Intelligence Seasons 1 & 2

Foreign TV series – Canada (2005-2007).

Jimmy Reardon, a Canadian gangster hanging out in the city of Vancouver, BC is the main character in this Canadian TV crime drama. Unlike most crime dramas where you can’t wait for the “bad” guy to get caught in the end, this one you can’t help but rooting for the bad guys and you immediately like Jimmy. He’s a likable guy played to a “T” by Ian Tracey.

Jimmy has a strange connection to Mary Spalding, head of the Organized Crime Unit stationed in Vancouver in a nemesis-colleague type relationship. You’ll find you are wishing them both well.

Jimmy has a lot of people on his side and the characters are well played by the cast. Chris Haddock, the TV series creator did an excellent job casting the crew for this series.

Throughout the series, it was tough to tell if certain characters were good guys or bad guys on both sides of the law. The bad guys had some good qualities, they also had some bad qualities. The good guys had some good qualities, they also had some bad qualities.

Storytelling was top notch beginning with the first episode till the last one. It kept me spellbound at the end of each episode wanting the next episode to start right away. I’ll have to warn you, watching this is like reading a good book – it’s tough to put down.

Have butter on the popcorn, but make sure you get the refillable box of popcorn as you’re going to need it for all these episodes. You may want to get a few boxes of Goobers, Dots, Jujubes, Sno-Caps, Juicy Fruits, Junior Mints, Milk Duds, Raisinets, and Good & Plenty – yeah, the whole candy case. Oh, did I forget the licorice?

Haywire

In this 2011 thriller, a member of a black ops mission is set up and she’s on a quest to seek revenge on those responsible for setting her up. She has to use all her skills to stay alive. It took me awhile to figure out who the good guys were and who the bad guys were.

After a covert operation in Barcelona, Mallory Kane is sent on another mission to Ireland where she is earmarked for elimination. Realizing she has been double crossed, she embarks on a mission to uncover the culprits. There’s a lot of intrigue in this movie with good performances by Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, and Bill Paxton among others.

 

Cautiva

Foreign film – Argentina (2003).

An award winner at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The movie is based on the turbulent time of the military regime in Argentina during the 1970s. The plot does not focus on the activists of the era but what happened to the children of the activists.

Cristina, an affluent and almost perfect student, is summoned to the principal’s office and is escorted to a judge informing her that her real parents were taken from her when she was very young and were imprisoned. We first learned that Cristina’s adoptive parents found her on an abandoned train.

As a result, Cristina is taken from her adoptive parents and awarded to her paternal grandmother. Angry at first Cristina, born Sofia Lombardi, struggles to find out what really happened to her birth parents. In her journey she is brought to an old nurse, who remembers the situation quite well as it was during the time the Argentines won the world cup in 1978. The nurse retells the story to Cristina/Sofia that seems to turn Sofia toward her new destiny

She eventually warms to the idea of having a grandmother and cousins to grow up with. Although this is a heart warming story, it does have its slow moments but if you prevail I think you’ll enjoy this one.

It is believed that over 30,000 activists were imprisoned back then and to date 74 children have been found and returned to their birth families.

Another Earth

A 2011 independent film tells a story of a young teenager, Rhoda Williams, on her way to MIT to explore the galaxies of other worlds. She’s bright, talented, and has exceptional qualities. John Burroughs on the other hand is married with a child and another on the way, is on the top of his profession as a composer. He’s bright, talented, and has exceptional qualities.

However, on the eve of discovering another earth just outside of the moon’s shadow an accident happens killing Burroughs’ wife and family while young Rhoda goes to jail for the crime. Once out and on probation, Rhoda lands a cleaning job as a janitor at the local high school.

Compelled to say she’s sorry to John for the accident, Rhoda couldn’t find it in her to tell him the truth. So, she becomes his house cleaner and the two engage into an unlikely affair she knows is wrong but is helpless to stop. The affair is too much for Rhoda to bear so she tells him the story. John almost chokes her to death.

Meanwhile, during the affair Rhoda enters a contest to win a ticket to travel to Another Earth and she wins and decides to offer John the ticket. Rhoda’s theory is that John’s family is alive and well on the new earth – oh, did I forget to mention when the new earth was discovered its inhabitants were duplicates of what we have on this earth. Okay, now that the cat’s out of the bag, there’s a surprise ending.

 

The Wave

Foreign film – German (2008).

Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel) is a high school teacher and is getting ready for “project week” where just about anything goes (within reason of course, after all this is high school). The topic is Autocracy and Rainer, as all his students call him, wanted the Anarchy class but the older teacher would not switch with him.

So, Wenger accepts the role of autocracy and tell the students they must call him Herr Wenger and that they must stand when they want to speak in class. To further the ideals of a unified group, Wenger suggests they all have uniforms and it is decided that jeans and a white shirt would prevail as the “new trend” in clothing style.

Another stipulation is that he rearranged the seating from an adhoc mish-mash one to a structured, facing the front, two students at each desk. Now, each of the students were not with their friends but paired up by one good student and one student that struggled academically.

The group decides to give their movement a name and decide on The Wave with a nifty salute. There are many parallels to Nazi Germany but you have to remember that the students are third generation from the mid 1940s.

Throughout the film we see the dynamics of the students before project week, during project week and the end of project week. You get a feeling something will go awry by the films end and it does but I’ll leave that for you to experience it. This was a well directed movie with some dynamic acting on all fronts. Go ahead and put butter on the popcorn and get your self a box of Dots too.

 

Lunopolis

I first put this movie into my instant queue as I thought it was a Sci-fi movie. However, when I started watching it I thought I was watching a documentary. So, I almost turned it off as I was in the mood for a Sci-fi flick, not a documentary.

I realized the movie was about two documentary filmmakers discovering a conspiracy with the government – enter the Sci-fi movie.

It appears that moon people (humans really but they live on the moon) are involved in time travel through the Church of Lunopolis (ohhh, sound familiar, Bollywood fans?) as this discreet organization protects the moon people.

There were some really neat parts of this movie that amazed you and you could almost believe this is a Sci-fi documentary and people do exist on the moon deciding our fate. A bit tongue & cheek at times but enjoyable nonetheless.

Rosenstrasse

Foreign film – German (2003).

After the death of her father, Hannah notices some strange behavior exhibited by her mother especially the strict Jewish rituals she imposes on everyone at the wake. One of the mourners introduces herself as Ruth’s cousin but is asked to leave by Ruth.

Hannah realizes the key to her past is finding the truth about her family and embarks on a mission to know more. She connects with Lena Fischer who helped Ruth escape the Nazi regime. As Lena describes the story we go back and forth from present day and the past. Part of this fact based drama retells a particular week in Germany where many of the Jewish husbands married to Aryan women are detained with the notion of sending them to concentration camps.  The women stage a non-violent protest for one week and miraculously the detained husbands are freed.

Based on true events, this is a great heart-warming story that will delight all. By all means put butter on the popcorn and enjoy the movie.

Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School

I was perusing the 90+ movies in my instant queue (I need to think about retirement so I can watch more movies) and decided to watch this as the availability was going to expire soon. This independent, romantic 2005 film stars Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg and Mary Steenburgen.

Even when the (and I know I’m getting ahead of myself here) movie was over I watched the credits slowly move from the bottom of my TV screen to the top. The reason for this was quite simple – the music. To say the least it was quite enticing.

On to the story, Steve Mills (John Goodman), an ex-con on his way to Marylin Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School to meet Lisa, a young girl he accidentally hit when they were kids. He promises to meet her at the dance school on the fifth day of the fifth month of the fifth year of the new millennium. However, he crashes into a barrier on the highway en-route to the “charm school”.  Bread maker, Frank Keane (Robert Carlyle) is delivering his bread and comes along Steve after his crash and tries to keep his distance from the crashed vehicle.

On the way to the hospital, Steve tells the story of why he’s going there and after a spell realizes he won’t make his promise so he lures Frank into going for him and Frank promises to go to the dance to find Lisa.

Here’s the predictable part, he doesn’t find Lisa but meets Meredith Morrison (Marisa Tomei). Enter love and destiny and I’ll leave it at that. Frank does have to overcome his own demons as well as an over-protective step brother (Donnie Wahlberg).

I think the acting was pretty good but too much sentimental overtones clouded what could have been a real nice story. The best part of the movie was the musical score which I enjoyed immensely.

Max Manus: Man of War

Foreign film – Norwegian (2008).

Two things amazed me about this film: great directing and great acting. Max Manus was probably Norway’s greatest war hero.

Upon his return from Finland after doing battle with the Russians he became one of the best saboteurs of World War II when he joined the Norwegian resistance. His specialty was blowing up warships and the most notable was the sinking of the “Donau” as she was headed out of Oslo Harbor.

Throughout the film, Max not only battles the enemy but with his own inner demons and he feels responsible for the deaths of his friends and wonders why he is being spared.

You almost feel as if you are part of the film as this was a truly incredible story. Don’t miss this one and go ahead and put butter on the pop corn. The only thing I would have liked was to see this film on the big screen.

The Statement (2003)

Based on the events of a true story in 1944 where Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine), a Milice officer rounds up seven Jews and has a hand in executing them for their religious beliefs.

Now in the early 1990s, Broussard is on the run from the authorities and a group of underground assassins out to right the wrong done in the past.

Anne Marie Livi (Tilda Swinton), a French prosecutor known for her tenacity for solving crimes is teamed up with Colonel Rioux (Jeremy Northam) in their attempt to break through the church monks and Vichy sympathizers who have been protecting him all these years, before the ruthless underground hired guns get to him.

But who really wants Pierre Brossard dead? Ahh, you’ll have to watch this one to find out?

I’m a huge Michael Caine fan but prefer to see him in the “good guy” role but that’s just me, he’s still a great actor! By all means, have popcorn with butter on it for this movie.