Friday, August 28, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

(USA/Germany, 2009, 153 minutes)

During WWII, a squad of Nazi-hunting American outlaw soldiers are sent on a mission to eliminate the German high command who are attending a propaganda film premiere in Paris, not knowing the cinema owner has plans of her own. Outrageously freewheeling, wildly inventive and hugely enjoyable war fantasy that, in keeping with its author's skewed cinephilia, filters the entire history of exploitation, B-series and Eurotrash actioners through the lens of European auteur theory, love of cinema and recycled pop culture. Also, probably the only war movie in history without a single war scene; but it still could have used a trim.

Universal Pictures and The Weinstein Company present an A Band Apart/Zehnte Babelsberg Film production. Starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger; and Mélanie Laurent; guest starring August Diehl, Julie Dreyfus, Sylvester Groth, Jacky Ido, Denis Menochet, Mike Myers, Rod Taylor, Martin Wuttke. Directed and written by Quentin Tarantino; produced by Lawrence Bender; director of photography (DeLuxe/Technicolor, Panavision), Robert Richardson; production designer, David Wasco; costume designer, Anna B. Sheppard; film editor, Sally Menke; visual effects supervisor, John Dykstra; special make-up effects designed and produced by Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gake no ue no Ponyo

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
Ponyo (US title)

(Japan, 2008, 99 minutes)

The daughter of a wizard and a sea goddess is rescued by a young boy; she decides to become human and join him in dry land, but in doing so unleashes the magical powers of the sea. Whimsical animated fairy tale that is aimed at younger audiences than usual for this director, but is so dazzlingly animated and cheerfully goofy that even older audiences will be charmed.

A Toho Company release of a Studio Ghibli production, presented by Studio Ghibli, Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Hakuhodo DYMP, Walt Disney Home Entertainment, Mitsubishi Shoji, Toho Company. With the voices of Tomoko Yamaguchi, Kazushige Nagashima, Yuki Amami, Joji Tokoro, Yuria Nara, Hiroki Doi. Directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki; produced by Toshio Suzuki; music by Joe Hisaishi; animation supervisor, Katsuya Kondo; film editor, Takeshi Seyama.

Monday, August 24, 2009

4 Copas

(Portugal, 2008, 104 minutes)
A young woman decides to seduce her stepmother's lover to send her back to the arms of the father, but didn't count on falling in love with him. Intriguing romantic drama whose unusual plotline and excellent performances are undermined by an ending that is both too neat and too pedestrian for the sensitive observations that have come before. The two female leads are outstanding.
A Rosa Filmes presentation/production, with the support of ICA; co-financed by RTP. Starring Rita Martins, Margarida Marinho, Filipe Duarte, João Lagarto. Directed by Manuel Mozos; produced by Maria João Sigalho; written by Cláudia Sampaio, Octávio Rosado, Manuel Mozos; music by Mariana Ricardo; director of photography (Tobis), José António Loureiro; production designer, Fernanda Morais; costume designer, Patrícia Dória; film editors, Pedro Marques, Manuel Mozos.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blood: The Last Vampire

(Hong Kong/France/China, 2009, 88 minutes)

In 1970 Tokyo, an immortal vampire slayer penetrates a US Air Force base in search of the demons she has been hunting for centuries. Disjointed comic-book martial-arts/horror hybrid that adapts and extends a cult animated movie so clumsily as to render it totally incomprehensible.

A Focus Features International release. An East Wing Holdings Corporation/SAJ presentation/production, in association with Beijing Happy Pictures Cultural Communications. Starring Gianna, Allison Miller, Liam Cunningham, J. J. Feild, Koyuki, Yasuaki Kurata. Directed by Chris Nahon; produced by Bill Kong, Abel Nahmias; screenplay by Chris Chow, based on the animated film Blood: The Last Vampire, written by Kenji Kamiyama and directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo; music by Clint Mansell; director of photography (Eclair, widescreen), Poon Hang Sang; action director, Cory Yuen; production designer, Nathan Amundson; costume designers, Constanza Balduzzi, Shandy Lui Fung Shan; film editor, Marco Cave.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Synecdoche, New York

(USA, 2008, 122 minutes)

A neurotic, hypochondriac theatre director finds his life quickly unraveling as he takes on a megalomaniac endeavor to create a play that will run in real time in a vast warehouse. Surreal, morose fantasy on life, death and creative fulfillment that is so dense and metaphoric as to be literally mind-blowing; not an easy sell, but certainly food for thought.

A Sony Pictures Classics release. Sidney Kimmel Entertainment presents a Likely Story/Projective Testing Service/Russia, Inc. production. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan. Directed and written by Charlie Kaufman; produced by Anthony Bregman, Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Sidney Kimmel; music by Jon Brion; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Fred Elmes; production designer, Mark Friedberg; costume designer, Melissa Toth; film editor, Robert Frazen; visual effects supervisor, Mark Russell.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Cara que Mereces

The Face You Deserve

(Portugal, 2004, 107 minutes)

A sullen primary school teacher falls ill with the measles on his 30th birthday and dreams seven alter egos are taking care of him in a country house. Freeform, overlong comedy-drama of arrested development that falls outside all standard definitions of genre or narrative; technically quite accomplished and full of clever movie-buff winks, it will be as infuriating for most as intriguing for some.

An O Som e a Fúria presentation/production; supported by ICAM; co-financed by RTP. Starring José Airosa, Gracinda Nave, Pedro Caldas, Rui Catalão, Carloto Cotta, António Pedro Figueiredo, Ricardo Gross, Manuel Mozos, João Nicolau. Directed by Miguel Gomes; produced by Sandro Aguilar, João Figueiras; written by Miguel Gomes, Manuel Mozos, Telmo Churro; music by Mariana Ricardo; director of photography (Tobis), Rui Poças; production designer, Luísa Perdigoto; costume designer, Sílvia Grabowski; film editors, Sandro Aguilar, Miguel Gomes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Up

(USA, 2009, 98 minutes)

About to be evicted, a grouchy widower attaches a truckload of balloons to his house and flies it towards the mythical Latin American waterfalls that he never got to visit with his wife. Marvelous animated fantasy taking after thirties Hollywood fare, with a strong debt to period serials and cartoons, though sometimes the story creaks under the weight of disparate influences not entirely assimilated.

Walt Disney Pictures presents a Pixar Animation Studios film. With the voices of Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft, John Ratzenberger, David Kaye, Ellie Docter, Jeremy Leary, Mickie McGowan, Danny Mann, Donald Fullilove, Jess Harnell, Josh Cooley, Pete Docter. Directed by Pete Docter; co-directed by Bob Peterson; produced by Jonas Rivera; screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, based on a story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy; music by Michael Giacchino; directors of photography (Deluxe/Technicolor), Patrick Lin, Jean-Claude Kalache; production designer, Ricky Nierva; film editor, Kevin Nolting.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

(USA, 2009, 118 minutes)

Two Special Operations soldiers are co-opted into the secret G. I. Joe organisation in order to retrieve a revolutionary new warhead that has been stolen by a mysterious enemy. Agreeably ludicrous gung-ho comic-book actioner from a long-running line of toys; not unpleasant as a time-passer if you take it at face value, which is the only way it can be taken.

Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment present, in association with Hasbro, a Di Bonaventura Pictures production. Starring Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Byung-Hun Lee, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Saïd Taghmaoui, Channing Tatum, Arnold Vosloo, Marlon Wayans; and Dennis Quaid. Directed by Stephen Sommers; produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Brian Goldner, Bob Ducsay; screenplay by Stuart Beattie, David Elliot and Paul Lovett, based on a story by Michael B. Gordon, Stuart Beattie and Stephen Sommers; music by Alan Silvestri; director of photography (DeLuxe, Panavision), Mitchell Amundsen; production designer, Ed Verreaux; costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick; film editors, Bob Ducsay, Jim May; visual effects supervisor, Boyd Shermis.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Public Enemies

(USA/Japan, 2009, 139 minutes)

The story of 1930s gangster John Dillinger and his relentless chase by FBI agent Melvin Purvis. Intelligent, layered gangster epic that brings a resolutely contemporary point of view to its extremely realistic period depiction.

Universal Pictures presents, in association with Relativity Media, a Forward Pass/Misher Films production, in association with Tribeca Productions and Appian Way; in association with Dentsu. Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard; Jason Clarke, Rory Cochrane, Billy Crudup, Stephen Dorff, Stephen Graham, Stephen Lang, John Ortiz, Giovanni Ribisi, David Wenham. Directed by Michael Mann; produced by Kevin Misher, Michael Mann; screenplay by Ronan Bennett, Michael Mann and Ann Biderman, based on the book by Bryan Burrough, Public Enemies; music by Elliot Goldenthal; director of photography (colour, widescreen), Dante Spinotti; production designer, Nathan Crowley; costume designer, Colleen Atwood; film editors, Paul Rubell, Jeffrey Ford.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Two Lovers

(USA/France, 2008, 109 minutes)

A suicidal Brighton Beach photographer falls in love with his new upstairs neighbor, a glamorous but confused girl in a relationship with a married man, while his family is trying to hook him up with the nice daughter of a business associate. Muted, old-fashioned romantic melodrama that seems a throwback to the 1970s.

Magnolia Pictures, 2929 Productions and Wild Bunch present a Tempesta Films production. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow; Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini, Elias Koteas, Moni Moshonov. Directed by James Gray; produced by Donna Gigliotti, James Gray, Anthony Katagas; written by James Gray, Richard Menello; music adapted and arranged by Christopher Spelman; director of photography (Technicolor, widescreen), Joaquín Baca-Asay; production designer, Happy Massee; costume designer, Michael Clancy; film editor, John Axelrad.