Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN

Original US release title: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein


Italy/USA
1973
95 minutes

A mad scientist creates a pair of mated male and female creatures from body parts while his bored wife takes as lover the local stud. Inept shocker wasting its lavish production values and a few interesting story ideas on clumsy handling, non-existant performances and risible scripting.

Andy Warhol presents a Compagnia Cinematografica Champion production.
Starring Joe Dallesandro, Monique van Vooren, Udo Kier; introducing Arno Juerging, Dalila di Lazzaro, Srdjan Zelenovic.
Directed and written by Paul Morrissey; produced by Andrew Braunsberg; music by Claudio Gizzi; director of photography (LV, widescreen, Space-Vision 3D), Luigi Kuveiller; production designer, Enrico Job; wardrobe supervisor, Benito Persico; film editors, Franca Silvi, Jed Johnson; special effects, Carlo Rambaldi. 
Screened: Curtas Vila do Conde advance DVD screener, Lisbon, June 26th 2010.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

THE BUBBLE

Alternate US re-release title: Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth
Alternate US video title: The Zoo


USA
1966
91 minutes (cut from original premiere length of 112 minutes)

A married couple travelling on an airplane encounter turbulence and land in a mysterious small town that has been sealed off from the rest of the world inside a mysterious bubble. Bewilderingly odd Poverty Row sci-fi, like an expanded but under-scripted Twilight Zone episode on drugs that still throws some thought-provoking ideas among the risible 3D effects and wooden acting and handling.

A Midwestern Magic-Vuers presentation/production.
Starring Michael Cole, Deborah Walley; guest star, Johnny Desmond.
Directed, produced and written by Arch Oboler; music by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter; director of photography (CFI, widescreen, Space-Vision 3D), Charles Wheeler; art director, Marvin Chomsky; film editor, Igo Kantor; special effects, George Schlicher, Samuel Dockrey.
Screened: Curtas Vila do Conde advance DVD screener, Lisbon, June 25th 2010. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

BROOKLYN'S FINEST

USA
2010
132 minutes

Three New York cops face their demons in the streets of Brooklyn: a beat officer about to retire, a narcotics detective with family problems and an undercover cop at odds with his boss. Gritty but bloated attempt at a modern crime epic in need of tighter scripting and more focused handling.

Overture Films and Millennium Films present a Thunder Road Film/Nu Image production in association with Langley Films.
Starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke; and Wesley Snipes; Will Patton, Lili Taylor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Brían F. O'Byrne, Shannon Kane; with Ellen Barkin.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua; produced by Basil Iwanyk, John Langley, John Thompson, Elie Cohn; written by Michael C. Martin; music by Marcelo Zarvos; director of photography (colour, widescreen), Patrick Murguia; production designer, Thérèse de Prez; costume designer, Juliet Polcsa; film editor, Barbara Tulliver.
Screened: DVD, June 20th 2010. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

SHIRIN

Iran
2008
94 minutes

Iranian women attend a screening of a film based on the legendary romance of star-crossed Persian lovers Shirin and Khosrow. The film itself is never seen onscreen; only its soundtrack and dialogue is heard, while the camera focuses on the women in the theatre and their responses to the story. Smart minimalist experiment kept from crossing over into multimedia art installation by its fascinating meditation on the very nature of watching a film.

An Abbas Kiarostami production.
Directed and produced by Mr. Kiarostami; screenplay by Mohammed Rahmanian, based on the novel Khosrow and Shirin by Farideh Galbou and on the epic poem The Story of Khosrow and Shirin by Hakim Nezami Ganjavi; music by Heshmat Sanjari, Morteza Hananeh, Hossein Dehlavi, Samin Baghchehban; lyrics by Sheikh Farid Aldin Attar; directors of photography (colour), Mahmoud Kalari, Houman Behmanesh; film editors, Mr. Kiarostami, Arash Sadegh; sound, M. Reza Delpak.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, UCI El Corte Inglés 6 (Lisbon), June 18th 2010.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

SIN NOMBRE

USA/Mexico/Great Britain
2008
94 minutes

The paths of an Honduran teenager searching for a better life and a Mexican gang member fleeing from certain death cross on a train carrying illegal immigrants through Mexico toward the US. Smart update of old crime gang melodramas as a “problem picture” that takes a matter-of-fact look at the roots of Latin American immigration but never lets its message take center stage.

Universal Pictures International present a Primary Productions/Canana production; produced in association with Twins Financing; in association with Scion Films. (US distributor, Focus Features.)
Starring Paulina Gaitan, Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Diana García, Luis Fernando Peña; and Héctor Jiménez.
Directed and written by Cary Joji Fukunaga; produced by Amy Kaufman; music by Marcelo Zarvos; director of photography (colour, Panavision), Adriano Goldman; production designer, Claudio Contreras; costume designer, Leticia Palacios; film editors, Luis Carballar and Craig McKay.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Castello Lopes screening room (Lisbon), June 16th 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010

DUAS MULHERES

Portugal/Brazil
2009
99 minutes

A psychiatrist married to a financial executive is intrigued by a young call girl prone to panic attacks and they begin circling each other. Well-made but bloodless combination of character study and relationship drama with political thriller elements, very seventies-ish in its structure; impeccable credits and a superb central performance aren't enough to overcome a few longueurs and a rather pointless coda.

Paulo Trancoso presents a Costa do Castelo Filmes/Cinemate/Taiga Filmes co-production, with financial support from ANCINE, Ibermedia programme, FICA, Ministério da Cultura-Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal. (Portuguese distributor, Costa do Castelo Filmes).
Starring Beatriz Batarda, Virgílio Castelo, Débora Monteiro; special guest, Romana.
Directed by João Mário Grilo; produced by Paulo Trancoso, Ana Costa; written by Rui Cardoso Martins, Tereza Coelho; music by Wagner Tiso; director of photography (Tobis), Rui Poças; art director, Sílvia Grabowski; wardrobe, Vera Midões; film editor, Paulo Milhomens.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Cinema City Classic Alvalade 3 (Lisbon), June 15th 2010.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

PARTIR

France
2008
85 minutes

The well-off wife of a local doctor falls madly in love with the construction worker who is renovating an annex. Upscale melodrama that tries to move beyond the “happily ever after” where most of the competition stops only to find itself back where it started without really having gone anywhere else; a great lead performance makes up for it, but only just.

A Pyramide Productions/Camera One presentation/production, in co-production with Solaire Production, VMP; with the participation of Canal Plus, Cinécinéma, Centre National de la Cinématographie; with the support of Région Languedoc-Roussillon in association with Centre National de la Cinématographie; with the participation of Cofinova. (French distributor, Pyramide Distribution.)
Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Sergi Lopez, Yvan Attal.
Directed by Catherine Corsini; produced by Fabienne Vonier; written by Ms. Corsini with Gaëlle Macé; director of photography (Eclair), Agnès Godard; production designer, Laurent Ott; costume designer, Anne Schotte; film editor, Simon Jacquet. 
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Medeia King 1 (Lisbon), June 14th 2010.

Monday, June 14, 2010

SHUTTER ISLAND

USA
2009
138 minutes

In 1954, a US marshal and his newly assigned partner head to a psychiatric hospital for criminals in the remote Shutter Island, off Boston, to investigate the disappearance of an inmate – but once there they find nothing is quite what it looks like. Mindbending gothic horror thriller shot as a disquietingly paranoid all-star upscale “giallo” where style and substance are so intrincately entwined as to be almost inseparable; its deliberate throwback to 1950s and 1960s shockers divided fans of the director, but presentation and production values are all-around impeccable.

Paramount Pictures presents a Phoenix Pictures production, in association with Sikelia Productions and Appian Way.
Starring Leonardo di Caprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, John Carroll Lynch; and Max von Sydow.
Directed by Martin Scorsese; produced by Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Bradley J. Fischer, Mr. Scorsese; screenplay by Laeta Kalogridis, from the novel Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane; director of photography (colour, widescreen), Robert Richardson; production designer, Dante Ferretti; costume designer, Sandy Powell; film editor, Thelma Schoonmaker; visual effects supervisor, Rob Legato.
Screened: Berlin Film Festival advance press screening, Broadway A (Berlin), February 12th 2010.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

GREENBERG

USA
2009
107 minutes

A neurotic loser returns to his native Los Angeles to spend some time at his brother's house and realises the rut he has allowed his life to get entangled in. Bittersweet character study under the guise of uncomfortable comedy, expertly assembled and presented, similar in tone and texture to much of the new American cinema of the 1970s.

Focus Features presents a Scott Rudin production; produced in association with Twins Financing.
Starring Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Directed by Noah Baumbach; produced by Scott Rudin, Ms. Leigh; screenplay by Mr. Baumbach, from a story by Ms. Leigh, Mr. Baumbach; music by James Murphy; director of photography (color, widescreen), Harris Savides; production designer, Ford Wheeler; costume designer, Mark Bridges; film editor, Tim Streeto.
Screened: Berlin Film Festival advance press screening, Hackesche Höfe Kino 2 (Berlin), February 12th 2010.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE

USA/Germany
2008
107 minutes

A man born with a genetic condition that sends him hurtling back and forth through time finds the love of his life – but how will he get to keep it? Sweepingly old-fashioned romance in the vein of Hollywood's fantasy weepies of the golden era, impeccably done.

New Line Cinema presents a Plan B/Nick Wechsler production; in association with Internationale Scarena Filmproduktiongesellschaft 2. 
Starring Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Arliss Howard, Ron Livingston, Stephen Tobolowsky.
Directed by Robert Schwentke; produced by Nick Wechsler, Dede Gardner; screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin, from the novel by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife; music by Mychael Danna; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Florian Ballhaus; production designer, Jon Hutman; costume designer, Julie Weiss; film editor, Thom Noble; visual effects supervisor, David M. V. Jones.
Screened: DVD, June 6th 2010. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

NOTHING PERSONAL

Netherlands/Ireland
2009
86 minutes

A young traveler who has left her old life behind and doesn't want to tie herself down to any one place or person accepts the offer of a man living alone in a remote Irish cottage to help him tend his garden. Mesmerizingly shot, deliberately opaque two-hander whose plot unfolds through the exquisitely modulated silences, tempos and the two leads' performances; shame about the ending, though.

A Rinkel Film & TV Production presentation/production, in co-production with VPRO, Fastnet Films and Family Affair Films, with the support of The Dutch Film and Video Fund, Cobo and Bord Scannan hEireann/The Irish Film Board. (Dutch distributor, Cinema Delicatessen.)
Starring Stephen Rea, Lotte Verbeek.
Directed and written by Urszula Antoniak; produced by Reinier Selen and Edwin van de Meurs; music by Ethan Rose; director of photography (Ilab, Colour by DeJonghe), Daniel Bouquet; art director, Jane English; costume designer, Bho Roosterman-Vroegen; film editor, Nathalie Alonso Casale.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, UCI El Corte Inglés 12, June 2nd 2010.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ER SHI SI CHENG JI

24 City


China/Japan
2008
107 minutes

As the former weapons state factory 420, in the Chinese city of Chengdu, is being demolished to make way for a luxury condo development, some of its former workers tell their stories to the camera. Thoughtful snapshot of modern China and its relation to the past, seamlessly inserting fictional elements into a documentary framework to create an intriguing hybrid.

An Xstream Pictures/Shanghai Film Group Corporation/China Resources (Holdings) Company presentation/production, in association with Office Kitano, Bandai Visual, Bitters End.
Starring Joan Chen, Lv Liping, Zhao Tao, Chen Jianbin.
Directed by Jia Zhangke; produced by Mr. Jia, Shozo Ichiyama, Wang Hong; written by Mr. Jia, Zhai Yongming; music by Yoshihiro Hanno, Lim Giong; directors of photography (colour, digital video), Yu Likwai, Wang Yu; art director, Liu Quiang; wardrobe, Zhao Tong; film editors, Lin Xudong, Kong Jinlei.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Medeia King 3 (Lisbon), May 31st 2010.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

CRNCI

The Blacks


Croatia
2009
75 minutes

On the last day of the Balkan war, a Croatian squad goes on a final mission, but each of the soldiers harbours lingering questions or doubts about their roles. Taut, claustrophobic drama about the ethics and morals of war that is well enough done, with an excellent sense of foreboding atmosphere, but brings no new ideas to the table.

A Kinorama/HRT production.
Starring Ivo Gregurevic, Kresimir Mikic, Franjo Dijak, Rakan Rushaidat, Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, Niksa Butijer, Stjepan Pete.
Directed and written by Zvonimir Juric, Goran Devic; produced by Ankica Juric Tilic; music by Jura Ferina, Pavao Miholjevic; director of photography (colour), Branko Linta; production designer, Mladen Ozbolt; costume designer, Ivana Zozoli; film editor, Vanja Sirucek.
Screened: IndieLisboa festival advance DVD screener, Lisbon, April 24th 2010.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I PUGNI IN TASCA

Fists in the Pocket


Italy
1965
109 minutes

An epileptic young man is resentful of his older brother's power and manoeuvres in ever more unhinged ways to get rid of his younger siblings. Powerful case study melodrama where coming of age, family oppression and psychosis are cleverly intertwined.

A Janus Films (in the US) release of a Doria Cinematografica production.
Starring Lou Castel, Paola Pitagora, Marino Masé.
Directed and written by Marco Bellocchio; music by Ennio Morricone; director of photography (b&w), Alberto Marrama; production designer, Gisella Longo; film editor, Aurelio Mangiarotti.
Screened: DVD, Lisbon, May 19th 2010.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

USA
1984
91 minutes

A group of high school kids find out they're having similar nightmares with a disfigured man with knives for fingers – and start dying in their sleep. Efficient but somewhat dated horror programmer whose smart premise and inventive setpieces turned it into a box-office hit and started one of the longest and most successful horror-film series of the 1980s and 90s.

A New Line Cinema release. New Line Cinema, Media Home Entertainment and Smart Egg Pictures present a Robert Shaye production.
Starring John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri; introducing Johnny Depp; and Robert Englund.
Directed and written by Wes Craven; produced by Robert Shaye; music by Charles Bernstein; director of photography (DeLuxe), Jacques Haitkin; production designer, Greg Fonseca; costume designer, Dana Lyman; film editor, Rick Shaine; mechanical special effects designed by Jim Doule; special make-up effects, David Miller.
Screened: DVD, April 12th 2010. 

Sunday, June 06, 2010

COSMONAUTA

Italy
2009
86 minutes

In 1963 Rome, a suburban teenager comes of age between her Communist Party affiliation inherited from her late father, her hated conservative stepdad, her epileptic brother obsessed with the Russian space program and her passion for a schoolmate who only has eyes for the class beauty. Charming and affecting period coming-of-age comedy with an impeccable script and wonderful performances from the ensemble cast.

Domenico Procacci presents a Fandango production in collaboration with RAI Cinema.
Starring Miriana Raschillà, Pietro del Giudice, Michelangelo Ciminale, Valentino Campitelli, Chiara Arrighi, Susanna Nicchiarelli, Angelo Orlando, Luciano Scarpa, Roberto di Palma, Lucio Patanè; with Claudia Pandolfi; with the participation of Sergio Rubini.
Directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli; produced by Domenico Procacci; screenplay by Ms. Nicchiarelli, Teresa Ciabatti, from a story by Ms. Nicchiarelli; music by Gatto Ciliegia Contro Il Grande Freddo (Fabio Perugia, Max Viale, Gianluca della Torca); director of photography (Technicolor), Gherardo Gossi; production designer, Alessandro Vannucci; costume designer, Francesca Casciello; film editor, Stefano Cravero.
Screened: 8 1/2 Italian Film festival advance DVD screener, Lisbon, May 16th 2010. 

Saturday, June 05, 2010

GOOD MORNING, AMAN

Italy
2009
104 minutes

A young Somali who immigrated to Italy as a child faces racism at every step of the way, but his chance meeting with a retired boxer promises to change his life. Smart, powerful "problem picture" that knows what it wants to say and how to say it but whose hurried, surreal ending suggests the filmmakers may have bitten off more than they could chew; still, well worth the look.

A DNA Cinematografica production, in collaboration with RAI Cinema; associate production, Relief.
Starring Valerio Mastandrea, Said Sabrie, Amin Nour, Adamo Dionisi, Sandra Toffolatti, Rino Diana; and with Anita Caprioli.
Directed by Claudio Noce; produced by Dodo Fiori; screenplay by Diego Ribon, Heidrun Schleef, Mr. Noce, with the collaboration of Elisa Amoruso, from a story by Mr. Ribon, Ms. Amoruso, Mr. Noce; music by Valerio Vigliàr; director of photography (Technicolor, Technovision), Michele d'Attanasio; production designer, Paki Meduri; costume designer, Veronica Fragola; film editor, Andrea Maguolo, with the collaboration of Paola Freddi.
Screened: 8 1/2 Italian Film Festival advance DVD screener, Lisbon, May 16th 2010. 

Friday, June 04, 2010

SEX AND THE CITY 2

USA/Australia
2010
146 minutes

Two years after Carrie's wedding, at a time when the four girls are facing trouble in their personal lives, Samantha whisks them all to Abu Dhabi for a lavish vacation. More big-screen adventures from the heroines of the Sex and the City television comedy series, in what is essentially an interminable, dismal, artificially blown-up TV episode with no redeeming features whatsoever.

New Line Cinema presents, in association with Home Box Office and Village Roadshow Pictures, a Darren Star production.
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon; David Eigenberg, Evan Handler, Jason Lewis, Willie Garson, Mario Cantone, Liza Minnelli; with John Corbett; and Chris Noth.
Directed by Michael Patrick King; produced by Ms. Parker, Darren Star, John Melfi, Mr. King; screenplay by Mr. King, from characters from the books by Candace Bushnell and the television series Sex and the City created by Darren Star; music by Aaron Zigman; director of photography (DeLuxe), John Thomas; production designer, Jeremy Conway; costume designer, Patricia Field; film editor, Michael Berenbaum.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Cinemateca Portuguesa - Sala Dr. Felix Ribeiro (Lisbon), May 26th 2010. 

Thursday, June 03, 2010

UM FUNERAL À CHUVA

Portugal
2010
129 minutes

A group of old college friends are brought back together by the funeral of one of them. Amiable but sprawling no-budget variation on The Big Chill, in need of tighter scripting and handling.

A Lobby Productions presentation/production. (Portuguese distributor: Zon Lusomundo Audiovisuais.)
Starring Alexandre Silva, Hugo Tavares, João Ventura, Luís Dias, Pedro Diogo, Pedro Górgia, Sandra Santos, Sílvia Almeida.
Directed by Telmo Martins; produced by João Feitor, Orlandina Veiros; written by Luís Campos; music by André Fernandes; director of photography (colour), Pedro Azevedo; art director, José Ratinho; film editors, José Nascimento, Mr. Martins.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Zon Lusomundo Colombo 10 (Lisbon), May 14th 2010.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

MAR NERO

Black Sea


Italy/Romania/France
2008
92 minutes

A Romanian immigrant in Italy is hired as live-in helper to a rude, curmudgeonly Florence widow, but slowly they become friends. Amiable melodrama that doesn't really know where it wants to go but provides some good moments during the trip, mainly due to the excellent acting.

Francesco Pamphili presents a Film Kairós/RAI Cinema production, in co-production with Hi Film, Manigolda Film; with the contribution of Toscana Film Commission, Centrul National al Cinematografiei Romania, Televiziunea Romana.
Starring Ilaria Occhini, Dorotheea Petre, Vlad Ivanov, Maia Morgenstern, Corso Salani, Alessandra Bedino.
Directed by Federico Bondi; produced by Francesco Pamphili; screenplay by Ugo Chiti and Mr. Bondi, based on a story by Mr. Bondi and Cosimo Calamini; music by Enzo Casucci and Guy Klucevsek; director of photography (Eurolab), Gigi Martinucci; production designer, Daniele Spisa; costume designer, Alessandra Vadalà; film editor, Ilaria Fraioli.
Screened: 8 1/2 Italian Film Festival advance DVD screener, Lisbon, May 15th 2010.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

LA DOPPIA ORA

Italy
2009
92 minutes

A lonely chambermaid finds herself in love with an ex-cop she met at a speed date evening, but things go awry when he takes her to the country mansion where he is a watchman. Smartly handled, moody character study doubling up as disquieting thriller-cum-ghost story that loses steam after its big plot reveal two thirds in.

Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima, Medusa Film present a Medusa Film/Indigo Film production, in collaboration with Film Commission Torino Piemonte, Mercurio Cinematografica. (Italian distributor, Medusa Film.)
Starring Ksenia Rappoport, Filippo Timi, Antonia Truppo, Gaetano Bruno, Fausto Russo Alesi, Michele di Mauro, Lorenzo Gioielli, Lidia Vitale, Giampiero Iudica, Roberto Accornero; and with Lucia Poli, Giorgio Colangeli.
Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi; produced by Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima; written by Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi, Stefano Sardo; music by Pasquale Catalano; director of photography (Cinecittà Digital Factory, Technovision), Tat Radcliffe; production designer, Totoi Santoro; costume designer, Roberto Chiocchi; film editor, Guido Notari.
Screened: 8 1/2 Italian Film Festival advance DVD screener, Lisbon, May 14th 2010.