Thursday, April 30, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

(USA/Great Britain, 2009, 108 minutes)

In the late 19th century, a young Canadian finds out he and his brother are immortal mutants; a century later, they're co-opted into a secret military team of mutants and take opposite sides. The popular character from the X-Men comic-books gets his own spin-off adventure, but the intriguing premise and the solid cast is wasted in a muddled, unconvincing B-movie.

Twentieth Century-Fox presents, in association with Marvel Entertainment and Dune Entertainment, a Donners' Company/Seed production; produced in association with Ingenious Film Partners and Big Screen Productions. Starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will.I.Am, Lynn Collins, Kevin Durand, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Daniel Henney; and Ryan Reynolds. Directed by Gavin Hood; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Hugh Jackman, John Palermo; written by David Benioff and Skip Woods; music by Harry Gregson-Williams; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Donald M. McAlpine; production designer, Barry Robison; costume designer, Louise Mingenbach; special make-up effects designed and created by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr.; visual effects supervisor, Patrick McClurg.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Ruins

(USA/Germany/Australia, 2008, 93 minutes)

A group of young vacationers in Mexico travel to a Mayan ruin off the tourist path and find themselves at the mercy of a strange species of carnivorous vine. Claustrophobic horror movie whose slick handling and good production values are put at the service of an intriguing but underdeveloped premise.

Dreamworks Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment present a Red Hour Films production; produced with assistance from the Queensland Government's Pacific Film and Television Commission; produced in association with Internationale Filmproduktion Prometheus. Starring Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore, Laura Ramsey, Joe Anderson. Directed by Carter Smith; produced by Stuart Cornfeld, Jeremy Kramer, Chris Bender; screenplay by Scott B. Smith, based on his novel The Ruins; music by Graeme Revell; director of photography (Atlab/DeLuxe, Panavision), Darius Khondji; production designer, Grant Major; costume designer, Lizzy Gardiner; film editor, Jeff Betancourt; visual effects supervisor, Gregory L. McMurry. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Knowing

(USA/Australia, 2009, 120 minutes)

A recently widowed MIT astrophysicist discovers that the list of numbers buried fifty years earlier in a time capsule by a strange high school student correspond almost exactly to a list of catastrophes — of which the last three are yet to happen. Apocalyptic horror thriller that is technically impeccable but seems a composite of earlier, better films; the religious subtext leaves a somewhat bitter taste.

Summit Entertainment presents an Escape Artists production, in association with Mystery Clock Cinema and Goldcrest Productions; produced with the assistance of Film Victoria. Starring Nicolas Cage; Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Ben Mendelsohn. Directed by Alex Proyas; produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Alex Proyas; screenplay by Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden and Stiles White, based on a story by Ryne Douglas Pearson; music by Marco Beltrami; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Simon Duggan; production designer, Steven Jones-Evans; costume designer, Terry Ryan; film editor, Richard Learoyd; visual effects supervisors, Andrew Jackson, Eric Durst.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Um Amor de Perdição

(Portugal/Brazil, 2008, 84 minutes)

A rabble-rousing teenager falls madly in love with the recluse daughter of a family who has a long-standing feud with his own. Romeo and Juliet story of teenage love, intelligently and smartly updated to modern times from a classic 19th century novel.

Paulo Branco and Roberto Tibiriçá present a Clap Filmes/Plateau Produções/Leopardo Filmes co-production, with the support of the Ibermedia programme and the participation of ICA and RTP. Starring Tomás Alves, Catarina Franco, Williom Brandão, Catarina Wallenstein, Ana Padrão, Rui Morrison, Virgílio Castelo, Rafael Morais, Ana Moreira. Directed and photographed (Light Film/Schwarz Film) by Mário Barroso; produced by Paulo Branco; screenplay by Carlos Saboga, based on the novel by Camilo Castelo Branco, Amor de Perdição; music by Bernardo Sassetti; art director, Isabel Branco; wardrobe, Lucha d'Orey; film editors, Francisco Garcia da Silva, Rui Mourão. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The International

(USA/Germany, 2009, 114 minutes)

An obsessed Interpol agent and a New York district attorney investigate why a Luxembourg bank would be interested in becoming an arms dealer, but anyone who can give them a lead is summarily eliminated. What starts out as an intriguing update of 1970s paranoid thrillers devolves in its last half hour into a disappointingly preposterous run-of-the-mill actioner. A waste.

Columbia Pictures presents, in association with Relativity Media, an Atlas Entertainment production; supported by Deutsches Filmfernsehfonds; a co-production of Rose Line Productions and Siebente Babelsberg Film. Starring Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Müller-Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen, Brían F. O'Byrne, Jack McGee. Directed by Tom Tykwer; produced by Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Lloyd Phillips; written by Eric Warren Singer; music by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Frank Griebe; production designer, Uli Hanisch; costume designer, Ngila Dickson; film editor, Mathilde Bonnefoy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This Is England

(Great Britain, 2007, 97 minutes)

In July 1983, a bullied schoolboy whose military father just died in the Falklands War falls in with an easy-going gang of local skinheads. Smart, no-nonsense melodrama, at once period piece, gritty problem picture in the British tradition and sensitive coming-of-age tale.

Filmfour and The UK Film Council present, in association with EM Media and Screen Yorkshire, a Warp Films production in association with Big Arty Productions and Ingenious Film Partners; financed through EM Media, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund; made with the support of The UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund, Yorkshire Forward and the European Union through Screen Yorkshire Production Fund. Starring Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley. Directed and written by Shane Meadows; produced by Mark Herbert; music by Ludovico Einaudi; director of photography (Film Lab North, DeLuxe prints), Danny Cohen; production designer, Mark Leese; costume designer, Jo Thompson; film editor, Chris Wyatt.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Linha de Passe

(Brazil/Great Britain/USA, 2008, 112 minutes)

The daily grind of a pregnant single mother from a São Paulo shantytown and her four teenage sons. Bleak, impressionist melodrama of modern Brazilian society that neither glamorises nor cheapens its subject and avoids the usual well-meaning traps.

A Pathé/Media Rights Capital presentation. Pathé presents a Videofilmes production. Starring Sandra Corveloni, Vinicius de Oliveira, João Baldasserini, José Geraldo Rodrigues, Kaique de Jesus Santos. Directed by Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas; produced by Maurício Andrade Ramos, Rebecca Yeldham; written by George Moura, Daniela Thomas, with the collaboration of Bráulio Mantovani, João Emanuel Carneiro; music by Gustavo Santaolalla; director of photography (Megacolor), Mauro Pinheiro Jr.; art director, Valdy Lopes Jr.; costume designer, Cássio Brasil; film editors, Gustavo Giani, Lívia Serpa.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pranzo di Ferragosto

Mid-August Lunch

(Italy, 2008, 76 minutes)

A middle-aged Roman who's unemployed to take care of his elderly mother accepts to take up in his flat the landlord's mother over an August bank holiday to make up for the rent he owes, but ends up stuck with four old ladies. Modest, amiable little comedy that plays like an extended anecdote but doesn't go very far.

A Fandango release. Matteo Garrone presents an Archimede production, in association with RAI Cinema. Starring Valeria de Franciscis, Marina Cacciotti, Maria Calì, Grazia Cesarini Sforza; Alfonso Santagata, Gianni di Gregorio; and Marcello Ottolenghi. Directed by Gianni di Gregorio; produced by Matteo Garrone; screenplay by Gianni di Gregorio, from a story by Gianni di Gregorio, Simone Riccardini; music by Ratchev & Carratello; director of photography (Augustuscolor), Gian Enrico Bianchi; production designer, Susanna Cascella; costume designer, Silvia Polidori; film editor, Marco Spoletini. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Go Go Tales

(Italy, 2007, 104 minutes)

A struggling, gambling-addicted night-club impresario spends a fateful night dodging unpaid strippers, a screeching landlady and a lack of customers. Episodic bitter-sweet comedy of night life, mostly improvised by the game all-star cast, that hides a true appreciation of losers and showmen under an unimpressive and uninspired series of sketches that stretch well beyond their breaking point.

Massimo Gatti presents a Bellatrix Media production, in association with Angelo Arena and Paolo Isabella for De Nigris Productions. Starring Willem Dafoe, Bob Hoskins, Matthew Modine, Asia Argento, Riccardo Scamarcio, Sylvia Miles, Roy Dotrice, Stefania Rocca, Pras Michel, Joe Cortese, Burt Young, Franky Lee; introducing Bianca Balti, Shanyn Leigh; with Lou Doillon. Directed and written by Abel Ferrara; produced by Massimo Gatti; music by Francis Kuipers; director of photography (Cinecittà), Fabio Cianchetti; production designer, Frank de Curtis; costume designers, Gemma Mascagni, Frank de Curtis; film editor, Fabio Nunziata.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Strangers

(USA, 2007, 89 minutes)

A couple spending the night in an isolated rural house find themselves menaced by mysterious strangers hovering outside. Stylish, economical slasher with a masterful sense of atmosphere.

Rogue Pictures and Intrepid Pictures present a Vertigo Entertainment/Mandate Pictures production. Starring Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, Glenn Howerton. Directed and written by Bryan Bertino; produced by Doug Davison, Roy Lee, Nathan Kahane; music by Tomandandy; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Peter Sova; production designer, John D. Kretschmer; costume designer, Susan Kaufmann; film editor, Kevin Greutert. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Soul Men

(USA, 2008, 98 minutes)

Two star soul singers of the sixties who have since retired from the music business and haven't spoken to each other in years agree to reunite and drive to New York to perform at a colleague's funeral. Dull comedy that wastes its two star performances on a by-the-numbers script and tone-deaf handling.

Dimension Films presents a Friendly Films production. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac; Sharon Leal, Sean Hayes, Affion Crockett, Adam Herschman, Jennifer Coolidge; special appearance by John Legend. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee; produced by David T. Friendly, Steven Greener, Charles Castaldi; written by Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone; music by Stanley Clarke; director of photography (Technicolor, widescreen), Matthew F. Leonetti; production designer, Richard Hoover; costume designer, Danielle Hollowell; film editors, Paul Millspaugh, Bill Henry.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Inkheart

(USA/Germany, 2007, 106 minutes)

A young girl discovers that her traveling bookbinder father is in fact a “silvertongue”, someone who can bring a book to life simply by reading it aloud, and that all their traveling has been in search of a specific book that will bring back the absent mother. Pleasant family fantasy from a best-selling novel, with excellent production values.

A New Line Cinema presentation/production. Starring Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent; Andy Serkis, Sienna Guillory, Eliza Hope Bennett, Rafi Gavron. Directed by Iain Softley; produced by Iain Softley, Diana Pokorny, Cornelia Funke; screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire, based on the novel by Cornelia Funke, Inkheart; music by Javier Navarrete; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Roger Pratt; production designer, John Beard; costume designer, Verity Hawkes; film editor, Martin Walsh; visual effects supervisor, Angus Bickerton. 

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Appaloosa

(USA, 2008, 114 minutes)

Two gunmen are hired as marshals of the small town of Appaloosa, terrorized by a brutal cattle rancher.  Earnest, ponderous, excellently acted western that shows a genuine love for the genre but surprisingly lacks the sense of adventure.

New Line Cinema presents, in association with Axon Films, a Groundswell production. Starring Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons; Timothy Spall, Lance Henriksen, Tom Bower, James Gammon, Ariadna Gil. Directed by Ed Harris; produced by Ed Harris, Robert Knott, Ginger Sledge; screenplay by Robert Knott and Ed Harris, based on the novel by Robert B. Parker, Appaloosa; music by Jeff Beal; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Dean Semler; production designer, Waldemar Kalinowski; costume designer, David Robinson; film editor, Kathryn Himoff.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens

(USA, 2009, 94 minutes)

A suburban girl is hit by a meteorite on her wedding day and turns into a powerful giant; taken by the government to a secret facility where monsters are secluded, she finds herself being called on to battle an alien invasion. The first animated feature designed from scratch to take advantage of modern digital 3-D technology, this is a disappointing comedy paying tribute to classic 1950s monster and sci-fi movies; the premise is inspired and the animation technically impeccable, but the sitcom-level jokes are so flat as to be unfunny and the story is strictly by the numbers.

A Dreamworks Animation presentation/production, distributed by Paramount Pictures. With the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd; and Stephen Colbert. Directed by Conrad Vernon, Rob Letterman; produced by Lisa Stewart; screenplay by Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, based on a story by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon; music by Henry Jackman; production designer, David James; film editors, Joyce Arrostia, Eric Dapkewicz; visual effects supervisor, Ken Bielenberg. 

Thursday, April 02, 2009

La Mujer sin Cabeza

The Headless Woman

(Argentina/Spain/France/Italy, 2008, 89 minutes)

A smalltown dentist hits her head in a car accident when she runs over something, and, not quite herself for the next few days, starts fretting she may have killed someone. Oblique but craftily, economically handled drama that leaves the viewer guessing.

A Focus Features International release of an Aquafilms/El Deseo/Slot Machine/Teodora Film/R&G Produzioni/INCAA/ICAA/ARTE France Cinéma/Fonds Sud Cinéma production. Starring Maria Onetto; Claudia Cantero, Inés Efron, César Bordón, Daniel Genoud, Guillermo Arengo; and Maria Vaner. Directed and written by Lucrecia Martel; produced by Pedro Almodóvar, Agustín Almodóvar, Esther García, Verónica Cura, Enrique Piñeyro, Lucrecia Martel, Marianne Slot, Vieri Razzini, Cesare Petrillo, Tilde Corsi; music by Roberta Ainstein; director of photography (Cinecolor, widescreen), Bárbara Álvarez; art director, Maria Eugenia Sueiro; costume designer, Julio Suárez; film editor, Miguel Sverdfinger.