of two or more BBoys (or BGirls) who dance together either simultaneously or separately.

Battles are head to head confrontations between individuals or groups of dancers who try to outperform the other by displaying a set of more complicated and innovative moves. There are two types:
 the cypher battle is the name given to a circle of b-boys and/or b-girls who take turns dancing in the center. There are no judges other than the participants, no concrete rules nor any restrictions except for unwritten traditions
 organized battles are just that: there is a time limit, a limit to the number of dancers that can represent each side and there are unbiased judges chosen based on their years of experience

Phase-T from France: mostly North African young men plus one blond white boy
Knucklehead Zoo from Las Vegas: a group of Latino-Americans
Ichigeki from Japan
Gamblerz from South Korea: the reigning champions
Last for One also from South Korea

For most people breakdancing had simply disappeared; apparently there has been resurgence since the early 1990s. This documentary profiles five of the groups that took part in the annual competition known as the Battle of the Year.

By taking time to interview some parents it soon becomes clear that some b-boys have more than difficult dance routines to deal with.

Obviously geared to those already familiar with this subculture, no attempt has been made to familiarise the rest of us with the terms noted above.


Monday, August 4, 2008


Original title: La graine et le mulet
In French with English subtitles

Habib Boufares: 60-year-old Slimane Beiji
Bouraouia Marzouk: his ex-wife Souad
Farida Benkhetache: Slimane’s daughter Karima
Hatika Karaoui: Slimane’s lover Latifa
Hafsia Herzi: her daughter Rym

We all have busy lives and have to budget our time. One thing I suggest you should do today is stay away from this movie. It is terrible and such a waste of time.

Shot entirely with a hand-held camera (and not a very steady one at that) it moves at a ponderous pace with long, interminably long, takes. Patience (lots of it) is an absolute requirement for viewing as nothing it seems has been edited out and we get to see the film just as it was shot.

At the risk of giving away the plot during the 45 minutes I sat through the film the following transpired: an old-time employee is told he is to be laid off, he talks with some buddies on the wharf, visits his ex’s place, visit’s his daughter’s place, goes home, visits his lover, has a beer and then back to his daughter’s place.

The two principal subjects of conversation were about fish and the toilet training of the man’s 2-year-old granddaughter; both bore me to tears.

I haven’t got time for this. Few people do.

for brief sexual situations.

Four people before me and three others left when I did; each of us forsaking the $11 spent to see the film. At that rate the theatre would certainly be empty before the end credits.

I checked it out and the film runs for over 2 and a half hours!