Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Crime drama

Gerard Butler: Inventor Clyde Shelton
Bruce McGill: Philadelphia District Attorney Jonas Cantrell
Jamie Foxx: Assistant D.A. Nick Rice
Leslie Bibb: Nick's prosecutorial partner Sarah Lowell
Colm Meaney: Police Detective Dunnigan
Annie Corley: Judge Laura Burch
Viola Davis: City of Philidelphia Mayor

A crime thriller that does not “telegraph” what is coming next makes for riveting viewing. Not that one needs to watch everything: the squeamish like me will have to avert their eyes part way through for one fairly brief scene (an essential part of the story but that doesn’t mean I have to watch it).

The acting is fine, the technical aspects of the first order although the CGI needs a little work. Crisp editing keeps things moving to its ultimate grand finale.

for violence and torture.

• Although Judge Burch keeps her hands below the dais and does not touch them her eyeglasses change position from one shot to another.
• Clyde has some difficulty getting past the table to lie down on the bed but when he gets there the table has conveniently moved to the other side of the room.
• Clyde gets punched and blood oozes from his mouth. When he looks up, the blood has pretty much disappeared.

Sunday, October 25, 2009



Hilary Swank: aviatrix Amelia Earhart
Richard Gere: promoter and publishing magnate George Putnam
Ewan McGregor: the founder of TWA Gene Vidal
Cherry Jones: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
Christopher Eccleston: Amelia’s navigator Fred Noonan

This is the true story of one of the most incredible people of the 20th century, a woman holding title to many “firsts” not just in aviation but with product endorsements as well. And Hilary Swank nails it: not only does she look and act the part of Amelia she ably handles a full range of emotion. I think this is her best performance ever. The rest of the cast give very credible performances, but none match hers.

The production values are top notch with great attention to detail (apart from two minor points as outlined below) creating the look and feel of the period. And it all rings true since the producers have resisted the temptation to exaggerate a little (or a lot as sometimes happens in Hollywood) especially about the uncertainty of some events.

for some sensuality, language, thematic elements and smoking.

• A Petty Officer Second Class enters the radio room aboard the Coast Guard cutter Itasca. Immediately one of the enlisted men stands up and salutes. A salute is not required when indoors unless reporting to an officer and never extended to a N.C.O. Only Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers are entitled to a salute.
• Fred used a fishing rod to pass messages to Amelia rather than by way of a clothesline shown in the movie.

Gene Vidal’s son Gore went on to become a famous author.

One minor quibble: I don’t see the reason for using the flashback technique since the story begins at a point when we do not know the outcome. I would have taken the straightforward chronological approach.

Saturday, October 24, 2009



Michael Stuhlbarg: college mathematics professor Larry Gopnik
Sari Lennick: his wife Judith
Aaron Wolff: their son Danny
Jessica McManus: their daughter Sarah
Richard Kind: Larry's unemployable brother, Uncle Arthur
Fred Melamed: Larry’s best friend Sy Ableman

I never did figure out what the first ten minutes was all about: a Jewish folklore tale maybe?

Promoted as a comedy, once the real movie gets going I sat there waiting for something funny to happen. It never did. Not once did I find anything even remotely amusing: Larry is faced with all kinds of problems, none of which are something to laugh at. And I was not the only one unable to find humour in the situation. Are we all that thick? Can’t appreciate the funny side of life when we see it?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. All I know is that I was not going to waste anymore of my time so like another couple before me I left.

for language, some sexuality and nudity and brief violence.

The second rabbi Larry speaks with stirs his cup of tea then puts the spoon down on his desk and doesn’t touch it afterwards. When viewed from Larry’s perspective the spoon sits lengthwise across the desk but viewed from the rabbi’s perspective it is in the opposite direction.


Based on a true story

Ben Whishaw: 23-year-old penniless poet John Keats
Paul Schneider: Scottish poet Charles Brown, Keats’s mentor, friend and confidant
Abbie Cornish: their next-door neighbour Fanny Brawne
Edie Martin: Fanny’s little sister Toots
Thomas Sangster: their brother Samuel
Kerry Fox: their mother

I suspect that women would like this film more than men would (at least in my case) since it is an unhurried story about the developing romance between an up-and-coming poet and a fairly well-to-do young lady. The emphasis is on the spoken word, of which there are many, and less on action. Action of any sort.

Consequently you must stay focused or the plodding pace will find you nodding off. And as far as the romantic aspect, forget it: because of the pre-Victorian values holding hands is about as good as it gets. For some maybe that’s enough.

The high production values results in the look and feel of the early 1800’s in England (1818 to be exact) with costume design meriting consideration for an Oscar. Fine performances all around although I didn’t take a liking to Mr. Brown at all.

for thematic elements, some sensuality, brief language and incidental smoking.

• After taking the book of poems from Toots, Fanny holds it in her right hand while she turns the pages with her left. She then slowly falls back on the bed but magically she now has the book in her left hand with her right waving gently.
• Fanny’s friend is wearing a cross on a necklace. In the close-up shots the cross is to the left but when the camera pulls back to a medium-close shot it is hanging neatly in the center.

Sunday, October 18, 2009



Patricia Clarkson: Juliette Grant, a journalist with the magazine Vous
Alexander Siddig: Tareq, a retired policeman
Amina Annabi: his long time friend Yasmeen
Tom McCamus: Juliette’s husband Mark, a United Nations aid worker

The simplest of story lines, about a budding relationship in Cairo, has several subplots that serve only to confuse things. Probably these tangential loose ends are meant to add a little more screen time as the runtime is very short, only 88 minutes. On the other hand, we are left guessing about the purpose of Juliette’s bus trip and what transpired when it gets stopped. This is an important part of the story yet it gets short shrift.

The acting is fine and the cinemaphotography well done.


• Tareq tells Juliette “you can see the pyramids from anywhere in the city”. From personal experience I can tell you this is not true. The pyramids are 20 kilometres from the city center with many buildings blocking the view.
• It is early afternoon after a stroll about the city when Juliette and Tareq return to her hotel. She invites him to have a tea on the hotel terrace. When they are seated the sun has set and it is now dark with the city lights in the background.
• The sun is setting when Juliette and Tareq are walking towards the pyramids. When they get there, the bright sunlight would indicate it’s around noon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009



Anna Wintour, Vogue magazine Editor-in-chief
Grace Coddington, Creative Director
Andre Leon Talley, Editor-at-large
Designers Oscar de la Renta, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thakoon Panichgul and Patrick Demarchelier

This perplexing documentary about putting together the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine suffers greatly from two things: the absence of any voice-over to explain what is taking place and the haphazard way it evolves, jumping around from one thing to another.

What passes for a story line are snippets of conversations and asides. It is like being a fly on the wall trying to figure out what it’s all about.

for brief strong language.


Science fiction

Bruce Willis: FBI agent Tom Greer
Radha Mitchell: his partner Jennifer Peters
James Cromwell: inventor Dr. Lionel Canter
Ving Rhames: The Prophet
Rosamund Pike: Green’s wife Maggie

The target audience (teenage males) will love it because there’s lots of action, wild car chases, really cool weapons and gorgeous women. The rest of us will find it less enthralling.

Because the main premise is not really spelled out it takes some time before you catch on to what is happening. Fans of this sort of movie probably do not need this “background” information, but I certainly could have used it. Well maybe not.

for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene.



Olivia Williams: home room teacher Miss Stubbs
Carey Mulligan: 16-year-old Jenny Martin
Alfred Molina: her father Jack
Cara Seymour: her mother Marjorie
Matthew Beard: Jenny’s friend Graham
Peter Sarsgaard: businessman David Goldman
Dominic Cooper: his business partner Danny
Rosamund Pike: Danny’s girlfriend Helen
Emma Thompson: school Headmistress

This is one terrific movie particularly the acting which is uniformly superb in this film about growing up and getting an education. I do not want to expound on that for fear of giving away too much. In any event, it all rings true.

The dialogue and costuming are right on, the pacing excellent, the musical score fits in beautifully.

This movie will win awards, it’s that good.

for mature thematic material involving sexual content, and for smoking.

• David puts the cello in the back seat with the small end towards the driver’s side. When he removes it from that side it comes out large end first.
• Having opened one present Jenny leaves the other one untouched with its wrapping still on. When she receives more presents she makes room on the table by pushing the first two aside, now both unwrapped.
• After returning from an evening out Jenny stops on the first step to speak with her father. Although she doesn’t move from there, at the end of their conversation she continues up the stairs but from the half-way point.



Although the central point of the movie is indeed about capitalism, in typical Michael Moore fashion more than a few other subjects are presented. Much of the film content will be familiar to most people but he has come up with a few lesser known things such as the Second Bill of Rights, life insurance policies to name but a few.

As usual he pulls off a couple of stunts to make his point. Certainly if what he says is true, there is a lot of food for thought.

for some language.

The title is never explained.