Friday, July 29, 2011



This film about the latest discovery of rock art done some 30,000 years ago in a limestone cave in France has several things going for it: as starters it provides the viewer images of the inaccessible drawings because the French government has decided not to open the cave to the public. Only scientists are given permission to enter the Chauvet cave so the wall drawings don’t get damaged like those in the better known caves as Lascaux.

However there are a number of shortcomings including the fact there are very few animals depicted (a dozen or so) and the camera repeatedly pans over them. A lot of screen time is devoted to the concept of the humanness of the artist which I think is a given.

Instead something could be said about who these people were, how they lived (not in these caves we’re told) and their place in the development of mankind. That kind of thing.

Since there are more questions than answers, the soundtrack is suitably haunting and evocative but often becomes irritating what with the discordant sounds that at times are much too loud.

If I were to go again I’d stay for the first half hour or so. Everything after that is somewhat repetitive and there’s not a lot more to be learned, unless you want to see how to throw a spear in a manner that they may or may not have used. There is no proof one way or the other.


I have yet to figure out what the closing scenes about albino alligators has to do with the rest of the movie.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Animated action/adventure

Owen Wilson: champion race car Lightning McQueen
Larry the Cable Guy: Lightning's tow-truck buddy Tow Mater
Bonnie Hunt: Lighting’s girlfriend Sally
Michael Caine: master British super spy Finn McMissile
Emily Mortimer: his field operative Holley Shiftwell
John Turturro: Italian formula 1 race car Francesco Bernoulli

There is a certain expectation when going to see a sequel: it should have many of the same characters and the storyline should be an extension of the original.

Cars 2 meets the first but only partially in terms of the story: the fact Lighting McQueen is invited to participate in the first-ever World Grand Prix of Racing fits in nicely but then there is a significant (and from my point of view unnecessary) departure from expectations: he and his friends become entangled in international espionage led by a group using a secret weapon to destroy cars running on a new sort of fuel. I did go there to see a James Bond movie complete with all kinds of gadgets and weird looking guns firing incessantly.

Consequently the racing aspect loses out to these too frequent and repetitive “battles” making the movie too long at almost two hours. And I’m sure for most viewers the espionage serves only to complicate matters.

On a more positive note the site of the races (Tokyo, the Riviera, Rome and London) are beautifully rendered highlighting the unique features that set them apart as tourist destinations.


Friday, July 8, 2011


Animated action/adventure

Jack Black: panda bear Po
Dustin Hoffman: Master Shifu
Angelina Jolie: Tigress
Seth Rogen: Mantis
Jackie Chan: Monkey
Lucy Liu: Viper
David Cross: Crane
Gary Oldman: Lord Shen, leader of the evil peacock clan
Danny McBride: his right-hand-wolf

The target audience of young ones will thoroughly enjoy themselves. Their older companions might well tire of the many fight scenes but for the kids, there never seems to be enough of that stuff.

The rendering of detail is remarkable and the colours bright. The central theme of accepting oneself is a good lesson to learn amongst all the mayhem. Adding to the enjoyment is the musical score by Hans Zimmer.

for sequences of martial arts action and mild violence.



Jessica Chastain: Mrs. O’Brien
Brad Pitt: Mr. O’Brian
Sean Penn: Jack O’Brian

The essence of any movie is the story so the onus is on the producers to present one within a reasonable period of time. After sitting through a half hour I still had no clue as to what was going on other than the fact Mr. and Mrs. O’Brian were sad following the receipt of a telegram. What the telegram said we were not told but it sure provoked a lot of crying and weeping.

Despite the fact there is an A-List cast including Brad Pitt and Sean Penn that in itself does not make for a good movie. It requires a story which was totally absent to that point so I walked out.


Monday, July 4, 2011



Most of the 300 million fans of Formula 1 racing are familiar with the name Ayrton Senna: an incredibly talented young man who in the mid-eighties won the World Championship three times in his career. Many consider him even today to be the greatest motor racing driver of all time.

But you don’t have to be a fan of F1 racing (or know anything about it) to be captivated by the thrill of the event and wonder at the determination of the racers while trying to cope with the politics of the sport.

Fascinating stuff.



84th Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role


Ewan McGregor: 38-year-old graphic designer Oliver
Christopher Plummer: his 75 year-old father Hal
Mary Page Keller: Georgia, Hal’s wife (and Oliver’s mother)
Keegan Boos: young Oliver
Mélanie Laurent: Oliver’s new friend Anna, a French actress
Goran Visnjic: Hal’s new friend Andy

A very unconventional film, by turns funny and moving, yet it is also somewhat disturbing and leaves a few questions unanswered. At the heart of it is the central theme that it’s never to late to start anew as a beginner. It is definitely a film for the more discerning movie-goer.

Much of the story is told in flashbacks to Oliver’s youth and the more recent past using readily identifiable cues to keep things sorted out. The acting is uniformly good with superb performances from McGregor, Plummer and Laurent.

for language and some sexual content.