Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006

1. THE NEW WORLD, Terrence Malick, 2005
2. LE TEMPS QUI RESTE, François Ozon, 2005
3. CARS, John Lasseter & Joe Ranft, 2006
4. INSIDE MAN, Spike Lee, 2006
5. MIAMI VICE, Michael Mann, 2006

BUBBLE, Steven Soderbergh, 2005
CACHÉ, Michael Haneke, 2004
THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, Cristi Puiu, 2004
THE DEPARTED, Martin Scorsese, 2006
GHOST IN THE SHELL: INNOCENCE, Mamoru Oshii, 2004
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK., George Clooney, 2005
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, David Cronenberg, 2005
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, 2006
MARIE ANTOINETTE, Sofia Coppola, 2005
MARY, Abel Ferrara, 2005
MATCH POINT, Woody Allen, 2006
MILLENNIUM ACTRESS, Satoshi Kon, 2001
PARADISE, NOW!, Hany Abu-Assad, 2005
THE PASSENGER, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975
LE PETIT LIEUTENANT, Xavier Beauvois, 2005
PRIMER, Shane Carruth, 2004
REQUIEM, Hans-Christian Schmid, 2005
SHANGHAI DREAMS, Wang Xiaoshuai, 2005
UNITED 93, Paul Greengrass 2006
THE WHITE COUNTESS, James Ivory, 2005

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Prestige

(USA, 2006, 124 minutes)

In 19th century London, two magicians, former friends torn apart by a personal tragedy, go to extreme lengths to one-up each other’s ever more dazzling illusions. A study on the nature of obsession posing as an intricately layered mystery skilfully assembled and presented, although the fantastical elements may lose a number of viewers.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Touchstone Pictures present a Newmarket Films/Syncopy production. Starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Andy Serkis, Piper Perabo; and David Bowie. Directed by Christopher Nolan; produced by Emma Thomas, Aaron Ryder, Christopher Nolan; screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, based on the novel The Prestige by Christopher Priest; music by David Julyan; director of photography, Wally Pfister; production designer, Nathan Crowley; costume designer, Joan Bergin; film editor, Lee Smith; magic consultants, Ricky Jay and Michael Weber.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Babel

(USA/Mexico, 2006, 141 minutes)

A rifle bought second hand by a Moroccan shepherd for his two sons to protect their herd from jackals sets in motion a series of events that turn upside down the lives of an American couple holidaying in Morocco, their Mexican nanny attending her son’s wedding across the border, and a Japanese deaf-mute schoolgirl. Earnest mosaic melodrama that dresses a well-intentioned commentary about the state of the world today in flat, clichéd and unintentionally ponderous scripting.

An Anonymous Content/Zeta Film/Central Films production. Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi. Directed by Alejandro González Iñarritú; produced by Alejandro González Iñarritú, Jon Kilik, Steve Golin; screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga, based on an idea by Arriaga and Alejandro González Iñarritú; music by Gustavo Santaolalla; director of photography, Rodrigo Prieto; production designer, Brigitte Broch; costume designers, Michael Wilkinson, Gabriela Diaque, Miwako Kobayashi; film editors, Stephen Mirrione, Douglas Crise.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

OSS 117 Le Caire nid d'espions

(France, 2006, 98 minutes)

French superspy Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, alias OSS 117, is assigned to discover who killed a French agent in mid-fifties Cairo. A popular French pulp fiction hero of the 1950s and 1960s that got its own film series at the time is reinvented as a spot-on, straight-faced spoof of early sixties spy thrillers and particularly of early Bond films, making good fun of the genre’s outdated trappings.

A Gaumont release of a Mandarin Films presentation. Gaumont presents a Gaumont/Mandarin Films/M6 production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cinécinéma, Artemis and M6. Starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Aure Atika, Philippe Lefebvre. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius; produced by Éric and Nicolas Altmeyer; screenplay by Jean-François Halin, based on the character created by Jean Bruce; adaptation and dialogues, Jean-François Halin, Michel Hazanavicius; music by Ludovic Bource and Kamel Ech-Cheikh; director of photography, Guillaume Schiffman; production designer, Maamar Ech-Cheikh; costume designer, Charlotte David; film editor, Reynald Bertrand; visual effects supervisors, David Danet and Philippe Aubry.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ossos

Bones

(Portugal/France/Denmark, 1997, 97 minutes)

A young mother from the Lisbon slums finds out her boyfriend has run away with their newborn baby. Austere melodrama of tragedy and revenge, relentlessly bleak but dazzlingly presented and staged in a stylized manner.

Paulo Branco presents a Madragoa Filmes/Gemini Films/Zentropa Productions co-production, with the participation of IPACA and RTP and the support of Eurimages. Starring Vanda Duarte, Nuno Vaz, Maria Lipkina, Isabel Ruth, Inês de Medeiros, Miguel Sermão, Berta Susana Teixeira, Clotilde Montron, Zita Duarte. Directed and written by Pedro Costa; produced by Paulo Branco; director of photography, Emmanuel Machuel; art director, Zé Branco; wardrobe, Isabel Favila; film editor, Jackie Bastide.

Casa de Lava

Down to Earth

(Portugal/France/Germany, 1994, 109 minutes)

A Portuguese nurse accompanies a comatose Cape-Verdean worker back to his home town, and finds herself thrust into a community she feels lost in. Elliptical, stylized melodrama whose narrative shortcomings are compensated by the powerful mood of eerie alienation it conjures.

Paulo Branco presents a Madragoa Filmes/Gemini Films/Pandora Film production, with the participation of IPACA, RTP and CNC, with the support of the European Script Fund. Starring Inês Medeiros, Isaach de Bankolé, Edith Scob, Pedro Hestnes, Raul Andrade. Directed and written by Pedro Costa; original music, Raul Andrade; director of photography, Emmanuel Machuel; art director, Maria José Branco; wardrobe, Rosa Lopes Alves; editor, Dominique Auvray.

Friday, December 22, 2006

20,13

(Portugal, 2006, 112 minutes)

In a Portuguese military base in Mozambique on Christmas Eve 1969, a prisoner is found seriously injured after having witnessed the murder of a soldier. At face value a murder mystery with a good sense of atmosphere and excellent ensemble acting, this is in fact a clever character study of men in war posing as a whodunit.

A MGN Filmes production, with the participation of Lusomundo Audiovisuais and PT Multimedia, and the support of RTP and ICAM/MC. Starring Marco d'Almeida, Adriano Carvalho, Carla Chambel, Maya Booth, Ivo Canelas. Directed by Joaquim Leitão; produced by Tino Navarro; written by Luís Lopes, Joaquim Leitão and Tino Navarro; music by António Emiliano; director of photography, José António Loureiro; production designer, João Martins; costume designer, Sílvia Meireles; film editor, Pedro Ribeiro.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Déjà Vu

(USA, 2006, 127 minutes)

After a terrorist attack on a New Orleans ferry, an ATF agent finds himself working to crack the case alongside a secret FBI unit using a machine that can “see” into the past. Clever, fast-moving sci-fi thriller that doesn’t look like sci-fi at all, anchored by an excellent lead and an intriguing premise.

Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films present a Scott Free production. Starring Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Paula Patton, Bruce Greenwood, Adam Goldberg, Matt Craven, Elden Henson; and Jim Caviezel. Directed by Tony Scott; produced by Jerry Bruckheimer; written by Bill Marsilli and Terry Rossio; music by Harry Gregson-Williams; director of photography, Paul Cameron; production designer, Chris Seagers; costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick; film editor, Chris Lebenzon.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

India Song

(France, 1975, 121 minutes)

In 1937 Calcutta, the unhappy wife of the French ambassador to India attracts a court of admirers. A film experience quite unlike any other, since the story is entirely told through the spoken word soundtrack and the images on screen are extended static tableaux that work as moving illustrations; the effect is dazzling, poignant and hypnotic, but certainly not for the average viewer. 1976’s Son Nom de Venise en Calcutta Désert is a further audiovisual experimentation on the same text, with the exact same soundtrack illustrated by a totally different set of visuals.

Stéphane Tchalgadjieff presents a Sunchild/Les Films Armorial production. Starring Delphine Seyrig, Michel Lonsdale, Mathieu Carrière, Claude Mann, Vernon Dobtcheff, Didier Flamand, Claude Juan. Directed and written by Marguerite Duras; music by Carlos d'Alessio; director of photography, Bruno Nuytten; film editor, Solange Leprince.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Eragon

(USA, 2006, 105 minutes)

In a mythical land, a teenage farmboy finds himself safekeeping the last dragon egg that holds out hope for freedom from the tyrannical rule of a dreaded king. Very well made but highly derivative adventure fantasy for younger audiences, with excellent trick effects; there’s a neat old-fashioned charm to its overuse of all the genre clichés, though anyone over 15 will find it a disposable time-passer.

A Twentieth Century-Fox release. Fox 2000 pictures presents, in association with Ingenious Film Partners, a Davis Entertainment Company production; made in association with Dune Entertainment and Major Studio Partners. Starring Ed Speleers, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, Djimon Hounsou, Garrett Hedlund, Joss Stone; with Rachel Weisz as the voice of Saphira; and John Malkovich. Directed by Stefen Fangmeier; produced by John Davis and Wyck Godfrey; screenplay by Peter Buchman, based on the novel Eragon by Christopher Paolini; music by Patrick Doyle; director of photography, Hugh Johnson; production designer, Wolf Kroeger; costume designer, Kym Barrett; film editor, Roger Barton; visual effects supervisors, Samir Hoon and Michael McAlister.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Superman II

(Great Britain/USA, 1980, 127 minutes)

Superman must face three villains who survived the explosion of Krypton and are threatening Earth, while facing the truth about his own feelings for Lois Lane. Slight comic-book adventure taking up a number of loose ends from the first Superman, throwing away some good ideas in rather rote scripting; not as good as the original, though closer to a comic-strip spirit, and even the trick effects seem cheaper. The film was mostly shot by Richard Donner simultaneously with the original, but finished by Richard Lester, who had worked as a consulting producer on the first film and was offered the job after Donner and producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind fell out; in 2006, Donner was given by Warners the chance to put together his original (and vastly superior) vision for Superman II, in a 110-minute cut assembled by Michael Thau and released on DVD.

A Warner Bros. release. Alexander Salkind presents an Alexander & Ilya Salkind production; an International Film Production picture, made by Dovemead Limited. Starring Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, Jack O'Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Susannah York; with Clifton James, E. G. Marshall as the President, Marc McClure; and Terence Stamp. Directed by Richard Lester (with uncredited material directed by Richard Donner); produced by Pierre Spengler; screenplay by Mario Puzo, David Newman and Leslie Newman, based on a story by Mario Puzo and the character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; creative consultant, Tom Mankiewicz; music by Ken Thorne, from original material composed by John Williams; directors of photography, Geoffrey Unsworth, Bob Paynter; production designers, John Barry and Peter Murton; costume designers, Yvonne Blake and Susan Yelland; film editor, John Victor-Smith; director of miniature effects and additional flying sequences, Derek Meddings; director of special effects, Colin Chilvers; supervisor of optical and visual effects, Roy Field; special effects director, flying unit, Zoran Perisic.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Superman

(Great Britain/USA, 1978, 143 minutes)

The sole survivor of the distant planet Krypton grows up on Earth possessing super-powers and finds his destiny to be a fighter for justice. Impressive comic-book adventure that sets up the Superman mythology on the big screen as well as it can be set up but, after an excellent first hour, settles into just another seventies disaster movie with a far too humorous tone.

A Warner Bros. release. Alexander Salkind presents an Alexander & Ilya Salkind production made by Dovemead Limited; an International Film Production picture. Starring Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder, Jack O'Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Maria Schell, Terence Stamp, Phyllis Thaxter, Susannah York. Directed by Richard Donner; produced by Pierre Spengler; screenplay by Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, Robert Benton, based upon a story by Mario Puzo and the character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; additional script material by Norman Enfield; creative consultant, Tom Mankiewicz; music by John Williams; director of photography, Geoffrey Unsworth; production designer, John Barry; costume designer, Yvonne Blake; film editor, Stuart Baird; supervisor and director of special effects, Colin Chilvers; optical visual effects supervisor, Roy Field; mattes & composites supervisor, Les Bowie; director of process photography, Denys Coop; model effects directed and created by Derek Meddings; visual effects design, Denis Rich; make-up and special visuals supervisor, Stuart Freeborn; Zoptic special effects, Zoran Perisic.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

(Great Britain/USA, 2005, 84 minutes)

Wallace and Gromit have created a rabbit control company to make sure local farmers won’t lose their prize entries to the Tottington Hall Vegetable Contest to rabbits; but a harmless experiment gone sour unleashes onto an unsuspecting village the dread Were-Rabbit... The long-awaited stop-motion animation Wallace & Gromit feature-length adventure is every bit as delightful as could be expected, though there is some difficulty in maintaining the shorts’ rhythm on a longer basis. Winner of the 2005 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

A Dreamworks Animation release of a Dreamworks Animation/Aardman Features production. With the voice talent of Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay, Nicholas Smith, Liz Smith. Directed by Nick Park and Steve Box; produced by Claire Jennings, Carla Shelley, Peter Lord, David Sproxton, Nick Park; written by Steve Box, Nick Park, Mark Burton, Bob Baker; music by Julian Nott; directors of photography, David Alex Riddett and Tristan Oliver; supervising animator, Loyd Price; production designer, Phil Lewis; film editors, David McCormick and Gregory Perler.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Feet

(USA/Australia, 2006, 105 minutes)

An Antarctic emperor penguin is born without the ability to sing but with a prodigious pair of dancing feet; cast away from his tribe for being different, he sets out to find who is depleting the fish the tribe feeds on. Well-meaning and extremely good-looking, this family animation suffers from a very poor script that tries, and fails, to sugar a very heavy-handed ecological message.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Kennedy Miller production in association with Animal Logic Film. With the voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Anthony La Paglia, E. G. Daily, Magda Szubanski, Miriam Margolyes. Directed by George Miller; co-directors, Judy Morris, Warren Coleman; animation director, Daniel Jeannette; produced by Doug Mitchell, George Miller, Bill Miller; written by George Miller, John Collee, Judy Morris, Warren Coleman; original music and musical direction by John Powell; camera director, David Peers; supervising character designer, David Nelson; production designer, Mark Sexton; film editors, Margaret Sixel, Christian Gazal; choreography and principal artist, Kelley Abbey; Mumble choreography and motion capture artist, Savion Glover.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Alex

(France, 2005, 98 minutes)

A young woman struggles to earn enough money to eventually gain custody of the teenage son she disavowed years earlier. Stark character study carried by a strong lead performance, whose laconic nature and simple, unfussy handling will not be to everyone’s taste.

A Gemini Films release. Paulo Branco presents, with the participation of Centre National de la Cinématographie and Canal Plus, a Gemini Films/Les Films de la Grande Ourse production, with the support of Région Rhône-Alpes Cinéma. Starring Marie Raynal, Lyes Salem, Adrien Ruiz. Directed by José Alcala; produced by Paulo Branco; written by José Alcala, with the collaboration of Agnès de Sacy; adaptation and dialogues, José Alcala, Olivier Gorce; music by Jean-Pierre Ronda; director of photography, Pascal Poucet; production designer, Brigitte Bressant; costume designer, Valérie Cabeli; film editor, Marie-Hélène Mora.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Esquece Tudo O Que Te Disse

(Portugal/France, 2002, 112 minutes)

A country dentist’s marriage, already undergoing a serious crisis, unravels when the rebellious niece comes to visit. Interesting but not entirely accomplished drama that veers wildly between straight-forward family melodrama and detached satire; originally made for TV, it was considered worthy of a theatrical release.

An Atalanta Filmes release. RTP, ARTE France and Madragoa Filmes present a RTP/Madragoa Filmes/Gemini Films production, with the participation of ICAM and ARTE France. Starring Custódia Gallego, António Capelo, Amélia Corôa, Fernando Taborda, Alexandre Pinto, Cléia Almeida, Jorge Pina, Alexandra Rosa. Directed by António Ferreira; produced by Paulo Branco; written by César Santos Silva and António Ferreira; music by Pedro Renato; director of photography, Marcus Lenz; art director, Cristina Lucas; costume designer, Rosa Almeida Lima; film editor, Dörte Schneider.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Flushed Away

(Great Britain/USA, 2006, 86 minutes)

A tony Kensington pet mouse is flushed down the toilet by a sewer rat and finds himself in an underground rat version of London threatened by a villainous toad. Hilarious animated comedy that marks the Aardman studio’s first successful foray into computer animation while retaining its trademark humour and character design.

A Paramount Pictures release of a Dreamworks Animation/Aardman Features presentation/production. With the voices of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie; and Ian McKellen. Directed by David Bowers, Sam Fell; produced by Cecil Kramer, Peter Lord, David Sproxton; screenplay by Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd, Joe Keenan, Will Davies, based on a story by Sam Fell, Peter Lord, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais; music by Harry Gregson-Williams; production designer, David A. S. James; film editor, John Venzon.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Queen

(Great Britain/France/Italy, 2006, 100 minutes)

England 1997: after the death of princess Diana, the Queen of England refuses to allow a state funeral, misjudging the mood of the British people, and newly-elected Prime Minister Tony Blair tries to convince her otherwise. Fictional but remarkably credible approach to a true-life event that, despite the career-defining lead performance by Helen Mirren, an outstanding supporting cast, noteworthy production values and excellent handling, never manages to stop feeling like a glorified British TV movie.

Pathé Pictures presents a Granada production, in association with Pathé Renn Productions, BIM Distribuzione, France 3 Cinéma and Canal Plus. Starring Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Helen McCrory, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam; and Sylvia Syms. Directed by Stephen Frears; produced by Andy Harries, Christine Langan, Tracey Seaward; written by Peter Morgan; music by Alexandre Desplat; director of photography, Affonso Beato; production designer, Alan Macdonald; costume designer, Consolata Boyle; film editor, Lucia Zucchetti; archive consultant, Adam Curtis.