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Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England)
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Miss Meadows (v.f.) (Bilingual)
Miss Meadows (v.f.) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Katie Holmes
Price: CDN$ 22.99
10 used & new from CDN$ 15.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Miss Jean Brody meets Death Wish, Aug. 2 2015
Miss Meadows (Katie Holmes) is an elementary school teacher with an apparent heart of gold. She also has a zero tolerance approach to ne’er do wells and exacts righteous justice using a hand gun. Then she starts a relationship with the town’s sheriff (James Badge Dale) and her whole life gets turned upside down which leads her to face up to the past as the inevitability of the future looms ever nearer.

Now I rather enjoyed this ‘quirky’ film, it has a sort of charm and is very stylish – especially Miss Meadows – she even has ‘clothes on sex’, but is has been criticised for being right wing. The idea that there is only one way to deal with wrong doers and that is by taking a leaf out of Draconia’s handbook.

The way it is presented does have a hint of unbeliveability about it and I thought it may have been a spoof like say ‘Super’ nearly was. It though does not play for laughs or satire and is a basic relationship film and so does not mange to hit the right notes – which is a pity as everyone in it does a really good job and it is an easy and a short watch. If in doubt go for rentals this is not one that will benefit from subsequent viewings.

Hippocrate
Hippocrate
Offered by La Boutique Française
Price: CDN$ 43.10
5 used & new from CDN$ 35.99

4.0 out of 5 stars French Doctor In the House – nearly, Aug. 1 2015
This review is from: Hippocrate (Blu-ray)
Benjamin (Vincent Lacoste) has just started at the Paris hospital where his papa works and he is convinced he is going to be a model doctor. However; he soon finds out that theory is often easier than practice. He also encounters an Algerian doctor Abdel (Reda Kateb – ‘A Prophet’) who is among the legions of foreign doctors who have to doubly prove themselves in the French medical system.

They get up to the usual shenanigans and also like to party – but the realities of cutbacks and a hospital administrator poached from Amazon (!) starts to make doing their job too difficult.

Now this is supposed to be a comedy – and it was amusing in places but far from being actually laugh out loud. The acting is all fine, and the stories were very good too – I like the fact they all watch ‘House’. However this is just a nice film and not one that is going to rock your world – that said I still enjoyed it. If you are a Francophile or like a medical drama then I am sure you will appreciate this Gallic offering.

Suite Francaise
Suite Francaise
DVD ~ Michelle Williams
Price: CDN$ 26.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Well realised version of a lost book, Aug. 1 2015
This review is from: Suite Francaise (DVD)
Set in France at the beginning of World War II we meet Lucille (Michelle Williams - `My week with Marilyn') who is living with her Mother in Law (Kristen Scott-Thomas) in the little town of Bussy just outside Paris. The Wehrmacht have unleashed their blitzkrieg and destroyed the French Army - Petan is announces the surrender. Then the Germans roll in and take over - even changing all the clocks to be on German time.

This involves the common soldiery to be billeted with the local populace. Lucile gets a Lieutenant Bruno van Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts - `Bullhead') and despite their differences a romance blossoms between them. This is set against the backdrop of all the nasty goings on that happened during that conflict.

This is part made by BBC Films and so is a very good production, the period detail is excellent as is all of the acting. The CGI is also very good and the uniforms and materiel are all spot on. This is not a war film as such though - it uses the war as context. It is one of those films that is eminently watchable and will carry you along with it. It does start off really well and then loses a bit of oomph towards the end, but that is not a deal breaker as this is essentially a very good piece of film making - recommended.

The Face of an Angel
The Face of an Angel
DVD ~ Cara Delevingne
Price: CDN$ 14.88
7 used & new from CDN$ 13.23

3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting take on the Meredith Kercher Murder Case., July 25 2015
This review is from: The Face of an Angel (DVD)
Some will say that t is still too soon to be making a film about a murder case that shocked the World and they are arguably right. I did not know this was about that until I started watching it and will judge it as a film in its own rights. Anyway Daniel Bruhl plays a film maker who has had a run of bad luck and wants to make a film about the murder case and he teams up with a journalist played by Kate Beckinsale; she has been following the case from the start in Sienna.

The case is ongoing as the film develops and Bruhl’s character gets completely immersed and for those that followed the case there will be moments of déjà vu through out. There are many references to Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ too and some rather awkward dream sequences.

Is it any god though? Well I was not disinterested at all but it was still not riveting. Everyone puts in a good performance although some are a bit stereo typed – especially some of the journalists. So it is above average but I could not get away from the fact that for some people this case is still a living hell and that cast a pall over any ‘enjoyment’ (if that is the right word) that I could get from this production – hence my rating but I would not try to dissuade anyone from seeing this especially if you are fan of either of the leading actors as they both serve their trade well.

Trash (Ladrones De Esperanza) [Blu-ray]
Trash (Ladrones De Esperanza) [Blu-ray]
2 used & new from CDN$ 32.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting Brazilian Film of slums, corruption and friendship, July 24 2015
Set in the rubbish tips of Rio, two friends – Raphael and Gardo- discover a wallet that has ended up in the trash. They know it is a windfall but then the cops turn up offering a large reward and Raphael thinks there is more to this than meets the eye. So they enlist the help of a diseased sewer kid called Rato and go off to discover its secrets.

There is a lot packed into this extremely well made film. Martin Sheen appears as a Priest who is helping the poor and Rooney Mara brings some glamour amidst the rubbish of the slum. There is violence here too and some scenes that should not be in a film that describes itself as a comedy. But that said this has a bit of everything. The young boys carry the story and are all excellent – the cinematography is rather special too especially making the flotsam and detritus floating on a polluted river seem almost beautiful. It is a bit overly sentimental but no where near as much as say ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, and it is totally forgivable once taken in context.

I did though really enjoy this film, it is in Portuguese with a fair amount of English and it runs to 114 minutes – all of which is put to great use. I also saw someone in the credits called ‘Wellington Pingo’ which is the best name ever - probably. This is for those who like a bit of grit, dirt, strong storyline and a rollicking ride – completely recommended.

The Admiral: Roaring Currents [Blu-ray]
The Admiral: Roaring Currents [Blu-ray]
Price: CDN$ 29.88
9 used & new from CDN$ 29.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Historical Master Piece from Korea, July 22 2015
This comes from director Ha - min Kim who also brought us `War of the arrows' and is about the second Japanese invasion of Korea in 1597 - the first being 1592. Admiral Yi sun-sin had led the Korean navy and proven to be a worthy adversary but due to in fighting at court and his reluctance to follow orders he had been arrested and even tortured.

Then the Japanese invade again and they had already wiped out the navy at the battle of Chilchonryang and so expected only resistance on land. So they advanced with all the rapine and pillaging that went with war and sadly still does. However there was a rump of a navy left and Yi, now reinstated, decided to lead them to face a far superior enemy. The Japanese had around 330 ships and he had just thirteen.

What follows is a recreation of the Battle of Myeongnyang and I have to say it is ruddy brilliant. I researched the battle and all of the events depicted are recorded as having taken place. Obviously there is a ton of poetic licence but it hardly matters when you are faced with film making on a scale like this. They have recreated the actual oar powered ships and there is a bucket load of CGI which is all on the excellent side.

The acting is like a lot of Korean cinema in that it can be a bit over the top emotionally at times - but that goes with the territory and I am not in the least fazed by it. The fight scenes are amazing and choreographed to a point that defies imagination. Check out the fighting monks all sporting the swastika (sign of peace variety). This is a fight fest par excellence and even the music is great; it has been a while since I could really rave about a film and thanks to this the wait is over - absolutely and utterly recommended.

Cesar Chavez [Import]
Cesar Chavez [Import]
Price: CDN$ 24.35
31 used & new from CDN$ 6.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biopic of an almost forgotten civil rights leader, July 19 2015
This review is from: Cesar Chavez [Import] (DVD)
This is the story of Cesar Chavez who took on the planters and growers in the southern US in order to end exploitation of immigrant workers. On his way he made a lot of sacrifices but so did his family – he had eight children and the film captures some of the familial strife that he underwent too.

We also have the parts played by numerous politicians from Bobby Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald ‘I don’t use hair dye’ Regan. This could be called one sided in that it is pretty black and white in its approach, however it has a genuine feel of authenticity and seems to match what I could find out about the man. That is the factual stuff; the emotional is obviously part poetic invention.

Starring Michael Pena (‘End of Watch’ and ‘Fury’) who puts in a solid performance and with able support from, amongst others, John Malkovich. This is a film that does not require very much analysis and you can just kick back and enjoy it. The real strength here is the message of unity and education and how that can make a change for the better. I for one really enjoyed it and irrespective of your political hue there will be something here for most people.

Black Coal, Thin Ice [Blu-ray]
Black Coal, Thin Ice [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Kuei Lun-Mei, Wang Xuebing Liao Fan
Price: CDN$ 24.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chinese tale of murder, intrigue, coal and skating, July 16 2015
The plot is that two cops who have had their careers ruined, by a case that went horribly wrong, decide to reunite. This they do after a murder that has striking similarities to the one that floored them happens again.

Zhang Zili has lost everything, his wife, the job he loved and has turned to the bottle as he goes through the motions as an underpaid security guard. Then he gets the chance to solve the case that is his nemesis. This is not a police procedural though; this has elements of the heart, base existentialism and even dark humour.

This is from director and writer Yi'nan Diao who brought us `Night Train' and `Uniform'. He comes from a very industrialised part of China and this is generally reflected in his films - and indeed it is here. Also the loneliness that comes from the isolating capacity of industrialised living. This though is a confident and assured piece of film making. Even when I thought a scene or two had stayed going a tad too long, he just reveals why and all of a sudden you are right back on track. In Mandarin and running to around 100 minutes this will appeal to those who appreciate modern Chinese cinema and who like a bit of dark brooding to their crime thrillers.

Boys in Brazil [Import]
Boys in Brazil [Import]
Price: CDN$ 30.63
16 used & new from CDN$ 10.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brazilian comedy tale of coming out that has its moments, July 16 2015
This review is from: Boys in Brazil [Import] (DVD)
Set in São Paulo this is the story of a group of gay men / boys. Mauro is as camp as Bloomingdales at Christmas and is friends with Rodrigo, they attend the Gay Parade with Mauro's uncle (who is also gay) and there they rescue Roger - married with kids and still in the closet. He is attacked by some homophobes and they intervene along with some lesbian activists.

Well after the wake up call they all agree to come out a year later and this is their story.

Now this is fairly lightweight as a comedy, the laughs tend to rely on the stereotyped reactions of Mauro and the lies and evasions of not having come out. The acting is all pretty solid. There is even a drag queen playing the mother of one of the characters. Also this is far from a sexathon, this is done for laughs and despite some serious issues coming into play, they are not really expanded upon.

Having said all of the above I did like this; it has not been universally received, but then what ever is. The ending may leave a bit to be desired too but I do not want to reveal the plot. I do like World cinema so was predisposed to watching this, but there are better Brazilian films out there `The Way He Looks' being a case in point but I think this is still worth a punt.

Force Majeure [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]
Force Majeure [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]
Price: CDN$ 25.30
19 used & new from CDN$ 19.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swedish Skiing holiday and avalanche fall out - type film, July 12 2015
A Swedish family is on a break in the French Alps; mother father and daughter and son. They intend to have some `family time' and do some skiing, on their first day they are having lunch at a mountain top restaurant when they see a `controlled avalanche'. It though is a bit more boisterous than planned and everyone thinks they are going to be engulfed.

What happens next will cast a pall over the family bigger than the avalanche smoke that settles over them as they realize they are safe.

Now this is one of those films that takes an idea and blows it up big time. The families reactions mean that sides have to be taken and every aspect of their inter familial relationships are brought under a microscope. The acting is all excellent and the effects are stunning as indeed is the landscape. It is in English, Swedish and French with good sub titles. This was Sweden's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards but did not get very far. It is a good film, but not a great one and I read somewhere that this film should not be watched by spouses together - just in case it has resonance with you. I think that may be sage advice - either way this is a film I quite enjoyed and it is memorable too so recommended.

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