Sunday, November 23, 2008


Historical drama
Based on a true story

The "shot heard round the world" fired at Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 began the war for American Independence and ended eight years later with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

The French Revolution began in 1789 and lasted 10 years during which time the French governmental structure moved from an absolute monarchy to one based on Enlightment principles of nationalism, citizenship and the inalienable rights of the individual.

Keira Knightley: 16-year-old Georgiana
Charlotte Rampling: her mother Lady Spencer
Ralph Fiennes: William Cavendish, the fifth Duke of Devonshire
Hayley Atwell: Lady Elizabeth 'Bess' Foster
Simon McBurney: Charles Fox, leader of the right-wing political Whig party
Dominic Cooper: his protégé Charles Grey

The Brits do it best: historical period drama with perfectly detailed costumes, lovely settings showing the countryside at its best and lush interiors. With some terrific performances and a true story of romance and infidelity we get an insight into 18th Century upper British society.

for sexual content, brief nudity and thematic material.

Following his father’s elevation to the peerage as an Earl, Charles Grey assumed the title the 2nd Earl Grey. Later after becoming Prime Minister he received as a gift some tea flavoured with a citrus fruit from southern Italy. This blend of tea is now known simply as Earl Grey.


War drama

Asa Butterfield: 8-year-old Bruno
Vera Farmiga: his mother
David Thewlis: his father, a high ranking Nazi
Amber Beattie: Bruno’s 12-year-old sister Gretel
Sheila Hancock: Bruno’s grandmother
Richard Johnson: his grandfather
Rupert Friend: Lieutenant Karl Kotler
David Hayman: Pavel, the house servant
Jack Scanlon: Shmuel, the boy in the striped pajamas

Seen from the perspective of a naive young boy, the Holocaust is a much different historical event. Once you get over the fact that they speak English rather than German, the story unfolds at a rather measured pace.

There are really good performances from both young lads and Bruno’s mother in particular. Beautiful cinematography and attention to detail add to the visual experience.

for mature thematic material.



Sally Hawkins: 30-something-year old Poppy
and others

We are introduced to fun lovin’ Poppy as she peddles her bike around London, carefree and smiling at everyone, stopping in a bookstore to cheer up the proprietor. You get it? She’s happy-go-lucky. Trouble is this whole episode comes across looking totally fake and foolish.

Then we are treated to the slurred blather of Poppy and her friends discussing the night before. I don’t think they’re working from a script, simply winging it. In any event when Poppy pulls out her falsies and waves them about I knew we were in for some more crude comedy that appeals to some.

But not to me so I left, sorry I had wasted 10 minutes sitting through that silliness.

for language.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Animated cartoon

John Travolta: Bolt, an abandoned puppy
Miley Cyrus: his new owner Penny
Lino DiSalvo: Vinnie, leader of the New York wise-guy pigeons
Todd Cummings: his buddy Joey
Tim Mertens : their friend Bobby
Susie Essman: Mittens, a real cool cat
Mark Walton: Rhino, the hamster
Malcolm McDowell: the evil Green-Eyed Man
Greg Germann: Penny's Agent

A combination of a well-written story about a dog and his travelling companions, superb CGI and great voice talent makes this a real winner. Some of the jokes are the “laugh-out-loud” sort plus there are many amusing moments. The realism and attention to detail is remarkable: the shimmering of the pigeon's neck feathers, his reflection in the glass door as the Animal Control Officer goes into the office, the little LCD on the agent's Bluetooth Handsfree headset blinking once in a while.

Particularly important for the wee ones with their short attention span, there is very little down time with the action pretty well non-stop. I don’t know if it will become a Disney Classic but it’s a charmer on its own.

for some mild action and peril.

I saw 3D version. Someone who had not said it was worth the extra $3 admission price.

Thursday, November 20, 2008



Quantum (noun)
The smallest amount of something
In James Bond’s world, an organziation out to do evil

Solace, noun (pronouced soul-iss)
1. Comfort in sorrow, misfortune, or distress
2. A source of comfort or consolation
Example: his music was a solace to me during my illness

Daniel Craig: James Bond, MI6 secret agent 007
Mathieu Amalric: Dominic Greene chairman of Greene Planet and a member of Quantum
Olga Kurylenko: his mistress Camille
Judi Dench: Bond’s boss M
Giancarlo Giannini: René Mathis, an old ally of Bond’s
Gemma Arterton: MI6 field Agent Fields
Jeffrey Wright: CIA agent Felix Leiter

Relying on fast paced chases (car, boat, plane and foot) rather than a well developed plot to move the story along, all I could do was go along for the ride. Knowing that whomever Bond is fighting with is one of the bad guys makes it a bit easier to sort out but time and again I was at a loss to know how he\she fit in the scheme of things.

Even the chase scenes are muddled: with such rapid cuts and changes in point of view you pretty well have to wait until it’s all over to decide how Bond made out (as if there is really any doubt?).

Using high tech rapid fire methods of detecting bad guys and following them around the world leads to a confused state of mind. A little explanation of what's going on once in a while would have helped immensely. BTW: I never did figure out how the movie title fits in with the rest of it.

for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content.

While pursuing Bond on his motorcycle in Haiti one of the local bad guys screeches to a halt when cross traffic impedes his progress. He immediately yells out “Get out of the way…move”. Being a French speaking country any native islander would not have spoken in English under those circumstances, much less used such polite invectives.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Brief Jewish dialogue with English subtitles

Jesse Aaron Dwyre: Adam Levy, a Jewish teenager
Flavia Bechara: Yasmine Gibran, a college student
Paul Aharani: her Lebanese father Najeeb
Gabriel Gascon: Adam’s grandfather, an Orthodox rabbi
Maxim Roy: Najeeb’s girlfriend Christine
Tyrone Benskin: Mostafa, owner of a book store

A low budget movie about a young couple whose budding relationship is hampered by long standing conflicts and hatred not of their doing. Although the acting is somewhat uneven (Najeeb in particular) it’s emotionally satisfying to watch as things develop.

In keeping with the low-key approach the dramatic highlights have been dampened somewhat: the scene of bombing is shown with quiet background music not the usual noisy sound effects, Adam on the roof top is restrained without the usual soaring strings as musical background.

Although the running time is just 90 minutes, it is a tad too long: some editing would have fixed that.

but would be of no interest to children.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Animated cartoon

Ben Stiller: Alex the lion
Chris Rock: his best friend Marty the zebra
David Schwimmer: Melman the giraffe
Jada Pinkett Smith: Gloria a girl hippo
Bernie Mac: Alex’s father Zuba
Sherri Shepherd: Alex’s mother
Alec Baldwin: Zuba’s rival Makunga
Sacha Baron Cohen: King Julien the lemur
Cedric the Entertainer: his sidekick Maurice
Andy Richter: their friend Mort Moto Moto a male hippo
Elisa Gabrielli: feisty ol’ Nana

Despite having very little in the way of double-entendres that appeals to the “older” members of the audience, it is nevertheless very entertaining with or without a kid. The clever antics of the penguins and the lemurs really steal the show and elicit most of the laughs. From a technical point-of-view it is certainly state of the art, the backgrounds are picture perfect and the music is bang-on.

for some mild crude humor.

Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island, about 1,000 miles long and 360 miles wide. It is located 250 miles off the south-east coast of Africa.