Thursday, March 28, 2013


On September 11, 1973 Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup d’état. The country was then ruled by a military dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet. What followed was unprecedented in the history of Chile, a police state characterized by systematic suppression of all political dissidence. The number of suspected leftists killed or “disappeared” soon numbered in the thousands.

Gael Garcia Bernal: advertising executive René Saavedra
Antonia Zegers: Renés ex-wife Verónica Carvajal
Alfredo Castro: Renés boss Luis “Lucho” Guzmán

Due to international pressure Pinochet was forced to call a plebiscite on his presidency after 15 years of dictatorship. This fact-based film covers the efforts of the “No” campaign to sway the population using ads on television during the 27 days leading up to the actual vote to extend his rule for another eight years.

However it is shot in low-definition video using jerky hand-held camera which sorely distracts from the viewing pleasure. For me it was not made clear early on that René and his boss were on opposite sides which made it rather confusing as events unfolded. The acting is quite perfunctory as the script does not call upon them to emote all that much.

 for language.


Original title: Cesare deve morire
In Italian with English subtitles

William Shakespeare (April 1564 – April 1616) was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon. He married Anne Hathaway when he was 18 and began a successful career in London as an actor, writer and co-owner of a company producing plays. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.

His early plays were mainly comedies then he began writing tragedies and ultimately it was mostly romances at the end of his career. One of his best known tragedies is Julius Caesar. Based on actual events it portrays the conspiracy against the Roman dictator in 44BC and the consequences thereafter.

Salvator Striano: Brutus
Cosimo Rega: Cassius
Giovanni Arcuri: Caesar
Antonio Frasca: Mark Antony

The cast are not trained professionals and did not come together as a group because of their acting ability. Instead they are all criminals serving time in an Italian maximum security prison. However they do an admirable job as the film follows their rehearsals prior to the actual stage performance of Julius Caesar.

Clearly this will appeal to those who enjoy Shakespeare’s plays; others will probably take a pass.

for one scene of violence.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Romantic comedy

Tina Fey: Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan
Michael Sheen: her live-in boyfriend English professor Mark
Wallace Shawn: Portia’s boss Clarence, Dean of Admissions
Gloria Reuben: Portia’s associate Corinne
Paul Rudd: Director of New Quest John Pressman
Nat Wolff: one of the school’s students Jeremiah Balakian
Lily Tomlin: Portia’s mom Susannah
Travaris Spears: John’s adopted son Nelson

Certainly not the best movie of the year, but not the worst either. There are moments of real drama and inspired comedy but at other times it is beyond plausible.

Contrived situations stand out in large measure because they do not meet our expectations. Case in point: Portia is a very experienced highly regarded key member of a prestigious university yet she embarrasses herself at a student party. Perhaps we are supposed to giggle at this out-of-character behaviour? I’m sure if the writers tried harder they could come up with something better than that.

With the all-star cast this could have been a real winner. Could have.

for language, some sexual material.

  • Portia’s pen on the left hand side of her desk moves about from one change of scene to another.
  • This is one of my classic nitpicks: when Portia hangs up, John hears a 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.

Autodidact: noun
A self-taught person


 Animated comedy\adventure

Emma Stone: teenager Eep Crood
Nicolas Cage: Eep’s father Grug
Catherine Keener: Eep’s mother Ugga
Clark Duke: Eep’s 9-year-old brother Thunk
Randy Thom: Eep’s younger sister Sandy
Cloris Leachman: Eep’s grandmother Gran
Ryan Reynolds: teenager Guy
Chris Sanders: Guy’s pet sloth Belt

This story about a prehistoric family coming to terms with changing conditions borrows heavily from other movies and so lacks in originality:
  • the rebellious red-headed teenage daughter facing off against a protective parent we saw in Brave
  • rather odd looking creatures encountering one calamity after another we saw in Ice Age
  • the well worn messages about being your own person and living life to the fullest has been around for ages
 Relying upon slapstick rather than witty dialogue to appeal to the younger crowd it keeps their attention by employing the age old technique of non-stop peril. That soon becomes boring and the outcome is entirely predictable with the result there is a temptation to leave and get on with your life.

 for some scary action.

This one gets my vote as the dumbest movie title of the year. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Children's fantasy

Christopher Plummer: the old shaman Croolik
Rachel Lefevre: beautiful teenager Apik
Dustin Milligan: the young shaman Markussi
Geneviève Bujold: the old widow Saya
Tyrone Bsnskin: village chief Itak
Tim Rozon: his son Poutoulik

Geared to the younger audience the dialogue is kept simple (‘We must go after them. Yes we must.”) and lacks the sophisticated realistic rendering of clothing and hair we have become accustomed to from Pixar and the other big studios.

The story too is unsophisticated: an evil Inuit shaman has put a curse on the village and a young shaman with his friends will attempt to save their clan from starvation. Any bets on the outcome?




Similar to the security branches in the USA with the FBI handling domestic issues and the CIA the ones abroad, the State of Israel has two agencies: the Sherut haBitachon haKlal, better known by its English acronym Shin Bet and Mossad.

Six former heads of Shin Bet speak frankly about their time in office and the major events that they oversaw. In total there are seven segments ranging from the original inception of the agency to coping with Jewish terrorism, dealing with the Palestinian situation and the aftermath of the Oslo Peace Process.
In each instance archival film footage or CGI recreations gives us some idea of what transpired but they were all too brief as many of these events are not something most of us are familiar with. This shortcoming results in more questions than answers for the average viewer.

for disturbing images.