Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Profondo Rosso

Deep Red

(Italy, 1975, 132 minutes)

A pianist witnesses the murder of the psychic who lived downstairs and, with the help of a journalist, connects it to her visions of an abandoned house said to be haunted. Sprawling slasher whose remarkable style and exquisite formalism are undercut by erratic scripting and a few misjudged comic interludes.

Rizzoli Films and Salvatore Argento present a Seda Spettacoli production. Starring David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi; with Gabriele Lavia, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra; and Glauco Mauri; and Clara Calamai. Directed by Dario Argento; written by Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi; music by Giorgio Gaslini and The Goblins; director of photography (Eastmancolor, widescreen), Luigi Kuveiller; production designer, Giuseppe Bassan; costume designer, Elena Mannini; film editor, Franco Fraticelli. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Il Gatto a Nove Code

The Cat o' Nine Tails

(Italy/France/Germany, 1970, 111 minutes)

A reporter teams up with a blind former journalist to discover why a researcher at a genetic institute was killed. Smartly handled slasher-cum-murder mystery.

A Seda Spettacoli/Terra Filmkunst/Labrador Film co-production. Starring James Franciscus, Karl Malden and Catherine Spaak; with Cinzia de Carolis, Werner Pochat; also starring Tino Carraro. Directed by Dario Argento; produced by Salvatore Argento; screenplay by Dario Argento, based on a story by Dario Argento, Luigi Collo and Dardano Sacchetti; music by Ennio Morricone; director of photography (colour, Cromoscope), Erico Menczer; production and costume designer, Carlo Leva; film editor, Franco Fraticelli.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

L'Uccello dalle Piume di Cristallo

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

(Italy/Germany, 1969, 96 minutes)

An American writer in Rome witnesses a murder attempt by a serial killer who has been targeting young women, and finds the killer is now after him and his girlfriend as well. Stylishly handled thriller with slasher elements that heralded the arrival of an influential genre stylist; quite subdued compared to some of his later work.

Titanus Distribuzione presents a Seda Spettacoli/CCC Film co-production. Starring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno; with Eva Renzi; with the participation of Mario Adorf. Directed and written by Dario Argento; produced by Salvatore Argento; music by Ennio Morricone; director of photography (colour, Cromoscope), Vittorio Storaro; production and costume designer, Dario Micheli; film editor, Franco Fraticelli. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Visitor

(USA, 2007, 102 minutes)

A stuffy, widowed college professor from Connecticut learns to live again through the friendship of the illegal immigrants he finds squatting in his New York apartment. Uneasy but endearing combination of quiet, uplifting melodrama and “problem picture” that works thanks to its impressive acting and attention to character.  

Groundswell Productions and Participant Productions present a Next Wednesday production. Starring Richard Jenkins, Hiam Abbass, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira. Directed and written by Tom McCarthy; produced by Mary Jane Skalski, Michael London; music by Jan A. P. Kaczmarek; director of photography (Technicolor), Oliver Bokelberg; production designer, John Paino; costume designer, Melissa Toth; film editor, Tom McArdle. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rachel Getting Married

(USA, 2008, 109 minutes)

A recovering drug addict gets out of rehab to attend her big sister's wedding. Run-of-the-mill family melodrama whose edgy, handheld handling and excellent acting go a long way towards making it interesting.

Sony Pictures Classics presents a Clinica Estetico production in association with Marc Platt Productions. Starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie de Witt, Bill Irwin, Tunde Adebimpe, Mather Zickel, Anna Deavere Smith, Anisa George, Robyn Hitchcock, Sister Carol East; and Debra Winger. Directed by Jonathan Demme; produced by Neda Armian, Jonathan Demme, Marc Platt; written by Jenny Lumet; music by Zafer Tawil, Donald Harrison Jr.; director of photography (DeLuxe), Declan Quinn; production designer, Ford Wheeler; costume designer, Susan Lyall; film editor, Tim Squyres. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Reader

(USA/Germany, 2008, 123 minutes)

In 1958 Germany, a teenager has a torrid love affair with an older tram conductor who likes him to read aloud for her then leaves without a trace after one Summer; later, as a law school student, he finds her on trial for having been a concentration camp guard. Thoughtful, exquisitely handled meditation on guilt, history and shame that is sometimes a bit too tasteful for its own good but retains a subtle, mesmerising power.

The Weinstein Company presents a Mirage Enterprises/Neunte Babelsberg Film production; funded by Filmforderungsanstalt, Deutsches Fernsehfilmfonds, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, MDM, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Starring Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Lena Olin, Bruno Ganz. Directed by Stephen Daldry; produced by Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti, Redmond Morris; screenplay by David Hare, based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink, The Reader; music by Nico Muhly; director of photography (Technicolor), Chris Menges, Roger Deakins; production designer, Brigitte Broch; costume designers, Ann Roth, Donna Maloney; film editor, Claire Simpson.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

(Great Britain, 2008, 120 minutes)

A young man from the Mumbai slums is about to win a fortune in a television game show but must prove to the police he was not cheating. Run-of-the-mill tale of Dickensian rags-to-riches presented as flashy, stylish, inspirational slice-of-life melodrama.

Pathé, Celador Films and Film4 present a Celador Films production. Starring Dev Patel, Tanay Hemant Chheda, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Freida Pinto, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, Rubina Ali, Madhur Mittal, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan. Directed by Danny Boyle; co-director, Loveleen Tandan; produced by Christian Colson; screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel by Vikas Swarup, Q&A; music by A. R. Rahman; director of photography (Kodak/Technicolor, widescreen), Anthony Dod Mantle; production designer, Mark Digby; costume designer, Suttirat Anne Larlarb; film editor, Chris Dickens. 

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Doubt

(USA, 2008, 103 minutes)

In a Bronx Catholic school in 1964, the unashamedly conservative principal suspects the progressive new parish priest of molesting a young boy, but has no proof. Well-made but modest opening out of an acclaimed stage play by its own author, with uniformly excellent performances making up for the loss of intensity from stage to screen.

Miramax Films presents a Scott Rudin production. Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman; Amy Adams, Viola Davis. Directed by John Patrick Shanley; produced by Scott Rudin, Mark Roybal; screenplay by John Patrick Shanley, based on his play Doubt; music by Howard Shore; director of photography (DeLuxe), Roger Deakins; production designer, David Gropman; costume designer, Ann Roth; film editor, Dylan Tichenor.