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Showing posts from January, 2009

War (2007)

Saturday, January 31, 2009 War. Feature film. (2007, 103 mins) IMDB...A silly, unbelievable plot strung together so we get action sequences and lots of people dying.... Bad acting. Bad dialogue. A silly and incomprehensible plot. Yet another action flick. Some action flicks work for the most part because we identify with the main characters and watch as they go about their business, but in this film it isn't clear who is doing what or why. Apparently there's two rival gangs in San Fran except, we never get to identify with any of them--they simply blur into a mess of Asian characters. There is one exception. From beginning to end we know Jason Stratham even if his actions are ridiculous. This film is billed as an action film, but the action is the same old. There is nothing new or interesting. I am not even going to try to explain the plot but it's one thing on paper and completely incomprehensible in the film. It's there just to string together a bunch of acti…

In This Our Life (1942)

Saturday, January 31, 2009 In This Our Life. Feature film. (1942, 97 mins) IMDB...At least it's not another war propaganda film.... Pay close attention to the first twenty minutes because we meet a lot of characters and there are many things going on. We meet Asa Timberlake--a father of two grown daughters, a husband and one-time partner with William Fitzroy, his brother-in-law, in a tobacco company. Timberlake has lost his stake in the company and family mansion. It happens so fast you'd easily miss it. One of his daughter is Roy. She's beautiful and charming and married to Pete. She just wants to move out of the house and have her own family. The other daughter is Stanley. (What's with the men names for women?). She's engaged to Craig but has her eyes on her brother-in-law. She's irresponsible and perhaps a little deranged. Manic depressive in the modern vernacular. Pete is a surgeon at the local hospital. Craig is a lawyer with clients who are the d…

Movies Watched in January 2009

Movies Watched in January 20091. 2009/01/01 You Only Live Twice. James Bond. (1967, 117 mins.) NR
2. 2009/01/01 Thunderball. James Bond. (1965, 130 mins.) NR
3. 2009/01/01 Goldfinger. James Bond. (1964, 110 mins.) NR
4. 2009/01/01 From Russia with Love. James Bond. (1963, 115 mins.) NR
5. 2009/01/01 Dr. No. James Bond. (1962, 110 mins.) NR
6. 2009/01/02 The Man With A Golden Gun. James Bond. (1974, 125 mins.) NR
7. 2009/01/02 Live and Let Die. James Bond. (1973, 121 mins.) NR
8. 2009/01/02 Diamonds Are Forever. James Bond. (1971, 120 mins.) NR
9. 2009/01/03 Martian Child. Drama. (2007, 106 mins.) **
10. 2009/01/04 The Waiting Time. Thriller. (1999, 148 mins.) NR
11. 2009/01/05 The Neighbor. Romantic Comedy. (2007, 98 mins.) NR
12. 2009/01/06 Blue State. Romantic Comedy. (2007, 93 mins.) NR
13. 2009/01/07 Definitely, Maybe. Romantic Comedy. (2008, 106 mins.) NR
14. 2009/01/08 Definitely, Maybe. Romantic Comedy. (2008, 106 mins.) NR
15. 2009/01/09 Breaking and Entering. Drama. (2006, 12…

Talk To Me (2007)

Friday, January 30, 2009 Talk To Me. Feature film. (2007, 118 mins) IMDB...The world's first shock jock.... You could do worse than studying this film. There is a classical structure. There are interesting characters. A story arc. Laughs and struggles and an absolute teary moment or two. TALK TO ME is a biopic of Ralph Emerson "Petey" Greene--a smooth, fast talking black man from Washington, DC. We meet him in jail where he's doing time for minor crimes. He talks to his fellow prisoners as a DJ. He spins records and talks and talks. He's part preacher, truth teller, and a foreshadow of rap music. We know he wants to get out, who wouldn't, but to what end? To the same dirty streets of crime and poverty? No, he wants something more. More for himself and his people. While in prison he meets Dewey Hughes who works as the program director a local R&B radio station. When Petey leaves prison, he's off to the radio station to get his job as a DJ…

Watch On The Rhine (1941)

Friday, January 30, 2009 Watch On The Rhine. Feature film. (1943, 114 mins) IMDB...Another war propaganda movie... Another war propaganda war film. In this one, Davis is the wife and mother to a German resistance fighter. She and her family escape a Europe-in-war and end up in her family home near Washington, D.C. Act I is about the family travelling from Europe through Mexico back to her family home. It's also about the folks living there: her mother, servants, and guests. In particular a certain Count from Romania who as sympathies with the Nazi. In Act II, these forces meet as the Count wants to sell what he knows about the Davis's husband to the Germans who still have an embassy in the US. In the end, right triumphs over evil. I didn't find this movie the least bit interesting or believable. Posted 2009/01/30 at 19h26ET in Movie Commentary.

Fever Pitch (1997)

Thursday, January 29, 2009 Fever Pitch. Feature film. (1997, 103 mins) IMDB...A different sort of romantic comedy... What is more interesting, the obsession a man has for an English football team or the romance between him and a fellow teacher? Colin Firth plays an English teacher in a high school somewhere in England. He's a life-long supporter of a football team that seems to disappoint its fans year after year. He coaches the school football team. He's rough around the edges, a bit of a carefree bachelor, but not a cad and his students love him. At the start of a new school year, Ms. Hughes joins the school as a history teacher. Her classroom is right next to his. She's a by-the-books type of person. Strict. Severe. Limited interests. When they meet, it's love at first sight, but neither wants to admit it. There's foreplay. There's backstory. There's dates and moments in bed, and of course there's his obsession with the football team. He …

Since You Went Away (1944)

Thursday, January 29, 2009 Since You Went Away. Feature film. (1944, 177 mins) IMDB...War propaganda ... It's 1943. WWII is raging all through the world and, finally, the US has got involved. Hollywood did its part. It made films about the war effort and this is one of them. It's a war propaganda film. The message is political: do your part. Sacrifice. Volunteer. Buy War Bonds. Whatever it takes. From start to finish the film is filled with this message. (You could fill pages with examples). It ridicules people who are above making an effort (e.g., a scene on a train). You would think such a film would be tiresome and boring and preachy but it isn't. Go figure. GREEN BERET, a John Wayne war-propaganda film about Vietnam was exactly that and I don't think the nature of each war was the difference. While all that preaching is going on we see different love stories--a wife whose husband leaves to be in the Army, a grandfather whose grandson leaves, a young…

Traitor (2008)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 Traitor. Feature film. (2008, 114 mins) IMDB...It isn't as hard to be tough on a move as I thought... When I saw Don Cheadle starred in this film, I figured it would be a good film to watch. At least it won't be bad, but I was wrong. Even stars of quality make duds. So why is it a dud? In short, this movie is entirely predictable. Nothing comes as a surprise. Further, the locations and characters etc. are all predictable. We've seen it before. There's nothing new in this film. Nothing. And because there is nothing new, it's boring. A bad movie. It's derivative. It's a TV movie masquerading as a feature film. We meet a young boy in Sudan. He's saying his prayers (Islamic style) and playing chess. We learn two things. Faith and intelligence. And in a flash, a car explodes in the streets below this second story window. Why? I have no idea. It's never explained. The boy runs out onto the balcony to see wh…

Wuthering Heights (1992)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 Wuthering Heights. Feature film. (1992, 105 mins) IMDB...An odd and different movie.... I guess I expected more from this story. I haven't read the novel it's based on, but I realize it's a well known novel with many film adaptations. A love story with a tragedy. Think ROMEO & JUILET. I'm not sure what to say about the film, about this story. It's a story involving two people who love each other but who can't be together. It reminds me of the setup in LOVE IN A TIME OF CHOLERA. Similar idea. They can't be together first because of their social status, then because she marries someone else and finally because she dies young. It's also a bookend movie. Opening scene during a dark, stormy night then back in time until we catch up with the where we started. I was confused because Binoche plays the love interest and her daughter. It didn't seem possible she died because she was in the opening scenes. She was stil…

HELP! (1965)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 HELP!. Feature film. (1965, 90 mins) IMDB...In the beginning there was The Beatles... HELP! was the Beatles's second movie--a follow up to their popular and acclaimed first film A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. I liked them both. I like the music. I like the irreverent humour. The film is as old as I am and yet it stands up. This is not a dippy movie with pop stars. The best moments are the music. The four of them with their instruments as they sing and play. It's a sound that won't go away. HELP, I Need You, Ticket to Ride, You're Going To Lose That Girl and others. It's music videos before they existed except music videos are created to sell a band and its music, this movie was more about the people and corporations around them making money and for their fans. They didn't need any more publicity. It's too bad they didn't make more films. They were required to make a third and ended up with an animation film called YELLOW SU…

Step Brothers (2008)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 Step Brothers. Feature film. (2008, 97 mins) IMDB...I thought comedies were supposed to have laughs.... There is a classical structure to this film with a bloody stupid and unbelievable ending. Dale is 40, a deadbeat and lives with his father who is a successful doctor of some type. Brennan is just like Dale except instead of a father, he has a mother. Guess what? The mother and father met at a conference, jump into bed and into marriage. And Dale and Brennan's lives are turned upside down. (Inciting incident.) Act I is about the setup and how these two children (because that's what they are) are forced to live together and hate it. In Act II they have to deal with a new threat, their parents want them out of the house, to be responsible, to grow up. It takes them a while to get the drift but they do and they get lame jobs. In the process, the newlyweds split up. Time to get them back. Act III shows their transformation from children to adults …

Love in the Time of Cholera (2007)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 Love in the Time of Cholera. Feature film. (2007, 139 mins) IMDB...Most of the time the novel is better than the film. Here is an example.... The film uses a book end approach in which we see the three main characters as they exist in old age, raise some questions about where things will go and then goes back in time for the bulk of the movie to show how we got there then resolves the initial setup. The film is a period piece with lots of costumes and unique buildings and a different way of life. It is also a romance, dramatic romance, structured around a love triangle. Since the film in set in the late 1800's in South America, the question is why? Why go to all that trouble to tell the story where the production costs increase dramatically? The obvious answer is that what happened in that period has relevance to what how we live today. So does this love triangle has relevance today? In part yes, and in part no. The film is based on the novel by Ga…

The Great Lie (1941)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 The Great Lie. Feature film. (1941, 108 mins) IMDB...Do you really want to know what the great lie is?... I'm not a big fan of Bette Davis and this film didn't do anything to change my opinion. Given the title the obvious question for a viewer is what is this great lie? Well, it's not a great lie from today's point of view, but I suppose in the forties it was a big deal. Davis plays Maggie who is a wealthy heiress living on a large farm in Maryland. She's in love with pilot Peter Van Allen except she's rebuffed his marriage proposals in the past. When the movie starts, Van Allen has married a well-known concert pianist, Sandra Kovak. Kovak is a prima dona. Someone who lives for the moment with parties and drinks and bitches all the time. They got married on a whim and before you know it, there's turmoil. It turns out her divorce wasn't finalized in time and their marriage isn't valid. This gives Maggie a way back …

Ontario May Harmonize Sales Tax With GST

Saturday, January 24, 2009 Ontario May Harmonize Sales Tax With GST...It's about time.... I read in the Toronto Star Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and his government may harmonize the Ontario sales tax with the federal GST. To that I say, it's about time.Currently the three N provinces (Nfld., NB & NS) have a harmonized sales tax with the federal government. Quebec has something similar, but Ontario has maintained its antiquated Retail Sales Tax and it's all about politics and getting votes. Sales taxes are visible and annoying to voters and changing them usually means trouble. The Ontario government needs the revenue from a sales tax and the best solution is a consumption tax on most goods ands services and not just on goods.A harmonized tax will significantly reduce administration and compliance costs for businesses. One tax return to complete instead of two. One set of laws to follow instead of two.It will also result in a fairer tax in that people who consum…

Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File (2007)

Friday, January 23, 2009 Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File. Documentary. (2007, 104 mins) IMDB...Why did the Russians kill Litvinenko?... The documentary, Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File, chronicles the battle between a former FSB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, and the powers of the Russian government, in particular Russian president Putin.Litvinenko's life and death made headlines around the world because he was poisoned in London with Polonium 210--a rare radioactive metal.For those who may not know, the FSB is simply the KGB by another name in the post-communist Russia. Unlike the US and UK were there is a split between domestic counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence gathering, the FSB operates internally and externally.Litvinenko worked for the FSB in what you might consider an FBI-type capacity. His job was to track down the Russian mafia and apparently he was good at it, but that's not what got him in trouble.Post the fall of communism, Russia an…

Supreme Court of Canada - Lipson

Thursday, January 22, 2009 ...A major victory for the Canada Revenue Agency from the Supreme Court of Canada... On January 8th, 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in the case of Lipson v. Canada. For tax practitioners across the country, the earth swayed, thunder rumbled and some checked their insurance coverage.Lipson is an individual resident in Canada who purchased a home, in part with borrowed money, and structured his affairs in such a manner to allow for a deduction on interest paid on the debt. Normally, debt used to acquire personal property is not deductible, but some taxpayers in the past have structured the purchase and debt to allow for an interest deduction against business income and income from property. This is what Lipson tried to do, but the government argued against it citing ITA 245--the General Anti-Avoidance Rule.Prior to Lipson, the courts held up such structures, but that was before the GAAR was law. Not so with Lipson and all courts invol…

Ira & Abby (2006)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 Ira & Abby. Feature film. (2006, 104 mins) IMDB...They have the nerve to call it a romantic comedy... Nobodies and TV actors star in this feature film that is supposed to be a romantic comedy. Think about those two words. Romantic means romance, love. How we fall in love and how we keep it. Comedy means not just a happy ending but laughs. Comic moments. Funny moments. Insightful moments. Well, this film doesn't have either. I never laughed once in this movie. Not even close to a chuckle. Neither does it follow the structure of romantic comedies. The film is mostly about a bunch of neurotic Jewish people in NYC. Talk about original. That each character is either a shrink or is seeing one is hardly original. That the climax features all these characters and their shrinks sitting on chairs in a circle is not original. Maybe I'm asking for too much. There's Ira. He's studying to be a shrink except he's completely neurotic…

The Brave One (2007)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 The Brave One. Feature film. (2007, 120 mins) IMDB...Women don't play vigilantes, but they do if you're Jodie Foster... We meet Erica Bain in NYC. She works as a radio broadcaster giving odd reports on the sounds and look of the city. She has a fiancé and a dog. Life is good. One hot summer night, she, her husband-to-be and their German Shepard go for a walk in Central Park. They talk about the wedding plans and play fetch with the dog until the dog goes missing. Through one of those upside down, U-shaped tunnels under a bridge they spot their dog and enter. The dog is held by a thug and he's not alone. In no time, three thugs beat the hell out of her and Mr. Big until she goes unconscious. This is the inciting incident. This moment changes her life. We see her being attended to in an hospital ER. She is covered in blood. Attendants cut away her clothes. Since it's Jodie Foster, we know she's going to live. Not so for him. T…

Literary Agents Respond

Monday, January 19, 2009 ...Hope comes in different forms... With the start of the new year, I started sending out query letters on the novel I wrote in 2008. It's called THE G.O.D. DICTATOR. The plan was to email queries to those who prefer email then send out snail mail queries. The plan also included emails to those agents who weren't high on my list (i.e., save postage etc.)As expected, during the last two weeks I've been getting replies to my queries and they are all rejections. Each rejection is different but they all have something in common. The agents were sending a cryptic message on the reasons for the rejection and I had to decipher it. Why was I getting rejected? (Agents are too busy or too afraid to give an honest opinion). The more I thought about it, the more likely it seemed they hated the story and its premise. If they hated it, editors would hate it and potential readers would hate it.Ouch.I spent hours and hours drafting an outline then hours an…

DUMA (2005)

Sunday, January 18, 2009 DUMA. Feature Film. (2005, 100 mins.) IMDB...A young farm boy in South Africa raises a cheetah from a cub and releases him into the wild... They are amazing animals. Swift. Beautiful to look at. The thoroughbreds of cats. The cheetah. I've always been fascinated by wild cats and cheetahs are no exception. The fastest land animal, they live in Africa which means a constant struggle for survival. The film opens not with humans, but in the wilds of Africa. We see a cheetah mother and three cubs. In a flash she is killed by a pride of lions. Her helpless cubs are orphaned. I expected the lions to pounce on the cubs, but one tiny cub, chirping as he or she wanders, makes it through the wilderness, through a fence and onto a paved road where we cue the humans. Alex and his father Peter are out driving in a sports car when they spot the helpless animal and give it shelter. That's the genesis of the story, but this is not Born Free Redux. The first ac…

This web site—jamespiper.com

Saturday, January 17, 2009 ...A return to this web site.... There has to be a return and here it is.The site has been updated to properly list entries by category. See the links on the right nav bar.More to follow.Posted 2009/01/17 at 15h28ET in JamesPiper.com.