Friday, May 31, 2013


Animated action/adventure

Amanda Seyfried: 17-year-old Mary Katherine a.k.a. M.K.
Jason Sudeikis: her father Professor Bomba
Christoph Waltz: Mandrake, leader of the Boggans
Blake Anderson: his son, the Boggan’s general
Colin Farrell: Ronin, leader of the Leafmen
Josh Hutcherson: Nod, Leafman warrior
Beyoncé Knowles: the Forest Queen Tara
Aziz Ansan: Mub, a slug
Chris O’Dowd: his buddy Grub, a snail
Steven Tyler: Nim Galuu, a glowworm

It’s really a bit pretentious to give a film such a grandiose name when in fact the “epic” battle is just the bad guys (called Boggans) trying to steal the new queen and the good guys (called Leafmen) trying to safeguard her. That does not come even close to being a story about heroic feats.

If you are looking for originality, you won’t find much here. The film is replete with old well used storylines and characters we have seen before. It feels like a rehash although there is a added twist to the bad guys: they are downright ugly repulsive creatures living in a dim rotting world. Ugh!

One thing needs to be said: it is well crafted with beautiful rendering using state-of-the-art computer generated images. However character development is uneven: while MK and her dad are lively, animated people the Fairy Queen and Ronin are not. They are simply “going through the motions”. Boring.

for mild action, some scary images and brief rude language.

Professor Bomba’s eyes are green except they change briefly to blue when he meets up with M.K. in the forest then revert to their natural colour for the rest of the movie.

It makes you wonder who the target audience the writers had in mind with dialog that includes things like “desiccated wasteland” and “proprietary rights”. Certainly not kids.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Original title Jagten
In Danish with English subtitles

Mads Mikkelsen: former school teacher Lucas
Thomas Bo Larsen: his best friend Theo
Anne Louise Hassing: Theo’s wife Agnes
Annika Wedderkopp: their daughter Klara
Susse Wold: Grethe, school headmistress
Lasse Fogelstrom: Lucas’ son Marcus
Alexandra Rapaport: Nadja, school teacher

Although it’s almost unbearable to watch, this story shows what can happen when mass hysteria pervades an entire community. Three great performances (by Mikkelsen, Larsen and Wedderkopp) coupled with an intelligent, well-written script makes this a riveting film, one that you’re not likely to soon forget.    

for sexual content including a graphic image, violence and language.

There is no music, none at all; that has got to be a first.


Tye Sheridan: 14-year-old Ellis
Jacob Lofland: his friend Neckbone
Matthew McConaughey: Mud
Ray McKinnon: Ellis’ father Senior
Sarah Paulson: Ellis’ mother Mary Lee
Reese Witherspoon: Mud’s girlfriend Juniper
Paul Sparks: Carver, the victim’s brother
Joe Don Baker: King, the victim’s father
Sam Shepard: Mud’s old buddy Tom

Characterized by terrific performances by Sheidan, McConaughey in particular, this engaging tale of one man on the run is also a coming-of-age of his new found “partners”. Production values are high and the cinemaphotography beautifully captures the sense of the time and place.

Character development is unhurried but it’s a tad long at a little over two hours. Several underdeveloped subplots could have easily been eliminated with no loss to the story line. But why quibble when the overall experience is such a good one?

for some violence, sexual references, language, thematic elements and smoking.

  • While talking to the two boys on the beach the length of Mud’s cigarette remains unchanged until the last shot when in an instance it is down to practically nothing.
  • Mud grabs his shirt from the bush and throws it over his shoulder but when he stops running he’s wearing the shirt all buttoned up.
  • Mud says anyone bitten by a cottonwood snake has at most one hour to live: in fact there is no one rule about survival as numerous factors come into play including the area of the body bitten, the age and health of the person etc.
  • Applying a tourniquet to the bitten limb is not recommended: there is no convincing evidence that this is an effective first aid method and can be dangerous as it reduces or even cuts off circulation which can lead to gangrene which can be fatal.
  • Ellis calls Juniper and after a brief conversation she hangs up and we hear is the dial tone: in fact, when a call is terminated the line simply goes dead, we hear nothing. The dial tone is only heard before dialling.
  • Mud pulls off an impossible dismount from a moving motorcycle while holding someone in his arms without dropping the person or even stumbling

Friday, May 24, 2013


Michael Shannon: film lab employee Richard “Richie” Kuklinski
Winona Ryder: Deborah
Ray Liotta: Mafia associate Roy DeMeo
Chris Evans: Mafia hitman Robert “Mr. Freezy” Pronge
David Schwimmer: Roy’s most trusted henchman Josh Rosenthal
James Franco: small-time hustler Marty Freeman
Stephen Dorff: Richie’s younger brother Joseph

Having read the book this film based on the true story of Richie has several shortcomings:
  • The absence of any background information about his earlier life provides no insight as to what made him tick
  • No mention is made of the physical abuse his girlfriend (later his wife) had to endure: in fact he is portrayed as the perfect husband
  • DeMeo’s relationship with the Gambino crime family is poorly defined
  • Little or no attempt is made to clarify who most of the other characters are and why they have to be “eliminated”
The highlight of the film for me was the incredible performance of Shannon; I’m sure he nailed it.

 for strong violence, pervasive language and some sexual content.

When Richie gets out of the Cadillac to speak to the homeless man, the car is parked on the right hand side of the street but when he returns it has magically moved to the other side.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


 Historical drama

The vessel was named after one of the most important deities in the Inca pantheon who was seen as the creator of all things and intimately associated with the sea.

Thor (the h is silent so pronounced tore) continued to lead expeditions of discovery, first to the Galapagos Islands in 1952 then on to Easter Island in 1955 where paintings of reed boats sparked his interest in them. To prove that westward travel across the Atlantic Ocean was possible, in 1969 he set sail from an old Phoenician port on the coast of Morocco. The loss of some reed bundles compromised the buoyancy so the trip aboard Ra I had to be aborted.

Less than a year later Thor launched a new papyrus boat, built by Indians from Lake Titicaca who still use the same methods as in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Ra II landed in Barbados 57 days after setting off. Thor retired to Tenerife in the Canary Islands and died in 2002. He was 88 years old.

Pål Sverre Hagen: 23-year-old ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl
Agnes Kittelsen: Thor’s wife Liv, an anthropologist
Anders Christiansen: engineer Herman Watzinger
Tobias Santelmann: Knut Haugland
Jakob Oftebro: Torstein Raaby
Odd-Magnus Williamson: Erik Hesselberg
Gustaf Skarsgård: Bengt Danielsson

Heyerdahl wanted to prove his theory that people from South America 1500 years ago could have settled the Polynesian islands 7,000 kilometres to the west. This recreation of that voyage aboard a raft made of balsam wood provides an exciting insight to the harrowing experience they had to cope while putting their lives on the line.

More like a documentary than a scripted film, there is not much in the way of acting per se. More notable is the cinemaphotography and the musical score: both are top notch.

for disturbing violence sequence.

Thor could not swim and had never learned how to sail before setting off on his momentous voyage. 

In Oslo I got to see the original Kon-Tiki raft and came to the realization that crossing an ocean on something that small and so fragile-looking takes a very special kind of person. I'm not one of them.

Monday, May 13, 2013



Based on the 1925 novel by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, the book sold poorly when first published and the author died in 1940 believing himself to be a failure. His work experienced a revival during World War II and has remained popular ever since. This novel is now considered to be a literary classic and has become a staple of school curricula. It consistently is ranked among the greatest works of American literature of all-time. If only he knew.

Tobey Maguire: aspiring writer Nick Carraway
Carey Mulligan: his cousin Daisy Buchanan
Joel Edgerton: Daisy’s husband Tom
Elizabeth Debicki: Daisy’s best friend Jordan Baker
Leonardo DiCaprio: Jay Gatsby
Isla Fisher: Myrtle Wilson
Jason Clarke: her husband George

Any story about the world of the super rich is bound to be lavish and frequently over-the- top. This is no exception but the many party sequences do not really add very much to the main story except to show the extravagance of the rich. But they certainly add measurably to the running time of two hours and 30 minutes which makes the film a good half hour too long.

There is a simple explanation according to Ralph’s Rule of Redundancy:
“Any film where one person takes on more than two key positions has a major shortcoming: the absence of independent critical judgement that results in something less than it might have been.” In this case Baz Luhrmann is Writer, Director and Producer.

Great attention has been paid to period details in and around their homes (except for the few exceptions noted below) but a section of the city they drive through looks like something from the Wizard of Oz and totally out of character. If the producers wanted to show “the other side of the coin” it could have been done in a more realistic manner, in keeping with the rest of the film.

The acting is uniformly good as one would expect from the A-list actors chosen for the roles.

Overall it’s a bit of a disappointment. It is good, but not great like the title would have you believe. 

some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying, brief language.

  • Nick’s doctor suggests he write down his thoughts and slides a pad of paper towards him and turns the pen so it’s vertical and ready to be used. In the following scene although no one touched it, the pen is horizontal, just as it was before the good doctor moved it.
  • Daisy incorrectly refers to Kaiser Wilhelm as the German King: she was half right as he was the Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia.
  • Jay we are told was a Captain in the US Army but a photo of him shows his metal insignia of rank to be a single silver bar, that of a First Lieutenant.
  • The lyrics of one song refer to the stock market crash which did not take place until 7 years later.

I chose not to see it in 3-D and from the comments I hear that was a good decision.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


In French with English subtitles

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919) was one of the most prolific of all the French Impressionist painters. During his sixty year career as an artist it is said he painted more than 6,000 canvasses. He suffered his first severe rheumatoid arthritis attack in his late ‘50’s. Within a few years his hands and feet were so damaged by the disease he had to use a wheelchair to sit or move about.

Michel Bouquet: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, painter
Christa Theret: 15-year-old actress and model Andreé Heuschling
Thomas Doret: Renoir’s third son 14-year-old Claude “Coco”
Vincent Rottiers: Renoir’s second son 21-year-old Jean

Covering the last five years of his life and how one woman had an impact on both Renoir pére and fils, the film unfortunately has several shortcomings:
  • there is no background information regarding the painter’s affliction; something as important as that should not be ignored
  • the rather stilted acting by both sons is something you might expect from students taking Acting 101 but not in a movie of this calibre
  • unexpected events pop up without any sort of explanation such as when one of Renoir’s former models (who has not been heard from for years) all of a sudden shows up at a picnic

On the other hand the cinematography and use of natural light beautifully recreate the sense of the place where Renoir lived and incorporated in his paintings and Bouquet’s performance is top notch.

for full frontal nudity and brief strong language.

  • Renoir pére asks his son to put a necklace around the model’s neck insisting it is the emerald one but the only necklace is one of pearls
  • When Jean asks the price of some material he is told it is 5 francs a meter but the subtitles read 5 francs a foot.