Saturday, May 29, 2010



Ponijao, the Namibian baby girl
Mari, the baby girl living in Tokyo
Bayar, the Mongolian baby boy
Hattie, the baby girl living in San Francisco

A most unusual documentary in that there is no narration, no story line and very little music. As such we are left to make our own observations, to draw our own conclusions, to see things from our personal perspective.

The four newborn babies followed through their first year of life were obviously chosen to get a cross-section of humanity in two widely different socio-economic strata and being born into completely different ways of life.

The antics of babies being babies often provoke smiles and sometimes real laughs. It brings to mind how much we all have in common, despite being born to different parents and raised in different cultures.

for cultural and maternal infant nudity throughout.


Crime thriller

Michael Caine: 70-something-year-old Harry Brown
David Bradley: his best friend and chess partner Leonard Attwell
Liam Cunningham: pub owner Sid
Emily Mortimer: Police Detective Inspector Alice Frampton
Charlie Creed-Miles: Police Detective Sergeant Terry Hicock
Ben Drew: gang member Noel Winters
Iain Glen: Police Superintendent Childs

The brutal violence associated with crime pervades the film and the gritty setting in a London housing project serves as a focal point. A couple of times there is a palpable feeling of menace as Harry sets about to take matters in his own hands. It is not always pretty but definitely riveting.

for strong violence and language throughout, drug use and sexual content.

When in Harry’s apartment D.I. Frampton asks D.S. Hicock “to get Mr. Atwell a glass of water”. That was a mistake; she should have said a glass of water for Mr. Brown.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Murder mystery
In Spanish with English subtitles
Original title El secreto de sus ojos

In Argentina judges act like District Attorneys investigating cases and indicting suspects.

Ricardo Darin: recently retired criminal court investigator Benjamín Espósito
Guillermo Francella: his assistant Pablo Sandoval
Soledad Villarnil: their new boss Department Chief Irene Menéndez-Hastings
Pablo Rago: bank employee Ricardo Morales
Javier Godino: Isidoro Gómez, “a person of interest”

The movie title comes from Benjamin’s contention that one can read guilt in a glance or a stare as he sets about to take another look at a twenty-five year old criminal case. This well acted “who-dun-it” provides clues bit by bit leaving the viewer the opportunity to figure things out as they do.

The rather languorous pace provides adequate time for character development but results in a run time in excess of 2 hours.

There are some funny moments but some of the scenes can be shocking.

for a rape scene, violent images, some graphic nudity and language.

The film won an Oscar at the 82nd Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010



Leon Trotsky was born Leiba Davidovich Bronstein in November 1879. He was the fifth and favourite child of a well-to-do farmer David and his wife Anna. Trotsky became involved in revolutionary activities in 1896 writing and distributing pamphlets promoting socialist ideas among industrial workers and revolutionary students. In 1917 he was one of the leaders along with Vladimir Lenin of the Russian October Revolution.

Jay Baruchel: 17-year-old high school student Leon Bronstein
Tommie Amber Pirie: his sister Sarah
Saul Rubinek: their father David
Anne-Marie Cadieux: their stepmother Anna
Domini Blythe: School Administrator Mrs. Danvers
Tiio Horn: Student Council members Caroline
Ricky Mabe: and Tony
Colm Feore: School Principal Berkhoff
Emily Hampshire: 27-year-old graduate student Alexandra Leith
Michael Murphy: Professor and civil liberties lawyer Frank McGovern
Geneviève Bujold: School Commissioner Denise Archambault

This mildly amusing political satire about a teenage revolution is carried off beautifully by Baruchel. His performance is worth the price of admission alone. The supporting cast are up to the task apart from the less than stellar acting by the policemen.

Very much like a sitcom it is entertaining enough but with a run time of two hours it’s a tad too long.

for brief language and smoking.

• This is one of my classic nitpicks: when Alexandra hangs up Leon hears a dial tone. In reality the dial tone is only heard after picking up the phone before dialing. That’s why it’s called a dial tone.
• At 11:30 am the students begin leaving by the front door but the clock in the hallway behind them shows it to be 10:10 am.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Animated comedy

Mike Myers: Shrek the family man
Cameron Diaz: his wife Fiona
John Cleese: King Harold, ruler of the kingdom Far Far Away
Julie Andrews: Queen Lillian
Walt Dohn: smooth-talking deal maker Rumplestiltskin
Eddie Murphy: Donkey, Shrek’s sidekick
Antonio Banderas: Puss in Boots

This, the fourth edition of the Shrek series, is not bad but it’s not that good either. During the course of the first three, Shrek evolved from being a nasty ogre to becoming a family man with a wife and three "kids". I guess the writers felt this is as far as they could go with that storyline so they did a 180 and stick Shrek in an altered land where things are not the same.

Despite the fact many of the familiar characters make their appearance their relationship with Shrek has changed and so the magic is gone. It’s not the same at all.

Throughout the film the laughs are few and far between without any of the double entendres we’ve come to expect; if it were not for Puss in Boots they’d have to promote it as something other than a comedy. Even the requisite rude bathroom noises failed to elicit any sort of response from the kids in the audience presumably because that is so déjà vu and trite.

for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Romantic comedy

The surviving works of William Shakespeare (April 1564 – April 1616) - widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language - consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems. Six years after his death the first published collection of his plays grouped them into three categories: comedies, histories and tragedies of which Romeo and Juliet is one of the best known. The story of two young lovers takes place in Verona, Italy and culminates with the famous “balcony scene” when Romeo standing in the courtyard overhears Juliet on her balcony vowing her love to him in spite of her family's hatred of him and his family.

In Verona, the Casa di Giulietta, or Juliet’s House, claims to be the residence of the Capulet family in Shakespeare’s play where the tragic heroine Juliet cried out to her Romeo. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in town. Many people leave love letters and some seek advice on notes left on the wall near the entrance. Since 1937 a group of volunteers known as Juliet’s secretaries have answered as many as 7,000 letters a year.

Amanda Seyfried: Sophie Hall, fact-checker for The New Yorker magazine
Gael Garcia Bernal: her fiancé Victor, an aspiring chef
Vanessa Redgrave: 60-something-year-old Claire Smith-Wyman
Christopher Egan: her grandson Charlie Wyman
Franco Nero: Lorenzo Bartolini, owner of a vineyard

One of the most difficult types of films to pull off successfully, romantic comedies often lack real chemistry between the two protagonists and rely too often on juvenile slapstick to garner laughs.

Well this one is unlike most of them: it is a love story that evolves on screen between people we get to care about. The fact this takes place in Tuscany, arguably one of the most romantic places on earth, the lush cinematography more than does it justice as some of the shots are nothing short of stunning.

The comedy is of the subtle sort provoking smiles rather than “laugh-out-loud” responses. The acting is uniformly top notch as are the production values. And it does not overstay its welcome with a run time of only 90 minutes.

for brief rude behavior and sensual images, some language and incidental smoking.

One movie goer was heard to say upon leaving "that deserves a 6 star rating!" Trouble is, the best I can do is 5 stars.



Robert Downey Jr.: Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries
Garry Shandling: Senator Stern, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Gwyneth Paltrow: Stark’s personal assistant Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Scarlett Johansson: Stark Industries new hire Natalie Rushman
Mickey Rourke: Russian physicist Ivan Vanko
Sam Rockwell: Justin Hammer, CEO of Hammer Industries
Don Cheadle: Stark’s best friend Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Samuel L. Jackson: Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

There are a few good one-liners - I especially liked the one by Stark about the interview he gave for a magazine - and these double entendres make it a surprisingly funny script at times.

Unless you are a committed fan of the series you will probably find it too long with a running time in excess of 2 hours. Although the beginning and end move along at a good clip, things bog down in the middle because of the complex plot and lots of dialogue that goes nowhere: there are too many words, not enough action.

As would be expected the special effects are nothing short of spectacular. For the most part the acting is top notch except for Cheadle. He is an excellent actor but this part just isn't right for him; most of the time he looks out of place and uncomfortable with what he’s doing.

for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence and some language.

• Lt. Colonel Rhodes and the Air Force base commander should not have saluted when they terminated their discussion in the hanger as saluting is not required when indoors, except when reporting to an officer or when on duty as a guard.
• While being interviewed Ivan’s white undershirt is sometimes much in evidence and in other shots his black vest-like shirt completely hides it.

Friday, May 14, 2010



Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property. These public markings may be just simple written words right up to elaborate wall paintings. Graffiti has existed since ancient times with examples dating back to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. In most countries, defacing property with graffiti without the property owner's consent is considered vandalism which is punishable by law. Graffiti has for a long time been seen on railroad box cars and on subway trains. There are many different types and styles of graffiti and it is a rapidly developing art form whose value is highly contested. Graffiti artists constantly have the looming threat of facing consequences for displaying their graffiti. Many choose to protect their identities and reputation by remaining anonymous.

Street art is any art seen in public places, that is “in the streets”. The term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives. Street art can include some sorts of traditional graffiti (but not territorial graffiti), stencils, sticker art, posters and video projections.

The title serves only to confuse the issue; it gives no hint as to what the movie is all about. There should be a rule about stupid movie titles. But I digress.

This is a documentary about street artists, their art and their creators as seen through the eyes of Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant living in Los Angeles.

for some language (which is hardly justified in my opinion).

I recently read that some people are suggesting this is all a hoax, that it is “too good to be true”. Maybe so.

Thursday, May 13, 2010



Rebecca Hall: radiology technician Rebecca
Amanda Peet: her sister Mary, a cosmetologist
Ann Guilbert: their 90-something-year-old grandmother Andra
Catherine Keener: Kate, proprietor of an antique furniture store
Oliver Platt: her business partner and husband Alex
Sarah Steele: their 15-year-old daughter Abby
Thomas Ian Nicholas: 20-something Eugene

Promoted as a comedy there are no “laugh-out-loud” situations. Instead there are some moderately amusing moments, much like a TV sit-com.

The problem is the issues they confront are not of themselves funny: being homeless or taking advantage of people or being old and cantankerous is nothing to laugh at. To this add the fact that some of the situations seem forced and less than believable.

For the most part the acting is first-rate but that of itself is not reason enough to spend and hour and a half watching this one.

for language, some sexual content and nudity.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


THE LOSERSAction, adventure

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Colonel Franklin Clay, leader of an Elite Special Forces team
Chris Evans: other members of the team Jake Jensen
Idris Elba: William Roque
Columbus Short: Linwood “Pooch” Porteous
Óscar Jaenada: and Carlos “Cougar” Alvarez
Jason Patric: rogue CIA agent Max
Zoe Saldana: Aisha al-Fadhil

I’ll tell you who the losers are: anyone who forks out good money to go see this clunker.

It is loud and violent, seriously in need of some real acting and confusing. In a word it is a big waste of time. I should have walked out.

for sequences of intense action and violence, a scene of sensuality and language.


True war story
In Norweigen, Swedish, German and Russian with English subtitles

During World War II Germany invaded Norway on April 9, 1940. Their primary reason for doing so was their dependence on Swedish iron ore which was shipped from the Norwegian port of Narvik. By securing access to Narvik the Germans could obtain the supply of iron ore they needed for their war effort without being concerned with a British naval blockade of Germany. By occupying the entire country German reconnaissance aircraft could operate far over the North Atlantic to attack convoys heading to Great Britain.

Aksel Hennie: 20-something-year-old Max Manus
Nicolai Broch: his friend Gregers Gram
Ken Duken: Gestapo commander Siegfried Wolfgang Fehmer
Agnes Kittelsen: Ida “Tikken” Linderbrække
Knut Joner: Gunnar Sønsteby, member of the “Oslo group”

A good old fashioned war movie about the resistance movement in Norway against the German military during World War II. The action sequences are well done and the love story fits in nicely.

The great attention to detail is remarkable, among the very best I’ve seen: even the trousers show worn spots.

for war violence, brief language.