Thursday, May 17, 2012


 Drama, comedy

Judi Dench: recently-widowed Evelyn Greenslade
Tom Wilkinson: Graham Dashwood, a retired high court judge
Penelope Wilton: housewife Jean Ainslie
Bill Nighy: Douglas, her husband of 39 years
Maggie Smith: retired housekeeper Muriel Donnelly
Ronald Pickup: randy ol’ Norman Cousins
Celia Imrie: wealthy Madge Hardcastle
Dev Patel: the hotel manager Sonny
Tena Desae: Sonny’s girlfriend Sunaina
Lillete Dubey: Mrs. Kapoor, Sonny’s mother
Diana Hardcastle: Carol, a guest at a local hotel

The seven newly retired Brits who decide to spend their retirement years in a distant hotel get more than they expected. But we, the viewers, do not: it plays out like an episode of the long-running television soap opera As the World Turns with its focus on the relationships and difficulties of the group.

The talented cast do an impressive job with little material as there is nothing of real substance here, just a montage of personal experiences. And with a running time in excess of two hours it is too long overstaying its welcome by at least half an hour.

It’s mildly amusing provoking the occasional smile and although there are some comments that could be deemed offensive they are not said in a manner that would make anyone terribly upset.

One more thing: not wanting to give anything away, all I’ll say is that the transformation of one of the group has that contrived “good-feel” about it. You’ll know who I mean when you see it for yourself.

 for sexual content and profanity.

  • Among the items Evelyn has in her carry-on bag is a big jar of pickles that the security agent allows her to take on board despite the fact it far exceeds the 100ml maximum capacity for any liquids.
  • It is statistically impossible that seven strangers all happen to sit on the same row of chairs in the airport and all seven just happen to be going to the same hotel far away.

Monday, May 14, 2012


In Hebrew with English subtitles
Original title: Mabul

Yoav Rotman: 12-year-old Yoni Rosko
Ronit Elkabetz: Yoni’s mother Miri, a nursery school teacher
Tzahi Grad: Yoni’s father Gidi, a grounded pilot
Michael Moshonov: Yoni’s mentally handicapped older brother Tomer

This is a mixed bag: fine acting throughout but too many problems and a lot of loose ends. It’s not a feel-good movie by any stretch, more like “phew I’m glad that’s over” type and one that makes you thankful that your life is not as complicated as theirs.

One other thing: unless you are a Talmudic scholar of Judaism, the lengthy repetitive reading of the same passage from the Torah by Yoni in preparation for his bar mitzvah serves no useful purpose other than to slow up the proceedings before the next onslaught of crisis and conflict.

 for thematic material.


Crime drama

Scott Speedman: World War II vet Edwin (Eddie) Boyd
Kelly Reilly: his war time bride Doreen
Brian Cox: Edwin’s father Glover, retired policeman
Kevin Durand: convicted criminal Lenny Jackson
Brendan Fletcher: Lenny’s sidekick Willie “The Clown” Jackson

Based on actual events, this portrayal of Canada’s most popular and notorious bank robber has a certain charm about it, mainly because of the lead character. The acting is generally first rate (although I could do with a little less of “the Clown”) with great attention to detail for the most part (apart from the several miscues as noted below).

However you will have to fill in the blanks from time to time as some of the dialogue is lost as incomprehensible whispering and mumbling.

 for some violence.

  • The same license plate is on both the bus and one of the cars.
  • The shootout with the detective occurred following a routine stop at an intersection and not in his backyard.
  • This is one of my classic all-time favourite nitpicks: at the end of the telephone conversation Doreen hangs up and Eddie is left listening to the dial tone. In reality the dial tone is only heard after picking up the phone before dialling. That’s why it’s called a dial tone.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


 Autobiographical true story
Portions in Burmese with English subtitles

Burma is a country in South Asia bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. Today it is known as Myanmar. The country was colonized by Britain in 1885 which brought social, economic, cultural and administrative changes to the once-feudal society.

Aung San Suu Kyi (aka Sue) was two years old when led by her father, Burma gained its independence. But soon after a civil war broke out among the country’s myriad ethnic groups which continued on and off until 1962 when a military junta took over the country by force.
Until a new constitution was adopted in 1974 Burma was ruled by a revolutionary council headed by the General of the Armed Forces. Almost all aspects of society (business, media, production) were nationalized or brought under repressive government control.

As an adult Sue obtained a B.A. degree from Oxford and got her first taste of politics working for U Thant, Burma’s representative to the United Nations, when he was elected Secretary-General of the UN in 1961. In 1972 she married a scholar of Tibetan culture Dr. Michael Aris. While bringing up their two sons she went on to earn a PhD at the University of London in 1985.

Michelle Yeoh: Aung San Suu Kyi "Sue"
David Thewlis: her husband professor Michael Aris
Jonathan Woodhouse: their first born son Alexander
Jonathan Raggett: the younger brother Kim 
Htun Lin: General Ne Win

The discriminating viewer will be rewarded with learning more about a charismatic world-class leader who was faced with having to decide between personal happiness and her people.

During the first fifteen minutes or so the movie jumps back and forth in time but these flashbacks serve only to confuse the issue since at that stage we are not yet familiar with the characters on screen. But apart from that, the film has so much going for it: great acting, beautiful cinematography, excellent pacing, a well written story and a lovely score.

Although the running time is just over two hours, it is not a minute too long as this is one film with a lot to say and that cannot be rushed.

 for violence including some bloody images.

From the Daily Mail, March 30, 2012 edition:
Aung San Suu Kyi today proclaimed a triumph for the Burmese people as her party claimed to have won every single seat it contested in the weekend's historic elections. Miss Suu Kyi, leader of the struggle against military rule in Burma for two decades, was one of 44 candidates her National League for Democracy Party that won seats. Speaking to a crowd of cheering supporters at the NLD's headquarters in Yangon she called on all parties to support reconciliation and said the election marks a 'new era' for the country.

P.S.S. I would have given the movie a 6 star rating but I'd be breaking my own rules. Bummer!

Friday, May 4, 2012


Animated adventure

Hugh Grant: The Pirate Captain
Martin Freeman: Number Two
Anton Yelchin: The Albino Pirate
Ashley Jensen: The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate
Al Roker: The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens
Salma Hayek: Cutlass Liz
Jeremy Piven: Black Bellamy
Lenny Henry: Peg Leg Hastings
David Tennant: Charles Darwin
Imelda Staunton: Queen Victoria

This bunch of misfits is led by a captain who is determined to win for the first time the Pirate of the Year Award. A good story line but frankly it does not work. 

The movie is never really funny, just the smile-inducing type of humour but there is nothing approaching outright laughter. Instead of clever dialogue, that dry tongue-in-cheek sort the Brits are so good at, many of the gags are of the visual sort and these can be easily missed as they are often in the background. And they are only mildly amusing.

That’s not to say you should stay away in droves. But I’m sure you can find better things to do than sit in a theatre for an hour and a half waiting for something funny to happen?

for mild action, rude humour and some language. 

• The Bottle of Grog on the Pirate Captain’s table disappears for a couple of shots but eventually takes its esteemed place.
 • When the cannon ball strikes the picture of Queen Victoria it leaves her distorted face looking left but in the very next shot she is facing right.

I know that regular rules do not apply to a movie of this sort but I still cannot resist listing these more obvious nitpicks:
• One of the patrons in the bar does the moon walk first introduced by Michael Jackson in 1983, many years after these events which took place in 1873.
 • Another bar patron is playing with a Rubik’s Cube which was not invented until 1974.

 P.S. At least they got it right for a couple of things:
• Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 (and was Britain’s monarch until her death in 1901).
• Charles Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle began in 1831 and lasted until 1835.
• The dodo bird became extinct by 1681 (eaten mostly by hungry sailors)