Monday, October 31, 2011
British director Danny Boyle brought his signature style to this underrated drama. A young man's constant desire for adventure takes him to Thailand where he finds a solitary beach paradise where he learns some valuable lessons in life. Based on the novel by Alex Garland, Boyle and writer John Hodge made their biggest mistake to change to nationality of the main character from British to American for obvious reasons which was a betrayal to many including the followers of the book. While Leonardo DiCaprio gave a solid performance, his character's experience is more unique to Europeans than Americans. One of the themes tackled is the destruction of nature by the invasion of tourism which is universal. The stellar cast includes Tilda Swinton, Robert Carlyle, Guillaume Canet and Virginie Ledoyen. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Writer and director Spike Lee delivered his best work with this provocative drama. During the hottest summer day, tempers and racial tensions rise in a Brooklyn neighborhood that explodes into violence. Lee shows that nobody is immune to racism and bigotry in micro cosmos where Whites, Blacks, Latinos and Asians clash on a daily basis. The stellar cast includes Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro and Spike Lee. It's the first major breakthrough film by mostly African-American cast and crew. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
German director F.W. Murnau made the first vampire film that still remains one of the best after almost a century. Based on the novel by Bram Stoker, a young real estate agent is sent to a sinister Count who wants to purchase a property in the city. Murnau created unforgettable images that makes this silent classic a timeless masterpiece. Max Schreck gave his greatest performance as Nosferatu that remains one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, October 28, 2011
French writer and director Julie Bertuccelli returned with her second feature with this Australian based drama. After the sudden death of her father, a little girl believes that his soul lives in a giant fig tree which lets her and her mother cope with their grief. The story could have gone many directions but Bertuccelli wisely chose family drama over supernatural or horror film. Instead the mother and daughter relationship becomes the core where each becomes opposites whether to hold on to the past or move on with life in the face of tragedy. Youngster Morgana Davies holds her own against Charlotte Gainsbourg with moving performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Danish director Peter Flinth made this old fashioned epic about a Swedish crusader torn between love and loyalty. After growing up in a monastery the son of a nobleman is sent to the Holy Land as a knight Templar to do penance for a forbidden love. Severely edited from two films to make this version, the story and its characters suffer which could have been a decent adventure film. Joakim Nätterqvist stars with a solid cast that includes Bibi Andersson, Michael Nyqvist Vincent Perez and Simon Callow amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Swedish master Ingmar Bergman's exploration of mental illness is a terrifying journey into the soul. A man's disappearance on a remote island is explored through his wife's testimony and his dairy. No other filmmaker explored the human psyche like Bergman, he turns a man's psychological disintegration into a horror film. It's also a love story like no other, the scene following the wife's discovery of the diary is heartbreaking. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann deliver as usual flawless performances while Sven Nykvist provides the striking and haunting images. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Legendary director Martin Scorsese tackles the Beatles after successful documentaries about Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. In this insightful documentary Scorsese sheds a light on the George Harrison, the most enigmatic of the fab four from his childhood in Liverpool to his rise in the Beatles and his search for spirituality that sent him on a journey until the end. Besides the archival footage and his family's cooperation, Scorsese got the most of his friends open up about Harrison. A terrific and inspirational documentary on several levels from a man's journey through life to an unique perspective on one of the greatest bands in the history, the film has plenty to offer. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Veteran Portuguese writer and director Manoel de Oliveira continues to deliver films at an astonishing rate despite being over a century old and a career that's in its eighth decade which is more interesting than his work of late. In this romantic ghost story, a photographer falls in love with a dead girl whom he has to photograph on the night of her death at the request of her parents. The story is an interesting concept that has haunted de Oliveira for half century which would have made for a great short film. Therefore to drag it to a feature, it falls apart on several levels from the writing to the performances, specially the lead by Ricardo Trêpa who's the grandson of the director. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Australian writer and director Michael Rowe made his feature debut with this brutal character study. Laura, a young Mexican woman with a troubled past lives a lonely existence in Mexico City where she works as a freelance journalist and has superficial sexual relationships. One night she encounters Arturo with whom she starts an intense sexual relationship that turns darker and dangerous towards a fateful date that hints at her troubled past. Rowe who's based in Mexico delivers an uncompromising character study of a troubled soul who can't escape her past despite death and physical distance from it. Shot entirely in one location, actress Monica del Carmen bears her body and soul in a fearless performance that's utterly devastating. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
French master Jean-Luc Godard took on Science Fiction as only he could. An agent is sent to Alphaville, a computer-controlled society at war with artists, thinkers, and lovers. There the agent is suspect but also superior to everybody around him. Godard's simplistic approach works without any special effects and gets his points across as usual. There are plenty references to America from the main character to the small details. Eddie Constantine stars with the stunning Anna Karina and Akim Tamiroff. Raoul Coutard is in charge of the camera as usual. 1001 Films coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Belgian writers and directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani made their feature debut with this pretentious mess. A woman is portrayed in three phases, in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The directors opt for style instead of substance which delivers some striking imagery but that's all. There's absolutely no character development or psychological context between the phases depicted. It's retro look and mix of horror and eroticism work in images but in a film. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Chinese writer and director Wong Kar Wai achieved world wide acclaim with this dazzling film about love and longing. Several characters paths cross in the same busy district in Hong Kong. Among them a woman dealing with drugs and immigrants, two lovelorn cops who spend most of their night shift in the same night spot and young woman working at the fast food joint falling in love with one of the cops. Featuring the signature style of Kar Wai, the film is a visual poem thanks to the camera of Chris Doyle full of kinetic energy and slow motion set to haunting music. The talented cast includes Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung, Faye Wong and Takeshi Kaneshiro amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Chinese director Wong Kar Wai's second feature united him with cinematographer Christopher Doyle with whom he established his signature style that made him one of the poets of modern cinema. Set in the 60's carefree Hong Kong, several men and women drift through life where they experience love and heartbreak. One of them is a merciless playboy who seduces and discards women because he was abandoned by his mother and brought up by a prostitute. Dazzling cinematography and haunting score enhance the performances of an all star cast that includes Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau, Carina Lau and Rebecca Pan amongst others. 1001 Films's coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer delivered a poetic masterpiece with this haunting film. A young man's obsession with the supernatural takes him to a terrifying journey. Dreyer's hypnotic film delivers haunting images and atmosphere from the first frame till the last. It was his first sound film which he uses to unexpected effect like anything else from narrative form to use of camera and light. The film hasn't lost its power as the images remain unsettling and dreamy. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Canadian writer and director Denis Villeneuve made this whimsical drama about fate. After a young and beautiful woman has an abortion, her life takes a downward spiral. Villeneuve made a unique film that takes risks, some works while others don't. He goes from dead serious to deadpan comedy which is unsettling but his take on themes such as moral responsibility and consequences are fascinating. Marie-Josée Croze gives a compelling performance the troubled woman whose irresponsible behaviour teaches her some life lessons. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
French comic artist Joann Sfar made his feature debut as writer and director with this ambitious film about the life of controversial French icon Serge Gainsbourg. Episodes of Gainsbourg's life gets a fairytale treatment from early childhood experiences to adult escapades as a rebel and seducing beautiful women. The film is rather dull and lifeless for Gainsbourg whose life was anything but. It shows Sfar's inexperience in cinema whose visual flair can't compensate for character development. The cast that includes Eric Elmosnino, Lucy Gordon and Laetitia Casta is assembled more to look like their famous counterparts than their performances to breath life into them. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Swedish director Mikael Håfström returned with another Hollywood horror film about exorcism. A seminary student gets a lesson about faith when he's sent to Rome to take an exorcism course. What the film has going for it, is its angle of a non-believer protagonist that makes it compelling. Håfström and writer Michael Petroni made the right choices for the most part to achieve the right atmosphere. Anthony Hopkins' presence is crucial in a tricky role who also supports newcomer Colin O'Donoghue in the lead. Alice Braga. Toby Jones and Ciarán Hinds fill out the supporting roles. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, October 14, 2011
After a long absence, American writer and director Joshua Marston returns with his second feature which is set in Albania. Two neighboring families feud continues when a member of one family is killed which has devastating consequences on the children whose livelihood is threatened. Marston and co-writer Andamion Murataj give the ancient tradition of blood feud a modern spin and how it's still practiced in some parts of the world. They show the feud through the eyes of two teenage siblings who have to sacrifice their lives for the good of the family. Marston has assembled a talented cast and crew that deliver a powerful film. For an American director, Marston has created his own niche that focuses on world cinema yet with universal themes. 1001 Films' coverage of the 34th Mill Valley Film Festival.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
British artist turned writer and director Steve McQueen returns with his second feature that reunites him with his star Michael Fassbender for another profound character study. A young and successful New Yorker's life takes a downward spiral when his equally damaged and fragile sister shows up. Both siblings who share a troubled past can't connect to anybody intimately leaving them alone and isolated with devastating consequences. McQueen and co-writer Abi Morgan deliver an unflinching look of two psychologically damaged characters beyond repair whose attempts to reach out are truly heartbreaking and profound. Fassbender gives a fearless and riveting performance as the tormented man whose addiction to sex hints at the abyss of his suffering. Carey Mulligan also gives an outstanding performance as the fragile sister whose attempt to reach out for help proves shattering. 1001 Films' coverage of the 34th Mill Valley Film Festival.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
German writer and director Philipp Stölzl returns with another period drama by giving Goethe the "Shakespeare in Love" treatment. The formative years in the life of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are brought to the screen where the young Goethe is an aspiring poet and is forced by his father to reform as a lawyer in a provincial town where he falls in love and finds his way in life. Since there's hardly any films about Goethe in cinema, the movie is welcome despite its shortcomings. Stölzl has assembled a talented cast for the leads that includes Alexander Fehling, Miriam Stein and Moritz Bleibtreu. 1001 Films' coverage of the 34th Mill Valley Film Festival.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Veteran British TV director Simon Curtis makes his feature debut with this compelling behind-the-scenes drama of a movie production. A young man's dream comes true when he gets a job on movie with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe where the British actor and director gets more than he bargained for with Monroe in an effort to boost their careers. Based on the books of Colin Clark who witnessed the drama unfolding, Curtis has more than enough material to work with which makes for a fascinating film about two unlikely legends, a British actor and an American movie star crossing paths. Curtis biggest coup is to have found an actress like Michelle Williams who could play Marilyn and on whose performance the film relies. Williams gives a dazzling performance as Monroe and she comes damn close. Many have imitated but never came close to the iconic Monroe until now. The stellar cast also includes Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne and Judi Dench amongst other with terrific performances. 1001 Films' coverage of the 34th Mill Valley Film Festival.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Burkinabé writer and director Gaston Kaboré made his feature debut with this compelling drama set in pre-colonial Africa. After a mute boy is found and saved from certain death by a traveller, he's adopted by a village where he recalls his traumatic past. Kaboré gives an authentic look of rural Africa without the stereotypes by foreigners. It's a timeless tale of survival and belonging that's touching and shattering at the same time. It's a rare treat to watch a film from Burkina Faso by one of its most talented filmmakers. 1001 Films' coverage of the 34th Mill Valley Film Festival.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Writer and director Craig Brewer returned with another original redemption tale rooted and infused with music. A down on his luck musician finds his call to save a young woman with his unconventional ways. There are some shocking images in the film that Brewer uses to his advantage to tell a compelling story about characters at the margins of society. Brewer's casting of Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci in the leads are perfect but his ultimate trump is the music and locations that gives his characters authenticity. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
British producer turned writer and director Matthew Vaughn continues to impress with this successful prequel that outshines the original films. The story of Professor X and Magneto are told how they became allies before turning enemies in a fight for acceptance from the humans. Vaughn and his team give the X-Men franchise a kick ass James Bond treatment with a stellar cast. The film has the elements of a great Bond film and then some including the dashing hero, beautiful girls, formidable villains and plenty of action and special effects. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy star with a solid support cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne and January Jones amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Legendary British director Michael Powell delivered his last masterpiece with this psychological thriller. A tormented young man kills women with a movie camera to film and study their terror on screen. Perhaps the most personal film by Powell who dissects cinema like a lab rat where he teaches the audience few lessons about voyeurism and fascination of film. It's a fascinating film in many ways that goes beyond the plot and story. Karlheinz Böhm stars as the filmmaker with a dark secret. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
British director Michael Winterbottom reunites for the third time with British comedian Steve Coogan with this mockumentary where he lets Coogan and fellow comedian Rob Brydon loose on a trip. Coogan and Brydon play a version of themselves on a trip of fine restaurants in Northern England which starts friendly before they get on each others nerves with their idiosyncrasies. There are some hilarious moments including some impersonations on British actors specially Michael Caine amongst others. Winterbottom and Coogan cleverly blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
The legendary team behind the Merchant Ivory label delivered another masterpiece with this dazzling adaptation of the E.M. Forster's masterpiece. The lives of three families of different classes are connected with the country house of the title in this intricate tale of fate and values that binds them. Brilliantly brought to screen by terrific cast and crew that consists of writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, director James Ivory, producer Ismael Merchant, cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts and composer Richard Robbins amongst others. Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter and Vanessa Redgrave deliver outstanding performances with an equally solid support cast. The film stands the test of time as the novel did as well as a peak in the careers of all the talents involved. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Spanish writer and director Benito Zambrano made his feature debut with this superb drama about a mother and daughter relationship. A mother is forced to live with her estranged daughter after her husband is hospitalized in the city where they are forced to confront each other as adults. Zambrano made a remarkable debut that's well written and directed with terrific performances by María Galiana and Ana Fernández as the leads. It's poignant and universal tale about generational conflict that's rewarding and heartbreaking. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Argentinian writer and director Alexis Dos Santos delivered an honest look at contemporary youth with this charming and quirky film. Two teenagers who share an apartment in London without ever meeting try to find themselves while being lost in the world. The Spaniard Axl is looking for his father whom he's never known and the French Vera who looks for love after a heartbreak. Dos Santos manages to make a credible film that's hip and stylish without trying to hard or losing focus. The world of teenagers are universal with similar themes of identity and sexuality. London seems the perfect place where the characters could meet but could be replaced with any of the European cities with similar results. Fernando Tielve and Déborah François are perfectly cast the two protagonists on the search for themselves. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Superstar, producer and writer George Clooney returns with his fourth feature as a director which is his most accessible and satisfying film yet. An idealistic press secretary for a presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics in this morality tale. Brilliantly written and executed with a stellar cast makes this film utterly enjoyable. Based on the play "Farragut North," by Beau Willimon, Clooney and co-writer and producer Grant Heslov deliver one of the best films about the machinery of politics where idealism clashes with reality. It shows that in the game of politics like chess everybody is sooner or later eliminated at whatever cost. Clooney has also assembled a terrific cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, and Evan Rachel Wood amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.