Friday, November 30, 2007

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Nothing in this film justifies its length except for the brilliant cinematography by Roger Deakins. The film is a misfire on the script and structure level that even actors such as Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck can save it. A film with a familiar subject matter and descriptive title dictates a sharper script with a pace that's as quick as the famed title character. Besides the beautiful scenes, there's little to root for. Many of the actors talents are wasted. Unlike the superior "The Proposition" this film won't revive the Western genre which is too bad. It's one the films you wish to root for but feel bad when it fails. YRCinema's coverage of recent releases.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Mighty Heart

The ever versatile Michael Winterbottom returns to Pakistan for a third time (In This World, The Road to Guantanamo) to tell the devastating story of Marianne Pearl in the aftermath of her husband's disappearance and killing.
If anybody could make this film it's Winterbottom and Angelina Jolie. The film is as authentic and honest as possible. Few people dare to go where Winterbottom has gone now for a third time. He filmed in Pakistan and India which gives the film the necessary authentic feel. It's Jolie's best performance since her award winning role in "Girl, Interrupted" and she nails it. There's not one wrong beat in her performance. Winterbottom continues to deliver high caliber and exciting films.
YRCinema's coverage of current releases.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


A dazzling adaptation of the bestseller by director Joe Wright, with star making performances by James McAvoy and Keira Knightley that will put them along other great leading actors of the silver screen. The tale of a how a lie can destroy lives and the nature of art to change real life stories to make it bearable takes this lavish film above the rest of the genre. The best romantic film since the English Patient which this film reminds of whose director has a small cameo. As it should be everything first rate in this production which will be a major contender for the Oscars because it's tailor made. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson delivers a masterpiece in his latest film that sets him far ahead among his contemporaries. Daniel Day-Lewis gives another fantastic performance that burns the screen. The film is just about as good as it gets from every aspect from story, performances, cinematography, score, editing, production design to writing and directing. Its themes are timeless and relevant today as well as around the world . Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead provides one of the most greatest scores in recent memory that takes the film to new heights. There will be recognition and appreciation. Definitely one of the years best films. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.

I'm Not There

How to make a film about an elusive artist who defied convention and refused to be stereotyped in career that spans more than four decades? Todd Haynes achieves that by painting an abstract portrait that will please the fans but confuse others who don't know anything about him. This hypnotic and beautiful film boasts a superb cast with an amazing performance by Cate Blanchett who gets us the closest to the artist. The soundtrack serves as the narrative in a film that lacks one because it wants to keep the mystery alive rather than to make up any assumptions. Therefore it's more a music video tribute to a legendary life that avoids the cliché of other biopics. Bob Dylan's indeed not there. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Brian de Palma's new brave film will be a tough sell to mainstream America. It's riveting as it's harrowing. It will be hard to watch for many, specially those Americans who have been living in a bubble. However it shows only a fraction of what's known and been posted on the Internet. The film fictionalizes and focuses on the incidents around the rape and killing of an Iraqi girl and her family in Samraa. (The actual names and places have been changed). WAR IS HELL and De Palma shows us a glimpse of that hell where the good Americans suffer as much as the bad ones. Those who think that this films will harm the American image need not to worry because the damage is already done. It will at least show that not all Americans supported this war and the guilt is on those who voted for this government and supported the war. De Palma whose excellent "Casualties of War" exposed war crimes in Vietnam showcases another one in Iraq that seems so real using the appropriate techniques. The actors do an excellent job to show the insanity of war. The film is ahead of its time and maybe too soon for most. It's a powerful tale that needed to be told and it's not anti American but pro humanity because the dignity of a human being is untouchable and you see it being violated on a daily basis. The war in Iraq is not over yet but it will haunt us for many years to come. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.


Latin superstar Gael Garcia Bernal makes his debut as a directer in this contemporary tale that shows the big divide between the rich and the poor in Mexico. Bernal plays a rich snob who has invited friends over the weekend at his parents countryside mansion at the same time as his sister. He plays a character similar to the one he played in Y Tu Mama Tambien. The film is more an exploration into directing that shows promise for the accomplished actor. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

The Counterfeiters

This handsomely crafted film exposes another side of the Nazi Germany that hasn't been told before. The film will please those who don't feel a fatigue of the era yet. No other period has been covered on film as much as the World War II which makes average viewer an expert on the subject, at least on the cinematic side. Besides this new story of how Nazi Germany used artists and counterfeiters to make foreign currency, there's nothing new that you haven't seen in other films of the period such as Schindler's List, The Pianist, Life is Beautiful and many others.
YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Prince of the Himalayas

This sumptuous and stunning film is testimony to the universality of Shakespeare's stories and why he's a major force. As this film proves, you can set any of his stories in any time or culture and it would make perfect sense, in this case Hamlet set in ancient Tibet. However the director Sherwood Hu doesn't just adapts Hamlet but makes the appropriate changes to make it his own that brings freshness and vitality to a familiar story that makes the prince of Himalayas more real than the prince of Denmark. Everything is first rate in this production, particularly the cinematography. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


This astounding film debut by renowned photographer Anton Corbijn who made some iconic images for Depeche Mode and U2 about Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis seems a perfect fit since he met the band briefly and one of his images of the singer is one of my favorite photos of all time. It's full of emotion, heart break and depression that makes you feel for him.
The music of Joy Division first captured my attention when I was fourteen years old in Germany in 1983 when I was still dealing with isolation in a strange country. Their songs still resonates with the youths worldwide.
Corbijn perfectly captures the atmosphere of the era with a keen eye for detail. The story, the music and the performances are extraordinary, specially Sam Riley whose performance is of the year's best. The whole film depends on his performance with the help of the fantastic Samantha Morton and gorgeous Alexandra Maria Lara (Downfall, Youth Without Youth). Love will tear us apart. Definitely of the year's best films. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Used Parts

Aarón Fernández makes him feature film debut in this tale of hope and betrayal set in Mexico City. It's also the first film for lead actor Eduardo Granados whose pivotal portrayal is one of the strongest in recent memory. This contemporary film feels genuine with an exciting vision and sound and gives us a different side of the immigration problem that has we have only seen from the US perspective. Ivan, a teenager with a dream to move to the US with his uncle, takes up stealing auto parts in order to collect the money for cross over. The film also paints an accurate portrait of teenage life that we don't see so often on the screen. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Silent Light

Carlos Reygadas third feature (Japon and Battle in Heaven) is a metaphysical take on the nature of sin that features also one of the best studies of light ever captured on screen. It starts with a sunrise and ends with a sunset and in between light in various times and seasons. The story is set among a Mennonite community where a married man falls in love with another woman that tests his faith and his family. Basically the sin comes to light like anything else that light exposes from the dark. The film will test the patience of many but reward those who want more than just a traditional film. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


A poignant and touching film that unfolds like a novel by Israeli novelist Etgar Keret and his wife Shira Geffen about a group of random people in Tel Aviv. A fresh film that shows us a different side of Israel far from the political conflicts that seemed to define it. Like anywhere else people fall in and out of love. Some succeed in life while others fail. It's about sacrifices and consequences. It seems a like a strong year for the cinema in Israel along with The Band's Visit and Beaufort. Unlike the other two this film avoids the war and conflict like the Lebanese film "Caramel." YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

The Art of Negative Thinking

This outrageously funny comedy from Norway is served best, black and with drugs. A triumph for writer and director Bård Breien on his feature debut. It's an original and fresh comedy about a group of happy handicapped people who travel to convert another potential member, the depressed Geirr who has drowned himself in drugs, alcohol and the music of Johnny Cash. However the group and Geirr's wife underestimate him when demonstrates his art of negative thinking that unravels each of them and changes their lives. This film shows that being psychologically handicapped is far worse than physically. Intelligent comedies are a rare breed and this is as good as it gets. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Blind Mountain

A heartbreaking film about the barbaric practice of human trading in China. A young and beautiful college graduate is sold to a peasant family in a remote village in northern China. What's horrifying that it's not a single case but a common practice where everybody in the village knows and accepts it. It makes you wonder what other horrors are going on. A courageous and important film that exposes another tale about a rising issue in the world of human trafficking. The film is gorgeously shot in an idyllic region of China with a terrific cast and crew. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.


An astonishing film that proves that animated films can take narrative to new heights that live action never could. It's based on the graphic novel of the same name by Marjane Satrapi about her growing up in Iran and Europe. The film will resonate with everybody who grew up in a foreign culture. The film offers a fresh voice and vision that we haven't seen yet on screen. It also provides a crash course of Iranian history for those who want to know what went on in Iran in the last 50 years or so. A moving film full of humor and heart but also controversial due to its subject matter. However it's an extremely personal story of an Iranian girl/woman. The animation and performances are flawless. It's one of the years best films. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

1000 Journals

An intriguing documentary about an experimental art project that connected people all over the world. The film traces the artist named "Someguy" as he sends 1000 empty Journals into the world to be filled and returned to him. The idea catches a lot of people's attention over a website and inspires people. The film shows how people seek a physical and spiritual connection in a world dominated by technology. A scrapbook/journal becomes an object of desire and imagination. The idea and film is an experiment and we are part of it. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

The Band's Visit

A very awkward but well intentioned comedy from Israel. By awkward I mean the pacing which is extremely slow. The film takes way too long to warm up and never takes off but manages to end on high note. The story is implausible and doesn't ring true somehow. The fetching Ronit Elkabetz and charming Saleh Bakri are worth watching in this film about peace and understanding. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Secret Sunshine

Do-yeon Jeon gives a shattering performance as a widowed mother who moves to her late husband's hometown for a new beginning to raise her son. However another tragedy sends her on downward spiral that's excruciatingly painful to watch as we witness her trying to find a meaning in the face of absolute loss. It's a very visceral kind of a film the way "Oldboy" was. The film successfully manages to take you on a emotional journey if you are up to it. Kang-ho Song (The Host) provides a much needed comic relief in the this drama from Korea. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Strange Culture

A terrifying and important documentary by Lynn Hershman Leeson who made the film to bring attention to her friend's, Steve Kurtz's nightmare. The surreal nightmare of artist and professor Kurtz began when his wife died of heart failure in her sleep. The police and FBI deemed Kurtz's art suspect and him as a bio terrorist as he was preparing an art show about genetically modified foods. Despite the harmless stuff they found at his place, he and his collaborator are charged with a technicality such as mail fraud which raises serious questions about the government's intention to take away our civil liberties and shut down artists and activists. Part of the film is dramatized with actors like Tilda Swinton and Peter Coyote. For more info, please visit YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Margot at the Wedding

A film as pretentious as its title. It offers nothing new about dysfunctional families. Everything you have seen and heard in plenty of films in the last decade. It allows Hollywood stars to do some "acting" in a "independent" kind of a film that takes itself too serious. Without the stars the film wouldn't get the attention it receives. The film feels out of place in a time when there's so many important issues are at stake in the world. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.


A wonderful film about a group of Lebanese women as they share sorrows and laughter in and around a beauty salon in Beirut. The writing and directing debut of Nadine Labaki who also stars in the film with a great cast. The film is a refreshing voice from a troubled region and puts a human face besides war and conflict. As we witness the love, heartbreak and loneliness of the these women one realizes there's more to the Middle East than we are exposed to. I hope we get to see more films like it.

Sigur Rós - Heima

A great portrayal of a great band and Iceland, their country makes this documentary one of the best of its kind. It truly comes together in the hand of Canadian director Dean DeBlois. The film merges on several levels as music, film and art comes together to give us a profound experience which raises a new standard and blurs the lines for documentaries and videos in the music industry. The film is a must see for fans of the group and Iceland. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Operation Filmmaker

This intriguing documentary about good intentions gone wrong is about Muthana Mohamed, a young Iraqi film student, who has been given a golden opportunity to escape the war and be part of actor/director Liev Schreiber's film (Everything is Illuminated) in Prague. The film raises questions about the film maker's responsibility to "real" people in general in this age of reality shows when people sign away their rights to be part of the Hollywood dream.
After his stint as a PA, Muthana is expected to return to Iraq but as the situation in Iraq worsens, he decides to stay without any money to everybody's obvious disappointment of an Hollywood ending . The cast and crew return to Hollywood without any consideration or responsibility for the young man except for Nina Davenport who was there to document his journey. Davenport, a filmmaker with a dilemma, tries her best to give an honest portrayal but it gets fuzzier the longer she stays with him waiting for an ending to her film like Capote did for "In Cold Blood".
After all the films, Muthana still has to deal with his life while he's staying in the UK as there's no end in sight for his country's plight. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Every year there's a film or two that elevates you into one direction or another. It takes you to a higher ground and inspires you. It demonstrates the power of art; what art is supposed to do and its relevance to our lives. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is one of those films. Based on a novel Jean-Dominique Bauby who blinked the book to an interpreter after a stroke left him paralyzed with only one blinking eye. If it happened to anybody, people would scream euthanasia but Bauby used his imagination to inspire us. Julian Schnabel who gets better with each film (Basquiat, Before Night Falls) along with Ronald Harwood (The Pianist) and a terrific cast and crew delights us with a film full of splendor and imagination about the human spirit that will move you beyond words. It's an award contender, specially for Max von Sydow who's sure bet for an Oscar. This film proves what cinema and art is all about. Definitely one of the best films of the year if not the best. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2007.

Eastern Promises

David Cronenberg digs deeper into the history of violence in this menacing thriller about the Russian Mafia in London. The first rate cast including Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts elevate the film to a higher ground. It's an intimate portrait that's concise and fresh in a genre that has been exploited more than others. The script is by Stephen Knight who brought us the fantastic "Dirty Pretty Things". His tales takes place in the dark side of the society that most people would prefer to ignore. YRCinema's current releases.