Saturday, September 19, 2009


Crime drama

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Matt Damon: Mark Whitacre, Corporate VP with Archer Daniels Midland
Tom Papa: A.D.M. Chief Operating Officer Mick Andreas
Melanic Lynskey: Mark's wife Ginger
Scott Bakula: F.B.I. Special Agent Brian Shepard
Rick Overton: Mark’s boss Terry Wilson
Joel McHale: F.B.I. Agent Robert Herndon

Loosely based on a true story and promoted as a comedy (even including an explanation point in the title), I didn’t see it that way at all. There really is nothing funny about corporate malfeasance nor the difficulties one encounters as a whistleblower.

That’s not to say there are no comic moments because indeed there are quite a few. But not of the gut-busting variety, just the incongruity of the situation that evokes a smile or two.

Matt Damon gives one of his best performances ever.

for language (in my view, hardly justified)


Animated story

Bill Hader: lifelong inventor Flint Lockwood
James Caan: his father Tim, owner of a bait and tackle shop
Neil Patrick Harris: Flint’s “assistant” Steve, a monkey
Bruce Campbell: Swallow Falls Mayor Shelbourne
Andy Samberg: “Baby” Brent, star of the sardine ad campaigns
Mr. T: Earl Devereaux, the town policeman
Anna Faris: Sam Sparks, the weather network intern
Benjamin Bratt: Manny, the cameraman

Definitely geared to children, anyone who is not should avoid being too harsh in judging its excesses. Adults will see it as a pleasant diversion with lots of clever lines providing more than a few comic moments (and some outright laughs) even when things get a little bit gross.

The technical aspect is beyond reproach: the CGI rendering is stunning, the detail quite amazing, the colours brilliant. The quality of the 3D version is the best I’ve seen so far.

for brief mild language.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


In Vietnamese with English subtitles

Pham Thi Han: 10-year-old Thuy
Nguyen Hau: her Uncle Tran Le Minh
Cat Ly: 26-year-old Lan, a flight attendant
Le The Lu: Hai, elephant keeper at the Saigon zoo

A very pleasant oft-told story of struggling against the odds and dealing with chance encounters. Done in low key with no high drama to unsettle things, the endearing performance of Pham Thi Han really carries it off.

One minor criticism: possibly because of budget restraints, there is a lot of handheld cinematography that does not always serve the purpose well.

for thematic elements and some smoking.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Romantic Comedy

Sandra Bullock: crossword puzzle constructor Mary Horowitz
Beth Grant: her mom
Howard Hessman: her father
Bradley Cooper: CCN cable news cameraman Steve Muller
Thomas Haden Church: CCN on-camera reporter Hartman Hughes
Ken Jeong: CCN producer Angus

The first requirement for viewing this quirky comedy is more than the usual suspension of disbelief otherwise there are too many gaping holes in the plot to try and resolve.

Relying on a “ditzy dame” persona and an unlikely premise, this is not your usual romantic-comedy, far from it. But that’s what makes it so enjoyable.

Crisp editing keeps things moving at a good clip and with a running time of only 90 minutes it does not overstay its welcome.

for sexual content including innuendo.

• While trotting beside the CCN van Mary is holding an umbrella in her hand. Seen from inside the van only the wood handle protrudes while viewed from outside the handle and about 6” of the umbrella can be seen.
• While being hoisted out of the hole Mary is seated on a sling but once above ground the sling suddenly has disappeared.

The smattering of applause I heard serves as a good indication of the audience’s reaction to the film.

The reward for sitting through the end credits is one more look at a running visual gag.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Science fiction, romance

Eric Bana: 30-year-old Henry DeTamble, Library researcher
Rachel McAdams: the adult Clare Abshire, an artist
Arliss Howard: Henry’s father Richard
Brooklyn Proulx: the young Clare
Ron Livingston: Gomez, boyfriend of Clares roommate
Stephen Tobolowsky: geneticist Dr. Kendrick

Watching this film about a time traveler (someone who can move from one instant in time to another) is like being bounced about on a rocking ship. Just when you think you got a good grasp on the situation, it all changes. An interesting premise this time travelling but it leads to a jumbled mess of encounters as you are witness to things happening totally out of sequence.

Any movie that is primarily a love story to my mind is best served in the traditional narrative form with the odd flashback as required. That way we get to see how things play out. Instead, as each new episode is presented, we know soon it’s going to disappear. Not much fun in that.

for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality.

• With the bride and her father about to walk down the aisle, almost half the house behind them is in shadow. By the time they arrive at the altar moments later the entire façade is now in brilliant sunlight.
• While Henry is talking to the young Clare in the meadow, a white thread is clearly visible hanging from her left sleeve. It disappears and reappears between shots.
• Henry slides into bed on the left hand side. The next shot is a close up with him talking to Clare and as the camera pulls back we see he somehow in an instant has gotten over to the right hand side.


Science fiction

Elijah Wood: No. 9
Martin Landau: his first acquaintance, No. 2
Christopher Plummer: the group’s leader, No. 1
John C. Reilly: one-eyed No. 5
Jennifer Connelly: No. 7
and others no doubt

Another movie about the end of civilization with the survivors having to deal with a changed world, this one is too scary for children, too boring for everyone else. Offering up state of the art computer generated animation is not enough: there has to be a story worth watching. And that’s where it fails miserably.

Instead it is simply a series of action scenes while they run and hide from the mechanical monster followed by a brief period of inane dialogue until another crisis comes along which precipitates the next batch of action scenes. It soon becomes predictive and not very interesting. And not a funny line anywhere; not surprising given the grim, gloomy place they find themselves in.

With no opportunity to get to know these rag doll creatures (they have no names, just a number) it is impossible to be emotionally involved in their situation. So you watch them scurry about dispassionately. Seemed pointless so I walked out.

for violence and scary images.

No. 9’s zipper is closed when No. 2 shows him the missing part. No. 2 then proceeds to insert it in No. 9 whose zipper has magically unzipped itself.

I was not the first to leave the theatre part way through. Two couples had better sense than me and left before I did.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Original title: Mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-un
In French with English subtitles

Jean-Carl Boucher: 11-year old Ricardo Trogi
Claudio Colangelo: his father Benito
Sandrine Bisson: his mother Claudette
Marjolaine Lemieux: his schoolteacher Aline
Élizabeth Adam: another student, Anne Tremblay
Narration by Ricardo Trogi

An amusing autobiographical film focusing on Ricardo’s adaptation to his new environment when his parents move to St.-Foy, Quebec. Played out pretty much in low key it has a certain nostalgia about it for anyone who was ever been in a similar situation.

Although there is one extended scene when they become more serious, for the most part it bounces along from one episode to another.

for brief sexuality.

• While talking finance with Ricardo, Benito says that the mortgage rate has jumped to 5%. These events took place during the titular year when mortgage rates were in the mid-teens reaching a high of 18%.
• Claudette tells Ricardo as punishment he is not allowed to watch the television program The Bionic Woman. Some threat as the last episode on tv was 3 years earlier when NBC discontinued broadcasting the series.
• Ricardo says he needs 10 cents for a soda. That was the price in 1968 but by 1981 a can of pop cost 35 cents.
• Nadia, Ricardo’s sister, in response to a question says in French ““he always ignores me” but the translation in the subtitle is way off with “he’s always mean like that”.
• On the back door is a decal of a security alarm company that was not even in business back then.

Friday, September 4, 2009



Ric O’Barry: the man who trained the dolphins seen on the 60’s television series Flipper

Louie Psihoyos: Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society, a non-profit organization founded in 2005

Mandy-Rae Cruickshank: a world renowned female athlete holding numerous world records for freediving

Kirk Krack: her husband, a professional freediving educator, trainer and coach

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling on 2nd December 1946. The purpose of the Convention is to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry. Each year, usually in May or June, the Annual Meeting of the Commission is held, either by invitation in any member country or in the U.K.

Primarily intent on divulging the secret activities that take place annually in Taiji, Japan this documentary also serves as a clear warning of the consequences. As a secondary consideration, the producers bring to light the underhanded activities taking place behind the scenes of the IWC.

At times difficult to watch, it is nevertheless of some importance that these facts be known.

for disturbing content.



Tom Hollander: Simon Foster, British Minister of International Development
Peter Capaldi: his boss Malcolm Tucker, British Director of Communications
Chris Addison: Foster’s assistant Toby Wright
Mimi Kennedy: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Clark
Anna Chlumsky: her aide Liza
and others no doubt

Promoted as a satirical look at the power struggle among nations, the one essential requirement of satire is that the audience be familiar enough with the real thing to see the irony of it. Unfortunately I am not that well acquainted with the British top echelon to appreciate the sarcasm, the insults, the nasty comments and crass behaviour. In other words “I’m not in the loop”.

As a consequence it comes across as a stilted refection of reality instead of being funny. Not making it any easier is having to listen to the foul-mouthed Tucker and his pervasive use of the f-word and other expletives.

I left after half an hour.

for language.

When I entered the theatre it was completely empty and except for me, stayed that way: never a good sign.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Mostly in French with English subtitles
Original title: Espion(s)

Guillaume Canet: Vincent, airport luggage inspector
Hippolyte Girardot: Inspector Simon Faure with DST, the French counterintelligence agency
Stephen Rea: Mr. Palmer with MI5, the British secret service
Vincent Regan: Peter Burton, pharmaceuticals executive
Géraldine Pailhas: his wife Claire
Archie Panjabi: MI5 operative Anna
Alexander Siddig: Malik, Burton’s business associate

Although it sets our to be a international thriller, it is anything but. Instead the emphasis is on the romantic aspect but even that comes across as flat, dull and boring.

Without proper training nor any experience in espionage we are expected to believe that Vincent somehow knows how to pull off the things he does: in a word, unbelievable.

As for the action, forget it. Apart from two unexpected moments when something approaching action does take place they are marred by the most amateurish CGI I’ve seen since that technology first made its appearance.

Strewn about are inexplicable encounters Vincent has with several people that serve only to confuse the whole mess.

for some sexuality and violence.

• There is a typo in the subtitles: it should read “…kid’s HIV” but is written “…kid his HIV”.
• When Anna shows several photographs to Claire, between cuts one of them winds up outside the folder although no one touched it.