Saturday, November 29, 2008

Live Free or Die Hard

Bruce Willis gets to play tough guy John McClane for the fourth time, a role that launched his career two decades ago. The formula is the same including McClane but time has changed as have the villains. Set in a post 9/11 world where cyber terrorists are attacking America and the only hope is the out of touch McClane who gets a lucky break by picking up an important hacker. The film is a fun ride if that's what you are looking for. It's hard to separate Willis and McClane, a role that has haunted his career. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.


Veteran production designer Catherine Hardwicke made her debut as a director in this harrowing coming of age tale set in Los Angeles based on the life of co-writer and actress Nikki Reed. The film will send down chills to anybody with a teenage daughter and a sigh of relief to those who don't live in a big city. Evan Rachel Wood gives a raw and powerful performance along with Reed and Holly Hunter as her mother. The film is not easy to watch but a great character study and cautionary moral tale. Writer Nikki Reed turned her traumatic past into gold by not only writing her story but also being able to play the evil friend that almost ruined her life. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.


Director David Fincher jump started his career with this classic thriller that was also marked the last word on the serial killer films. The stylish film holds up well the test of time with superb performances by Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and a chilling Kevin Spacey that had much influence on his Oscar win for "The Usual Suspects." Fincher nails everything on the spot from A to Z and seems to make his best films with Pitt (Fight Club & The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.) YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Get Smart

This big screen adaptation of a TV classic fails despite the hilarious Steve Carell and talented cast. The film is hardly funny as it should be. It has some moments here and there. The treatment of the the subject is mostly to blame by missing the dead pan humor of the TV series. There has been tons of spoofs of this kind, the best being the first Austin Powers film. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

The Magnificent Seven

The hugely entertaining classic remake of the Kurosawa masterpiece is still fun to watch. The magnificent cast features Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson in roles that added much to their tough guy images. The story translates well in the wild west at the Mexican border where a village of peasants hire gunfighters to fight local bandits that has terrorized them for a long time. Veteran director John Sturges cleverly remakes a classic that stands by its own. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. raises this superhero film to above average of its kind. The film has more substance than you might expect and an old fashioned feel. The above average cast includes the return of stalwarts such as Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow who apparently couldn't refuse the fat paycheck that a blockbuster brings. Actor turned director Jon Favreau makes the right choices and will return for the sequels. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Writer and director Antonio Campos makes his feature debut with this powerful film about teenage alienation at an elite prep school. Campus gives an authentic portrait of teenagers who grew up in the age of Internet where they are exposed to more information than any other generation. The story is about the struggle a new student Robert (Ezra Miller) who has a hard time adjusting in the school and spends more time on the net than with anybody else. After he witnesses two popular students dying of an overdose, his worlds shutters and threatens his future at the school. Campus shows an assured control and brings a fresh vision that makes him a director to watch. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


A sweet and touching film about the disappearing world of nomads in Kazakhstan. In order to get his own flock, the sailor Asa needs a wife; however, there are no available maidens except the reclusive beauty of the title who dreams of a life in the city instead of a life in the steppe. This humorous tale is fascinating due to its exotic location and characters that never fail but a bit formula driven. It ends with a sad note because of global changes of the earth and its consequences. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Native Dancer (Baksy)

Writer and director Gulshat Omarova (Schizo/The Recruiter) returns with another original and striking story that proves she's a talent to reckon with. The film co-written and produced by Sergei Bodrov (Mongol) is a spiritual thriller where globalization clashes with the ancient ways in rural Kazakhstan. A local businessman and crook wants a piece of land that belongs to a healer for his gas station and casino. What a first seems like an easy deal, they found out that the old lady is a force of nature and the wrong person to mess with. Omarova weaves an interesting and entertaining tale instead of following the usual formula of world cinema that you usually see. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.


A cinematic trip-tech homage full of humor to one of the most exotic and modern cities in the world where anything seems possible. Three foreign directors (two French and one Korean) capture some realities and eccentricities of the city. While Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) focuses on the limited space and its consequences in "Interior Design", Leos Carax (Pola X) pays homage to the Japanese monster films in "Merde." Bong Joon-ho (The Host) focuses on bizarre behaviors and earth quakes in "Shaking Tokyo." All the films successfully capture certain perception of the city that might be true or not but never-the-less entertaining to please the fans. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Plastic City (Dangkou)

A visually stunning gangster film set in the Asian community of São Paulo, Brazil. The film co-written and directed by Nelson Yu Lik-wai who's mostly known for his cinematography for Jia Zhang Ke's films. With an international cast, exotic location and potent story, the biggest problems are the script which is all over the place and poor editing that slows down the film. A new edit with a focus on the gangster story should resolve some problems. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lion's Den (Leonera)

A powerful journey of a woman's fall and rise in an Argentinian prison by director Pablo Trapero. A woman accused of killing her boyfriend ends up serving a ten year sentence during which she has to endure pregnancy and raising her son in prison. While she fights her accuser, the system and her mother, her son becomes her saving grace. Trapero tells the story in thrilling way where the passage of time in the prison is the focus of the film and not what happens before or after. Martina Gusman gives a powerful performance as the lioness who discovers her true self. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky leaves stylized film making behind for this somber drama that's a showcase for strong performances. The redemption story about a washout wrestler who realizes too late that there's more to life. Mickey Rourke bares it all for a role that's tailor made for him. The film's hard to watch for those who are squeamish because there's blood. The ever stunning Marisa Tomei delivers another pitch perfect performance. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lake Tahoe

Writer and director Fernando Eimbcke delivers a poignant and subtle coming of age story. The story set in a quiet coastal town tells the story of a teenage boy dealing with the grief of his father's death. Instead of getting explosion of emotions, we see the characters implode with loss of speech. Eimbcke innovates a language and landscape of his own by the telling this story that's loosely based on Vitterio de Sica's The Bicycle Thief. Eimbcke joins the lead of superb filmmakers from Mexico. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Prodigal Sons

A riveting documentary that's proves that life is stranger than fiction. When director Kimberly Reed decided to attend her 20th high school reunion as a woman after a gender change, she thought it would be her journey of self-discovery but only to find out that her troubled adopted brother traced his true heritage as the grandchild of Hollywood legends Orson Wells and Rita Hayworth. It's a roller coaster of emotions unfolding for the members of the family as they struggle to stay together while everything looks like it's going to fall apart. Through genuine story telling director Reed does the most difficult thing by putting herself and her family in front of the camera and on the line. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Director Matteo Garrone staggering and disturbing film about one of Italy's modern day Mafia families of the title. Garrone officially unmasks the Mafia for what they are that you will never look at the mob in the same way. This film introduces the new generation that's worse than anything you have seen in the dozen of Hollywood mob films which has glamorized them for decades. There's nothing admirable or honorable about these people who would kill anybody and even dump toxic waste into their land for money. The film is more shocking because it's based on a true story. It's a film you won't forget easily. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

The Class (Entre les Murs)

Director Laurent Cantet delivers an astonishingly powerful film set in one year during a class in a multi-ethnic neighborhood of Paris. Based on the novel by François Bégaudeau who wrote the script and stars as well. The film is specific in its setting but story is timeless and universal and imaginable in almost any big city in the Western world. It shows the struggles of teachers and students beyond their means while their cultures clash on daily basis. This film blows away every Hollywood film set in a class room. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest 2008.

Two Lovers

Director James Gray reunites with Joaquin Phoenix for the third time for this old fashioned drama about an unstable man falling in love with an unstable woman. Gray's films have a period feel despite being set in the present which is unusual. This story about thirty-something man who lives with his parents should resonate with many people. Basically it's an independent film with big name actors. Despite the solid performances by the leads Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow, they are also the biggest problem with the film due to their larger than life presence in a common story. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2008.

Summer Hours (L'Heure d'été)

Olivier Assayas explores the themes of heritage and family in this ensemble piece. After the death of their mother, the adult children have to come to terms of trading their childhood home and its content for money since two of the children have decided to live abroad permanently. Assayas takes the popular and classic family film formula that we have seen and appreciated many times in the French cinema to make an statement about town and country and its values. The film also shows the journey of regular household items ending up as museum pieces. The excellent cast includes Charles Berling, Juliette Binoche and Jérémie Renier. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2008.


A superb existential thriller from Austria that haunts you long after you leave the theater. Writer and director Götz Spielmann cleverly uses the thriller genre to go deeper into the psyche of people. Small time criminal Alex works in a brothel where he falls in love with the Ukrainian prostitute Tamara. In order to escape their lives, Alex plans to rob the bank in his estranged father's village. However after the robbery, Tamara gets killed by local policeman Robert that leaves both Alex and Robert shuttered. Spielmann gets you drawn to the lives of these people with the help of talented cast and crew. He avoids cheap sentimentality and the use of music to manipulate. YRCinema's coverage of AFI Fest 2008.