Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Hunting Party

(USA/Germany, 2007, 103 minutes)

A washed-out star journalist convinces his former cameraman to help him track down a notorious war criminal in the Balkans. Surprising attempt at viewing the Balkan conflict through the prism of black comedy with a hint of political satire, inspired by a stranger-than-fiction real-life episode; it doesn't fully work but certainly is worth a mark for the attempt.

QED International and Intermedia present a Gran Via/Intermedia/QED/Cherry Road production. Starring Richard Gere, Terrence Howard; Jesse Eisenberg, Dylan Baker, Mark Ivanir, Diane Kruger; and James Brolin. Directed by Richard Shepard; produced by Mark Johnson, Scott Kroopf, Bill Block; screenplay by Richard Shepard, based on the Esquire article by Scott K. Anderson, What I Did on My Summer Vacation; music by Rolfe Kent; director of photography (Technicolor, widescreen), David Tattersall; production designer, Jan Roelfs; costume designer, Beatrix Aruna Pasztor; film editor, Carole Kravetz-Aykanian.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

(USA, 2008, 89 minutes)

An attempted flight out from Madagascar crashlands, stranding the four NYC Zoo castaways of the original movie in their African homeland. More of the same as the first movie and equally as intermittently funny, only with a Lion King-light subplot creaking under the weight of a non-stop assault of sitcom gags. A lively time-passer.

A Paramount Pictures release of a Dreamworks Animation presentation/production. With the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin, Sherri Shepherd, Will.i.am. Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath; produced by Mireille Soria, Mark Swift; written by Etan Cohen, Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath; music and songs by Hans Zimmer and Will.i.am; production designer, Kendal Cronkite-Shaindlin; film editor, H. Lee Petersen; cinematography consultant, Guillermo Navarro. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Body of Lies

(USA, 2008, 124 minutes)

A CIA field operative in the Middle East butts heads with his superiors over the best way to smoke out a terrorist mastermind. Smart but dour spy thriller that doesn't shy away from the genre's current moral complexities but is never able to choose if it wants to be political statement or entertainment and looks far too polished for its own good.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a DeLine Pictures/Scott Free production. Starring Leonardo di Caprio, Russell Crowe; Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani, Oscar Isaac, Alon Aboutboul, Simon McBurney. Directed by Ridley Scott; produced by Ridley Scott, Donald de Line; screenplay by William Monaghan, based on the novel by Mark Ignatius, Body of Lies; music by Marc Streitenfeld; director of photography (Technicolor, Arri widescreen), Alexander Witt; production designer, Arthur Max; costume designer, Janty Yates; film editor, Pietro Scalia.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Wackness

(USA, 2007, 97 minutes)

In 1994 NYC, a high school graduate who moonlights as a drug dealer falls in love with his classmate, the stepdaughter of a psychiatrist undergoing a midlife crisis. Unusually smart and surprisingly bittersweet coming-of-age comedy; the period side, however, is somewhat bewildering.

An Occupant Films/SBK Films presentation/production. Starring Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Mary Kate Olsen, Jane Adams, Method Man, Aaron Yoo. Directed and written by Jonathan Levine; produced by Keith Calder, Felipe Marino, Joe Neurauter; music by David Torn; director of photography (Technicolor, widescreen), Petra Korner; production designer, Annie Spitz; costume designer, Michael Clancy; film editor, Josh Noyes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

(Great Britain, 2008, 132 minutes)

In 1930s England, an aspiring artist reading History at Oxford strikes a friendship with a sensitive schoolmate from an aristocratic, devout household that will change their lives forever. Thoughtful adaptation of an acclaimed novel that tries hard, and succeeds to a point, to step out of the shadow of the award-winning 1981 TV series by focusing on the story's religious undertone; a little more personality in the handling might have been welcome.

The UK Film Council, Hanway Films and BBC Films present, in association with 2 Entertain and Screen Yorkshire, an Ecosse Films production for Miramax Films, The UK Film Council and BBC Films. Starring Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw, Hayley Atwell; with Emma Thompson; with Michael Gambon; Greta Scacchi, Jonathan Cake, Patrick Malahide, Ed Stoppard. Directed by Julian Jarrold; produced by Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae, Kevin Loader; screenplay by Andrew Davies and Jeremy Brock, based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited; music by Adrian Johnston; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Jess Hall; production designer, Alice Normington; costume designer, Eimer ni Mhaoldomhnaigh; film editor, Chris Gill. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Righteous Kill

(USA, 2008, 100 minutes)

Two veteran NYPD detectives investigate a serial killer who seems to be targeting criminals who escaped justice, and one of them becomes the prime suspect. An intriguing premise for the first full-length meeting of two acting titans is thrown away by clumsy handling by a director unable to energize its stars, severe underscripting and obvious low production values.

An Overture Films/Millennium Films presentation/production, in association with Emmett/Furla Films and Grosvenor Park Media. Starring Robert de Niro, Al Pacino; Curtis Jackson, Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg, Trilby Glover; with Brian Dennehy; and John Leguizamo. Directed by Jon Avnet; produced by Rob Cowan, Avi Lerner, Randall Emmett, Jon Avnet, Lati Grobman, Alexandra Milchan, Daniel M. Rosenberg; written by Russell Gewirtz; music by Edward Shearmur; director of photography (DuArt/Technicolor, widescreen), Denis Lenoir; production designer, Tracey Gallacher; costume designer, Debra McGuire; film editor, Paul Hirsch. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blindness

(Canada/Brazil/Japan, 2008, 121 minutes)

A mysterious epidemic of an inexplicable blindness overcomes a large metropolis; for some reason, only the wife of the doctor who first diagnosed it is unaffected, but still she accompanies her husband into a quarantine facility where life slowly becomes hell. Stylish but bleak apocalyptic allegory, based on an acclaimed novel deemed unfilmable; it's a brave but cold effort, with the excellent, well-crafted visuals overruling any sort of emotion.

Focus Features International presents, in association with Alliance Films, Fox Film, Gaga Communications, Asmik Ace Entertainment, IFF/CINV, Téléfilm Canada, ANCINE and Potboiler Productions, with the participation of TY, Corus Entertainment, Fiat, BNDES, Paulínia Magia do Cinema and C&A, a Rhombus Media/O2 Filmes/Bee Vine Pictures production. Starring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga, Yusuke Iseya, Yoshino Kimura, Don McKellar, Maury Chaykin, Mitchell Nye; with Danny Glover; and Gael García Bernal. Directed by Fernando Meirelles; produced by Niv Fichman, Andréa Barata Ribeiro, Sonoko Sakai; screenplay by Don McKellar, based on the novel by José Saramago, Blindness; music by Marco Antônio Guimarães/Uakti; director of photography (Technicolor/Megacolor), César Charlone; production designer, Tulé Peake; costume designer, Renée April; film editor, Daniel Rezende.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quantum of Solace

(GB/USA, 2008, 106 minutes)

British secret agent James Bond goes in search of the men responsible for the death of Vesper Lynd and all clues lead him to a mysterious criminal organisation codenamed Quantum. The first Bond film to be a direct sequel to the previous episode (Casino Royale), this is a trim, sleek, no-nonsense actioner that occasionally winks at the series' illustrious history at the risk of being rather more generic.

A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Columbia Pictures release of an Albert R. Broccoli's Eon Productions presentation; made by Eon Productions Ltd. and B22 Ltd. Starring Daniel Craig; Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini; with Jeffrey Wright; and Judi Dench. Directed by Marc Forster; produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli; written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade; music by David Arnold; director of photography (DeLuxe, Arri widescreen), Roberto Schaefer; production designer, Dennis Gassner; costume designer, Louise Frogley; film editors, Matt Chessé, Richard Pearson; special effects supervisor, Chris Corbould; visual effects supervisor, Kevin Tod Haug.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Arte de Roubar

(Portugal/Spain/Brazil, 2008, 108 minutes)

A couple of unlucky thieves are hired by a vengeful butler to steal a valuable painting from a rural estate, but nothing goes according to the plan. Tiresome heist comedy that substitutes loud farce for subtlety and character development and wastes some good acting on self-important handling.

Stopline Films presents a Stopline Films/Fado Filmes production, in co-production with Nadie Es Perfecto, CCFBR, Cinemate, Galavis Film, SIC; with the participation of RTVV; with financial support from ICA, ANCINE, Ibermedia programme, FICA, Generalitat Valenciana. Starring Ivo Canelas, Enrique Arce; with the participation of Flora Martínez; Nicolau Breyner, Soraia Chaves; with the participation of Maguï Mira. Directed by Leonel Vieira; produced by Leonel Vieira, Luís Galvão Teles, Kiko Martínez; screenplay by Roberto Santiago, João Quadros, based on an original screenplay by João Quadros; music by Nuno Maló; director of photography (Tobis, widescreen), José António Loureiro; art director, João Martins; costume designer, Inés Liverato; film editor, Luca Alverdi.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Chrysalis

(France, 2007, 89 minutes)

In a future Paris, a police detective searches for the criminal who killed his wife, unaware that all the leads take to a state-of-the-art surgical research facility. Stylish if derivative futuristic thriller handled with enormous assurance on an obvious low budget.

Gaumont presents a Gaumont/TF1 Films Production production, in association with Sofica Sogecinéma 5, with the participation of Canal Plus and Cinécinéma. Starring Albert Dupontel, Marie Guillard, Marthe Keller, Mélanie Thierry, Estelle Lefebure, Alain Figlarz; with the participation of Patrick Bauchau. Directed by Julien Leclercq; produced by Franck Chorot; written by Julien Leclercq and Frank Philippon, with Nicolas Peufaillit and Aude Py; music by Jean-Jacques Hertz, François Roy; director of photography (Eclair), Thomas Hardmeier; production designer, Jean-Philippe Moreaux; costume designer, Fabienne Katany; film editor, Thierry Hoss; visual effects supervisor, Bruno Maillard.  

Saturday, November 01, 2008

War, Inc.

(USA, 2007, 107 minutes)

In a near future where wars are outsourced by the American government to multinational companies, a contract killer arrives in Turaqistan to kill an oil minister but finds himself babysitting both a nosy reporter and a sultry popstar. Dismally unfunny, bargain-basement satire that wastes the assembled talent and has its heart but little else in the right place.

A Millennium Films/New Crime Productions presentation/production. Starring John Cusack, Hilary Duff, Marisa Tomei, Joan Cusack, Dan Aykroyd, Sergej Trifunovic, Ned Bellamy, John McLaughlin, Montel Williams; and Ben Kingsley. Directed by Joshua Seftel; produced by John Cusack, Grace Loh, Les Weldon, Danny Lerner; written by Mark Leyner, Jeremy Pikser and John Cusack; music by David Robbins; director of photography (Boyana Film Laboratory/Fotokem), Zoran Popovic; production designer, Miljen "Kreka" Kljakovic; costume designer, Vicki Graef; film editor, Michael Berenbaum.