Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RIP: Mario Monicelli 1915 - 2010

The Red Balloon

French writer and director Albert Lamorisse made one of the greatest children films if not the greatest with this timeless classic. A young boy finds a red balloon on his way to school that's unlike any other. A great friendship begins which leads to jealousy by other kids and adults. Lamorisse created a simple but powerful film with minimal dialog set in the timeless city of Paris. A classic film that will delight everybody regardless of their age for generations. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, November 29, 2010


American writing and directing duo of Scott McGehee and David Siegel's fourth feature explores how choices can have different effects, at least in cinematic terms. A young couple let a flip of coin decide their fate. One possibility shows the couple attending a family gathering with the usual drama. In the second possibility the couple find a cell phone which holds crucial information which leads to murder and the couple chased through Manhattan. While the first possibility seems more plausible it lacks any excitement where the second one is exciting but lacks credibility. The filmmakers want to leave it to the audience which film they rather see. Though interesting in concept, the film fails to go deeper. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins are fine as the couple by limited by the material. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Nothing in Peter Jackson's career showed any signs for what he would deliver with the epic adaptation of the Lord of the Ring novels. He made cinema history on screen and behind the screen which no other film achieved before besides making significant contributions to the fantasy genre and the film industry in New Zealand. In the first part of the trilogy a fellowship of hobbits, elves and humans are formed to accompany Frodo Baggins on his journey to destroy an ancient ring with supernatural powers that belonged to an evil lord to control the world. The power of the ring seduces everybody around it and starts a race against time as the forces of evil are following the fellowship. Brilliantly written and directed with astonishing special effects and solid performances from a talented cast made this film an instant classic. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Weird

Korean writer and director Kim Ji-woon shows he's having a blast with this entertaining oriental western that pays homage to the genre, specially the film it borrowed its title. Manchuria is the wild west frontier where Korean outlaws, Chinese bandits and Japanese army chase for a treasure map that accidentally falls in the hands of Yoon Tae-goo, the weird of the title. A wild chase starts where every body's chasing him including the good guy and the bad guy. Korean superstar Song Kang-ho is hilarious as Yoon Tae-goo who provides the comic relief. Jung Woo-sung is dashing as the good guy while Lee Byung-hun makes a stylish but menacing bad guy. Who thought that oriental western could be so much fun. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

A Tale of Two Sisters

Korean writer and director Kim Ji-woon made this effective horror thriller about the supernatural relationship between two sister. After returning home from a mental institution, a teenage girl has a hard time to adjust because of her jealous step-mother and ghosts in the house. Ji-woon weaves a tale of teenage angst with horror that unfolds in a credible matter with plenty of twists. It further proves that Asian cinema is a fertile ground for the horror genre. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


British director Terence Young tried his hand at the period drama after a successful career in action films that included three Bond films. Based on the mysterious Mayerling incident, the film takes the romantic approach through the doomed love affair between Austrian crown prince Rudolf and baroness Maria Vetsera who fall in love but couldn't marry which apparently lead to their desperate attempt. The film touches on the political angle as well but stays away for the sake of the love story that short changes the film. The inspired casting of Omar Sharif is another false move, even though he fits the romantic aspirations of the filmmakers as it's the casting of Catherine Deneuve. James Mason and Ava Gardner are perfect as the Emperor and Empress along with lavish production design and cinematography. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

John and Mary

British director Peter Yates followed his smashing hit "Bullitt" with this groundbreaking and controversial film at the time of its release. The story about a man and a woman who meet at a singles bar and have a one night stand. In the day after they try to get to know each other that shakes up their prejudices regarding each other. Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow star as the couple looking for sex and love in changing times. Yates cleverly uses flashbacks and voice-over to give insight to the characters which involves the audience to decipher the characters as well. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Runaways

Celebrated photographer and video director Floria Sigismondi makes her feature debut with this coming of age film about all girl band "The Runaways" that paved the way for other girl bands. Based on the book by Cherie Currie who was the lead singer of the band, the film chronicles how the band came together mostly through the story of Currie and Joan Jett who later reached greater success after the Runaways dissolved. Sigismondi has found the right project for her talent and it shows as she along with her cast and crew recreate the 70's LA with the right look and attitude. Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning are perfectly cast as the leads along with a scene stealing Michael Shannon as their manager. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

9 Songs

Prolific and versatile British writer and director Michael Winterbottom made this edgy experimental film about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. A young couple meet during a concert and enjoy an intense sexual relationship that unfolds during a period of eight concerts. When the sexual attraction ends so does the relationship. Winterbottom infuses hardcore sex with footage from live concerts that works to some extent but fails in the story department. The actors are brave enough to go where most won't go but are safe in a Winterbottom film. The 9 songs performed by the 8 bands could have been captured better and don't add much to the story except for some distraction from the sex scenes. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nowhere in Africa

German writer and director Caroline Link travelled to Africa for this beautiful drama about a family's ordeal during the second world war. A Jewish family escape to Africa where they overcome several obstacles before falling in love with the continent and its people. Link's keen eye for unique family dramas makes her a fresh voice in European cinema. The film is as much about the family as it's about Africa. The heart of the film belongs to their daughter's friendship with the locals, specially their African cook beautifully played by Sidede Onyulo. German star Juliane Köhler and Georgian actor Merab Ninidze are perfect as the troubled couple. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Goodbye Solo

Iranian-American writer and director Ramin Bahrani's third feature is another intimate drama. When an old offers his African cab driver a lot of money for a one trip to the mountains, it doesn't take long for the cab driver to figure out what's his intentions are. During the few days till the fateful day, the two men bond and get to know each other. There's some resemblance of the story to Abbas Kiarostami's "Taste of Cherry" but Bahrani stays true to his vision to show authentic immigrant stories to screen. Solid performances by veteran actor Red West and Souleymane Sy Savane who makes his feature debut. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Danish writer and director Carl Theodor Dreyer made his definitive masterpiece with this silent film. The story of Joan of Arc created from the actual records of her trial where she was convicted as a witch and burnt at the stake. The film shows how her male judges were threatened by her intelligence and strong conviction that they conspired to convict an innocent girl. Maria Falconetti delivers one of the greatest performances without the help of sound that has to be seen and experienced which is a master class in acting. Dreyer with his keen eyes made the best film about the French legend Joan of Arc that's one of the most fascinating in the history of the world. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ivan's Childhood

Russian writer and director Andrei Tarkovsky made his feature debut with this phenomenal film that put him instantly among the greatest directors of all time. Set during the WW II, a young boy who has seen the horrors of war works as a spy for the Russian army risking his life in deadly missions to the amazement of the soldiers who only see a child. Tarkovsky shows the war through the eyes of a child which makes the film riveting from the first frame till the last. The film shows the range of Tarkovsky's talent that's one of the most accomplished debuts in the history of cinema. Stunning cinematography by Vadim Yusov and the performance of Nikolay Burlyaev as Ivan are the highlight of this timeless classic. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time to Leave

Versatile and prolific French writer and director François Ozon tackles death in this drama without any sentimentality. A young man with a successful career finds out he has only few months to live due to cancer. Instead of gathering friends and family around him, he alienates those close to him in a cruel way including his boyfriend and his sister before he visits his beloved grandmother when he starts preparing for his death to sets things right. While the film is not among Ozon's best work, it's a powerful attempt about the psychological impact of death through a character that doesn't ask for sympathy. French star Melvil Poupaud gives a powerful performance and makes an unlikable character likable. Jeanne Moreau and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi provide solid support in brief cameos. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Broken English

Zoe R. Cassavetes, the daughter of legendary John Cassavetes and living legend Gena Rowlands wrote and directed this delightful romantic comedy. A young woman who desperately looks for love in the wrong places falls accidentally in love with the right guy who also changes her life. Cassavetes hits the right notes in this film that's beautifully written and directed with flawless performances by Parker Posey and Melvil Poupaud along with an outstanding supporting cast including Gena Rowlands, Drea de Matteo and Justin Theroux among others.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dear John

The career of Swedish director Lasse Hallström gets worse from one project after another. In this slick and glossy tale based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the king of modern tearjerkers, a young soldier falls in love with a beautiful girl only to loose her because of 911 and the wars before they can reunite years later. It's a Hollywood formula film that's packaged from A to Z including the director and its stars. It's a shame that Hallström has come to this where he could make better films in Europe if he wanted to. Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried are perfectly cast as the leads but won't do anything to their careers except for better paychecks. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Stoning of Soraya M.

A powerful and important story gets a shameful treatment in the hands of Iranian-American writer and director Cyrus Nowrasteh. The story about the stoning of an innocent woman who's accused of adultery by her husband because he wants a younger wife. The savage practice of stoning that's still happening in most Islamic countries including Iran where the film is set. This important story should have been treated with extreme care like "Schindler's List" without losing its impact, so it could have been shown in those countries where it matters. Instead Nowrasteh opts for one cliché after another that's infuriating and disturbing including the false Hollywood happy ending. The film also fails in tone besides the ridiculous overacting of Navid Negahban and Shohreh Aghdashloo which the film serves as a starring vehicle than getting the story right. No reason whatsoever for a sleazy looking James Caviezel to appear in a cameo with a fake nose. Only Mozhan Marnò as Soraya gets it right but can't save a film with too many wrongs. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Israeli writing and directing duo Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani made their feature debut with this riveting tale set in the Ajami neighborhood of Jaffa where live is already tough without the political conflict in the region. The lives of several Israelis and Palestinian are interconnected through a chain of events that's marked with violence and tragedy. A young Palestinian whose family can't pay the protection money needed for their survival sets out in an desperate attempt to make money with devastating consequences. Copti and Shani show a different side of contemporary Israel where the political conflict affect peoples daily lives regardless of their religion. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Secret in Their Eyes

Argentinian director Juan José Campanella reunites with star Ricardo Darin for another powerful film. The story about a retired district attorney who tries to write about the fateful year he suffered professional and personal setbacks that still haunt him. In order to refresh his memories, he revisits the people who were involved in the unresolved murder case including his superior whom he was in love with. Campanella along with his talented cast and crew weave an intriguing tale that connects the present with the crimes of the past which still haunts Argentina. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Fabolous Baker Boys

Long before adapting the Harry Potter franchise for the screen, writer and director Steve Kloves made his feature debut with this drama. The story of two musician brothers whose declining act gets a jolt by a beautiful and sultry singer that will change their lives. While the story is not entirely new or original, it's a well made film that still holds up because of the terrific performances by Michelle Pfeiffer and the Bridges brothers, Jeff and Beau. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sins of My Father

Argentinian writer and director Nicolas Entel brings the story of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar through his son in this powerful documentary. Entel managed to get Escobar's son to open his archives and tell the story of his father that destroyed the lives and hopes of many. It's a heartfelt film about a son who has to live with the sins of his father which included a life in exile with a different identity. The most powerful moment is when he reaches out to the sons of two politicians whose fathers were killed by Escobar. Entel keeps the right balance without going overboard which makes for a powerful documentary. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Good Night

Gwyneth Paltrow's brother Jake Paltrow makes his feature debut with this unfortunate film that gets lost between comedy and drama. A former pop star suffers mid-life because of his career and nagging girlfriend seeking escape in sleep where he meets the woman of his dreams. There's potential in the story that's not really developed and further fails in the execution which needed a more experienced writer and director. The talented cast including Gwyneth Paltrow, Penélope Cruz and Martin Freeman can't save the film either. YRCinema's coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Black Swan

Visionary director Darren Aronofsky returns to peak form with a perfect blend of style and substance after briefly abandoning his visual style for "The Wrestler." It could be called a companion piece to the previous work which was about a wrestler at the end of his career, this film is about the psychological disintegration of a ballerina at the beginning of her career. Aronofsky takes the audience inside the fragile mind of woman who's willing to sacrifice everything including her sanity for her craft. The result is a dazzling journey into the world of Ballet that's as tough and brutal as any sport despite its glamorous and superficial surface. Since in the world of ballet the exterior is as important as the interior, Aronofsky got a terrific cast of beautiful women who are pitch perfect that includes Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder and Barbara Hershey. Portman was born to play the role while Ryder returns to where she left. Kunis and Hershey deliver a milestone in their careers as well whether it's at the beginning or late entry. French actor Vincent Cassel is terrific as well as the alter ego of Aronofsky who tries to stage his own dark version of the Swan Lake. Aronofsky's regular partners in crime, cinematographer Matthew Libatique and composer Clint Mansell are also back to bring their magic to this visual poem on art, cinema, dance, music and performance. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest.

Putty Hill

American writer and director Matthew Porterfield manages to make his sophomore film despite the economic crises with this film which is truly independent. The story revolves around several characters who come together for the funeral of a young man who died of a drug overdose. Via his family and friends, viewers are witness to a collection of comments, regardless whether they were close to him or not. Porterfield's camera corners these people and ask them questions about the dead man which could be interpreted in a multitude of ways. These characters seem to be more approachable to the camera than the norm, hinting that the camera can read into their thoughts. Using a cast of local, non-professional actors from Porterfield's native Baltimore, the raw docu-narrative style bring a necessary authenticity to the portrait. YRCinema's coverage of the AFI Fest.