Friday, October 31, 2008

In Bruges

(Great Britain/USA, 2007, 107 minutes)

Two contract killers are sent to the Belgian town of Bruges to wait for their next instructions after botching a hit. Lively, busy comedy-thriller bursting with black humour and a surprisingly melancholy streak, with excellent performances from a great cast.

Focus Features presents, in association with Film4, a Blueprint Pictures production in association with Scion Films; produced in association with Twins Financing. Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes; Clémence Poésy, Jérémie Rénier, Thekla Reuten, Jordan Prentice, Zeljko Ivanek. Directed and written by Martin McDonagh; produced by Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin; music by Carter Burwell; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Eigil Bryld; production designer, Michael Carlin; costume designer, Jany Temime; film editor, Jon Gregory.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Entre les murs

The Class

(France, 2008, 128 minutes)

A year in the life of a high school class and its head teacher in a Paris public school. Thoroughly absorbing school movie that is in fact truly inspirational, making its points quietly and incisively; shot like a documentary and improvised by a cast of non-professional, real students.

A Memento Films International. Haut et Court presents a Haut et Court production, in co-production with France 2 Cinéma; with the participation of Canal Plus, Cinécinéma and France 2; in association with Cofinova 4, Soficinéma 3; with the support of Centre National de la Cinématographie, ACSE, Région Île-de-France. Starring François Bégaudeau; Nassim Amrabt, Laura Baquela, Cherif Bounaïdja Rachedi, Juliette Demaille, Dalla Doucoure, Arthur Fogel, Damien Gomes, Louise Grinberg, Qifei Huang, Wei Huang, Franck Keïta, Henriette Kasarhuanda, Lucie Landrevie, Agame Malembo-Emene, Rabah Naït Oufella, Carl Nanor, Esméralda Ouertani, Burak Özyilmaz, Eva Paradiso, Rachel Régulier, Angélica Sancio, Samantha Soupirot, Boubacar Touré, Justine Wu, Vincent Caire, Olivier Dupeyron, Patrick Dureuil, Frédéric Faujas, Dorothée Guilbot, Cécile Lagarde, Anne Langlois, Yvette Mournetas, Vincent Robert, Anne Wallimann-Charpentier, Julie Athenol, Jean-Michel Simonet, Olivier Pasquier, Stéphane Longour, Abdoul Drahamane Sissoko, Aline Zimierski, Slima Aktar, Marie-Antoinette Sorrente, Fatoumata Kanté, Cheick Baba Doumbia, Khalid Amrabt, Adeline Fogel, Lingfen Huang, Wenlong Huang, Sezer Özyilmaz, Marie-Laure Bulliard, Robert Demaille, Céline Spang. Directed by Laurent Cantet; produced by Carole Scotta, Caroline Benjo, Simon Arnal, Barbara Letellier; screenplay by Laurent Cantet, Robin Campillo, François Bégaudeau, based on the book by François Bégaudeau, Entre les murs; director of photography (Arane, widescreen), Pierre Milon; production designer, Sabine Barthélémy; costume designer, Marie le Garrec; film editors, Robin Campillo, Stéphanie Léger. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Last Emperor

(Great Britain/Italy/France, 1987, 162 minutes)

The true story of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, crowned at the age of 3 in 1908 and a witness to the great convulsions of Chinese history in the 20th century. Stilted but dull epic resolving itself in a series of gorgeously filmed and choreographed visual tableaux that take precedence over the narrative. Director Bernardo Bertolucci later prepared a 217-minute "director's cut" that fleshed out the storyline and the characters.

A Jeremy Thomas presentation/production; made by Yanco Films and Tao Film in association with Recorded Picture Company, Screenframe and AAA Soprofilms. Starring John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole as R. J.; Ying Ruocheng; Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Wu Jun Mei, Maggie Han, Ric Young, Jade Go, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa; with Ryuichi Sakamoto. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci; produced by Jeremy Thomas; written by Mark Peploe with Bernardo Bertolucci; music by Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne and Cong Su; director of photography (Eastmancolor/Technicolor, Technovision), Vittorio Storaro; production designer, Ferdinando Scarfiotti; costume designer, James Acheson; film editor, Gabriella Cristiani.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Untraceable

(USA, 2008, 101 minutes)

An FBI cyber-crime agent tries to discover who is killing people live on the internet. Smartly done but disposable techno-thriller that tries too hard to have its cake and eat it too but provides some B-movie thrills along the way.

Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment present a Lakeshore Entertainment production in association with Cohen/Pearl Productions. Starring Diane Lane; Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt, Peter Lewis. Directed by Gregory Hoblit; produced by Steven Pearl, Andy Cohen, Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Hawk Koch; screenplay by Robert Fyvolent, Mark R. Brinker and Allison Burnett, based on a story by Robert Fyvolent and Mark R. Brinker; music by Christopher Young; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Anastas Michos; production designer, Paul Eads; costume designer, Elisabetta Beraldo; film editors, David Rosenbloom, Gregory Plotkin.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Entre os Dedos

(Portugal/Brazil, 2008, 100 minutes)

A couple struggling to make ends meet in the Lisbon suburbs starts breaking apart when the husband is fired from his construction job. Bleak kitchen-sink melodrama whose sense of style and earnest performances are unable to redeem its rather aimless plotting; not badly done, but why do it? 

Paulo Branco in association with Roberto Tibiriçá presents a Clap Filmes/Plateau Produções co-production, with financial support from ANCINE and support from Ibermedia, FICA, ICA and RTP. Starring Filipe Duarte, Isabel Abreu, Lavínia Moreira, Luís Filipe Rocha, Gonçalo Waddington, Fernanda Lapa; with the special participation of Eunice Muñoz. Directed by Tiago Guedes and Frederico Serra; produced by Paulo Branco; written by Rodrigo Guedes de Carvalho; music by Jorge Coelho; director of photography (B&W), Paulo Ares; art director, Isabel Branco; wardrobe, Maria da Luz d'Orey; film editors, Mair Tavares, Mariana Gaivão.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Max Payne

(USA, 2008, 98 minutes)

A NYPD detective obsessed with finding the man who killed his wife and child three years earlier finds himself framed for a bloody murder and hooks with the deceased's sister to find out the real culprit. Clunky adaptation of a hit video-game that starts out as amiable but generic B-thriller with supernatural overtones, ends as special-effects-intensive shoot'em-up and fails to reconcile both halves successfully. Good production values.

Twentieth Century-Fox presents a Firm Films/Depth Entertainment production, made in association with Dune Entertainment III. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Chris O'Donnell, Donal Logue, Amaury Nolasco, Kate Burton; and Olga Kurylenko. Directed by John Moore; produced by Julie Yorn, Scott Faye, John Moore; written by Beau Thorne; music by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Jonathan Sela; production designer, Daniel T. Dorrance; costume designer, George L. Little; film editor, Dan Zimmerman; visual effects supervisor, Everett Burrell.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Berlin

(USA/Germany, 2007, 81 minutes)

Lou Reed and his band perform in its entirety his 1973 album Berlin in December 2006 at the St. Ann's Warehouse in New York City. Impressionistic concert movie that is essentially a faithful record of a particularly impressive series of performances, but no more and no less than that; of little or no interest for anyone who is not appreciative either of the performer or of the director.

A Fortissimo Films presentation. Waterboy Productions and Jon Kilik present a Grandview Pictures/LM Media production. Directed by Julian Schnabel; produced by Jon Kilik, Tom Sarig; music and lyrics by Lou Reed; musical producers, Bob Ezrin, Hal Willner; director of photography (Technicolor), Ellen Kuras; set design, Julian Schnabel; film editor, Benjamin Flaherty; "Caroline" footage directed by Lola Montes Schnabel, with Emmanuelle Seigner; "floating furniture" footage directed by Alejandro Garmendia. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Paris

(France, 2007, 129 minutes)

A dancer tells his welfare-worker sister he has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition; she moves into his place with her children to help him cope, as their paths cross a number of other Parisians ill at ease in their skin. Good-looking but rather meandering mosaic melodrama that sidelines its central story to make way for a number of subplots that don't really go anywhere and wastes an excellent ensemble cast in the process.

A Mars Distribution/Studiocanal release. Ce Qui Me Meut presents a Ce Qui Me Meut/Studiocanal/Studiocanal Image/France 2 Cinéma co-production, in association with Uni Étoile 4, with the participation of Canal Plus and TPS Star. Starring Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini, Albert Dupontel, François Cluzet, Karin Viard; Mélanie Laurent, Gilles Lellouche, Zinedine Soualem, Julie Ferrier, Maurice Bénichou, Olivia Bonamy, Audrey Marnay, Annelise Hesme, Sabrina Ouazani, Xavier Robic, Emmanuel Quatra, Kingsley Kum Abang. Directed and written by Cédric Klapisch; produced by Bruno Levy; music by Loïk Dury, Robert "Chicken" Burke; director of photography (colour, Panavision), Christophe Beaucarne; production designer, Marie Cheminal; costume designer, Anne Schotte; film editor, Francine Sandberg.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Savage Grace

(Spain/France/USA, 2007, 97 minutes)

The true story behind the 1972 London murder of American socialite Barbara Daly Baekeland by her son Antony. Good-looking but oblique melodrama of privileged ennui and sexual provocation; quite well done, elegantly handled and featuring a superb lead performance, but somewhat mystifying as to what it really means to say.

Celluloid Dreams presents a Monfort Producciones/Killer Films/John Wells production, in association with ATO Pictures, 120dB Films; with the collaboration of A Contraluz Films, Videntia Frames; with the participation of Ministerio de Cultura de España/ICAA, Instituto de Crédito Oficial, Institut Català de les Industries Culturels, Institut Català de Finances and Televisió de Catalunya. Starring Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Eddie Redmayne, Elena Anaya, Hugh Dancy, Abel Folk, Anne Reid, Simón Andréu; with Unax Ugalde; special participation by Belén Rueda. Directed by Tom Kalin; produced by Iker Monfort, Katie Roumel, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon; screenplay by Howard A. Rodman, based on the book by Natalie Robins and Steven L. Aronson, Savage Grace; music by Fernando Velázquez; director of photography (colour), Juanmi Azpiroz; production designer, Víctor Molero; costume designer, Gabriela Salaverri; film editors, Tom Kalin, John E. Lyons, Enara Goicoetxea. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Eagle Eye

(USA/Germany, 2008, 117 minutes)

A copy shop employee and a single mom are manipulated by a mysterious caller with apparent access to the entire American computer grid. Smart, topical B-thriller pushed up with A-list production values.

Dreamworks Pictures presents a K/O production; in association with Goldcrest Pictures; in association with KMP Film Invest. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan; Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie, Ethan Embry; and Billy Bob Thornton. Directed by D. J. Caruso; produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Patrick Crowley; screenplay by John Glenn, Travis Adam Wright, Hillary Seitz, Dan McDermott, based on a story by Dan McDermott; music by Brian Tyler; director of photography (DeLuxe prints, Panavision), Dariusz Wolski; production designer, Tom Sanders; costume designer, Marie-Sylvie Deveau; film editor, Jim Page; visual effects supervisor, Jim Rygiel. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Auf der anderen Seite

The Edge of Heaven

(Germany/Turkey, 2007, 119 minutes)

A Turkish retiree in Germany becomes smitten with a prostitute; meanwhile, her daughter, a revolutionary activist, flees from Istanbul and finds love in the idealist student who lodges her.  Affecting ensemble melodrama that twists its time-worn mosaic formula to deliver a few narrative surprises and a powerful meditation on human relationships.

The Match Factory presents a Corazón International/Anka Film production, in association with Dorje Film, in co-production with NDR; in collaboration with Sandra Harter—KOX, Intervista Digital Media and Pictorion Pictures; with support from Filmförderungsanstalt, Filmförderung Hamburg, Nordmedia, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen and KFF. Starring Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtiz, Nursel Köse, Nurgul Yesilcay, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Hanna Schygulla. Directed and written by Fatih Akin; produced by Andreas Thiel, Klaus Maeck, Fatih Akin; music by Shantel; director of photography (colour), Rainer Klausmann; production designers, Tamo Kurz, Sirma Bradley; costume designer, Katrin Aschendorf; film editor, Andrew Bird. 

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mal Nascida

(Portugal, 2007, 121 minutes)

In a remote provincial village, a young woman remains in mourning for her long dead father, accusing his mother and her stepfather of having murdered her father for their personal gain. Essentially a classical tragedy transposed to a rural medium, impeccably presented and performed, its obvious low budget a plus for the intended claustrophobic mood, but in need of some tighter script that would compress the action further.

Paulo Branco presents a Clap Filmes production, with support from ICAM and RTP. Starring Anabela Moreira, Márcia Breia, Fernando Luís, Gonçalo Waddington, Tiago Rodrigues. Directed by João Canijo; produced by Paulo Branco; written by João Canijo, Céline Pouillon, Mayanna von Ledebur; music by Gabriel Gomes; director of photography (Schwarz Film), Mário Castanheira; art director, José Pedro Penha Lopes; wardrobe, Yara Jerónimo, Vera Midões; film editor, João Braz.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Memento

(USA, 2000, 111 minutes)

A former insurance investigator suffering from short-term memory loss tries to find out who raped and killed his wife. Intriguing low-key murder mystery where the story is told backwards from the end, confidently presented.

Newmarket presents, in association with Summit Entertainment, a Team Todd production. Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano; Mark Boone Junior. Directed by Christopher Nolan; produced by Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd; screenplay by Christopher Nolan, based on the short story by Jonathan Nolan, "Memento Mori"; music by David Julyan; director of photography (Foto-Kem; Panavision), Wally Pfister; production designer, Patti Podesta; costume designer, Cindy Evans; film editor, Dody Dorn. 

Friday, October 03, 2008

Burn After Reading

(USA/Great Britain/France, 2008, 94 minutes)

After being dismissed from his post, an alcoholic CIA analyst decides to write a tell-all memoir whose draft falls into the hands of an airheaded gym instructor and a lonely spinster obsessed with plastic surgery. Scathing screwball satire of stupidity and blind ambition done with its authors' usual clinical style and deadpan, dry wit; not to everyone's taste, but a better comedy than the Coen's previous attempts at the genre.

Focus Features presents, in association with Studiocanal and Relativity Media, a Working Title production. Starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins; and Brad Pitt. Directed, produced, written and edited (under the alias Roderick Jaynes) by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen; music by Carter Burwell; director of photography (DeLuxe), Emmanuel Lubezki; production designer, Jess Gonchor; costume designer, Mary Zophres. 

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wu Ji

The Promise

(China/USA, 2005; original Chinese version, 121 minutes; international version, 101 minutes)

In a mythical Chinese kingdom, a young orphan is granted wealth in exchange for happiness, meaning that she is to lose everyone she falls in love with; years later, a beloved general, his slave and an evil prince fight for her love. Strikingly inept martial arts fantasy that buries its intriguing premise, good production values and a number of respectable technical credits in incomprehensible scripting, often gratuitously grandiose handling and inexplicably sloppy trick effects. A huge hit upon release in its native China, the film was nevertheless cut by 20 minutes for international release by director Chen Kaige, mainly by trimming within scenes rather than excising whole parts.

A China Film Co-Production Corporation/Beijing 21st Century Shengkai Company/Capgen Investment Group/Moonstone Entertainment production. Starring Hiroyuki Sanada, Jang Dong-Gun, Cecilia Cheung, Nicholas Tse. Directed by Chen Kaige; produced by Yang Buting, Chen Hong, Han San Ping, Etchie Stroh; written by Chen Kaige, Zhang Tan; music by Klaus Badelt; director of photography (Cineart, widescreen), Peter Pau; production designer, Tim Yip; costume designers, Kimiya Masago, Tim Yip; film editors, Zhou Ying, Li Tang; action sequence choreographers, Stephen Tung Wei, Dion Lam; visual effects supervisor, John Chu.