Friday, October 31, 2008
John Patrick Shanley adapts his award winning play into a solid film where he can't do no wrong with the cast and crew he got to work with. The morality tale set in a catholic school in 1960's New York is about a war between an iron clad nun played ferociously by Meryl Streep and forward thinking priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who wants to bring some change to the school. Things heat up when a young and innocent nun (Amy Adams) joins the congregation. The roots of the film as play are evident and great material for actors such as this. Shanely basically stages his play on film with little room for error given the material. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This three prestigious festivals have a lot in common besides their key locations and timing which is at the end of the year. This festivals celebrate the best in cinema world wide by having the best from around the world including Cannes, Berlin and Venice festivals but also premieres from Hollywood that use it as their launching pad for award season. Many of the films presented at this festival will win more awards including the biggest of all, the Academy Awards where the road lead to. For more info:
46th NY Film Festival ,
52nd London Film Festival,
22nd AFI FEST
This film marked a turning point in the Spanish maestro Pedro Almodóvar illustrious career where he delivered a full fledged mature drama that he followed with several masterpieces. In this film the title character is a pulp novelist played with much gravitas by Marisa Paredes who wants to be taken seriously in her writing and her marriage while breaking apart. Almodóvar masterfully weaves an intricate story full of life and passion. In one scene the publisher who reject her serious work by reciting it, the story resembles Almodóvar's "Volver" which resembles in many ways this film. As always there's more to an Almodóvar film than just the story at hand. In this film he highlights the Flamenco. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A slick thriller by the numbers from the Hollywood machine that only holds up because of the performances of great actors. It's great fun to watch Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling matching wits as a brilliant criminal and a brilliant lawyer. Hopkins delivers a devilish performance that reminds of his Hannibal Lector that toys with young hot shot lawyer Gosling who's sort of a male version of Clarice Sterling. The film is as good as it gets given the material and its limitations that would have been a disaster with a different cast. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Ingmar Bergman's profound adaptation of a local legend unfolds like a spiritual fable on crime and punishment. It's based on a Nordic medieval legend about the murder of a virgin and the revenge by her father. Bergman's first collaboration with his legendary cinematographer Sven Nykvist brilliantly use of the camera to capture a timeless tale of faith and revenge. The symbolic use of nature is evident in every frame of the film where you see the divine/religious/future in the light and evil/pagan/past in the dark. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
A poignant and funny coming of age drama from Brazil set in the 1970 during the political turmoil and the frenzy of the world cup soccer. Director captures the nostalgia of the era well in this charming film. A young boy is left by his politically active parents at his Jewish grandfather place where he has to grow up fast. The mix of drama and comedy is well balanced. Another milestone for the Brazilian cinema. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The most important festival in Asia which makes it the number one stop for Asian Cinema. The festival is relatively new but gained a lot of recognition due to the strength of Asian Cinema that continues to deliver some of best films and trends in cinema today. The festival has a variety of programs but the most important one is the New Currents which showcases new films from Asia.
New Currents - Official Selection
A Light in the Fog, Iran
A Moment in June, Thailand
Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly, Indonesia
Empty Chair, Iran
Er Dong, China
Land of Scarecrows, Korea
Members of the Funeral, Korea
Naked of Defenses, Japan
Ocean of an Old Man, India
Routine Holiday, China
The Pot, Korea
For more info: Pusan International Film Festival
The amazingly versatile Sergio Castellitto adapts his wife's novel into a tour-de-force film in which he gives a stellar performance and directs with bravado. Penélope Cruz gives a heart-breaking and devastating performance as a destitute woman named Italia with whom an affluent doctor played Castellito falls in love after initially raping her. Castellitto doesn't take any prisoners and doesn't shy away to put himself and Cruz on the edge for this wrenching love story that's so real. There's nothing beautiful or romantic about this film where two different people from different worlds crash and fall in love without any rational explanation for the doctor who has a perfect life with a gorgeous wife. That's where the film has its pulse without missing a beat. The film haunts you for a long time after. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
An absurd film by the Iraqi Kurdish director Hiner Saleem that's made for the Western audience who get their formula foreign film with remote exotic location, wacky characters and story. Nothing makes much sense or is credible. The film is dour to be a fable and too contrived to be taken seriously. However it does have some stunning images and some funny moments but what it needed is sincerity which it lacks. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
This sequel to the charming "L'Auberge Espagnole" fails to bring the same magic. Writer and director Cédric Klapisch tries too hard to impress and the talented cast can't help it either. This film shouldn't have been made in the first place but the temptation to cash on the success of the first film must have been irresistible. While the first film captured the essence of its time with a young hot cast in the vibrant Barcelona, this film brings nothing new and everything becomes boring. Without the great cast the film would be unwatchable. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, October 20, 2008
It has been a year since the launch of this blog. Thank you all for checking it out. In the last year I had the privilege to interview some amazing artists, so I decided to share those interviews with you. Please check http://yrcinema-interview.blogspot.com/ for more interviews as I will post them. Cheers and enjoy!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
This film is an affecting homage to Ozu's masterpiece "Tokyo Story" and Japanese culture by veteran German director Doris Dörrie. An elderly couple go on a last trip outside their village to visit their children only to find that there's no place for them. When the wife suddenly dies, the husband tries to fulfill her last wish. It's a fascinating film coming from Germany but makes sense because the two countries have more in common despite cultural differences. It's a beautiful film and solid testimony of Ozu's timeless masterpiece. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.
A contemporary story set in the town of Auschwitz where a young German makes his civil service while working at the museum and taking care of an Holocaust survivor. The film shows that while the museum is active and people talk about the Holocaust, there's apathy and ignorance all around including the protagonist Sven who discovers the huge burden of the survivor who refuses to turn his back on the camp but has to deal with the daily ignorance. The film shows a different side of the issues and raises some interesting questions about the contemporary world. It's not that people are ignorant on purpose but they are busy living life and its daily struggles where the history no matter how atrocious has taken a back seat for the future. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.
Veteran cinematographer Lajos Koltai makes his directing debut with adaptation of Imre Kertész's novel about the Holocaust seen through the eyes of a child who's separated from his family and sent to the Buchenwald camp where he sees the inhumanity without judgment. This striking film differs from the Hollywood films that it doesn't sacrifice its storytelling for the sake of dramatization. Koltai and Kertész want to show the details of cruelty and inhumanity in the camps where people spent years of torture. It's too bad that this film didn't get as much attention as should have due to over saturation of Holocaust films or maybe because Holocaust survivor and Nobel prize winner Kertész has dismissed "Schindler's List" as a lie and expressed his dislike for Spielberg. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul follows his fascinating success "Tropical Malady" with another fascinating study of humans gradual disconnection from nature. The film is cut in two parts and both start with the interview of a new doctor in the hospital. While the first hospital is set in the country in the nature, the second one is in a big city where the only sign of nature is the decoration used in the landscape. Weerasethakul's intellectual films are mysterious and strange that demands the audience to dig and find a meaning for themselves. The film is full of symbolism and stories that people. He also juxtaposes the two parts in reversal of each other. There's also subtle humor throughout where the patients give advice the doctors in the hospitals. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
Jean-Jacques Annaud's timeless satire on war, colonialism and racism still holds up after three decades. In this hilarious comedy set during WWI, the French colonials in the Ivory Coast discover that their country is in war with Germans, therefore they plan to attack their German neighbors by forcing the locals to fight for them. The film was relevant when it came out at the end of the Vietnam war and still is because history teach us nothing if not for past mistakes. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
This film is another proof that the Israeli cinema is thriving and continues to deliver. It shows that Israeli and Palestinian can live and work together, at least in the artistic community. However the situation is more complicated due to politics and bureaucracy. It's the second collaboration between writer and director Eran Riklis and Israeli-Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass after the successful "The Syrian Bride." In this film a Palestinian widow fights the Israeli Establishment to save her lemon grove after the Defence Minister moves next door. The film shows that the Israeli mind set is so far away from the Palestinians despite being so close. It's a clash of opposites where there's hardly any room left for human connection. The two lonely women at the center of the story have so much in common but can't communicate and can only stare at each other from afar. The film is even handed and doesn't shy away of criticizing both sides. It's perfect parable for what's going on, only if the people in power could take a similar point of view as the film and its artist do. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
This charming and poignant tale set in China delights in many ways. When two young Maoist men are sent to a remote location to re-educate the locals on communism, they instead fall in love with the local seamstress. Through her they discover a suitcase full of western literature that changes them all. The clueless villagers are easily duped by the young men and come to enjoy Mozart and Balzac thinking them to be works of communism. The actors and the stunning locations are pitch perfect in this gem of world cinema. Writer and director Sijie Dai adapts his own novel. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
This commercial adaptation of several real incidents about unusual school experiments whether a movement like the Nazi movement is possible. The answer is yes because it happens all the time all over the world in some form or another. The fact that this film is made in Germany makes it even more interesting. It's a slick and entertaining film that touches the subject lightly without losing its objective which is the younger audience. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.
Author turned director Philippe Claudel makes a calculating and self-assured debut with this tale of bonding and guilt between two sisters who meet after 15 years when the older sister is released from prison. Instead of opting for flashy visuals, Claudel avoids cliches and stays focused on the characters and makes sure that the audience stay focus on the story and performances, specially the leads played by Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein. Both actresses deliver pitch perfect performances, specially Kristin Scott Thomas who has her first leading role in a French film. She should see a second career revival in the France and perhaps without knowing Claudel's coup casting of Kristin Scott Thomas gave his film a broader appeal beyond France. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Mike Leigh returns with a lighter tale this time after the excellent drama "Vera Drake". Sally Hawkins gives a smashing performance at the happy-go-lucky teacher Poppy who's literally a sunshine in her bleak London environment. As with all of Leigh's films, this slice of life tale is meticulously done and the results shine with the outstanding ensemble, even in the smallest roles. The less you know, the more you will enjoy this film where discovery is a key part of the experience. The film deals with different aspects of teaching and learning from hilarious and entertaining to dead serious issues. YRCinema's coverage of the Mill Valley Film Festival.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Danny Boyle bounces back with this smashing crowd-pleaser that's easily one of the years best films. He brings similar energy that he brought to "Millions" with another story about two brothers but this time in India. Boyle, writer Simon Beaufoy and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle capture the essence of India without comprising artistic vision or authenticity along with a vibrant score from Bollywood master composer A. R. Rahman. The film is upbeat but also profound. The story has enough real drama like "Salaam Bombay" but Boyle chooses to focus on the survival and love story instead of dwelling on the tragedies. YRCinema's coverage of the Mill Valley Film Festival.
Abolfazl Jalili's cinematic poem to the great Persian poet of the 14 century Hafez misfires on several levels, specially in the screenplay. He has a great story, lead actor and visual sense, however the script fails to be coherent when it needs to be and full of inconsistencies that might not be apparent to those who are familiar with Persian culture. Jalili's casting of the beautiful Japanese actress Kumiko Aso is inspired but distracting due to her struggle with the language. The film has moments where Hafez shines through that leaves hungry for more. YRCinema's coverage of the Mill Valley Film Festival.
Friday, October 3, 2008
This excellent documentary by Jonathan Demme chronicles the tour of former President Jimmy Carter on his controversial book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid". Demme manages to brings Carter up close and personal about his life and mission for peace. It shows that even somebody like Jimmy Carter can't speak the truth when it comes to Israel without any repercussion. The extreme bias from the media towards Israel and lobbyist's mighty power have silenced any criticism when it comes towards the Palestinian side. It's disheartening to see a man like Carter to be treated in the way he was in the media. Demme got an all access from the Carters and various media outlets for this documentary. The films is beautifully shot and edited. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Jonathan Demme makes a smashing comeback with this excellent drama that's his best feature since The Silence of the Lambs. As he did with Jodie Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer, Melanie Griffths and Mary Steenburgen, he directs Anne Hathaway to give her best performance yet. The story centers about a young woman's return from rehab for her sister's wedding where the family has to confront the past for the sake of the future. It's great to see Demme back in form along with a welcome cameo by Debra Winger. Everything in this hits the right mark including the wedding which has all the ingredients of an authentic wedding. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.
This is a 100% Charlie Kaufman film where you get an uncompromising film that's a classic and worth watching multiple times. Watching it five months later, I got over the initial expectations and focused on the richness of its details. Kaufman did not opt for an easy task and went for to direct his most ambitious script himself which might have gotten lost in the hand of others. A superb cast helps him to achieve his vision about art and life, how it feeds on each other but also its destruction. Kaufman's deadpan humor is full on and Philip Seymour Hoffman's Caden Cotard is neurotic on steroids compared to Woody Allen's. YRCinema's coverage of upcoming releases.
Martina Gedeck gives a powerful performance as a chef who has sacrificed her life for her passion but still lacks a recipe for happiness. After a tragic accident she forced out of the kitchen where she finds more than she ever expected. Writer and director Sandra Nettelbeck manages a perfect mix of drama and humor in this winning film about universal themes including the art of cooking, romance and human connection. She also has the perfect cast and crew in this award winning film.
YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.
YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.