Friday, July 31, 2009

De Profundis

(Spain/Portugal, 2006, 79 minutes)

An illustrator lost at sea is led by a mermaid he has drawn in his paintings into the mysterious underwater realm he has long dreamed of. Unusual animated fantasia where the story is told entirely through the painterly visuals (roughly animated from paintings and drawings) and with a continuous music score replacing all dialogue, but in need of a stronger plot to sustain interest through its length. An intriguing but not entirely successful oddity.

An Alta Classics release of a Continental Producciones/Desembarco Produccións/Zeppelin Filmes presentation/production, with the participation of TVE; associate producers, Televisión de Galicia, Cabreiroa, Consorcio para la Promoción de Música; with the support of ICAA, Xunta de Galicia, Eurimages. Directed, written, drawn, designed and edited by Miguelanxo Prado; produced by Pancho Casal; music by Nani García; head animator, Victor Galdón.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Limits of Control

(USA, 2008, 112 minutes)

A mysterious man travels across Spain meeting various strangers who give him indications to perform an assignment. Essentially a hitman thriller decelerated to the point where nothing ever happens, this mystifyingly opaque, breathtakingly handled moodpiece erring on the side of experimentalism is too offbeat for mainstream viewers but should be rapturously received by those seeking something else.

Focus Features presents, in association with Entertainment Farm, a Pointblank Films production. Starring Isaach de Bankolé, Alex Descas, Jean-François Stévenin, Luis Tosar, Paz de la Huerta, Tilda Swinton, Youki Kudoh, John Hurt, Gael García Bernal, Hiam Abbass, Bill Murray. Directed and written by Jim Jarmusch; produced by Stacey Smith, Gretchen McGowan; music by Boris; director of photography (DeLuxe), Christopher Doyle; production designer, Eugenio Caballero; costume designer, Bina Daigeler; film editor, Jay Rabinowitz.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Boat that Rocked

(USA/Great Britain/France/Germany, 2009, 133 minutes)

In 1966 England, pirate radios stationed in boats in the North Sea give the audience the pop music that the BBC doesn't play, and none more so than the mismatched crew of Radio Rock. Rambling, bloated ensemble comedy of the swinging sixties full of characters in search of a proper script.

Universal Pictures presents, in association with Studiocanal, a Working Title Films production, in association with Filmproduktion Prometheus Filmgesellschaft. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost; and Kenneth Branagh; Tom Sturridge, Chris O'Dowd, Ralph Brown, Jack Davenport, January Jones. Directed and written by Richard Curtis; produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Hilary Bevan Jones; director of photography (Deluxe, widescreen), Danny Cohen; production designer, Mark Tildesley; costume designer, Joanna Johnston; film editor, Emma E. Hickox; visual effects supervisor, Richard Briscoe.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Transsiberian

(Spain/Germany/Great Britain/Lithuania, 2007, 111 minutes)

An American couple traveling from Beijing to Moscow on the Transsiberian train becomes unwittingly involved with drug dealers and crooked cops. Entertainingly old-fashioned thriller with a strong female lead.

Filmax Entertainment presents a Julio Fernández production for Castelao Productions, in co-production with Universum Film, Telecinco Cinema, Future Films and Lithuanian Film Studios, in association with Scout Productions; with the participation of Canal Plus España; with the collaboration of ICAA, Institut Català de les Industries Culturels; with financing support from Institut Català de Finances, Instituto de Crédito Oficial. Starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Kate Mara, Eduardo Noriega; with Thomas Kretschmann; and Ben Kingsley. Directed by Brad Anderson; produced by Julio Fernández; written by Brad Anderson and Will Conroy; music by Alfonso de Vilallonga; director of photography (Image Film, widescreen), Xavi Giménez; production designer, Alain Bainée; costume designer, Thomas Olah; film editor, Jaume Martí.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Five Minutes of Heaven

(Great Britain/Ireland, 2009, 89 minutes)

A television programme attemps a reconciliation between two tormented men who've been on different sides of the Northern Irish Troubles: the younger brother of a murdered Protestant and the Catholic volunteer who killed him. Taut, brisk little two-hander with a lot on its plate, smartly handled but really made by its strong, live-wire leads.

A Pathé release. Pathé, BBC Films and Northern Ireland Screen present, with the participation of Bord Scannán hEiréann/The Irish Film Board, a Big Fish Films/Ruby Films production, in association with Element Pictures. Starring Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt, Anamaria Marinca. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel; produced by Eoin O'Callaghan, Stephen Wright; written by Guy Hibbert; music by David Holmes with Leo Abrahams; director of photography (DeLuxe), Ruairi O'Brien; production designer, Mark Lowry; costume designer, Maggie Donnelly; film editor, Hans Funck.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Les Plages d'Agnès

The Beaches of Agnès

(France, 2008, 111 minutes)

Upon reaching 80, French photographer and filmmaker Agnès Varda looks back on her life and work. Enchanting, whimsical memoir of a well-lived life, done with wit, flair and originality, but nevertheless a bit too specialized for general consumption.

A Les Films du Losange release. Ciné-Tamaris presents a Ciné-Tamaris/ARTE France Cinéma co-production, with the participation of Canal Plus, with the support of Région Île-de-France, Région Languedoc-Roussillon and Centre National de la Cinématographie. Directed and written by Agnès Varda; music by Joanna Bruzdowicz, Stéphane Vilar, Paule Cornet; camera (colour), Hélène Louvart, Alain Sakot, Julia Fabry, Jean-Baptiste Morin, Agnès Varda; production designer, Franckie Diago; costume designer, Rose-Marie Melka; film editor, Agnès Varda with Jean-Baptiste Morin and Baptiste Filloux; sound, Pierre Mertens, Olivier Schwob, Frédéric Maury.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Doomsday

(USA/Great Britain/Germany/South Africa, 2008, 109 minutes)

Thirty years after a lethal virus wiped out most of Scotland, a crack military team is sent covertly into Glasgow to try and find if there is a cure. Deliberately derivative action comic with horror and sci-fi elements that quotes openly from earlier and better movies but manages to meld them confidently into a fun, fast-paced, trashy whole.

Rogue Pictures and Intrepid Pictures present a Crystal Sky Pictures production, in association with Scion Films; produced in association with Internationale Filmproduktion Blackbird Dritte; produced with the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry South Africa; with the assistance of the Glasgow Film Office; supported by Scottish Screen. Starring Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Adrian Lester, Alexander Siddig; with David O'Hara; and Malcolm McDowell. Directed and written by Neil Marshall; produced by Steven Paul, Benedict Carver; music by Tyler Bates; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Sam McCurdy; production designer, Simon Bowles; costume designer, John Norster; film editor, Andrew MacRitchie; visual effects supervisor, Hal Couzens.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

(USA, 2009, 149 minutes)

Harry Potter's sixth year at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft starts under the dark clouds of the return of the fearful Lord Voldemort and his followers, and the headmaster decides to let Harry in on his foe's past deeds. Sixth in the film series based on the popular novels is the lesser in the series so far, a dazzlingly made but crashingly dull fantasy that doesn't care much about its characters and plot and will seem impenetrable to anyone who hasn't seen the previous five.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Heyday Films production. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis. Directed by David Yates; produced by David Heyman, David Barron; screenplay by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; music by Nicholas Hooper; director of photography (Technicolor, Panavision), Bruno Delbonnel; production designer, Stuart Craig; costume designer, Jany Temime; film editor, Mark Day; visual effects supervisor, Tim Burke; special make-up and creatures designer, Nick Dudman.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Young Victoria

(USA, 2008, 105 minutes)

In the early 19th century, Victoria, heir to the throne of England, takes a liking to her German cousin Albert, just as her uncle the King dies and she is about to be crowned. Sweeping historical romance with political overtones, impeccably performed and presented without betraying its low budget.

A Momentum Pictures release. A GK Films presentation/production. Starring Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend; Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong, Jesper Christensen, Harriet Walter. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée; produced by Graham King, Martin Scorsese, Tim Headington, Sarah Ferguson; written by Julian Fellowes; music by Ilan Eshkeri; director of photography (Technicolor, widescreen), Hagen Bogdanski; production designer, Patrice Vermette; costume designer, Sandy Powell; film editors, Jill Bilcock, Matt Garner.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Brüno

(USA, 2009, 79 minutes)

A disgraced Austrian gay fashionista tries to reinvent himself as a celebrity in the US. For all intents and purposes Borat part 2, with the star again playing “in character” through a series of loosely threaded “candid camera” situations; the emphasis here is on homophobia and sex, which makes it even more challenging and uncomfortable viewing than its predecessor, without the benefit of the surprise effect.

Sony Pictures Releasing International and Media Rights Capital present a Four by Two Films/Everyman Pictures production. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen; Gustaf Hammarsten. Directed by Larry Charles; produced by Sacha Baron Cohen, Jay Roach, Dan Mazer, Monica Levinson; screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, Jeff Schaffer, based on a story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, and on characters created by Sacha Baron Cohen; music by Erran Baron Cohen; directors of photography (colour), Anthony Hardwick, Wolfgang Held; art directors, Denise Hudson, David Saenz de Maturana; costume designer, Jason Alper; film editors, James Thomas, Scott M. Davids.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

City of Ember

(USA, 2008, 94 minutes)

Two youngsters living in a decaying underground city set up 200 years ago to save mankind from destruction find a mysterious box that may be the way out of it. Intriguing dystopian sci-fi from a popular children's book, expertly realised though more attuned to the inspired set design than to character or performance.

Walden Media presents a Playtone production. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Bill Murray, Martin Landau, Mary Kay Place, Toby Jones; and Tim Robbins. Directed by Gil Kenan; produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Steven Shareshian; screenplay by Caroline Thompson, based on the novel by Jeanne Duprau, The City of Ember; music by Andrew Lockington; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Xavier Pérez Grobet; production designer, Martin Laing; costume designer, Ruth Myers; film editors, Zach Staenberg, Adam P. Scott; visual effects supervisor, Eric Durst.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Elegy

(USA, 2007, 112 minutes)

A womanizing New York intellectual falls in love with a younger woman, but she leaves him when his fear of aging renders him incapable of committing to the relationship. Quiet, understated adult melodrama carried by sensitive handling and an outstanding lead.

A Lakeshore Entertainment presentation/production. Starring Penélope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Peter Sarsgaard, Patricia Clarkson, Deborah Harry; and Dennis Hopper. Directed by Isabel Coixet; produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Andre Lamal; screenplay by Nicholas Meyer, based on the novel by Philip Roth, The Dying Animal; director of photography (DeLuxe), Jean-Claude Larrieu; production designer, Claude Paré; costume designer, Katia Stamo; film editor, Amy Duddleston.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Mein liebster Feind

My Best Enemy

(Germany/Great Britain/Finland/USA, 1999, 95 minutes)

Film director Werner Herzog and some of his actors and technicians remember his 15-year collaboration and convoluted friendship with mercurial actor Klaus Kinski. Affectionate documentary that is essentially a highly personal and personalised remembrance rather than a standard biography.

A Werner Herzog Filmproduktion/Café Productions/Zephir Film co-production for the BBC, in association with WDR, ARTE, BR and YLE, with the participation of the Independent Film Channel; with financial support from Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Directed by Werner Herzog; produced by Lucki Stipetic; music by Popol Vuh; camera (colour), Peter Zeitlinger; sound, Eric Spitzer; editor, Joe Bini.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Incendiary

(Great Britain, 2008, 96 minutes)

An East End girl loses her husband and young son to a terrorist attack on a London football stadium. Dour, bleak but undeniably gripping melodrama from a controversial novel, carried by sensitive handling and a superb central performance; the power of the story is somewhat diluted by a series of side plots that don't really go anywhere.

Film4 presents, in association with Aramid Entertainment, an Archer Street/Sneak Preview production for Film4; produced in association with Wild Bear Films. Starring Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor, Matthew MacFadyen; Nicholas Gleaves; introducing Sid Johnston, Usman Khokhar. Directed by Sharon Maguire; produced by Andy Paterson, Anand Tucker, Adrienne Maguire; screenplay by Sharon Maguire, based on the novel by Chris Cleave, Incendiary; music by Shigeru Umebayashi, Barrington Pheloung; director of photography (Technicolor, widescreen), Ben Davis; production designer, Kave Quinn; costume designer, Stephanie Collie; film editor, Valerio Bonelli.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Cobra Verde

(West Germany/Ghana, 1987, 110 minutes)

In the 19th century, a Brazilian bandit is sent to Africa as a slave trader and ends up getting involved in the local's personal wars. Disappointing exotic melodrama that fails to engage as well as previous collaborations between director and star, mainly through its attempt at providing a more conventional narrative for their flights of fancy.

A Werner Herzog Filmproduktion production, in association with ZDF and Ghana Film Industry Corporation. Starring Klaus Kinski; with King Ampaw, José Lewgoy, Salvatore Basile, Peter Berling, Guillermo Coronel; His Royal Highness Nana Agyefi Kwame II of Nsein. Directed by Werner Herzog; produced by Lucki Stipetic; screenplay by Werner Herzog, inspired by the novel by Bruce Chatwin, The Viceroy of Ouidah; music by Popol Vuh; director of photography (colour), Viktor Ruzicka; art director, Ulrich Bergfelder; costume designer, Gisela Storch; film editor, Maximiliane Mainka.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Home

(Switzerland/France/Belgium, 2008, 96 minutes)

A working-class family living happily by an unfinished motorway finds itself unravelling swiftly as the road finally opens. Tense, claustrophobic melodrama of modern day isolation that plays like an allegorical horror movie.

A Diaphana Distribution release. A Box Productions/Archipel 35/Need Productions presentation/production, in co-production with France 3 Cinéma, SRG SSR Idée Suisse and RTBF; with the support of Eurimages; with the participation of Office Fédéral de la Culture (DFI), Centre National de la Cinématographie, Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel de la Communauté Française de Belgique et des Télédistributeurs Wallons, Canal Plus, Cinécinéma, Fonds REGIO Films, REGIO Distrib, Fonds Culturel Suissimage, Ville de Genève Departement de la Culture, Fondation Vaudoise pour le Cinéma, Pôle Image Liège, Wallimage, Promimage, Région Wallonne; in association with Espace 2, Cinémage 2, Soficinéma 3. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Gourmet, Adelaïde Leroux, Madeleine Budd, Kacey Mottet Klein. Directed by Ursula Meier; produced by Elena Tatti, Thierry Spicher, Denis Freyd, Denis Delcampe; written by Ursula Meier, Antoine Jaccoud, Raphaëlle Valbrune, Gilles Taurand, Olivier Lorelle, with the collaboration of Alice Winocour; director of photography (Schwarzfilm), Agnès Godard; production designer, Ivan Niclass; costume designer, Anne van Brée; film editor, Susana Rossberg, with the collaboration of François Gédigier, Nelly Quettier.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

(USA, 2009, 95 minutes)

As the mammoth couple expects a child, Sid the sloth decides to “adopt” three eggs that hatch to reveal baby dinosaurs... and an annoyed mother that's come to seek her lost babies. Splendid animated comedy that genially teases a lively and very funny chain of events from a not particularly inspired premise, with a number of nods to the classic Warner cartoons and a madcap one-eyed weasel that steals the film from under the cast of regulars.

A Twentieth Century-Fox release. Twentieth Century-Fox Animation presents a Blue Sky Studios production. With the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Simon Pegg, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck; and Queen Latifah. Directed by Carlos Saldanha; co-directed by Michael Thurmeier; produced by Lori Forte, John C. Donkin; screenplay by Michael Berg, Peter Ackerman, Mike Reiss and Yoni Brenner, based on a story by Jason Carter Eaton; music by John Powell; character design, Peter de Sève; art director, Michael Knapp; film editor, Harry Hitner.