Friday, November 27, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Harry 6

The sixth installment of the Harry Potter series begins right where The Order of the Phoenix left off. The wizarding world is rocked by the news that "He Who Must Not Be Named" has truly returned, and the audience finally knows that Harry is "the Chosen One"--the only wizard who can defeat Lord Voldemort in the end. Dark forces loom around every corner, and now regularly attempt to penetrate the protected walls of Hogwarts School. This is no longer the fun and fascinating world of magic from the first few books—it's dark, dangerous, and scary.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) suspects Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) to be a new Death Eater recruit on a special mission for the Dark Lord. In the meantime, Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) seems to have finally removed the shroud of secrecy from Harry about the dark path that lies ahead, and instead provides private lessons to get him prepared. It's in these intriguing scenes that the dark past of Tom Riddle (a.k.a. Voldemort) is finally revealed. The actors cast as the different young versions of Riddle (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and Frank Dillane) do an eerily fantastic job of portraying the villain as a child. While the previous movies' many new characters could be slightly overwhelming, only one new key character is introduced this time: Professor Horace Slughorn (with a spot-on performance by Jim Broadbent). Within his mind he holds a key secret in the battle to defeat the Dark Lord, and Harry is tasked by Dumbledore to uncover a memory about Voldemort's darkest weapon--the Horcrux. Despite the long list of distractions, Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) still try to focus on being teenagers, and audiences will enjoy the budding awkward romances. All of the actors have developed nicely, giving their most convincing performances to date.

More dramatic and significant things go down in this movie than any of its predecessors, and the stakes are higher than ever. The creators have been tasked with a practically impossible challenge, as fans of the beloved J.K. Rowling book series desperately want the movies to capture the magic of the books as closely as possible. Alas, the point at which one accepts that these two mediums are very different is the point at which one can truly enjoy these brilliant adaptations. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is no exception: it may be the best film yet. For those who have not read the book, nail-biting entertainment is guaranteed. For those who have, the movie does it justice. The key dramatic scenes, including the cave and the shocking twist in the final chapter, are executed very well. It does a perfect job of setting up the two-part grand finale that is to follow. --Jordan Thompson

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In America (2002)

Emotion raw and beautiful

For sheer catharsis, In America beats every movie I've seen since "The Sweet Hereafter" years ago. Like that movie, it deals with the aftermath of the death of a child; unlike that movie, it comes down (after much agony) on the side of a loving family as the only thing that can heal us.

The Sullivans, a young couple with two adorable daughters, slip illegally into the U.S., moving to New York. In theory this is to help Da start his acting career; in reality, it is an attempt to escape from the sad memories of young son Frankie, recently died at 5 of a brain tumor.

The performances are all, all stunning. Samantha Morton, her hair shorn like a penitent nun's, gives a stunning performance driven by the despair in her eyes. The real-world sisters Sara and Emma Bolger seem completely transparent; they leave the impression they are not acting at all, but really living the loss of their beloved brother. The African actor Djimon Hounsou looms like a sad but powerful diety over the sorrowful family, alternatively reflecting their pain and offering them solace.

The ending will surprise you - I won't give it away here - but it is a sweet resolution. The film seems to have a basis in truth, as it is written by director Jim Sheridan and his two daughters, and dedicated at the end to the memory of Frankie Sheridan (who, as it happens, was Jim Sheridan's brother rather than his son).

Heartwarming and basically terrific.

Jim Sheridan's IN AMERICA, though you may not realize it when you watch it, is a fable about wishes, dreams, good defeating bad, families growing stronger, love outlasting all adversity and America as the land of opportunity. It's a delightful film, touching without being too cute.

One thing you must realize throughout the film, when it takes turns toward optimism when other films would grow darker, is that the story is told through the eyes of Christie, the 10-year-old daughter of an Irish immigrant family recently relocated to New York. She narrates the story. She speeds it up and slows it down as she needs to. She talks of her sister Ariel's fears, of her mother's strength and of her father's lost smile. And, most importantly, she puts a positive spin on each of her proud family's struggles.

Another director might have taken this same story and gone in a different, darker direction with it. The elements are there, certainly. The family is poor, living in a tenement alongside beggars and drug addicts. Johnny, the girls' father, is an out-of-work actor who's uprooted his family to escape sad memories of his son Frankie, who died. Mateo, the next-door neighbor, and Sarah, the mother, are both faced with life-threatening conditions.

But the atmosphere that Sheridan provides us in this film is comforting and light. The city is enchanting. The tenement is both scary and magical, depending upon the story that Christie is telling the audience. No adult problem goes unsolved for long, even ones that seem particularly bleak. Throughout these positive twists, the importance of the narrator is key. Happy endings are important to a little girl, particularly one who feels so responsible for her own family. At one point in the story, for instance, she saves the family from their latest crisis and relates to her father that she's been the family's savior for a year.

Though it focuses on her entire family, it's Christie's story. And, while she's telling it, it's really moving and uplifting.

The acting here is uniformly terrific. Paddy Considine, playing Johnny the father, is a revelation. He's attractive, strong, a little crazy and yet weighed down by grief. Samantha Morton delivers another compelling performance, yet she comes off here as sweeter and more sympathetic than she did in the disappointing MORVERN CALLAR. Djimon Honsou, best known for his work in AMISTAD, is absolutely spectacular as Mateo, the girls' doomed neighbor. And Sarah and Emma Bolger, real-life sisters playing the girls in the film, manage the difficult task of playing adorable, likable, distinct children without coming off as entirely too precious and cute.

The script is terrific, and the direction is quite good.

IN AMERICA is just lovely.

One True Thing (1998)

A movie to touch your heart

An American drama film directed by Carl Franklin. It tells the story of a woman who is forced to put her life on hold in order to care for her mother who is dying of cancer. It was adapted by Karen Croner from the novel by Anna Quindlen. It was directed by Carl Franklin. The movie stars Meryl Streep, Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham and Nicky Katt. Bette Midler sings the lead song, "My One True Friend", over the end credits. The track was first released on Midler's 1998 album Bathhouse Betty.

Director: Carl Franklin

Cast: Meryl Streep, Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham, Nicky Katt

One True Thing is a family drama revolving around a dying mother's final months in the care of her daughter. Ellen Gulden's father rebukes her for not caring enough about her mother to quit her job, move back home to Upstate New York, and leave her soulmate behind to fend for himself in their tidy New York apartment. But, when she succumbs under the strain of guilt and does as he asks, it appears that he is too busy to carry his part of the load. In fact, it begins to look like Ellen's father is more concerned with who is going to keep his life running smoothly than who will tend to his poor wife as she struggles with cancer. George Gulden is a gifted professor and English department head, but he is an unrealized novelist. His novel, "Come Back Inn," is still unfinished after many years of torturous self-editing and rewrites long after the advance he received from his publisher is spent. Still, he basks in the reflected glow of more famous and successful writers with whom he maintains tenuous ties. This realization humanizes him for Ellen who has always revered her father as something of a literary giant in spite of his occassional daliances with graduate students. Kate Gulden, dying of cancer at only 48, loves life, and loves her children and her husband. When her suffering finally ends from an overdose of morphine, the District Attorney suspects Ellen of having helped her mother to end her life. In the end, though, it seems to be Kate who still nurtures them, somehow even from the grave.

Shifting Perceptions Lead to a "True" Understanding
Review by cdset

"One True Thing" beautifully and poignantly demonstrates that appearances can be deceiving, and that what one sees on the surface doesn't necessarily reflect the deeper truth. In this brilliantly acted film, Zellweger (the daughter), discovers that her notions about her parents (Streep and Hurt) and about marriage in general were illusions, and, in turn, comes to a greater understanding of both her parents and the realities of marriage.

Zellweger's relationship with her mother was always strained. and she looked down upon her mother's life thinking it provincial and small. Her father, the college department head and National Book Award winner, however, was put on a pedestal, appearing larger than life to her. When Zellweger moves back home to nurse her dying mother, she painfully discovers that her father treats her accomplishments as "small" and irrelevant (comparable to her view of her mother), and that he is far removed from her idealized image of him. She, in turn, comes to a new admiration and appreciation for her mother's perserverance and wisdom about life.

Streep, one of our greatest actresses, can communicate more with a look on her expressive face than most actresses can with hours of dialogue. Zellweger, another talented performer, more than holds her own with the formidable acting talents of Streep. The two of them together create scenes of enormous power and emotional energy. They make this perceptive and absorbing film an unforgettable experience.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

BT new sources

Mininova Deletes All Infringing Torrents and Goes 'Legal'

November 26, 2009

Mininova, the largest torrent site on the Internet, has removed all torrents except those that were uploaded through its content distribution service. Mininova's founders took the drastic decision after they lost a civil dispute against Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, and were ordered to remove all infringing torrents from the site.


Thanks for the good times Mininova !

A pity but let's concentrate on other sources.


TPB Magnet links


check-out these torrent databases/trackers

You can upload any torrent you want, with or without the 1337x or H33T tracker in it.

Although I think
private trackers are the best option!

The Best of Stevie Wonder - The Christmas Collection: 20th Century Masters (2004)

Christmas with little Stevie

First off, I'm not one to buy Christmas albums -- in fact, this is the first I've ever purchased -- but I am a big Stevie Wonder fan and have most of his post-1970 albums, even the not so essential ones from the 80's. The latter being true, there was almost no way I was going to be dissappointed with this, especially after hearing a track on the radio this past Christmas and really digging it.

This relatively new compilation (2004) includes 14 remastered tracks, originally recorded by Stevie back when he was "Little Stevie Wonder" and sung mostly non-originals under the direction of Motown executives. Tracks 1-12 were in fact originally issued as 'Someday at Christmas' in 1967 -- this new collection therefore trumps that album (which still shows up in the used bins) by adding two additional tracks. Still, the total playing time remains brief at 42 minutes.

The music itself is a bit dated of course -- Stevie croons in an adolescent voice, is backed by an un-funky orchestra with lush string arrangements and vocal choruses, and most of the tunes, if they ever were popular, are now obscurities. There are a some classic carols -- "Silver Bells," "The Little Drummer Boy," the classical piece "Ave Maria" (which Stevie braves in latin), and a Stevie favorite, Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts roasting on a open fire..."). Most of the tunes are slow ballads, until the end when the tempo picks up with "What Christmas Means to Me," a number more in the trademark Motown tradition with sleighbells serving as the rhthym section, and the two concluding add-on tracks. Some of the songs border on smarmy ("Bedtime for Toys" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Me" with their spoken interludes), but the opening track "Someday at Christmas," "The Day That Love Began," "The Christmas Song" and "Christmastime" are standouts with Stevie really shining -- the latter two feature a bit of Stevie on harmonica.

I saw Stevie sing a free Christmas concert in Times Square back in the 90's, making me want to hear a modern Christmas album by grown-up Stevie and all his now trademark piano and vocal pyrotechnics, but this album works for me too... as something to put in around Christmastime to break the monotony of well-tread carols on the radio, a conversation piece (peace?), and a good addition to a relatively complete Stevie collection. By Joe Pierre

The Mighty (1998)

The quest for friendship is the noblest cause of all.

Caught between the purest of intentions and unimaginative shortcuts to sentimentality, The Mighty is nevertheless rewarding enough to make it worth seeing. Kieran Culkin stars as Kevin, a terminally ill but spirited young boy who befriends a healthy but illiterate social outcast, Maxwell (Elden Henson). They realize that together they are a stronger, braver force than they are as individuals, and the various opportunities they have to confront persecutors and memories of their bad fathers are handled very effectively by director Peter Chelsom (a very original filmmaker who made the terrific Funny Bones). The curious adult casting includes Sharon Stone (a natural scene-stealer even when she doesn't intend it) as Kevin's saintly mother, and Gillian Anderson in a quite-unbelievable supporting role. Chelsom's lapses in judgment are not terribly significant (imaginary appearances by Camelot-era knights on horseback are the most annoying), though one could argue that a plot to kidnap one of the boys is a cheesy way to underscore the kids' redemptive loyalty to one another. Still, all in all, you can laugh and cry at this tale of rare friendship, and admire the sensitive performances by Chelsom's younger players. --Tom Keogh

From The New Yorker
Peter Chelsom's movie is about two boys. One of them, the smart and inventive Kevin (Kieran Culkin), is crippled by a degenerative disease; the other, the slow and wretched Maxwell (Elden Henson), is twice Kevin's size and barely able to look the world in the face. The long and the short of it is that they join forces and make a fine team, winning respect at school and solving the perilous problem of Max's vicious father. Running through their tale is an unlikely Arthurian motif; once Max has hoisted Kevin onto his shoulders, they picture themselves as a single unit-a heroic knight on horseback. Chelsom overdoes their dream, flashing all too often, and too obviously, to shots of real knights in armor; you need the wildness of a Terry Gilliam to make this kind of conceit work. The film threatens to become heavy; what rescues it is the rough and lively performances of the kids, and of Sharon Stone, who makes the most of her supporting role as Kevin's bravely beleaguered mother. With a gonzo cast that includes Gillian Anderson and Meat Loaf. -Anthony Lane Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker

Le Huitième Jour (1996)

Le huitième jour (The Eighth Day) is a Belgian 1996 film, it tells the story of a friendship that develops between two men who meet by chance.

The film was written and directed by Jaco Van Dormael. Some scenes in the film appear as dream sequences. The music of Luis Mariano is used in these scenes, with actor Laszlo Harmati playing Luis. (Luis died in 1970.) The original music score is from Pierre Van Dormael, Jaco's brother.

Review by Daniel J. Atil

I just watched the most wonderful movie, and I must tell you about it. It's called THE EIGHTH DAY (Ale Huitieme Jour). It's French with English subtitles. But, don't let that stop you, if you're one of those who dislikes having to read the dialogue. The dialogue is easy to follow, and it's mostly a visual film, and stunning at that. The cinematography is remarkable. But, let me get back to the story, because it's important. There are two men. -- Georges (played superbly by Pascal Duquenne), a man with Down's Syndrome, living in an institution, and missing his mother (she died). He has recurring visions of her, along with visions of his favorite crooner singing his favorite song. He switches gears back and forth from being erratically boisterous and playful at times, to being somber and contemplative at other times. One day, he just walks away from the home, taking along a dog (that may or may not be his pet).

Then, there's Harry (played perfectly by Daniel Auteuil). Harry is a salesman. He's very good at his job, but fails in life. He's recently divorced, and has one last chance to see his children, before his ex-wife denies him the right. But,... One night as he's driving in the rain,... He hits a dog, then meets Georges. He takes Georges (and the dog) to the police station. But, they don't help. Unwittingly, he becomes the guardian of Georges, but in the process of trying to take him home, they become friends. Georges teaches Harry about the simpler pleasures in life. And, Harry helps Georges find a home. (His mother is dead, his sister doesn't want him.) Well... I could go on and on, but I don't want to give away the whole story. This is not just another buddy-buddy story, or another road-trip movie. It's more than that. It's about friendship, family, love, life, everything. It's sad. It's funny. It's heart-warming. It's everything that life is.

"The fifth day, He made the grass.
When you cut it, it cries."

I laughed and cried, sometimes at the same time. It's a truly wonderful movie. Too bad I can only rate it five stars, it deserves ten. END LocalWords: Huitieme Jour.

The Boat That Rocked (2009)

The Boat That Rocked (retitled Pirate Radio for US release) is an ensemble comedy film, released in the UK on 1 April 2009 and currently scheduled for a US release on November 6, 2009. Set in 1966, it tells a story about a fictitious pirate radio station broadcasting from a ship to the United Kingdom. The film was written and directed by Richard Curtis and made by Working Title Films for Universal Pictures. Principal photography started on 4 March 2008 on location off the southern English coast and ended in June 2008.

Carl (Tom Sturridge) arrives on the pirate radio ship, Radio Rock, after being sent to stay with the ship's Captain, his godfather, Quentin (Bill Nighy), to hopefully set his life on a different track after being expelled from school. Here he meets Radio Rock's crew of ramshackle disc jockeys, led by The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a buoyant rock-loving American, along with the suave and bawdy Dave (Nick Frost) and the naive but good hearted Simon (Chris O'Dowd). Also filling the airwaves is self proclaimed New Zealand "nut," Angus (Rhys Darby), the mysterious Midnight Mark (Tom Wisdom) and the even more mysterious and downright disillusioned Smooth Bob (Ralph Brown). Serving as the ship's crew are the shy lesbian cook Felicity (Katherine Parkinson) and radio assistants, Harold (Ike Hamilton) and the appropriately nick-named Thick Kevin (Tom Brooke).

Dave wastes no time in introducing Carl to women, only for both of Carl's attempts to be foiled by Dave himself, including Carl's first crush, Quentin's niece, Marianne (Talulah Riley), although, by the end of the film, Carl and Marianne make up and get together. Simon also is unlucky in love, meeting and marrying the too-good-to-be-true Elenore (January Jones) only to find her affections are really placed with the returning "king of the airwaves", Gavin (Rhys Ifans). The Count objects to Gavin's antics with Elenore, leading to a clash of egos that ends in a truce after both suffer physical injuries jumping from the top of the ship's radio mast.

Radio Rock's controversial on-air antics have ruffled the feathers of a government minister, Dormandy, (Kenneth Branagh), who instructs his subordinate Twatt (Jack Davenport) to find a way to take down pirate radio, despite its popularity among the pop hungry masses. After a couple of attempts to deprive the station of advertising funding backfire, Twatt encounters a news-story of a fishing boat whose call for help failed to get through because of Radio Rock's powerful signal swamping the frequency and realises that this can be used to ban pirate radio for good. He proposes the creation of the Maritime Offences Act, which passes through Parliament without any shown opposition.

With the Act due to come into force, the crew of Radio Rock choose to defy the act, for various different personal reasons, and continue to broadcast. Twatt leads a group of boats out into the North Sea to board the pirate ship and arrest the crew, only to find a fishing vessel moored there instead. Quentin has given the order to fire up the ship's aging engines and move their position. Unfortunately, the strain proved too much for the decrepid boat, which begins to sink. The DJs broadcast their position, but Dormandy forbids Twatt from sending out rescue craft. Fortunately, many fans have also heard the broadcast and come to rescue the crew from the sinking ship.

Read more ... Factual background to the story

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