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                                                                                        Volume 2 • Issue 1 • March 2005
                                                                                            $3.95 U.S. • $4.95 CAN




                         Inside Play
Scene It? TCM Edition                    p.30


The Journey to Wild Divine                      p.31


Everquest II     p.31




              Book Review
Cinema Treasures               p.29




         Festival Coverage
Rendez-Vous with                                                              Festival Coverage
French Cinema           p.04
                                                                               Cinéfranco Preview                         p.04




                                                                   Interview with...
                                                                    Sigourney Weaver
     Special Feature
IMAX Today,

                                                                 Imaginary
IMAX 3D Tomorrow                  p.07                           stars in




             Special Feature
The Royal Belgian
Cinema Museum In Brussels                          p.26
                                                                  Heroes                                      p.15




film · dvds · technology · books · cinema · festivals · reviews · appealing to the critic we all have inside

inside tech:                          HD DVD vs. Blue-ray Disc · Tungsten T5 · D-Box Motion Simulator
                                                          p.08         p.11                  p.11
                  Table of Contents
    Cover Story                                                                    Special Features




                          T h e Ta l e nt i n I m a g i n a r y H e ro e s   p15


    Festival Coverage
                                                                                                  I M A X To d a y, I M A X 3D To m o r row         p 07

                                                                                                                   T h e R oya l B e l g i a n      p2 6
                                            Ci n é f ra n co Prev i e w      p04                       Ci n e m a M u se u m i n B ru s se l s

               R e n d e z-Vo u s wi th Fre n c h Ci n e m a 20 0 5          p04                  B o o k R ev i e w : Ci n e m a Tre a s u re s    p29



    Inside Play                                                                    Inside Tech



              S ce n e I t?: Tu rn e r Cl a s s i c M ov i e s Ed i ti o n p3 0
                                                                                                           H D DVD vs . B l u e - ra y D i sc       p08
                                T h e J o u rn ey to W i l d D i v i n e p31
                                                                                                                     Pa l m’s Tu n g ste n T5       p11
                                                        Eve rq u e st I I    p31                              D - B ox M oti o n S i m u l a to r

    Documentaries
      Page:     Title:                                            Reviewed by:          Andrew:      Dixon:          Trent:          Average:
      12        Tell Them Who You Are                             Trent Gough                                        0000            0000
      12        The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill                Trent Gough                                        0001            0001
    Features
      Page:     Title:                                            Reviewed by:          Andrew:      Dixon:          Trent:          Average:
      13        The Deserted Station (“Istgah-Matrouk”)           Andrew Johnson        00                                           00
      13        Don’t Move (“Non Ti Muovere”)                     Andrew Johnson        0001                                         0001
      14        Downfall (“Der Untergang”)                        Trent Gough                                        00000           00000
      14        The Fallen                                        Andrew Johnson        0000                                         0000
      15        Imaginary Heroes                                  Trent Gough                                        0001            0001
      16        Layer Cake                                        Andrew Johnson        0001                         0000            0001
      16        Perlasca (“Un Eroe Italiano”)                     Andrew Johnson        00000                                        00000
      17        Phil the Alien                                    Dixon Trees                        00001           0001            0000
      17        Robots                                            Trent Gough                                        00001           00001
      18        Rory O’Shea Was Here                              Trent Gough                                        0001            0001
      18        Torremolinos 73                                   Andrew Johnson        0001                                         0001
      19        Who Killed Bambi?                                 Andrew Johnson        001                          0001            000
    DVDS
      Page:     Title:                                            Reviewed by:          Andrew:      Dixon:          Trent:          Average:
      19        A Letter to Three Wives                           Trent Gough                                        0000            0000
      20        A Midsummer Night’s Dream                         Andrew Johnson        0001                                         0001
      20        Donnie Darko, the Director’s Cut                  Trent Gough                                        0001            0001
      20        Edison: The Inventions of the                     Trent Gough                                        00000           00000
      21        Hiding and Seeking: Faith and                     Andrew Johnson        0000                                         0000
                Tolerance After The Holocaust
      21        Karmen Geï                                        Andrew Johnson        001                                          001
      22        L’Âge D’Or                                        Trent Gough                                        0001            0001
      22        Latter Days                                       Andrew Johnson        0001                                         0001
      23        Leave Her to Heaven                               Trent Gough                                        000             000
      23        Let Joy Reign Supreme                             Dixon Trees                        0001                            0001
      24        No End (“Bez Konca”)                              Andrew Johnson        000                                          000
      24        Secrets & Lies                                    Dixon Trees                        0000                            0000
      25        Seventeen Years                                   Trent Gough                                        0000            0000
      25        When Will I Be Loved                              Andrew Johnson        001                          00              001



2   North American Film Review March 2005
                                                                                                 March 2005 • Volume 2 • Issue 1

                                                                                                                   Editor     Trent Gough
                                                                                                                              trent@nafilmreview.com


                                                                                                         Deputy Editor        Dixon Trees

      Editorial
                                                                                                                              dixon@nafilmreview.com


                                                                                                           Art Director       Xavier Ramirez
                                                                                                                              xavier@graphicallycorrect.ca
      Enjoying the winter? Seeing more movies than usual? We’ve had a frigid time
of it here on the East Coast, and really freezing weather is usually good for the movie
                                                                                                               Reviewers:
box office. For the true couch potato, it is DVD time, so we’ve increased the number of
                                                                                                    Trent Gough trent@nafilmreview.com
DVDs we are reviewing in this issue. And if you are watching films at home more, you
                                                                                                  Andrew Johnson andrew@nafilmreview.com
might want to take a look at the D-Box chair [p11], - definitely a true “moving experi-
                                                                                                    Dixon Trees dixon@nafilmreview.com
ence.”
      The prime article in our Consumer Electronics Show coverage may remind you of                             Guest Game Reviewer:
the one time struggle for supremacy between Betamax and VHS, won by VHS. Now                                      R. Allen Leider
it’s HD DVD vs. Blu-ray [p08], a very important battle that will break out into major
competition this coming holiday season. These are new non-compatible standards                                   Guest Reporter:
that will require you being informed before making future hardware purchases, so this                         Mark-Ameen Johnson
is a primer for you. We will have follow-up articles and interviews with the principals.
In the meantime, read more CES product coverage - PalmOne’s “Tungsten T5“ [p11].                                Published By:
     For the true movie-lover who goes out to see movies in the best possible condi-              Insider View Publishing and Syndication
tions, you’ll want to read about what’s happening with the IMAX theatres [p07], with
their newly patented way of turning standard features into 3D. Should you be plan-                                        U.S.:
ning a Spring or Summer trip to Europe, take a look at our first European coverage                                   G.P.O. Box 2757
(apart from Cannes) on the “Cinematheque Royale” in Brussels, Belgium [p26]. And                                   N.Y.C. 10116-2757
if choices stress you out, read about “Journey to Wild Divine” [p31], a biofeedback
game designed to aid you in your search for inner peace. Want more play? Check out                                     Canada:
the reviews on “Everquest II“ [p31] and Toy Fair’s game of the year, “Scene It?: The                            P.O. Box 247, Station ‘A’
DVD Game - Classic Turner Movies Edition“ [p30].                                                                Toronto ON M5W 1B2

     Film Festivals enable us to take an advanced look at what may be getting a the-                                416.630.9989
atrical release, and here you’ll find some reviews from Rendez-Vous With French                                www.nafilmreview.com
Cinema 2005 [p04] at Lincoln Center in New York (March 11-20), and a preview of                               info@nafilmreview.com
Cinéfranco [p04] in Toronto (April 1-10). Future ones include New Directors/New Films                        adsales@nafilmreview.com
at MOMA in New York, in partnership with The Film Society of Lincoln Center, and
then the Tribeca Film Festival, also in New York. And come May we’ll be headed to
Europe to bring you coverage of the Cannes Film Festival, just as we did with all these
festivals in 2004. An opportunity from last year resulted in a review and brief interview                          Printed in Canada.
with director Dan Harris and stars Jeff Daniels and Sigourney Weaver of “Imaginary
Heroes” [p15] now in release.
                                                                                               The North American Film Review is not responsible for the
     If you have seen any of our issues from last year, you will have noticed our recent        return of unsolicited manuscripts, artwork or other materials.
design change by our Art Director, Xavier Ramirez, with more photos and colours, etc.,         No material in this magazine may be reprinted in any media
                                                                                                    without the express written consent of the publisher.
to ‘punch it up’. We continue to welcome your feedback via our e-mail addresses on
the masthead. We do listen. The market testing we did with our limited number of
issues in 2004 tells us most of our readers are between 20 and 54, on the upscale side,
                                                                                                           Cover photo by John Clifford.
and tend to be early adopters when it comes to the equipment you buy, and selective
                                                                                                         Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
in the movies you see and the DVDs you purchase. If there are topics that are not here
that you would like to see, we’d be interested in hearing from you. Space is limited so
we can’t promise anything, but we’ll do our best.
                                                                                                                   ISSN 1710-999X
     Wherever you found this free magazine, do take it home with you to enjoy and
use as a reference for your viewing pleasure (Also let us know if there’s a hot spot for us
to place the magazine near your office or home). We’ve appreciated the feedback we’ve
had from you to date, and will continue to work to bring you the best in movies.
                                                                                                Like our magazine? visit...
Sincerely,
Trent Gough                                                                                   n a f i l m r ev i ew. c o m
Editor
                                                                                              and let us know what you think.


                                                                                                    March 2005 North American Film Review                 3
                     Festival Preview                                                 Cinéfranco
                              April 1 - 10, 2005 • presented at the Royal Cinema • 608 Bloor St. W. • www.Cinefranco.com • by Dixon Trees



                                              On a beautiful March 8 morning, with a breath-                                                     films at Cinéfranco, have already appeared in NAFR
                                        taking downtown vista and the sun shining through a                                                      – a review and interview with “In the Battlefields” by
                                        “stained glass” window on the 21st floor of the Scotia                                                    Danielle Arbid in the Dec/Jan issue while – “Clara and
                                        Plaza, Marcelle Lean, founder and executive director                                                     Me”, “Tell Me I’m Pretty” and “Quand la mer monte” are
                                        of CINÉFRANCO set a really upbeat, enthusiastic tone                                                     being reviewed in this one.
                                        for the 8th annual festival, to be held April 1-10 at the                                                     Read On and Enjoy.
                                        Royal Cinema.
                                             “The 2005 programming has come back with a
                                        revenge,” Marcelle smiled, “Woven through this year’s
                                        50 films are themes of migration and immigration, cul-
                                        tural identity and integration, stories which resonate
                                        through comedy, tragedy, drama and farce.” All the
                                        films from Morocco, Belgium, Senegal, Quebec, France
                                        etc. are subtitled in English, and there will be the usual
                                        educational aspect.
                                              Two directors whose films are screening for
                                        the first time, are Jeanne Labrune who actually has
                                        3 comedy-fantasies in the festival – “Tomorrow’s
                                        Another Day”, “Special Delivery” and “Keep Talking”
                                        - and Saâd Chraïbi, a multi-talented Moroccan, whose
                                        film “Jawhara” explores “the daily life of incarcer-
                                        ated women” in Morocco during the years of being a
                                        French Protectorate. The closing gala film will be “Jack
                                        Paradise” (Quebec) a love story between a pianist (a
                                        “smouldering” Roy Dupuis) and singer (noted jazz
                                        singer Dawn Tyler Watson) during the hedonistic night
                                        life of Montreal through the 30s and 40s, with director
                                        Gilles Noëlle in attendance.
                                             Interestingly enough, for our readers, some of the




                 Festival Coverage                                                    French Cinema 2005
              Reviews from Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2005 · Film Society of Lincoln Center · March 11-20, 2005 · by Trent Gough & Andrew Johnson
                                                                                                     Photo Courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center




Yolande Moreau and Wim Willaert in “When the Sea Rises”
                                                                                                                                                                 Between March 11th, and the 20th, some
                                                                                                                                                            of the best of new cinema from France will
                                                                                                                                                            play at the Walter Reade Theatre, Lincoln
                                                                                                                                                            Center in New York. Seventeen features will
                                                                                                                                                            un-spool - subtitled of course - and here I am
                                                                                                                                                            reviewing three of them that press-screened
                                                                                                                                                            in time for us - Andrew Johnson reviews 2 - to
                                                                                                                                                            give you a taste.


                                                                                                                                                            By Trent Gough

                                                                                                                                                            “When the Sea Rises”
                                                                                                                                                            (Quand la mer monte…) (93 Min.)

                                                                                                                                                                This is the first film co-written and co-directed
                                                                                                                                                            (with Gilles Porte) by the actress Yolande Moreau,
                                                                                                                                                            who also plays Irene, the star of a one woman show.
                                                                                                                                                            Irene wears a grotesque mask and speaks directly
                                                                                                                                                            to the audience while waving a gun around and
                                                                                                                                                            comically admitting to a murder. Nightly, she drags



  4   North American Film Review March 2005
                                                                       Photo Courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center
a man from the audience onstage to be what she calls her
‘chicken’, her partner in crime, doing such things as demand-
ing the audience throw their shoes onstage.
     Irene is not without a life outside the theatre, having a
husband and child at home. But one day her car breaks down,
and Dries (Wim Willaert), a local, helps her out. She gives
him tickets to the show, and selects him as her chicken. He
continues to show up at all her regional performances, and in
time they wind up in bed together. It’s an unusual relationship
between two people who wear masks for a living, Dries’ being
an enormous clownish figure he wears in parades.
     After Dries takes her to visit his parents and angers her by
introducing her as his wife (to no apparent affect on the par-
ents), she starts selecting different men to be the chicken. This
causes a major fight between them, and Irene wants to end
the relationship.
     An off beat-romantic comedy/drama, Yolande Moreau has
tailor-made a role for herself that clearly delineates her love for
the theatre and audiences. At one point in the film, she asks
three middle-aged women in a town new to her, for directions
to the theatre, and they act as if they should know where it is,
but haven’t a clue. (Her comment on the status of live theatre
in the provinces?) Well acted and directed for a first-time-out
co-director, the film should hold your interest if only for its’
uniqueness.


“Tell Me I’m Pretty”
(J’me sens pas Belle) (85 Min.)
     This is the first screenwriting/directorial effort from
Bernard Jeanjean, starring Marina Fois as Fanny and Julien
Boisselier as Paul, her co-worker. Fanny is thirty and thinks she
is sexually frustrated, but in truth the frustration is romantic.
A two-hander that takes place in one apartment on one eve-
ning when Fanny has invited Paul over for dinner, “Tell Me I’m
Pretty” is really the story of a woman who should be asking
“tell me what I want.”
                                                                           Julien Boisselier and Marina Fois in “Tell Me I’m Pretty”
     Fanny arrives home from work and talks back to her
answering machine, until a message from Paul tells her he’ll
be early. She panics. She ruins the food, Paul arrives, they can’t                 lains French, no obvious sign of France’s large immigrant population. A
agree on going out for dinner, and she’s embarrassed by a condom                   similar movie title was used in the 40’s by Henri-George Clouzot, being
package. Fanny spills wine on him, washes his pants as he is leaving and           the location of police headquarters in Paris, but there the similarities
deliberately loses his wallet in her toilet. This necessitates his returning,      end. Crimes may not have changed, but the level of movie violence
and they share a pizza, until frustrated at his lack of moves, she takes off        keeps getting ratcheted up.
her panties and contrives dropping something for him to pick up. He                     Daniel Auteuil is Leo Vrinks, the chief of one division, and Gerard
doesn’t notice.                                                                    Depardieu is Denis Klein, the head of another department. Mancini
     The evening becomes a non-mating dance, because every time he                 (Andre Dussollier), the Federal police boss, is retiring, and it is made clear
responds she pulls back, unsure of what she wants. The two performers              to the two men that whomever nails a gang doing major heists will be
are attractive, but to keep it going the writing is contrived at times, and        his replacement. (“Inspired by actual events,” the press notes say).
you may find yourself as irritated with Fanny as Paul is. Being a romantic               Hugo Silien (Roschdy Zem) is out of prison on a 24-hour furlough,
comedy, it will give you a happy ending.                                           two weeks short of being released. Silien meets with Leo to give him
                                                                                   information on an armored car robbery, and uses him in the commission
 “36 Quai des Orfevres” 110 Min.                                                   of a serious crime. The tip Leo receives is an important lead, but he’s
                                                                                   now in a position where he has to be Silien’s alibi, a fact that Denis will
     “36 Quai des Orfevres“ is a very commercial thriller- what the French         ultimately catch on to.
call a “Policier.” Co-written and directed by Olivier Marchal, a former                 In the process of following the lead, an important stakeout is set
cop, although the film is contemporary, it is, in a way, a throwback to the         up by Leo, and Denis is ordered by his superiors to be back- up. His ego
great French noir thrillers of the 40’s and 50’s, with all the heroes and vil-     intrudes, and the resulting melee costs lives       continued on the next page...


                                                                                                                              March 2005 North American Film Review   5
                  Festival Coverage                                                                                                    French Cinema 2005




                                                                                                                                                                     Photo Courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            tances: She is to record her voice for a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            telephone sex service. Antoine doesn’t like
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            this. Something far more devastating puts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a wedge in their relationship, something
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            he cannot come to terms with; after all,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            he’s built her up as the perfect woman.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 “Clara and Me” (“Clara et Moi”) is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            almost a throwback to those romantic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            French films of old, drawing from so many
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            varied masterpieces. Sensitive in man-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ner, the ending is open, with a resolution
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            merely suggested but never resolved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is some meat on the bones of this
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            film, however, and your interest never
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            flags.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Happily Ever After” 100 min.
                                                                                                                                                                                   Three men, good friends, in their early for-
Scene from “36 Quai des Orfevres”                                                                                                                                            ties, are forever discussing themselves: the lives
                                                                                                                                                                             they’re leading and their sexual gratification.
      and a temporary kidnapping of a policewoman. Internal Affairs are                                                                 Two are married with children. The third is single and having a ball sexually with
      after Leo when Denis gets information on the crime Silien used Leo for.                                                          gorgeous females, much to the chagrin and jealousy of the other two.
      Prison awaits him.                                                                                                                     Vincent and Georges are the married ones. Both earn good money. Vincent
          The above is only the beginning of the complications, including a                                                            loves his wife but has a mistress whom he also adores. However, his wife Gabrielle,
      hinted - at relationship Denis may have had with Camille Vrinks (Valeria                                                         suspects his infidelity. Society seems to have pushed the married ones into the
      Golino), Leo’s wife, before they married. The story takes place over eight                                                       trap of working, having a child, and suffocating in household routines. Georges
      years, and deals even more with the sometime ambiguities of being a                                                              and Nathalie are great combatants in their marriage, with the ultra-feminist in
      policeman than with catching the criminal gang. The two men are won-                                                             Nathalie tearing Georges apart.
      derful in their roles, as is Golino in her brief stint as Camille. Marchal has                                                         Weekly soccer games and poker evenings still do not negate the men’s mid-
      directed before (“Gangsters!” in 2002), and obviously has a feel for his                                                         life anguish.
      people and the difficulties of their job. The film has a European pace -                                                                  Fred, the single one, actually envies his two married friends, as he feels set-
      much appreciated after American action films cut like music videos, and                                                           tling down with children may give meaning to his life. Instead, he makes do with
      with little or no character development. Don’t miss this one.                                                                    his fast pace of one-nighters and one-afternooners, some even in the same day.
                                                                                                                                             The film shows the games that people play in order to get into the sack.
      By Andrew Johnson                                                                                                                Variety seems to be the spice of life, even for those married and embarking on
                                                                                                                                       affairs.
      “Clara and Me” (“Clara et Moi”) 86 min.                                                                                                In a music store one afternoon, Gabrielle sees a man who could interest her
                                                                                                                                       into having an affair. (This stranger is played, surprisingly, by Johnny Depp.) I guess
           Antoine is 33. He meets Clara on a subway train. An idealist search-                                                        “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Love makes the world go
      ing for the love of his life, Antoine finds Clara fitting the bill. He’s an actor,                                                 ’round, but this comic romp makes adultery the main ingredient for living.
      she, a train hostess aspiring to be a writer. They seem made for each                                                                  How will this all fadge - as Shakespeare had Viola state in his play “Twelfth
      other, kindred spirits, but of course “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and                                                       Night?” “Happily Ever After” (“Ile se marierent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants”) is
      then ...” plays a role in all romances. Life isn’t simple, and trials and tribu-                                                 far from “And they lived happily ever after.” Surprising plot twists and standout
      lations are right around the corner in this                                                                                                                                  performances make this pretty good; it
      seemingly perfect relationship.                                                                                                                                              moves along well as it examines that “seven
                                                    Photo Courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center




           At the onset, it seems this film just                                                                                                                                    year itch” many couples have experienced.
      doesn’t know what it wants to be. A                                                                                                                                          Judging from this film, there is no fidelity
      surprising music and dance number has                                                                                                                                        whatsoever in the world after the vows of
      the two lovers expressing their feelings                                                                                                                                     matrimony are taken. “Conflicts and mis-
      toward one another. Light and frothy                                                                                                                                         understandings are common in domestic
      at the start, there are also moments of                                                                                                                                      life,” states the writer and director of this
      utter tragedy, bringing to mind “Love                                                                                                                                        film. “But I feel talking things out might well
      Story” and those multitudes of “tear-jerk-                                                                                                                                   be in order ... it can at least save marriages
      ers.”                                                                                                                                                                        and possibly prevent men and women
           At one point, Clara takes a well-pay-                                                                                                                                   from wandering off into other relationships,
      ing job with one of Antoine’s acquain-                                                                                                                                       wreaking havoc on all concerned.”
                                                                                                           Scene from “Clara and Me“

 6   North American Film Review March 2005
                                                                       Special Feature

IMAX today,
                          IMAX                                               tomorrow
                                              by Trent Gough
                                                   At the recent McGraw Hill Media Summit in New York City, I attended a
                                              panel on DRM, (Digital Rights Management), an area of concern to companies
                                              who want to protect property which you may be able to download over the
                                              Internet. The artists themselves are worried, as shown by the participation
                                              of an ASCAP Sr. V.P., and the Director of the NPG Music Club, Prince’s online
                                              outlet.
                                                   My interest was in Greg Foster, IMAX’s Chairman and President of Filmed
                                              Entertainment, with whom I had a conversation afterwards. He stressed
                                              “IMAX is in a unique position as a film company, - proud of their technology,
                                              which can’t be copied,” and “you can’t present IMAX properly in smaller for-
                                              mats,” so their DRM concerns are less than for some other companies.
                                                   The short documentaries that we are used to seeing in the format, -
                                              whether a museum theatre or a commercial one, - are available for the home,
                                              as they “now have DVD releases of 22 films. And Wal-Mart has the NASCAR
                                              tape.” These films will continue to be made even as IMAX reaches out to more
                                              commercial movies.
                                                   The Ontario-based company has branched out by developing their pro-
                                              prietary DMR- not to be confused with the DRM acronym - which stands for
                                              Digital Re-mastering technology, “to bring about 6 ‘event’ pictures to IMAX
                                              each year,” according to Mr. Foster. They started this some time back with
                                              “Apollo 13,” - taking an existing film and turning it into an IMAX experience.
                                              Since then, “Star Wars: Episode 11 Attack of the Clones,” the two Matrix films,
                                              “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” and “Spider-Man 2.” Most recently
                                              “The Polar Express,” was converted to 3D and then re-mastered into IMAX 3D
                                              DMR. and I thought the results the best yet in 3D. While it was branded as not
                                              as successful as expected in the first week,” Greg stated “The Polar Express”
                                              has done $42.5 million in 75 theatres,” and this in just 11 weeks.
                                                   I asked about their release schedule this year, and Greg Foster said
                                              “Robots,” from Twentieth Century Fox, would be their first IMAX DMR film
                                              to open in regular theatres on March 11th. That will be followed by “Charlie
                                              and the Chocolate Factory” from Warner Bros. Pictures on July 15th (Tim
                                              Burton directs Johnny Depp). In the last week of September, they will open
                                              “Magnificent Desolation”, from Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone in
                                              IMAX 3D. The 45-minute film will follow the 12 men who have walked on the
                                              moon, with interviews and previously unseen footage. And “Denizens of the
                                              Deep” will go worldwide from Warner’s in the spring of 2006, a jointly pro-
                                              duced IMAX 3D film. If you are in New York and impatient to see something
                                              new in IMAX in the meantime, Lincoln Square is currently showing “Alien”
                                              once a day (yes, a new experience in IMAX). Next November, they will again
                                              have “Polar Express” for one or two screenings a day.
                                                   Greg Foster said they “can now do 150-minute movies in IMAX, and cur-
                                              rently have 240 screens worldwide.” The company had announced two new
                                              screens the day of our interview, and is regularly signing contracts worldwide
                                              for more. With the ability to make an IMAX 3D print out of almost any exist-
                                              ing movie, their future looks bright, and as audience members we can expect
                                              to get that ‘wow’ factor back when we go to the movies. Now, if they would
                                              only do “Citizen Kane” and “Casablanca”!

         Photo Courtesy of Imax Corporation


                                                                              March 2005 North American Film Review            7
                                            vs.

BATTLE OF THE FORMATS




8   North American Film Review March 2005
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Inside Tech CES 2005 Report
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Annual Consumer Electronics Show · Las Vegas · January 2005 · by Trent Gough


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The top of January, 2005 saw an increase to 2,550 exhibitors at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. As our readers tend
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            to be early adopters, we endeavour each year to introduce you to some of the best of the best in products that will enhance your movie-going hab-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            its, or just your electronics’ lifestyle in general. Some products we review, others will follow in subsequent issues as they become available to us.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you followed the decades-old format battle between VHS and Betamax, this new one may understandably
                                                                                                                                                                                                             cause you to shudder. You won’t have to think about it in terms of your checkbook, however, until Christmas,
                                                                                                                                                                                                             but it’s not too early to get a glimmer of whose side you may be on. You may not choose, however, to be an early
                                                                                                                                                                                                             adopter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                At CES there were press conferences given by both camps; I attended the one given by the Blu-ray Disc
                                                                                                                                                                                                             Association, and subsequently did phone interviews with HD DVD principals. As your at-home movie viewing
                                                                                                                                                                                                             on your large-screen flat panel set will be affected for years by the outcome - or until the next generation comes
                                                                                                                                                                                                             along - you should at least know what’s at stake when you order your DVDs.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                            HD DVD
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I spoke with Jodi Sally, the AVP      mentioned Cinram, a Scarborough, Ontario company, that has
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                of Marketing at Toshiba America          developed hybrid HD/DVD 9 discs, which are read-only discs con-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Consumer Products, and a lead-        taining two sides that will store 8.4 GB of data in a standard DVD
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ing company in the HD DVD         format on one side, plus 15 GB of data in a HD DVD format on the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         camp. Ms. Sally has been        other. These hybrid discs will play in your existing DVD player, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         in consumer electronics         can combine an HD DVD movie with a DVD movie, or a DVD ROM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         for twenty years, and is        game, added-value material etc. Cinram sees this as a way of intro-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         well versed in her product      ducing consumers to high-definition video.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          and its’ potential. “What            As to backward compatibility, a major concern for anyone
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          drives the hardware is         already owning a DVD player and software (i.e. movies), Jodi Sally
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          always the software,”          said “that is most important for the consumer as well as the content
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Toshiba’s HD DVD Player
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      she said, “and if the software     providers. Currently seventy-five percent of U.S. homes have DVD
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            is there, the consumers will have the confidence to buy it.” As to            players – the average U.S. household owns about 30 movies. It’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            which studios will be providing the software in their format, as of          really important that those movies – play back on the new device.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            January, this included “Paramount Pictures, Universal Home Video,            [After upgrading] they’ll still have a DVD player in another room of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Warner Home Video, HBO, and New Line. Those studios …make up                 the home. They’ll actually move their content from one player to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            about 45% of the current DVD market share in sales, so we feel we            the next – that is most consumer friendly.”
Photos in this section are courtesy of the Sony Electronics, LG Electronics, Toshiba America Consumer Products, D-Box Technologies Inc. and Palm Inc.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                            have the major studios supporting us,” Ms. Sally added.                            The main issue, of course, is the quality of the picture, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 HD DVD will offer you a single-sided 15 GB single-layer disc, or         with one of these players it “will be actual full HD quality, compat-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a double capacity dual-layer disc with a full 30 GB. This will give          ible with the HD television quality.” stated Ms. Sally, “That’s most
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            you 4 to 8 hours of programming. But will you be able to record              important because current DVD is only half of that right now. We
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            instead of just buying pre-packaged material? “We will introduce             feel that consumers will demand a better picture quality compat-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a recorder product as well…but the reality is the Studios that are           ible for the TV set they invested in.” She added that along with the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            supporting all of this are positioning it as a playback device” said         December launch there will be about one hundred titles available.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ms. Sally. “Recording is important but look at the sales of DVD                    I spoke with a source connected with Paramount Home
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            recorders in this market now – they are nowhere near the estimates           Entertainment as to whether they might issue HD DVDs with
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            that we all expected them to be.” She also made note of consumer             both an HD version and a DVD version, and was told it was not
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            options for recording, such as cable boxes.                                  something they were considering, nor could they see themselves
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 As to availability of Toshiba product in this market, they              putting a game (other than a preview) on the same disc. They are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            announced a recorder at CES, but “our first introduction in                   - after all - not in the “game business”, only in the licensing end of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            December 2005 will be a player,” said Ms. Sally. “It will be followed        it, and I was told they see no need to confuse the issue – “keep it
                                                                                                                                                        Illustrated by Tony Atlagic, graphicallycorrect.ca




                                                                                                                                                                                                                            by a recorder introduction in 2006 – in the first half.” As to price          simple.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            range, “we are targeting under $1,000 -- the early adopter, the con-               As to why they decided to go with HD DVD over Blu-ray, - an
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sumer who has a HD TV already at home, which we feel is going to             issue on which they are agnostic - it’s basically coming quickly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            be ten percent of U.S. households this year.”                                to market. They will primarily be using it for movies as opposed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Discussing the maximizing of storage capacity, Jodi Sally               to TV series, and have already          continued on the next page...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  March 2005 North American Film Review             9
                                        Inside Tech CES 2005 Report
     HD DVD vs. Blu-ray Disc (continued from the previous page)

                         announced their first twenty titles, including the new version of       pression authoring service to be available by this coming fall, and
                         “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart,” “Ghost,”     the same applies to replication equipment, meaning the software
                         and the new “Elizabethtown,” directed by Cameron Crowe. Where          (movies) will be out there.
                         TV is concerned, new series like “C.S.I.” are done in HD, so produc-         As to the 30GB capacity of HD DVD being “enough,” he quoted
                         tion values will be at their best when they are issued for home use.   one of their new members, Electronic Arts, a big game manufac-
                              The infrastructure is being put into place now so that when       turer as saying “Blu-ray Disc has the capacity, functionality, and
                         these HD DVDs hit the market, everything will be as bug-free           interactivity we need for the kinds of products we have in mind.”
                         as possible. And as piracy is a problem for the studios, the DRM       He continued to emphasize the importance of this greater capac-
                         (Digital Rights Management) is expected to offer more protection        ity, and claimed Blu-ray is “more durable, it features a revolutionary
                         in this new format. No price for these discs has been determined       hard-coat technology that resists fingerprints, scratches, and other
                         as yet.                                                                damage” of the kind that affects other formats.
                                                                                                      Doherty also sees the ability to record as an “essential fea-
                         BLU-RAY DISCS                                                          ture,” and already “a long list of Blu-ray supporters - including LG
                                                                                                Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and Sony, - are market-
                                                                          The Blu-ray Disc      ing BD recorders today. Let’s not forget the ability to record your
                                                                              Association is    own personal content, both on 50GB Blu-ray Disc drives, and in the
                                                                               an organiza-     future on High-Definition BD camcorders that use our miniature 8-
                                                                               tion support-    centimeter disc that features a 50GB capacity.”
                                                                               ing a compet-          Robert Chapek, the President of Buena Vista Home
                                                                              ing storage       Entertainment and the Digital Entertainment Group, spoke for the
                                                                              medium, one       content side. “Because of the technical capability of this format,
                                                                             that will hold     married with the indisputable support from the IT community,”
 LG’s BH-6900 Blu-ray Recorder with integrated 160GB HDD                    25GB in a single-   Mr. Chapek said, “we believe Blu-ray is well-positioned to be the
                                                                           layer format and     next generation successor to the current DV format, as consumers
                      50 GB in a dual-layer. At the 50 GB level they see this as offering        seek out High-Definition content to play on their High-Definition
                      you the storage potential of nine hours of high-definition mov-            televisions.” He noted that the benefits of DVD over VHS were
                      ies, or 23 hours of standard definition TV. As of February 15, 2005,       “profound,” and listed “High-Definition picture, unprecedented
                      there were 100 members of the Association, including hardware             interactivity, backward compatibility, and extraordinary capacity” as
                      companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, LG Electronics,         Blu-ray advantages with “millions of High-Definition- ready televi-
                      Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Sony, and the film studios Twentieth       sions with no pre-recorded content available to play.”
                      Century Fox and Walt Disney Pictures. The most recent companies                 During the question period, Mr. Chapek did make it clear that
                      to join are Toho, and Toei Video, both of Japan.                          while they are committed to publishing in Blu-ray, they have left
                           Richard Doherty of Panasonic opened the press conference at          their options open “to publish in a second format, if the need so
                      CES by stating “Blu-ray Disc is here today – there are nearly a dozen     arises. At this point we don’t see the need arising.” When queried
                      Blu-ray products and prototypes on display [at CES] including             on his reference to “backward compatibility,” which the HD DVD
                      everything from dedicated media recorders to a variety of media           people have claimed as a Blu-ray problem, Mr. Chapek claims “that’s
                      drives and ROM players. Several of these are currently available          simply not true; in fact many of the devices are already supporting
                      around the world today.”                                                  both DVD and Blu-ray.”
                           Speaking of questions that had been asked many times about
                      possibly unifying “Blu-ray disc with the other format,” Mr. Doherty       CONCLUSION
                      responded “The answer is simple. Blu-ray Disc is radically differ-
                      ent from the other proposal, in terms of fundamental vision and                 So… if you are looking forward to the next generation of DVD,
                      benefits for end-users. These points alone are far too important to        what should go into a decision? At this point there are several clear
                      compromise.” His perspective on HD DVD is that it is “a proposi-          questions you need to ask yourself: how important is it to me to be
                      tion based on a “super size” version of the current DVD – primarily       able to record, and how soon? Is backward compatibility important
                      for the linear playback of high-definition pre-recorded movies. Its’       to me, with a large collection of DVDs, or if there is a problem will
                      principal benefit, - according to the other camp, - is it’s cheaper to     I be happy watching them on my current DVD player? How much
                      manufacture, at least in the short term.” He calls this “a rear-view      storage on one disc is probably going to be sufficient?
                      mirror approach – the image is clear, but it tells you more about               Those are just some of the questions, but you have time. At the
                      where you’ve been than where you’re going.”                               moment the Blu-ray units in Japan are selling for just under $2,000
                           He refers to Blu-ray as “a new format -- a quantum leap beyond       U.S., but when they become available to the mass market, that
                      what we have today, using new technologies—beyond anything                price can be expected to drop. And the HD DVD units are expected
                      we have seen before.” He went on to speak of the 50GB capacity            at just under $1,000 at the end of the year.
                      as holding “66% more data than its’ rival.” He spoke of this as not             It should be an interesting Christmas season.
                      the top of the storage potential, with Sony having “demonstrated a
                      200GB, 8-layer Blu-ray disc in its’ laboratory.” He expects DVD com-



10   North American Film Review March 2005
                                                          PalmOne’s Tungsten T5
                                                           Reviewed by Trent Gough

                                                             There are many facets of the Tungsten T5 Handheld        connect to the Internet and check your e-mail. And
                                                              from PalmOne, but one of the most impressive            PowerPoint document attachments in your e-mail
                                                              is the beautiful colour screen. Turn it on and the      will open. The operating system underlying all this is
                                                               320x480, 65,000+ colour Transflective TFT screen        Palm OS 5.4, and to connect to your desktop you need
                                                                effectively illustrates why you may want to do         either Windows 2000 or XP, or with a Mac you require
                                                                your handheld work on this PDF rather than a cell     OS X, 10.2 to 10.3. The estimated street price is $399
                                                                 phone. This is powered by 256MB of flash mem-         U.S.
                                                                 ory, of which 160MB is usable (the rest is program   There are buttons for your calendar, contacts and files,
                                                                  memory), and one charge will get you up to a        and an expansion slot for SD, SDIO and Multi-Media
                                                                  week of normal use.                                 Cards. The speaker is on the back, but there is also a
                                                                   On the home screen you’ll find the following        stereo headphone jack.
                                                                   categories: Applications, Documents, Photos        The T5 is very easy to use, with each application clicked
                                                                    & Videos, Music, Versa Mail, Web, Bluetooth,      on offering up sub-categories that will lead you to
                                                                     and Quick Tour. That - in a nutshell - informs   where you want to go. Perhaps its’ most useful feature
      Tungsten T5                                                   you that you have the option of carrying a lot    is the ability to use it like a USB removable drive, so you
                                                                    of your computer with you. Connect your T5        can work on your files on your home computer. And
                                                                  to your PC or Mac, and you can use File transfer    having a flash drive means that should your power run
                                                         to drag and drop files in either direction, with native       out while you are using it, your files will not be lost; just
                                                         support for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You simply          recharge and they’ll pop right up.
                                                         drag and drop in File Transfer mode, no conversion            If I were reviewing the T5 as I review films, I would give
                                                         necessary.                                                   it five stars on a one to 5 scale.
                                                         If you have a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, you can



                         D-BOX Motion Simulator
                         Reviewed by Trent Gough
                                                  An invitation to “press-preview a new movie seat for                film. Each month the Quebec-based company, D-BOX
                                                  your home” during CES was not something I could                     Technology Inc., takes another 10-12 film titles and
                                                          turn down; after all, sitting at all during this            synchronizes the on-screen action and sound with
                                                              enormous trade event is a luxury. And                   how the chair will shift throughout the film. As of now,
                                                                  catching a few movie scenes along with              there are around 400 film titles you can buy at your
                                                                    it? Count me in.                                  local store that will synch up with your chair, and the
                                                                      Arriving a little late, I carefully threaded    list keeps growing. Chair owners can even request a
                                                                      my way through the small, darkened              favourite movie via the company website (www.d-box.
                                                                       theatre and eased myself into a very           com).
                                                                       comfortable chair. A scene from                The same company also makes the Odyssee Motion
                                                                       “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of              Simulation Systems, which can be installed under a
                                                                       Azkaban” came on the screen. The               seating platform or couch in your home, and which is
                                                                         students were on a train just pull-          capable of moving up to 2,400 pounds (seating area
                                                                         ing out with the incidental sounds           and four viewers) “at up to two units of gravitational
                                                                         that accompany it. Suddenly, I was           force,” according to their press release. This system will
                                                                        aware that my chair was moving                set you back at least $10,000 U.S.
                                                                      gently along with the train, giving             The D-BOX single chair, covered in NuSuede, begins at
                                                                me the impression I was sitting across the            $5,299(U.S dollars) up to $10,299 for a loveseat “covered
Quest Motion Simulator                                         aisle from the kids. The train and my chair            in premium leather with motorized recline”. You can
Plug & Play Seat with Built-in Vertical Actuators
                                                             stopped abruptly, as a slithery, monstrous               buy a chair from the company minus the motion simu-
                                                          figure slid aboard. As the threat increased, the             lator system, and then have it field-installed at a later
                                                  chair jolted about, increasing the feeling I was in the             date, but it will cost you more this way. The PC-based
                                                  movie – and in danger. The chair worked wonderfully                 Motion Controller Interface and Windows software is
                                                  with the film, and continued to do so with scenes from               $799, and the Series 3 Kinetron Controller with 40-GB
                                                  “Spider Man 2” and “The Bourne Supremacy”, etc.                     hard drive is $2,999.
                                                  The motion simulator chair of course does not “go”                  Once you install one of these chairs in your home,
                                                  anywhere, but instead takes you for a ride within it,               watching an action film will never be the same. Enjoy
                                                  one designed to increase the emotional impact of the                the ride.


                                                                                                                                March 2005 North American Film Review                11
               Reviews Documentaries
  Tell Them Who You Are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    0000




                                                                                               Photo Courtesy of THINKFilm
                                                                                                                                       By: Trent Gough                                                                00
                                                                                                                                       Opening: Apr. 15 (NY) Running time: 95 min. MPAA: R
                                                                                                                                       Directed by: Mark Wexler Cast: Haskell Wexler, interviews with major directors, stars
                                                                                                                                       Written by: Robert DeMaio and Mark Wexler DOP: Mark Wexler Music: Blake Leyh
                                                                                                                                       Released by: THINKFilm Official site: tellthemwhoyouare.com
                                                                                                                                       never shoot without a soundman. The son never tells the father what happened,
                                                                                                                                       and it’s left to our imagination as to the father’s ultimate reaction to this footage.
                                                                                                                                             Haskell Wexler came from a wealthy family that did well during the depres-
                                                                                                                                       sion, and with financial help from his father, Haskell made an industrial film called
                                                                                                                                       “A Half Century With Cotton” where misjudging what the client wanted made the
                                                                                                                                       film a financial loss. His father was insulting to him, just as Haskell has a habit of
                                                                                                                                       calling people - his son included - “stupid”.
                                                                                                                                             In 1963 Haskell Wexler made a cinema-verite film called “The Bus”, which is the
                                                                                                                                       first film of his we see that illustrates his life-long concern for the disadvantaged.
                                                                                                                                       Throughout the film he defines himself as having leftist politics, and this especially
    Scene from “Tell Them Who You Are“
                                                                                                                                       worked its way into the docudrama “Medium Cool”. Verna Bloom, the journalist
            It’s Culver City, California, in 2003. Mark Wexler, documentary filmmaker, is                                               in the film, says he wrote the scenes about riots before they happened, and the
       filming his famous, two-time Oscar winner father in his equipment lab, and Haskell                                               authorities tried without success to charge he had incited them. Haskell simply
       Wexler is being his prickly self. He refuses to answer his son’s questions as to                                                said it was obvious what would happen.
       where he is and what he is doing, because he doesn’t want to be the focus of that                                                     When Mark gives his father a release to sign, his dad refuses. Eventually we
       kind of film. Many more such moments exist between father and son - a fairly                                                     know it will be signed or we wouldn’t be watching the film, but this is the essence
       typical struggle for power in an ever-shifting relationship.                                                                    of the conflict. The mother, a very talented painter, is primarily absent, as the cou-
            We see Haskell Wexler getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and                                                  ple divorced after 30 years. She reappears near the end as an Alzheimer’s patient,
       then interviews are held between the son and George Lucas (for whom the father                                                  the only moment that brings tears to the cheeks of Haskell Wexler.
       shot “American Graffiti”) and a number of other film luminaries. But the father                                                          “Tell Them Who You Are” won’t tell you how to light a shot: it does, how-
       wants the film to be about both of them, and his refusal to accept direction was                                                 ever, feature screen interviews with Michael Douglas, Jane Fonda, Dennis Hopper,
       apparently par for the course, with many colleagues saying he really should have                                                Norman Jewison, Sidney Poitier, Julia Roberts, John Sayles, and Lee Tamahori,
       done more directing.                                                                                                            among others. Primarily, this film illuminates a specific father and son relationship,
            Mark shows some footage he shot of people discussing his father when the                                                   yet there is some universality to be found here that should more than reward your
       sound failed and he did not realize it, and we hear Haskell commenting he would                                                 time.


  The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
                                                                                                                                       By: Trent Gough                                                              0001
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      00
                                                                                               Photo Courtesy of Shadow Distribution




                                                                                                                                       Opening: July 15 (TO), Feb. 11 (NY) Running time: 83 min. MPAA: G
                                                                                                                                       Directed by: Judy Irving Cast: Mark Bittner, and parrots Connor, Olive, Mingus, Picasso,
                                                                                                                                       Sophie, Pushkin, Tupelo DOP: Judy Irving Music: Chris Michie
                                                                                                                                       Released by: Shadow Distribution (US), Mongrel Media (CAN)
                                                                                                                                       Official site: wildparrotsfilm.com

                                                                                                                                       This allows neighbours to explain how he patiently stood on his roof deck with
                                                                                                                                       sunflower seeds in his hand for about a year, letting the parrots develop a trust in
                                                                                                                                       him.
                                                                                                                                             Mark introduces us to “Connor”, a blue-crowned conure, who is regal but dis-
                                                                                                                                       gruntled, a bit standoffish. Mark surmises he is in need of a mate of his own vari-
                                                                                                                                       ety, something hard to come by in the area. As such, he seems a stand-in for Mark
Scene from “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill“                                                                                        Bittner himself, a musician who came to San Francisco for a short time and stayed
                                                                                                                                       on in a self-discovery search.
             A charming documentary shot in the Telegraph Hill district of San Francisco,                                                    The documentary is not without a villain, in this case in the shape of a red-
       this is the true tale of Mark Bittner, a local resident who befriended a flock of some                                           tailed hawk attempting to kill and eat a parrot (yes, it does happen). Sometimes
       50 wild parrots. Courtesy of Mr. Bittner, the parrots have names of their own, and                                              one bird of a pair will disappear with no explanation, so one may expect the worst.
       courtesy of no one, their own personalities.                                                                                    Eventually, it comes to be Mark’s turn to go. The couple who let him live rent-free
             We are introduced to the birds biting blossoms, and Mark appears and feeds                                                for three years, need their house back for extensive remodeling, and he must find
       them. He plays some music and sings, and “Mingus”, a cherry-headed conure who                                                   another home for a couple of parrots who really depend on him.
       has chosen to be the house bird, dances on his perch. As close as anyone can                                                          With Mark leaving, the issue of the parrots and their care makes it into a City
       ascertain, it appears that some pet birds originally escaped in the area, then breed-                                           Hall hearing, where the conclusion is benign neglect will be best. Mark is to be
       ing began, and most of the current flock was born in the wild. The cold of a San                                                 credited for letting the parrots be the wild birds they are, and through his relating
       Francisco winter is not so much a problem for them as long as there is plenty of                                                to them and the making of this film, he finds himself.
       food, which seems to be available in abundance.                                                                                       Well-photographed and directed by Judy Irving, “The Wild Parrots of
             Mark and the parrots seem to be a modest attraction to visitors in the area.                                              Telegraph Hill” is an illuminating film worth your time, bird lover or not.


 12    North American Film Review March 2005
                Reviews Features
The D eser ted Station ( “ Istgah - Matrouk ” )
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  00




                                                                                            Photo Courtesy of First Run Features
                                                                                                                                            By: Andrew Johnson
                                                                                                                                            Opening: Dec. 16 (NY) Running time: 88 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Alireza Raisian
                                                                                                                                            Cast: Leila Hatami, Nezam Manouchehri, Mehran Rajabi Written by: inspired by a story by
                                                                                                                                            Abbas Kiarostami Screenplay: Kambuzia Partovi DOP: Mahammad Aladpoush
                                                                                                                                            Language: Farsi with English subtitles Released by: First Run Features
                                                                                                                                            Official site: firstrunfeatures.com/desertedstation.html

                                                                                                                                            appears to be the only man there. This villager agrees to leave the children he’s
                                                                                                                                            teaching to try to fix the photographer’s car. He can’t, and as the two go into a
                                                                                                                                            larger town to get a part for the car, the wife agrees to teach the children in the
                                                                                                                                            small village.
                                                                                                                                                   The young ones, living in this strange, desolate, and ultra-boring place, bond
                                                                                                                                            in that one day with this female outsider. She in turn, gets to love these children as
                                                                                                                                            well. Her outlook on the world will change, especially when she and the children
                                                                                                                                            play hide-and-seek in abandoned old railway cars.
                                                                                                                                                   All very nice, but the film moves along in a ponderous snail-like manner, cul-
                                                                                                                                            minating in its ending without resolution. There isn’t a character that is the least
                                                                                                                                            bit interesting in the film, nor can you even differentiate the children from one
        Taking place in a small village off the main roads in rural Iran, and showing                                                        another, much less care about them: no individualism here. Nothing much hap-
   poverty in all its dehumanizing aspects, this photographic insight of places into                                                        pens in this nothing much happening place. Images and starkness provide the
   which tourists never venture is centre stage. The people of this small enclave live                                                      tapestry to what ultra rural Iran is all about.
   in cave-like rock houses. The men are not there -- they’re off working for a meagre                                                               “The Deserted Station” has been lauded with accolades at film festivals at
   pittance elsewhere, leaving wives and children for long stretches of time.                                                               which it has played and by many critics as well. Sure could have fooled me. I found
        The tale, what there is of it, shows a photographer and his wife, a former                                                          it all to be a dreary and a non-fulfilling experience. One of course may ask why,-
   school teacher, journeying by car on a pilgrimage. They are stranded in the mid-                                                         with all the oil the country possesses and the income taken in by that particular
   dle of nowhere when the car breaks down; he had gotten lost and had veered off                                                            government,- why the ruling class doesn’t do anything for subjects in dire need?
   the main road.                                                                                                                           Are there the usual “fat cats” raking in all the money for their selfish interests, as is
        The man travels on foot to the aforementioned village and encounters what                                                           the case with fanatical regimes and dictatorial governments?


D on’t Move ( “ Non Ti Muovere ” )
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           0001
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             00
                                                                                            Photo Courtesy of Northern Arts Entertainment




                                                                                                                                            By: Andrew Johnson
                                                                                                                                            Opening: Mar. 11 (NY) Running time: 125 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Sergio Castellitto
                                                                                                                                            Cast: Penélope Cruz, Sergio Castellitto, Claudia Gerini, Angela Finocchiaro, Marco Giallini,
                                                                                                                                            Pietro De Silva. Vittoria Piancastelli, Elena Perino Written by: Margaret Mazzantini and
                                                                                                                                            Sergio Castellitto, from the novel by Margaret Mazzantini Screenplay: Sergio Castellitto
                                                                                                                                            DOP: Gianfilippo Corticelli Music: Lucio Godoy Language: Italian with English subtitles
                                                                                                                                            Released by: Northern Arts Entertainment

                                                                                                                                            earthy female, who brings out the passion he’s always contained. Lust develops
                                                                                                                                            into intimacy, with a passionate love for both Timoteo and Italia.
                                                                                                                                                 When they first met, Timoteo was in a mid-life crisis and Italia had never
                                                                                                                                            experienced real love. They thirsted for connection. Both director Sergio Castellitto
                                                                                                                                            (Timoteo) and Penélope Cruz (Italia), with no real makeup enhancing her usual
                                                                                                                                            beauty (almost like Charlize Theron in “Monster”), give truly deep, moving perfor-
                                                                                                                                            mances.
                                                                                                                                                 These two characters utter interesting lines that reveal their innermost feel-
                                                                                                                                            ings and what seems to make them “tick”:
                                                                                                                                                 “We’re all cruel ... some more, some less.”
Penélope Cruz and Sergio Castellitto
                                                                                                                                                 “How little we tell each other.”
        We often do things in life that are so wrong. In flashback at the onset of the                                                            At times, the film’s flashbacks become distracting, with a certain dreariness
   film, successful surgeon Timoteo, married to a career business woman, seems to                                                            surfacing in the telling of the tale. It also goes on for longer than it should. Some
   have all he could want. But one day on the road, his car breaks down and he’s                                                            superfluous details could have been excluded, as well as some scenes that tend to
   forced to walk to a small town - a wasteland of squalor - for help. He meets Italia, a                                                   be overly lengthy.
   young woman, who permits him to come back to her hovel of a house to make a                                                                   “Don’t Move” (“Non Ti Muovere”) is a touching love story depicting true pas-
   phone call. Almost without warning, he brutally rapes her.                                                                               sion and human foibles. It does bring out the fact that one must certainly confront
        Timoteo returns later to apologize but again rapes her. Would you believe                                                           what’s happened in the past and take responsibility in the present.
   that a subsequent love affair begins? This woman is no raving beauty and not of                                                                An interesting, thought-provoking motion picture that is different, it harkens
   his social strata, but opposites seem to attract. It does prove that we are all human                                                    back to the earthiness of Italian cinema right after the Second World War and what
   and sometimes cannot help the things we do. Now Timoteo is torn between                                                                  everyday life holds forth for individuals.
   two women - a wife who does not share his desire to have children and this new,

                                                                                                                                                                                   March 2005 North American Film Review               13
                 Reviews Features
                   Untergang”
D ownfall ( “ D er Untergang ” )
                                                                                                                               By: Trent Gough                                                       00000
                                                                                                                                                                                                        00




                                                                                           Photo Courtesy of Newmarket Films
                                                                                                                               Opening: Sep. 14 (TO), Feb. 18 (NY) Running time: 156 min. MPAA: R
                                                                                                                               Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel Cast: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch,
                                                                                                                               Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Kohler, Heino Ferch, Christian Berkel, Matthias Habich Based on
                                                                                                                               books By: Joachim Fest, Traudl Junge & Melissa Müller Screenplay: Bernd Eichinger DOP:
                                                                                                                               Rainer Klausmann BVK Music: Stephan Zacharias Language: German / Russian with English
                                                                                                                               Subtitles Released by: Newmarket Films Official site: downfallthefilm.com


                                                                                                                               fight in the rubble. 13-year-old Peter (Donevan Gunia) is using a rocket
                                                                                                                               launcher to destroy Russian tanks. His furious father arrives to take him away,
                                                                                                                               and convince the others the end is near, to no avail. Peter and his changing
                                                                                                                               awareness will be one thread of this multi-faceted film.
                                                                                                                                    Back in the bunker, bad news rushes in like the heat of the fires, but Hitler
                                                                                                                               continues to give military orders as if there were still a war to be fought. Eva
                                                                                                                               Braun (Juliane Kohler) gives a party upstairs in sheer defiance, but shelling
                                                                                                                               drives them underground again. Traudl is made sick by it all.
                                                                                                                                    In time, Hitler acknowledges that it is all over, but that doesn’t stop him
                 Bruno Ganz as Hitler                                                                                          from ordering the execution of those whom he feels gave up. He also tells
                                                                                                                               Albert Speer (Heino Ferch), his architect, that the destruction of the cities by
           A black screen. A voice-over by Traudl Junge speaks of feelings of guilt                                            the allies will make rebuilding easier after Germany has won the war. So Hitler
     looking back. Then, it’s 1942 and several young women are interviewed by                                                  is a man who clearly sees the end at the same time as his megalomania rages
     Hitler (Bruno Ganz) for the position of his personal secretary, with the young                                            on.
     Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) selected. Almost immediately the film                                                       The Goebbels arrive with their six young children, who, in one of the
     jumps forward to April 20, 1945, in Berlin, where Hitler has holed up in his bun-                                         most painful scenes in the film, the mother poisons one by one, not wanting
     ker as the Russian Army encircles Berlin.                                                                                 them “to live without national socialism.” Traudl leaves the bunker, threading
           “Downfall” is an extremely fine drama of the last days of Adolph Hitler in                                           her way through the fiery streets, and the film ends with interview footage of
     his bunker. The story has been told many times before, but never better than                                              her as an elderly woman, probably taken from the documentary “Blind Spot:
     this, with a brilliant performance by the Swiss actor, Bruno Ganz. Press notes                                            Hitler’s Last Secretary.”
     reveal that a Finnish diplomat secretly recorded seven minutes of Hitler chat-                                                 The performances are very solid, and the directing does not rush events
     ting after a dinner party, a one-of-a-kind tape, and Ganz studied this for Hitler’s                                       that need time to be digested, such as the death of the Goebbels’ children.
     accent, etc.                                                                                                              “Downfall” is the first German film to deal with the subject since 1956, and a
           The film takes us outside of the bunker as children from the Hitler Youth                                            gift to world cinema.



The Fallen
                                                                                                                               By: Andrew Johnson                                                        0000
                                                                                                                               Opening: May (NY) Running time: 118 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Ari Taub
                                              Set in Italy in 1944, when World War                                             Cast: John McVay, Thomas Pohn, Fabio Sartor, Ron Hirt, Marcus Kirschbaum,
                                        II was a hopeless cause for the occupy-                                                Sergio Leone, Frank Licari, Alesandro Lombardo, John O’Leary, Carmine Raspaolo
                                        ing Germans and the Italian Army, the                                                  Written by: Nick Day and Caio Ribeiro DOP: Caio Ribeiro (German/Italian sequences) and
                                        Americans were making gains, and the                                                   Claudia Amber (American sequences) Music: Sergei Dregnin Language: English, Italian,
                                                                                                                               and German with English subtitles Official site: thefallenmovie.com
                                        Italian partisans were pesky, this depiction
                                        of a section of the war is filmed in slightly
                                        grainy black & white. It almost looks like                                             able to make it run and then use it for transportation when the soldiers leave.
                                        vintage newsreel footage. What’s more, the                                                  The film focuses on a group of American supply soldiers who must deliver
                                        soldiers and others involved speak their                                               ammunition to the front line combatants. They face great setbacks in this
                                        own languages (with English subtitles on                                               mission. On the other side, a doomed German unit with Italian Army partners
                                        screen).                                                                               struggles to maintain discipline in the face of impending defeat. The Italians -
                                              “The Fallen” is a low budget, indepen-                                           fascist soldiers and communist partisans - have turned brother against brother.
                                        dent film creatively accomplished by film-                                               The everyday life of the soldiers, their encounters with death, hopes, dreams,
     maker Ari Taub. A good anti-war document, it depicts well the sheer waste of                                              values, morals, and patriotism impact on them. But above all, there is compas-
     human life and how stupidity leads to dire consequences. The film goes from                                                sion shown even among the most hardened soldiers.
     place to place in the confined area, showing how the different factions try to                                                   A well made, well knit film, “The Fallen” has a cast without even one rec-
     cope with the horrendous situations caused by the armed conflict. Shortages                                                ognizable name. This may make for the realistic portrayals experienced in the
     of food and blankets add to making it a very uncomfortable war. A pretty                                                  movie. A side of the war - possibly unknown by some people - will open eyes.
     good comic moment concerns American soldiers leaving their truck behind                                                   The human heart and spirit challenged by the horrors of war are brought out
     when it breaks down since they cannot fix it. A group of village refugees are                                              and rise above all else in created reality.



14   North American Film Review March 2005
Imaginar y Heroes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        00001
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           00




                                                                                             Photo by Tim Orr. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Sigourney Weaver as Sandy Travis                                                                                                                                                                            By: Trent Gough
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reviewed At: Toronto International Film Festival 2004 Opening: Mar. 18 (TO), Feb. 18 (NY)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Running time: 112 min. MPAA: R (US) , 14A(Canada) Directed by: Dan Harris
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Daniels, Emile Hirsch, Michelle Williams, Kip Pardue,
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Deirdre O’Connell Written by: Dan Harris Screenplay: Dan Harris DOP: Tim Orr
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Music: John Ottman, Jennifer Euston Released by: Sony Pictures Classics (US)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mongrel Media (Canada) Official site: sonyclassics.com/imaginary

                                                                                                                                                                                                            spends as much time away at college as possible. Ben (Jeff Daniels), the father, at
                                                                                                                                                                                                            first insists a plate with food be set for Matt each evening, but soon devolves into
                                                                                                                                                                                                            an unshaven vegetable who sits all day in his car or on a park bench and is missing
                                                                                                                                                                                                            at his workplace, something mom is unaware of until mounting bills threaten their
                                                                                                                                                                                                            home, such as it is. She also discovers marijuana in the house and packs a cigar
                                                                                                                                                                                                            with it to smoke, collapsing on the grass where she views the stars moving for her.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Late, she gets busted trying to buy more. The naiveté of her relationship with pot,
                                                                                                                                                                                                            however, strains credulity, the weakest part of the writing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sandy hates her neighbour Marge for no good, articulated reason. Marge’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                            son Kyle (Ryan Donowho) however, is Tim’s best friend, the one who gets in
        Dan Harris, the screenwriter of “X-2” and the forthcoming “Superman Returns”                                                                                                                        trouble at school and pops pills, and most threatens to drag Tim into trouble as
  has written and directed a sensitive human drama somewhat wise beyond this                                                                                                                                well. There is no prime character in this film that isn’t sorely troubled one way or
  tender 25-year old. Most strikingly, he has created a structure that moves from                                                                                                                           another. The Travis family is the poster child for dysfunctional.
  comedy to drama and back again in a way not uncommon in European cinema,                                                                                                                                        The at-home nuclei of the family carry the film in three very strong perfor-
  but rare in American films. He has achieved moments of laughter that hang over                                                                                                                             mances. Ben, the father, is missing in action for a fair amount of the story. When
  into a black comedy moment, before you realize the true context of the following                                                                                                                          he returns to the hearth, Jeff Daniels grabs his status as the man who has to make
  scene is really a tragic one.                                                                                                                                                                             his wife and son know he loves them, grabs it by the teeth like a terrier and doesn’t
        Matt Travis (Kip Pardue), the star of his family for all the swim meet trophies he                                                                                                                  let it go. Sigourney Weaver has an adult suburban woman’s role that finally is up
  has, is a very unhappy young man, loathing swimming but continuing to please                                                                                                                              to her as an actress, and she makes you feel the confused pain of this wounded
  his father. That way frequently leads to tragedy, as in this instance, where the cred-                                                                                                                    wife and mother. Emile Hirsch as Tim is our eyes: we only see what he lets us see,
  its are barely over and Kip has committed suicide. His brother Tim (Emile Hirsch)                                                                                                                         and you can feel the adolescent confusion of a young man who is expected at
  finds him, and we are at the wake before family reactions can register with us.                                                                                                                            times to be the adult in the family, a role for which he’s not suited.
  Sandy (Sigourney Weaver), the mother, slams the door in the face of Marge Dwyer                                                                                                                                 The Travis’s story takes place in four seasons, allowing the people and their
  (Deirdre O’Connell), her next-door neighbour, and Tim asks his mother when she                                                                                                                            relationships to evolve, but with no easy happy endings. “Imaginary Heroes” does
  last saw a doctor. “When I had my tubes tied,” she says.                                                                                                                                                  make clear the dangers that lie at the heart of family secrets, how the wounds will
        Penny (Michelle Williams), the daughter, sensibly won’t tolerate her family and                                                                                                                     fester, or get picked at like a scab that never allows the scars to fade from sight.



  A Brief Roundtable Addendum , following TIFF:
        Dan Harris says he builds his stories around a core; “X-Men 2” is an action-                                                                                                                        don’t want to go there’ when she tries to discuss more personal things with her
  packed adventure film but “at its’ heart is a revenge film about discrimination.” His                                                                                                                       son than she has any business doing”. Her character “can’t forgive Marge [a spoiler
  “superhero films come from a different muscle.” “Imaginary Heroes” is a collec-                                                                                                                             I will omit] it’s crazy they continue to live next to each other.”
  tion of things he has observed and heard that have “happened to friends, family                                                                                                                                 She sees her character’s physicality being like Karen Finley, the performance
  friends.” With a laugh he added “I’ve always been an old soul.”                                                                                                                                           artist. As to her preparation, “I can’t imagine doing a movie without being trained
        While Sandy is based on no one at all, “a lot of the comedy comes from                                                                                                                              in the theatre – you know how to read, to rehearse – there’s a stability to it. It’s like
  Sigourney’s character. Every terrible thing has moments of lightness. And you can                                                                                                                         packing your suitcase and then pulling out what you need when it comes up. You
  tell she’s a little lost, she’s covering it up.” While he started the first draft (before                                                                                                                  can’t decide in advance what’s going to happen, you have to get out of the way.”
  “X-2”) with no one in mind, after that he wrote it for Sigourney. Where the secrets
  are concerned that will cause this family to come undone, Dan Harris said “we are
                                                                                                                                                    Photo by: Tim Orr. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics




                                                                                                                                                                                                               Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels
  living in a puritan society that will make things worse.”
        Jeff Daniels is very happy with the film and his role in it. Before shooting,
  they had a few days of discussion which didn’t require any script changes, nor did
  improvisation play a part in it. He did find it “a very dark place to go,” and com-
  mented that the parenting of the eldest “was the reverse of what we did with our
  kid. The more Norman Rockwell it looks,” he said, “the less it is.”
        Where shooting with Sigourney Weaver was concerned, he commented
  “it’s great to be working with someone who has been there as long as you have.”
  His viewpoint on Ben is: “he’s a man who didn’t go to therapy, he went to a park
  bench for three months. And he accepts all the things he did wrong.”
        Sigourney Weaver said Sandy really loves Tim, and it’s “lucky for her he says ‘I

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    March 2005 North American Film Review               15
                                                        Reviews Features
Layer Cake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       0001




                                                                                             Photo by Daniel Smith. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
                                                                                                                                                         By: Andrew Johnson
                                                                                                                                                         Reviewed At: Sundance Film Festival Opening: May. 13 (NY) Running time: 104 min.
                                                                                                                                                         MPAA: R Directed by: Matthew Vaughn Cast: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney,
                                                                                                                                                         Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Jamie Foreman, Sienna Miller, Michael Gambon
                                                                                                                                                         Written by: J.J. Connolly from his novel Screenplay: J.J. Connolly DOP: Ben Davis
                                                                                                                                                         Released by: Sony Pictures Classics / Columbia Pictures
                                                                                                                                                         Official site: sonyclassics.com/layercake

                                                                                                                                                              But this is not to be. A certain crime boss mandates his taking a job: finding
                                                                                                                                                         the missing daughter of an even more powerful criminal, and negotiating a deal
                                                                                                                                                         for a large shipment of ecstasy from Holland. He must accept, and he sets up his
                                                                                                                                                         network of trusted underlings to go about the two tasks. Seems like a piece of
                                                                                                                                                         cake, but, as the film’s title implies, this cake has many layers.
                                                                                                                                                              In addition, the drugs were stolen from a renowned Dutch manufacturer. Hits
                                                                                                                                                         are set up on the continent and in Britain, focusing on our unnamed individual
                                                                                                                                                         (who really just wants this last job over). The machinations begin to set in, and he
                                                                                                                                                         realizes that he’s in over his head in dealing with both the powerful and the petty.
Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney and George Harris                                                                                                                   Duplicity and hidden alliances prevail as the struggle for power is ever there
                                                                                                                                                         - from lowly London’s crack dens to upper British society. Loose cannons and
          We’re in the UK drug underworld with individuals who, at the drop of a hat,                                                                    crazy psychos must be dealt with, and nothing that appeared routine is simple.
     take out anyone who gets in the way of their making that “big score.” Well dressed                                                                  Everything that can go wrong does.
     and slick in all matters, our unnamed “hero” is a true professional, with all angles                                                                     The film is full of action, but not for action’s sake, and twists and turns lead to
     covered in distributing cocaine and ecstasy like any other commodity. He has                                                                        a surprising last 15 minutes. Well made and extremely interesting,- though highly
     amassed a fortune and has stayed out of the clutches of the law, unknown to the                                                                     convoluted and at times hard to follow, - “Layer Cake” is one of the better gangster
     police. Now he’s made the decision to retire, live a simple life, and break free from                                                               films to come our way: We get into the minds of these gangsters, an integral part
     the illicit world of crime, drugs, and violence.                                                                                                    of society -like it or not.



Perlasca ( “ Un Eroe Italiano” )
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   00000
                                                                                             Photo by Rai Fiction. Courtesy of Castle Hill Productions




                                                                                                                                                         By: Andrew Johnson
                                                                                                                                                         Opening: Apr. 15 (NY) Running time: 126 min. MPAA: NYR
                                                                                                                                                         Directed by: Alberto Negrin Cast: Luca Zingaretti, Amanda Sandrelli,
                                                                                                                                                         Franco Castellano, Marco Bonini, Lorenzo Lavia, Elena Arvigo, Christiane Filangieri
                                                                                                                                                         Based on the book by: Enrico Deaglio Screenplay: Stefano Rulli & Sandro Petraglia
                                                                                                                                                         DOP: Stefano Ricciotti Music: Ennio Morricone Language: Italian with English subtitles
                                                                                                                                                         Released by: Castle Hill Productions

                                                                                                                                                         consul himself when the whole embassy moves to Switzerland. Back and forth, for-
                                                                                                                                                         ever racing against time, he manages to rescue Jews, as many as he can, from the
                                                                                                                                                         trains about to leave for the death camps by bribing individuals with huge sums of
                                                                                                                                                         money. He has a way of making people admire him and children laugh even when
                                                                                                                                                         they face death at every turn. With precise organization and spur of the moment
                                                                                                                                                         decisiveness, he stays a step ahead of the marauding Hungarian militia, who act
                                                                                                                                                         even worse than the Nazis in trampling all Jewish rights.
                                                                                                                                                               Giorgio finally receives his long-awaited pass to join his wife in Italy, but
                                                                                                                                                         instead chooses to remain, hoping to prevent further tragedy. This man could
                                                                                                                                                         not save as many as he wanted before the Russians moved into Budapest and
                                                                                                                                                         the Hungarian militia simply slaughtered all the Jews they could find. As the war
                                          Luca Zingaretti playing Giorgio Perlasca                                                                       ended, Giorgio returned to Italy to anonymity and silence about what he had
                                                                                                                                                         done. But a few of those he saved sought him out and made public what he had
          Still more unsung heroes from World War II - civilians who went above and                                                                      accomplished. It took forty years before the world was made aware of what he
     beyond for humanity. Schindler immediately comes to mind. An Italian working                                                                        had done through courage and care for members of the human race. This simple
     for an import-export firm in Budapest, Hungary in 1944 tries to ignore the war and                                                                   brave man has been recognized by Hungary, Israel, Spain, and the United States as
     the inhumanity he sees around him, particularly the excesses of the Nazi occupa-                                                                    Righteous Among Nations. The film points out that there are about 36 Righteous
     tion and the fate of the Jews. Nevertheless, his conscience makes him stand up                                                                      Men in the world … we don’t know who they are and they don’t even know it
     and be counted.                                                                                                                                     themselves … but this is the reason, perhaps, that the Supreme Being doesn’t just
          Giorgio Perlasca has a Spanish document signed by Franco of Spain which                                                                        throw in the towel for humanity.
     starts the ball rolling as he begins to shield Jewish people on the Spanish Embassy                                                                       “Perlasca” is a very moving document and a brilliant cinematic achievement.
     grounds and in safe houses. He uses his ingenuity and grit to even pose as the                                                                      It’s one not to be missed.



16   North American Film Review March 2005
Phil the Alien
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  00001




                                                                                           Photo Courtesy of Lions Gate Films
                                                                                                                                          By: Dixon Trees                                                            00
                                                                                                                                          Reviewed At: Toronto International Film Festival 2004 Opening: Mar. 11 (TO)
                                                                                                                                          Running time: 85 min. MPAA: PG (US) , 14A(CAN) Directed by: Rob Stefaniuk
                                                                                                                                          Cast: Rob Stefaniuk, Graham Greene, John Kapelos, Bruce Hunter, Sean Cullen,
                                                                                                                                          Nicole de Boer Written by: Rob Stefaniuk DOP: D.Gregor Hagey Music: John Kastner
                                                                                                                                          Released by: Lions Gate Films (CAN), Decade Distribution (US)
                                                                                                                                          Official site: blackwalk.com/philthealien

                                                                                                                                          He’s a hit – and heavily into hard liquour. Even for the hunters, prostitutes, an ex-
                                                                                                                                          CIA operative (Bruce Hunter) and the usual “Northern misfits,” Phil’s attack on the
                                                                                                                                          cigarette machine is a bit much.
                                                                                                                                               He goes to jail. And lo and behold – finds Jesus.
                                                                                                                                               Now reality sets in. At the “Top Secret American UFO Base”, cleverly disguised
                                                                                                                                          under Niagara Falls, “The General,” (John Kapelos) has “discovered” Phil and sends
                                                                                                                                          his Agents Blue (Dwayne Hill) and Orange(Jason Jones) to capture him. That
                                                                                                                                          doesn’t work, but it’s fun to watch.
 Rob Stefaniuk and Nicole deBoer                                                                                                               Although The Beaver tells him there’s a ship he can take to go home but it’s
                                                                                                                                          in Niagara Falls, Phil just wants to have fun. Instead, he and the band go on tour,
       If you could forget the actual meaning of the phrase “kiss my beaver” to                                                           carousing and carrying-on their way to the Falls, with Phil using his alien powers to
 describe “Phil the Alien”, you’re in the right comedy.                                                                                   do much more than sing. Really frustrated, The General orders “Madame Madame”
       Phil (Rob Stefaniuk) is the wonderfully naïve, friendly and lost alien who liter-                                                  (Nicole deBoer) a supremely competent Quebecois assassin to finish the job.
 ally drops into a small town in Northern Ontario. That’s the sanest point of the film.                                                         It doesn’t happen.
 Rescued and befriended by young Joey (Brad McGinnis), Phil begins his life-long                                                               Billed as “an original, cutting edge comedy”, “Phil the Alien” is just that. And
 thirst for alcohol after he tastes the boy’s bottle of “medicine”. He meets a “super-                                                    more. It’s not a film to “guffaw” at. Rather, the chortles, hoots, and dirty laughs are
 intelligent” beaver (voiced by Joe Flaherty) who offers his dam as a place to stay,                                                       proof enough that this Canadian film is much more universal than its’ simple “fish-
 and goes on to discover other locals only Bob and Doug Mackenzie (SCTV) would                                                            out-of-water –coming-of- age” story.
 recognize. The cultural centre of town is the tavern, tended by the enigmatic                                                                 It’s okay to laugh at ourselves through these alcoholic, alien eyes. It’s the
 Wolfe (Graham Greene) and graced with a rock band which Phil ends up joining.                                                            “Canadian” way.


Robots
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   00001
                                                                                                Photo Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox




     Scene from “Robots“                                                                                                                  By: Trent Gough                                                             00
                                                                                                                                          Opening: Mar. 11 Running time: 91 min. MPAA: PG Directed by: Chris Wedge
                                                                                                                                          Co-Director: Carlos Saldanha Cast: Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks,
                                                                                                                                          Drew Carey, Jim Broadbent, Amanda Bynes, Jennifer Coolidge, Robin Williams
                                                                                                                                          Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire Story: Ron Mita & Jim McClain Screenplay: Lowell Ganz
                                                                                                                                          & Babaloo Mandel Music: John Powell Released by: Twentieth Century Fox (USA) &
                                                                                                                                          IMAX Corporation Official site: robotsmovie.com


                                                                                                                                                Rodney is looking to meet with Mr. Bigweld (Mel Brooks), who makes life bet-
                                                                                                                                          ter for robots and whose slogan is “You can shine no matter what you are made
                                                                                                                                          of.” However, he has been replaced by Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), who sees more
                                                                                                                                          money in “Why be you when you can be new,” and who is controlled by his evil
                                                                                                                                          mother, Madame Gasket (Jim Broadbent). Rodney will, however, have help in pur-
                                                                                                                                          suing his dream of being an inventor and returning Bigweld to office. The beauti-
                                                                                                                                          ful Cappy (Halle Berry) is on his side, as is the competitive Piper (Amanda Bynes),
                                                                                                                                          and the “Rusties”, robots who want to go on living with replacement parts, and
                                                                                                                                          not end up in Madame Ratchet’s Chop Shop.
       Before “Robots” screens, we are treated to the frantic, acorn-obsessed delu-                                                             There are so many quick visual jokes in this film you may well return for a
 sional prehistoric squirrel from “Ice Age”, once again scaling insurmountable                                                            second viewing (perhaps in its’ IMAX incarnation: see separate article). The char-
 objects in search of his beloved nut, all without dialogue, and with a cliff-hanger                                                       acters are all wonderfully voiced, and if you are a parent who has to take the wee
 ending like the Saturday afternoon serials of old. This is a fine prelude to the fran-                                                    ones, you will not be bored, with jokes on “Star Wars” (James Earle Jones voice),
 tic movement and breathless dialogue of “Robots,” playing as if Frank Capra were                                                         and Fender doing a musical dance number to “Singin’ In the Oil.” When Rodney,
 its’ godfather.                                                                                                                          who has become the repair expert for the Rusties, asks “Who wants to get fixed?”
       Rodney Copperbottom is the new baby in Rivet City, created by his parents                                                          the robot dog cowers and crosses his legs. Where some jokes will have to be
 in 12 hours from a box of parts, with second-hand upgrades as he grows. As a                                                             explained to kids afterwards, in the meantime they will be caught up in the “fol-
 young and ambitious robot (now voiced by Ewan McGregor), he takes off for                                                                 low-your-dream- and-don’t-give-up” point of view. And naturally, for the young
 Robot City and promptly meets up with fast-talking Fender (Robin Williams) for                                                           audience with whom I saw it, the flatulence jokes were the most appreciated.
 whom “fast-talking” is an understatement.


                                                                                                                                                                                March 2005 North American Film Review             17
                                                         Reviews Features
Ror y O’ Shea Was Here
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  0001




                                                                                              Photo Courtesy of Focus Features
                                                                                                                                     By: Trent Gough
                                                                                                                                     Opening: Feb. 4 (NY) Running time: 104 min. MPAA: R Directed by: Damien O’Donnell
                                                                                                                                     Cast: Steven Robertson, James McAvoy, Brenda Fricker, Romola Garai
                                                                                                                                     Written by: Christian O’Reilly Screenplay: Jeffrey Caine DOP: Peter J. Robertson
                                                                                                                                     Music: David Julyan Released by: Focus Features
                                                                                                                                     Official site: roryosheawasheremovie.com

                                                                                                                                     the audience) can understand, except for Rory, who has shared a former institu-
                                                                                                                                     tion with someone with the same problem. James McAvoy as Rory has virtually
                                                                                                                                     no physical mobility, but speaks quite clearly with his eyes and motor mouth.
                                                                                                                                     Although we know where the story is leading us, the pleasure comes from the
                                                                                                                                     journey of these two young actors.
                                                                                                                                          Rory applies to the local disabilities board to be funded for a place of his own,
                                                                                                                                     but is turned down. Michael, who has shown no interest in moving out of assisted
                                                                                                                                     living, applies next, with Rory as his interpreter. To their delight they are granted
                                                                                                                                     their freedom, but then must find a place they can afford and a personal assistant.
                                                                                                                                     The flat comes at the expense of some personal pain for Michael, but the assis-
Steven Robertson, Romola Garai and James McAvoy
                                                                                                                                     tant is even trickier. After the standard montage of bad interviews, they hit upon
           Michael Connolly (Steven Robertson) has cerebral palsy, and has been insti-                                               Siobhan (Romola Garai) whom they met earlier in a bar, and to whom both men
     tutionalized since birth. Rory O’Shea (James McAvoy) has Duchene muscular                                                       are attracted. The attraction is understandable, but doomed to disappointment.
     dystrophy and is moved into the same Dublin institution as Michael. We are dealt                                                     The boys get into some typical adolescent trouble, Siobhan quits but doesn’t
     a storyline in which two young men with severe disabilities will obviously have a                                               disappear, and illness gives focus. Damien O’Donnell, who previously directed
     great affect on each other, and quite possibly on our views of the disabled. The                                                 “East is East”, does a solid job dealing with what could be saccharine material in
     title of the film is also rather transparent as to where we will end up. This transpar-                                          others’ hands, allowing for the audience to feel the emotional moments rather
     ency is not necessarily a bad thing.                                                                                            than signaling the required reactions. A less obvious title would be a big help
           The two central performances in this film are very good. Steven Robertson                                                  in trusting the audience, however, but don’t let that keep you from fine perfor-
     has the difficult task of using speech that virtually no one around him (including                                                mances in the service of a story worth telling.


Torremolinos 73
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  0001
                                                                                              Photo Courtesy of First Run Pictures




                                                                                                                                     By: Andrew Johnson
                                                                                                                                     Opening: Apr. 15 (NY) Running time: 91 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Pablo Berger
                                                                                                                                     Cast: Javier Camara, Candela Pena, Juan Diego, Fernando Tejiro, Mads Mikkelsen,
                                                                                                                                     Malena Alterio Written by: Lola Guerrero DOP: Kiko De La Rica Music: Mastretta
                                                                                                                                     Language: Spanish with English subtitles Released by: First Run Features
                                                                                                                                     to work the camera and how to do the scenes. The other married couples immedi-
                                                                                                                                     ately leave, terminating their employment. Alfredo and his wife Carmen - who can
                                                                                                                                     sure use the money since she was just let go from her beauty parlor job - agree to
                                                                                                                                     make a go of it.
                                                                                                                                           Alfredo is a quick study with the camera and is quite creative. His rather
                                                                                                                                     demure wife comes out of her shell, and eventually evolves into the porno star
                                                                                                                                     of Scandinavia (unbeknownst to them for quite a while) where the films are most
                                                                                                                                     successful. The money rolls in. Alfredo decides to write a full length script (non-
                                                                                                                                     porn) with Carmen in mind as the lead. She, however, is longing to have a baby.
             Javier Camara                                                                                                           Conflict, conflict. He writes “Torremolinos 73,” shows it to his boss (who loves it),
                                                                                                                                     and is soon directing it with a Danish film crew, his wife, and a male lead during
           Just how far will a person go to be successful with the green folding stuff                                                the winter when no tourists are present at the Spanish resort of Torremolinos.
     rolling in? Does money truly dictate doing heinous things? Alfredo, a rather mild-                                                    Influenced by filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, the film ponders life and death,
     mannered, not too successful door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, learns that                                                    a la “The Seventh Seal.” But on the last day of shooting, his boss makes a script
     success in a venture beyond his wildest dreams will get him to the point of utter                                               change that will, he feels, make more money for the film. It’s hard core porn time
     dismay and shame.                                                                                                               for Carmen and her lead actor. Can poor Alfredo actually direct his wife going hot
           Alfredo, along with his co-workers, is told by his boss that selling door-to-                                             and heavy with another man?
     door is no longer monetarily feasible. The idea of another venture has entered                                                        It’s a bittersweet film that, aside from mucho sex and full nudity, is quite good
     the employer’s mind: making super-8 films for educational purposes. These                                                        in story and production. “Torremolinos 73” has its’ poignant moments with a good
     “enlightening” films will show actual sexual acts by couples and only shown in                                                   deal of comedic situation, as manipulation by individuals impacts on the ideas,
     Scandinavia. He suggests to his staff that in order to retain their employment at his                                            demeanor and feelings of others.
     firm, they must make the films each time they have sex with their wives or other                                                        The motion picture won numerous awards at the Malaga Film Festival: Best
     partners. He will give a camera and stock to each, with training included, as to how                                            Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress.



18   North American Film Review March 2005
Who Killed Bambi?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         001




                                                                                          Photo Courtesy of Strand Releasing
                                                                                                                                        By: Andrew Johnson                                                                00
                                                                                                                                        Opening: Sep. 12 (TO), Nov. 12 (NY) Running time: 126 min. MPAA: NYR
                                                                                                                                        Directed by: Giles Marchano Cast: Laurent Lucas, Sophie Quinton, Catherine Jacob,
                                                                                                                                        Yasmine Belmadi, Michèle Moretti, Valérie Donzelli Written by: Giles Marchand &
                                                                                                                                        Vincent Dietschy Screenplay: Giles Marchan DOP: Pierre Milon Music: Doc Mateo, Alex
                                                                                                                                        Beaupin, Lily Margot, Francois Eudes Language: French with English subtitles
                                                                                                                                        Released by: Strand Releasing Official site: strandrel.com

                                                                                                                                        after the Walt Disney movie. It’s apt since Isabelle is in the process of losing the
                                                                                                                                        innocence she possessed and is terrified throughout her initial experiences in sur-
                                                                                                                                        gery and by what’s happening at night.
                                                                                                                                             Patients begin to disappear when they should have had more hospital rest
Sophie Quinton as Isabelle
                                                                                                                                        after surgery. The question becomes: Is the perverted doctor killing these people
        A hospital in France, clean and seemingly well run. But as things move along,                                                   as well? And is Isabelle figuratively “Little Red Riding Hood” with Dr. Philipp the
  we discover that a male predator is spiking the drugs used during operations and                                                      big bad wolf? Things really peak when it’s Dr. Philipp who will perform Isabelle’s
  is having his way at night with the young female patients under his care. He’s a                                                      operation and literally “get into her head.”
  surgeon with a sick sexual appetite for the abuse of those in surgery and recupera-                                                        All have the makings for a rather fine film, but as it builds, it becomes more
  tion.                                                                                                                                 and more unsatisfying. The cat and mouse encounters between doctor and nurse
        As the film opens, we see a group of nurse trainees at the hospital. One is                                                      are drawn out far too long in this over two-hour film -- a good deal of cutting
  Isabelle, whose cousin Veronique already works at this facility. Veronique tries to                                                   would have been in order. At night, this hospital has absolutely no one in the
  take care of and watch over her, but Isabelle puts off her cousin’s concern and is                                                     corridors, with all the doors of the patient rooms closed. No one seems to make
  independent. She has a series of fainting spells due to her inability to control her                                                  rounds or take temperatures or blood tests. Fascinating. This hospital, though, has
  upright balance. Later she’ll find out it’s caused by an inner ear problem.                                                            a great deal of cleanliness going for it, though one never sees maintenance staff or
        During one of her episodes, she encounters Dr. Philipp, a surgeon, who                                                          cleaners. There also seem to be robotic wagons with (I guess) food trays or patient
  advises her to see an ENT doctor. We find out later that this same, suave, Dr.                                                         charts going through the halls, plus smaller two feet high versions for which I can
  Philipp is the hospital predator. He has that penchant for making love to comatose                                                    discover no purpose. Not like New York City hospitals I’ve encountered.
  women who cannot move: he rapes them, sort of like necrophiliacs who make                                                                  I’m lukewarm about “Who Killed Bambi?” (“Qui A Tue Bambi?”), especially its’
  love to corpses.                                                                                                                      fantasy dreamlike sequence at the end and the ramifications of events that build
        Isabelle has a caring boy friend, Sami, a hospital orderly who remarked that                                                    up but are not dealt with when everything is brought to a climax of sorts. You the
  Dr. Philipp spends a great deal of time at the hospital; he seems to be there day                                                     viewer are left to connect dots.
  and night (and we know why). Dr. Philipp is interested in Isabelle, calling her Bambi




                Reviews DVDs
A Let ter to Three Wives
                                                                                                                                                                                                 000                 0000
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       00
                                                                                              Photo Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox




                                                                                                                                        By: Trent Gough                                  Extras :             Movie :
                                                                                                                                        Available: Mar. 1 Running time: 103 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
                                                                                                                                        Cast: Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern, Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas, Barbara
                                                                                                                                        Lawrence, Jeffrey Lynn, Thelma Ritter Based on the novel: Letter to Five Wives by John
                                                                                                                                        Klempner Screenplay: Joseph L. Mankiewicz & Vera Caspary Released by: Twentieth
                                                                                                                                        Century Fox Home Entertainment

                                                                                                                                        phone around, the three are left to wonder - each with a flashback story - who has
                                                                                                                                        been abandoned.
                                                                                                                                             We hear Addie’s voice at intervals, the local lusted-after beauty by all the men,
   Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern and Jeanne Crain
                                                                                                                                        as a thread that ties the stories together, the deus ex machina of Mankiewicz.
       Filmed in 1948, and based on a Cosmopolitan Magazine novel by John                                                               Deborah is married to Brad (Jeffrey Lynn), Rita to George (Kirk Douglas), and Lora
  Kempner, then adapted by Vera Caspary, the number of wives was originally five,                                                        Mae to Porter (Paul Douglas in his first role). Each of the marriages has some dif-
  then Ms. Casper brought it down to four. When Mankiewicz was having problems                                                          ficulty - nothing compared to today’s stories - and a great deal of humour in the
  with his own screenplay version, which was running too long, Richard Zanuck told                                                      sophisticated writing modern screenplays lack. This one got the Oscar in 1949 for
  him the solution was simple – “cut one of the wives.” Such is the value of added                                                      Mankiewiz, and he also won for directing.
  commentary on the optional track.                                                                                                          The extras include an informative track by Christopher Mankiewicz, the son,
       The opening narrative puts us squarely in suburbia, with “chain stores that                                                      and biographers Kenneth Geist and Cheryl Lower. You’ll be surprised to learn
  breed like rabbits.” (This was 1948, folks!) Three wives are taking a field trip on a                                                  whose portrait is in the frame that is supposed to hold that of Addie Ross, its’ back
  boat with a ton of kids, but just as they are leaving, the three, Deborah (Jeanne                                                     to camera. The original trailer is there, Movietone News footage of the Oscar pre-
  Crain), Rita (Ann Southern), and Lora Mae (Linda Darnell) receive a note from one                                                     sentations, a restoration comparison, and an episode of Biography from the A&E
  Addie Ross (an unseen and unbilled Celeste Holm) that she has absconded with                                                          Network called “Linda Darnell: Hollywood’s Fallen Angel,” which is quite well done.
  one of their husbands. As the boat pulls away from the dock and the only pay                                                          A worthy addition to your Studio Classics collection.

                                                                                                                                                                              March 2005 North American Film Review              19
                                                   Reviews DVDs
                                       A Midsummer Night ’s D ream
                                                                                                                                                                               By: Andrew Johnson                                                             0001
                                                                                                                                                                               Available: Mar. 10 Running time: 124 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Sir Peter Hall
                                                                           This is the 1968 production of Sir Peter Hall’s rendi-                                              Cast: Ian Richardson, Judi Dench, Diana Rigg, David Warner, Ian Holm, Helen Mirren,
Photo Courtesy of Water Bearer Films




                                                                     tion of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s                                                        Michael Jayston Written by: William Shakespeare Released by: Water Bearer Films

                                                                     Dream,” one of the Bard’s earliest comedies. I remember                                                   includes some of the finest actors of all time, one cannot help but enjoy.
                                                                     it well, as it was broadcast on CBS Television on a Sunday                                                      But those putting out the DVD have not corrected the streaks, nor colour
                                                                     night when we had quite a snowstorm in New York City.                                                     corrected, nor cleaned up the sometimes-muddy sound. Set to sell at $29.95,
                                                                           This production created a bit of a stir the next morn-                                              this is not what the buying public expects from today’s DVD quality. Let’s hope
                                                                     ing, as it had partial nudity; perhaps the network hadn’t                                                 that this is all cleared up before the public purchases it. Adding some commen-
                                                                     screened it beforehand -- certainly taboo for the late                                                    tary and extras would certainly help -- it wasn’t on the screening copy I received.
                                                                     1960s on TV. It was never run again.                                                                      Absent too is the Mendelssohn music to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” This music
                                                                           The cast is outstanding, with current giants in British                                             doesn’t necessarily have to be used when a production of the play is mounted,
                                            theatre and motion pictures, awfully young in this 37-year-old production. The                                                     and if director Sir Peter Hall chose not to use it, so be it.
                                            very essence of the Bard’s words in conversational manner makes it impossible to                                                         This new DVD (comes in a VHS version as well) is nonetheless worth view-
                                            lose interest. And the overall production is outstanding.                                                                          ing to observe truly fine acting and how those theatre and film veterans of today
                                                 As you may well know, the plot concerns lovers who run off one night into                                                      looked and performed then. This is one of the finest presentations of the play
                                            the woods; roguish Puck delights in playing tricks on them. With a cast that                                                       recorded for posterity.


                                       D onnie Darko, The Direc tor ’s Cut
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              00              0001
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                00
                                                                                                                                     Photo Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
                                                                                                                                                                               By: Trent Gough                                        Extras :         Movie :
                                                                                                                                                                               Available: Feb. 15 Running time: 253 min. MPAA: R Directed by: Richard Kelly
                                                                                                                                                                               Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval, Beth Grant,
                                                                                                                                                                               Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katherine Ross, Patrick Swayze,
                                                                                                                                                                               Noah Wyle Written by: Richard Kelly DOP: Steven Poster Music: Michael Andrews
                                                                                                                                                                               Released by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

                                                                                                                                                                               nying interview that he considers this version “an extended remix,” and the origi-
                                                                                                                                                                               nal release version equal to this one. He has chapter intros to different scenes on
                                                                                                                                                                               screen, ones that are supposed to come from a book on time travel. There is also
                                                                                                                                                                               apparently a build-up of the supporting characters: not having seen the original
                                        Jake Gyllenhaal
                                                                                                                                                                               version I will take his word for it.
                                                 With the sound of thunder hanging over the mountains, a young man sleep-                                                            The film is easily characterized as fitting the mold of teen rebellion pictures,
                                            ing on a highway road awakens and cycles home. A screen title informs us it is                                                     where most adults know very little, and they need to be saved from themselves.
                                            Oct. 2, 1988, and so begins “Donnie Darko, the Director’s Cut.” If you are a member                                                It’s also a love story of the self-sacrificing kind, also a fantasy of sorts. All the per-
                                            of the fan cult that has sprung up around this film, you won’t be able to wait to get                                               formances are solid, and the director knows where he’s taking them, even if the
                                            this version. If the film is new to you, this is the version to see.                                                                piece is a little overly dense at times.
                                                 Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is hearing a voice, and there’s a face to go with it,                                                      The “special features” are another matter, with audio commentary between
                                            a monstrous 6-foot rabbit that is no “Harvey.” “Frank” has come through a time                                                     Richard Kelly and director Kevin Smith (“Clerks”, “Dogma”) on Disc 1. There is more
                                            hole to tell him what he has to do to save the world, or at least his world. Part of                                               discussion on the music track than probably any other element, but not that much
                                            Donnie’s house collapses when an airplane engine drops in one evening, The next                                                    talk on the film itself. It’s less Richard Kelly than it is Kevin Smith with as many four-
                                            day at school a new teacher, Karen Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) asks Donnie his                                                        letter words as he can fit in, so he may know something about the audience.
                                            opinion of a Graham Greene piece, and a new girl, Gretchen Ross (Jena Malone)                                                            Disc 2 has a production diary with useful commentary from Steven Poster,
                                            chooses to sit next to him after Karen tells her to pick the cutest boy. This unlikely                                             the D.O.P. There is a Storyboard-to-Screen Featurette, and an interesting bit with
                                            behaviour should give us a solid clue that Karen knows something.                                                                  British fans called “They Made Me Do It Too.” There is a self-referential short called
                                                 “Donnie Darko” is at once convoluted, engrossing, confusing, and coming                                                       “#1 Fan: A Darkomentary”, and a trailer. Take a chance- you won’t be bored with
                                            from an original voice. The writer/director Richard Kelly does say in the accompa-                                                 “Donnie Darko.”


                                       Edison : The Inventions of the Movies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              00000                        00000
                                                                                                                                     Photo Courtesy of Kino International




                                                                                                                                                                               By: Trent Gough                        Extras :                     Movie :
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              00
                                                                                                                                                                               Available: now Running Time: 140 Edison Company Films of varying length, plus 2 hours
                                                                                                                                                                               of interviews Series curated by: Steven Higgins and Charles Musser. MPAA: NYR
                                                                                                                                                                               The Unbeliever, Edison’s last feature included Directed by: Alan Crosland
                                                                                                                                                                               Cast: Erich von Stroheim 4 DVD’s Distributed By: Kino International, produced in con-
                                                                                                                                                                               junction with the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress
                                                                                                                                                                               Official site: kino.com/video

                                                                                                                                                                                    If you are a true lover of the movies, you also love ones made before you
                                                                                                                                                                               were a teenager, not just current releases. And in that case you’ll want to own
                                                                                                                                                                               “Edison: The Inventions of the Movies,” which covers 140 Edison Company films
                                                                                                                                                                               made between 1891 and 1918, including the last feature from the company, “The
                                                                            Edison

                                       20   North American Film Review March 2005
  Unbeliever,” starring Erich von Stroheim. There are 4 DVDs in this collection of the                                              about the earliest films was what interested ordinary people at the time. An exam-
  first movies ever made, many of them no longer available on film stock.                                                             ple would be “What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City,” filmed in
       The learned narration is quite interesting, explaining, for instance, that “Record                                           1901, a fascinating look at a real street then, plus the first blowing skirt shot -no, it
  of a Sneeze,” 1894, was the first copyrighted film. The films were copyrighted                                                       wasn’t Marilyn.
  under existing law by printing them out as paper prints, from which some of                                                            You’ll see an 1894 attempt at synch sound, and hear the full story behind
  these films have become film again. Included are many camera tests, including                                                       “The Kiss,” not as simple as you might assume. The story of Sandow, self-billed
  “Monkeyshines,” which looks like a Rorschach test.                                                                                as the strongest man in the world who used Edison’s film to promote himself, is
       On the first DVD, covering 1889-1903, many of the films are only 50 feet in                                                    one of the earliest examples of the reach of movies. You’ll hear about Blackton,
  length, but towards the end, start running one and two minutes. The frame rate                                                    an artist who sold Edison’s film as his own which he was forced to license. Shades
  (printed at the beginning of each film) varies from 18 to 40 frames per second, and                                                of today’s pirating. And there are many copies of actualization scenes, such as a
  with the proper digital transfer, the people in them walk, etc., at normal rates, not                                             watermelon-eating contest, which is shot in such a way that it could well be a re-
  the spastic movements we have come to expect from ‘silent’ films.                                                                  creation. It’s an excellent collection, one you’ll want to own.
       To a number of the curators and professors filmed here, what was interesting


Hiding and Seeking :                                                           Faith and Tole rance Af te r The Holocaust
                                                                                                                                                                                          0000                    0000
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    00


                                                                                            Photo Courtesy of First Run Features
                                                                                                                                    By: Andrew Johnson                            Extras :                 Movie :
                                                                                                                                    Available: Dec. 14 Running time: 85 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Menachem Daum
                                                                                                                                    & Oren Rudavsky Cast: Akiva Daum, Menachem Daum, Rifka Daum, Tzvi Dovid Daum,
                                                                                                                                    Honorata Matuszezyk Mucha Written by: Menachem Daum & Oren Rudavsky Screenplay:
                                                                                                                                    Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky Language: English, Polish & Yiddish with English
                                                                                                                                    Subtitles Released by: First Run Features Official site: hidingandseeking.com


                                                                                                                                    his odyssey is equally important for them in the discovery of that one family. He
                                                                                                                                    passionately believes that all men are brothers, though his sons continually contra-
                                                                                                                                    dict him and point to almost two thousand years of religious persecution that led
                                                                                                                                    to the Holocaust.
       “Hiding and Seeking” is a moving documentary concerning one Jewish man’s                                                           “Hiding and Seeking” is able to stir one’s own capacity for tolerance and diver-
  search for the Christians in Poland who hid and saved his family during the Nazi                                                  sity. Not all of us believe and worship in the same manner, but a better under-
  occupation. A skeptical Orthodox humanist who is at odds with his two Israeli sons                                                standing of those outside our realm, has the power to create acceptance instead
  over their religious intolerance and narrow-minded approach to life, Menachem                                                     of bias and hate. Fundamentalist intolerance is a dangerous thing, especially in our
  Daum decides to go to this little village in Poland--along with his two sons, wife,                                               world today. The ultimate reunion in finding these people, who are still alive today,
  and video camera--to find those who put their lives on the line to shelter Jews.                                                   is quite moving.
       Daum, who comes from and still lives in Boro Park, Brooklyn, sees the gutted                                                       Extras on the DVD include unanswered questions which came to light after
  Polish synagogue where his family attended service. He constantly states that                                                     the film was made. The trip changed the lives of those who took it, and should
  we cannot hate those of another religion by giving in to extremists. Searching for                                                deeply affect anyone who sees this cinematic document. I’m not one for docu-
  the Catholic farmers who saved his father-in-law and his brothers by hiding them                                                  mentary filmmaking, but this one stands as one of the best I’ve seen. When one
  out for more than two years, he encounters locals who stare at them and laugh.                                                    puts one’s life on the line to protect another, a stranger, not even of the same faith,
  Fearing even his own children have turned their backs on the non-Jewish world,                                                    that person has done a great kindness for humanity.


Karmen Geï
                                                                                                                                                                                              0001                    001
                                                                                            Photo Courtesy of California Newsreel




                                                                                                                                    By: Andrew Johnson                                Extras :                 Movie : 00
                                                                                                                                    Available: Mar. 1 Running time: 86 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Joseph Gaï Ramaka
                                                                                                                                    Cast: Djeïnaba Diop Gaï, Magaye Niang, Stephanie Biddle, Thierno Ndiaye, Dieynaba
                                                                                                                                    Niang, El Hadj Ndiaye, Aïssatou Diop Written by: Joseph Gaï Ramaka from the novel
                                                                                                                                    “Carmen” by Prosper Mérimée Screenplay: Joseph Gaï Ramaka DOP: Bertraud Chatry
                                                                                                                                    Music: Julien Jouga, David Murray, Doudou N’Diaye Rose Language: French and Wolof
                                                                                                                                    with English subtitles Released by: California Newsreel & Kino International
                                                                                                                                    Official site: newsreel.org/films/karmen.htm or kino.com/video

                                                                                                                                    Goree Island. She seduces warden Angelique and escapes into the Dakar
                                                                                                                                    underworld. At a society wedding where she dances, she denounces
                                                                                                                                    the wealthy guests present. This develops into a brawl with the bride.
                                                                                                                                    Carmen is arrested. The groom, a military policeman, is told to take her off
 Djeïnaba Diop Gaï                                                                                                                  to prison. However, she uses her feminine wiles to liberate herself again.
                                                                                                                                    With the aid of her friends, she springs him out of jail and later beds him.
     This is a bold reworking of the opera “Carmen.” It’s from Senegal, and                                                         A femme fatal, Karmen is an independently strong woman who will
 the first musical produced in sub-Saharan Africa. The throbbing carnal                                                              eventually be done in by her manipulative endeavours.
 rhythms of West African dance counterpoint the Senegalese pop music                                                                    The smuggling aspect is brought into play in this rendering of
 and vanguard jazz.                                                                                                                 the “Carmen” tale, quite separate from the Harry Belafonte - Dorothy
     “Karmen Geï”, erotic and defiant, is in jail in a women’s prison on                                                             Dandridge “Carmen Jones.” Important politi- continued on the next page...

                                                                                                                                                                           March 2005 North American Film Review               21
                                                                                        Reviews DVDs
                                        Karmen Geï (continued from the previous page)
                                        cal messages in the struggle between freedom and the forces that sup-                                                International is presenting. Two others in the series of North African
                                        press are woven subtly into the plot.                                                                                Cinema are “Dare Salaam” from Chad and “Guimba, the Tyrant” from
                                            Set in contemporary Senegal, the film is a post-Colonial document,                                                Mali. Needless to say, these motion pictures are for the most discriminat-
                                        interesting in an exotic culture and tradition. On the negative side, it is                                          ing film viewer.
                                        slow-going with no smooth transitions from one segment to the next.                                                      There is an extra commentary included that talks about the film,
                                        The music tends to intrude at times on the pace of the story presented.                                              the direction, the actors, and the story. This one extra (in addition to still
                                            “Karmen Geï” is part of a series of African films on DVD that Kino                                                scenes) is excellently informative.


                                       L’Âge D’O r
                                                                                                                                                             By: Trent Gough                                       Extras :00       Movie : 0001
                                                                  Filmed in black & white in 1930, this French lan-                                          Available: Mar. 1 Running time: 63 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Luis Buñuel
Photo Courtesy of Kino International




                                                                                                                                                             Cast: Starring Gaston Modot, Max Ernst Screenplay: Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí
                                                             guage film (with subtitles) translates as “The Golden                                            DOP: Albert Duverger Music: Luis Bunuel and Georges Van Parys
                                                             Age”, which it certainly was where surrealism is con-                                           Language: French with English subtitles Released by: Kino International
                                                             cerned. “L’Âge D’Or” is maddeningly absurd, and                                                 Official site: kino.com/video
                                                             scandalous in the way of choirboys thumbing their                                               that emerges from a De Sade castle with other men who have been
                                                             noses at the church, while you see the beginnings                                               sexually abusing young girls.
                                                             of themes that Bunuel will return to throughout his                                                  If none of this turns you off, it can be quite amusing in the way of
                                                             career.                                                                                         those who mean to shock you. The film serves “Bunuel and Dali’s anti-
                                                                  The film opens with footage from an earlier docu-                                           artistic impulses” according to Robert Short, the author of “The Age of
                                                             mentary on scorpions, then uses the structure of the                                            Gold: Surrealist Cinema” who provides an accompanying analysis as a
                                        insect to spin its’ tale of humans. The ‘plot’, as such, is virtually indescrib-                                     ‘Special Feature’. The only other features are a Stills Gallery and a listing
                                        able. Though it does have a through-line story of two passionate lovers                                              of Bunuel’s filmography. If you enjoy surrealism, definitely put this one
                                        constantly thwarted by societal conventions, etc. Religion gets its’ due                                             on your list.
                                        with authoritarian figures becoming skeletons, and a Christ-like figure


                                       Lat ter Days
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   0000                     0001
                                                                                                                           Photo Courtesy of TLA Releasing




                                                                                                                                                             By: Andrew Johnson                             Extras :                Movie :
                                                                                                                                                             Available: Mar. 1 Running time: 97 min. MPAA: R Directed by: C. Jay Cox          00
                                                                                                                                                             Cast: Steve Sandvoss, Wes Ramsey, Rebekah Johnson, Amber Benson, Khary Payton,
                                                                                                                                                             Jacqueline Bisset, Erik Palladino, Mary Kay Place Written by: C. Jay Cox DOP: Carl F. Bartels
                                                                                                                                                             Music: Eric Allaman Released by: TLA Releasing Official site: latterdaysmovie.com

                                                                                                                                                             viewer has no idea what will happen from moment to moment.
                                                                                                                                                                  Writer-director C. Jay Fox, now in his forties, was himself a Mormon
                                                                                                                                                             missionary who had tried to repress his homosexuality when he was
                                                                                                                                                             Aaron’s age. After coming out of the closet, he went through a shallow
                                                                                                                                                             period as Christian before casting aside both personas for the person
                                                                                                                                                             he is today. Years ago, he decided to give these two early versions of his
                                                                                                                                                             personality names; he had them meet in print--in a laundromat. It was
                                         Steve Sandvoss and Wes Ramsey
                                                                                                                                                             merely an exercise to hone his writing skills, but he quickly found the char-
                                             Sometimes life is not what it seems. Those who feel they know                                                   acters writing themselves. Eventually, he had an entire script. (The laun-
                                        exactly what to expect and where they stand discover the irony of life’s                                             dromat scene remains.) In an interview that serves as one of the DVD’s
                                        curveballs.                                                                                                          extras, Cox says that he hopes a real, repressed gay kid - just like Aaron -
                                             Aaron is a 19-year-old Mormon missionary sent to California from his                                            living in small town Idaho or somewhere else, sees the movie and realizes
                                        native Idaho to win over souls for the church. He is secure in his faith and,                                        that he, too, can find happiness despite all the lies he has been told.
                                        with a father high placed in the Mormon community at home, has a real                                                     There are many things to like about this production despite its’ many
                                        future ahead. As a missionary, Aaron is not allowed to use his first name,                                            faults. Jacqueline Bisset is perfect as Christian’s boss and confidante, while
                                        watch movies, date, or engage in any sexual activity, and that is fine with                                           Mary Kay Place sparkles as Aaron’s mother. Newcomers Steve Sandvoss
                                        him. Or is it?                                                                                                       and Wes Ramsey are uneven as Aaron and Christian, however, sometimes
                                             Enter Christian, an openly gay party boy only a few years older than                                            giving spot on performances and sometimes struggling to find their char-
                                        Aaron. He lives for each sensual moment and never thinks about the                                                   acters. I understand that this low budget production was filmed in only
                                        future. A fifty dollar bet says that he cannot seduce one of the four young                                           twenty-four days, which might be why the young actors do not always
                                        Mormon missionaries who have just moved into his complex. He sets his                                                deliver. A few scenes are improbable and need rewriting, but on the
                                        sites on Aaron after accidentally discovering Aaron’s secret: While also gay,                                        whole this film, while far from perfect, is well worth the viewing.
                                        Aaron is a virgin doing everything he can to repress his sexuality. What                                                  DVD extras include the aforementioned interview, “Reason Thirteen”
                                        started out as a bet, quickly changes to mutual love and breaking all the                                            (an extremely funny short film by C. Jay Cox), three full music videos of the
                                        rules, as each is drawn into the other’s world—and the consequences                                                  songs Cox wrote for the movie, and movie commentary by Cox, Sandvoss,
                                        for Aaron may well be disastrous. Surprises and twists abound, and the                                               and Ramsey.


                                   22   North American Film Review March 2005
Leave Her to Heaven
                                                                                                                                                                                      001                 000




                                                                               Photo Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
                                                                                                                         By: Trent Gough                                      Extras :             Movie : 00
                                                                                                                         Available: Feb. 22 Running time: 110 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: John M. Stahl
                                                                                                                         Cast: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Darryl Hickman, Chill Wills
                                                                                                                         Written by: Ben Ames Williams (Novel) Screenplay: Jo Swerling DOP: Leon Shamroy
                                                                                                                         Released by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment



                                                                                                                             As soon as they become engaged, her now former fiancé Russell
                                                                                                                         (Vincent Price) arrives and the tension rises. Ellen is jealous of the time
                                                                                                                         Richard spends with his young crippled brother, Danny (Darryl Hickman),
                                                                                                                         jealous of his friendliness with her own half-sister Ruth (Jeanne Crain),
                                                                                                                         and even of his writing.
                                                                                                                             The couple goes up into the mountains to a private house called
                                                                                                                         ‘Back of the Moon’ and Danny comes along, Ruth and their mother visit.
                                                                                                                         Any company makes things worse with Ellen, and a tragedy follows.
                                                                                                                             One of the reasons to see this beautiful restoration is the colour
                                                                                                                         cinematography by Leon Shamroy, for which he won the Oscar, and
                                                                                                                         the gorgeous Oscar-nominated Art Direction/Interior Decoration Gene
                                                                                                                         Tierney, one of the most beautiful actresses to grace the screen, also was
                                                                                                                         Oscar nominated, but her work here is not as grounded as it should have
                                                                                                                         been.
                                                                                                                             Everyone in the movie is beautifully dressed at all times, and it’s
                                                                                                                         somewhat startling to see a man in a canoe wearing a suit, tie, and hat,
                                      Cornel Wilde & Gene Tierney                                                        but there were more formal conventions in the 40’s, and that style is car-
                                                                                                                         ried throughout the film.
     Filmed in 1945 and released in 1946, “Leave Her to Heaven” was                                                          Amongst the extras there is Movietone news footage of the Oscars,
 based on a popular novel of the day, material that has since been co-                                                   and a restoration comparison. Richard Schickel, the film critic, provides
 opted by soap operas. Girl gets boy, girl loses boy, girl will make him pay                                             commentary, not all of it flattering, and Darryl Hickman, who played
 to the bitter end.                                                                                                      Danny and who decades later teaches acting, describes the highs and
     Richard (Cornell Wilde) meets Ellen (Gene Tierney) on a train - a train                                             lows of working with the different Hollywood personalities, and what he
 to make all commuters jealous. Alighting at the same whistle stop in                                                    learned about acting in the process.
 Maine, he meets her family and falls in love with Ellen before he recog-                                                    If you enjoy studio classics of the 40’s, you may want to add this one
 nizes her pathological jealousy. He’s a novelist, and they are charmed by                                               to your collection.
 each other.



Let Joy Reign Supreme                                                      ( “ Q ue La Fête Comme nce ! ” )
                                                                                                                         By: Dixon Trees                                      Extras :00       Movie :0001
                                                                                                                         Available: Mar. 1 Running time: 114 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Bernard Tavernier
      A small funeral on a wind-blown sea coast is happening while a                                                     Cast: Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort, Christine Pascal, Jean-Pierre Marielle
 handsome peasant gives dolls to two sisters who then take him towards                                                   Written by: Bernard Tavernier & Jean Aurenche DOP: Pierre-William Glenn
 their mother. Suddenly, a man on horseback swoops down. Thus begins                                                     Music: Philippe d’Orleans Language: French with English subtitles
                                                                                                                         Released by: Kino International Official site: kino.com/video
 an exhilarating, magnificent camera-tracking chase. It all leads to the
 Marquis de Pontillac (Jean-Pierre Marielle) who is organizing Breton
 into an armed rebellion against Philippe D’Orleans, (Philippe Noiret) the                                               brothel. Of course, he tells Dubois, he “will be gentle”. Pontillac is cap-
 Regent of France, a man known for his excessive hedonism as well as his                                                 tured, and hanged, along with three of his friends, an action which the
 sometimes liberal policies. To raise money for the coffers he’s “recruiting”                                             Regent is unwilling to accept, even though he ordered it.
 people for the onerous – but honourable – task of going to and living in                                                    The acting is terrific: wonderfully sly, intelligent dialogue along with
 the Americas - Louisiana, - which is not something most peasants agree                                                  over-the-top lechery. The locations – Versailles and its gardens, the
 with. His second in command, Abbe Dubois, (Jean Rochefort) is equal to                                                  coast line – add a marvelous realism to counter the abject poverty of
 the regent’s debauchery, and he also organizes all the “fetes”. He wants                                                some with the absolute wealth of others. However, it is the story which
 to be the Archbishop of Paris, not because he is a holy man, or even con-                                               seems to fall apart. At 114 minutes, the film is overlong, and drags. The
 cerned with God, but for the power. It is both a carrot and bargaining                                                  moments between the Regent and Dubois are the most interesting
 stick between both men as they deal with the Marquis’ ludicrous threat                                                  because it’s never really clear what mind games they play on each other.
 of getting Spain involved, which could –actually - have an effect on the                                                 The sex is minimal (considering this is a French film!) and at times, simply
 peasants. As well, the Regent wants to install his young god-daughter                                                   a fun romp. At the point where you expect true redemption, nothing
 who has been sheltered in a convent, in what is currently his mistress’s                                                happens. The film ends. Totally unsatisfying.


                                                                                                                                                               March 2005 North American Film Review             23
                 Reviews DVDs
No End ( “ Be z Konca ” )
                                                                                                                                                                                                  01              000




                                                                                          Photo Courtesy of Kino International
                                                                                                                                    By: Andrew Johnson                                     Extras :        Movie :
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   00
                                                                                                                                    Available: Mar. 1 Running time: 103 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Krzysztof Kieslowski
                                                                                                                                    Cast: Grazyna Szapolowska, Maria Pakulnis, Aleksander Bardini, Jerzy Radziwilowicz,
                                                                                                                                    Artur Barcis, Michal Bajo Written by: Krzysztof Kieslowski & Krzysztof Piesiewicz Music:
                                                                                                                                    Zbigniew Preisner Language: Polish with English subtitles
                                                                                                                                    Released by: Kino International Official site: kino.com/video


                                                                                                                                    woman who needs help for a case concerning her husband, incarcer-
                                                                                                                                    ated for leading a labour strike, appears. (This was before the formation
                                                                                                                                    of the independent trade union “Solidarity.”) Ulla, coping with grief,
                                                                                                                                    nonetheless tries to find another attorney for her.
                                                                                                                                         Ulla’s dead husband appears throughout the film, taking in all that
                                                                                                                                    is transpiring. Going through Antek’s papers, Ulla discovers unknown
                                                                                                                                    things about her husband, including nude photos of her with her face
                                                                                                                                    cut out. The hidden secrets that can come out after a person is gone!
                                                                                                                                    And Ulla thought she knew her husband. But not really.
 Grazyna Szapolowska and Jerzy Radziwilowicz
                                                                                                                                         There are surprises along the way, plus an ending you never imag-
                                                                                                                                    ined. A woman’s loss seems a metaphor for lost ideals in the labour tur-
         Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski is considered by many to be                                                           moil of 1980s Poland; the film itself was made in 1985.
     one of the best directors around. His movies are always politically                                                                 One extra on the DVD has a 1966 Polish short that runs about 5
     entrenched with what was then a socialist Poland with its stifling power.                                                       minutes and was shot in black & white by Kieslowski. Called “Urzad”
     In his film, “No End” (“Bez Konca”), someone states: “The law is too                                                            (“The Office”), it depicts the stifling bureaucratic claptrap citizens are
     demanding on people. It kills what is precious to them.”                                                                       subjected to while waiting in line to get a document authorized or get
         As the film opens, Ulla is mourning her fairly young lawyer husband                                                         funds due them. Other extras include a trailer to the film, written out
     Antek, dead from a sudden heart attack. Their son Jacek, - around six or                                                       interviews, and scene selection … nothing that exciting.
     eight, - misses his father as well and is trying to comfort his mother.                                                             Among the other films of the director available on DVD through
         Antek had been one of the few lawyers willing to take on very                                                              KinoVideo are: “Camera Buff,” “The Scar,” and “Blind Chance.”
     touchy political cases when martial law prevailed and was enforced. A



Secrets & Lies                     Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste                                                        By: Dixon Trees                                                    Movie : 0000
                                                                                                                                    Available: Mar. 1 Running time: 142 min. MPAA: R Directed by: Mike Leigh     00
                                                                                                                                    Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Timothy Spall, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Phyllis Morgan,
                                                                                                                                    Claire Rushbrook Written by: Mike Leigh DOP: Dick Pope, B.S.C. Music: Andrew Dickson
                                                                                          Photo Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox




                                                                                                                                    Released by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

                                                                                                                                         A young and successful optometrist, Hortense Crumbatch (Marianne
                                                                                                                                    Jean-Baptiste – familiar on US TV series, “Without at Trace” and
                                                                                                                                    “Numbers”) has known about her adoption since she was seven, but had
                                                                                                                                    never really considered her true parentage. When her mother dies, she
                                                                                                                                    embarks on a search to find her real mother, - something to be admired
                                                                                                                                    for even risking the consequences.
                                                                                                                                         There is only one problem – she is black but her mother is white.
                                                                                                                                    Tricky situation.
          Either I pressed some wrong buttons or Fox doesn’t trust their prod-                                                           As she goes about her quest, we are introduced to Maurice (Timothy
     uct. Or their viewing public.                                                                                                  Spall) a professional photographer and his compulsive neat-freak wife
          The release of Mike Leigh’s “Secrets & Lies,” the 1996 winner of the                                                      Monica (Phyllis Logan) who are deciding whether or not to hold a 21st
     best Picture and Best Actress at Cannes is remarkable. Remarkable not                                                          birthday party for their niece Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook) and cop-
     because it’s a superbly nuanced and layered film, but because although                                                          ing with their very empty relationship. In another, less highbrow and
     this film is British, with a British cast, there are subtitles in English. I wasn’t                                             expensive part of town, single-mom Cynthia (Brenda Blythen) muddles
     sure whether to laugh or be insulted. Granted, I had to constantly adjust                                                      through her life, working in a factory and trading combative- but equally
     the audio levels, so the captions came in handy, but these were no                                                             concerned -barbs with Roxanne.
     super-thick, incomprehensible accents – as in Ken Loach’s 1990 “Riff-                                                                Attention to detail and courage finally lead Hortense to Cynthia.
     Raff”- where subtitles were needed.                                                                                             Their first encounter is pretty intense and teary to watch. Blythen’s reac-
          I realize it’s probably just “closed captioning” for the deaf, but it was                                                 tions are literally gut-wrenching. However, the mother-daughter bond
     unnerving to hear and read the same thing simultaneously.                                                                      is rekindled. Cynthia takes such pride and pleasure in Hortense that
          As for the movie, the story, the direction, the cast – terrific in every                                                   she invites her –“as my friend” – to Maurice’s barbecue. It will be for the
     way. Excellent, if just a little too long.                                                                                     whole family.


24   North American Film Review March 2005
                                            Cynthia and Maurice are close, he helping her out when possible                                          important women in his life, Maurice finally gives voice to his “secrets
                                        and she yearning for his happiness through having children. Their                                            and lies”. It’s a moment of utter truth for any family.
                                        parents are dead, but the stuff – physical and emotional– still domi-                                              Drama and comedy waltz throughout the film so while there may
                                        nates. Monica and Cynthia aren’t exactly chuffed with each other while                                        be tears, there’ll be a smile.
                                        Maurice is always a peace-maker, at work and at home. However, when                                               As to any special features, forget it. Non-existent except for three
                                        Hortense does come to the party, Cynthia’s guilt, shame and pride finally                                     trailers. No interviews, no bloopers, nothing. Isn’t that why we buy these
                                        break open the secret. Devastated by the reactions of the three most                                         things?



                                       Seventeen Years                                        ( “Guo N ian Hui J ia ” )
                                                                                                                                                     By: Trent Gough                                                       Movie : 0000
                                                                                                                                                     Available: Apr. 5 Running time: 85 min. MPAA: NYR Directed by: Zhang Yuan
Photo Courtesy of Kino International




                                                                                The sole extra on this DVD is a                                      Cast: Bingbing Li, Lin Liu, Yeding Li, Song Liang, Yun Li Written by: Hua Yu, Dai Ning,
                                                                                                                                                     Wen Zhu DOP: Zhang Xighi Music: Zhao Jiping Language: Mandarin with English
                                                                           brief bio of the director, Zhang Yuan,
                                                                                                                                                     Subtitles Released by: Kino International Official site: kino.com/video
                                                                           all that’s needed with this fine drama.
                                                                           At the 56th Venice Film Festival, he                                      know that seventeen years later she will follow the instructions of her
                                                                           was awarded the Best Director prize.                                      prison Captain, Chen Jie.
                                                                           Deceptively simple, “Seventeen Years”                                          Released on a brief furlough for New Years’ Eve to see her parents,
                                                                           is the tale of Tao Lan, who- at sixteen                                   Tao Lan is the only prisoner not met by family members. She just sits in
                                                                           - unintentionally kills her sister and                                    the bus depot until Chen Jie discovers her and insists on taking her to
                                                                           spends seventeen years in jail.                                           her family. The initial difficulties center around finding her parents, who
                                                                                Tao Lan and her sister, Xiaoqin,                                     have been relocated due to what passes for urban renewal, but then
                                                                           don’t get along, only in part because                                     it becomes the reluctance of Tao Lan to face her mother and father.
                                                                           of parental favouritism. When a small                                     Captain Chen Jie prevails, and the real drama takes place between the
                                                                           amount of money goes missing, a furi-                                     family members in their new home.
                                                                           ous family fight spills over, with Tao Lan                                      Sensitively acted and directed (in Mandarin with English subtitles)
                                                                           following her sister down the street                                      “Seventeen Years” (1999) subtly makes its’ points about family ties and
                                                                           until Xiaoqin’s tragic death. We see                                      tragedies, and what can survive.
                                        very little of the prison regimentation that follows, but it’s enough to



                                       When Will I Be Loved
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       001
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        00
                                                                                                                       Photo Courtesy of IFC Films




                                                                                                                                                     By: Andrew Johnson                                                        Movie :
                                                                                                                                                     Available: Jan. 25 Running time: 81 min. MPAA: R Directed by: James Toback
                                                                                                                                                     Cast: Neve Campbell, Dominic Chianese, Fred Weller, James Toback
                                                                                                                                                     Written by: James Toback DOP: Larry McConkey Music: Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, and
                                                                                                                                                     Oli “Power” Grant Released by: MGM Home Entertainment
                                                                                                                                                     pays her a million dollars as “a gift” as he beds her down one particular
                                                                                                                                                     afternoon.
                                                                                                                                                          When Vera’s boyfriend asks her for the money agreed upon - much
                                                                                                                                                     less than the million - she says the count gave her nothing, and thus sets
                                                                                                                                                     in motion an encounter with the three that cannot but lead to a tragic
                                                                                                                                                     end.
                                                                                                                                                          Everyone seems, in one way or another, to be a hustler and con
                                                                                                                                                     artist. Vera is young and desirable, the “poor little rich girl” syndrome,
                                                                                                                                                     spoiled and trying to find herself. She seems to care for no one but her-
                                                                                                                                                     self. She’s also a bit twisted in using her sexual prowess, emerging as a
                                                                                                                                                     black widow with no qualms when destroying mating partners. She’s a
                                        Neve Campbell                                                                                                wheeler-dealer, as are all in the film, since everyone has an angle in busi-
                                                                                                                                                     ness and romance but conscience is never considered.
                                             Sexual desire, money, power, and that one-upsmanship one wants                                               “When Will I Be Loved” is quite a bit talky in a number of sections.
                                        over another can be seen in “When Will I Be Loved,” a provocative erotic                                     The camera is also made to lovingly take in Neve Campbell nude in two
                                        piece set in Manhattan.                                                                                      gratuitous, extended bathing scenes. The musical background does
                                             Neve Campbell plays Vera, an individual capable of pushing the                                          become obtrusive as Vera plays CDs of classical music. In addition, the
                                        envelope. She has family money behind her and possesses a sharp wit                                          original score is “something else.” All in all, this motion picture does hold
                                        and manipulative streak -- and she likes to play mind games. Her boy-                                        interest. As a Toronto Sun critic stated: “If any movie is likely to make you
                                        friend is a low-life hustler who’s arranged to have Count Tomasso Lupo,                                      feel like you needed a shower, it’s this one.”
                                        a wealthy playboy in his late sixties, get together for a one day stand                                           There were no extras or commentary features on the screening disc I
                                        with Vera for a sum that he must have to further his cons. The count                                         received. I don’t know if there are any on the DVD released to the public.

                                                                                                                                                                                            March 2005 North American Film Review              25
                                                                                                                    Inside Look Film Museums
                                                                      Silent Movies and Early Talkies Alive and Well in Brussels
                                                                                                                                                    Brussels, the Belgian and          complex, you are greeted by two colorful kaleidoscopic

                                                                                            By Mark-Ameen Johnson
                                                                                                                                              European capital, is famous for          images and a banner that, I guess, represents an Art
                                                                                                                                              a bizarre array of items, includ-        Nouveau interpretation of movement. A dark maze and
                                                                                                                                              ing gourmet French fries, tributes       another unmarked doorway follow. As this was my first
                                                                                                                                              to saxophones, waffle stands on            time, I feared that I would go the wrong way and acci-
                                                                                                                                              almost every corner, and a gigantic      dentally walk into some startled person’s apartment (as I
                                                                                                                                              Gothic town hall that towers over        did years ago in London).
                                                                                                                                              the city and is often mistaken for a           But then the maze ends, and, like Dorothy stepping
                                                                                                                                              cathedral or a hotel. One treasure       out of black and white confusion, you arrive in a wonder-
                                                                                                                                              for which it ought to be known—a         ful place.
                                                                                                                                              local secret since its founding                When I was in Brussels last December, this wonder-
                                                                                                                                              in 1938—is the Cinemathèque              ful place was showcasing a Frank Capra retrospective, a
                                                                                                                    A                         Royale de Belgique (The Royal            modern Turkish film festival, a celebration of silent film,
                                                                                                                                              Belgian Cinema Museum or                 and a series of special events centered on short Dutch
                                                                                                                        Cinema Archives). Closed during the day, this complex          films of the last few decades. There are always five or
                                                                                                                        of hands-on museum plus two theaters, one for silent           six films a night, most of them vintage but with a few
                                                                                                                        films and one for talkies, stays open late for the after-work   modern ones thrown in for variety. Looking through
Photos courtesy of Mark-Ameen Johnson and The Royal Belgian Museum




                                                                                                                        crowd seven nights a week.                                     my December calendar as I write, I find such deliciously
                                                                                                                             Practically unmarked at 9 rue Baron Horta, an oth-        eclectic choices as The Bride of Frankenstein, The
                                                                                                                        erwise unimpressive pedestrian street just beneath the         Mysterious X (Denmark, 1913), The Waterfall (Turkey,
                                                                                                                        Palais des Beaux-Arts and a few boulevards from the            2002), Glomdalsbruden (Norway, 1925), The Birth of a
                                                                                                                        city center, the Cinema Museum is prime real estate.           Nation (USA, 1915), La Traviata (Italy, 1982), and 2001:
                                                                                                                        Nevertheless, it takes a leap of faith to go through the       A Space Odyssey. Current monthly selections may be
                                                                                                                        narrow front door the first time, as the small sign and         viewed on line at http://www.cinematheque.be/fr/pro-
                                                                                                                        movie listings in French and Flemish (Belgian Dutch) are       gramme/programme.htm. Simply select the day (“jour”)
                                                                                                                        not all that convincing. As soon as you walk into the          that you wish to see by clicking on the date.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   B




                                                                     26   North American Film Review March 2005
              Admission to a film is 2 euros - quite a bargain in         was standing drove under a bridge, knocking him off his
        this otherwise expensive city - at roughly $3.23 Canadian        feet. Ms. Moore, however, had no problem with timing,
        or $2.60 American. Minimalistic and full of yesteryear           and her wonderful comic expressions were priceless. I               C
        charm, the theaters are extraordinarily clean, with no           understand that wide-mouthed shock was one of her
        tacky floors or seats in need of repair. Interestingly, the       trademarks, and I can certainly see why.
        screen in the silent theater is tied to metal rods on all four         In contrast to these small crowds in the silent theater,
        sides via cords looped through rows of holes. Bells signal       approximately 45 people filled the 150 seats in the sound
        the start of each film and, lo and behold, the ticket takers      theater to see a Belgian film from 2003 called Steve +
        actually smile at you as you go in. (O.K., I have just outed     Sky. The spoken language was a dialect of Flemish used
        myself as a jaded New Yorker…)                                   exclusively in working class Ghent; subtitles were in
              The biggest treat during the silent films, however,         French. This somewhat realistic, somewhat purposefully-
        comes from the live piano accompaniment, with period             out-of-sequence, somewhat Kafkaesque-stream-of-con-
        music played masterfully when I was there by a young             sciousness piece highlighted true love between a prosti-
        man of about twenty-five or thirty. At film’s end, I stood         tute and a drug dealer, two people otherwise too soured
        up and applauded him as enthusiastically as I did the            by life to have cared for anything before their chance
        films.                                                            meeting. Simultaneously sweet and bitter, it shows a
              I had the chance to see two silent films and one            side of Belgium most tourists will never encounter and
        contemporary piece at the Cinema Museum during my                boasts very honest performances by young Belgian stars
        stay in Brussels. Twenty people of all ages filled the            Titus De Voogdt and Delfine Bafort.
        thirty seat silent theater on a Thursday evening at 7:00               I made a point of arriving well before the start of
        pm to see Faust, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s 1926 mas-            each film in order to explore the delights of the museum
        terpiece, digitally restored by a joint American, Spanish,       - actually a series of waiting rooms between the two                D
        and Italian team. With masterful performances by Emil            theaters that includes exhibits, a long table of current film
        Jannings and Gösta Ekman, this 118 minute film held us            magazines (some in English) which patrons can peruse,
        in its otherworldly grasp from start to finish. With very         vintage movie photos on display, and a comfortable
        few scenes dated, well crafted smoky, cloudy effects that         waiting area. One evening, I grinned as I heard some
        would later be mirrored in the classic Universal horror          senior citizens exclaim “Look at that!” and “No, was that
        films of the 30s, a full range of Wagnerian scenes fulfilled       really in 1967?” in French. Many college-age students - at
        by the expressive faces and slow, exaggerated move-              least two dressed like vampires - also filled the museum,
        ments of the leads, Faust was years ahead of its time.           and one younger couple - not the vampires - spoke
        Well, almost. The happy ending, with Faust’s erring soul
        saved by an angel, made me cringe, as it flies in the face
                                                                         animatedly in Flemish, held hands, and laughed as they
                                                                         pushed buttons and saw projections more than a cen-
                                                                                                                                             E
        of the masterpieces by Goethe and Marlowe. Despite               tury old. A forty-something man sat at a table reading
        the new ending and all the time spent on the tragic life         a film magazine in English while, in Spanish, having a
        of Faust’s lover, however, Faust was a gem of old-world          conversation about it by cellphone. He kept pointing to
        cinema at its best.                                              and tapping a list in the magazine as if the person on the
              Fewer people showed up for Alfred Santell’s Orchids        other end could see it.
        and Ermine, an American film from 1927 whose Cinema                     Others engaged in the museum’s displays were
        Museum billing translates as “One of the most brilliant          too mesmerized to speak. While the exhibit rooms are
        comedies of the Jazz Age, with Colleen Moore half-bach-          small, they utilize every open space and give a thorough
        elorette half-Cinderella.” Although the film had its charm        documentation of humanity’s attempt to reproduce
        and made me smile over and over, I was not as impressed          motion in art and, later, silent film. The well documented
        with it as I was with Faust. Perhaps I have been spoiled         timeline begins with cave paintings, Greek vases, and the
        by the slapstick timing of Chaplin, the Marx Brothers,           Bayeux tapestries. It continues on to 18th-century magic
        and Laurel and Hardy, but I saw actors wincing before            lanterns, polyscopes, zograscopes, and kaleidoscopes,
        being struck. I was also disappointed by the male star’s         then showcases early photographs and daguerreo-
        too understated reaction when the vehicle on which he            types before moving           continued on the next page...

Captions: [A] The Cinema Museum at 9 rue Baron Horta. As you can see, it is easy to walk by and miss it, as nothing makes it stand
out. [B] Some of the zootropes. [C] Flipbooks like this were already popular children’s toys as early as the 17th-century. There was only
slight variation in each consecutive image, and flipping through them quickly produced an approximation of motion. Actual figures,
such as King Leopold of Belgium (pictured), found their way into such books once still photography came on the scene. The notion of
the flipbook led to Zooscopes and Mutoscopes… And eventually cell images and moving pictures. [D] Some of the hands-on exhib-
its that allow patrons to experience 19th-century approximations of 3D via stereoscopes. [E] Part of an exhibit on 1860s chronopho-
tography, which used a sequence of still photos to demonstrate how moving objects actually moved. This exhibit demonstrates how
researchers discovered that a horse sometimes gallops with only one or two hoofs on the ground at one time.

                                                                                                                                  March 2005 North American Film Review   27
                                         Inside Look Film Museums



                                                     The Royal Belgian Cinema Museum (continued from the previous page)

                                                       onto the science of how things move and how the first           swimming, and entering 19th-century changing tents to
                                                       motion picture pioneers experimented with and finally           don their bathing suits: A wheel of drawn film images (once
                                                       captured that movement through the concept of film              again, cell animation) spins, and the “moving” images are
                                                       cells.                                                         projected from lens to mirror to second lens to second mir-
               A                                             Sadly, signs and exhibits are in French and Flemish
                                                       only, and a small number of the hands-on displays do
                                                                                                                      ror. The latter mirror then superimposes them via projec-
                                                                                                                      tion onto the still beach scene. Two children who tried this
                                                                                           not work. But that         device squealed delight in a language I have yet to identify.
                                                                                           should not stop the              In second place after the Optical Theater, the hand-
                                                                                           true film buff from          crank Mutoscopes brought me back to the era of coin-
                                                                                           seeing, enjoying, and,     operated Mutoscope parlors in large turn-of-the-century
                                                                                           especially, touching.      cities. Each picture is a still black and white photograph on
                                                                                           Besides, the extremely     stiff paper, and, in the same manner as cell animation, each
                                                                                           helpful, courteous, and    varies only slightly from the one before and after. When

                                           B
                                                                                           outright interesting       flipped like a deck of cards as the patron turns the crank,
                                                                                           staff is English-speaking   they create a convincing illusion of movement. A metal
                                                                                           and very proud of the      handle inside the Mutoscope holds the cards in place the
                                                                          museum.                                     way I would hold a paperback if I was flipping through it.
                                                                               Language barriers aside, the                 On an undated Mutoscope, I watched what was obvi-
                                                                          museum offers its patrons the oppor-         ously an early movie plot crammed into the cards. A 1920s
                                                                          tunity to look through 19th-century         couple (judging by their clothing and hair) sat in an office,
                                                                          3D glasses, binoculars, stereoscopes,       the beautiful young woman taking dictation from the hand-
                                  C                                       and an array of other objects to see
                                                                          Viewmaster-quality 3D images of,
                                                                                                                      some young man. Out of nowhere, the woman suddenly
                                                                                                                      stood up, walked to the man’s desk, and sat seductively on
                                                                          among other things, Osaka, Japan, a         it. (“Where’s the motivation?” screamed the theater lover in
                                                 group of people looking at museum exhibits, and a topless,           me.) Pleased, the young man bent over to kiss her, and she
                                                 well-endowed Parisian woman who, we must surmise, died               willingly accepted his embrace. The kiss over, the young
                                                 over a hundred years ago. So loved were these 3D images              woman slapped his face and laughed at him. “The End”
                                                 that they became desired possessions among period bour-              flashed across the screen.
                                                 geois families. Well, maybe not the photo of the Parisian                  I also saw an even naughtier Mutoscope ‘film’ about
                                                 woman…                                                               a 1920s flapper who caught the end of her dress on a nail
                                                        Nearby, the giant spinning zootropes, into which one          and then spun around and around so her clothing would
                                                 can peer while standing, are a similar delight. Cell animation       unwind. (Motivation?) Although she was never naked, one
                                                 images, with slight variation from figure to figure, appear in         nipple showed clearly through her light undergarments.
                                                 a row inside a wheel or cylinder. When spun and viewed                     An 1895 Dickson-Casler Mutoscope gave me the
                                                 through slats, they create the illusion of movement in the           opportunity to see the Official Motion Pictures of the
                                                 same manner that modern video does today.                            World’s Heavyweight Championship between Joe Louis and
                                                        In the 1880s, Emile Reynaud improved on this tech-            Max Schmeling. There was also a Mutoscope Western with
                                                 nique by using small mirrors instead of slats for better visual      a cowboy who made amazing (anatomically impossible)
                                                 results and optical balance. By far, the most wonderful              leaps down to a wagon and rescued its driver from tum-
                                                 machine in the Cinema Museum is a reconstruction of a                bling down a mountainside along with her cargo.
                                                 Reynaud Optical Theater from 1888, a device that gave 19th-                These are but a few of the “oohs and ahs” waiting for
                                                 century viewers an approximation of people moving about              you should you find yourself in Brussels with a few evenings
                                                 on a beach. At the touch of a button, a mounted lens proj-           free. It is also a reason to visit the city. The Cinema Museum
                                                 ects a still image of a local beach scene onto a large screen.       is proof that, in this age of high definition DVDs viewed at
                                                 A series of interconnected lenses above and beneath the              home, the thrill, glamour, and majesty of the shared motion
                                                 still one project a cartoon image of two bathers walking,            picture experience will never be lost.



     Captions: [A] The recreation of Reynaud’s Optical Theater. [B] Some of the zootropes described in this article. [C] Flipbooks like this were already popular children’s
     toys as early as the 17th-century. There was only slight variation in each consecutive image, and flipping through them quickly produced an approximation of motion.


28   North American Film Review March 2005
                                                                                        Reviews Books




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Photo Credit: Daniel Newman
                                                                                                                                            Auditorium from stage, Music Box Theatre (Chicago, Ill.)


                                   “Cinema Treasures – A New Look At Classic Movie Theatres”
                                                                                                                                                                                 Reviewed by Trent Gough
                                                                                                       A Book by Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs • Published by MBI Publishing Company • $40.00 US, $51.95 CAN

                                         A 208-page ‘coffee-table’ book well worth reading if you care at all about your     adding movies. In the “Birth of the Palaces, 1913-1919”, Roxy has really taken over
                                   surroundings when you attend the cinema – and want to compare them with the              as the major showman of the day. One example would be the 2,000-seat Regent
                                   movie palaces of yore. This book may make you wish for a time machine to revisit         at 116th Street and Seventh Avenue, where he put an orchestra on-stage play-
                                   the grandeur of the past; failing that, this is a good tome to curl up with and fan-     ing high-class music. He next moved up to the 3,500-seat Strand at 47th Street
                                   tasy visit the past.                                                                     and Broadway. After he took over Samuel Goldwyn’s Capitol Theatre in 1920, he
                                         The ‘chapters’ of the book are nine in number, based on decades or less of         started a new trend by adding a stage prologue “in which a scene or theme was
                                   theatre structure and restructuring. The first act is “Five and Dime, 1904-1912”, and     acted out, often in relation to the film to follow.” Try that with “The Matrix”! (Roxy
                                   it closes with “Re-screening America, 1995-2004.” In between there are plentiful         by the way, only ever built one theatre with his own name, a 5,920-seat behemoth
                                   photographs in both black and white, and colour, and footnotes with an acknowl-          in New York that rivaled
                                   edgment section. Also there’s a useful “English Language Resources” page, so if          Radio City Music Hall in
                                   the research bug has bitten you it’s possible to find other books, Regional Surveys,      size, although we’ve all
                                   Individual Theatres/Chains, and Websites to dig deeper.                                  been to a ‘Roxy’ some-
                                         I was unaware until I entered the “Five and Dime” section that some of the         where).
                                   early nickelodeon cinemas were airdromes, with an absence of permanent dome                    Interspersed
                                   or roof. They also existed in colder climates, where because of the lack of air con-     between the chapters
                                   ditioning at the time, they may have been the only theatres open in the dog days         are ‘biographies’ of cin-
                                   of summer.                                                                               emas throughout North                                                                      Photo Credit: Watts Theatre Collection
                                          One of the early builders of the grander theatres was Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel      America, some no longer
                                   (Rothapfel until 1920) who started with his 250-seat Family Theatre in Forest City,      in existence, others saved
                                   Pennsylvania and turned to resurrecting the Keith chain of vaudeville houses by          by local historical societ-
                                                                                                                            ies. They are beautifully
Photo Credit: Daniel Newman




                                                                                                                            illustrated with colour
                                                                                                                            photos, so much so that              Auditorium, circa 1950, Watts Theatre (Osage, Iowa)
                                                                                                                            it may turn you off the final
                                                                                                                            chapter’s report on the largely characterless multiplexes of the current decade.
                                                                                                                            Never mind, there’s a lot to glory in here; you may even want to have a magnifying
                                                                                                                            glass handy for obscure detail in some of the early black and white shots, although
                                                                                                                            the pictures are quite clear. This photo history may make you wish that - as Marcus
                                                                                                                            Loew said, “We sell tickets to theaters, not movies”- were still true.
                                                                                                                                  A great gift. If you can’t get anyone to buy it for you, treat yourself.
                              Box office, Music Box Theatre (Chicago, Ill.)
                                                                                                                                                                March 2005 North American Film Review           29
                                                        Inside Play

                                                                         Scene it?: The DVD Game Turner Classic Movies Edition
                                                                           Reviewed by Dixon Trees
of SceneIt?
   Photo Courtesy




                                                                             I sat down with a bowl of popcorn and a         ??? Guess the Actual Dialogue
                                                                             roomful of friends for a peek at “SCENE IT?.”   You get to play director by choosing the most powerful bit of dia-
                                                                           Finally a game for those who like to talk         logue. This is especially fun and educational for would-be screen-
                                                                     while watching the movies!                              writers.
                                                                     I really appreciated having a video tutorial. One       My Play - You watched the clip. Now let’s see if you were paying
                                                                  of the little annoyances of getting a new game             attention. What colour was John Wayne’s hat in Rio Bravo? On
                                                                  is learning to play it. Usually one sorry soul is the      which side was Faye Dunaway’s hair parted in Bonnie and Clyde?
                                                                  designated reader of instructions and must inter-          I loved the game because I love movies. However, I noticed a couple
                                                                pret these for the rest of the group, and ultimately         of burnt kernels at the bottom of this bag of popcorn.
                                                   take any flack for misunderstanding the rules. But with “SCENE             On the minor side, I wasn’t clear how to exit the game. As far as I
                                             IT?” everyone can watch the instructions together and nobody has to             could tell there was no “Fade to Black” button. I ended up opening
                                             act as coach and referee.                                                       the DVD to escape “SCENE IT’s” Tinsel Town.
                                             Having the flexibility to adjust the length of the game is also help-            The music in between plays was also rather irritating. And you can’t
                                             ful thanks to the adaptable game board. The small pewter game                   turn it down because it will affect whether or not you can hear the
                                             pieces cleverly pay homage to four of the greatest movies ever: the             next clip.
                                             Maltese falcon statue, a miniature King Kong, Dorothy’s shoes, and              I would say it’s the perfect family game for an older crowd. The
                                             the Rosebud sled from Citizen Kane.                                             game is rated 13 to adult. Not that the content is racy, it’s just that
                                             The Party Play option makes it easy when you are playing with a                 anyone under a certain age may not have yet seen most of the
                                             group. The game spins forward, running through 25 clips and ques-               movies featured. Although in time, everyone should make a point
                                             tions, one after another. If you have a tie--- you can break it in one of       of viewing these landmark titles. While playing, I made a little list
                                             various ways using the Tie Breaker option. I was lucky that my birth-           to myself of movies to check out and watch. I’m really going to be
                                             day was closest to that of Bob Hope’s (May 29). Us Gemini’s have got            ready for upcoming games. It’s a bit like memorizing all those two
                                             to stick together.                                                              letter words in preparation for a Scrabble triumph. The next time I
                                             A nice feature was the ability to shorten or lengthen the response              play “SCENE IT” I’m going to win like Gunga Din.
                                             time to questions. You can change the pace of the game depending
                                                                                                                             Addendum:
                                             on how much wine you’re having with your nibs and cracker jacks.
                                             The game draws from your knowledge of movie trivia and tests                    As well as this one, I also played the James Bond version, which
                                             your powers of observation. The game challenges are presented in                actually proved a lot harder. I’m not the expert I thought: I was quite
                                             several different ways, including hundreds of visual clips and written           “shaken not stirred”, but my friends easily took over and enjoyed shar-
                                             trivia cards. Biz cards work to set you or the other players spinning           ing their copious trivia.
                                             backwards.                                                                      Voted “2005 Game of the Year”, at this year’s annual Toy Fair in New
                                             Among some of the types of challenges were Distorted Reality,                   York, the BIG news of course revolves around the next versions/
                                             Spellbinders, Invisibles, Rising Stars, Sound clips (identify the name of       themes.
                                             the movie by the voice clip), Negatives (a still photo is slowly devel-         For the “princes and princesses” the DELUXE DISNEY EDITION (an
                                             oped), Visual Puzzlers (four jigsaw puzzle pictures help you identify a         obvious follow-up to the first DISNEY EDITION) will keep those wishes
                                             movie), Untitled (a movie poster is slowly put together while you try           and dreams in prime fairy dust.
                                             to think of the name), Translations (movie posters are presented in             Scene It? SQUABBLE pits men and women against each other as they
                                             another language) and My Play.                                                  try to prove who is really on top of life, love, movies, television, sports
                                             Distorted Reality – at first you see a flurry of bits like a scattered            and pop culture. It’s a way of finding out how discerning each sex is:
                                             image. Coloured fragments float and then slowly fall into place like             for men, a question like “what brand of nail polish has colours called
                                             a jigsaw puzzle. A picture forms and you can start to make out the              “A Little Nookie”? Or, for women, “if he asks you to help find his “Big
                                             distinctive features of screen icons. (I.e. Gary Cooper squinting under         Bertha” what has he misplaced? Somehow, I think this could be a
                                             a helmet in Sergeant York.)                                                     tricky date-game!
                                             Spellbinders – letters start to appear and you begin to guess the               Scene It? TV edition – all the TV shows we (50s, 60s,70s,80s etc)
                                             movie title.                                                                    laughed at, loved or drooled over - to all that “Miami Vice” stuff!
                                             Invisibles – This challenge uses stills of movies. It’s a little bit creepy.    Last but certainly NOT least – Scene It? HARRY POTTER edition, which
                                             You have to try to put a name to the headless bodies of actors.                 will include some scenes from the fourth film –“Harry Potter and the
                                             Wardrobe and the background provide the only clues.                             Goblet of Fire” Here you get to test your wizarding skills and spells
                                             Rising Stars - This is where you can see movie stars in their yearbook          and your quidditch, running around the room to answer questions.
                                             photos. Even as soft-faced high school student, Clint Eastwood had              These should take care of any more long, cold, boring nights for the
                                             the unmistakable hard glint of “Dirty Harry” in his eyes.                       next few years!!!




30                  North American Film Review March 2005
Photo Courtesy of The Wild Divine Project




                                                                                          The Journey to Wild Divine from The Wild Divine Project
                                                                                          Reviewed by Trent Gough


                                                                                          A product of The Wild Divine Project, “The Journey          The scenery seems to be influenced by Shangri-la, and tasks per-
                                                                                               to Wild Divine” will not be considered a game by       formed along the way include inhaling and exhaling in a way that
                                                                                                 many, as it is essentially a bio-feedback tool to    will keep juggling balls in the air, a large pinwheel spinning etc. The
                                                                                                 aid you in centering yourself and all the other      music that accompanies these tasks has an almost hypnotic effect,
                                                                                               good things biofeedback is known for. Why are we       and you can quickly get into the intended relaxed state and enjoy the
                                                                                              reviewing it here? Well, they were almost at CES,       varying levels within the game.
                                                                                            (which is how we heard of them), they might have          The project lists some of the 150 conditions for which the Association
                                                                            been at Toy Fair (if so we missed them), but when you see as many         of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback recommend bio-
                                                                            movies and cover as many trade shows as we do, anything that can          feedback treatment, including stress, headaches, asthma, insomnia,
                                                                            aid relaxation is a big plus. We guess you can probably use it too.       high blood pressure, A.D.D. etc. As a therapeutic tool this game is
                                                                            You load the software onto your Mac (G3 and OS 10.1 or higher) or         claimed to be in use at the Denver Children’s Hospital for migraines in
                                                                            PC (Intel Pentium III Processor, Windows 98 SE or higher) and attach      teens, at New York University for pain management, and at the Peace
                                                                            the Light Stone via the USB port, then place your middle three fingers     Health Regional Medical Center to treat post-traumatic syndrome in
                                                                            into the three biofeedback finger sensors on the interface, and you        pregnant women, as some examples.
                                                                            are ready to go. Your computer screen will register your heartbeat        Even for the small amount of time I’ve had to put into it, I’ve found
                                                                            and other functions, and a guide will appear on screen to taking you      “The Journey to Wild Divine” worthwhile, and I expect to continue to
                                                                            through the breathing exercises. The graphics are quite beautiful,        work my way through the various stages to see what health improve-
                                                                            and music relaxing. (An over-stressed friend tried it: in less than ten   ments I can accomplish. It’s available for $159.95 U.S., and you can
                                                                            minutes it relaxed her to the degree she was ready to nod off ).           learn more at wilddivine.com.




                                                                                                                                                                      Photo Courtesy of Sony Online Entertainment
                                            Everquest II from Sony Online Entertainment
                                            Reviewed by R. Allen Leider
                                            As soon as you hold the large silver box that Everquest II comes in you know        minutes to download game files. You
                                            you’ve undertaken a major commitment. It’s the size of a large hardcover            now set up an account, subscription
                                            book and weighs several pounds. Inside are goodies galore. A small black            and parental controls, if needed.
                                            velvet bag with a limited edition minted Everquest coin, a fabric map that          One begins playing by waiting for
                                            feels and smells like a hand painted document, a glossy poster, a printed map       as much as 45 minutes while the
                                            of Norath needed to navigate the territory that the game is played in. There’s      game’s updated components down-
                                            also a wealth of promotional material for Nvidia graphics cards, Kingston           load. Eventually, you either pick a
                                            memory player guide books and game upgrades. There’s a gorgeous paper-              character from a limited collection or
                                            back book of very fine art illustrations of the characters and creatures you will    if you have the extras, you can begin
                                            meet in Norath, too.                                                                creating a character, customized from a library of stock creatures and endow
                                            Ultimately you find the quarter in the thick paperback book that is the              him or her with various possessions, armaments and powers. The character is
                                            instructions for the game. This takes a day or two to absorb. Then there is         also allied with a community or guild. Once the player has established them-
                                            the payoff, a one inch thick album containing four CD’s. One is a soundtrack         selves as a virtual being in the world of Norath, you can get assignments and
                                            to the game; one is a disk of extras and bonuses. The remaining two are the         achieve goals and move forward in your guild or group.
                                            game disks.                                                                         Norath is discovered to be a divided world. Qeynos is a kingdom founded on
                                            The game is flexible and expansive as the various buildings and areas of             the principals of order and valour and the citizens there seek to restore pros-
                                            Norath are programmed into giant servers with terabytes of information              perity to Norath. Freeport is ruled by the will of the Overlord Lucan D’Lere
                                            that provide the high res graphical virtual world. Every so often a new area        who is a merciless despot. Therein lies the conflict of the game. The graphics
                                            is added as programmers labor over new scripts and concepts for the game.           are splendid and the characters move swiftly and believably in the settings
                                            New weapons and characters are also appearing on a regular basis.                   which seem to be endless due to the immense capacity of the servers.
                                            Installing the game is easy and requires a valid credit card which will be billed   However, I found that this is a very complex gaming situation and if you are
                                            about fifteen dollars a month to play, depending on the additional options           not good at tracking details, multitasking, remembering what buttons do
                                            you choose. System requirements are somewhat more empirical. SONY likes             what and such, go play Tetris or Pong! There is a very detailed User Interface
                                            Nvidia cards, but any good card will work. One GB of memory is also recom-          with many ways of looking at the action, moving, swimming, jumping, etc.
                                            mended to hold the immense files needed for swift motion and sharp ren-              and you have to remember all of it to really play at efficient levels. You also
                                            dering. Windows XP is a must as is a Pentium 3 or higher processor. Of course,      have to master buying, selling and trading stuff with other players, whom you
                                            the faster your Internet connection, the better.                                    also have to remember who is who. It’s easier to be Bar Mitzvahed than learn
                                            You will have to turn off your anti-virus software and the firewall during instal-    this in less than a week or so and while the play is overwhelming, fascinating
                                            lation which takes about five to fifteen minutes, so just trust the Sony serv-        and addictive, the real fun, I surmise, is had by the guys in the back room who
                                            ers and lean back for a while. Then, you start the game and about ten more          write the scenarios and program these games.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    March 2005 North American Film Review   31
  25 Degrees in
     Winter




 In Casablanca
Angels Don’t Fly




In the Battlefields




  Eros Therapy            CIN            éFRANCO          2005
                          8 th Annual Celebration of International Francophone Cinema
                                 More than 50 films from around the world

 Loser Takes All
                                          April 1st – April 10
                      This is your chance to see…         Tickets on sale March 18 – April 10
                                                          $10 single ticket
                      Gems, rarely shown in               $7 students and seniors
                      North America                       $8 per ticket for 4 or more titles
                                                          purchased together
  Quand la mer        All films subtitled in English      Tickets on line or at Box Office
     monte

                      www.cinefranco.com                   Box Office 416.967.1528
                                  Royal Cinema, 608 College Street, Toronto Canada
                                                 Info 416.928.6595

Private Madness

				
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