Thursday, September 30, 2010

EMBARGO

Portugal/Spain/Brazil
2010
84 minutes

In a future where an oil embargo brings society to a near-collapse, an unlucky inventor finds himself literally prisoner of his own car. Bleak, dystopian satirical drama, well enough made and presented but unable to overcome its rather flimsy storyline.

António Ferreira, Tathiani Sacilotto and Persona Non Grata Pictures present a Persona Non Grata Pictures production in co-production with Vaca Films, Diler & Associados, Sofá Filmes, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal; with financial support from Ministério da Cultura—Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual, Ibermedia programme. (Portuguese distributor, Persona Non Grata Pictures.)
Starring Filipe Costa, Cláudia Carvalho, Pedro Diogo, Fernando Taborda, José Raposo, Laura Matos and João Caetano.
Directed by António Ferreira; produced by Tathiani Sacilotto, Mr. Ferreira; screenplay by Tiago Sousa, Glória Ferreira, based on the short story by José Saramago, "Embargo"; music by Luís Filipe Madeira; director of photography (Tobis), Paulo Castilho; art director, Luísa Correia; costume designer, Ms. Sacilotto; film editors, Mr. Sousa, Mr. Ferreira. 
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Cinema City Campo Pequeno 6 (Lisbon), August 27th 2010. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DI RENJIE ZHI TONGTIAN DIGUO

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame


China
2010
123 minutes

When dignitaries start spontaneously combusting ahead of a controversial coronation, a disgraced policeman is brought in to solve the case. Lively if lightweight supernatural mystery, efficiently handled.

Huayi Brothers Media Corporation and Huayi Brothers International present a Film Workshop/Huayi Brothers Media Corporation production. (World sales, Huayi Brothers International.)
Starring Andy Lau, Li Bingbing, Carina Lau, Deng Chao; with the special participation of Tony Leung Ka-fai.
Directed by Tsui Hark; produced by Nansun Shi, Wang Zhonglei, Mr. Tsui; written by Chang Jialu; music by Peter Kam; directors of photography (Cinelabs, Beijing Film & Video Laboratory), Chan Chi-Yeng, Chan Chor Keung; production designer, James Chiu; costume designer, Bruce Yu; film editors, Yau Chi Wai, Xiao Young; visual effects supervisor, Edward Chiyun Yi; action choreographer, Sammo Hung.
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 5th 2010.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

POST MORTEM

Chile/Germany/Mexico
2010
96 minutes

In 1973 Chile, a morgue employee in love with a cabaret stripper is witness to the military coup that deposes Santiago Allende. Brutal, methodical study of psychological oppression that is so compellingly handled as to become almost unbearable.

A Fabula production, in co-production with Authentika Films and Canana, with the support of the Hubert Bals Fund of the Rotterdam Film Festival, World Cinema Fund, Consejo Nacional Chileno para las Artes, Ibermedia Programme. (World sales, Funny Balloons.)
Starring Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers.
Directed by Pablo Larraín; produced by Juan de Dios Larraín; written by Pablo Larraín, Mateo Iribarren; music by Alejandro Castanos, Juan Cristóbal Maza; director of photography (Cinecolor, widescreen), Sergio Armstrong; production designer, Polín Garbisu; costume designer, Muriel Parra; film editor, Andre Chignoli. 
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 4th 2010.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MEEK'S CUTOFF

USA
2010
102 minutes

In 1865 Oregon, a small group of settlers find themselves lost in an unforgiving, waterless area, and an Indian scout seems to be their only way out. Languid, elliptical period drama that distends revisionist western into a mesmerisingly hypnotic, sensory experience.

An Evenstar Pictures/Filmscience/Harmony/Primitive Nerd presentation/production. (World sales, Cinetic International.)
Starring Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson, Neal Huff, Tommy Nelson; and Rod Rondeaux.
Directed and edited by Kelly Reichardt; produced by Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani, Elizabeth Cuthrell and David Urrutia; written by Jon Raymond; music by Jeff Grace; director of photography (Deluxe), Christopher Blauwelt; production designer, David Doernberg; costume designer, Vicki Farrell.
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Cinema - Sala Darsena (Venice), September 4th 2010.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

USA
2010
131 minutes

A young, idealist Wall Street stockbroker learns firsthand just how cut-throat the financial business is. Pointless and rather dull all-star sequel to a fondly remembered, award-winning original, wasting a solid cast in unfocused scripting and rote handling.

Twentieth Century-Fox presents an Edward R. Pressman production; made in association with Dune Entertainment. (World sales, Twentieth Century-Fox.)
Starring Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf; Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Eli Wallach; with Susan Sarandon; and Frank Langella.
Directed by Oliver Stone; produced by Edward R. Pressman, Eric Kopeloff; written by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, based on characters created by Stanley Weiser and Mr. Stone; music by Craig Armstrong; director of photography (Deluxe, widescreen), Rodrigo Prieto; production designer, Kristi Zea; costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick; film editors, David Brenner, Julie Monroe; visual effects supervisor, Paul Graff.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Castello Lopes screening room (Lisbon), September 20th 2010.

Friday, September 24, 2010

AFTER.LIFE

USA
2009
103 minutes

After a nightmarish evening, a middle school teacher wakes up in a mortuary and does not believe she is dead. Good-looking but misguided arthouse chiller whose glacial stylings and pointlessly existential script effectively bury an idea that would have made a satisfying shocker in other hands.

Anchor Bay Films and Lleju Productions present a Plum Pictures production in association with Constellation Entertainment. (World sales, IM Global.)
Starring Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Josh Charles, Chandler Canterbury, Celia Weston, Shuler Hensley; and Liam Neeson.
Directed by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo; produced by Brad Michael Gilbert, William O. Perkins III, Celine Rattray; written by Ms. Wojtowicz-Vosloo, Paul Vosloo, Jakub Korolczuk; music by Paul Haslinger; director of photography (Technicolor, widescreen), Anastas Michos; production designer, Ford Wheeler; costume designer, Luca Mosca; film editor, Niven Howie.
Screened: DVD (Lisbon), September 19th 2010.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

LOLA

France/Philippines
2009
113 minutes

The paths of two Manila grandmothers cross when the grandson of one is murdered by the grandson of the other. Slice-of-life melodrama shot almost entirely in handheld camera on location in Manila, avoiding the pitfalls such a story might encounter by allowing the plot and the performances to lead rather than the style.

A Swift Production Distribution presentation/production in cooperation with Centerstage Productions Philippines. (French distributor, Équation Distribution.) 
Starring Anita Linda, Rustica Carpio; Tanya Gomez, Jhong Hilario, Ketchup Eusebio; special participation, Tim Yap.
Directed by Brillante Ma. Mendoza; produced by Ferdinand Lapuz; written by Linda Casimiro; music by Teresa Barrozo; director of photography (colour), Odyssey Flores; production designer, Dante Mendoza; film editor, Kats Serraon.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Medeia King 3 (Lisbon), September 17th 2010.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

OVSYANKI

Silent Souls


Russia
2010
77 minutes

Two friends leave on a road trip to perform the last rites for the wife of one of them. Slight but visually stunning meditation on culture and memory.

Igor Mishin presents a Media Mir Foundation/April Mig Pictures production. (World sales, Memento Films International.)
Starring Igor Sergeyev, Yuri Tsurilo, Yulya Aug, Viktor Sukhurokov.
Directed by Alexei Fedorshenko; produced by Igor Mishin, Mary Nazari; screenplay by Denis Osokin, based on the novel by Aist Sergeyev, Ovsyanki; music by Andrei Karasyov; director of photography (colour, widescreen), Mikhail Krishman; art director, Alexei Potapov; costume designer, Anna Barthuly; film editor, Sergei Ivanov. 
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 3rd 2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SOMEWHERE

USA/France/Italy/Japan
2010
95 minutes

A successful film star realises his life is empty when his ex-wife leaves their 12-year old daughter with him for a long spell. Exquisite, minimalist miniature on fame that knows exactly how long it can sustain its thin storyline.

Focus Features presents, in association with Pathé Distribution, Medusa Film and Tohokushinsha, an American Zoetrope production. (World sales, Focus Features International.)
Starring Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning; Chris Pontius, Laura Chiatti, Lala Sloatman, Ellie Kemper; and Michelle Monaghan.
Directed and written by Sofia Coppola; produced by G. Mac Brown, Roman Coppola, Ms. Coppola; music by Phoenix; director of photography (Technicolor), Harris Savides; production designer, Anne Ross; costume designer, Stacey Battiat; film editor, Sarah Flack.
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 3rd 2010.

Monday, September 20, 2010

LA BELLE ENDORMIE

The Sleeping Beauty


France
2010
82 minutes

A 19th century princess is cursed to die on her 12th birthday, but her ditzy godmothers turn the curse into a century-long sleep full of fantastical adventures. Playful low-budget rewrite of the classic fairy tale into a sophisticated, witty coming-of-age story.

ARTE France presents a Flach Film Production/CB Films/ARTE France/Marathon production. (World sales, Pyramide International.)
Starring Carla Besnaïnou, Julia Artamonov, Kérian Mayan, David Chausse.
Directed and written by Catherine Breillat; produced by Jean-François Lepetit, Sylvette Frydman; director of photography (colour), Denis Lenoir; art director, François-Renaud Labarthe; costume designer, Rose-Marie Melka; film editor, Pascale Chavance.
Screened: Venice Film Festival - Orizzonti sidebar public screening, Palazzo del Cinema - Sala Darsena (Venice), September 2nd 2010.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

MIRAL

France/Israel/Italy/India
2010
112 minutes

A young Palestinian girl raised in an orphanage grows up to understand the struggle of her people. Well-meaning but muddled and misguided attempt at political melodrama, uncertain of what it wants to be and where it wants to go and ending up unable to satisfy anyone.

Jérôme Seydoux presents a Pathé Productions/ER Productions/Eagle Pictures/India Take One Productions production; a Jon Kilik/Grandview Pictures production; with the participation of Canal Plus and Cinécinéma. (World sales and French distribution, Pathé; US distributor, The Weinstein Company.)
Starring Hiam Abbass, Frieda Pinto, Yasmine al Massri, Ruba Blal, Alexander Siddig, Omar Metwally, Stella Schnabel, Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave.
Directed by Julian Schnabel; produced by Jon Kilik; screenplay by Rula Jebreal, based on her novel Miral; director of photography (Arane Gulliver, widescreen), Éric Gautier; production designer, Yoel Herzberg; costume designer, Walid Mawed; film editor, Juliette Welfling.
Screened: Venice Film Festival press advance screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 2nd 2010.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

NORUWEI NO MORI

Norwegian Wood

Japan
2010
133 minutes

In late 1960s Tokyo, a college student falls in love with the former girlfriend of his late best friend. Ravishingly shot but dramatically turgid melancholy tale of tragic puppy love.

An Asmik Ace Entertainment/Fuji Television Network presentation/production. (World sales, Fortissimo Films.)
Starring Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara, Kengo Kora, Reika Kirishima, Eriko Hatsune; Shigesato Itoi, Haruomi Hosono, Tetsuji Tamayama.
Directed by Tran Anh Hung; produced by Shinji Ogawa; screenplay by Mr. Tran, based on the novel by Harumi Murakami, Norwegian Wood; music by Jonny Greenwood; director of photography (Imagica, widescreen), Mark Lee Ping-bin; production designers, Yen Khe Luguern, Fuminori Ataka; costume designer, Ms. Luguern; film editor, Mario Battistel.
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 1st 2010.

Friday, September 17, 2010

MACHETE

USA
2010
104 minutes

An incorruptible Mexican cop seeking revenge from the human trafficker that left him for dead years ago finds himself involved in a political conspiracy. Playful, tongue-in-cheek actioner that both honours and spoofs 1970s Z-grade exploitation movies with affection and gusto; the character of Machete was originally introduced in a fake trailer Robert Rodriguez directed for the ill-starred Grindhouse double feature with Quentin Tarantino, and this film expands and develops on the original plotline suggested by the trailer.

Twentieth Century-Fox presents an Overnight/Troublemaker Studios production; made in association with Dune Entertainment. (World sales, Hyde Park Entertainment.)
Starring Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Daryl Sabara, Tom Savini, Shea Whigham; introducing Don Johnson; with Jessica Alba; and Robert de Niro.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis; produced by Rick Schwartz, Mr. Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellán; written by Mr. Rodriguez, Álvaro Rodriguez; music by Chingón; director of photography (Deluxe), Jimmy Lindsey; production designer, Chris Stull; costume designer, Nina Proctor; film editors, Mr. Rodriguez, Rebecca Rodriguez; visual effects supervisor, Mr. Rodriguez.
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 1, 2010. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

O ÚLTIMO VÔO DO FLAMINGO

Portugal/Mozambique/Spain/France/Brazil/Italy
2010
87 minutes

In 1994, a United Nations major investigates the mysterious deaths of UN soldiers in the remote Mozambican village of Tizagara. Clumsy attempt at a magical realist thriller that looks good but is so awkwardly handled, structured and performed that it would hardly pass muster as a TV movie. Good intentions alone do not atone.

A Fado Filmes presentation/production, in co-production with Slate One Produções, Potenza Producciones, Neon Productions, Videofilmes, Carlo d'Ursi Produzioni, TIM; with the support of MEDIA Programme of the European Community, ACPFilms.eu, Fonds Européen de Développement, Groupe des États ACP, Eurimages, Ibermedia Programme, Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal, Fonds Sud Cinéma, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Région Provence-Alpes-Côtes d'Azur, Ancine; a Cinemate co-production; associate production, Papaia Produções, Cinemate Moçambique, Kissama Produções. (Portuguese distributor, Zon Lusomundo Audiovisuais.)
Starring Carlo d'Ursi, Elliot Alex, Alberto Magassela, Cláudia Semedo, Adriana Alves, Cândida Bila, Matias Xavier, Gilberto Mendes, Mário Mabjaia, Eduardo Gravata.
Directed by João Ribeiro; produced by Luís Galvão Teles, Mr. Ribeiro, Mr. D'Ursi, Antonin Dedet, Mauricio Andrade Ramos; screenplay by Gonçalo Galvão Teles, Mr. Ribeiro, based on the novel by Mia Couto, The Last Flight of the Flamingo; music by Omar Sosa; director of photography (Eclair), José António Loureiro; art director, João Martins; costume designers, Louiggi Junior, Sílvia Siopa; film editors, Orlando Mesquita, Vanessa Pimentel.
Screened: producer advance DVD screener, Lisbon, August 29th 2010.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BLACK SWAN

USA
2010
108 minutes

A fragile ballerina is given the lead in a new production of Swan Lake, but the demands of the role start affecting her. Smart shocker of the sort Brian de Palma knew how to do so well in his prime, with a strong lead and confident handling making the slightly overwrought plot work.

Fox Searchlight Pictures presents, in association with Cross Creek Pictures, a Protozoa Pictures/Phoenix Pictures production; made in association with Dune Entertainment. (World sales, Twentieth Century-Fox.)
Starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey; and Winona Ryder.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky; produced by Mike Medavoy, Michael Oliver, Arnold W. Messer, Scott Franklin; screenplay by Mark Heyman, John McLaughlin and Andrés Heinz, based on a story by Mr. Heinz; music by Clint Mansell, incorporating motifs from Piotr Tchaikovsky's ballet, Swan Lake; director of photography (Deluxe, widescreen), Matthew Libatique; production designer, Thérèse de Prez; costume designer, Amy Westcott; film editor, Andrew Weisblum.
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 1 2010. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

GIGANTE

Uruguay/Germany/Netherlands/Argentina
2009
85 minutes

A lonely security guard working the surveillance camera night shift at a supermarket spots a young cleaning lady whom he takes a liking to, and starts following her everywhere... even after work. Dry but extremely sweet observational comedy that takes the sting out of its potentially unpalatable premise by wrapping it in acute character observation and some wonderfully detached sight gags.

Control Z Films presents with the support of the Hubert Bals Fund, Ibermedia programme, MVD Socio Audiovisual, a Control Z Films/Pandora Filmproduktion/IDTV Film/Rizoma Films production, with the support of ICAU, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Latinoamerica Primera Copia, INCAA, in co-production with ZDF-ARTE. (World sales, The Match Factory.)
Starring Horacio Camandulle, Leonor Svarcas.
Directed and written by Adrián Biniez; music by Hector Pauluk; director of photography (Cineco), Arauco Hernández; art director, Alejandro Castiglioni; costume designer, Emilia Carlevaro; film editor, Fernando Epstein.
Screened: Berlin Film Festival 2009 advance press screening, Berlinale Palast (Berlin), February 8th 2009; distributor advance press screening, Cinema City Classic Alvalade 1 (Lisbon), August 26th 2010.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

DRAG ME TO HELL

USA
2009
99 minutes

An ambitious young bank employee is cursed by the elderly gypsy she denied a loan extension to. Gleefully old-fashioned horror comic whose close adherence to the genre's classic tropes never disguises its morality play aspect.

A Universal Pictures/Ghost House Pictures presentation/production.
Starring Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza.
Directed by Sam Raimi; produced by Robert Tapert, Grant Curtis; written by Mr. Raimi and Ivan Raimi; music by Christopher Young; director of photography (Technicolor prints, Panavision widescreen), Peter Deming; production designer, Steve Saklad; costume designer, Isis Mussenden; film editor, Bob Murawski; visual effects supervisor, Bruce Jones; special make-up effects designed and created by Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, UCI El Corte Inglés 12 (Lisbon), August 25th 2010.

Friday, September 03, 2010

PREDATORS

USA
2010
105 minutes

A group of elite soldiers, killers and guerillas find themselves transported to an alien planet as prey for ruthless alien hunters. No-nonsense, efficient sci-fi thriller effectively rebooting the Predator franchise while openly referencing B-genre classics such as The Most Dangerous Game.

Twentieth Century-Fox presents a Troublemaker Studios/Davis Entertainment Company production; made in association with Dune Entertainment.
Starring Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov; and Laurence Fishburne.
Directed by Nimrod Antal; produced by Robert Rodriguez, John Davis, Elizabeth Avellán; screenplay by Alex Litvak, Michael Finch, based on characters created by Jim Thomas and John Thomas; music by John Debney; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Gyula Pados; production designers, Steve Joyner, Caylah Eddlebutte; costume designer, Nina Proctor; film editor, Dan Zimmerman; special creature and make-up effects, Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger; visual effects supervisor, Mr. Rodriguez. 
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Castello Lopes screening room (Lisbon), August 19th 2010.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

BROTHERS

USA
2009
104 minutes

After a model soldier is given up for dead in Afghanistan, his ne'er-do-well brother stands up to support the brother's grieving family. Intense blue-ribbon melodrama remaking faithfully a Danish original that never really becomes what it wants to be and is at its better in the family scenes.

Lionsgate and Relativity Media present a Sighvatsson Films/Relativity Media/Michael de Luca Productions production.
Starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman; Sam Shepard, Bailee Madison, Taylor Geare, Patrick Flueger, Clifton Collins Jr., Carey Mulligan, Omid Ablahi, Ethan Suplee; and Mare Winningham.
Directed by Jim Sheridan; produced by Ryan Kavanaugh, Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Michael de Luca; screenplay by David Benioff, based on the film Brothers directed by Susanne Bier and written by Ms. Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen; music by Thomas Newman; director of photography (Deluxe processing, Technicolor prints, widescreen), Frederick Elmes; production designer, Tony Fanning; costume designer, Durinda Wood; film editor, Jay Cassidy.
Screened: distributor advance press screening, UCI El Corte Inglés 12 (Lisbon), August 13th 2010.