Friday, April 25, 2008

Things We Lost in the Fire

(USA, 2007, 118 minutes)

After her husband dies tragically, a young widow reaches out to his junkie best friend. Upscale melodrama carried by smart, understated handling and excellent performances, but let down by a progressively watered down script.

Dreamworks Pictures presents a Neal Street production. Starring Halle Berry, Benicio del Toro; David Duchovny, Alison Lohman, Omar Benson Miller, John Carroll Lynch. Directed by Susanne Bier; produced by Sam Mendes, Sam Mercer; written by Allan Loeb; music by Johan Söderqvist, from themes by Gustavo Santaolalla; director of photography (DeLuxe prints, Panavision), Tom Stern; production designer, Richard Sherman; costume designer, Karen Matthews; film editors, Pernille Bech Christensen, Bruce Cannon. 

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Boarding Gate

(France, 2007, 106 minutes)

A young woman wanting to remake her life in Beijing is drawn into a spiral of crime that takes her from Paris to Hong Kong. Intriguing if not entirely successful attempt at merging B-thriller and character study on one single schizophrenic whole, redeemed by its virtuoso handling and a charismatic lead performance. 

An ARP Séléction release. Margo Films presents, in association with Canal Plus and TPS Star, a François Margolin production. Starring Asia Argento, Michael Madsen, Kelly Lin, Carl Ng, Joana Preiss, Alex Descas, Kim Gordon. Directed and written by Olivier Assayas; produced by François Margolin; director of photography (Arane Gulliver, Cineart Laboratory, widescreen), Yorick le Saux; production designer, François-Renaud Labarthe; costume designer, Anaïs Romand; film editor, Luc Barnier. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead

(USA/Canada, 2007, 95 minutes)

A crew of students shooting a class project find themselves caught in what seems like the apocalypse, when the dead start rising from the graves and feeding on the living. The Night of the Living Dead updated by its own creator as a low-budget, independently-made comment on modern society's obsession with technology and media; intelligent, adult horror with a twisted sense of humour.

An Artfire Films/Romero-Grunwald Productions presentation/production, produced with the assistance of Ontario Media Development Corporation. Starring Michelle Morgan, Josh Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde, Joe Dinicol, Scott Wentworth, Philip Riccio. Directed and written by George A. Romero; produced by Peter Grunwald, Artur Spigel, Sam Englebardt, Ara Katz; music by Norman Orenstein; director of photography (Technicolor), Adam Swica; production designer, Rupert Lazarus; costume designer, Alex Kavanagh; film editor, Michael Doherty; special make-up effects supervisor, Greg Nicotero; visual effects supervisors, Jeff Campbell, Colin Davies. 

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We Own the Night

(USA, 2007, 117 minutes)

In 1988 New York, the manager of a nightclub owned by the Russian mob, a stray son of a policeman family, is forced to choose between job and family when his brother goes after his boss. Old-fashioned, fatalistic crime drama; well made and written, but a bit too self-aware for comfort. 

Columbia Pictures and 2929 Productions present a Nick Wechsler production. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes; and Robert Duvall; Danny Hoch, Tony Musante. Directed and written by James Gray; produced by Nick Wechsler, Marc Butan, Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix; music by Wojciech Kilar; director of photography (Technicolor), Joaquín Baca-Asay; production designer, Ford Wheeler; costume designer, Michael Clancy; film editor, John Axelrad. 

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dan in Real Life

(USA, 2007, 98 minutes)

A widowed columnist falls in love with a woman who turns out to be his brother's new girlfriend. Engaging comedy of mid-life crisis passing itself as breezy romantic comedy, greatly enlivened by all-around good acting.

An Icon/Focus Features International release. Focus Features and Touchstone Pictures present a Jon Shestack production. Starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook; John Mahoney, Emily Blunt, Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson, Marlene Lawston, Amy Ryan, Norbert Leo Butz, Jessica Hecht, Frank Wood; and Dianne Wiest. Directed by Peter Hedges; produced by Jon Shestack, Brad Epstein; written by Pierce Gardner and Peter Hedges; music and original songs by Sondre Lerche; director of photography (Technicolor prints), Lawrence Sher; production designer, Sarah Knowles; costume designer, Alix Friedberg; film editor, Sarah Flack.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Lookout

(USA, 2006, 98 minutes)

A former high school jock, disabled after massive head trauma in a car crash and working as the night janitor in a smalltown bank, is approached by a bank robbing gang into being their lookout. Smart, well-made B thriller.

Miramax Films and Spyglass Entertainment present a Laurence Mark/Parkes-MacDonald/Barber-Birnbaum production. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino; with Bruce McGill; and Isla Fisher. Directed and written by Scott Frank; produced by Walter Parkes, Laurence Mark, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber; music by James Newton Howard; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Alar Kivilo; production designer, David Brisbin; costume designer, Abram Waterhouse; film editor, Jill Savitt.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Youth Without Youth

(USA/Romania/France/Italy, 2007, 125 minutes)

An elderly academician is struck by lightning and finds himself a young man again, with a second chance at life. Sweepingly old-fashioned romantic fantasy, an exquisitely rendered throwback to 1940s supernatural fables that bewildered all but the director's faithful followers.

A Pathé release. American Zoetrope presents a co-production of SRG Atelier, Pricel and BIM Distribuzione. Starring Tim Roth; Alexandra Maria Lara; Bruno Ganz, André M. Hennicke, Marcel Iures, Adrian Pintea, Florin Piersic Jr.; and introducing Alexandra Pirici. Directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola; screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novella by Mircea Eliade, Youth Without Youth; music by Osvaldo Golijov; director of photography (colour, widescreen), Mihai Malaimare Jr.; production designer, Calin Papura; costume designer, Gloria Papura; film editor, Walter Murch. 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rec

(Spain, 2007, 78 minutes)

A TV crew tagging along a firefighter's run-of-the-mill night shift finds itself trapped inside a quarantined building at the centre of some sort of viral outbreak. Dullish horror thriller whose one good idea (the action is entirely seen through the cameraman's lens) is wasted on perfunctory handling and scripting.

A Castelao Productions production for Filmax Entertainment, with the collaboration of Ministerio de Cultura-ICAA, ICO, Institut Català de Finances, Institut Català de les Industries Culturels; with the participation of TVE and Canal Plus España. Starring Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yaman Serrano, Pablo Rosso. Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza; produced by Julio Fernández; written by Jaume Balagueró, Luis Berdejo, Paco Plaza; director of photography (Image Film), Pablo Rosso; art director, Gemma Fauria; costume designer, Glória Viguer Zabala; film editor, David Gallart.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

U2 3D

(USA, 2008, 84 minutes)

A filmed concert by Irish rock band U2, shot during several shows in their Vertigo Tour. Standard concert movie with no particular signs other than its 3D effects, which are particularly appropriate to the recording of a live concert.

National Geographic Entertainment presents a 3ality Digital production. Directed by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington; produced by Jon Shapiro, Peter Shapiro, John Modell, Catherine Owens; music produced by Carl Glanville; director of photography (Foto-kem), Tom Krueger; director of 3D photography, Peter Anderson; film editor, Olivier Wicki. 

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sleuth

(Great Britain/USA, 2007, 89 minutes)

A best-selling crime writer and the young actor who is his estranged wife's lover have a tense meeting at the former's house that spirals into crime. Dull, flashy update of the original 1970s play and film (directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine) that reads the plot as covert class struggle but seems more interested in its striking but gratuitous set design than in its plot or the cast's valiant efforts. Rather pointless.
 
A Mandate Pictures release. Castle Rock Entertainment presents a Riff Raff Pictures/Timnick Films production. Starring Michael Caine, Jude Law. Directed by Kenneth Branagh; produced by Jude Law, Simon Halfon, Tom Sternberg, Marion Pilowsky, Kenneth Branagh, Simon Moseley; screenplay by Harold Pinter, based on the play by Anthony Shaffer, Sleuth; music by Patrick Doyle; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Haris Zambarloukos; production designer, Tim Harvey; costume designer, Alexandre Byrne; film editor, Neil Farrell.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Vantage Point

(USA, 2008, 87 minutes)

The US president is shot in a public ceremony in Spain; the shooting is seen from a variety of different point of views that each reveal a little more about the truth behind it and edge towards the solution of the mystery. Clever but disposable B thriller whose only real distinguishing trademarks are its smart multiple-point-of-view gimmick and the expert action handling and editing.

Columbia Pictures presents, in association with Relativity Media, an Original Film production. Starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Bruce McGill, Edgar Ramirez, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ayelet Zurer, Zoë Saldana; with Sigourney Weaver; and William Hurt. Directed by Pete Travis; produced by Neal H. Moritz; written by Barry L. Levy; music by Atli Ölvarsson; director of photography (DeLuxe prints, Panavision), Amir Mokri; production designer, Brigitte Broch; costume designer, Luca Mosca; film editor, Stuart Baird. 

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Coeurs

Private Fears in Public Places

(France/Italy, 2006, 124 minutes)

The lives of six lonely middle-aged men and women who don't really know each other but are somewhat connected. Moody, bitter-sweet comedy-drama of modern relationships, exquisitely handled and performed.

A Mars Distribution release of a Studio Canal presentation. Soudaine Compagnie presents a Soudaine Compagnie/Studio Canal/France 2 Cinéma/SFP Cinéma/BIM Distribuzione production, in association with Banque Populaire Images 6; with the participation of Canal Plus and TPS Star; with the support of Centre National de la Cinématographie, Eurimages and Région Île-de-France. Starring Sabine Azéma, Isabelle Carré, Laura Morante, Pierre Arditi, André Dussollier, Lambert Wilson; and the voice of Claude Rich as Arthur. Directed by Alain Resnais; produced by Bruno Pésery; screenplay by Jean-Michel Ribes, based on the play by Alan Ayckbourn, Private Fears in Public Places; music by Mark Snow; director of photography (Central Color, Panavision), Éric Gautier; production designers, Jacques Saulnier, Jean-Michel Ducourty, Solange Zeitoun; costume designer, Jackie Budin; film editor, Hervé de Luze.