Sunday, May 31, 2009

Flammen & Citronen

Flame & Citron

(Denmark/Germany/Norway/France/Sweden/Finland/Czech Republic, 2008, 137 minutes)

The true story of two Danish resistants to the Nazi occupation of Denmark during WWII. Gripping if bleak espionage thriller, intricately plotted and carefully handled.

Nimbus Film presents a Nimbus Film/Wüste Filmproduktion/Wüste Film Ost/Studio Babelsberg production; produced by Nimbus Rights II, with the support of the Danish Film Institute, Eurimages, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Nordisk Film & TV Fund, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein; in co-operation with TV2 Danmark, Sandrew Metronome, The Match Factory, Canal Plus, TV2 Norge, SVT, NFP, YLE, Substanz; in co-production with Wüste Filmproduktion, Wüste Film Ost, Studio Babelsberg, OC Film, Sirena Film, Duckling, Mainstream, Kameraudlejningen, 4 1/2. Starring Thure Lindhardt, Mads Mikkelsen, Stine Stengade, Peter Mygind, Mille Hoffmeyer Lehfeldt, Flemming Enevold, Christian Berkel, Hanns Zischler. Directed by Ole Christian Madsen; produced by Lars Bredo Rahbek; written by Lars K. Andersen, Ole Christian Madsen; music by Karsten Fundel; director of photography (Arri Schwartzfilm, widescreen), Jørgen Johansson; production designer, Jette Lehmann; costume designer, Manon Rasmussen; film editor, Søren B. Ebbe.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

(USA, 2008, 102 minutes)

Two best friends who've lived together for years find they're actually in love with each other after they agree to make a quickie pornographic movie to pay for their overdue rent. A great idea for a subversive romantic comedy, a game cast and the occasional inspired gag are wasted in a severely underscripted plot, as if the idea was enough to carry it through an overload of tiresome juvenile humour.

The Weinstein Company presents a View Askew production. Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson, Traci Lords, Katie Morgan, Ricky Mabe, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Brandon Routh, Gerry Bednob; and Justin Long. Directed, written and edited by Kevin Smith; produced by Scott Mosier; music by James L. Venable; director of photography (Technicolor), David Klein; production designer, Robert Holtzman; costume designer, Salvador Perez. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Traitor

(USA, 2008, 114 minutes)

A former US soldier, a devout Muslim who seems to have become part of a terrorist cell, is chased around the world by an FBI agent. Smart, edgy thriller that introduces some welcome (and topical) political and moral complexityinto a solid genre entry.

Overture Films presents a Mandeville Films/Hyde Park Entertainment/Crescendo production. Starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce; Saïd Taghmaoui, Neal McDonough, Alyy Khan, Archie Panjabi; and Jeff Daniels. Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff; produced by David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Silver; screenplay by Jeffrey Nachmanoff, based on a story by Steve Martin and Jeffrey Nachmanoff; music by Mark Kilian; director of photography (Technicolor), J. Michael Muro; production designer, Laurence Bennett; costume designer, Gersha Phillips; film editor, Billy Fox. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Låt den Rätte Komma In

Let the Right One In

(Sweden, 2008, 112 minutes)

In 1982 Stockholm, a lonely, bullied schoolboy finds comfort and friendship in his new teenage neighbour — a lonely girl who only comes out at night and turns out to be a vampire. Haunting coming-of-age fable for adults that combines a remarkably well-observed portrait of adolescence with an icily stylish, subdued approach to horror movie conventions.

An EFTI presentation/production, in co-production with Sveriges Television, Filmpool Nord, Sandrew Metronome, WAG, Fido Film, The Chimney Pot and Ljudligan; with the support of Svenska Filminstutet and Nordisk Film and Television Fund; in collaboration with Canal Plus. Starring Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Peter Carlberg. Directed by Tomas Alfredson; produced by John Nordling, Carl Molinder; screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, based on his novel Let the Right One In; music by Johan Söderqvist; director of photography (Nordisk Film, widescreen), Hoyte van Hoytema; production designer, Eva Norén; costume designer, Maria Strid; film editors, Dino Jonsäter, Tomas Alfredson.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud

Lift to the Scaffold

(France, 1957, 92 minutes)

After murdering his boss, with whose wife he has been having an affair, an oil executive is trapped in the office lift over the weekend, and a series of circumstances lead police to wrongly believe he has murdered two German tourists in a highway motel. Tight little thriller which plays like a more cerebral, almost satirical take on Hitchcock's gallows humor coupled with film noir's existentialism.

A Pyramide Distribution release. Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France presents a Nouvelles Éditions de Films production. Starring Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet; with Georges Poujouly, Yori Bertin, Jean Wall; with Ivan Petrovich; and Félix Marten; and Lino Ventura. Directed by Louis Malle; screenplay by Roger Nimier and Louis Malle, based on the novel by Noël Calef Ascenseur pour l'échafaud and on Calef's pre-adaptation; music by Miles Davis; director of photography (b&w), Henri Decae; production designers, Rino Mondellini and Jean Mandaroux; film editor, Léonide Azar. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Va, vis et deviens

Live and Become

(France/Italy/Belgium/Israel, 2005, 149 minutes)

In 1984, a Christian Ethiopian refugee sends her nine-year old son to Israel to ensure a better life for him, and the boy grows up in a foster family passing as a Jew. Well-meaning but unwieldy mix of problem picture, social melodrama, family saga and coming-of-age story whose uniformly excellent performances and obvious sincerity fail to make up for strictly by-the-book plotting, overly manipulative handling and an intrusive score.

A Les Films du Losange release. Elzévir Films and Oï Oï Oï Productions present an Elzévir Films/Oï Oï Oï Productions production, co-produced by Cattleya, K2, Transfax Films; co-produced by France 3 Cinéma; with the participation of Canal Plus; with the support of Eurimages and Centre National de la Cinématographie; with the help of Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel de la Communauté Française de Belgique and Télédistributeurs Wallons; in collaboration with Medusa Film; co-produced by RTL-TVI, Scope Invest; with the participation of Cinécinéma, Kiosque. Starring Yaël Abecassis, Roschdy Zem, Moshe Agazai, Sirak M. Sabahat, Mosche Abebe, Yitzhak Edgar, Roni Hadar, Rami Danon. Directed by Radu Mihaileanu; produced by Denis Carot, Marie Masmonteil, Radu Mihaileanu; written by Radu Mihaileanu, with the collaboration of Alain-Michel Blanc; music by Armand Amar; director of photography (Eclair, Technovision), Rémy Chevrin; production designer, Eytan Levy; costume designer, Rona Doron; film editor, Ludo Troch. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Un conte de Noël

A Christmas Tale

(France, 2008, 151 minutes)

An extended family comes together at Christmas in Roubaix after the mother is diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease that only a bone marrow transplant from a compatible donor can hold back. Playful all-star family melodrama that makes a point of deconstructing the genre through its fluid, shifting handling and innocent yet black humour.

A Bac Films release. Why Not Productions presents, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cinécinéma and Centre National de la Cinématographie, with the support of CRRAV Nord-Pas de Calais and Région Nord-Pas de Calais, in association with Sofica UGC 1, a Why Not Productions/France 2 Cinéma/Wild Bunch/Bac Films co-production. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Anne Consigny, Mathieu Amalric, Chiara Mastroianni, Melvil Poupaud, Emmanuelle Devos, Hippolyte Girardot, Laurent Capelluto, Émile Berling, Françoise Bertin, Samir Guesmi, Thomas Obled, Clément Obled. Directed by Arnaud Desplechin; screenplay by Arnaud Desplechin, Emmanuel Bourdieu, inspired by the book by Jacques Ascher and Jean-Pierre Jouet, La Greffe; music by Grégoire Hetzel; director of photography (colour, widescreen), Éric Gautier; production designer, Dan Bevan; costume designer, Nathalie Raoul; film editor, Laurence Briaud.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Amazing Grace

(USA/Great Britain, 2006, 117 minutes)

The life of 18th century British politician William Wilberforce, who fought long and hard to abolish the slave trade. Well-made, well-performed biopic that paints an intriguing picture of the personal demands of politics.

Bristol Bay Productions presents, in association with Ingenious Film Partners, a Sunflower production; produced by Ingenious Film Partners 2 on behalf of Walden Media. Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Ciaran Hinds, Rufus Sewell; with Michael Gambon; and Albert Finney. Directed by Michael Apted; produced by Edward Pressman, Terrence Malick, Patricia Heaton, David Hunt, Ken Wales; written by Steven Knight; music by David Arnold; director of photography (DeLuxe), Remi Adefarasin; production designer, Charles Wood; costume designer, Jenny Beavan; film editor, Rick Shaine. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

King of California

(USA, 2007, 93 minutes)

A struggling teenager reluctantly follows her mentally unstable father on a wild treasure chase through the California suburbs. Quirky but endearing bitter-sweet comedy.

Millennium Films presents, in association with Emmett/Furla Films, an Alexander Payne/Michael London production. Starring Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood; Willis Burks II. Directed and written by Mike Cahill; produced by Michael London, Alexander Payne, Avi Lerner, Randall Emmett; music by David Robbins; director of photography (Boyana Film Lab/DeLuxe), James Whitaker; production designer, Dan Bishop; costume designers, Ellen Mirojnick, Michael Dennison; film editor, Glenn Garland. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

European title: Night at the Museum 2

Now a successful entrepreneur, Larry Daley is called by the exhibits of New York's Natural History Museum as they're transferred to the Smithsonian in Washington to help with a new foe awakened by the Egyptian tablet with magical powers. Less of a family adventure and more of a cartoonish action comedy, this sequel is actually a superior movie to the 2006 original despite coming from the exact same creative team, with a number of smart visual gags and a scene-stealing performance from Hank Azaria as a lisping pharaoh.

Twentieth Century-Fox presents a Twenty-One Laps Entertainment/1492 Pictures production; made in association with Dune Entertainment. Starring Ben Stiller; Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Hank Azaria, Christopher Guest, Alain Chabat, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Bill Hader, Jon Bernthal; and Robin Williams. Directed by Shawn Levy; produced by Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan; screenplay by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon; music by Alan Silvestri; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), John Schwartzman; production designer, Claude Paré; costume designer, Marlene Stewart; film editors, Don Zimmerman, Dean Zimmerman; visual effects supervisor, Dan de Leeuw. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Zona

(Portugal, 2008, 99 minutes)

A man visiting his dying father in a hospital crosses paths with a pregnant woman giving birth to her child after a possibly fatal car crash. Stunningly realised fever dream that eschews conventional narrative in order to create an almost experimental, maddeningly oblique yet intriguing moodpiece; arthouse filmmaking at its most demanding.

An O Som e a Fúria presentation/production, with financial support from ICA and the participation of RTP. Starring Isabel Abreu, António Pedroso; Tiago Barbosa, Guilherme Pina Cabral, Patrícia Almeida; Vasco Pereira Lopes; Gustavo Sumpta, Cátia Afonso. Directed, written and edited by Sandro Aguilar; produced by Luís Urbano, Sandro Aguilar; director of photography (Tóbis colour), Paulo Ares; art director, Fernando Areal; costume designer, Sílvia Siopa. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Angels and Demons

(USA, 2009, 132 minutes)

Symbolism expert Robert Langdon is brought in by the Vatican when four cardinals are kidnapped and the Vatican is threatened with an explosive device by a supposedly long-dead secret society known as the Illuminati.  Further adventures of the academic hero of The Da Vinci Code in another efficient but forgettable all-star potboiler.

Columbia Pictures and Imagine Entertainment present a John Calley/Brian Grazer production. Starring Tom Hanks; Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellån Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas; and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Directed by Ron Howard; produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, John Calley; screenplay by David Koepp, Akiva Goldsman, based on the novel by Dan Brown, Angels and Demons; music by Hans Zimmer; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Salvatore Totino; production designer, Allan Cameron; costume designer, Daniel Orlandi; film editors, Dan Hanley, Mike Hill; visual effects supervisor, Angus Bickerton.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Star Trek

(USA/Germany, 2009, 126 minutes)

Notorious Starfleet cadet James Kirk stows away on the maiden voyage of the starship USS Enterprise in chase of a mysterious Romulan ship with unimaginable capabilities. Extraordinary reboot of a sci-fi franchise long thought dead, reimagined without breaking the series' tradition of smart scripting and attention to character as a no-holds-barred, rollercoaster thrill ride space opera.

Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment present a Bad Robot production; produced in association with Mavrocine Pictures. Starring John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Winona Ryder, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin; with Eric Bana; and Leonard Nimoy. Directed by J. J. Abrams; produced by J. J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof; screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, based on the television series created by Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek; music by Michael Giacchino; director of photography (Foto-Kem/DeLuxe, Panavision), Dan Mindel; production designer, Scott Chambliss; costume designer, Michael Kaplan; film editors, Mary Jo Markey, Maryann Brandon; visual effects supervisor, Roger Guyett.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Married Life

(USA, 2007, 91 minutes)

In 1949, a married suburban executive decides to leave his wife for a younger woman but tries to do so with the least possible pain for all involved. Amiable tale of modern adultery whose cast finds the pitch-perfect tone for its wildly variable mood shifts between comedy, melodrama and film noir. Excellent production values on a limited budget.

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment presents an Anonymous Content/Firm Films production. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams; David Wenham. Directed by Ira Sachs; produced by Sidney Kimmel, Jawal Nga, Steve Golin, Ira Sachs; screenplay by Ira Sachs and Oren Moverman, based on the novel by John Bingham, Five Roundabouts to Heaven; music by Dickon Hinchcliffe; director of photography (DeLuxe), Peter Deming; production designer, Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski; costume designer, Michael Dennison; film editor, Affonso Gonçalves.