Saturday, March 31, 2012


Nature documentary

With images we’ve seen before and those for the first time, the film is about many lives (despite the title) and covers a wide range of themes from dedicated mothers to ingenious methods of getting food. Some of the images are nothing short of amazing, simply stunning.

Squeamish people like me will have to close their eyes to some of the close-ups but frankly I could have done entirely without the part about predators as the film clips are too unsettling to watch.



In Hebrew with English subtitles

The Israel Prize is the country's highest honour and has been given since 1953 to outstanding citizens in (a) the humanities, social sciences, and Jewish studies; (b) the natural and exact sciences, (c) culture and the arts, and (d) lifetime achievement and exceptional contribution to the nation.

Shlomo Bar Aba: Professor Eliezer Shkolnik
Lior Ashkenazi: his son Professor Uriel Shkolnik
Alisa Rosen: Eliezer’s wife Yehudit
Alma Zack: Uriel’s wife Dikla
Micah Lewensohn: Yehuda Grossman, Chairman of the awards committee
Yuval Scharf: newspaper reporter Noa

Many father-son relationships are difficult and in this case more so because they are both professors and specialists in their chosen field but both not recognized for their work in the same manner.

Not being of the Jewish faith I was overwhelmed trying to understand the nuance between the two areas of Talmudic study despite a great deal of time being spent pointing out the differences. Perhaps to others this is an important point: to me it served only to muddy the waters as in hindsight it’s irrelevant to the crux of the story.

Another thing I could have done without is the bombastic musical score that almost overtakes the on-screen drama, often setting the mood before we see for ourselves what is going on.

For reasons that escape me there are two or three events that seem out of place with the rest of the movie and makes me wonder why were they included since dead-ends serve no useful purpose unless it’s a “who-dunnit” type movie. And this is not one.

for thematic elements, brief nudity, language and smoking.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Romantic comedy

Emily Blunt: management consultant Harriet Chetwode-Talbot
Ewan McGregor: Department of Fisheries expert Dr. Alfred Jones
Rachael Stirling: his wife Mary
Amr Waked: Sheikh Muhammad
Kristin Scott Thomas: Prime Minister's press secretary Bridget Maxwell
Tom Mison: Harriet’s boyfriend Capt. Robert Mayers

There are more than a few chuckles and laughs in the telling of this rather unusual story including the premise itself of sport fishing in the desert. The acting is first rate and some of the scenery is pretty impressive.

It is thoroughly entertaining even though the British accent keeps you on your toes so as not to miss any of the dialogue.

In the words of one movie-goer “it’s a charming gem of a movie with almost unbelievable challenges facing them with great acting by all the principals”.

for some violence, sexual content and brief language.


In French and Arabic with English subtitles

Agathe Bonitzer: 17-year-old Tai Levine, resident of Jerusalem
Riff Cohen: her older brother Eytan
Mahmoud Shalaby: 20-year-old Naim Al-Farjouk, a resident of Gaza
Hiam Abbass: Naïm’s widowed mother

There’s always hope: that’s the message we take away after seeing this small scale film about the on-going situation in the Gaza strip, an area surrounded by Israel.

The acting is uniformly good and the story is a credible one taking time to portray the contrasts such as rich/poor, freedom/confinement, Jew/Arab. I know which side I’d pick.

for brief scenes of the aftermath of a bombing.

• Tai uses a search engine to find out the distance between Jerusalem and the Gaza and it shows it to be 72 km; in fact it’s 78 km.
• Naim’s mother takes one dish from the pile and places it on a cupboard shelf but it crashes down on to the empty counter where the other dishes used to be but have somehow disappeared.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Mystery, suspense

Mark Strong: Jim Prideaux, field agent in Czechoslovakia
Tom Hardy: London based field agent Ricki Tarr
Benedict Cumberbatch: his immediate superior Peter Guillam
Simon McBurney: Oliver Lacon, the Civil Service officer responsible for the Intelligence Service
Gary Oldman: George Smiley, retired former Deputy Head of the Service
Toby Jones: Percy Alleline, Chief of the Circus.
Colin Firth: one of his deputies, Bill Haydon Commander of London Station
Ciarán Hinds: Roy Bland, Second in command of London Station
David Denick: Toby Esterhase, one of four who ran Witchcraft

Based on the novel written by John le Carré, seeing it as a movie requires you to be more alert to what is going on regarding people and events because you do not have the luxury of turning back the pages to refresh your memory when things get confusing. And things get confusing very quickly: to begin with a lot of jargon is used so it takes some figuring out to realize reference to “the circus” is the name for the British secret service agency MI6 and not some place where you find animals and clowns performing. Similarly the cousins are not relatives of these agents, that is the name they have given for the C.I.A. and Control is the person at the head of the agency rather than some kind of device.

Some of the other terms are less difficult to figure out (such as a mole and a honey-trap) but you have to have your wits about you simply to understand what is being said. But that's not all: trying to keep track of all the people coming and going is nearly impossible. The end credits list a cast of 44 people and these are just the “principal actors”.

Somewhere along the way I lost track of who the good guys were and which ones were the bad guys (or was it the other way around?) and so I left after two hours feeling totally overwhelmed and at a complete loss. Not a nice feeling I can assure you.

for violence, some sexuality/nudity and language.


Romantic comedy

Adam Scott: advertising executive Jason
Jennifer Westfeldt: his long time friend foundation staffer Julie
Maya Rudolph: 38-year-old Leslie
Chris O’Dowd: her husband 32-year-old Alex
Kristen Wiig: their friend Missy
Jon Hamm: her husband Ben
Megan Fox: Broadway chorus dancer Mary Jane
Edward Burns: divorced father Kurt

A lot of the dialog is just one notch up from gangster rap what with the blatant references to all things sexual and rude hand gestures just in case you missed the point. Almost every verbal exchange includes the f-word at least once as this potty-mouth crowd even uses the word in front of children. What a fine example of parenthood that is!

The visual jokes are infantile: I kid you not, relying on such hilarious things as a photo of their child’s first "poo in the potty" or a feces smeared father changing the child’s diaper. Doesn’t get any better than that I’ll tell you.

Although I walked out and didn’t get to see the ending I have little doubt about how everything plays out given the fact everything up to that point was so déjà-vu.

for sexual content and language.

The product placement rotating bottle nitpick. 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 Jason and/or Kurt are drinking their beer of choice, Budweiser.
• When Jason abruptly turns his car around he does so illegally because he’s on a one-way street.

Ralph’s Rule of Redundancy once more holds true:
“Any film where one person (Jennifer Westfeldt in this case) takes on more than 2 key positions (Writer, Producer, Director and Star) has a major shortcoming: the absence of independent critical judgement, that results in something less than it might have been.”

Monday, March 19, 2012


Animated musical comedy

Zac Efron: 12-year-old Ted Wiggins
Taylor Swift: Audrey, the girl of his dreams
Betty White: Ted’s Grammy Norma
Jenny Slate: Ted’s mother
Danny DeVito: the Lorax, self-appointed guardian of the trees
Rob Riggle: Aloysius O'Hare, head of the O’Hare Air company
Ed Helms: the Once-ler

Sending a strong message of what might happen with uncontrolled use of our natural resources, this tale spins out amidst some of the most colourful backgrounds seen lately. Everything is bright, even gaudy, with some cute cuddly creatures with great big eyes appearing from time to time.

It moves along aided in part by some upbeat song and dances and Ted’s speedy sequences on his motorbike. Unlike most films geared to the younger set, there are no rude noises for them to giggle at and no double entendres for us older folk.

for brief mild language.

When Tim and Audrey are laying down head to foot, the relative position of their heads to one another varies from scene to scene.