Thursday, June 30, 2011
Chinese directors Peter Chan & Wai Man Yip teamed up for this epic about China's recent past. A general becomes blood brothers with two bandits in order to fight a common enemy. However when the general unknowingly falls in love with the wife of a brother, it threatens their bond of brotherhood in a dangerous time of power struggle. Asians superstars Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro star as the three men torn between love and loyalty. While the film is solid, there's nothing new in the formula except for bringing the three stars together for a blockbuster. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Spanish writer and director Álex de la Iglesia fails in the thriller department with this film. An American student and a British professor try to solve a series of murders based mathematical theories. Instead of delivering a smart and intellectual thriller Iglesia and co-writer come up with a boring formula film which fails in every level. The problem lies in the poor script and execution including several miscast and uninspired cast and crew. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Before winning the Palme d'Or, French writer and director Laurent Cantet visited Haiti for this compelling drama. A young and poor Haitian man becomes the object of affection for two wealthy middle aged American Women who have found bliss in the South. Based on short stories by Dany Laferrière, Cantet and co-writer Robin Campillo created a portrait of Haiti in the 80's where poverty and tourism form a dangerous mix. Terrific performances by the divine Charlotte Rampling and Karen Young make this drama timeless and universal. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Romanian writer and director Florin Serban made a solid debut with this bleak drama. Two weeks before his release from prison, a teenager learns about his estranged mother's return which has devastating consequences. Serban proves that Romanian cinema is alive and fertile as he joins the new wave with solid storytelling. The mostly non-professional cast are flawless, specially George Pistereanu who's outstanding as the lead under pressure. While the story is bleak like most in the region, Serban infuses it with an explosive energy that suits the film well. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Japanese master Kenji Mizoguchi shows generational conflict through two different sisters. When a wealthy patron goes bankrupt, he seeks refuge at his loyal geisha in the Gion district of Kyoto, much to the disdain of her younger sister who wants to become a geisha herself. Therefore she schemes a plan to replace him with a wealthy patron without the geisha's knowledge. Mizoguchi revisits the fallen women of society where the sisters are used and abandoned by men, each of them in her own way regardless of their character. Mizoguchi was on his way to join the greats of cinema with several masterpieces. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Legendary Italian writer and director Bernardo Bertolucci joined forces with legendary actor Marlon Brando for this landmark masterpiece. A middle aged American man haunted by his wife suicide starts an anonymous sexual relationship with a Parisian girl that alters their lives. Never before or after in the history of cinema has a film addressed sexuality in a more mature and honest way than this film. Therefore much credit goes to Bertolucci and Brando for daring and delivering a film of unparalleled scope. It's even more astonishing that Brando followed his legendary performance in The Godfather with another astonishing performance which clearly makes him the greatest actor in the history of cinema. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, June 24, 2011
British director Christopher Smith made this thriller set during the Dark Ages. While the black death is ravaging Europe, a young monk torn between love and faith joins a group of Christian mercenaries to lead them to a remote village to hunt down pagans. Smith and writer Dario Poloni deserve credit for choosing the Dark Ages where barbarism was paramount due to the fear of the plague but the film comes short by focusing more on action than character development. Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne star and provide the necessary credibility to their underwritten roles but ultimately can't save the film. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Chinese writer and director Zhang Yimou took a serious misstep with this remake of the Coen brothers classic "Blood Simple." The plans of a noodle shop owner backfires when he tries to kill his adulterous wife and her lover. Keeping the basic plot of the original and setting in fantasy China, the film never takes off while Yimou tries to recycle his visuals from his far superior originals. Given all the pedigree involved, it's a colossal failure for Yimou which is a shame but also proves some great films should not get remade, even in China. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Writer Donald Cammell and cinematographer Nicolas Roeg made their directing debut with this groundbreaking experimental film. The world of gangster and a rock star collide when the former seeks refuge in the apartment of the latter where sparks fly and then some. Cammell and Roeg performed double duty bringing their respective experiences along for their directing debut. James Fox and Mick Jagger are perfectly cast as the opposites with memorable performances. The film also serves of a time capsule of the era it depicts. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Long before the Bollywood fever caught the West, the Merchant-Ivory team tackled the Indian film industry successfully in this drama. A British writer looking for inspiration for a novel in India falls in love with a movie star which ends in tragedy. Writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant captured an era with all of its elements before it transformed itself into Bollywood. They got some of the best Indian talent for the ride which includes star Shashi Kapoor, cinematographer Subrata Mitra (The Apu Trilogy) and legendary composers Shankar & Jaikishan. Indian star Kapoor stars with his British wife Jennifer Kendal as the doomed couple. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Indian director Girish Karnad adapted the Sanskrit play "The Golden Toy Chariot" for this love story. Through a coincidence, a royal courtesan falls in love with a poor poet which has unexpected consequences. Set in 6 AD India, at the time when the Kama Sutra was written, Karnad brings the lavish period alive by mixing the play with musical interludes without losing sight. Indian superstar Rekha stars as the beautiful courtesan while producer Shashi Kapoor provides solid support. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Director John Curran (The Painted Veil) reunites with Edward Norton for this psychological thriller. A convict tries to manipulate his parole officer through his beautiful wife. There are some interesting ideas in the script by Angus MacLachlan (Junebug) that puts emphasis on the characters but fail on the story. The film may have had an element of surprise with a more inspired casting where Norton and Robert DeNiro recycle previous performances which is also true for the supporting cast that includes Milla Jovovich and Frances Conroy. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Spanish master Pedro Almodóvar delivered his definitive masterpiece with this glorious drama. The paths of a journalist, a male nurse, a dancer and female bullfighter cross in unexpected and magical ways which has profound consequences in their lives. The always impressive and unique Almodóvar reached a pinnacle in his career with this superb film that proves his mastery of his craft in both content and form. Rich and complex characters are revealed in complex and satisfying manner like a great novel exploring universal themes of life, love and friendship. The film pays tribute to all art forms in a dazzling manner that's just mind blowing from the Pina Bausch dances that frames the film to the live performance of Caetano Veloso to the pitch-perfect performances by Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti, Leonor Watling and Rosario Flores that encompasses the whole spectrum of the masculine and feminine in men and women. Glorious music, cinematography and production design make this film a classic for the ages. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Italian master Sergio Leone delivered his first masterpiece with this influential classic Western that brought a new life to a stale genre. During the Civil War, three scrupulous men hunt for a treasure hidden in a cemetery. While the plot and characters are simple, the film is rich in atmosphere and texture that's dazzling, specially since the film was shot in Italy with mostly Italian cast and crew except for the leads. Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef delivered iconic performances that brought authenticity to Leone's magnificent vision of the wild West. Dazzling score by Ennio Morricone emphasizes the glorious cinematography and production design. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Writer and director Sofia Coppola went back to basics for her fourth feature but continues to explore alienation as her previous efforts. A movie star trapped somewhere at crossroads of his life at a luxury hotel in Hollywood bonds with his young daughter. Coppola obviously draws on her own life with her famous father which gives the film its necessary authenticity because of the minimalist approach that underscores the entire film. She shows a different side of celebrity life which is far from what most people associate. While Stephen Dorff is solid in the lead, the film belongs to young Elle Fanning who's the anchor of the film for obvious reasons. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The writing and directing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger delivered another masterpiece with this dazzling film. A group of nuns in a remote palace in the Himalayas fight for their sanity when they are psychologically and spiritually tested by exotic location and people. Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, Powell and Pressburger delivered a timely character study about the British in India which they failed to rule. Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron gave unforgettable performances as the two different nuns along with a superb supporting cast that includes David Farrar, Sabu and Jean Simmons. Dazzling cinematography by Jack Cardiff is a milestone in the history of cinema. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, June 13, 2011
British director Stephen Frears made his Hollywood debut with this dazzling period drama. In pre-Revolution France, two bored aristocrats play dangerous games of revenge and betrayal on unsuspecting victims which has devastating consequences. Based on the notorious novel by Rococo writer Choderlos de Laclos, writer Christopher Hampton created a lean and mean screenplay that's breathtaking. Frears delivered a masterpiece with a dazzling cast that includes Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer who all delivered stellar performances that remains a milestone in their careers. The equally impressive supporting cast includes Swoosie Kurtz, Uma Thurman and Keanu Reeves. The first rate crew includes cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, production Designer Stuart Craig, costume designer James Acheson and composer George Fenton amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Visionary writer and director David Lynch took on Frank Herbert's epic Sci-Fi novel as his third feature. Set in the distant future where the whole universe is fighting over a spice found only on one planet, two families clash over to control of the planet where the mysterious inhabitants await a prophet. Despite the obvious flaws that comes to shrink the novel into one film, Lynch manages to deliver a spectacular film that's true to his dark vision. The production and costume design are dazzling as the film stands the test of time. The terrific cast includes Kyle MacLachlan, Francesca Annis, Jürgen Prochnow and Max von Sydow amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, June 10, 2011
French writer and director Antony Cordier made his feature debut with this coming of age drama. Mickael, a working class teenager with a bright future as a judo champion and beautiful girlfriend seems to have it all. While preparing for a championship, he befriends the son of his wealthy sponsor which changes the path of his life. Despite some flaws in the script, Cordier made a compelling film about the teenage rite of passage into adulthood with a talented cast and crew. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
German-Turkish writer and director Yasemin Samdereli made her feature debut with this winning fable with a perfect blend of comedy and drama. The tribulations of Turkish immigrant family through three generations where the two very different cultures clash with each other, often with hilarious consequences. It's a whimsical and humorous look at a rather traumatic experience that will resonate with many immigrants. Samdereli along with co-writer and sister Nesrin manage to incorporate many universal tales into a personal tale. Because of the humorous take, even the cliches work to their advantage thanks to an excellent cast and crew. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Writer George Nolfi made his feature debut with this romantic Sci-Fi drama. A politician and a dancer fall in love but are separated by a group of mysterious men with supernatural powers. Besides some interesting concepts, there's a great romantic story lost in this messy film where religion meets science fiction. This complicated and ambitious story required the vision of a seasoned director which seems too much of a task for a novice. The always reliable Matt Damon and Emily Blunt bring their talent and charm but can't save the film. The cast includes Anthony Mackie and Terrence Stamp in supporting roles. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
British director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) returned with this old-fashioned adventure tale. In Roman ruled Britain, a young soldier embarks a dangerous journey with his slave to retrieve his father's lost legion emblem to clear his name. There's plenty to admire about Macdonald's film but the convoluted script is all over the place which ultimately derails the film. The similar themed film "Centurion" by Neil Marshall had a tighter focus but fell short elsewhere. Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell star as the master and slave while Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim and Donald Sutherland appear in supporting roles. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Italian actor Kim Rossi Stuart made his writing and directing debut with this family drama. A little boy and his sister cope with their single father and unstable mother. Stuart made a confident debut with this character driven film which focuses effectively on daily tribulations. Alessandro Morace delivers an outstanding and heartbreaking performance which is far mature beyond his young age. Rossi Stuart and Barbora Bobulova are solid in supporting roles. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Acclaimed writer Mark Peploe (The Passenger, The Last Emperor & The Sheltering Sky) made his directing debut with this psychological thriller. A young boy afraid of losing his eye sight has dark visions that plagues his daily routine which puts him in danger. Peploe the writer has some interesting ideas which he fails to execute coherently as a director which is unfortunate. There some terrifying sequences which could have translated into a terrific thriller. The talented cast includes Fanny Ardant, James Fox, Paul McGann and Ben Keyworth. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Director Julie Taymor turned to the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo for her sophomore effort after her smashing debut with the visually stunning adaptation of Shakespeare's "Titus." The extraordinary life of Frida Kahlo and her love for fellow artist Diego Rivera whose passion for life overcame many obstacles and tragedies. While it's formula driven biopic from Hollywood which seems to contradict the spirit of Frida, it works on some levels specially the passionate performance by Salma Hayek who made the film happen. Luckily Taymor also incorporated some of Frida's work in the story which suits her visual flair. The stellar supporting cast includes Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Edward Norton, Antonio Banderas and Ashley Judd amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
British director Ridley Scott ended the 80's decade on a low note with this thriller set in Japan. Two tough New York cops get a taste of the Japanese mob aka the Yakuza after they deliver and loose a vicious killer in Osaka. Michael Douglas stars with one of his typical recycled performances along with Andy Garcia and Kate Capshaw in thankless supporting roles. Scott is one of the few directors who either delivers masterpieces or forgettable mediocre films without any warning. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Production designer turned director Catherine Hardwicke choose the 70's skateboarding scene for her second feature. The story about a group of young men who changed skateboarding before it became big business. The sport was a way of living for these boys escaping their reality. Written by skateboard legend Stacy Peralta about his life and friends which Hardwicke gets right with a talented cast including Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, John Robinson and Victor Rasuk amongst others. Peralta's documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys" captures the spirit of the times better but this film dramatizes the story by filling the gaps. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.