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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Rocky Balboa - /* Yo, Adrian... we did it */

this review will endeavour to not spoil the ending of the movie

That the Rocky franchise could resurrect itself from the dead is no small miracle. In fact it is a wonderful achievement.

Thank god for TVO showing the original Rocky on its Saturdan Night at the Movies which is all you essentially need to achieve any connection with Rocky Balboa thirty years after his inception. And the connection is sealed with the blare of the trumpets in the introductory Bill Conti music of the credits.

Rocky is living a comfortable if moderate life running a small Italian family restaurant in southside Philadelphia. He runs the place, greeting his guests, telling the old stories if they wish. But an emptiness is within him - one last thing undone, and one memory that lingers always.

On the anniversary, the remaining members of the Rocky gang - Rocky and Paulie take their walk through the old neighbourhood. "When you stay too long in one place, you become the place."

However, it is Little Marie back from the early days of childhood who helps keep the spirit of Adrian present with little reminders and photographs on the night of the last fight.

/* Yo Adrian... we did it /*

The Good Shepherd - trust no one - there's no "the" in front of God

Bonesmen first god second

to be continued

Night at the Museum - why are you hitting the monkey ?

Fun? wow!

There's nothing better at Christmas than the feeling you are a hero in your son's eyes.

to be continued

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas - recommendations for the holiday

A story of eternal love, The Fountain Hugh Jackman is everywhere but The Fountain [and The Prestige] are the most memorable performances and within this Daron Aranofsky follow-up to Requiem for a Dream Jackman and Rachel Weisz [Aronofsky's wife] should be worthy of an Oscar consideration. "Death is the road to awe" in this Garden of Eden love saga for the ages - The Fountain is a story within a story. With many Canadian production credits, and bathed in golden hues, the movie is beautiful with a meditative score performed by the Kronos Quartet.
"Together we will live forever."

The History Boys put a new spin on learning and growing up in middle school in England 1983 as the boys prepare for their final entrance exam to Oxford and Cambridge. The music of New Order, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, is the soundtrack of your life but Bewitched Bewildered and Bothered you will be after watching this movie with all the timing and presentation of the Tony Award play come to life on the screen. Smart without being smarmy but a few hidden jewels within.

And the allegorical yet hopeful Red Riding Hood Grimm fairy tale come to life Pan's Labyrnth trying to put the painful memories of Franco Spain to rest once and for all opens Christmas Day.

Of course we will always recommend the Dixie Chicks in Shut Up and Sing.
how will I get to heaven now?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Queen - Helen Mirren's command performance in line for Academy Award ? /* what a family ! */

Ten years after the tragedy and the recent release of the report, The Queen is worth the gander.

From imperious heights, the Queen and HRH look down upon the public outpouring of grief with a degree of detachment.

Surely there is a disconnect between the public perception and this person they lived with day in day out during the marriage which was abdicated by her.
This personage is never embodied within The Queen but her presence dominates the movie. Of course the reference is to Princess Di. After eighteen years of Tory rule, the Labor Party swept into power promising reform and modernization. Surely two factors that would not deign to enter into the world of the HRH.

It is the year of 1997 and the bloom has faded off the rose of the Royal Marriage between Charles and the Lady Di. The Queen - even after the crash - maintains the quiet dignity and inner fortitude that is expected by her and of her. So the public and the newspapers blare out headlines demanding some form of Royal statement or expression of grief - but none is forthcoming. There is a major disconnect between the public perception of the Princess and this person the royal highnesses lived with day in and day out. Dignity and expectation are the watchwords.
The timing of the crash would be the first major problem for the Labour Prime Minister to deal with and helped galvanize his popularity with the public as the HRH's themselves sequestered themselves at their retreat at Balmoral in Scotland to shelter the two sons and future heirs from the lamented fairy tale marriage between Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales. It was in the Blair speech crafted by his circle who in a stroke of public relations genius dubbed her the "People's Princess". The Queen highlights that crucial week between the crash and the funeral and details the contretemps between the two levels of power as they vie for control in their own spheres of influence.
As the HRH's watch on the telly the outpouring of grief and the continuous footage of the Princess in her world of fashion mavens and divas and charitable works, they seem to treat the events more in scorn as the newspapers and the people blare out in their headlines for a Royal reaction. Even something that seems so obvious as lowering the flag at half mast over Buckingham Palace is couched in royal tradition and protocol. The lowering of the flag is only meant to show that the HRH were not within Buckingham Palace, a practice that goes back 400 years.
As the Blair people attempt to find about details about the funeral, they are told that the funeral arrangments are up to the Spencer family. Blair becomes more and more exasperated with the Royal Family as they remain in seclusion out of London and out of touch with their subjects.
Trying to save them from themselves is a monumental task which is broached by the HRH press secretary and Blair. In the course of the week, he comes to understand their position and starts to admire the Queen's - a girl from a different age who was grown and thrust into the role at a young age and has lived through war and given advice to ten Prime Ministers - seen her father assassinated by a bomb - and whence of her is expected quiet dignity and service to her people first and self secondary.
Helen Mirren perfectly encapsulates HM Queen Elizabeth II in very human terms - behind the closed doors she is a real person, never frumpy but who carries her power well, who is comfortable wearing practical clothes and boots, driving her land rover over the roads at Balmoral, at ease with the outdoors and the nature of the hunt and stalk of game with guns, never showing her real grief but once, but at the proper occasion she is The Queen and deserving of all Academy Award and Golden Globe nods.
Surrounding Mirren and Her Majesty is James Cromwell as her husband, Prince Philip, the perfunctory Earl of Mountbatten, Alex Jennings who is a callow and simpering Prince Charles, Sylvia Sims [ who herself portrayed Margaret Thatcher for television], the Queen Mother who the Queen calls "Mummy", and Roger Allam [ great as Louis Prothero, the Voice of London in V for Vendetta ] who plays HM's press secretary Robin Janvrin in his dignified way tries to protect the Queen's outlook to the world.
On the other side there is Michael Sheen [ formerly engaged to Kate Beckinsale and played Lucian in Underworld ] who is Tony Blair to the last detail and equally merited of any leading actor considerations. By the end of the week and months afterwards there is a grudging admiration between HM and Blair and the hints of the modernization to come.