Volume 2 • Issue 1 • March 2005
$3.95 U.S. • $4.95 CAN
Scene It? TCM Edition p.30
The Journey to Wild Divine p.31
Everquest II p.31
Cinema Treasures p.29
Rendez-Vous with Festival Coverage
French Cinema p.04
Cinéfranco Preview p.04
IMAX 3D Tomorrow p.07 stars in
The Royal Belgian
Cinema Museum In Brussels p.26
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
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
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
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
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
Deputy Editor Dixon Trees
Art Director Xavier Ramirez
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
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
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.
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...
Trent Gough n a f i l m r ev i ew. c o m
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.
“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
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
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’
“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
“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
“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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Tell Them Who You Are
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
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
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
The D eser ted Station ( “ Istgah - Matrouk ” )
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
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 ” )
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-
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
D ownfall ( “ D er Untergang ” )
By: Trent Gough 00000
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.
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
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
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” )
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
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.
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
Ror y O’ Shea Was Here
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.
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?
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
A Let ter to Three Wives
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
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
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
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
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
Photo Courtesy of Kino International
By: Trent Gough Extras : Movie :
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
No End ( “ Be z Konca ” )
Photo Courtesy of Kino International
By: Andrew Johnson Extras : Movie :
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.
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
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
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
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.
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-
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
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
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
Scene it?: The DVD Game Turner Classic Movies Edition
Reviewed by Dixon Trees
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
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
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
Quand la mer All films subtitled in English Tickets on line or at Box Office
www.cinefranco.com Box Office 416.967.1528
Royal Cinema, 608 College Street, Toronto Canada