Wednesday, October 31, 2007

SchoolScapes

(Australia, 2007, 77 minutes)

A series of tableaux of the daily life at the Rishi Valley school in South India. Observational documentary that offers no commentary, music score or context but merely records moments in the daily grind of an Indian school; its sense of poetry and time shifts it into realms of art and sociology rather than just cinema.

CCR Media Works and Fieldwork Films present an Observation Project film, made by David MacDougall. Directed, photographed and edited by David MacDougall.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Elle s'appelle Sabine

(France/Switzerland/Belgium, 2007, 85 minutes)

Acclaimed actress Sandrine Bonnaire tells the story of her autistic sister Sabine, whose illness was left undiagnosed until late in life and lived a normal life until a disastrous stay in a psychiatric ward. Thoughtful, touching documentary that makes good use of home movies and never feels intrusive.

A Mosaïque Films production, with the participation of France 3, Télévision Suisse Romande TSR and RTBF Télévision Belge, with the support of Région Poitou-Charentes, Département de la Charente, Région Champagne-Ardenne, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Procirep and Angoa. Directed by Sandrine Bonnaire; produced by Thomas Schmitt; written by Sandrine Bonnaire, with the collaboration of Catherine Cabrol; original music by Jefferson Lembeye, Walter N'Guyen; camera (colour, DV), Sandrine Bonnaire and Catherine Cabrol; editor, Svetlana Vaynblat.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Nach der Musik

A Father's Music

(Germany/Austria, 2007, 105 minutes)

Filmmaker Igor Heitzmann attempts to better understand his father, Austrian conductor Otmar Suitner, who led the Dresden and Berlin state orchestras from the 1960s to the 1980s while maintaining a childless marriage in East Berlin and a lover and their child in West Berlin. Amiable, well-made documentary that is basically a sympathetic portrait of its subject and never really explores the interesting questions it raises.

A Filmkombinat Nordost production, in co-production with ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel, Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin and Igor Heitzmann, financed by Filmförderunganstalt, Kulturelle Filmförderung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Land Tirol and Stadt Innsbruck. With Otmar Suitner, Marita Suitner, Renate Heitzmann, Igor Heitzmann; and the friendly collaboration of the Staatskapelle Berlin. Directed and written by Igor Heitzmann; produced by Jens Körner, Oliver Niemeier, Thomas Riedel; camera (Studio Babelsberg Postproduction Filmlab), Rali Raltchev, Hoyte van Hoytema; film editor, Inge Schneider.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kamp Katrina

(USA, 2006, 74 minutes)

A documentary on the rise and fall of an improvised New Orleans refugee camp set up by a Ninth Lower Ward resident for people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina and eventually wrecked by drugs, alcohol and despondency. Intriguing but unsuccessful documentary whose unflinching and urgent treatment of important subject matter is undone by its amateurish edges that make it look more like a rough cut than a finished film.

A Carnivalesque Films production. Directors, cinematographers (colour), Ashley Sabin, David Redmon; music by Eric Taxier; film editors, Tim Messler, Ashley Sabin, David Redmon.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Le Papier ne peut pas envelopper la braise

Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers

(France / Cambodja / USA / Belgium / Canada / Switzerland / Finland, 2006, 86 minutes)

A series of young Phonm Penh prostitutes tell their stories of life and hardship. Quietly harrowing documentary that refuses to either exploit or sentimentalize its subjects and in so doing restores them the dignity they deserve.

CDP and INA present, with the participation of France 3 and France 5, a INA/CDP production, in co-production with Bophana Production, produced in association with Sundance Channel; with the support of Centre National de la Cinématographie, MEDIA Plus, Slate Funding, I2I, Procirep, Société des Producteurs and ANGOA; with the participation of Télévision Belge RTBF, Télé Québec, Télévision Suisse Romande, YLETV1, Télévision Suisse Italienne, France 5 and France 3. Directed by Rithy Panh; produced by Gérald Collas; music by Marc Marder; director of photography (colour), Prum Mésar; film editor, Marie-Christine Rougerie.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Calle Santa Fe

(Chile/France/Belgium, 2007, 164 minutes)

A former democratic activist in Chile, exiled for the best part of 30 years, finally musters up the courage to return to the house where her husband, a leftist party leader, was killed by the police in 1974, and asks herself and her friends of the time whether their political activism was worth the personal sacrifices they endured. Gripping, sweeping mix of personal memoir and political history that, despite the odd longueur, works wonderfully precisely thanks to the embracing of the personal angle and the contradictions it brings.

A Wild Bunch release. A Parox/Les Films d'Ici/Les Films de la Passerelle/Institut National de l'Audiovisuel-INA/Love Streams Agnès B. Productions presentation/production, with the participation of Centre National de la Cinématographie, Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel de la Communauté Française de Belgique, Télédistributeurs Wallons, Gobierno de Chile, Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes and Fondo de Fomento Audiovisual de Chile, and the support of Eurimages. With testimony from Silvia Castillo, Rosalía Martínez, Carlos Liberona, Pedro Rosas, Patrício Rivas, Andrés Pascal Allende, Lucia Sepúlveda, Gladys Díaz, Mateo Muñoz, Pedro Fernandez, Margarita Marchi, Cecilia Sarpa, Zabrína Pérez, Erica Pfennings, Viviana Uribe, Maria Emilia Marchi, Cristián Castillo, Rosa Oletza, Blanca Ibarra, Luisa Toledo, Manuel Vergara, Rene Valenzuela, Carmen Peña, Maria Cristina Pacheco, Renard Betancourt, Edgardo Enríquez, Bautista van Schouwen. Directed and written by Carmen Castillo; produced by Sergio Gándara, Serge Lalou, Sophie de Hijes, Christine Pireaux, Christophe Barreyre, Sylvie Blum, Agnès B., Nadja Romain; music by Juan Carlos Zagal; directors of photography (Swiss Effects/Schwarz Film), Ned Burgess, Raphaël O'Byrne; film editor, Eva Feigeles-Aimé.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Outra Margem

(Portugal/Brazil, 2007, 111 minutes)

A gay female impersonator reeling from a suicide attempt returns to his hometown to spend some time with the sister he hasn't seen in 16 years and the disabled teenage nephew he's never met. Subdued, soberly handled melodrama that avoids most of the traps its cloying premise sets out but falls prey to a disappointingly non-committal ending.

Paulo Branco presents a Clap Filmes/Plateau Produções production, supported by Ancine and Ibermedia, with the participation of ICAM and RTP. Starring Filipe Duarte, Maria d'Aires, Tomás Almeida. Directed and written by Luís Filipe Rocha; produced by Paulo Branco; music by Pedro Teixeira Silva; director of photography (colour), Edgar Moura; production and costume designer, Isabel Branco; film editor, Antonio Pérez Reina.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Santiago

(Brazil, 2006, 79 minutes)

In 1992, Brazilian filmmaker João Moreira Salles shot his family's elderly former butler reminiscing about his past and his interests with a view to a documentary he never completed; 15 years later, he attempts a second pass at the footage and realises why he couldn't have finished it at the time. Not so much a documentary as an almost theoretical deconstruction of the form, but a truly dazzling one in its surprising accessibility that makes it as much about its maker as about its subject.

A Videofilmes presentation/production. Directed and written by João Moreira Salles; narrated by Fernando Moreira Salles; director of photography (Casablanca Lab), Walter Carvalho; film editors, Eduardo Escorel, Lívia Serpa.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

El-Banate Dol

Ces Filles-là
These Girls

(Egypt, 2006, 66 minutes)

A documentary on the teenage girls who run away from home and survive as well as they can on Cairo streets by banding together. Excellent documentary that focuses on the girls' energy and drive, so that it becomes an uplifting experience that neatly avoids miserabilism.

A Studio Masr presentation/production. Directed, written and researched by Tahani Rached; produced by Karim Gamal El Dine; music by Tamer Karawan; camera (colour, digital video), Nancy Abdel-Fattah; film editor, Mona Rabie.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Retour en Normandie

(France, 2006, 108 minutes)

In 1975, Nicolas Philibert was first assistant director on René Allio's film Moi, Pierre Rivière..., shot on location in Normandy with a cast of non-professional locals; 30 years later, he returns to track down the cast and see what has become of them. Well-crafted documentary that looks like a mere exercise in nostalgia but turns out to be a poignant, involving meditation on memory and the passage of time.

Serge Lalou and Gilles Sandoz present a Les Films d'Ici/Maïa Films/ARTE France Cinéma co-production, with the participation of Canal Plus, TPS Star, Centre National de la Cinématographie and France Télévisions Distribution; in association with Soficinéma; with the support of Région Basse-Normandie; and the collaboration of Maison de l'Image Basse-Normandie. With Joseph and Marie-Louise Leportier, Nicole Picard, Gilbert and Blandine Peschet, Annick and Michel Bisson, Jacqueline Milière, Anne, Catherine, Christophe, Olivier, Pierre and Yvonne Borel, Norbert Delozier, Charles and Annie Lihou, Roger Peschet and Caroline Itasse, Janine Callu, Nicole Cornué, Bruno Gahéry and Claude Hébert. Directed and edited by Nicolas Philibert; original additional music, Jean-Philippe Viret; camera (Eclair), Katell Djian.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jesus Camp

(USA, 2006, 85 minutes)

A documentary about evangelical Christian children attending a week-long religious Summer camp. Superb social study at once of heartland America's religion, its political implications and children's relationship with it, presented as a rigorous, factual documentary.

A Magnolia Pictures release. A&E Indie Films and Magnolia Pictures present a Loki Films production. Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady; music by Force Theory; cinematography (Alpha Cine), Mira Chang and Jenna Rosher; film editor, Enat Sidi.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Les Chansons d'amour

(France, 2007, 95 minutes)

A Parisian graphic designer finds it hard to recover from the sudden death of his girlfriend. Charming, melancholy musical comedy where mood takes precedence over narrative.

Paulo Branco presents an Alma Films production in association with Flach Film; with the participation of Centre National de la Cinématographie, Canal Plus, Cinécinéma and Fonds d'Action SACEM; in association with Cofinova 3, Cofinova 4 and Coficup. Starring Louis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier, Chiara Mastroianni, Clotilde Hesme, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Brigitte Roüan. Directed and written by Christophe Honoré; produced by Paulo Branco; music and lyrics by Alex Beaupain; director of photography (GTC), Rémy Chevrin; production designer, Samuel Deshors; costume designer, Pierre Canistrot; film editor, Chantal Hymans.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Brave One

(USA, 2007, 118 minutes)

A New York radio host loses her boyfriend and her dog in a violent mugging in Central Park and unwittingly turns into a vigilante killer. Smart, provocative, self-relexive vigilante thriller that questions its own genre while going through its preposterous motions; surprisingly thoughtful and anchored by subdued handling and another stellar performance from its leading lady.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Silver Pictures production. Starring Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, Carmen Ejogo, Nicky Katt, Mary Steenburgen. Directed by Neil Jordan; produced by Joel Silver, Susan Downey; screenplay by Roderick Taylor, Bruce A. Taylor, Cynthia Mort, based on a story by Roderick Taylor and Bruce A. Taylor; music by Dario Marianelli; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Philippe Rousselot; production designer, Kristi Zea; costume designer, Catherine Thomas; film editor, Tony Lawson.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Knocked Up

(USA, 2007, 128 minutes)

An up-and-coming TV presenter finds out she’s pregnant by an unemployed slouch she had a one-night stand with two months earlier. Warm-hearted comedy that manages to be raunchy and moving at the same time, without ever condescending or pandering to its audience; the excellent scripting and dialogue and spot-on performances make up for the lack of any visual excitement and for some minor length problems.

A Universal Pictures presentation/production. Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann. Directed and written by Judd Apatow; produced by Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson, Clayton Townsend; music by Loudon Wainwright III, Joe Henry; director of photography (Technicolor), Eric Edwards; production designer, Jefferson Sage; costume designer, Debra McGuire; film editors, Brent White, Craig Alpert.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Julgamento

(Portugal, 2007, 108 minutes)

A college professor recognises the policeman who tortured him and killed a friend 40 years earlier and kidnaps him to uncover the truth. Dismal would-be thriller whose solid premise is completely wasted through flashy handling of a poorly constructed script.

A Castello Lopes Multimedia release of a Stopline Films production, in co-production with TVI and Cinemate, with the support of ICAM. Starring Júlio César, Alexandra Lencastre, Fernanda Serrano, José Eduardo, Carlos Santos, Henrique Viana; with the special participation of Simone de Oliveira. Directed and produced by Leonel Vieira; screenplay by João Nunes, based on a story by Izaías Almeida; music by Nuno Maló; director of photography (colour, widescreen), José António Loureiro; art director, João Martins; costume designer, Isabel Quadros; film editor, Pedro Ribeiro.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Kingdom

(USA/Germany, 2007, 109 minutes)

After a terrorist attack on an American residential compound in Saudi Arabia, an FBI investigative team sent in against both government's wishes attempts to find out who did it with the help of a Saudi cop. Intriguing but not entirely successful attempt at fashioning a good-guys vs. bad-guys action thriller from the current headlines, more thoughtful than might be expected and impeccably handled.

Universal Pictures presents, in association with Relativity Media, a Forward Pass/Stuber-Parent production in association with MDBF Zweite Filmgesellschaft. Starring Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven, Danny Huston, Richard Jenkins. Directed by Peter Berg; produced by Michael Mann, Scott Stuber; written by Matthew Michael Carnahan; music by Danny Elfman; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Mauro Fiore; production designer, Tom Duffield; costume designer, Susan Matheson; film editors, Kevin Stitt, Colby Parker Jr.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Inner Life of Martin Frost

(France/Spain/Portugal/USA, 2006, 91 minutes)

A novelist holidaying at a friend's vacation house outside New York falls in love with a mysterious woman who appears there out of nowhere, who turns out to be his muse. Embarrassing piece of pretentious, cod-literary whimsy that probably looked a lot better on the written page.

Paulo Branco presents an Alma Films/Tornasol Films/Clap Filmes production, in association with Salty Features and RTP. Starring David Thewlis, Irène Jacob, Michael Imperioli, Sophie Auster. Directed and written by Paul Auster; produced by Paulo Branco, Paul Auster, Yael Melamede; music by Laurent Petitgand; director of photography (colour), Christophe Beaucarne; production designer, Zé Branco; costume designer, Adelle Lutz; film editor, Tim Squyres.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pas sur la bouche

Not on the Lips

(France / Switzerland, 2003, 115 minutes)

In 1925 Paris, the wife of an industrial finds herself at the center of a series of romantic confusions involving her husband, her previous husband, her sister and a young artist who wants to be her lover. A twenties operetta is scintillatingly filmed by a master as yet another formal experiment in filmmaking, becoming one of the very few contemporary film musicals to actually work in a big screen as a film of its own accord.

A Pathé Distribution release. Arena Films presents an Arena Films/France 2 Cinéma/France 3 Cinéma/Arcade/Vega Film production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cinécinéma, Télévision Suisse Romande, Région Île-de-France and SACEM, with the support of Eurimages. Starring Sabine Azéma, Isabelle Nanty, Audrey Tautou, Pierre Arditi, Darry Cowl, Jalil Lespert, Daniel Prévost, Lambert Wilson. Directed by Alain Resnais; produced by Bruno Pésery; adaptation of the operetta Pas sur la bouche, book and lyrics by André Barde, music by Maurice Yvain; musical director and additional music, Bruno Fontaine; director of photography (Eclair), Renato Berta; production designer, Jacques Saulnier; costume designer, Jackie Budin; film editor, Hervé de Luze.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Saint-Cyr

The King's Daughters

(France/Germany/Belgium, 2000, 119 minutes)

In France at the end of the 17th century, king Louis XIV’s courtisane Madame de Maintenon sets up the Saint-Cyr school to bring up young girls from poor noble families to be strong and independent women; but two of the students see through to her real reasons. Heady, absorbing period melodrama of court manners and politics doubling as superb coming-of-age tale and liberal women’s picture.

A United International Pictures/Universal release. Denis Freyd presents an Archipel 35/Lichtblick Filmproduktion/Entre Chien et Loup/ARTE France Cinéma/France 2 Cinéma/WDR/FMB Films/ACCAAN/Les Films du Camélia/Cinéart co-production; in association with Sofinergie 5, Sofygram 3, Cofimage 10 and UGC International; with the participation of Canal Plus, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Conseil Régional de Basse-Normandie, Filmförderung Hamburg and Filmstiftung NRW; with the support of Eurimages. Starring Isabelle Huppert; with Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Simon Reggiani, Anne Marev; with the participation of Jean-François Balmer; introducing Jeanne Le Bigot, Mathilde Lechastes, Nina Meurisse, Morgane Maré. Directed by Patricia Mazuy; produced by Denis Freyd; screenplay by Patricia Mazuy, Yves Thomas, based on the novel by Yves Dangerfield, La Maison d'Esther; music by John Cale; director of photography (Eclair), Thomas Mauch; production designer, Thierry François; costume designers, Edith Vesperini, Jean-Daniel Vuillermoz; film editor, Ludo Troch.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Planet Terror

(USA, 2007, 105 minutes)

A small Texas town is overrun by what seems to be an epidemic that turns people into flesh-eating zombies, with a ragtag crew of survivors trying to understand why and stem the tide. Lively tribute to classic Z-grade and exploitation horror movies, done with style, panache and a great sense of humour. Originally released in the US, in a 90m version, alongside Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof as one half of Grindhouse, a double-feature homage to 1970s exploitation movies; both films were exploited separately in international markets, in the case of Planet Terror in an expanded 105m version.

Dimension Films presents a Troublemaker Studios production. Starring Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Naveen Andrews, Michael Parks, Stacy Ferguson. Director, writer, music composer, director of photography (DeLuxe) and visual effects supervisor, Robert Rodriguez; produced by Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Elizabeth Avellán; production designer, Steve Joyner; costume designer, Nina Proctor; film editors, Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis; special make-up effects designed and created by Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Fados

(Portugal/Spain, 2007, 91 minutes)

A series of performances of fado, Portugal’s national folk song, showing both the genre’s tradition and its many evolutions and influences. Not a primer documentary on the genre, as it might look like or be hoped for, but merely an extended series of visual illustrations for an admittedly good series of performances from the soundtrack album.

A Lusomundo release. A Duvideo/Fado Filmes/Zebra Producciones production, in co-production with the Lisbon City Hall, EGEAC, Turismo de Portugal and TVI, supported by the Eurimages and Ibermedia programmes and ICAA, with the participation of TVE and the financing of Instituto de Crédito Oficial. With performances by Carlos do Carmo, Mariza, Camané, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Toni Garrido, Lura, Lila Downs, Miguel Poveda, Catarina Moura, Argentina Santos, Cuca Roseta, NBC, SP & Wilson, Vicente da Câmara, Maria da Nazaré, Pedro Moutinho, Ana Sofia Varela, Carminho, Ricardo Ribeiro, Ricardo Rocha, Jaime Santos, Brigada Victor Jara. Director and production designer, Carlos Saura; produced by Ivan Dias, Luís Galvão Teles, Antonio Saura; screenplay by Carlos Saura, from an idea by Ivan Dias; musical consultant, Carlos do Carmo; musicological consultant, Rui Vieira Nery; director of photography (Fotofilm Deluxe), José Luis López-Linares; costume designers, Isabel Branco, Eva Arretxe; film editor, Julia Juániz.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien

Harry, He's Here to Help

(France, 2000, 115 minutes)

On the way to his holiday house with his family, a frustrated, harried teacher stumbles upon an old high school friend he hasn’t seen in twenty years who decides to help him... even against his will. Subdued, clever Hitchcockian satirical black comedy.

A Diaphana Distribution release. Diaphana Films presents a Diaphana Films/M6 Films/Diaphana Distribution co-production, with the participation of Canal Plus, M6 and Centre National de la Cinématographie, in association with Sofica Sofinergie 5, with the support of Procirep. Starring Laurent Lucas, Sergi Lopez, Mathilde Seigner, Sophie Guillemin. Directed by Dominik Moll; produced by Michel Saint-Jean; written by Dominik Moll, Gilles Marchand; music by David Sinclair Whitaker; director of photography (Eclair, Panavision), Matthieu Poirot-Delpech; production designer, Michel Barthélémy; costume designer, Virginie Montel; film editor, Yannick Kergoat.