Saturday, October 29, 2011


Animated action/adventure

The original Puss in Boots is a French literary fairy tale about a cat who uses trickery and deceit to gain power, wealth, and the hand of a princess in marriage for his penniless and low-born master.

Antonio Banderas: Puss in Boots
Salma Hayek: Kitty Softpaws
Billy Bob Thornton: Jack, one half of an outlaw gang
Amy Sedaris: Jill, the other half
Zach Galifianakis: Humpty Alexander Dumpty

This is not an updated version of the well known fairy tale. Instead it’s about the Puss in Boots that first surfaced in Shrek 2 and now joined by a variety of characters from the Mother Goose stories but with a twist.

The animation is state of the art and the dance sequences are amazing. The musical interludes don’t add anything to the story line but they provide a much needed break in the frantic action.

The humour is of the smile rather than laugh-out-loud type but I cannot recall anything geared to the adults that is over the head of the children.

One thing that they could scrap is the convoluted story about how Puss and Humpty Dumpty first met up. What really matters is their collaboration now.

for some adventure action and mild rude humor.

Friday, October 28, 2011


In French with English subtitles

Kevin Parent: 40-year-old disk jockey Antoine Godin
Hélène Florent: his ex-wife Carole
Evelyne Brochu: Antoine’s new girlfriend Rose
Vanessa Paradis: single parent Jacqueline
Marin Gerrier: her mentally challenged 6-year-old son Laurent

This is one odd-ball, confusing movie. It’s almost as though the director wanted to do something really different and in that he succeeded. To being with there are two separate story lines, one taking place in present day Montreal and the other in Paris 1969. What they have to do with each other will forever remain a mystery to many although there is some clue during the end credits. Yes, while the end credits are playing and when most of the audience has left the theatre. Told you it was odd-ball.

Somehow we are supposed to discern that one song, la café de flore, is the common link between these two stories. In the meantime the director cuts across the stories and time periods with wild abandon which serves mainly to confuse things even more. What a headache trying to keep people and events sorted out especially with flashbacks within flashbacks. And to do this for almost two hours. What a waste of time and energy.

for some sexuality and nudity.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


In French with English subtitles
Original title Marécages

Pascale Bussières: farm wife Marie Santerre
Luc Picard: her husband Jean
Gabriel Maillé: their 17-year-old son Simon
François Papineau: Pierre, the town hang-about
Denise Dubois: Simon’s paternal grandmother Rejeanne

With everything playing out in real time it tends to drag and makes it unnecessarily too long. This story of a mother-son relationship provides very few if any light moments. In fact, chances are good you’ll come out feeling more sad and depressed than when you went in. Hardly the kind of thing you’d recommend to anyone.

Along with some editing to get rid of the redundant scenes and the ones that are too long I’d suggest they do the same with all the close-ups of Simon’s pimply face and the actual live birth of a calf.

for disturbing images, explicit portrayals of violence, nudity, and sexual activity.

This is one of my favourites, the product placement rotating bottle: from one shot to the next the bottle rotates without being touched so that the label is clearly seen. In this instance all this takes place while Pierre and/or Marie are drinking Molson Dry.

Not having enough money to pay for all the groceries she put in the cart, Marie removes 3 of them. At most the cost of these three items would be something like $10 not $40 as reported by the clerk.

Never did figure out how the title ties in with the movie. Apart from the opening scene with bulrushes there is no other reference to “an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally.” In fact quite the opposite is mentioned several times as the drought continues.

The nude before the opening credits, the farmhand peeing, the peeping-tom episodes, the kid pleasuring himself all seem to fit the definition of
gratuitous sex: adjective
Uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Police drama

In Gaelic the full official title of the Irish national police force is Garda Síochána na hÉireann. The English translation would be the "Guardians of the Peace of Ireland” but they are more commonly referred to as the Garda, meaning the police.

Brendan Gleeson: Garda Sergeant Gerry Boyle
Rory Keenan: Dublin transfer Garda Aidan McBride
Gary Lydon: their boss Garda Inspector Stanton
Don Cheadle: FBI agent Wendell Everett
Michael Og Lane: 12-year-old Eugene Moloney
Fionnula Flanagan: Boyle’s mum Eileen
Liam Cunningham: Francis Skeffington, boss of the drug smuggling gang
Clive Cornell: the muscled thug Mark Strong
Liam O'Leary: his partner David Wilmot

Set in the western coast of Ireland, this tale of criminals and corruption is unlike others in that the two leads are so different. With clever writing and crisp editing it moves along at a rapid rate. Although Sergeant Bolye’s wry comments and persona elicit most of the humour there are other oddball characters that add to the fray.

One thing I found missing though: the Irish are famous for their quick witty repartee and clever retorts. And there was none of that. Guess you can’t have everything?

for pervasive language, violence, drug references and sexual content.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Political thriller

Ryan Gosling: campaign press secretary Stephen Meyers
George Clooney: presidential hopeful Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris
Marisa Tomei: New York Times reporter Ida Horowicz
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Morris’ campaign manager Paul Zara
Evan Rachel Wood: intern Molly Stearns
Paul Giamatti: rival campaign manager Tom Duffy
Jeffrey Wright: Senator Thompson

It gets off to a slow start with so much talk about political intrigue that I was seriously thinking about leaving. But then things started to look up when two people meet in a bar for a drink. From that point on I was riveted to the outcome as I was unsure of what would transpire in this depiction of politics in America.

Certainly it is a good film, but could have been better had it not fell victim to Ralph’s Rule of Redundancy:
Any film where one person (George Clooney) takes on more than 2 key positions (Director, Producer, Writer and Star) has at least one major shortcoming: in this case it is lack of independent judgement by not editing out much of the first third.

But the strong supporting cast and excellent performances compensate to a great extent.

for pervasive language.

In the early Roman calendar the middle of the month was known as the ides. The best known one (thanks to Shakespeare) took place in March 44 B.C., the day Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate by a group of conspirators led by Marcus Brutus.

Less well known perhaps is that March 15 is the date of the Ohio Primary.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Crime drama

Ryan Gosling: the Kid, a mechanic who moonlights
Bryan Cranston: his boss Shannon, owner of an auto-repair shop
Albert Brooks: Shannon’s mob contact Bernie Rose
Carey Mulligan: Irene, a Denny's waitress
Kaden Leos: her 7-year-old son Benicio
Ron Perlman: Bernie's nasty partner and pizzeria owner Nino
Oscar Isaac: Irene’s husband Standard
Christina Hendricks: his accomplice Blanche

I love it when movies make use of the visual aspect to tell the story rather than having a bunch of words to accomplish the same task. In this case because the principal is a man of few words (about two dozen in total) his body language and facial expressions are all we have to go on. But that’s enough.

The supporting cast are excellent, the car chases really well done and the tension almost palpable. And it’s almost guaranteed to take your mind off your troubles.

The squeamish like me will have to avert their eyes a couple times as the degree of violence gets quite brutal at times.

for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity.

• Regardless of the actual speed he drives, the car’s speedometer never moves off 30 miles per hour.
• This is one of my classic nitpicks: when the driver abruptly hangs up, the person on the end of the line, Bernie, hears a dial tone. In reality the dial tone is only heard when first picking up the phone before dialling. That’s why it’s called a dial tone.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Based on a true story

Nathan Gamble: 11-year-old Sawyer Nelson
Austin Stowell: his cousin Kyle Connellan
Ashley Judd: Sawyer’s mother Lorraine
Cozi Zuehlsdorff: 11-year-old Hazel
Harry Connick Jr.: her dad Marine Biologist Dr. Clay Haskett
Kris Kristofferson: Hazel’s grandfather Reed
Morgan Freeman: prosthetics specialist Dr. Cameron McCarthy

With a strong story line about the persistent and determined efforts of many to help an animal this inspiring true life tale is certainly a “feel-good film”.

Although there are moments when it stretches credibility a bit, for the most part is comes off as realistic, in large measure because of the acting which is not “over-the-top”. How refreshing.

One other thing: it runs a tad too long despite the fact there are several contrived plot devices that could have been easily eliminated to cut down the running time.

for mild thematic elements.

• The exposed end of Hazel’s frozen lemonade stick grows and shrinks from one shot to another.
• Lorraine’s double necklace moves about on its own even when she’s standing still.

Not being an expert it strikes me that they go to extaordinary lengths in preparation for the least damaging type of hurricane, a category 1.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Sports drama
Based on a true story

Sabermetrics is the specialized analysis of baseball through objective, empirical evidence, specifically baseball statistics that measure in-game activity. The term is derived from the acronym SABR, which stands for the Society for American Baseball Research.

Brad Pitt: Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team
Jonah Hill: Peter Brand, 20-something-year-old Yale economics graduate
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Art Howe, the A's manager
Robin Wright: Beane's ex-wife Sharon
Kerris Dorsey: their 12-year-old daughter Casey
Arliss Howard: owner of the Boston Red Socks

Sport teams rely upon scouts to check out players at the development level and assess their ability to move up to the big league. That is until a new unorthodox scouting method was developed. And that’s what the story is all about.

As one movie-goer leaving the theatre was overheard to say “even as a non-sports fan I enjoyed the movie and understood most of what they were talking about”. In fact the movie is more about the force of personalities and methods used than what the players actually do on the field.

Although Brad Pitt is terrific in his portrayal of Billy Beane, the rest of the supporting cast is also outstanding.

Despite a running time of over two hours what with its snappy dialog, quick cuts and intriguing story line it does not seem a minute too long.

for some strong language.