Sunday, January 29, 2006

Film - Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang


The title of this film came from the Japanese press who used it to describe James Bond in the '60s.

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Based on the trailer, I really did not want to see this film. It had no appeal for me. However, it also ended up fairly high on lists of last year's best films, so I thought I would give it a shot.

Essentially, this is a fairly complex multiple-murder mystery, with plenty of lowest-common denominator scenes thrown in, mostly unnecessarily so, for good measure.

Robert Downey Jr. is Harry Lockhart, a criminal who, while running away from the cops, bursts into a room in which auditions are being held. They assume he is an actor and he is selected for a screen test. They team with up with private detective Perry, Val Kilmer's character.

Lockhart meets up with his childhood dream girl, harmony Faith Lane, played by Michelle Monaghan, (11 years his junior and it shows), who is an aspiring actress. Harmony hopes to make it big to rescue her little sister from their sexually abusive father.

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A mysterious client hires Perry to film the millionaire 25 year-old daughter of a businessman, who, after years of being estranged, has decided to return to America from Europe and to share her fortune with her father. She ends up being killed, our two heroes find her body and they soon become involved in a complex plot involving other murders that are all tied together.

This film was funny and action packed, not unlike Beverley Hills Cop. Downey Jr. is one of the planet's best actors and he performs manically, at full tilt. Val Kilmer's character is the straight man, who may or may not be gay, but he turns in a comically cool performance that is just as hilarious. Michelle Monaghan looks too way to be our main character's high school dream girl, but she provides an al right performance given the somewhat distasteful character she portrays. I felt some sympathy for Harmony, but not enough due to her trashy lifestyle.

This is the type of film where you really have to pay attention, otherwise you will be watching but not understanding what is going on. It's also so convaluted that you really can't figure out the ending.

What I didn't like about Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was the tasteless lowest-common denominator scenes, often involving some aspect of sex, and the overuse of swearing. Sometimes you have to dumb down a film to draw in audiences, but I wonder if the film would have been more interesting if they just toned things down a touch.

While definitely not for everyone, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is better than I expected and I would see it again.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Film Review - Matador


Oh, so awful. I should have known better.

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Pierce Brosnan is Julian Noble, an expensive hitman who is experiencing panic attacks and is screwing up his assassinations. While in Mexico, he chances upon businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), who we later learn is anxious about losing a deal to a competing company. Brosnan goes out of his way to make friends with Danny, in order to get his assistance in killing a target. His martini is shaken, not stirred and Bond-esque music sounds out as preludes to his kills...

It's unfortunate that Pierce Brosnan can't shake the spy/crafty bad guy image. The idea of a washed up hitman, with no real friends in the world, who tries to recruit help in bumping off people, is so incredibly lame.

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There is no real plot, no big twist. The small twist isn't all that interesting. It's absolutely pathetic to see a bankable star like Brosnan act in such junk, knowing that his fans from the Bond days will buy tickets. In reality, as huge a star as Pierce Brosnan was at his peak, he was never a superb actor. It's doubtful he has an Oscar nomination in him or even a Golden Globe.

Matador is not as fun as the inept "After The Sunset", which was really more of a travelogue for the Bahamas, but it is equally forgettable.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Canadian Federal Election Predictions

2004 Federl Election Results:
Liberals: 135
Conservatives: 99

155 seats needed to form a majority.

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It's interesting to see how the Conservatives and Liberals' fluctuations have mirrored each other in the opposite direction.

The various projection models are clicking in. Click the blue for links to each site.
(by New Winnipeg Forums member Hollywood.) - a blogger with links to every poll out there

Conservative 156
Bloc Quebecois 61
Liberal 49
NDP 41
Other 1

Pinnacle Sports - gamblers over-under

Conservative 146.5
Liberal 73.5
Bloc Quebecois 57.5
NDP 30.5

Ipsos the pollsters

Conservatives 143-147
Liberals 59-63
Bloc Quebecois 59-63
NDP 39-43 - lots of graphs

Conservatives 142
Liberals 76
Bloc Quebecois 57
NDP 32
Other 1

LISPOP i.e. Laurier University

Conservatives 138
Liberals 82
Bloc Quebecois 56
NDP 31
Other 1

Loblaws - average of predictions from "man in the street"

Conservatives 136
Liberals 90
Bloc Quebecois 57
NDP 25

UBC Election Stock Market - purchase your prediction

Conservatives 128
Liberals 92
Bloc Quebecois 55
NDP 32 - a really good blog with riding-by-riding reports

Conservatives 128
Liberals 94
Bloc Quebecois 57
NDP 28
Other 1

Triniman's prediction for 2006 as of January 20.
Conservatives: 126
Liberal: 104
NDP: 30
Bloc: 48

In light of these new predictions, I may be underestimating the number of seats the Conservatives and Bloc will win and overestimating the number the Liberals will win. I am cautious about predicting that the Liberals wiil lose many more seats since in the last election, the Liberals were behind near the end, but still pulled out a minority victory, largely due to Ontario voters.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

film - Munich


Just shy of three hours, Munich is an excellent film that is causing a lot of controversy among Jewish groups in the US and Israel, and among Palestinians. By upsetting both groups, he has found elusive middle ground that saves the film from being Oliver Stone-preachy while weaving tension and moral ambiguity, from beginning to end.

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Directed by Steven Spielberg, this is the second film based on the 1984 book spanVengeance:The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team by Canadian journalist George Jonas, the first being the 1985 HBO made for television movie, Sword of Gideon.

Mossad agent and ex-bodyguard for Prime Minister Golda Meier, Aver Kauffman (Eric Bana), is asked to head a secret, unofficial team, on a very dangerous mission to that would take him away from his pregnant wife for many months, if not years. He is assigned four other men, most of whom are seemingly unlikely members of an elite hit squad. The only other athletic person is Steve, aggressive and feisty, played by a crackling, magnetic Daniel Craig, the new James Bond. Craig, blonde with deep blue eyes, as revealed in a sniper scene, looks ironically like a perfect example of an Aryan. Ciarán Hinds, who played the Russian President Nemerov in 2002’s The Sum of All Fears, is the clean up guy, who removes evidence. Mathieu Kassovitz plays Robert the toy-maker turned bomb disposal expert turned bomb-maker. Hanns Zischler is Hans, the document forger. Showing up occasionally as the official liaison between Mossad and Avner’s team is Geoffrey Rush as Ephraim.

Prime Minister Meier endorses the mission by saying"…every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values.” Other dialogue in the film that resonates with the Israeli perspective includes Avner’s mother saying that the Jews had to create their own homeland since no one was going to give it to them. These are examples of why Palestinians groups see this film as biased towards Israel, but to dismiss it as such is to sell it short, as it offers dialogue that neither side supports, and that those without a stake in the middle-east – most viewers – will chew on it, right to the film’s end.

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Early on, Aver finds a mysterious source of intelligence who is willing to find the locations of persons of interest who have gone underground, but only on the condition that Aver is working for no government. While he doesn’t give up that he is unofficially tied to the Israelis, it’s obvious that he is probably Mossad since all his desired targets are Palestinians.

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As the team assassinate the bad guys throughout Europe, they also learn that the Palestinians retaliate, killing off magnitudes more people. Not mentioned in the film are the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon bombed by Israeli jets in retaliation, four days after the massacre, which was in turn condemned by the UN Security Council. They begin to wonder if their mission is worthwhile and even moral, with arguments about why they aren’t just arresting people for trial? Also, some of the Palestinians they kill are shown as being regular humans with families or cultured and intelligent, rather than as one-dimensional bad guys. They feel guilty about some of their killings and one of the characters becomes very heavily consciously burdened. It’s this moral conflict that brings the film its best tension. In one of the most electric scenes, Avner, mistaken for a German, has a conversation with a PLO team leader who explains and justifies, the Palestinians struggle with Israel, for a homeland. This is one of the scenes that is generating criticism among Jewish groups, even though the director is a prominent Jew and supporter of Israel.

Meir Jolobitz, executive director of the New York-based Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), told

"First, the film which claims to be inspired by true events does not reflect true events. Spielberg is inventive.

"Secondly, he tries to humanize Arab terrorists by legitimizing their murder of Jews as their only way to establish a Palestinian state."

The ZOA has called for a public boycott of the film.

At one point in the film, one of the team members talks about how the Israelis could end up becoming killers like the people they are hunting. Team member Carl replied that they have long been like that, since they had to be killers in order to establish the state of Israel. Now, this sort of statement would be seen to be anti-Israeli since it equates the blood shed by creators of modern day Israel to the Palestinian terrorist – a moral equivalence that some will find outrageous.

The film didn't seem like almost three hours long to me. I was totally drawn in as the film unfolded within the murky confines of international betrayal with its lack of assurance. Is the family that sources valuable information playing all sides? Do they betray friends for money? Are they really Mossad operatives carefully feeding the unofficial team the finest information? Or, are they helping the Palestinian leadership do a little house cleaning? The flashbacks to the massacre itself are also riveting. There's lots of juicy, factual story not included, such as the Israeli offer to send in one of their experienced commando teams, which was rejected. The German offer to trade money for the hostages and then have high-ranking German officials switch places with the hostages, also wasn't mentioned.

By not pleasing either the Palestinian or the Jewish communities, and yet ironically supporting both by presenting two sides of the dispute in the film, Munich offers a timely opportunity for discourse about sacrificing values in the face of conflict for survival, the increasingly popular moral equivalency debate and on a more basic level, the future of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, especially in the post-Sharon era.

Here’s some interesting information from the Wikipedia entry about the Munich Massacre. In the book Striking Back : The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel's Deadly Response, published December 20, 2005, by Aaron J. Klein, the author contends that the Mossad only killed one man directly tied to the Munich Massacre, and that was in 1992. He mentions that the real planners had gone into hiding in Eastern Bloc countries and that the ones who were killed off were lesser Palestinian activists. The Mossad made them out to be some of the planners and the PLO trumpeted their importance so the legend of the power of the Mossad grew.

The website also contends that in the 1999 book by the only surviving planner of the attack, Abu Daoud, Memoirs of a Palestinian Terrorist, funds for the attack were supplied by Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently the President of the Palestinian Authority.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Wal-Mart Apologizes For Bizzare "Racist" Online DVD Groupings

On Thursday, January 5, Wal-Mart issued the following apology for a bizzare or deliberate software programming glitch that caused searches for "The Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" DVDs on their online store to receive automatic recommendations (much like how it's done on to DVDs with African-Americans themes.

The recommended films were "What's Love Got to Do With It," "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," "Martin Luther King: I Have A Dream/Assassination of MLK" and "Unforgiveable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson." reported on Wal-Mart's response.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Mona Williams said on Friday that the company has delved into the situation and discovered that the "offensive combinations were completely unintentional."

She said that in preparation for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday last year, Wal-Mart began a promotion of African-American films by linking certain movie titles to an "item group" of film boxed sets to highlight them for Internet customers.

"This happened during a sincere effort to further promote African-American films," she said. "Once again, we apologize for this unfortunate and regrettable incident."

Screen shots of the "racsist" recommendations have been making their rounds but I believe the whole incident is being blown way out of porportion. I actually found out about it from a local message board that I frequent. It's interesting to note that this particular poster neglected to say that the African-American themed DVDs also come up as recommendations when searching for 263 boxed set DVDs including
"Home Alone", "Power Puff Girls", "The Audrey Hepburn DVD Collection" and "Monty Python's Flying Circus Megaset," according to the site.

The sensational linkage between apes and black people is non-existant and absolutely ridiculous! It sounds like there could be something to it until you realize that 263 DVD boxed sets trigger the same recommendations. While the group Wake Up Wal-Mart has called the incident, readers of their website have left messages in defense of Wal-Mart, claiming that there's no way the giant retailer would deliberately create rascist mappings of DVDs. I agree.

Microsoft rushes out latest Windows patch

Yesterday afternoon (January 5, 2:00 pm), Microsoft released its hotly anticipated patch to fix the Windows® Meta File (WMF) vulnerability, five days earlier than expected.

Last week Tuesday (December 27), a vulnerability was announced in the way that Windows renders WMF files. The hole allows code to be executed as Windows tries to open WMF graphic files. There have been dozens of attacks, which have ranged from an MSN Messenger worm to spam that attempts to lure people to click on malicious Web sites, reported CNET's

Since then, security experts have actually encouraged Windows computer users to download and install third-party patches, given the serious nature of the vulnerability. As far as I can tell, this recommendation is unprecedented. recently hosted an unofficial patch and was temporarily shut down due to the huge demand for their patch. The site now recommends that users uninstall their patch and install the official one from Microsoft.

To read Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-001 - Vulnerability in Graphics Rendering Engine Could Allow Remote Code Execution (912919), and download the patch manually, visit:

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bart Ehrman's 'Misquoting Jesus'

I haven't seen this book, but I stumbled across some information about it recently.

Scholar Bart Ehrman's new book explores how scribes -- through both omission and intention -- changed the Bible. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why is the result of years of reading the texts in their original languages.

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Ehrman says the modern Bible was shaped by mistakes and intentional alterations that were made by early scribes who copied the texts. In the introduction to Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman writes that when he came to understand this process 30 years ago, it shifted his way of thinking about the Bible. He had been raised as an Evangelical Christian.

Listen to the fascinating December 14, 2005, National Public Radio interview with him, from this page:

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Press Release #10: Online Magazine Gives Powerful Voice to Bloggers, Provides Indispensable Service to Writers and Readers Worldwide

January 03, 2006
Eric Berlin

Award-winning online magazine explodes out of the gate in 2006, providing a well-lit, grassroots, E pluribus unum stage from which over 1,200 superior bloggers launch eye-opening and propulsive news stories, opinions, and reviews to savvy readers across the planet.

Blogs have penetrated into the public consciousness and are now part of the galactic zeitgeist. Once thought of as a repository for navel gazing or howling political rant-rage, blogs are now all-pervasive and cover every angle, nook, and cranny of public interest imaginable. In fact, The RSS Blog recently predicted that the "number of blogs in the United States will exceed the number of citizens" in 2006.

Professional editing and writing mentorship guides's "sinister cabal" and allows a kaleidoscopic bazaar of delights in music, politics, books, film, TV, pop culture, sports, and gaming to market 60 published stories daily. News, opinions, analysis and CD, film, DVD, book, and concert reviews round out an experience that draws tens of thousands of daily and voracious readers.

It's win-(slam dunk)-win for the best and brightest bloggers and readers alike.

"What we're doing is giving bloggers a community and a forum and a collective and powerful voice. We guide that voice and we give it direction, but it's essentially organic," founder and publisher Eric Olsen said during a recent Executive Board meeting.

"Our readers have come to depend on us to get a read on the news, what's going on in pop culture, reviews, and a unique spin on all of the above, right from one place. I hear from people all the time who make their home page. I couldn't be more proud that we've created something good for the blogosphere, good for the Internet, good for the world. There's literally no downside!"

About is a new kind of online magazine, an interactive community in which writers and readers from around the globe talk about stories, issues, and products. If it's happening in the world - from global political issues to obscure rock bands, from the latest best selling novel to the TV shows that aired last night - has it covered. was founded by Eric Olsen, who has enjoyed a 25-year career in writing and broadcasting on a vast array of topics including politics, music, and media. Co-owner Phillip Winn built, nearly from scratch, and continues to manage the technical and design elements of the site. Working with Olsen and Winn is a team of over twenty editors dedicated to making the premiere Web destination for interactive news, commentary, and reviews. is an official Google News and My Yahoo! source, syndicates content to online editions of newspapers around the United States via the Advance family of websites, and has won numerous awards, including a Bloggie for best music site,'s Best Media Blogs, and was recently showcased on the prestigious AlwaysOn and Technorati "Open Media 100" list.

Are you a blogger? Would you like to increase your visibility and reach a very large and growing audience? Then may be for you. Visit and click Become a Blogcritic for details.

For press inquiries, requests for interviews, sales and advertising information, or to opt out of future mailings, please contact:

Eric Berlin Executive Producer

Eric Olsen Publisher

Craig Lyndall Sales and Advertising

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