Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green


Everyone knows who Bob Marley is as the words on the screen at the start of this Bob Marley biopic claim about the man: ‘the poorest who became the most important man in Jamaica’.  Robert Nesta Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Considered one of the pioneers of the genre, his music fused elements of reggae, ska, and rocksteady, and he was renowned for his distinctive vocal and songwriting style. As the film shows, Marley’s contribution to music irrefutably increased the visibility of Jamaican music worldwide and made him a global figure in popular culture. 

He is also considered a global symbol of Jamaican music and culture and identity and was controversial in his outspoken support for democratic social reforms.  The film concentrates more on his political desire for peace and to bring to an end the internal conflict of the two opposing political parties after the British left Jamaica.  His concert of peace designed for this purpose forms the main story, that resulted almost in his death with a home assassination attempt.   

Marley also supported legislation for cannabis and advocated for Pan-Africanism.  This can be seen in a scene, that might be too disturbing for North American audiences, in which Marley smokes a joint flagrantly while driving and with his two kids at the back of the car.  In many North American states, weed is still illegal and driving and getting high is a no-no everywhere, not to mention the importance of setting a good example for children.

The actor who plays Marley is British.  He and most of the cast speak with a mild Jamaican accent throughout the film, which can be easily understood by North American audiences.   This is compared to the real thick Jamaican accent which is almost impossible to decipher.  Words like ‘raster’, a common colloquial term are often heard in the dialogue.

The film soars when Marley’s famous songs are heard and performed in the film.  Songs like “One Love”, : No Woman No Cry” and his version of Eric Clapton’s “I Shot the Sheriff” are examples.  The scene with the clip where Marley holds up the arms of the two political party opponents on stage in his peace concert is enough to inspire peace in the world.  “What is being rich like?”  Marley is asked at one point in the film.  “Richness is loving life,” is Marley’s answer.  It is not surprising he uttered these words as life came rather short for this man, who eventually died of cancer.

Though touted as a biopic, BOB MARLEY ONE LOVE is more of his work for peace and his struggle during only a few years of his life before being diagnosed with cancer.  It is easy to see the reason the filmmaker concentrated on these years, as they are the most inspirational and interesting part of his life.  His exile to Britain is largely ignored.

BOB MARLEY ONE LOVE opens in theatres on February 16th.



Directed by  Anthony Pilipson


Three films based on the dreaded invention and use of the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the Second World War have made an impact this year,  The most notable of these is Christopher Nolan’s OPPENHEIMER, followed by the British documentary A PASSIONATE SPY and now yet another that ties the most famous Physicist of all time Albert Einstein, a Jew to the atomic bomb.

The doc attempts to inform what occurred with Einstein after he left Germany during the Second World War.  The film combines archival footage with dramatization (with actor Aidan McArdle playing Einstein) and explores key moments in science genius Einstein's life, and how his work has changed history's course.  Everything he says in the film is taken from the words he said or wrote.

The words claim at the start of the film that what is to be seen is based on true events and that all the words heard have in his lifetime, been written or said by Einstein.  One of these statements includes the one when he said if he knew that the Germans are not making an atomic bomb, he would not have opened Pandora’s Box.

Albert Einstein’s famous equation e = mc squared is the one used in atomic bombs where the difference in mass between two separate atomic particles and the one combined in the atom’s nucleus is multiplied by the speed of light (which is 3,000 million metres per second) is the energy generated.  A chain reaction of this energy would create the power of the atomic bomb that would destroy a complete city.

Among Einstein’s words:

I believe a simple and unassuming mind is best for the body and soul.

The Germans have been extremely violent towards my Jewish brothers.

To stay in Germany would be impossible for me, a pacifist.

I am a military pacifist.  I will fight for peace.

I believe that nature can be understood as a simple mathematical structure. 

And some with regard to Physics;

Time is relative.  An hour on our planet might be a century in another.

Time stretches and shrinks.

The doc is not without humour.  Einstein is given two lady bodyguards, who make light of the seriousness of their duties.

The doc’s re-enactments are done with a credible created period atmosphere and executed with conviction, humour and mystery making it an entertaining watch.  The doc opens for streaming on Netflix on Friday, February 16th.


KILL ME IF YOU DARE (Zabij mnie, kochanie)(Poland 2023) *

Directed by Filip Zylber


KILL ME IF YOU DARE begins where most romantic comedies end.  The man is chasing and finally manages to get to the train station in time before his love leaves the platform.  He pros]poses to her to which she replies: “Till Death do Us part”.  This is a comedy in which a couple tries to kill each other after winning a lottery ticket.

Weronika Ksiazkiewiczand and Mateusz Banasiuk play the couple, Natalia and Piotr respectively.

KILL ME IF YOU DARE is an anti-romantic film that serves as something completely different for Valentine’s Day  The question asked is what one would do with such a large amount of money.  And what would you do if you were married and things were not as good as they could be?  In 1994, Andrew Bergman directed the Nicholas Cage comedy in which he shared the lottery winnings with a waitress played by.  Bridget Fonda much to the consternation of his wife, hilariously played by Rosie Perez immediately went to buy a fur coat only to get red paint splattered on her by animal protestors.  KILL ME IF YOU DARE takes the scenario of one stepfather with murder,  Well, perhaps not if each other thinks the other wants to murder them and take the money for themselves.

They get their winnings in cash and put it in a newly bought safe from their neighbour - a safe that needs two keys to unlock.  You need o trust each other,” the neighbour advises, “one can turn the nicest of wives into a murderer.:

A major segment has the couple with their two best friends who keep giving them incorrect advice, attending mountain vacation which has ample opportunity for each to do away with the other.  Opportunity is totally lost as the segment is long and boring, and less funny.  It does help that each of the best friends is totally annoying.

There is one scene nicely thought of that ends up a dud.  It is the dinner scene where the wife plans to poison him with almonds, as he is allergic to nuts.  He, on the other hand, intends to get her totally drunk and then skip on the floor of the room with tann=ing oil on the floor.  But what transpires ends up boring, unfunny and a chore to watch,

The film is interspersed with catchy English songs like “IlLove you Baby”, and  “What a Feeling:, from FLASHDANCE lifting the film’s mood and increasing its tackiness as well.  Throughout the film, the question is teased in the audience’s mind what if one won 5 million him or herself?

The film displays a modern Poland with new fashion, modern office space, and good-looking people wearing beautiful clothes.

KILL ME IF YOU DARE is a totally unfunny comedy with lots of missed opportunities for humour gone down the drain.  The only thing about the story is that the audience is kept guessing (though it does not take a genius to guess right) as to whether the couple will get together in the end,  But one has to sit through a grueling 90 minutes to fund out.

The film opens in Poland on February 14th and is also open for streaming on Netflix on Valentine’s Day.


LAND OF BAD (USA 2023) **

Directed by William Eubank

The LAND OF BAD is the Philippines. The task of the Delta Force of the United States is the taking down of a stolen American military asset by enemy forces.  The Delta Force team is ambushed in enemy territory, their only hope lies with an Air Force drone pilot, nicknamed Reaper (Russell Crowe) to guide them through a brutal 48-hour battle for survival.

The lazy script skimps on the details.  The details of the stolen asset are not detailed.  The enemy identity is largely omitted and the real villain of the piece is left vague.  The enemy territory is the Philippines as stated by the words on the screen but the film is largely shot in the Gold Coast of Queensland in Australia.

There’s a lot of Aussie content in the film.  Besides being shot in Australia, the cast is largely Australian from the main lead, Russel Crowe to the two Hemsworth Brothers, Liam and Luke.  Australia is huge and has parts that can stand in for the Philippines.

The film is a mixed bag of tricks.  It does not start off well.  The first 30 minutes is unbelievably boring with little details given to the story and with editing moving to and fro between Reaper and Delta Force.  Nothing happens but if one can sit through the initial 30 minutes, there are some good suspenseful parts.

The last 30 minutes are quite suspenseful with Reaper rushing back (from grocery shopping, crazy as it may sound to the base to try to save Playboy (the nickname of the key Delta Force member).  To director Eubanks’ credit, he is able to wring out suspense in quite a many segments leaving the audience at the edge of the seats.  The script attempts a few funny moments like a choice of Frosty Flakes or Fruit Loops cereal and a few one-liners that are mildly amusing at best.  The trouble is the script that fails to explain the incidents and the details of the mission, who the enemy is and what the stolen asset is leaving the main plot vague and blurry.

L AND OF BAD opens in theatres on February 16th.


THE PEASANTS (Poland 2023)

Directed by DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman

THE PEASANTS is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Reymont.  It has all the elements of a historical epic given a fairy tale look by the film’s animators.  There is poverty, the wealthy thriving on the poor, the quest for land, the hardship of farming the land, relationships and the dream of a better life.  The story is set in a Polish village and the story depicts that of the typical Polish villager.

The movie, like Reymont's novel, is divided into four parts corresponding to each of the four seasons. It takes place at the turn of the twentieth century, over the course of one year, in the village of Lipce.

Autumn. A beautiful, yet modest, young peasant Jagna Paczesiówna, with a talent for creating cutouts, is in love with Antek Boryna, the son of the richest peasant in the village, Maciej Boryna. However, Antek has a wife, Hanka, who has a hard time accepting her husband's advances towards another woman. In addition, Maciej, who is a widower looking for a new wife, decides to marry Jagna and give her six acres of land as a dowry.  Antek and Hanka disapprove of this decision. After a fight between Antek and Maciej the family's senior orders his son and daughter-in-law to leave the farm.

The film’s most magnificent scene is the wedding celebration segment where the old groom and young bride dance in circles.  There is also the effect of the camera zooming out of the celebrations showing the house from close up to afar to the land that the farm is situated on.

The animation of THE PEASANTS is quite astounding.  The film was produced using the painted animation technique over the production of five years, similar to the Welchman duo's previous film, LOVING VINCENT.  The film has a fairly tale look as the scenes share the look of the illustrations often found in children’s fairy tale books, though this is an adult tale.  Initially, the film was shot with the actors, and then more than a hundred painters in four studios in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Serbia painted oil paintings based on the shots, which became frames in the film. Animators then worked to supplement the paintings to make the whole film seamless. The artists spent over 200,000 hours in total working on the project.

The film’s world premiere took place at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was also invited to the 28th Busan International Film Festival in the 'Flash Forward' section.  The film was released in Polish cinemas on October 13, 2023, enjoying general critical acclaim. The Peasants recorded the biggest opening weekend for a Polish film in 2023 and is currently the most popular film in Poland for 2023.  The film is definitely worth a look!


PERFECT DAYS (Japan 2023) ***1/2
Directed by Wim Wenders

PERFECT DAYS is an almost perfect little simple film about a simple man, content with his daily job as a public toilet cleaner.  He wears his form as a badge and does his job efficiently and diligently with pride and dignity.  One can also learn how to properly clean toilets from this man.  Kôji Yakusho, in one his best performances that won him the Best Actor prize at Cannes this year,  plays Hirayama, the cleaner of these toilets, named after the protagonist of Yasujiro Ozu’s last film, An Autumn Afternoon.  Hirayama lives alone in a small house full of plants, his days going by according to quiet rhythms that never seem to change.  But there is much surprise in store for the cleaner and the audience as German director Wim Wenders delivers another prized movie.


A SOWETO LOVE STORY (Africa 2024) ***

Directed by Rolie Nikiwe


Two international comedies linked to the theme of romance open for streaming this week on Netflix in line with the Valentine’s Day celebrations.  Both are silly comedies.  One is KILL ME IF YOU DARE from Poland is about a couple attempting to kill each other after winning a lottery ticket.  Another, from Soweto, is called A SOWETO LVOE STORY.  While KILL ME IF YOU DARDE is silly and stupid, hardly generating any laughs, the one from Soweto is in contrast silly and occasionally smart and hilarious generating often a laugh-out-loud laugh per minute as can be enjoyed in the film’s first 5 minutes taking place in a church.  It is the keen observations of human behaviour that are milked for humour, something that audiences can relate to.  Coming in late during a hymn during a church service while finding a seat, praising the Lord while interjecting one’s successes and getting the spotlight in the church are all terrific funny moments.

In the film, the mother of three unmarried sons gives them an ultimatum:” Whoever gets married at the end of the year gets the house as a wedding present.”  Trouble is the one son who was supposed to propose to his girlfriend at his brother’s restaurant and gets dumped by his supposed fiancé after she finds a red bra at the back of his car.  The brother who owns the restaurant is not a worthy candidate for girls, says the eldest brother.  The third brother is assumed gay but the man keeps insisting: “I am not gay,” to which the other brother says:” It's okay to be gay.”  Mother wants to be recognized in church for a least one of her son’s weddings.  So there is a mad scramble for each of the sons to see who gets married first.  But things turn do not out right with failure after failure occurring for each of the three brothers.

Some of the humour has been used in similar films before - like dates that don’t work.  When fixed for blind dates, one laughs too annoyingly and loudly; another is too forward and yet another eats with food dribbling down her mouth.  The one who fixed the blind dates tells the man: “You are not that good-looking to be that fussy.”  the old jokes still manage to wring a laugh or two.  What works is the director’s comic timing which is passed down to both his actors and his filmed comedic pieces.

The film also suffered from the typical clichés including rushing to the airport before the flight takes off to save the romance.  Only this time it is the girl doing the chase.  It does not take a genius to guess the film’s ending, which one can likely guess though it will not be disclosed ninth review.  That aside, one still cannot help but root for the film’s happy ending.

This romantic comedy about A SOWETO LOVE STORY, actually three love stories in one is flawed with cliches with an overused storyline, but it still manages to pack quite a few laughs regardless, the biggest one involving the invoking of what is termed ‘force majeure’.  A satisfying Valentine’s Day pick.


SWAY (Canada 2023) ***

Directed by Ramelan X Hamilton


SWAY is a Canadian gripping thriller wannabe but mostly a drama that is produced by Emmanuel Kabongo and directed by Ramelan X Hamilton.  The brisk 98-minute film follows the life of a prominent young Black community leader, nicknamed SWAY facing unexpected challenges that unravel his world.  As his brother, Cy goes missing after losing a bet of an undisclosed amount to a shady big boss character, Sway becomes ensnared in a web of blackmail orchestrated by a mysterious woman, and a murder puts his love and loyalty to the ultimate test.  The mysterious girl first appears in his bed one morning after Sway’s last rough night, though he does not remember what happened the night before or who this lady is.  Premiering in LA on Feb 8th and 10th, and in Toronto on Feb 17th, with Halifax dates to be announced in late February, SWAY promises an unforgettable cinematic experience.

The script contains a few interesting though not groundbreaking ideas.  The fight against crime is duly established and serves to be the main goal of the protagonist in the storyline,  “Crime is an occupation. It just sits on the opposite side of law and order.  Crime has to be driven out of Parkwood.” and so says Sway.  The success of the film depends mostly on the script which tends to be stage-bound.

It is important most of the time for the audience to have a likable protagonist to side with him and also the film.  Sway’s character is shown for both sides of the coin.  On his good side, he strives to do good for the foundation achieving what the press calls  40 under 40, which one assumes is the top 40 under 40 years of age.  He is concerned about his brother and loves his family.  The family is not seen in the film.  The film also shows his other side - short tempered with often use of foul language.  He also screams and mistreats his employees though one employee does deserve to be screamed at.  But there is a reason for the bad side to be shown as not to reveal any more of the plot, but some dirty goings-on are revealed to the audience about Sway at the mid-mark of the film.  The revelation occurs when his interviewer puts him in a corner when questioning an unexplained fire that occurred in one of the buildings at Parkdale.  Just when shit is about to hit the fan, the lady in his bed that morning calls him to blackmail him.  This is when the audience is forced to either take Sway’s side or do the opposite.

The film is a Canadian film shot in Toronto, though the setting is the United States. The high-rise building of Toronto can be seen throughout the film with many locations recognizable by Torontonians, 

SWAY premieres in LA on Feb 8th and 10th, and in Toronto on Feb 17th at Toronto’s Black Film Festival, with Halifax dates to be announced in late February.  The film has won an award: 2024 BAFGC (CBS Awards) Recipient: Best Film and Best Actor (SWAY).  For more information about Toronto’s Black Film Festival clink on the link:



Directed by Anh Hung Tran


The film THE TASTE OF THINGS begins with an extended cooking scene amidst a breakfast that is enjoyed by both Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) and her boss of 20 years, Dodin (Benoît Magimel).  The audience is introduced to both Eugenie and Dodin as well as their two young helpers Pauline and Violette.  Though slow-moving and meticulously filmed, the total segment (not done with a single take but with frequent cuts, yet with the camera swirling around the kitchen) lasts more than 30 minutes and might require some patience to watch as well as to sit through this 2 hour-15 minute historical romance drama.  But the effort is well worth it.  From the gardens outside the residence where fresh vegetables are cultivated to the kitchen where all the stocks are made from scratch using exotic ingredients like crayfish, veal short ribs and quenelles, the film illustrates gastronomical delights.  Mouths will be watering as one can almost smell the fragrances of the cooking ingredients.  As the segment unfolds, the audience also learns about the couple.

The film is set in 1885 France.  Eugénie is an outstanding cook who, for 20 years has been working for the famous gourmet Dodin.  Together they create dishes, each more delicate and delicious than the previous ones.  From this union, a love affair has sprung, with Eugénie leaving her bedroom door unlocked at the manor where they live.  Although he’s proposed to Eugénie many times, she’s never wanted to marry.  So Dodin decides to do something he’s never done before – cook for her.

The film is an adult love story where the line between cooking or rather,  doing something special for the other person and love equate to the same thing.  The deed is clearly more important than one’s words and one’s deeds can surely demonstrate love, care and passion for the other person.

Three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire served as a food consultant, assisted by chef Michel Nave, with whom he worked for over 40 years.  Also starring are Galatea Bellugi as Dodin’s assistant cook, and Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire as a natural talent who reminds Eugénie of her young self.  The film is loosely based on Marcel Rouff’s The Life and Passion of Dodin-Bouffant.   The current French title is LA PASSION DE DODIN BOUFFANT.

There is a lot of information dissipated in French gourmet cooking in the film.  One of the highlights is the ortolan eating.  The ortolan (Emberiza hortulana), also called ortolan bunting, is an Eurasian bird in the bunting family.  The ortolan is served in French cuisine, typically cooked and eaten whole.  As observed in the film, the diners cover their heads with a cloth while eating the delicacy.  The bird is so widely used that its French populations dropped dangerously low,

France surprisingly submitted THE TASTE OF THINGS for the 2024 Academy Awards Best International  Feature thus shunning the Golden Globe Winner for the Best International Feature, Justine Triet’s  L’ANATOMIE D’UNE CHUTE (The Anatomy of a Fall).  THE TASTE OF THINGS did not even make it to the final 5 nominees though it made it to the shortlist.  The film did win director Anh HungTran  (THE SCENT OF GREEN PAPAYA) the Cannes Prize for the Best Mise-en-Scene.  At the point of writing, the film has scored an impressive 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

THE TASTE OF THINGS opens February 16 in Toronto and Vancouver, February 23 in Ottawa and throughout the winter in other cities.



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