Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

(USA, 2007, 112 minutes)

In Victorian London, a barber swears revenge on the corrupt judge who exiled him to ravish his wife and take his child as a ward, and will stop at nothing to fulfill it. Very well done film version of a celebrated Broadway musical that gets the macabre, grand-guignol tone exactly right and is quite consistent with its director's usual gothic whimsy, but despite the sincere efforts of all concerned somehow fails to register more than distant admiration for its achievements.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Dreamworks Pictures present a Parkes-MacDonald/Zanuck Company production; film production company, Dombey Street Productions. Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman; Timothy Spall; and Sacha Baron Cohen. Directed by Tim Burton; produced by Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, John Logan, Richard D. Zanuck; screenplay by John Logan, based on the stage musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and on an adaptation by Christopher Bond; music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; director of photography (DeLuxe), Dariusz Wolski; production designer, Dante Ferretti; costume designer, Colleen Atwood; film editor, Chris Lebenzon; visual effects supervisor, Chas Jarrett.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Loin

(France/Spain, 2001, 123 minutes)

A French trucker’s three day stay in Tangier reunites him with his estranged Jewish Moroccan girlfriend and a Muslim Moroccan friend, but their relationships are pushed to the limits. Moody, atmospheric character study about people lost in their own scheme of things; great performances and sensitive handling, as is wont from this director.

A UGC release. Saïd Ben Saïd and UGC Images present, in co-production with Ciné B, a UGC Images/Ciné B/Vertigo Films co-production, with the participation of Canal +, CNC and TPS Cinéma; in association with Sofica Sofinergie 5. Starring Stéphane Rideau, Lubna Azabal, Mohamed Hamaidi, Yasmina Reza, Jack Taylor, Gaël Morel, Rachida Brakni. Directed by André Téchiné; produced by Saïd Ben Saïd; written by André Téchiné, Faouzi Bensaïdi, with the collaboration of Mehdi Ben Attia and additional dialogue by Michel Alexandre; music by Juliette Garrigues; director of photography (Eclair, digital video), Germain Desmoulins; production and costume designer, Maria José Branco; film editor, Hervé de Luze.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cloverfield

(USA, 2007, 85 minutes)

A New York party is interrupted by the attack of an unknown, reptilian monster who proceeds to destroy the city; the action is seen through the partygoers' video camera as they try to save a wounded friend while evading the monster. Old-fashioned monster B-movie in clever disguise that purports to be Godzilla seen from the street level, shot like a vérité home video; shame the originality did not extend to a decent script, so that half way through its appropriately short length it loses steam and falls apart. Worth a mark for that great idea, though.
 
Paramount Pictures presents a Bad Robot production. Starring Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T. J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman. Directed by Matt Reeves; produced by J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk; written by Drew Goddard; music by Michael Giacchino; director of photography (DeLuxe), Michael Bonvillain; production designer, Martin Whist; costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick; film editor, Kevin Stitt; visual effects supervisors, Kevin Blank, Michael Ellis, Eric Leven; creatures designed by Neville Page. 

Monday, January 28, 2008

Daqui pr'a Frente

(Portugal/France, 2006, 91 minutes)

A suburban beautician lets her political ambitions get in the way of her marriage. Surprisingly amateurish melodrama that doesn't quite know what to do with its characters and ends up going nowhere.

Paulo Branco presents a Clap Filmes production, with the participation of ARTE France and the support of MC/ICAM and RTP. Starring Adelaide de Sousa, António Pedro Figueiredo, Marcello Urgeghe, Rita Durão; with the special participation of Luís Miguel Cintra, Isabel Ruth. Directed and edited by Catarina Ruivo; written by Catarina Ruivo, António Pedro Figueiredo; director of photography (Light Film/Schwarz Film), Rui Poças; production designer, Fernanda Morais; costume designers, Isabel Quadros, Yara Jerónimo. 

Sunday, January 27, 2008

3:10 to Yuma

(USA, 2007, 122 minutes)

A down-trodden Arizona rancher accepts to escort a gunslinger to the prison train to Yuma to pay off his debts. Good, solid remake of the 1957 western, fleshing out story and characters, with excellent performances overall.

Lionsgate presents, in association with Relativity Media, a Tree Line Film production. Starring Russell Crowe, Christian Bale; Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Ben Foster, Dallas Roberts, Alan Tudyk, Vinessa Shaw, Logan Lerman. Directed by James Mangold; produced by Cathy Konrad; screenplay by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, based on the short story by Elmore Leonard, «3:10 to Yuma»; music by Marco Beltrami; director of photography (Fotokem, Panavision), Phedon Papamichael; production designer, Andrew Menzies; costume designer, Arianne Phillips; film editor, Michael McCusker.   

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ensemble, c'est tout

(France, 2007, 96 minutes)

A weary chef and a weary cleaning woman make their acquaintance through a common friend who lives in the same building and all end up living together on the same family flat. Amiable but instantly forgettable comedy-drama of modern romance.

A Pathé Distribution release. Hirsch and Pathé Renn Productions present a Hirsch/Pathé Renn Productions/TF1 Films Production co-production, with the participation of Centre National de la Cinématographie and Canal Plus. Starring Audrey Tautou, Guillaume Canet, Laurent Stocker, Françoise Bertin. Directed by Claude Berri; screenplay by Claude Berri, based on the novel by Anna Gavalda, Hunting and Gathering; music by Frédéric Botton; director of photography (LTC), Agnès Godard; production designers, Laurent Ott, Hoang Thanh At; costume designer, Sylvie Gautrelet; film editor, François Gedigier. 

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited

(USA, 2007, 90 minutes)

Three brothers estranged since their father's funeral come together for a cross-India train trip meant to bring them together. Whimsical, melancholy comedy-melodrama of family matters that brings nothing new to its director's usual candy-coloured, off-kilter universe but refines it enjoyably.

Fox Searchlight Pictures and Collage present an American Empirical picture, made in association with Dune Entertainment. Starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Wally Wolodarsky, Waris Ahluwalia, Irrfan Khan, Barbet Schroeder, Camilla Rutherford, Bill Murray; and Anjelica Huston. Directed by Wes Anderson; produced by Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Roman Coppola, Lydia Dean Pilcher; written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Robert Yeoman; production designer, Mark Friedberg; costume designer, Milena Canonero; costumes and suitcases designed by Marc Jacobs; film editor, Andrew Weisblum.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Feast of Love

(USA, 2007, 101 minutes)

A grieving university professor is witness to a series of romances revolving around his coffee bar hangout. Ho-hum ensemble melodrama that is well enough done and acted but has absolutely no distinguishing features of its own; might have been better as a TV movie.

Lakeshore Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures present a Lakeshore Entertainment production, in association with Greenestreet Films and Revelations Entertainment. Starring Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear; Radha Mitchell, Billy Burke, Selma Blair, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway, Stana Katic, Erika Marozsan; with Jane Alexander; and Fred Ward. Directed by Robert Benton; produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Richard S. Wright; screenplay by Allison Burnett, based on the novel by Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love; music by Stephen Trask; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Kramer Morgenthau; production designer, Missy Stewart; costume designer, Renée Ehrlich Kalfus; film editor, Andrew Mondshein.  

Monday, January 21, 2008

Au coeur du mensonge

The Colour of Lies

(France, 1998, 113 minutes)

A ten-year old girl is found raped and strangled near her painting teacher’s house; the female inspector in charge suspects the man, but he protests his innocence while distracted with his wife’s wooing by a playboy novelist on holiday. Austere, playful mystery disguising a meditation on trust and truth; very typical of its director’s work, but rather more sombre than usual and with less of his customary cynical irony.

A MK2 Diffusion release. Marin Karmitz presents a MK2 Productions/France 3 Cinéma co-production, with the participation of Canal Plus and the support of Procirep and Sofilmka. Starring Sandrine Bonnaire, Jacques Gamblin, Antoine de Caunes, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi; Bernard Verley, Bulle Ogier. Directed by Claude Chabrol; produced by Marin Karmitz; written by Odile Barski and Claude Chabrol; music by Matthieu Chabrol; director of photography (Eclair), Eduardo Serra; production designer, Françoise Benoit-Fresco; costume designer, Corinne Jorry; film editor, Monique Fardoulis.  

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Blade Runner

(USA, 1982; original release, 118 minutes; 1992 director's cut, 118 minutes; 2007 final cut, 112 minutes)

In 2019 Los Angeles, a retired cop is forced back into action to eliminate five highly advanced androids. Seminal sci-fi thriller brilliantly pulling off an unlikely combination of world-weary film noir and existentialist sci-fi, with stunning, groundbreaking visuals. Misunderstood on first release after a lengthy history of production troubles, it went on to become the cult-movie of the 80’s. A 1992 “director’s cut” removed both a film noir voiceover and a tacked-on happy ending forced on the original release, and adding scenes left in the cutting-room to flesh out characters and situations; a 2007 “final cut” released on DVD, again without the voiceover and the happy ending, enhanced a few special effects that hadn't been properly finished and trimmed some scenes. Both were supervised by director Ridley Scott himself.

A Ladd Company release, in association with Sir Run Run Shaw, through Warner Bros. Jerry Perenchio and Bud Yorkin present a Michael Deeley/Ridley Scott production. Starring Harrison Ford; Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel; and Joanna Cassidy. Directed by Ridley Scott; produced by Michael Deeley; screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; music by Vangelis; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Jordan Cronenweth; production designer, Lawrence G. Paull; visual futurist, Syd Mead; costume designers, Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan; supervising film editor, Terry Rawlings; special photographic effects supervisors, Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich, David Dryer. 

Friday, January 18, 2008

Atonement

(Great Britain/USA, 2007, 123 minutes)

In England just before WWII, an upper-crust 13-year old finds her older sister with the housekeeper's son and jumps to conclusions that will tear the family apart. Handsomely shot, elaborate juxtaposition of romantic melodrama and meditation on fiction that, despite a breathtakingly good first half and sharp writing, eventually collapses at the altar of style.

Universal Pictures presents, in association with Studio Canal and Relativity Media, a Working Title Films production. Starring James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, Saoirse Ronan; and Vanessa Redgrave. Directed by Joe Wright; produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster; screenplay by Christopher Hampton, based on the novel by Ian McEwan, Atonement; music by Dario Marianelli; director of photography (DeLuxe), Seamus McGarvey; production designer, Sarah Greenwood; costume designer, Jacqueline Durran; film editor, Paul Tothill.  

Thursday, January 17, 2008

4 Luni, 2 Saptamani si 2 Zile


4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

(Romania, 2007, 113 minutes)

In 1980s Romania, a resourceful college student goes to great lengths to help her roommate get an illegal abortion. Simultaneously harrowing and absorbing drama of everyday life under a totalitarian regime.

A Wild Bunch release. A Mobra Films presentation/production, in co-production with Saga Film. Starring Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov. Directed and written by Cristian Mungiu; produced by Oleg Mutu, Cristian Mungiu; director of photography (Kodak Cinelabs, widescreen), Oleg Mutu; production designer, Mihaela Poenaru; costume designer, Dana Istrate; film editor, Dana Bunescu.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Away from Her


(Canada, 2006, 105 minutes)

A retired professor finds himself at a loss when his wife of 40 years develops Alzheimer's and checks herself into an assisted-living home where she attaches herself to another patient. Sober, sensitive romantic melodrama of love in old age whose devastatingly emotional first half is somewhat let down by a more conventional and less successful second; even so, there are many pleasures in the sensible handling and uniformly excellent performances.

A Hanway Films release. A The Film Farm/Foundry Films presentation/production, in association with Capri Releasing, Hanway Films and Echo Lake Productions; produced with the participation of Téléfilm Canada, Canadian Television Fund, The Movie Network, Super Écran, Astral Media/The Harold Greenberg Fund and Ontario Media Development Corporation; developed and produced in association with Movie Central; produced in association with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; with the assistance of Ontario Film and Television Tax Credits. Starring Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Kristen Thomson, Wendy Crewson. Directed by Sarah Polley; produced by Daniel Iron, Simone Urdl, Jennifer Weiss; screenplay by Sarah Polley, from the short story by Alice Munro, «The Bear Came Over the Mountain»; music by Jonathan Goldsmith; director of photography (Technicolor), Luc Montpellier; production designer, Kathleen Climie; costume designer, Debra Hanson; film editor, David Wharnsby. 

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cassandra's Dream


(Great Britain/France, 2007, 108 minutes)

Two cash-strapped London brothers must borrow money from their wealthy uncle, but he asks them for a favour in return: dispose of a whistleblower who may ruin him. Tired and tiresome melodrama that recycles its writer-director's usual themes from previous and better movies without adding nothing new and doesn't even have the saving grace of the occasional witty one-liner. A disappointment.

A Wild Bunch release. Virtual Films and Wild Bunch present an Iberville production on behalf of Wolverine Productions. Starring Hayley Atwell, Colin Farrell, Sally Hawkins, Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson. Directed and written by Woody Allen; produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Gareth Wiley; music by Philip Glass; director of photography (colour), Vilmos Zsigmond; production designer, Maria Djurkovic; costume designer, Jill Taylor; film editor, Alisa Lepselter.  

Friday, January 04, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

(USA/Germany, 2007, 101 minutes)

In the early 1980s, an American congressman becomes smitten with the cause of the Afghan resistance to the Soviets, and works his way around Washington until it becomes the largest CIA covert operation ever. A true story stranger than any fiction becomes a lively, rambunctious political comedy that milks the comedy angle so well that the political side becomes almost an afterthought.

Universal Pictures presents, in association with Relativity Media and Participant Productions, a Playtone production; in association with MP Munich Pape Filmproductions. Starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Ned Beatty, Emily Blunt, Om Puri, Ken Stott, John Slattery, Denis O'Hare, Jud Tylor. Directed by Mike Nichols; produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman; screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, based on the book by George Crile, Charlie Wilson's War; music by James Newton Howard; director of photography (DeLuxe), Stephen Goldblatt; production designer, Victor Kempster; costume designer, Albert Wolsky; film editors, John Bloom, Antonia van Drimmelen.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

(USA/Canada, 2007, 154 minutes)

In 1881, retiring outlaw Jesse James accepts a starstruck, awkward boy as a member of his gang, both of them unaware of the turns their relationship will take in the future. Mesmerizingly shot revisionist western that refuses the genre's usual trappings in favor of a distended, psychological approach of the characters, much like the 1970s experiences in its deconstruction; for those willing to step out on a limb, there are many rewards among its lengthy running time and understated performances.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Virtual Studios, a Scott Free Productions/Plan B Entertainment production, in co-production with Alberta Film Entertainment. Starring Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker, Paul Schneider, Jeremy Renner, Garret Dillahunt, Zooey Deschanel, Michael Parks, Ted Levine; and Sam Rockwell; narrator, Hugh Ross. Directed by Andrew Dominik; produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Ridley Scott, Jules Daly, David Valdes; screenplay by Andrew Dominik, based on the novel by Ron Hansen, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis; director of photography (Technicolor, Arri widescreen), Roger Deakins; production and costume designer, Patricia Norris; film editors, Dylan Tichenor, Curtiss Clayton.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Breach

(USA, 2006, 109 minutes)

An ambitious FBI rookie is assigned to an undercover operation as assistant to a veteran agent suspected of treason. Tight, taut espionage two-hander from a true story in the economic, sure-footed tradition of classic B movies, with two excellent lead performances.

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Universal Pictures present an Outlaw/Intermedia production. Starring Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert, Caroline Dhavernas, Gary Cole, Bruce Davison, Kathleen Quinlan. Directed by Billy Ray; produced by Bobby Newmyer, Scott Strauss, Scott Kroopf; screenplay by Adam Mazer, William Rotko and Billy Ray, based on a story by Adam Mazer and William Rotko; music by Mychael Danna; director of photography (Technicolor), Tak Fujimoto; production designer, Wynn Thomas; costume designer, Luis Sequeira; film editor, Jeffrey Ford.