REVIEW: TEMPO

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CAST

Melanie Griffith (Lolita)
Rachael Leigh Cook (Texas Rangers)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Art Malik (True Lies)

Tempo is an odd sort of film. It seems to be caught up in camera tricks, rapid sequence photography, and in search of a story to follow. Sarah (Melanie Griffith) is a middle-aged, beautiful lady who lives high in Paris with a ‘kept lover’ Jack (Hugh Dancy) and supports her lifestyle by being a runner for the black market transportation of antique bric-a-brac, a life of crime she shares with Jack. Her past is cloaked in mystery, but she seems to hide some deep pains by her co-habitation with the young and handsome Jack. While off on what appears to be a routine “job” in Munich, Jack meets and flips for a very young girl Jenny (Rachel Leigh Cook) sent to Paris by her wealthy family to ‘get her out of their hair’. She works in a classy Parisian jewelry shop and has all the rights of a trusted shop girl. The two carry on a steamy encounter until Sarah returns unexpectedly from a botched ‘job’, desperate and on the run to find money to resolve a shady dealing. It is at this point that the film becomes poignant, not because of the speed of the resolution of the story of how the money is obtained, but because of Sarah’s being forced to face the fact that her young lover has found another younger mate. In her search of resolution we are allowed to learn Sarah’s sad background and how she came to be in the state in which she finds herself – an aging woman with a past, in dire need for a real love.

Melanie Griffith does a fine job finding this vulnerable state and it is her interaction with Dancy and Cook that makes this little mystery/chase movie worthwhile. There are other good performances (including Malcolm McDowell) and the ‘tempo’ of direction by Eric Styles is full fast forward most of the time. Worthy of your time, more as a character study than an action flick.

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REVIEW: ANTITRUST

CAST

Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions)
Rachael Leigh Cook (Texas Rangers)
Claire Forlani (Mallrats)
Tim Robbins (Mystic River)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
Yee Jee Tso (50/50)
Nate Dushku (Wolf Girl)
Ned Bellamy (Terminator: TSCC)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Zahf Paroo (Andromeda)
Jonathan Young (Sanctuary)

Working with his three friends at their new software development company Skullbocks, Stanford graduate Milo Hoffman is contacted by CEO Gary Winston of NURV (Never Underestimate Radical Vision) for a very attractive programming position: a fat paycheck, an almost-unrestrained working environment, and extensive creative control over his work. Accepting Winston’s offer, Hoffman and his girlfriend, Alice Poulson, move to NURV headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Despite development of the flagship product (Synapse, a worldwide media distribution network) being well on schedule, Hoffman soon becomes suspicious of the excellent source code Winston personally provides to him, seemingly when needed most, while refusing to divulge the code’s origin.

After his best friend, Teddy Chin, is murdered, Hoffman discovers that NURV is stealing the code they need from programmers around the world—including Chin—and then killing them to cover their tracks. Hoffman learns that not only does NURV employ an extensive surveillance system to observe and steal code, the company has infiltrated the Justice Department and most of the mainstream media. Even his girlfriend is a plant, an ex-con hired by the company to manipulate him. While searching through a secret NURV database containing surveillance dossiers on employees, he finds that the company has information of a very personal nature about a friend and co-worker, Lisa Calighan. When he reveals to her that the company has this information, she agrees to help him expose NURV’s crimes to the world. Coordinating with Brian Bissel, one of Hoffman’s friends from his old startup, they plan to use a local public-access television station to hijack Synapse and broadcast their charges against NURV to the world. However, Calighan turns out to be a double agent, foils Hoffman’s plan, and turns him over to Winston.

Hoffman had already confronted Poulson and convinced her to side with him against Winston and NURV. When it became clear that Hoffman had not succeeded, a backup plan is put into motion by Poulson, the fourth member of Skullbocks, and the incorruptible internal security firm hired by NURV. As Winston prepares to kill Hoffman, the second team successfully usurps one of NURV’s own work centers—”Building 21″—and transmits the incriminating evidence as well as the Synapse code. Calighan, Winston and his entourage are publicly arrested for their crimes. After parting ways with the redeemed Poulson, Hoffman rejoins Skullbocks.Antitrust is the best tech movie I have ever seen. The cast is perfect.  I recommend it to everyone I know in IT, and most anyone else too.

REVIEW: BLOW DRY

CAST

Rachael Leigh Cook (Antitrust)
Josh Hartnett (Halloween: H20)
Alan Rickman (Dogma)
Natasha Richardson (Main in Manhattan)
Rachel Griffiths (Blow)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Rosemary Harris (Spider-Man)
Hugh Bonneville (Downtown Abbey)
Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones)
David Bradley (Harry Potter)
Ben Crompton (Kill List)

Shelley Allen (Natasha Richardson) operates a hairdressing shop in Keighley with her domestic partner Sandra (Rachel Griffiths). Shelley has been battling cancer, a secret known only to Sandra and a few confidants. She receives a terminal prognosis from her oncologist and decides to hide the truth from Sandra. When Keighley is chosen to host the British hairdressing championship, Shelley wants to participate one last time. She asks her ex-husband Phil (Alan Rickman) and her son Brian (Josh Hartnett), who operate a barber shop, to join her and Sandra as a team to enter the competition. Phil rejects the proposition: ten years previously Shelley had been his partner in the competition, and she ran off with Sandra (their model) the night before the third event; Phil has never forgiven them. Meanwhile, defending champion Raymond Robertson (Bill Nighy) visits Phil to ensure that Phil is not competing. Brian is offput when Raymond belittles Phil’s confidence and ability. When he is attracted to Raymond’s beautiful daughter Christina (Rachael Leigh Cook), Brian offers to join Shelley’s team.

Christina aspires to be a hair colorist, but lacks experience. Brian brings her to a funeral parlor where he works, where she can practice on one of the corpses after hours while Brian cuts its hair. Christina is startled when the corpse “groans” (expels trapped gas in the lungs) and flees into the street. Brian follows to console her and inadvertently allows the doors to lock behind them. The next morning the family of the deceased is displeased to find shocking pink spiky hair on their 95-year-old uncle. During the first round of the competition, Brian is cornered by the relatives of the deceased and is physically beaten.  Shelley reveals to Phil and Brian that she has terminal cancer. Phil reconsiders and agrees to coach but not to cut. After Raymond’s team successfully cheats in the first round, Phil sabotages a second attempt in the second round, allowing the other top teams to narrow the gap to Raymond. Christina gains coloring experience using the sheep of the family that assaulted Brian. Brian however disowns her when he realizes she is helping Raymond cheat. The night before the third round, Sandra learns that Shelley’s cancer is terminal. Angry that Shelley lied to her, she quits the team. Shelley recruits one of her clients as the model for the third round and wins, moving the team into second place overall. Phil is congratulatory, but Shelley reveals that her motivation was not to win – she wanted the team effort to bond the four of them into a family before she dies. Phil agrees to participate in the final round; he also talks Sandra into rejoining the team. Christina cuts off most of her hair so that she cannot participate in her father’s scheme for the final round, and she and Brian reconcile.

In the last round, Phil’s novel design includes shaving Sandra’s head to reveal an old scalp tattoo and applying body paint to her naked, winged body. The result snatches them the overall victory by one point. Shelley, Sandra, Phil, Brian and Christina leave the competition arm-in-arm as Keighley celebrates a hometown winner.

This film boasts an ensemble cast of talented stars and a very witty script. There is an interesting back-story for each character; some are silly, others poignant. Bill Nighy is an absolute riot as the flamboyant and unscrupulous hair diva, Rickman plays it serious as a poker-faced used-to-be, while Richardson is plucky as a lesbian with health issues. All of the smaller roles are gems, too, especially the uptight Keighley lord mayor (Warren Clarke) who sings Elvis, and Rosemary Harris as an elderly nursing home resident. This collection of eccentric characters competing in an over-the-top contest had me laughing from start to finish. Highly recommended.

REVIEW: JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

 

CAST
Rachael Leigh Cook (Blow Dry)
Tara Reid (American Pie)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil TV)
Gabriel Mann (Cherry Falls)
Paulo Costanzo (Road Trip)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Alan Cumminmg (Tin Man)
Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Carson Daly (Pauly Shore is Dead)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Katherine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) is an executive with record label MegaRecords. The label, headed by the trend-conscious and scheming Fiona (Parker Posey), manufactures faddish pop bands for consumption by the teenage market. Conspiring with the United States government, they add subliminal messages under the music to brainwash teens into buying their records and other consumer products, creating “a new trend every week”. The Government’s plan is to build a robust economy from the “wads of cash” teenagers supposedly earn from babysitting and minimum wage jobs. When a member of Wyatt’s wildly successful boy band, Du Jour, uncovers one such message and asks Wyatt about it aboard their private jet, Wyatt and the pilot (Harry Elfont) parachute out of the plane, leaving it to crash and kill the band members.
Wyatt lands just outside the town of Riverdale, and meets an unappreciated rock band, the Pussycats: vocalist/guitarist Josie McCoy (Rachael Leigh Cook), drummer Melody Valentine (Tara Reid), and bassist/backup vocalist Valerie Brown (Rosario Dawson). Because they are struggling financially, the Pussycats accept Wyatt’s lucrative record deal despite its implausibility. They are flown to New York City where they are renamed “Josie and the Pussycats”, much to the girls’ discomfort. All goes well and their first single climbs rapidly to the top of the charts, but Valerie grows increasingly frustrated that all media attention is focused on Josie rather than the band as a whole. Melody, too simple to notice the undue attention Josie receives, uses her uncanny behavioral perception and becomes suspicious of Fiona and Wyatt.
Before Valerie and Melody’s suspicions can reveal the conspiracy, Fiona orders Wyatt to kill them. He sends them without Josie to a fake television appearance on the MTV show Total Request Live, where an obviously fake Carson Daly impersonator and the real Carson Daly assault them with baseball bats. The girls survive due to their attackers’ incompetence. Meanwhile, Wyatt prevents Josie from attending a gig by Alan M (Gabriel Mann), Josie’s love interest, by telling her it was canceled. Instead, Josie listens to a remix of their latest single. The remix contains a subliminal message track designed to brainwash her into desiring a solo career, and into seeing Valerie and Melody are impediments to that goal. After an argument with her band mates, Josie realizes that the recording caused the fight. Her suspicions are confirmed when she uses a mixing board to make the subliminal track audible, but she is caught by Fiona.
MegaRecords have organized a giant pay-per-view concert, whereby they plan to unleash their biggest subliminal message yet. They force Josie to perform solo on stage by holding Melody and Valerie hostage. The badly injured members of Du Jour—who survived by grounding their plane, but landed in the middle of a Metallica concert where they were severely beaten by Metallica fans—appear just in time to stop Wyatt and Fiona from launching the message. In the resulting fight, Josie destroys the machine used to generate the messages. The new subliminal message is revealed not to promote the band, the label, or a corporate sponsor, but to make Fiona universally popular. Fiona suffers a breakdown and reveals that she had been a social outcast in high school. Wyatt reveals that his appearance is a disguise—that he went to the same high school as Fiona, but was a persecuted and unpopular albino. Fiona and Wyatt immediately fall in love. The government agents colluding with Fiona arrive, but because the conspiracy is exposed, they arrest Fiona and Wyatt as scapegoats to cover-up the government’s involvement in the failed scheme.
Josie, Valerie, and Melody perform the concert together, and for the first time their fans are able to judge the band on its merits, free of subliminal persuasion. Alan M arrives and confesses his love for Josie on stage, and she returns his feelings. The audience roars their approval as the film comes to a close.
Criminally overlooked at the box office on its release, this really is a no-brain comedy gem. Even if you’re not familiar with the comic/cartoon from the 70s there’s plenty to offer everyone here. The 3 leading ladies are excellent and there is admirable support from Parker Posey and the UK’s very own Alan Cumming.

REVIEW: FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN

CAST (voices)
Rachael Leigh Cook (She’s All That)
Steve Burton (The Last Castle)
Wally Wingert (Family Guy)
Quinton Flynn (Ultimate Avengers)
Crispin Freeman (Digimon)
Dave Wittenberg (Spaceballs: The Animated Series)
Fred Tatasciore (9)
Steve Blum (The Boxtrolls)
Beau Billingslea (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Liam O’Brien (Planet Hulk)
Mena Suvari (The Cape)
George Newbern (Justice League)
Wendee Lee (Masked Rider)
Setting
Advent Children takes place two years following the events of the 1997 role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII, during which the antagonist Sephiroth attempted to absorb the Lifestream (the lifeblood and soul of the planet) and be reborn as a god. He was defeated by Cloud Strife and his companions but Sephiroth’s final spell, Meteor, destroyed the city of Midgar.
Since the end of the game, the survivors of Midgar founded the new city of Edge where Cloud and his childhood friend Tifa Lockhart now run a courier service and are the caretakers of orphans Denzel and Marlene. Cloud is still haunted by his role in the death of Aerith Gainsborough, who was killed by Sephiroth. In addition, both he and Denzel are infected with a mysterious new ailment known as “Geostigma”, which has no known cure. When the film opens, Cloud has recently moved out and isolated himself from his friends.
Story
Cloud is contacted through Tifa and summoned to a meeting with the Shinra Company’s former president Rufus Shinra, who was presumed killed in Final Fantasy VII.Rufus asks for Cloud’s help to stop Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. The trio are physical manifestations of Sephiroth’s surviving spirit, and are seeking to resurrect him using the remains of the extraterrestrial villain Jenova. Cloud refuses to help and leaves. Meanwhile, Kadaj and his colleagues are recruiting children infected with Geostigma. Denzel falls in with the group, attracted by their promises of a cure for the disease. Loz follows Tifa and Marlene to Aerith’s church, where they had gone looking for Cloud, and attacks them. Tifa is knocked unconscious in the fight and Loz kidnapped Marlene. All the kidnapped children are taken to the ruins of the mystical Forgotten City, where Kadaj embraces them as brethren and announces his intention for them all to be reunited with Jenova. When Cloud arrives to rescue them, he is overpowered by Kadaj’s gang, but is rescued by his old comrade Vincent Valentine. Demoralized by his failure, Cloud asks if sin can ever be truly forgiven, to which Vincent nonchalantly replies that he has never tried to forgive. Cloud decides to keep fighting and returns to the city, where Kadaj has summoned Bahamut SIN and other monsters to terrorize the population.[4] With the help of his companions from Final Fantasy VII, Cloud engages and defeats the monsters.
Kadaj confronts Rufus Shinra, who reveals he possesses the box containing Jenova’s remains. He attempts to destroy it, but Kadaj manages to save it and flees the city with his companions. Yazoo and Loz are apparently destroyed along the way by an explosive planted by Shinra’s agents. Cloud chases Kadaj down and engages him in battle, ultimately subduing him. Outmatched, Kadaj opens Jenova’s box and fuses with its contents, transforming into Sephiroth. He then tells Cloud that he will be able to use the life essences of Geostigma sufferers to achieve complete domination over the planet.[5] He and Cloud then fight, and throughout the whole encounter Sephiroth appears to have the upper hand, flinging Cloud repeatedly into walls and finally impaling him through the shoulder. He asks Cloud to tell him what he most cherishes, so that he can have the pleasure of taking it away. To this, Cloud replies that he cherishes everything, then pulls out Sephiroth’s sword and deals him a hail of devastating blows. Sephiroth’s spirit departs, leaving behind the mortally wounded Kadaj. As he lies dying in Cloud’s arms, a healing rain starts falling across the land, curing the people of their Geostigma. Yazoo and Loz appear and confront Cloud; he charges at them, and they set off a massive explosion engulfing the three.
Cloud has a vision of his deceased friends Aerith and Zack Fair, who say that his time to join them has not yet come. He then awakens in the church, healed of his injuries and surrounded by his friends. Behind them, he sees Aerith and Zack leaving the church and hears Aerith’s voice say, “You see, everything’s all right.” He agrees: “I know. I’m not alone… not anymore.”
People will ask whether you need to have played the game to understand the film? Well, I would say it would help if you want to understand everything, because it can be left quite vague. But that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the movie if you haven’t played the game. There is lots of action, and some of the best animation seen yet, and it’s been done wonderfully. There is also a Reminiscence section in the bonus features which tells you the entire story of the original game if you wish to see it. All in all, this is a package you don’t want to miss.

 

REVIEW: TANGLED (2001)

CAST
Rachael Leigh Cook (Antitrust)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
John Rhys Meyers (Dracula)
Estella Warren (Driven)
Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos)
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The movie opens with David (Shawn Hatosy) being wheeled into the emergency room following an accident. Claiming that he and his girlfriend have been kidnapped, a frantic David is interviewed by police detectives, Anders and Nagle (Lorraine Brocco and Dwayne Hill). Because David claims memory loss, the police ask him what time he remembers waking up the day before. A flashback to the day before begins. David and his girlfriend, Jenny (Rachel Leigh Cook) get up and eat breakfast. They receive a hang-up call from Alan (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) who, unbeknownst to them, is observing them from across the street. David and Jenny quarrel briefly before David leaves the apartment to go to the store. Alan slips in while Jenny draws a bath. Alan surprises Jenny as David returns. Alan and David fight; David then retrieves a gun and the two men struggle over it. A shot is fired in Jenny’s direction. She hits the floor. The film resumes in the present when David tells the detectives that he has known Alan for quite some time, having met him in college. Another flashback begins. David and Jenny meet in their junior year of college and strike up a friendship. David is smitten with Jenny, writing poetry for her and spending hours discussing literature with her. Although Jenny enjoys their friendship, she makes it clear that David’s romantic feelings are not returned and dates many other men.
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David invites Jenny along to a family function. While there, they encounter Alan, who has also been invited. Jenny and Alan feel an immediate chemistry with each other. Alan returns to school shortly thereafter and moves into an apartment. While David and Jenny help Alan move in, they discover that Alan is in possession of a very large amount of marijuana. Alan claims to be holding it for someone who left the country and hides it in a cookie jar. Alan soon asks Jenny out. Jenny accepts the date and soon the two are a couple. David resents this and begins avoiding both of them. Eager to broker a reconciliation, Alan tricks Jenny and David into accompanying him on a trip to the woods. In the woods, Alan brings Jenny and David into a long-abandoned mansion. Alan demands that Jenny and David reconcile; when they initially refuse, Alan cuts the palm of his hand. Horrified, Jenny and David apologize to each other. Alan then takes them on a tour of the property, telling the story of the former owner, a wealthy man with two sons whose rivalry ends in murder.
The three end up staying the night in the abandoned house and have a menage a trois of sorts. When they return to school, Alan sets David up with Elise (Estella Warren), a girl who has no interest in literature or poetry. David, who is still in love with Jenny, reluctantly begins seeing Elise. Shortly thereafter, Jenny receives a call from her estranged father who suggests a dinner date. She asks Alan to accompany her. Alan, who is beginning to feel suffocated in the relationship, balks. David offers to go in his place. Jenny’s father never shows up for the dinner and David takes a disappointed Jenny home. David makes a play for Jenny’s romantic affections; Jenny angrily rejects him and runs into her apartment where she finds Alan and Elise in bed together. Jenny breaks up with Alan. Alan begins stalking her, begging her to take him back. After a confrontation in the library, David and Alan fight with David punching Alan in the mouth. Alan threatens David before leaving. That night, someone throws a large rock through Jenny’s window. Convinced that Alan is responsible and fearing for her safety, Jenny asks David to let her stay with him. David eagerly assents. The next day, David witnesses Alan being led out of his apartment in handcuffs. Someone tipped the police about Alan’s supply of drugs. Later that night, Jenny declares her affections for David and the two sleep together.Alan is sentenced to eighteen months for drug possession and is institutionalized for a time after his release. Meanwhile, David and Jenny, who have become a couple, graduate from college and move in together, being careful to get an unlisted number.
 
The film resumes in the present. The police, who had already found Alan’s car, find Jenny and Alan, both of them clinging to life. Detective Anders briefly puts David under arrest, feeling that he is responsible for what happened. David swears his innocence and asks for an opportunity to finish his story. David claims that Alan kidnaps both he and Jenny, tying both of them up and driving them back to the abandoned mansion. Once there, he leads Jenny into the house, leaving David tied up in the car. David manages to free himself and runs inside to rescue Jenny. Once inside, he hears Alan demanding that Jenny tell him that he and their relationship had meant something to her. When Jenny does as she is asked, Alan, convinced that she was the one to call the police, asks her why she set him up. At this point, David reveals himself. The two fight and accidentally knock Jenny over the balcony. Convinced that Jenny is dead, Alan rushes down the stairs past David who follows closely. While Alan kneels over an unconscious Jenny, David pulls out his gun and trains it on Alan. It is then that he reveals that he, not Jenny, was the one who called the police. He tells Alan that he resented the fact that Jenny always rejected him in favor of inappropriate men and that he felt that Jenny would finally see that he was the best partner for her if Alan was out of the picture. He then shoots Alan several times. After the shooting, David leaves the mansion in search of help for Jenny. He is hit by a car and taken to the hospital. As he finishes his story, a comatose Alan is wheeled into the hospital, followed by Jenny who has recovered well enough from her injuries to walk unassisted. Jenny corroborates much of David’s story. The detectives opt not to charge David with a crime. After David is released from the hospital, he and Jenny look in on Alan who is still unconscious.
Jenny tells David that she had been wrong about both Alan and David and that she is glad that she is with David. She asks him to take her home. The two leave the hospital. As they leave the hospital, another flashback begins. It is then revealed that David manipulated Elise into going to Alan’s apartment during Jenny’s dinner with her father and that he, not Alan, had thrown the rock through Jenny’s window. 
Although this movie is fairly predictable and runs through the love triangle issue in Hollywood routine style, it has a lot to boast as it is beautifully shot, some great scenes, witty dialogue and an incredible soundtrack. The actors are charismatic and very watchable. And the story is well-paced.

REVIEW: TEXAS RANGERS


CAST
James Van Der Beek (Dawsons Creek)
Rachael Leigh Cook (Antitrust)
Ashton Kutcher (That 70s Show)
Dylan McDermott (Runaway Jury)
Usher Raymonmd (Shes All That)
Tom Skerritt (Poison Ivy)
Randy Travis (The Rainmaker)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Jon Abrahams (Scary Movie)
Oded Fehr (V)
Eric Johnson (Smallville)
Matt Keeslar (Scream 3)
Ten years after the Civil War has ended, the Governor of Texas asks Leander McNelly (Dylan McDermott) to recommission a company of Rangers to help uphold the law along the Mexican border. Aside from a few seasoned veterans, the recruits are young men who have little or no experience with guns or policing crime. The antagonist of the story is John King Fisher (Alfred Molina) who is stealing cattle from Texas cattle barons like Richard Dukes and Victor Logan and driving them into Mexico, where he sells them to the Mexican army.
After McNelly and his men pursue Fisher for a while, they fall into a trap, where many of the young and ill-trained Rangers are killed. Defeated and low on morale, the men fall back to a ranch house and attempt to set up an ambush for Fisher. After being double crossed by a woman (perhaps unwittingly), the rangers remain one step behind Fisher and his men. Two of the Rangers follow Fisher and his men to the Mexican border, where they wait for the rest of their company. Once the entire Ranger force arrives, they plan their final attack. In a final gun-slinging showdown, the Rangers face off against Fisher and his men that will tip the state of the border country in the direction of either chaos or justice.
This is an excellent film, and worth watching. It gives a gritty example of how life probably was in those days, particularly for the Texas Rangers. Leander McNelly did actually exist in real life (as did King Fisher), but the film uses poetic licence in terms of the storyline in relation to facts (what’s new!). The acting in this film is very good, and the casting really spot on.