Monday, October 29, 2012


 IMAX Documentary

Building a railroad across Canada was an ambitious project. So was the making of this film that according to the press release took more than five years to complete. But the results are nothing short of spectacular: from the close-up shots of the immense driving wheels of the huge engine to swooping aerial views of the magnificent landscape the film is visually stunning. The original musical soundtrack blends in well with the sound of the engine as it storms across the continent.

The narrative gives a first hand account of the problems the builders had to face, not only financial but the hardships of construction under difficult conditions. Fascinating stuff.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012



Joaquin Phoenix: World War II Naval Officer Freddie Quell
Philip Seymore Hoffman: Lancaster Dodd, founder of “The Cause”
Amy Adams: his wife Peggy
Ambyr Childers Dodd’s daughter Elizabeth
Rami Malek: Clark, her betrothed
Jesse Plemons: Dodd’s eldest son Val
Laura Dem: Helen Sullivan, one of Dodd’s wealthy supporters,

This film is clearly geared to the more discerning mature viewer, primarily because Freddie’s violent and erratic behaviour is disturbing to watch. But he is not alone: some of what others do is unsettling as well.

Some members of the audience will regard Freddie’s sexual fantasies as repulsive and nearly everyone will find the movie too long at 2 hours and 17 minutes.

However, those willing to hang in are sure to agree that Freddie’s performance has all the earmarks of Academy Award nomination. As usual Hoffman does a very credible job of it and Adams shows she really can act. However good acting alone does not make a good movie.

 for sexual content, graphic nudity and language.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



Ben Affleck: CIA Specialist Tony Mendez
Bryan Cranston: his supervisor Jack O’Donnell
John Goodman: Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers
Alan Arkin: Hollywood film producer Lester Siegal
Victor Garber: Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor

A slightly altered version of the events that took place in Iran with the taking hostage of American diplomatic personnel in 1978 does not diminish the impact of the rescue attempt. Careful attention to period detail (except for a couple of instances as noted below) and great acting bring the events to life. Even knowing the real outcome, the tension is palpable as you can never be sure how Hollywood will handle the facts. Riveting stuff.

 for language and some violent images.

  • The famous Hollywood sign was erected in 1923 to advertise a new housing development and was never intended to be permanent. It deteriorated so badly that in November 1978 it had to be completely refurbished, a year before these events took place.
  • Depending upon the load, winds, field elevation and altimeter setting the takeoff speed of a 747 is between 275 and 335 kilometres per hour which is much faster than any normal road vehicle.
  • As seen on Mythbusters, the rearward blast from a jet engine is powerful enough to topple over a school bus so the three pursuit vehicles directly behind engine number 4 could not last very long in that position.

Ben Affleck is an exception to Ralph’s Rule of Redundancy which states:
 “Any film where one person takes on more than 2 key positions (Affleck is Producer, Director and Star) has a major shortcoming: the absence of independent critical judgement that results in something less than it might have been.”