Monday, June 30, 2008

The Sheltering Sky

(Great Britain/Italy/USA, 1990, 137 minutes)

Just after WWII, a New York couple travels into Saharan Africa in search of what's missing in their lives. Magnificently filmed but dramatically dull melodrama.

A Jeremy Thomas presentation/production, in association with The Aldrich Group; financed by Film Trustees with Shochiku-Fuji Company, Pierson Heldring & Pierson, Guinness Mahon & Co and Creditverein Bankanstalt; made by The Sahara Company and Tao Film in association with Recorded Picture Company (Productions). Starring Debra Winger, John Malkovich; Campbell Scott, Jill Bennett, Timothy Spall; Paul Bowles as the narrator; and introducing Eric Vu-An. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci; produced by Jeremy Thomas; screenplay by Mark Peploe with Bernardo Bertolucci, based on the novel The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles; music by Ryuichi Sakamoto; original North African music by Richard Horowitz; director of photography (Technicolor, Eastman Color, Technovision), Vittorio Storaro; production designer, Gianni Silvestri; costume designer, James Acheson; film editor, Gabriella Cristiani. 

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Speed Racer

(USA/Great Britain/Germany, 2008, 134 minutes)

A young race car driver running with his small family outfit in a world where racing is controlled by media corporations gets unwittingly involved in a big case of corporate espionage. Outrageously silly cartoonish actioner opening up a cult animated TV series of the 1960s; no expense has been spared to make it a perfect live-action translation of the series, but it's so empty-headed only kids might be interested, and even those might fidget at the overlength.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Silver Pictures production in association with Anarchos Productions; a co-production between Velocity Productions and Sechste Babelsberg Film. Starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, Roger Allam, Paulie Litt, Benno Fürmann, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rain, Richard Roundtree, Kick Gurry. Directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski; produced by Joel Silver, Grant Hill, Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski; screenplay by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, based on the animated series Mach Go Go Go, created by Tatsuo Yoshuda; music by Michael Giacchino; director of photography (Technicolor, widescreen), David Tattersall; production designer, Owen Paterson; costume designer, Kym Barrett; film editors, Zach Staenberg, Roger Barton; visual effects supervisors, John Gaeta, Dan Glass. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Juno

(USA, 2007, 92 minutes)

A high-school girl gets pregnant by her best friend and, judging herself too young to be a mother, decides to look for the perfect adoptive parents. Disarmingly quirky coming-of-age comedy with a clever, well-written script expertly delivered by a great cast.

Fox Searchlight Pictures presents a Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd production. Starring Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J. K. Simmons, Olivia Thirlby. Directed by Jason Reitman; produced by Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith; written by Diablo Cody; music by Mateo Messina; songs by Kimya Dawson; director of photography (DeLuxe), Eric Steelberg; production designer, Steve Saklad; costume designer, Monique Prudhomme; film editor, Dana E. Glauberman.

The Happening

(USA, 2008, 89 minutes)

A Philadelphia teacher and his wife abandon Philadelphia after mass suicides in the city's streets are attributed to some sort of mysterious toxin spread in the air. Dull horror thriller that wastes a good idea in uninspired scripting and handling.

Twentieth Century-Fox presents, in association with UTV Motion Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment, a Blinding Edge Pictures production; made in association with Dune Entertainment III. Starring Mark Wahlberg; Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Betty Buckley. Directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan; produced by Sam Mercer, Barry Mendel, M. Night Shyamalan; music by James Newton Howard; director of photography (DeLuxe), Tak Fujimoto; production designer, Jeannine Oppewall; costume designer, Betsy Heimann; film editor, Conrad Buff.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

El Orfanato

The Orphanage

(Spain/France, 2006, 106 minutes)

A social worker moves in with her family into the orphanage where she grew up, but her son disappears without a trace shortly after he begins telling of mysterious invisible friends he's made there. Smart, stylish supernatural mystery that chooses mood and narrative over facile shocks.

A Picturehouse release. Guillermo del Toro presents a Rodar y Rodar/Telecinco Cinema production with the collaboration of Warner Bros. Pictures España; supported by MEDIA programme; with the collaboration of ICAA, Institut Catala de les Industries Culturals, Institut Catala de Finances; and the participation of Canal Plus España, Televisió de Catalunya, Asturias Paraiso Natural, Wild Bunch, Telecinco. Starring Belén Rueda; Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andrés Gertrudíx, Edgar Vivar; and the special collaboration of Geraldine Chaplin. Directed by J. A. Bayona; produced by Joaquín Padró, Mar Targarona, Álvaro Augustín; written by Sergio G. Sánchez; music by Fernando Velázquez; director of photography, Oscar Faura; art director, Josep Rosell; costume designer, Maria Reyes; film editor, Elena Ruiz; special make-up effects, David Martí, Montse Ribé; digital effects, Jordi San Agustín, Lluís Castells.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

(USA, 1958, 108 minutes)

A Southern family crisis erupts when the dying father returns home to find his favourite son refusing to sleep with his wife and his second son conniving to get the property. Excellent if sanitized filming of a controversial play, with exquisite performances.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents an Avon production. Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives; co-starring Jack Carson, Judith Anderson; with Madeleine Sherwood, Larry Gates, Vaughn Taylor. Directed by Richard Brooks; produced by Lawrence Weingarten; screenplay by Richard Brooks and James Poe, based on the play by Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; director of photography (Metrocolor), William Daniels; art directors, William A. Horning and Urie McCleary; costume designer for Elizabeth Taylor, Helen Rose; film editor, Ferris Webster. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Aleksandra

Alexandra

(Russia/France, 2007, 93 minutes)

A lonely Russian grandmother visits her military officer grandson at his posting in Chechnya.
Stately meditation on war that retains all the painterly, artistic qualities of its director's usual output and attaches them to actual characters and a proper narrative thread, slender as it may be.

A Rezo Films release. A Pro-Line Film production/presentation, with the participation of Rezo Productions, Russian Cinema Agency and Centre National de la Cinématographie. Starring Galina Vishnevskaya; Vasily Shevtsov, Raisa Gichaeva. Directed and written by Alexander Sokurov; produced and music composed by Andrei Sigle; director of photography (colour), Alexander Burov; art director, Dmitri Malich-Konkov; costume designer, Lidiya Kryukova; film editor, Sergei Ivanov.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Cherry Orchard

(Greece/France/Cyprus, 1999, 141 minutes)

At the turn of the 19th century, an exiled Russian aristocrat returns to her homeland to find her estate close to bankruptcy and the world changing faster than she would like to. Uneven adaptation of a classic play, with an awkward, over-fussy quality that, however, does not detract from the care with which it has been treated or the generally high quality of the performances.

A Melanda Film Productions presentation/production, in association with The Greek Film Centre, Amanda Productions and Films de l'Astre, with the participation of Canal Plus. Starring Charlotte Rampling, Alan Bates, Katrin Cartlidge, Owen Teale, Tushka Bergen, Xander Berkeley, Gerald Butler, Andrew Howard, Melanie Lynskey, Ian McNeice;  with Frances de la Tour; and Michael Gough. Directed and produced by Michael Cacoyannis; screenplay by Michael Cacoyannis, based on the play by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard; music by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; director of photography (Cinemagic), Aris Stavrou; production designer, Dionysis Fotopoulos; costume supervisor, Jane Hamilton; film editors, Michael Cacoyannis, Takis Hadzis.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Postcards from the Edge

(USA, 1990, 99 minutes)

A Hollywood star just out of detox has to put up with her actress mother as a guardian if she is to go on working. Inoffensive and lightweight but extremely amusing Hollywood comedy from an autobiographical novel, with an astounding succession of quick-fire cameos.

A Columbia Pictures presentation/production. Starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid; co-starring Conrad Bain, Annette Bening, Simon Callow, Gary Morton, C. C. H. Pounder, Rob Reiner, Mary Wickes; special appearance by Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss. Directed by Mike Nichols; produced by Mike Nichols, John Calley; screenplay by Carrie Fisher, based on her novel, Postcards from the Edge; music by Carly Simon; director of photography (Technicolor), Michael Ballhaus; production designer, Patrizia von Brandenstein; costume designer, Ann Roth; film editor, Sam O'Steen. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Moonstruck

(USA, 1987, 102 minutes)

A Brooklyn widow engaged to be married falls in love with her fiance’s younger brother. Cheerful Italian comedy with good performances.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents a Patrick Palmer & Norman Jewison production, in association with Star Partners Ltd. Starring Cher, Nicolas Cage; Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis; and Danny Aiello. Directed by Norman Jewison; produced by Patrick Palmer and Norman Jewison; written by John Patrick Shanley; music by Dick Hyman; director of photography (Technicolor/Medallion), David Watkin; production designer, Philip Rosenberg; costume designer, Theoni V. Aldredge; film editor, Lou Lombardo.