Monday, April 30, 2007

Love Conquers All

(Malaysia, 2006, 91 minutes)

A young country girl comes to Kuala Lumpur to earn money, where she falls in love with a charming guy who tries too hard to woo her. Modest melodrama whose sunny depiction of courtship disappointingly veers into narrative detours that aren’t exactly solved.

A Da Huang Pictures presentation/production, produced with financial support of Hubert Bals Fund. Starring Coral Ong Li Whei, Stephen Chua Jyh Shyan, Ho Chi Lai, Leung Jiun Jiun. Directed and written by Tan Chui Mui; produced by Amir Muhammad; director of photography (colour; digital video transferred to 35mm), James Lee; art director, Eleanor Low Chia Yee; wardrobe consultant, Lim Yoke Peng; film editors, Ho Yu Hang, Tan Chui Mui.

Karov La Bayit

Close to Home

(Israel, 2005, 94 minutes)

Two teenage girls doing their military service are forced into an uneasy friendship when they’re obliged to patrol the streets of Jerusalem on foot together. Lively, intelligent coming-of-age story whose unusual background quickly fades away in the presence of solid scripting, handling and performances.

A Israel Film Fund/Yes/Transfax Film Production presentation. Starring Smadar Sayar, Naama Schendar. Directed and written by Vidi (Vardit) Bilu and Dalia Hager; produced by Marek Rozenbaum and Itai Tamir; music by Yontan Bar Giora; director of photography (Geyer Berlin; digital video blown-up to 35mm), Yaron Scharf; production designer, Avi Fahima; costume designer, Li Alembik; film editor, Joelle Alexis.

El Amarillo

(Argentina, 2006, 85 minutes)

A man arrives at a distant Argentinian town, and decides to stay on after listening to the night-club singer that performs nightly in its dive bar. Oblique but intriguing moodpiece; not much happens, but the use of mood and song is interesting.

A Masa Latina production. Starring Gabriela Moyano, Alejandro Barratelli. Directed and written by Sergio Mazza; produced by Lorna Lawrie and Sergio Mazza; music and lyrics by Gabriela Moyano; director of photography (colour; HD digital video transferred to 35mm), Luis Camara; art director, Sergio Mazza; film editors, Nicolas Moro, Mercedes Oliveira and Sergio Mazza.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Farväl Falkenberg

Falkenberg Farewell

(Sweden, 2006, 88 minutes)

Five twenty-something friends from the Swedish coastal town of Falkenberg spend a last Summer together. Gently melancholy, lyrical melodrama nostalgic for simpler, easier days, that started life as a homemade fiction and developed into a fully-fledged film.

A Memfis Film Rights 3 in co-production with Film i Vast, Sveriges Television (SVT) and Zentropa Entertainments24, with support from the Swedish Film Institute and the participation of Canal Plus Television and Fasad. Starring Holger Eriksson, David Johnson, John Axel Eriksson, Jesper Ganslandt, Jörgen Svensson. Directed by Jesper Ganslandt; produced by Anna Anthony; written by Jesper Ganslandt and Fredrik Wenzel; music by Erik Enocksson; director of photography (Nordisk Film; Super-16 transcribed to 35mm), Fredrik Wenzel; film editors, Jesper Ganslandt and Michal Leszczylowski.

Friss Levegö

Fresh Air

(Hungary, 2006, 109 minutes)

A public toilet attendant and her teenage daughter get along so badly that they all but lead live apart in the same house. Slight melodrama of urban desperation, strikingly shot but with too much character and not enough plot.

A KMH Film/Academy of Drama and Film production. Starring Izabella Hegyi, Júlia Nyakó, Anita Turóczi, Zoltán Kiss. Directed by Ágnes Kocsis; co-directed by Andrea Roberti; produced by Ferenc Pusztai; written by Ágnes Kocsis and Andrea Roberti; music by Bálint Kovács; director of photography (colour), Ádám Fillenz; costume designer, Fanni Halmi; film editor, Tamás Kollányi.

Analog Days

(USA, 2006, 80 minutes)

A year in the life of struggling, alienated teenagers in a Californian town. Low-budget, amateurish portrait of suburban alienation that is chockfull of unrealized ideas but captures a genuine sense of disaffection among the mess.

A Jennifer Shahin production for Sound Virus Productions. Featuring Chad Cunningham, Brett L. Tinnes, Ivy Khan, Granger Green; and Ryan E. Johnsen. Directed and written by Mike Ott; produced by Jenifer Shahin; music by Derek Fudesco, Alec Puro and Ryan Rehm; directors of photography (colour; digital video blown up to 35mm), Jason Joel Harris and Jay Keitel; production designer, Cora Foxx; costume designer, Roshni Sharma; film editor, Lane Farnham.

Sombras

(Portugal, 2006, 88 minutes)

A young man drifts around the countryside, but is he dreaming or are the characters that cross him real? Beautifully shot but dramatically non-existant abstract tone poem on the work of writer Teixeira de Pascoaes.

A Periferia Filmes presentation/production, with the financial support of ICAM, RTP, Banco BPI, Centro de Artes Visuais de Coimbra and Câmara Municipal de Amarante. Starring Guilherme Pinto, João Grosso, Luís Castro, Monica Calle; narrated by José Airosa. Directed and written by João Trabulo; produced by João Trabulo and Rodrigo Areias; music by João Carlos de Sousa; director of photography (Tobis; digital video), Paulo Abreu; wardrobe, Susana Abreu; film editor, Patrícia Saramago.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mon oncle

My Uncle

(France/Italy, 1958, 115 minutes)

A young boy living with his parents in a modern automated household much prefers to go out with his eccentric uncle. Gentle satire of modern life, done with impeccable sense of timing but stretched a bit too much for its length.

Panoramic Films presents a Gaumont release; a Specta/Gray/Alter Films production, in co-production with Film del Centauro and Cady Films. Starring Jacques Tati (uncredited), Jean-Pierre Zola, Adrienne Servantie, Lucien Frégis, Betty Schneider, J. F. Martial, Dominique Marie, Yvonne Arnaud, Adelaide Danieli; introducing Alain Becourt; with Regis Fontenay, Claude Badolle, Max Martel, Nicolas Bataille. Directed and written by Jacques Tati, with the artistic collaboration of Jacques Lagrange, assisted by Jean l'Hote; music by Alain Romans, Franck Barcellini; director of photography (LTC), Jean Bourgoin; production designer, Henri Schmitt; costume designer, Jacques Cottin; film editor, Suzanne Baron.

Day Night Day Night

(USA/Germany, 2006, 91 minutes)

An American teenager volunteers for a suicide bombing in the heart of New York. Opaque but powerful topical melodrama whose narrative is as frustratingly oblique and unresolved as its handling is accomplished and intelligent.

A Facefilm production, in co-production with ZDF das Kleine Fernsehspiel, in cooperation with ARTE. Starring Luisa Williams, Josh P. Weinstein, Gareth Saxe, Nyambi Nyambi, Tschi-Hun Kim. Directed and written by Julia Loktev; produced by Julia Loktev, Melanie Judd, Jessica Levin; director of photography (HD video transferred to 35mm), Benoît Debie; production designer, Kelly McGehee; costume designer, Rabiah Troncelliti; film editors, Michael Taylor and Julia Loktev.

Niwe Mung

Half Moon

(Kurdistan/Iran/France/Austria, 2006, 114 minutes)

A celebrated Kurdistan musician who has lived in exile for over 30 years brings together all of his family to drive with him to a celebratory concert in newly-freed Iraq. Poignant meditation on life in exile that starts out as a lively, eccentric comedy and ends as wistful drama, using non-professional performers.

A Match Factory release. A Mij Films production, in co-production with Silkroad Production and New Crowned Hope Festival Vienna 2006. Starring Ismail Ghaffari, Allah Morad Rashtiani, Farzin Sabooni, Hedieh Tehrani, Golshifteh Farahani, Hasan Poorshirazi, Kambiz Arshi, Sadiq Behzadpoor, Ali Ashraf Rezai, Reza Haj Khosravi, Mohamad Nahid, Bahram Zarei. Directed by Bahman Ghobadi; written by Bahman Ghobadi, with Behnam Behzadi; music by Hossein Alizadeh; directors of photography (colour), Nigel Bluck, Crighton Bone; art directors, Mansooreh Yazdanjoo, Bahman Ghobadi; film editor, Hayedeh Safiyari.

Hamaca Paraguaya

(France/Argentina/Netherlands/Paraguay/Austria/Spain/Germany, 2006, 76 minutes)

An aging Paraguayan farming couple sit on their hammock bickering at one another, worrying about their son who has gone off to war. What starts off as a purely formal arthouse exercise, with the story mainly told through the (non-sync) sound, turns out to be an affecting meditation on life, though one that only more discerning audiences will sit through.

A Slot Machine/Lita Stantic Producciones/Fortuna Films/Silencio Cine production, in co-production with ARTE France Cinéma, New Crowned Hope Festival Vienna 2006, Wanda Vision and CMW Film Company; with the participation of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, CNC, Fonds Sud Cinéma, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, World Cinema Fund and Instituto Nacional del Cine y del Audiovisual Argentino; with the support of Göteborg Film Festival Fund, Fundación Typa, Fondec, Fundación Carolina and Prince Claus Foundation for Culture and Development. Starring Georgina Genes and Ramon del Rio. Directed and written by Paz Encina; produced by Lita Stantic, Marianne Slot, Ilse Hughan; director of photography (colour), Willi Behnisch; art director, Carlo Spatuzza; film editor, Miguel Schverdfinger.

Opera Jawa

(Indonesia/Austria, 2006, 120 minutes)

In modern-day rural Indonesia, a retired dancer, her husband and the village thug find themselves unwittingly reenacting an age-old legend of love and jealousy. Visually striking but ultimately staid all-singing, all-dancing stylized pageant that brings together the worlds of traditional Indonesian theatre, music and dance, contemporary art and Western opera, to such an extent that story and narrative take an abstract backseat to the visuals.

A SET Film Workshop production, in co-production with New Crowned Hope Festival Vienna 2006; produced with the financial support of Göteborg Film Festival Fund and Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Starring Martinus Mirato, Artika Sari Devi, Eko Supriyanto, Jecko Siompo Pui; with Retno Maruti, I Nyoman Sura, Slamet Gundono. Directed and produced by Garin Nugroho; co-directors, Arturo GP, Arswendi; written by Garin Nugroho and Armantono; music by Rahayu Supanggah; director of photography (Siam Film Development), Teoh Gay Hian; creative designers, Armantono, Arturo GP, Asep Kusdinar, Eko Supriyanto, Garin Nugroho, Martinus Miroto, Suwarsidi Trisapto; art director, Nanang Rakhmat H; art installations by Agus Suwage, Entang Waharso, Hendro Suseno, Nindityo Adipurnomo, Sunaryo, S. Teddy D., Tita Rubi; costume designer, Samuel Watimena; film editor, Andhy Pulung; choreographers, Martinus Miroto, Eko Supriyanto, Ni Kadek, Rini Endah.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Le Dernier des fous

Demented

(France/Belgium, 2006, 94 minutes)

A 10-year-old watches as his highly strung, bankrupted rural family slowly unravels during the course of a summer. Bleak, overwrought drama that lavishes intense performances and highly stylized, formalist handling on a somewhat hysterical version of Cold Comfort Farm.

An Agat Films & Cie presentation and production, in co-production with Versus Production and Rhône-Alpes Cinéma; with the participation of Région Rhône-Alpes and Centre National de la Cinématographie; with the support of Région Bourgogne; with the support of Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel de la Communauté Française de Belgique and Télédistributeurs Wallons; in association with Cofinova 2. Starring Julien Cochelin, Pascal Cervo, Annie Cordy, Fettouma Bouamari, Jean-Yves Chatelais, Dominique Reymond, Florence Giorgetti, Dorine Bouteiller. Directed by Laurent Achard; screenplay by Laurent Achard and Nathalie Najem, based on the novel The Last of the Crazy People by Timothy Findley; directors of photography (GTC), Philippe van Leeuw, Georges Diane; art director, Éric Barboza; wardrobe, Manoela Copans, Ricardo Munoz; film editor, Jean-Christophe Hym.

Daratt

Dry Season

(France/Belgium/Tchad/Austria, 2006, 96 minutes)

Outraged at a general amnesty that has cleared his father’s killer, a rural Tchadian teenager heads to the capital N’djamena to find the man, now a married baker, and exact his revenge — but is instead taken in as if he were a long lost son. A run-of-the-mill melodrama of revenge is elevated above exotic curiosity level by a stylized yet simple and extraordinarily powerful handling that avoids as much dialogue as possible.

A Pyramide International/New Crowned Hope Festival Vienna 2006 presentation. A Chinguitty Films/Goï-Goï Productions production, in co-production with ARTE France Cinéma, Entre Chien et Loup, New Crowned Hope Festival Vienna 2006 and Araneo Belgium; with the participation of Fonds Sud Cinéma, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, CNC and Ministère des Affaires Etrangères France; with the support of Fonds Images Afrique, Coopération Belge au Développement - DGCD and Service Public Fédéral Affaires Etrangères Belgique; subsidised by Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel de la Communauté Française de Belgique and Télédistributeurs Wallons; with the participation of Canal Plus; in association with Sofica Soficinéma 2 and Télé-Tchad. Starring Ali Bacha Barkaï, Youssouf Djaoro; with Aziza Hisseine, Khavar Ouvar Defallah, Djibril Ibrahim, Hadjé Fatimé N'Goua, Garba Issa, Abdéramane Abakar. Directed and written by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun; produced by Abderrahmane Sissako, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Diana Elbaum & Sébastien Delloye, Simon Field & Keith Griffiths; music by Wasis Diop; director of photography (Studio L'Équipe), Abraham Haile Biru; art directors, Ledoux Lodinamou Madeona, Eloge Dom-Handel; film editor, Marie-Hélène Dozo.

Fantasma

(Argentina/Netherlands/France, 2006, 63 minutes)

People wander around a Buenos Aires theatre. Baffling arthouse piece where nothing happens at great length.

A 4L/Fortuna Films/Slot Machine production. Starring Argentino Vargas, Misael Saavedra. Directed and written by Lisandro Alonso; produced by Lisandro Alonso, Ilse Hughan, Marianne Slot; music by Flormaleva; director of photography (colour), Lucio Bonelli; art director, Gonzalo Delgado Galiana; film editors, Lisandro Alonso, Delfina Castagnino.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

La Môme

La Vie en Rose

(France/Great Britain, 2007, 138 minutes)

The tragic life of French popular singer Edith Piaf, from her miserable childhood to her early death. Lavishly appointed but disappointingly leaden biopic that wastes an outstanding lead performance and excellent production values in too much pathos and a pointlessly arty structure.

TF1 International and Légende present a Légende/TF1 International/TF1 Films Production/Okko Production/Songbird Productions production. Starring Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean-Paul Rouve, Clotilde Courau; with the special participation of Gérard Depardieu. Directed by Olivier Dahan; produced by Ilan Goldman; written by Olivier Dahan; adaptation and dialogues, Olivier Dahan and Isabelle Sobelman; music by Christopher Gunning; director of photography (colour, Panavision), Tetsuo Negata; production designer, Olivier Raoux; costume designer, Marit Allen; film editor, Richard Marizy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dong

(Hong Kong, 2006, 66 minutes)

A documentary following artist Liu Xiaodong as he moves through China and Thailand. Rather aimless documentary made as a companion piece to Still Life, but aimed at director completists only.

An Xstream Pictures production. Directed by Jia Zhang-Ke; produced by Yu Likwai, Zhu Jiong; music by Lim Giong; camera (colour, digital video), Yu Likwai, Jia Zhang-Ke, Chow Chi Sang, Tian Li; film editors, Kong Jinlei, Zhang Jia.

Friday, April 20, 2007

En Soap

A Soap

(Denmark/Sweden, 2006, 104 minutes)

After leaving his boyfriend and moving to a new flat, a hairdresser strikes an unlikely friendship with the transvestite who lives downstairs and is waiting to have a sex change operation. A rather flat premise becomes a winning, often moving comedy-drama through excellent acting and attentive handling.

Nimbus Film presents a Nimbus Film Rights/Zentropa Entertainments5/Garagefilm/FilmGEAR production, with the support of New Danish Screen and the Swedish Film Institute. Starring Trine Dyrholm, David Dencik, Frank Thiel, Elsebeth Steentoft. Directed by Pernille Fischer Christensen; produced by Lars Bredo Rahbek; screenplay by Kim Fopz Aakeson, from a story by Pernille Fischer Christensen and Kim Fopz Aakeson; music by Magnus Jarlbo and Sebastian Öberg; director of photography (colour), Erik Molberg Hansen; production designer, Rasmus Thjellesen; costume designer, Signe Sejlund; film editor, Asa Mossberg.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Reaping

(USA, 2007, 97 minutes)

A university professor who is a lapsed Catholic is brought in to investigate why a small Louisiana town seems to be in the throes of the ten biblical plagues. B-grade supernatural mystery given an A-picture star and director and moody handling; effective, but disposable.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Dark Castle Entertainment production. Starring Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, Annasophia Robb; and Stephen Rea. Directed by Stephen Hopkins; produced by Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis, Susan Downey, Herbert W. Gains; screenplay by Carey W. Hayes and Chad Hayes, based on a story by Brian Rousso; music by John Frizzell; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Peter Levy; production designer, Graham "Grace" Walker; costume designer, Jeffrey Kurland; film editor, Colby Parker Jr.; visual effects supervisor, Richard Yuricich.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Iklimler

Climates

(Turkey/France, 2006, 102 minutes)

A selfish, aloof university professor breaks up with his girlfriend but finds out he can’t really live without her. Quiet, moody melodrama where nothing much happens on the surface but a lot happens under it; a "family affair" since the writer-director also stars, along with his wife.

A CO Production/NBC Film/Pyramide Productions production, supported by Eurimages, in association with Imaj Film, with the participation of EFES Pilsen, Hubert Bals Fund and the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Starring Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Nazan Kirilmis, Mehmet Eryilmaz. Directed and written by Nuri Bilge Ceylan; produced by Zeynep Özbatur; director of photography (digital video blown-up to 35mm; Mikros Image/Arane), Gökhan Tiryaki; film editors, Ayhan Ergürsel and Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sunshine

(Great Britain/USA, 2007, 106 minutes)

In the near future, a space mission is sent towards our dying sun with a bomb to reignite the star, but things unravel when they receive a distress beacon from an earlier mission that was lost. Tightly wound, dazzlingly stylish sci-fi suspenser that recycles a number of formulas from earlier pictures in such a way as to make it look fresh and exciting.

Fox Searchlight Pictures and DNA Films present, in association with the UK Film Council and Ingenious Film Partners, a DNA Films production, made in association with Dune Entertainment and Major Studio Partners. Starring Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Cillian Murphy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh. Directed by Danny Boyle; produced by Andrew Macdonald; written by Alex Garland; music by John Murphy and Underworld; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Alwin Küchler; production designer, Mark Tildesley; costume designer, Suttirat Anne Larlarb; film editor, Chris Gill; visual effects supervisor, Tom Wood.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Number 23

(USA/Germany, 2006, 101 minutes)

A happily married man is given as a birthday present a mysterious novel that seems to mirror strangely his own life, and finds himself succumbing to the same obsessions as the novel’s lead character. Trashy, good-looking paranoid thriller with a good premise and great technical credits wasted in derivative scripting and handling that is too reminiscent of previous better films.

New Line Cinema presents a Contrafilm/Firm Films production, in association with KUMAR Mobiliengesellschaft & Projekt Nr. 1. Starring Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston, Rhona Mitra, Lynn Collins, Mark Pellegrino. Directed by Joel Schumacher; produced by Beau Flynn, Tripp Vinson; written by Fernley Phillips; music by Harry Gregson-Williams; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Matthew Libatique; production designer, Andrew Laws; costume designer, Daniel Orlandi; film editor, Mark Stevens.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Silent Hill

(Canada/France, 2006, 124 minutes)

A distraught mother takes her sleepwalking daughter to Silent Hill, the ghost town whose name she whispers in her nightmares, only to find the city is itself a living nightmare to which the child is mysteriously connected. Intriguing supernatural mystery based on a video game, long on style and truly disquieting mood, but short on substance, although more thoughtful and articulate than most genre entries.

A Metropolitan Film/Davis Films release. Samuel Hadida presents a Silent Hill DCP/Davis Films production, in association with Konami. Starring Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates, Tanya Allen; with Alice Krige; and Jodelle Ferland. Directed by Christophe Gans; produced by Samuel Hadida, Don Carmody; written by Roger Avary; music by Jeff Danna; director of photography (LTC, Panavision), Dan Laustsen; production designer, Carol Spier; costume designer, Wendy Partridge; film editor, Sébastien Prangère; creature effects designed and supervised by Patrick Tatopoulos; special make-up effects designed and created by Paul Jones.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Namesake

(USA/India, 2006, 120 minutes)

A second-generation Indian born and raised in New York of transplanted Bengali parents comes to terms with his identity, expressed in his unusual name. Tasteful, well-made melodrama of the Indian diaspora.

A Twentieth Century-Fox release. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Entertainment Farm and UTV Motion Pictures present a Mirabai Films/Cine Mosaic production. Starring Kal Penn, Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Jacinda Barrett, Zuleikha Robinson. Directed by Mira Nair; produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher, Mira Nair; screenplay by Sooni Taraporevala, based on the novel The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri; music by Nitin Sawhney; director of photography, Frederick Elmes; production designer, Stephanie Carroll; costume designer, Arjun Bhasin; film editor, Allyson C. Johnson.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

300

(USA, 2007, 116 minutes)

A retelling of the mythical Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartan warriors held back the mighty army of the Persian god-king Xerxes. Old-fashioned sword-and-sandal heroics, adapted from an acclaimed graphic novel and given a glossy makeover of contemporary technology (only the actors and costumes are real, having been digitally inserted into painterly settings); a wonder to look at, but despite the myriad political readings one may apply, the narrative shortcomings hinder the imagery.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Legendary Pictures and Virtual Studios, a Mark Canton—Gianni Nunnari/Hollywood Gang/Atmosphere Pictures production. Starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham; and Dominic West. Directed by Zack Snyder; produced by Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann, Jeffrey Silver; screenplay by Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Michael Gordon, based on the graphic novel 300 by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley; music by Tyler Bates; director of photography, Larry Fong; production designer, James D. Bissell; costume designer, Michael Wilkinson; film editor, William Hoy; visual effects supervisor, Chris Watts; special make-up effects and prosthetics, Shaun Smith, Mark Patapport.