Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Burn After Reading

The Coen brothers return with another comedy in this satire by taking stabs at what bothers them in the United States and nobody gets away clean from the average citizens obsessed with greed, sex and plastic surgery to clueless government officials in Washington DC. They have some of the best actors in for the ride including Francis McDormand, John Malkovich, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins and a very hilarious Brad Pitt. Under the protection of the Coen brothers, the actors let loose for some inspired performances that you would normally associate with them. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.

Mio Fratello è Figlio Unico

After the huge success of "The Best of Youth" comes another tale of two very different brothers. While the film is well written and acted, it doesn't offer anything new or different but more of the same. The story is about two brothers growing up in a small town where the father works in the factory and the mother waits for the promised housing. The sons struggling for a sense of identity; while the older become a communist and later a criminal, the younger starts out with taste for priesthood before he joins the fascist movement and later the communist party. The only thing that keeps the brothers together is their love for each other and their family. Director Daniele Luchetti gets some wonderful performances from his cast, specially the leads. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Johnny Gaddaar

Sriram Raghavan delivers a stylish and potent thriller from Bollywood clearly inspired by Tarantino. The good news is that it works. Who would have thought that Tarantino and Bollywood would mix so well. The story is set around a group of five men who have stepped outside the law for a shady deal, only to have the youngest member double cross his mates. The film also introduces a fresh face, Neil Nitin Mukesh, as the anti-hero which is not common in Bollywood films where the hero is always good. Raghavan also skips the traditional song and dance numbers by having them in with a better context and relevance to the story. A very enjoyable ride indeed. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

FESTIVAL 8: San Sebastian, Spain

The most important festival in the Spanish speaking world which serves also as the portal to Latin and South America beyond Spain. The festival has a competitions and juries which makes it attractive for filmmakers around the world. In the top ten it would come in the sixth spot right after Sundance. This year the jury is presided by US director Jonathan Demme.

Official Competition
The Other Man • Richard Eyre • USA (Opening Film)
The Brothers Bloom • Rian Johnson • USA
Aruitemo, aruitemo (Still Walking) • Hirokazu Kore-Eda • Japan
Asbe du-pa (Two-Legged Horse) • Samira Makhmalbaf • Iran (Jury Prize)
La belle personne (The Beautiful Person) • Christophe Honoré • France
Bi mong (Dream) • Kim Ki-duk • Korea
Camino • Javier Fesser • Spain
Den du frygter (Fear Me Not) • Kristian Levring • Denmark
Eid milad Laila (Laila’s Birthday) • Rashid Masharawi • Palestine
Frozen River • Courtney Hunt • USA (Best Actress)
Genova • Michael Winterbottom • UK (Best Director)
Louise-Michel • Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern • France (Best Screenplay)
Maman est chez le coiffeur (Mommy Is at the Hairdresser's) • Léa Pool • Canada
El nido vacío (The Empty Nest) • Daniel Burman • Argentina (Best Actor & Cinematography)
Pandoranin kutusu (Pandora’s Box) • Yesim Ustaoglu • Turkey (Best Film & Actress)
El patio de mi cárcel (My Prison Yard) • Belén Macías • Spain
Tiro en la cabeza (Bullet in the Head) • Jaime Rosales • Spain
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas • Mark Herman • UK
Tropic Thunder • Ben Stiller • USA

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP: Paul Newman 1925 - 2008

Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)

French auteur Arnaud Desplechin weaves a rich tapestry in his latest film that unfolds like a classic novel with the help of some of the best actors in French cinema including his frequent collaborators Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Devos and Anne Consigny amongst other big names. The story centers on the matriarch of the family played by the impeccable Deneuve who discovers she has cancer and needs a donor that brings her dysfunctional family together for the holidays where they clash over past and present events. What Desplechin delivers is not an easy task by any means, he brings vision and bravura to every detail of the film that's extraordinary. The performances are pitch perfect as is everything else. One of the best French films of recent years from one of the best French directors with a unique vision and voice. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases and French Cinema Now.

12:08 East of Bucharest

A deadpan comedy set in a bleak small town east of Bucharest, Romania. Writer & director Corneliu Porumboiu delivers a sharp and witty tale about a television anchor who asks his audience whether there was a revolution in their town on the eve of the sixteenth anniversary of the fall of the communist regime. Through humor Porumboiu manages to bring light on serious subject whether most of the eastern European countries are better off or worse. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

L'Enfant (The Child)

Master storytellers from Belgium Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne won their second Palme d'Or in Cannes with this powerful story about criminal youths. As with their previous films, the story is king and they deliver an uncompromising portrait of youth in today's Belgium where they thrive on criminal activities without any social responsibility that resonates with youths all over Europe who grow up without moral values. Jérémie Renier gives a powerful performance as Bruno who sells his newborn child without blinking. It's one of the most shocking scenes in cinema where the action speaks louder than anything said. The Dardenne brothers virtually erase the line between documentary and drama. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Lucky Ones

Writer and director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) latest film is smart, funny and touching with an excellent rich script and superb performances by Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams and Michael Peña. Not only does manage to walk a tightrope by making a film about three soldiers on leave from the war in Iraq on a road trip through the states but he comes away with a classic American film in every sense of the word that's relevant and complex without being preachy or in your face regardless of your political stand which is not an easy task to say the least. Rachel McAdams and Michael Peña are perfectly cast and shine in this film. YRCinema's coverage of current releases.

Wild Strawberries

This timeless classic from legendary Ingmar Bergman is one of his best about a old man reflecting on his life during a journey to receive an award. A beautifully written, shot and acted film about life put on perspective. Through flashbacks, dreams and nightmares, the elderly Dr. Borg revisits his childhood and other events that makes him reflect on his life and face some realities of life before his impending death. It's also one of the warmest films of Bergman who's mostly known for his dark and cold masterpieces about human nature. Bergman regulars Bibi Anderson, Ingrid Thulin and Max von Sydow are in for the ride. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gimme Shelter

A legendary documentary by the Maysles brothers about the infamous concert by the Rolling Stones in 1969 in San Francisco. The free concert by one of the greatest bands in the world if not the greatest draw hundred of thousands fans from around the country at race track with the only security provided by the members of Hell's Angels where four people died and shocked the world. The film serves as a time capsule for a distant time and testimony to the legend of a band that remains great and still rolling despite that everything in the world has changed but their music remain fresh and timeless. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

A Time for Drunken Horses

A heart breaking and harrowing film about orphaned Kurdish children who fight for survival at the Iraq-Iran border that's emotionally shattering and one of the best films in the Iranian Cinema. Writer and director Bahman Ghobadi manages to erase the line between documentary and fiction to gives an insight about the cursed life of the his people, the Kurds who are the most unfortunate people of all because they don't have a country to call home and are at the mercy of Iraq, Iran and Turkey. The plight of the children and horses will haunt you long after the film is finished. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Straw Dogs

With this sinister and violent film director Sam Peckinpah proved that he could set a western in the civilized England where men could be as depraved as the men in the wild west. This menacing film stars Dustin Hoffman as an American scientist who chooses the English country side to finish a project, only to discover that the people are not as civilized as he thought when a lynch mob traps him and his wife. There's a disturbing rape scene that's still shocking. It's a mean spirited film that clearly shows Peckinpah's dislike for the British so that he shows everything about England in a negative light that's seldom seen in cinema. Apparently the feelings were mutual on both sides since this controversial film was banned for a long time. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Sean Penn gives a solid performance as a loser who after losing his wife and job fails to high jack a plane that he apparently planned to crash into the White House. The film supposedly wants to give insight into the mind of a potential murderer but fails to do so and falls into cliche despite a strong cast that includes Naomi Watts and Don Cheadle. The over usage of Richard Nixon footage becomes really annoying and backfires on the filmmakers since his tragedy appears more real and interesting than anything we witness in the film. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

In the third film in his vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance & Old Boy), director Chan-Wook Park can't top his masterpiece "Old Boy." This time around it's a female protagonist who seeks revenge from a devious monster who puts her in jail for a crime she didn't commit and kidnaps her daughter. Geum-ja played marvelously by Yeong-ae Lee has to wait 13 years to take revenge and find her daughter. The film has all the trademarks of his previous work including the stylish visuals, impeccable acting and original story telling. However the film appears to fall short because of the high expectations that you would expect from him. The film will please the fans and those who will discover it for the first time. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

After the Wedding

Danish director Susanne Bier directed this superb film before she made her Hollywood debut in the misfire "Things We Lost in the Fire". I hope she returns to what she does best in her native country and stays away from Hollywood like Pedro Almodovar. The same goes for Mads Mikkelsen who went to play the bad guy in "Casino Royale". He gives an excellent performance as a man who has found redemption in India but is forced to return home for some life changing revelations. Bier's works is known for her intimate and honest depictions of the human condition that's full of heart and humor. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Lila Says

Lebanese writer and director Ziad Doueiri's second feature is an honest and raw portrait of teenagers that's rare in cinema and seldom captured so well. This film is based on a controversial novel about young Arab writer who's trapped in the impoverished neighborhood where life has nothing to offer for those who live there. After a beautiful girl named Lila moves in the neighborhood, she becomes the center of attention of all young males. When Lila befriends the shy Chimo, she sets a chain of events in action that has devastating consequences. The film is shocking and provocative in its language that captures the teenage angst well. Vahina Giocante and Moa Khouas star with terrific performances. An excellent film that brings a fresh voice into the French Cinema. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

The Jane Austen Book Club

Not as bad as you would think from the title but Robin Swicord manages to use Jane Austen books cleverly in this film that she wrote and directed with an excellent cast including Maria Bello and Emily Blunt. Besides having the chicks takes on the classic novels, Swicord also brings the male and lesbian point of view to the table. The ensemble of veteran actors from Film and TV with new talents at first seems dubious but makes perfect sense which shows that Swicord is the top of her game like Jane Austen was with her books. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

30 Days of Night

A great concept poorly written and executed in this horror film about a group of vampires terrorizing a small town in Alaska. The film starts well but falls quickly flat and never recovers. It's based on a graphic novel but the script never tries to elevate it above its source material. A lot of stuff doesn't make sense, specially why the super stylish vampires who seem to have come from New York or big city would come to Alaska and for what reason. Danny Huston as the leader of the pack talks in tongues but his gibberish doesn't make any sense what so ever. Josh Hartnett and the cast can't save the film either which is a shame since the potential for a good horror flick is there. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

A Good Year

Not as bad as the critics made it but the cast and crew seem over qualified for this predictable yet charming film. It seems Ridley Scott and Russel Crowe wanted to take a break from their action films and chose this film to relax. The story about a ruthless London broker who finds his heart and soul in southern France. The film also features Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose) in her official Hollywood debut as a leading actress. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

The Holiday

The casting of Nancy Meyers films is more impressive than her formula driven and high gloss films. So that everybody always wants to know who she will get next in her next film. All the actors are more than capable and deliver some version of their performances you have seen in their previous work. However in this film the divine Kate Winslet brings more gravitas to the role than you would expect in this kind of film. She also rubs off her magic to Jack Black who delivers a nice performance. It's also good to see Eli Wallach again. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.


Felicity Huffman in a shocking turn gives a fearless performance as a transsexual in this indie film. The film gives a rare glimpse into the lives of transsexuals and their ordeals. Child actor Kevin Zegers makes an impression as her hustler son. Also there's welcome cameos by the vets Graham Greene, Elizabeth Peña, Fionnula Flanagan and Burt Young. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, September 8, 2008

FESTIVAL 7: Toronto, Canada

A relatively new festival compared to the others but has become of the most important festivals in the world due to its perfect timing at the beginning of September when the award season begins and the studios using Toronto as their launching pad. The festivals doesn't have a competition like the top three (Cannes, Berlin & Venice), therefore has the privilege to introduce the best films of the top three in one venue in their North American premiere. The focus is to celebrate cinema and its filmmakers and some of the films will win the big awards in the coming season. Since there's no competition, they have a huge selection of films in the following categories:
For more info: Toronto International Film Festival

FESTIVAL 6: Venice, Italy

The third of the top three festivals (Cannes & Berlin) is also the oldest festival in the world. It has serious competition from the fourth, Toronto, which right behind it in ranking and timing. However, it does not have to fear anything after all these years besides having one of the most beautiful settings. This year the president of the jury is Wim Wenders.

Venezia 65 - In Competition

Darren Aronofsky - The Wrestler (USA) GOLDEN LION for Best Film

Guillermo Arriaga - The Burning Plain (USA) MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD
Pupi Avati - Il Papà di Giovanna (Italy) COPPA VOLPI for Best Actor
Marco Bechis - BirdWatchers (Italy)
Patrick Mario Bernard & Pierre Trividic - L’Autre(France) COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress
Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker (USA) SIGNIS Award
Pappi Corsicato - Il Seme della Discordia (Italy)
Jonathan Demme Rachel - Getting Married (USA)
Haile Gerima - Teza (Ethiopia) SPECIAL JURY PRIZE & OSELLA for Best Screenplay
Aleksey German Jr. - Bumažnyj soldat (Paper Soldier) (Russia) SILVER LION for Best Director & OSELLA for Best Cinematography
Semih Kaplanoglu - Süt (Milk) (Turkey)
Takeshi Kitano - Akires to Kame (Achilles and the Tortoise) (Japan)
Hayao Miyazaki - Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) (Japan)
Amir Naderi - Vegas: Based on a True Story (USA)
Mamoru Oshii - The Sky Crawlers (Japan)
Ferzan Özpetek - Un Giorno Perfetto (Italy)
Christian Petzold - Jerichow (Germany)
Barbet Schroeder - Inju, la Bête dans l’ombre (France)
Werner Schroeter - Nuit de chien (France)
Tariq Teguia - Gabbla (Inland) (Algeria) FIPRESCI Award
YU Lik-wai - Dangkou (Plastic City) (Hong Kong)

Venezia 65 - Out of Competition
Paolo Benvenuti - Puccini e la fanciulla (Italy)
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen - Burn After Reading (USA) (OPENING)
Claire Denis - 35 Rhums (France)
JIA Zhangke - Heshang aiqing (Cry me a river) (China)
Minoru Kawasaki - Monster X Strikes Back (Japan)
Abbas Kiarostami - Shirin (Iran)
José Mojica Marins - Encarnação do demônio (Brazil)
Mario Monicelli - Vicino al Colosseo c’è Monti (Italy)
Nonzee Nimibutr - Puen yai jom sa lad (Queens of Langkasuka) (Thailand)
Manoel de Oliveira - Do Visível ao Invisível (Portugal)
Agnés Varda - Les Plages d’Agnès (France)
Fabrice du Welz - Vinyan (France)

Venezia 65 - Orizzonti
Ramin Bahrani - Goodbye Solo – USA FIPRESCI Award
Julio Bressane, Rosa Dias - A Erva do Rato – Brazil
Lav Diaz - Melancholia – Philippines ORIZZONTI PRIZE
Jean-Pierre Duret, Andréa Santana - Puisque nous sommes nés - France
Philippe Grandrieux - Un lac – France
HUANG Wenhai - Women - China
Mikhail Kalatozishvili - Dikoe Pole (Wild Field) – Russia
Mirko Locatelli - Il primo giorno d’inverno – Italy
Ross McElwee In Paraguay – USA
Avi Mograbi - Z32 – Israel
Bahman Motamedian Khastegi (Tedium) – Iran
Gerardo Naranjo - Voy a explotar – Mexico
Arnaud des Pallières - Parc – France
Francis Xavier - Pasion Jay – Philippines
Eugenio Polgovsky - Los Herederos – Mexico
Marco Pontecorvo - PA-RA-DA – Italy
Gianfranco Rosi - Below Sea Level – Italy ORIZZONTI DOC PRIZE
Andreï Schtakleff, Jonathan Le Fourn - L’Exil et le royaume – France
Emily Tang - Wanmei Shenhuo (Perfect Life) – China
Tariq Tapa - Zero Bridge – India

For more info: Venice International Film Festival