Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

In this powerful, hilarious, fascinating, intriguing, shocking and eye opening documentary, writer/director Chris Bell holds up the mirror to himself, his family and America for an examination that finds many cracks and nobody gets away clean. At times horrifying and heartbreaking this film will be painful to watch but a necessary one for all Americans to see. It seems that after two hundred years of glory, the United States and its people need to re-evaluate their value and society. What's so great about this film that by taking the issue of steroids it shines a light on many other areas. This film deserves a place along "Bowling for Columbine", "Sicko", "Super Size Me", "Standard Operation Procedure" and others that examine the real US. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


11 prominent Indian directors were assigned to make 10 minute shorts about Mumbai as Paris was portrayed in "Paris, Je T'aime". The problem with this kind of films are the quality is all over the place and 11 prominent directors don't make one great film. However there are few that outshine the rest. In this film, the best shorts are Revathy's "Parcel", Anurag Kashyap's "Pramodbhai 23", Shashank Ghosh's "10 Minutes", Rahul Dholakia's "Bombay Mumbai, Same Shit" and Sudhir Mishra's "The Ball." The upside of these kind of films are that you don't get trapped in a bad film too long. The stories are universal and true for most big cities in the world where the ultra rich reside next to the ultra poor. YRCinema's coverage of Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Taare Zameen Par (Stars on Earth)

Academy Award nominated Producer (Lagaan) and Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan steps into new territory as a director and manages to deliver a stellar film that should continue his reputation beyond his regular jobs. He's one of the filmmakers that puts Bollywood on the map beyond Bollywood and continues to deliver high quality of films since Lagaan that includes Dil Chahta Hai, The Rising - The Legend of Mangal Pandey, Rang De Basanti and Fanaa.
In this film he found the perfect actor in 8 years old Darsheel Safary who gives one of the best performances by a child actor in recent memory. The poignant story of a boy with a learning disability who's punished by everybody including his parents until a teacher at a boarding school discovers the real reason behind his disability. Aamir Khan directs with an assured hand and inventive vision that goes beyond entertainment. It's a definitive sign that Bollywood is moving beyond the formula genre to higher grounds for a global audience. YRCinema's coverage of Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

Shot in Bombay

Liz Mermin's outrageously funny documentary is hugely entertaining and rich in material. She manages to give insight into Bollywood film making on the set of "Shootout at Lokhandwala", the real incident on which the film is based and the real life court drama of a Bollywood star. Mermin who immerses herself in a world she hardly knows and comes up with a utterly original piece of work that can be enjoyed anywhere in the world whether you know anything about Bollywood or not. In the behind the scenes of the film she finds that the director outshines the big stars, by investigating the real incident she discovers how the cops imitate Hollywood cop films like "Dirty Harry", and finally one of the longest running court cases in India's history against Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt who has been on trial since 1993 that included several arrests and releases that allowed him to star in 54 films.
YRCinema's coverage of Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Khoya Khoya Chand (Lost Moon)

A stunning homage to the 50's and 60's of Hindi cinema before it was called Bollywood which will seem to the Western audience like a remake of "A Star is Born". Writer/director Sudhir Mishra manages to capture the essence of the time, almost every frame reminds of a certain classic of the time. Instead of one particular star, he references almost all the stars and leaves it to the audience to figure out who was who from Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor to Waheeda Rehman and Meena Kumari. He also got the perfect cast in Soha Ali Khan and Shiney Ahuja in the leads, both of them recall stars such as Sharmila Tagore and Saira Banu to Manoj Kumar and Dharmendra. However the film is not just an empty tribute alone but also points out the drama behind the scenes and the price most of the stars paid for their fame and success. The art direction and cinematography are stunning and better than most of the films of the era. The only drawbacks are that music doesn't live up to great music of the era and its running time of over two and half hours. Never-the-less the film should interest both the fans of Bollywood films and beyond. YRCinema's coverage of Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Before the Rains

Bollywood A-list cinematographer and art house director Santosh Sivan is one of the few directors who has the double duty of lensing as well as directing his own films. He returns with another stunning film after THE TERRORIST left us craving for more of his talent.
This film based on a short Israeli film called "Yellow Asphalt: Red Roofs" is about the conflict an Indian man who's torn between his loyalty to the British and his native villagers after he witnesses his boss having an illicit affair with a married maid that threatens his existence in the volatile colonial India of 1930s. A great story with a sumptuous setting along with a superb cast including Linus Roache, Rahul Bose, Nandita Das and Jennifer Ehle makes this film a must see. Sivan brings his magic behind and in front of the camera and makes him one of the best directors in India.
YRCinema's coverage of Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Take a cult classic, add some catchy songs, cast several veteran actors along with new ones and you would should come up with something amazing but the sum is a mixed bag full of hits and misses. The original film by John Waters was outrageously funny that much of its humor gets lost in this overblown blockbuster. Nobody ever thought to see John Travolta in drag, while he does a fine job and it doesn't seem inspiring. The biggest plus is the songs that were already a hit on Broadway. It's great to see Michelle Pfeiffer back in a fun role instead of mediocre dramas or comedies. The whole civil rights movement in a candy colored film seems more phony than sincere. The whole cast is great and fun to watch specially Michelle Pfeiffer stealing scenes. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Passenger

Michelangelo Antonioni's last great film stars Jack Nicholson in his follow up to "Chinatown" along with ingénue Maria Schneider from "Last Tango in Paris" fame. In this film about stolen identities, Jack Nicholson plays David Locke, a journalist who exchanges his identity with a dead man in a remote region in Africa without knowing anything about him to escape his own past. However he has a hard time escaping not only his wife and the police but also other dubious characters who were after the dead. It's Antonioni take on thrillers with his signature trademarks including long silent takes and gorgeous cinematography. Jack Nicholson does a fine understated performance which is unlike what he has ever done since. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Son of Rambow

This hilarious British film is about growing up pains of two different boys in 1980's England. Quiet and shy Will who comes from a strict religious family becomes friend with troubled kid and inspiring filmmaker Lee Carter.
After Will watches his first film ever which is pirated copy of "First Blood", he and Carter embark to make the film of the title with hilarious results. The film is utterly funny and feel good one. The filmmakers capture the 80's with a sense of nostalgia complete with the music and fashion. The scenes involving the French exchange students are particularly funny and outrageous. Writer and director Garth Jennings manages to merge the comedy and drama aspects well without going overboard. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.


William Friedkin (The French Connection & The Exorcist) directed this conventional thriller. The only thing that sets it apart is the setting which is the gay S&M scene of 1980 New York. Al Pacino plays the ambitious rookie cop who wants to rise fast in the department, therefore agrees to go undercover as a gay hustler to catch a serial killer in the seedy S&M world. Karen Allen is cast as the love interest to remind that Pacino is not gay. The filmmakers took a risk for a subject that's too edgy for the mainstream audience and makes the film stand out. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Funny Games U.S.

Michael Haneke's controversial 1997 film of the same title gets a controversial remake by himself. It's the same film scene by scene, just transferred to the US and in English with Naomi Watts and Tim Roth in the lead roles. The original was one of the most gruesome films ever made with equally unnerving ending. It's a film you can only watch once and wish never to see again. The film takes you to a dark place and leaves you there like George Sluizer's Spoorloos (The Vanishing) or Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. Just to give you an idea, I stopped watching the remake after 15 minutes or so and spared my self the pain. It's a brilliant film that terrifies you in the politest way possible. The story is about a family's nightmare vacation. The film is not for everyone, so be cautious. If you are into horror or violent films, then this might be something for you. It's a psychological horror thriller that you will never forget. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)

This documentary shines a light beyond Brazil's soccer and carnival loving nation where corruption and class warfare is examined through several people from a frog farmer to a plastic surgeon, kidnappers, victims and various officials from lawyers to cops. It's fascinating film that will scare anybody to travel to Brazil, specially São Paulo. Brazil has the reputation of being one of the most corrupt and violent countries. So this film examines. The film is hard to watch at times and features some actual footage from a kidnapping. Director Jason Kohn manages to get candid interviews through translators instead of subtitles. It's also a beautifully shot film that should interest anybody. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Soylent Green

This dystopian Sci-Fi film still holds up despite it's dated look which never the less works for the story. Global warming, over population and lack of food are the issues at the core of the film which are still current and valid issues that faces humankind. Soylent Green may still happen and that's what makes this thriller work. I watched this film as a kid and it stayed with me. It's one of the best Sci-Fi films ever made. Charlton Heston plays the antihero along with Edward G. Robinson, Joseph Cotten and Leigh Taylor-Young in supporting roles. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, April 11, 2008

We Own the Night

Writer/director James Gray continues to explore New York's criminal elements in his third feature (Little Odessa & The Yards). This time a family of cops is torn and united through their crack down on the Russian Mafia. Even though the story is set in 1988, it could be anytime. Leading actors Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg who also serve as producers deliver fine performances but they run the risk of being typecast in roles that they have already played many times. It's a well written and crafted film. However it doesn't offer anything we haven't seen already from cop families to the Russian mob. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

El Aura

The last film by the talented Argentinian writer/director Fabián Bielinsky before his untimely death. It's the follow up to his excellent smash hit "Nine Queens" with his leading man Ricardo Darin again in the lead. He comes up with another original take on heist films. The beauty of his films are that you never know where you are at or going and that's the ultimate satisfaction that few can pull off. In this case it's an epileptic taxidermist who through an accident gets the chance of commiting the perfect heist . It's dark and quiet film that pays off. The aura is the moment of awareness seconds before an epilepsy attack. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fugitive Pieces

There are certain losses that you can't overcome. That's the theme of this film based on the novel by Anne Michaels. The Jewish experience is one of the most explored in the history cinema and theme of loss has been covered well. However this film manages to gives us a more personal perspective that hasn't been seen before or so well done. It's a rich and lyrical film with fully developed characters and wonderful performances. It's the story of a boy who violently looses his family and it takes him a lifetime to overcome with the help and love of several people around him. Writer/director Jeremy Podeswa makes the transition well from his busy schedule of directing acclaimed shows on the small screen. He manages to cover a lot in less than two hours and still manages to keep most of characters and complexities like a novel. His casting choices may seem odd but he can't go wrong with Stephen Dillane and a superb supporting cast from Rade Serbedzija and Rosamund Pike to Ed Stoppard and Robbie Kay. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


David Mamet returns to the big screen with his strongest film in years that's set in contemporary Los Angeles with a complex and original tale. It's also an homage to Samurai and fight films that also address celebrity and reality TV. There's enough material for few films here but Mamet manages to make a satisfying film that might be too convoluted for the mainstream. He also comes up with a winning cast that includes the underrated Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things) in his first leading role after a series of supporting roles. The rest of the cast is equally solid and inspiring with Rodrigo Santoro, Emily Mortimer, Alice Braga, Tim Allen along with Mamet regulars. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Le Grand Voyage (The Great Journey)

A road film like no other. Ismaël Ferroukhi's powerful film about a father and son on a spiritual journey that serves as a metaphor for the West and the East. Reda, a French born Arab is forced to drive his father on his pilgrimage from the south of France to Mecca on a 3000 miles journey. The authoritative and distant father who has lost touch with his son due to the generational and cultural gap and the son who has lost his connection with his roots clash and bond on this epic journey. Nicolas Cazalé and Mohamed Majd deliver powerful performances as the son and father. It's one of a kind film that delivers a powerful story with an equally powerful message rarely seen on screen specially in the US. A subtle and profound story without sex and violence that it's shocking not to see them in a film. It's also a great film about Islam that gives an accurate view with a rare glimpse of the pilgrimage in Mecca. Anybody that thinks that Islam preaches hate should see this film and not base their opinion on hearsay. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

This Is England

This is England in 1983 at the height Thatcherism when England was at war with Argentina over the Falklands Islands. It's the setting for Shane Meadows' terrific film about a boy, Shaun, who finds acceptance in a skinhead gang. He has lost his father in the war and is being taunted by everybody till he find a sense of belonging with the gang. Things go bad when a violent former member, Combo, returns from prison to high jack the gang. As the gang fragments, the impressionable Shaun falls under the bad influence of Combo who becomes a father figure with devastating consequences. It's the first film to show a humanistic side of the skinheads without demonizing them. Like any other group, this group of outsiders share a common interest and they all want to belong as the first act of the film beautifully shows. Meadows has keen eye for the period detail and casting that's spot on. Thomas Turgoose gives a riveting and heart breaking performance as Shaun. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Day Watch (Dnevnoy dozor)

Timur Bekmambetov's second film in a dazzling trilogy offers more thrills and special effects than anything from Hollywood since "The Matrix". It has a rich and complex story that blurs the lines between science fiction and fantasy with plenty of humor and eye popping visual effects. The first film "Night Watch" was more impressive because it was the introductory to this madcap world full of imagination and odd ball characters. The second film wraps up some of the questions from the first film. However it remains to be seen whether the third film "Twilight Watch" will deliver more of the same or something new and exciting. Timur Bekmambetov definitely knows what he's doing and is already wanted in Hollywood that needs him more with his first blockbuster film for release this summer. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

13 Tzameti

Géla Babluani's uneven film is a first rate thriller that puts a new spin on the Russian roulette game. The film seems more at home in the 50s or 60s because of its old fashioned style; however, the theme of "Get rich or Die trying" couldn't be more current. Babluani's sense for the form and style is spot on including the black and white cinematography. The only problem is some loopholes in the plot and character development but it's a genre piece that thrills never-the-less. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Lions for Lambs

This film is more a political statement than anything else. The only problem is it comes too late by few years. If it came out three or four years ago, it would have been a powerful statement by some of Hollywood's most powerful stars. However it would been risky business and nobody in Hollywood, no matter how powerful wants their pockets to be affected. Now after the fact, the film is boring above all since it offers nothing new. The political right would disregard it while the left already know about it. It's an unfortunate failure with a noble aim. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Things We Lost in the Fire

Susanne Bier fails to bring the same magic to her Hollywood debut that she did to her acclaimed Danish films (After the Wedding, Brothers & Open Hearts). The script is the major culprit here and the casting of big name actors, even though they try their best. What they try to capture is not an easy task and needed the utmost care and balance that Iñárritu and Arriaga achieved magnificently in "21 GRAMS" which also featured Benicio del Toro who tries his best here. Another flaw is the miscasting of David Duchovny in a crucial role. While the intentions are well meant, the films rings false on many occasions including the performances becoming acting showcases. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Visitor

There's no sophomore slouch for actor turned writer and director Tom McCarthy after the acclaimed "The Station Agent." He returns with this mature and complex tale with superb performances by veteran actors Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass who makes her American debut after an internationally acclaimed body of work. The story about a lonely professor whose path is crossed with several characters in New York is original and involving film that has a mind and heart. It's a political film without being preachy, romantic without being cheesy, and entertaining without being dumb. The excellent script shows real people in real problems that you hear about but rarely see on the big screen. It's a small and independent film that allows actors like Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass in the lead roles. It's the best film so far in the new year. Anybody looking for a smart and entertaining film about real people then this the best bet out there in the theatres.
Tom McCarthy is definitely a director to watch as he moves seamlessly from front to the behind of the camera. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.