Saturday, June 30, 2007

Talaye Sorkh

Crimson Gold

(Iran/France/Italy, 2003, 96 minutes)

A penniless Teheran pizza delivery boy, confronted daily by the social injustice around him, finally snaps. Bleak but utterly gripping drama of contemporary society that gingerly avoids the pitfalls of both the “problem picture” and the cloying tearjerker.

A Jafar Panahi Production/Lumen Films/Mikado Film presentation/production. Starring Hossain Emadeddin, Kamyar Sheisi, Azita Rayeji, Shahram Vaziri, Pourang Nakhaei, Kaveh Najmabadi, Saber Safaei, Yadollah Samadian, Ramin Rastad, Behnaz Houri; and Ehsan Amadi, Mehran Rajabi. Directed, produced and edited by Jafar Panahi; written by Abbas Kiarostami; music by Peyman Yazdanian; director of photography (Iran Center fo Film Industries color), Hossain Jafarian; art director, Iraj Raminfar.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

European title: Die Hard 4.0

(USA, 2007, 129 minutes)

A mysterious hacker has launched an all-out assault on the American computer infrastructure and the only hope to undo him seems to be police officer John McClane, caught in the middle of it while taking in a hacker for interrogation in Washington. Clever, fast-moving addition to the Die Hard series, hiding a turbo-charged B-movie under a techno-thriller surface sheen; it all goes a bit too silly at the end, but it’s solid, no-nonsense entertainment with some intriguing topical elements.

A Twentieth Century-Fox presentation/production, produced in association with Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Film Partners. Starring Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Cliff Curtis, Maggie Q, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kevin Smith. Directed by Len Wiseman; produced by Michael Fottrell; screenplay by Mark Bomback, based on a story by Mark Bomback and David Marconi, on the article "A Farewell to Arms" by John Carlin and on characters created by Roderick Thorp; music by Marco Beltrami; director of photography (DeLuxe prints, widescreen), Simon Duggan; production designer, Patrick Tatopoulos; costume designer, Denise Wingate; film editor, Nicolas de Toth; visual effects supervisor, Patrick McClurg.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dear Wendy

(Denmark/Germany/Great Britain/France, 2004, 105 minutes)

In a non-descript American mining town, a bunch of disenfranchised teenagers discover the power of firearms and form a secret society devoted to “pacifism with guns”. Provocative but flawed allegory of modern America whose ideas are stronger and more interesting than its realization.

Lucky Punch presents a Nimbus/Zentropa production, in co-production with Pain Unlimited Filmproduktion, Slot Machine, Liberator2 and Dear Wendy Ltd/SigmaIII Films; supported by Danish Film Institute, Filmstiftung NRW, Eurimages and Nordic Film & TV Fund; also in co-production with TV2/Danmark and ARTE France Cinéma; in collaboration with Canal Plus, ARTE-ZDF, SVT, Zoma Films, Nordisk Film, Nordic Distribution, Trust Film Sales and Invicta Capital. Starring Jamie Bell, Bill Pullman, Michael Angarano, Danso Gordon, Novella Nelson, Chris Owen, Alison Pill, Mark Webber. Directed by Thomas Vinterberg; produced by Sisse Graum Jorgensen; written by Lars von Trier; music by Benjamin Wallfisch; director of photography (HD video transferred to 35mm; Eclair), Anthony Dod Mantle; production designer, Karl Juliusson; costume designer, Annie Périer; film editor, Mikael E. G. Nielsen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Zamani Barayé Masti Asbha

A Time for Drunken Horses

(Iran, 2000, 77 minutes)

After their smuggler father dies, five Iranian Kurd orphans of which one has a life-threatening illness are left to fend for themselves. Impressively handled but harrowingly bleak “problem picture”, loosely inspired on real-life events and using non-professional child actors.

A Bahman Ghobadi Films/Farabi Cinema Foundation production. Starring Ayoub Ahmadi, Rojin Younessi, Amaneh Ekhtiar-Dini, Madi Ekhtiar-Dini, Kolsolum Ekhtiar-Dini, Karim Ekhtiar-Dini, Rahman Salehi, Osman Karimi, Nezhad Ekhtiar-Dini. Director, producer, writer and art director, Bahman Ghobadi; music by Hossein Alizadeh; director of photography (colour), Saed Nikzat; film editor, Samad Tavazoee.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Die Geschichte vom weinenden Kamel

The Story of the Weeping Camel

(Germany, 2003, 91 minutes)

A family of Mongolian nomad herders in the Gobi desert find one of their camels is rejecting her albino colt. Charming but lightweight narrative documentary, uncertain between recording a nomad family’s daily tasks (which it does very well) and telling a slightly anthropomorphized fable of love and acceptance (which is a bit of a stretch).

A Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München presentation/production, in cooperation with Bayerischen Rundfunk, financially supported by Filmfernsehfonds Bayern. Starring Janchiv Ayurzana, Chimed Ohin, Amgaabazar Gonson, Zeveljamz Nyam, Ikhbayar Amgaabazar, Odgerel Ayusch, Enkhbulgan Ikhbayar, Uuganbaatar Ikhbayar, Guntbaatar Ikhbayar. Directed by Luigi Falorni and Byambasuren Davaa; produced by Tobias N. Siebert; screenplay by Luigi Falorni and Byambasuren Davaa, based on an idea by Davaa and Batbayar Davgadurj; camera (HD video, Arri colour), Luigi Falorni; sound recordist, Marc Meusinger; film editor, Anja Pohl.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Henry V

(Great Britain, 1989, 136 minutes)

King Henry V leaves for France to conquer the land he claims was rightly his. Adequate, occasionally stirring filming of one of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies; at times it does seem a vanity project for its star, who also adapted and directed in the first (and possibly the best) of his Shakespeare film adaptations, but the text, the performances and the understated handling carry it through. Winner of the Academy Award for best wardrobe; received two nominations (both to Kenneth Branagh, for best actor and best director).

A Renaissance Films presentation/production, in association with the BBC and Curzon Film Distributors. Starring Christian Bale, Kenneth Branagh, Brian Blessed, Richard Briers, Robbie Coltrane, Judi Dench, Richard Easton, Ian Holm, Geoffrey Hutchings, Derek Jacobi, Charles Kay, Alec McCowen, Geraldine McEwan, Michael Maloney, Paul Scofield, John Sessions, Robert Stephens, Emma Thompson, Daniel Webb, Michael Williams, Jimmy Yuill. Directed by Kenneth Branagh; produced by Bruce Sharman; adapted for the screen by Kenneth Branagh from the play by William Shakespeare, Henry V; music by Patrick Doyle; director of photography (Rank Film Laboratories), Kenneth MacMillan; production designer, Tim Harvey; costume designer, Phyllis Dalton; film editor, Michael Bradsell.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gohatto

Taboo

(Japan/France/Great Britain, 1999, 100 minutes)

In 1865 Kyoto, a beautiful 18-year old samurai recruit brings desire and trouble to his militia. Elegantly intriguing study of homosexuality against a period action film framework, lavishly handled and directed but severely let down by a hurried final act; production values are outstanding.

A Studiocanal/Bac Films/Shochiku release. A Shochiku/Bac Films/Le Studio Canal Plus/Recorded Picture Company presentation of a Shochiku Co./Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Company/Imagica Corp./BS Asahi/Eisei Gekijo Co./Bac Films/Le Studio Canal Plus/Recorded Picture Company production; production company, Oshima Productions; production cooperation provided by Eizo Kyoto Film Co. and Shochiku Kyoto Eiga Co. Starring Beat Takeshi, Ryuhei Matsuda, Shinji Takeda, Tadanobu Asano, Yoichi Sai. Directed by Nagisa Oshima; produced by Eiko Oshima, Shigehiro Nakagawa, Kazuo Shimizu; screenplay by Nagisa Oshima, based on the novellas Maegami no Sozaburo and Sanjogawara Ranjin by Ryotaro Shiba; music by Ryuichi Sakamoto; director of photography (colour), Toyomichi Kurita; production designer, Yoshinobu Kurita; costume designer, Emi Wada; film editor, Tomoyo Ohshima.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Shrek the Third

(USA, 2007, 94 minutes)

After the King dies leaving him the throne of Far, Far Away, Shrek goes out in search of Fiona’s half-brother whom he’s sure will make a better king, but leaves the kingdom vulnerable to a villain rebellion led by Prince Charming. Enjoyable but unnecessary sequel to the adventures of the animated green ogre that charmed the world in 2001; a handful of good gags and lively characterisations are lost in rather conventional plotting that all but throws away the original gleeful send-up of fairytales.

Dreamworks Animation presents a PDI/Dreamworks production. With the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Eric Idle, Justin Timberlake. Directed by Chris Miller; co-directed by Raman Hui; produced by Aron Warner; screenplay by Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman, Chris Miller, Aron Warner, based on a story by Andrew Adamson and on the children's book by William Steig, Shrek; music by Harry Gregson-Williams; production designer, Guillaume Aretos; film editor, Michael Andrews.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ye Yan

The Banquet

(China/Hong Kong, 2006, 129 minutes)

In medieval China, a young prince is summoned back from retreat to avenge the death of his father at the hands of his own uncle. Luxurious but hollow pageant of oriental opulence loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with the plot stifled by the rich, breathtaking visuals.

A Huayi Brothers Film Investment/Media Asia Group presentation/production. Starring Ziyi Zhang, Ge You, Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun, Ma Jingwu, Huang Xiaoming. Directed by Feng Xiaogang; produced by Wang Zhongjun and John Chong; written by Sheng Heyu and Qiu Gangjian; music by Tan Dun; director of photography (colour and widescreen), Zhang Li; production and costume designer, Tim Yip; film editor, Liu Miaomiao; action sequences designed and performed by Yuen's Stunt Team; visual effects supervisor, Phil Jones.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Abandoned

(Spain/Great Britain/Bulgaria, 2006, 96 minutes)

An American film producer who was adopted as a child travels to Russia to take possession of the now derelict farm owned by her long-dead biological mother and finally learns the truth about her past. Stylish, derivative supernatural thriller that is all mood but has little or no plot to justify it.

Filmax Entertainment presents a Julio Fernández production for Castelao Productions, in co-production with Future Films and Radiovision Plus. Starring Anastasia Hille, Karel Roden, Valentin Ganev, Paraskeva Djurkelova, Carlos Reig-Plaza. Directed by Nacho Cerdá; produced by Julio Fernández; written by Karim Hussain, Nacho Cerdá, Richard Stanley; music by Alfons Conde; director of photography (Boyana Film Lab, widescreen), Xavi Giménez; production designer, Balter Gallart; costume designer, Sandra Klincheva; film editor, Jorge Maraya.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Safar e Ghandehar

Kandahar

(Iran, 2001, 84 minutes)

An Afghan journalist living in Canada decides to return to her native country to rescue her sister who is chafing under Taliban rule. Heartfelt indictment of the treatment of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban that packs quite a punch as a problem picture but isn’t quite as convincing narratively.

Bac Films presents a Makhmalbaf Film House production. Starring Nelofer Pazira, Hassan Tantai, Sadou Teymouri, Hoyatala Hakimi. Directed, produced, written and edited by Mohsen Makhmalbaf; music by M. R. Darvishi; director of photography, Ebrahim Ghafori; art director, Akbar Meshkini.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Gabbeh

(Iran/France, 1996, 72 minutes)

An aged couple stop by a river to wash a heirloom carpet whose story is told to them by a beautiful young woman. Slight but charming Persian fairytale, whose breathtaking visuals go a long way toward making up for its naïf, stop-start storytelling.

MK2 Productions presents a Sanaye Dasti/MK2 Productions production. Starring Abbas Sayah, Shaghayeh Djodat, Hossein Moharami, Rogheih Moharami, Parvaneh Ghalandari. Directed, written and edited by Mohsen Makhmalbaf; produced by Khalil Daroudchi and Khalil Mahmoudi; music by Hossein Alizadeh; director of photography, Mahmoud Kalari.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Indochine

(France, 1991, 155 minutes)

A wealthy French plantation owner in 1920s colonial Indochina has a torrid affair with an impetuous young Navy officer, only to find her adopted daughter falling in love with him as well. Lush but stilted melodrama that tries too hard to have its cake and eat it too, switching awkwardly between doom-laden colonial romance and political primer on the path to the independence of Vietnam, but nevertheless likely to please fans of the genre.

A Bac Films release. Paradis Films and La Générale d'Images present a Paradis Films/La Générale d'Images/Bac Films/Orly Films/Ciné 5 production, with the participation of Centre National de la Cinématographie, Club des Investisseurs, Canal Plus, Sofica Sofinergie, Sofica Sofinergie 2, Sofica Investimage 3 and Sofica Cofimage 3. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Pérez, Linh Dan Pham, Jean Yanne; with Dominique Blanc, Henri Marteau. Directed by Régis Wargnier; produced by Eric Heumann and Jean Labadie; written by Erik Orsenna, Louis Gardel, Catherine Cohen, Regis Wargnier; music by Patrick Doyle; director of photography, François Catonné; production designer, Jacques Bufnoir; costume designers, Gabriella Pescucci, Pierre-Yves Gayraud; film editors, Geneviève Winding, Agnès Schwab.