Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rescue Dawn

(USA/Germany, 2006, 125 minutes)

In 1965, an American pilot is shot down over Laos and captured by the Vietcong, but thinks of nothing else but escaping. Well made but rather run of the mill war drama that seems pretty subdued coming from this director. 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Top Gun Productions present, in association with Thema Productions, a Gibraltar Films production. Starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies. Directed by Werner Herzog; produced by Steve Marlton, Elton Brand, Harry Knapp; screenplay by Werner Herzog, inspired by true events in the life of Dieter Dengler; music by Klaus Badelt; director of photography (Oriental Post), Peter Zeitlinger; art director, Arin Pinijvararak; costume designer, Annie Dunn; film editor, Joe Bini.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

(USA, 2008, 111 minutes)

After being dumped by his actress girlfriend, a TV composer heads to Hawaii for a mind-clearing vacation... but finds she's staying at his hotel with her new rock star boyfriend. Smart, sweet-spirited romantic comedy employing fresh TV talent.

Universal Pictures presents an Apatow production. Starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Bill Hader. Directed by Nicholas Stoller; produced by Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson; written by Jason Segel; music by Lyle Workman; director of photography (Technicolor), Russ T. Alsobrook; production designer, Jackson de Govia; costume designer, Leesa Evans; film editor, William Kerr.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

(USA, 2008, 122 minutes)

In 1957, adventurer archaeologist Indiana Jones is drawn into the search for the mythical lost Inca city of Akator when Marion Ravenwood's son comes to ask for his help in saving his mother. Belated and long-awaited fourth instalment in the series; more spirited old-fashioned adventure, full of winks to the previous episodes, but letdown by a slightly jarring sci-fi angle towards the end.

Paramount Pictures presents a Lucasfilm production. Starring Harrison Ford; Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine; and Shia LaBeouf. Directed by Steven Spielberg; produced by Frank Marshall; screenplay by David Koepp, based on a story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson, and on characters created by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman; music by John Williams; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Janusz Kaminski; production designer, Guy Hendrix Dyas; costume designers, Mary Zophres, Bernie Pollack; film editor, Michael Kahn; visual effects supervisor, Pablo Helman. 

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tie Saam Gok

Triangle

(Hong Kong, 2007, 93 minutes)

Three drinking buddies with money problems find themselves between a rock and a hard place when they accept to dig up a forgotten safe that may hold treasure. Lively if implausible action-thriller that brings together three of Hong Kong's greatest directing stylists; each one directed a third of the movie, picking up from what the previous had done. That it holds together as well as it does is a surprise.

Milkyway Image (HK), Media Asia Group and Polybona Film Distribution Company present a Milkyway Image (HK)/Film Workshop Company co-production. Starring Louis Koo, Simon Yam, Sun Hong Lei, Lam Ka Tung, Kelly Lin, Yao Yung, Lam Suet, Li Hai Tao, Chan Kai Wa, Yip Chun, Chan Ho Sai. Directed and produced by Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, Johnnie To; written by Half Leisure, Kenny Kan, Sharon Chung, Yau Nai Hoi, Au Kin Yee, Yip Tin Shing; music by Guy Zerafa; director of photography (Shaw Brothers, widescreen), Cheng Siu Keung; art directors, Raymond Chan, Tony Yu; costume designers, Stanley Cheung, William Fung; film editor, David Richardson. 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

La Fille coupée en deux

(France/Germany, 2006, 114 minutes)

A charming young TV weather girl is courted by a celebrated but lecherous writer and a rich but unstable playboy. Biting satirical melodrama very typical of its director that, despite its excellent performances, seems to have been made on autopilot.

Alicéléo presents an Alicéléo/Alicéléo Cinéma/France 2 Cinéma/Rhône-Alpes Cinéma/Integral Film co-production, with the participation of Région Rhône-Alpes, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Canal Plus and Cinécinéma. Starring Ludivine Sagnier, Benoît Magimel, François Berléand; Mathilda May, Caroline Silhol, Marie Bunel, Valeria Cavalli, Etienne Chicot; with the participation of Édouard Baer; Jean-Marie Winling. Directed by Claude Chabrol; produced by Patrick Godeau; written by Cécile Maistre, Claude Chabrol; music by Matthieu Chabrol; director of photography (GTC), Eduardo Serra; production designer, Françoise Benoît-Fresco; costume designer, Mic Cheminal; film editor, Monique Fardoulis. 

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Bridge

(USA, 2005, 91 minutes)

In 2004, 24 people jumped to their deaths from the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco; friends and family of the deceased try to come to terms with their losses and understand what would lead them to suicide. Controversial but earnest documentary on a sensitive topic; the fact that the film-makers trained a camera 24/7 on the bridge and actually caught the deaths on film has opened it to accusations of morbid voyeurism and immorality, but whatever the methods involved the result is a thought-provoking, handsomely done and occasionally affecting piece of work.

A Fortissimo Films presentation. IFC presents an Easy There Tiger production. Directed and produced by Eric Steel; inspired by the New Yorker article by Tad Friend, «Jumpers»; music by Alex Heffes; director of photography (colour), Peter McCandless; film editor, Sabine Krayenbühl.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

La Graine et le mulet

(France, 2007, 154 minutes)

A laid-off shipyard worker decides to invest his buyout money in opening a restaurant, with the help of his family, but things don't go according to plan. Breathtaking, sweeping melodrama of modern society transported by extraordinary performances from a mostly non-professional ensemble cast, handled with generosity and intelligence.

A Pathé release. Claude Berri presents a Hirsch/Pathé Renn Productions/France 2 Cinéma co-production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cinécinéma, Banque Populaire Images 6 and Centre National de la Cinématographie. Starring Habib Boufarès, Hafsia Herzi, Faridah Benkhetache, Abdelhamid Aktouche, Bouraouïa Marzouk, Alice Houri, Cyril Favre, Leila d'Issernio, Abdelkader Djeloulli, Bruno Lochet, Olivier Loustau, Sami Zitouni, Sabrina Ouazani, Mohamed Benabdeslem, Hatika Karaoui, Henri Rodriguez, Nadia Taouil. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche; produced by Claude Berri; written by Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalya Lacroix; director of photography (Eclair), Lubomir Bakchev; production designer, Benoît Barouh; costume designer, Maria Beloso Hall; film editores, Ghalya Lacroix, Camille Toubkis. 

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lars and the Real Girl

(USA, 2007, 106 minutes)

A lonely, asocial young man introduces to his family and friends a sex doll he bought over the internet as his girlfriend; the local doctor advises people to accept his delusion as a way to rid him of it. Quirky comedy that doesn't outstay its welcome.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment present a John Cameron/Sarah Aubrey production. Starring Ryan Gosling; Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner; and Patricia Clarkson. Directed by Craig Gillespie; produced by Sidney Kimmel, John Cameron, Sarah Aubrey; written by Nancy Oliver; music by David Torn; director of photography (DeLuxe), Adam Kimmel; production designer, Arv Greywal; costume designer, Kirston Mann; film editor, Tatiana S. Riegel. 

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Goodnight Irene

(Portugal, 2007, 102 minutes)

A curmudgeonly widower reengages with the world through his outgoing new neighbour, and finds himself at a loss when she disappears without a trace. Amiable character study that lacks a strong narrative drive but provides some minor pleasures along the way courtesy of its excellent lead performance.

Maria João Mayer and François d'Artemare present a Filmes do Tejo II production, supported by Ministério da Cultura/ICAM, RTP and Fundação Horácio Roque. Starring Robert Pugh, Nuno Lopes, Rita Loureiro. Directed and written by Paolo Marinou-Blanco; music by Jaroslaw Bester, Carlos Bica; director of photography (Tobis), Miguel Sales Lopes; art director, João Torres; costume designer, Patrícia Dória; film editors, Vanessa Pimentel, Pedro Ribeiro, Paolo Marinou-Blanco.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When the Road Bends... Tales of a Gypsy Caravan

(USA/Great Britain/Netherlands, 2006, 111 minutes)

A record of the 2003 Gypsy Caravan tour, where five Rom ensembles from India, Spain, Romania and Macedonia traveled the US presenting their music to American audiences. Amiable documentary that is handsomely made but of little interest for non-music fans.

Little Dust Productions presents in association with Independent Television Service, Fu Works and Fortissimo Films, a co-production of Little Dust Productions and the Independent Television Service. Featuring the musicians of Maharaja, Esma Redzepova, Taraf de Haïdouks, Antonio el Pipa, Fanfare Ciocarlia. Directed, produced and written by Jasmine Dellal; camera – location, Albert Maysles, Alain de Halleux, Rahul Ranadive, Jasmine Dellal; camera – concerts, Andy Black, Paul Daley, Jon Else, Alain de Halleux, Albert Maysles, Carlos Muñoz-Yagüe, Jojo Pennebaker, Charlie Seligman; film editors, Mary Myers, Jasmine Dellal, with Roko Belic, Angelo Corrao.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This Divided State

(USA, 2005, 89 minutes)

In the fall of 2004, a few weeks before the presidential election, the student board of the Utah Valley State College in the heavily conservative town of Orem, Utah, invited liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to a speaking engagement, and unleashed a controversy that spiralled out of control. Absorbing documentary that is an interesting “time capsule” of the conservative vs. liberal “cultural war” in heartland America in the middle of the George W. Bush presidency.

A Minority Films presentation/production, in association with the Center for American Progress/Campus Progress. Directed and edited by Steven Greenstreet; produced by Steven Greenstreet, Philip Gordon, Kristi Haycock; camera (colour, digital video), Matt Eastin, Wes Eldredge, Steven Greenstreet, Josh Ligiari; Jed Cowley, David Eastin, Chad Hemelstrand, Emily Hibbert, Corom Hughes, Mary Johnston, Scott Larson, Elias Pate, Ellen Quist, Jefferson Quist, Amanda Rollins, Jarond Suman, Ammon van Orden, Bryan Young. 

Monday, May 12, 2008

Twentynine Palms

(France/Germany, 2003, 119 minutes)

A man and a woman explore the Californian desert outside the town of Twentynine Palms while arguing, making up and making sex. Baffling, arty indulgence where nothing really happens over the course of two very long hours.

A 3B Productions/TVT Postproduction/Thoke Moebius Filmcompany/Wellspring co-production, in association with Gimages 5 and Centre National de la Cinématographie, with the participation of Canal Plus, cofinanced by InvestitionsBank Hessen and Hessen Media. Starring Katia Golubeva, David Wissak. Directed and written by Bruno Dumont; director of photography (CFI, Technicolor, LTC, Panavision), Georges Lechaptois; costume designer, Yasmine Abraham; film editor, Dominique Pétrot. 

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Nightwatching

(Great Britain/Poland/Canada/Netherlands, 2007, 141 minutes)

In 1642, Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn is commissioned to paint the Amsterdam Militia, but finds there are shady dealings behind the commission. Absorbing but slightly overlong period mystery inspired by a real-life painting and characters, attaching a well-crafted story and plausible characters to its director's usual lavish, arty visuals, here considerably more muted.

Contentfilm International presents; with the participation of the Wales Creative IP Fund, the UK Film Council, the Polish Film Institute, the Netherlands Film Fund, the Rotterdam Film Fund; in association with No Equal Entertainment, Odeon Films, Yeti Films, Gremi Film Production; a Kees Kasander production, in co-production with Piotr Mularuk and Magdalena Kapionicz; with the participation of the Government of Canada Film & Video Tax Credit, BC Films, Film Finances. Starring Martin Freeman, Emily Holmes, Jodhi May, Eva Birthistle, Toby Jones; and Natalie Press. Directed and written by Peter Greenaway; produced by Kees Kasander; music by Wlodek Pawlik; director of photography (colour, widescreen; HD-to-35mm), Reinier van Brummelen; production designer, Maarten Piesma; costume designer, Jagna Janicka, Marrit van der Burgt; film editor, Karen Porter. 

Friday, May 09, 2008

Terra Sonâmbula

(Portugal/Germany/Mozambique, 2006, 100 minutes)

Two refugees from the Mozambique Civil War, an aging former train conductor and a young orphan boy, find the diaries of a dead man that traveled the land looking for his girlfriend's lost child. Bleak but sweetly affecting combination of road movie and magical realism adapting an acclaimed novel, using local non-professional actors; the strength of the story and of its impeccable adaptation overcomes amateurish performances and non-descript handling.

A Filmes de Fundo/Animatógrafo 2/ZDF—ARTE/Ébano Multimedia presentation/production; with financial support from ICAM, RTP, ZDF/ARTE and Instituto Camões. Starring Nick Lauro Teresa, Aladino Jasse, Hélio Fumo, Ilda Gonzalez. Directed by Teresa Prata; produced by Pandora da Cunha Telles, António da Cunha Telles; screenplay by Teresa Prata, from the novel Sleepwalking Land and the short story «The Girl with a Twisted Future» by Mia Couto; music by Alex Goretzki; director of photography (Tobis), Dominique Gentil; art director, Caroline Alder; costume designer, Isabel Peres; film editors, Paulo Rebelo, Jacques Witta. 

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Ilha dos Escravos

(Portugal/Spain/Brazil, 2008, 100 minutes)

In the mid-1800s, a mysterious gentleman arrives at the Portuguese African colony of Cape Verde with complex political designs. Would-be historical epic undone by its laughably amateurish, soap-opera-level handling and technical credits.

Ana Costa presents a Cinemate production, in co-production with CPI and Prodifilme; with financial support from ICA, ANCINE and Programme Ibermedia; in co-production with MPC & Associados and Southwest Productions. Starring Diogo Infante, Vanessa Giácomo, Zézé Motta, Milton Gonçalves, Vítor Norte, João Lagarto, José Eduardo, Ângelo Torres, Francisco de Assis, Luís Évora, Josina Fortes, Jorge Coutinho. Directed by Francisco Manso; produced by Ana Costa; screenplay by António Torrado, based on the novel by José Evaristo d'Almeida, O Escravo; music by João Oliveira; director of photography (Light Film/Tobis), Lúcio Kodato; art director, Rosa Ros; wardrobe, Lucha d'Orey, Rosa Lima; film editor, João Assunção. 

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Les Égarés

Strayed

(France/Great Britain, 2003, 95 minutes)

In 1940, during the days of the German invasion of France, a widow and her two children escaping Paris befriend a young wanderer who leads them to a safe house away from danger, and where they build a seemingly normal family life. Intriguing melodrama that explores its director’s usual themes of human relationships with his usual talent.

Jean-Pierre Ramsay Levi presents a FIT Production/Spice Factory/France 2 Cinéma co-production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Gimages 6, Centre National de la Cinématographie and Conseil Régional Midi-Pyrénées. Starring Emmanuelle Béart, Gaspard Ulliel; Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Clémence Meyer. Directed by André Téchiné; produced by Jean-Pierre Ramsay Levi; screenplay by Gilles Taurand and André Téchiné, based on the novel by Gilles Perrault, Le Garçon aux yeux gris; music by Philippe Sarde; director of photography (Technicolor), Agnès Godard; art director, Zé Branco; costume designer, Christian Gasc; film editor, Martine Giordano. 

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Iron Man

(USA, 2008, 125 minutes)

A playboy inventor who's made his fortune as a weapons builder has a change of heart after escaping Afghan guerrillas meant to kill him, and becomes a super-hero thanks to an elaborate flying suit. Messy addition to the big-screen smart-comic-book cycle that puts a perfect cast and excellent trick effects in the service of an underdeveloped script.

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present a Marvel Studios production, in association with Fairview Entertainment. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges; and Gwyneth Paltrow; Leslie Bibb, Shaun Toub. Directed by Jon Favreau; produced by Avi Arad, Kevin Feige; screenplay by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, based on the comic book character created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby; music by Ramin Djawadi; director of photography (Fot0-Kem, DeLuxe, Panavision), Matthew Libatique; production designer, J. Michael Riva; costume designers, Laura Jean Shannon, Rebecca Bentjen; film editor, Ben Lebental; visual effects supervisor, John Nelson. 

My Blueberry Nights

(Hong Kong/France/China, 2007, 95 minutes)

A heartbroken New Yorker strikes a friendship with a restaurant manager and decides to take a cross-country trip to find her way back into life. Luxuriantly glossy, atmospheric melodrama of contemporary romance that transfers its director's usual visual and thematic fetishes to modern-day America without bringing anything new to the table; still, it's a dream to look at.

Block 2 Pictures presents, in association with Studiocanal, a Jet Tone Films/Lou Yi production, with the participation of Shanghai Film Group Corporation. Starring Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman; special appearance by Chan Marshall. Directed by Wong Kar-Wai; produced by Wong Kar-Wai, Jacky Pang Yee Wah, Jean-Louis Piel; screenplay by Wong Kar-Wai and Lawrence Block, based on a story by Wong Kar-Wai; music by Ry Cooder; director of photography (Technicolor, Kantana Laboratories, widescreen), Darius Khondji; production designer and film editor, William Chang Suk Ping; costume designers, William Chang Suk Ping, Sharon Globerson.