Friday, May 22, 2009


In Italian, Chinese and French with English subtitles.

Salvatore Abruzzese: 13-year-old Toto, a grocery delivery boy
Marco Macor: 18-year-old Marco, an wannabe gangster
Ciro Petrone: his buddy Ciro
Salvatore Cantalupo: Pasquale, a dressmaker
Gianfelice Impartato: Don Ciro, the middleman
Toni Servillo: Franco, a businessman in waste disposal
Carmine Paternoster: his young aide Roberto

From what I’ve heard this is an excellent movie; trouble is, I don’t have the patience to sit through it. The pacing is almost real time: if it takes a kid 3 minutes to climb up a drainpipe, it gets 2 minutes and 30 seconds of screen time. And there are five story lines about various areas of control exercised by the Naples mafia. Consequently it is well over two hours long.

Because it is based on actual events it seems more like a documentary than some fictionalized version of crime in Italy showing how these organizations impact every aspect of life in the community. It is a very ambitious undertaking and could easily be made into two movies.

Viewers should be warned: it does not hold back any punches (literally) to the point some might find it disturbing. One thing though: the brutality is short, over and done with before you know it, just like in real life I guess.

for violence, language and nudity.

Gomorrah was one of two cities destroyed by God by “brimstone and fire” (Sodom was the other one) and has become a metaphor for sin. Which is an apt title for the movie. However the title could also be a clever reference to the Naples-based criminal organization called Camorra. Your call.

Thursday, May 21, 2009



Rory Culkin: 15 year-old Scott Bartlett
Jill Hennessy: his mother Brenda
Alec Baldwin: his father Mickey, a real estate developer
Emma Roberts: 16 year-old next-door neighbour Adrianna Bragg
Cynthia Nixon: her mother Melissa, a real estate agent
Timothy Hutton: her father Charlie
Kieran Culkin: Scott’s older brother Jimmy, a soldier home on leave

Good performances all around make this story about two very dysfunctional families seem plausible, although there are times it borders on being a little too much. However it is how the kids acquit themselves in this sitution that is of greater interest.

for language, some sexual content, violence and marijuana use.

• Jimmy is too busy eating his piece of cake to even touch his Coke. Viewed from his left hand side the bottle is almost full; however the camera views from the right show quite a bit of it has gone.
• The setting of the movie is Long Island, New York. The ZIP code is 11561 not 89023 as shown on the real estate sign put up by Mickey. BTW the ZIP code 89023 is the bombing range of Nellis Air Force base.
• Charlie is watching the tv news coverage of the Iranian hostages. Throughout their captivity, the hostages were paraded in front of television cameras, often blindfolded or hooded. The problem is the movie is set in the fall of 1979 and the first showing of the hostages was not until 1980, months after Charlie’s viewing of it.
• Jimmy tells his brother he’s to be deployed to take part in the Falklands War. There would be another two and a half years before the outbreak of hostilities in April 1982. Furthermore the war was between the United Kingdom and Argentina; the United States military was not even involved.
• Adrianna takes a slug of wine and passes the bottle to Scott neck first. The shift in the camera’s point-of-view to over Scott’s shoulder shows him taking the bottle bottom first, not by the neck.
• Dressing for his confirmation Scott is helped by his mother who straightens his shirt collar on the right hand side, leaving the left hand side flipped up. With the change in camera angle the right hand side has reverted to the way it was before Brenda touched it.

Rory and Kieran Culkin are real life brothers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009



Michael Gerard "Mike" Tyson (born June 30, 1966) is a retired American professional boxer (5”11” tall) who was the undisputed heavyweight champion holding titles from the World Boxing Council, the World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation.

Heavyweight is a weight class in boxing. Fighters who weigh over 200 pounds are considered heavyweights by the major professional boxing associations, the W.B.C., the W.B.A. and the I.B.F.

The promotional material described him as “the baddest man on the planet.” No doubt that resulted a larger gate and more betting on the outcome; it was also very close to the truth. And the truth is what makes this documentary unlike most others. The frank, honest, unscripted, no-holds-barred revelations by the former champ.

Anyone who’s had a passing interest in professional boxing can remember some of his famous bouts whereas others probably heard of his more controversial activities and formed some opinion of him. It’s refreshing to hear his side of it

Viewing the archival footage of his fights clearly shows why he was the champion for so many years. Mike’s recall and analysis of these bouts is amazing but again he’s probably lived them in his mind for years. And well he should.

for language, including sexual references.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Science fiction adventure

Chris Hemsworth: Captain George Kirk of the U.S.S. Kelvin
Chris Pine: his son James Tiberius Kirk as an adult
Zoe Saldana: Cadet Nyota Uhura
Bruce Greenwood: Captain Christopher Pike, commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise
Zachary Quinto: the adult Spock, Pike’s second in command
Eric Bana: Captain Nero, commander of the renegade spaceship
Karl Urban: Leonard “Bones” McCoy, the Enterprise’s resident physician
John Cho: Hikaru Sulu, pilot of the Enterprise
Anton Yelchin: another crew member Pavel Chekov
Leonard Nimoy: the elder Spock
Simon Pegg: master technician Montgomery "Scotty" Scott

They have wisely played down the romantic love interest aspect and instead devoted most of the time to the on-going battle between the forces of good and evil. You will have to see the movie to find out which side wins out.

The special effects are nothing short of amazing thanks to some excellent CGI and the action is virtually non-stop. The acting is bang-on with a smattering of humour from time to time. Nothing outrageous, just the chuckle type of thing in keeping with the serious nature of their undertaking.

Although committed “Trekkers” can never get enough, others will find the running time of two hours plus a tad too long.


for sci-fi action and violence, and brief sexual content.

James T. gets into a barroom fight and gets a cut on the eyebrow and just below his left eye. At first the wound is jagged but it soon becomes just a curve, sometimes disappearing completely only to reappear in later scenes.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


In Hindi with English subtitles

Goa is one of the twenty-eight states in India. The city state capital is Panaji, a former Portuguese territory on the west coast of India. Panaji has a population of around 65,000.

Venkatesh Chavan: 18-year-old Venkatesh, a “hotel boy”
Jhangir Badshah: his 11-year-old buddy Jhangir
Nana Patekar: a wealthy property owner Nana
Ayesha Mohan: his teenage daughter Ayesha

For some time the movie seems to progress without any real sense of direction as Venkatesh and Jhangir do their thing. Gradually the story unfolds without great drama in a rather laidback manner.

The frequent use of a hand-held camera fits in with the “no big deal” approach, keeping things simple. It’s not likely to win any awards but this tale of one person’s dream of improving his station in life is rewarding on its own merit.


This is the first time I’ve ever seen the character names to be their real names. How clever is that?


Sports drama
Some Spanish with English subtitles

US baseball teams recruit many of their most promising talent at training camps in the Dominican Republic, where boys start practicing at a very early age, seeing the sport (with encouragement from their families) as one of the few tickets available to them for upward mobility.

Algenis Perez Soto: 19-year-old Miguel Santos (a.k.a AzĂșcar)
Rayniel Rufino: Jorge Ramirez, a longtime friend
Andre Holland: Brad Johnson, 2nd baseman with the Kansas City Knights
Ann Whitney: Helen Higgens, a big fan of the Bridgeton Swing baseball team
Richard Bull: her husband Earl
Ellary Porterfield: their teenage granddaughter Anne

One thing should be made clear right off the bat (sorry about that) is that this is not a baseball movie. Sure there are baseball scenes (frequently encapsulated by the play-by-play commentator) but it is more about a person playing baseball.

His name is Sugar (the English translation of his native nickname “because he’s so sweet”) a baseball pitcher starting off in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. And then he moves on.

This character study is beautifully shot with excellent acting, crisp editing, some humorous moments and a strong storyline. It is well worth viewing, even for the non-sports fan.

for language, some sexuality and brief drug use. (Not justified in my view: PG would be more appropriate)


In Spanish with English subtitles

Paulina Gaitan: Honduran teenager Sayra
Edgar Flores: Casper (a.k.a. Willy) a teenager living in Tapachula, Mexico
Diana Garcia: his girlfriend Martha Marlene
Kristyan Ferrer: 12-year-old Smiley, a new recruit in the Mara Salvatrucha gang
Tenoch Huerta Mejia: gang leader Lil' Mago

Although they don’t go into any detail, the one thing certain is the strong desire by some people to improve their lives and get away from the poverty and gang violence where they reside. For those living in Central America there is but one place to go: the United States of America.

What sets this movie apart is the pervasive element of danger: from gangs, from the authorities and yes, from fellow-travellers. But there is also love and friendship along the way.

With excellent editing, things move along at a good clip. Which is a good thing especially for some of the gang violence as it’s not pretty to watch. The acting for the most part is believable and some of the scenery quite stunning. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a fun movie: far from it.

for violence, language and some sexual content

Sin Nombre translates as “without a name.”

Friday, May 1, 2009


Based on a true story

Robert Downey Jr.: Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez
Catherine Keener: Mary Weston, the newspaper’s Editior
Jamie Foxx: Nathaniel Ayers Junior, a homeless street musician
Tom Hollander: Graham Claydon, the first chair of the LA Philharmonic
LisaGay Hamilton: Nathaniel’s sister Jennifer Ayers-Moore

Although the film does not turn over any new leaf, it doesn’t have to. Stories about friendships have many variations, this one between two radically different people. Rather than spend a lot of time filling in the character of both, the director has wisely decided to concentrate on Ayers. Good call.

Nicely shot and well-acted, it feels completely real. I can only imagine how much effort it took for Foxx to memorize his lines: the torrent of words is amazing. Trying to catch everything being said is impossible. But there is no need to do so.

It’s almost two hours long and doesn’t have to be since there are more than a few scenes that are either repetitive or simply too long. The film editor should have exercised his prerogative to do something about that.

for thematic elements, some drug use, and language.