Saturday, December 31, 2011
TOP 10 Films & Directors
01. The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick
02. The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
03. Hugo, Martin Scorsese
04. Shame, Steve McQueen
05. A Separation, Asghar Farhadi
06. Project Nim, James Marsh
07. The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar
08. Miss Bala, Gerardo Naranjo
09. Beginners, Mike Mills
10. Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn
TOP 10 Performances, Female
01. Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
02. Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
03. Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
04. Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
05. Viola Davis, The Help
06. Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life
07. Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
08. Carey Mulligan, Shame
09. Keira Knightley, A Dangerous Method
10. Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
TOP 10 Performances, Male
01. Michael Fassbender, Shame
02. Jean Dujardin, The Artist
03. Brad Pitt, Moneyball
04. Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
05. Leonardo DiCaprio, J Edgar
06. George Clooney, The Descendants
07. Ryan Gosling, Drive
08. Sean Penn, This Must Be the Place
09. Mel Gibson, The Beaver
10. Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method
Director Angel Garcia made his feature debut with this highly entertaining comedy based on the Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" but with a Latin twist. After their father's sudden death, two different sisters are forced to move from Beverly Hills to East LA where they learn some valuable life lessons. Despite its formula approach, Garcia assembled a talented cast that deliver the goods which makes for solid entertainment. The talent cast includes Camilla Belle, Alexa Vega, Adriana Barraza, Wilmer Valderrama, Nicholas D'Agosto and Kuno Becker. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, December 30, 2011
French director Alain Corneau's last film starts with promise before it derails into a silly thriller. Two women, a ruthless executive and her innocent assistant bond successfully in the corporate culture but their bond is shattered when greed and love comes into play which leads to murder and deception. Corneau seemed to have tapped into something in the first act where the two women operate in the male dominated world but the story quickly turns its gear into the wrong direction which looses its steam and credibility along the way. Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier star as the two women; while Scott Thomas is terrific in the underwritten role, the otherwise talented Sagnier can't save the film when it goes off the rails. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Legendary director George Stevens made this sweeping epic about the transformation of Texas from cattle ranchers to oil tycoons through a wealthy family. After marrying a wealthy rancher, a beautiful socialite tries to fight social injustice and racism while trying to adapt to her new home. While it's overrated in many ways and too long, it's saved by the performances of Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean in his last film. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Legendary director Martin Scorsese reunited with frequent collaborators Robert DeNiro for the fourth time and writer Paul Schrader, cinematographer Michael Chapman and editor Thelma Schoonmaker for second time that produced this classic masterpiece. The professional and personal rise and fall of boxer Jake LaMotta is brought to life in a riveting character study. Based on the book and life by LaMotta, Scorsese outdone himself for a dazzling film with one of the greatest performance in the history of cinema by DeNiro. This magnificent film features also ace camera work and editing besides the stellar performances by Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Director Martin Scorsese delivered another masterpiece with this dazzling classic. An alternative exploration of the life of Jesus from his early human struggles to his last temptation on the cross. Based on the controversial novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, it marked the third collaboration between writer Paul Schrader and Scorsese that remains the best film about Jesus. Besides the stunning production design by John Beard, cinematography by Michael Ballhaus and groundbreaking score by Peter Gabriel, the film features outstanding performances by Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel and Barbara Hershey. After the controversy, this underrated classic remains a masterpiece of cinema by one of its masters. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Director Sidney Lumet reunited with Al Pacino for another classic with this riveting drama. Two amateur criminals' attempt to rob a bank fails which turns into a hostage crisis before becoming a public event. Based on a true story, writer Frank Pierson and Lumet turn the story into complex crime drama which defied the genre conventions. Al Pacino stars with terrific performance along a solid supporting cast that includes John Cazale, Charles Durning and Chris Sarandon amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Legendary director Sidney Lumet delivered another knockout with this timeless classic. After a veteran TV news anchor is fired from his job, he has a nervous breakdown live on TV which revives his career when the network tries to cash on a new era on TV. Glorious writing by Paddy Chayefsky proved to be prophetic in many ways of what television would become. Lumet as usual assembled a stellar cast with Peter Finch, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight delivering riveting performances without a false beat. It's one of the best film about TV and corporate culture that remains relevant to this day which is quite a remarkable achievement by the the whole cast and crew. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
German master Michael Haneke delivered a stunning puzzle with this drama that features incomplete tales of several journeys in the lives of several people dealing with life's struggles. After an incident where an African immigrant stops a French boy for tossing garbage to a Romanian beggar, several glimpses into their lives and their families are shown where each deals with some kind of humiliation. Haneke brilliantly captures staggering moments into the lives of diverse people that's heart breaking and unforgettable. The fragmented approach provides a bigger picture on the human condition and its ability to cope with the indignities of life. Humiliation was never captured on film like this before. The stellar ensemble includes the always dazzling Juliette Binoche, Luminita Gheorghiu and Thierry Neuvic amongst others with powerful performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Director David Fincher made his feature debut with third film in the series. Ripley is the lone survivor when she awakes in a remote prison planet with all male convicts and an alien on the loose and without any weapons. Fincher took the series into another direction by toning down the action but infusing it with plenty of atmosphere. Sigourney Weaver returns with another nuanced performance proving her worth as the greatest female action star. The supporting cast includes Charles Dance and Charles S. Dutton with solid performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Director James Cameron took on second sequel with his third feature following his smashing success with "The Terminator." Ripley awakes decades later to find out the planet with the aliens have been colonized but the contact is lost which paves the way for her revisit the deadly planet infested with aliens. Cameron and team jolt pure action into genre that takes it to a new direction while staying true to the story. Sigourney Weaver returns front and center as the lead to take charge with a terrific performance. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Visionary director Ridley Scott got his breakthrough with his second feature that has become one of the best science fiction films. The crew of a mining ship respond to a SOS from a nearby planet where they encounter a mysterious creature that proves dangerous and deadly to them. Scott redefined the genre by mixing horror in this timeless classic which has not lost one bit of its power. Sigourney Weaver became the first female action star with a star making performance. The solid supporting cast includes John Hurt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton and Tom Skerritt. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Legendary director Martin Scorsese pulled off the impossible to make this remake his own. Two men from the opposite sides are recruited to go under cover with the police and the organized crime in Boston that starts a race against time which puts them in danger. Based on the Hong Kong thriller by Alan Mak and Flix Chong, writer William Monahan drafted a credible story that provided Scorsese to make the remake his own with an stellar cast and crew. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon star as the opposite characters in this riveting thriller along with the solid support of Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Director David Fincher returns with the much hyped remake of the international bestseller. A disgraced journalist and abused computer hacker join forces to solve decades long mystery for a wealthy industrialist that includes murder, rape and abuse. The remake comes with a bigger budget that enhances the production values the original film didn't have but doesn't improve much except for minor details. The biggest change and disappointment is the relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth which is typical of Hollywood that must turn everything into a love story. It's apparent what attracted Fincher to the material which recalls his previous films, specially "Zodiac." The talented cast includes Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Plummer and Rooney Mara who does justice to Lisbeth Salander but does not surpass Noomi Rapace performance. The original film didn't have the budget but have the authenticity money can't buy. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Director Gavin O'Connor returned with another excellent film that takes the genre to new heights. Two estranged brothers still traumatized by their past are forced to get back to fight for different reasons that pits them against each other. O'Connor and his talented team focus as much on the character development and story as they do on the fighting in the ring which makes for a satisfying experience. Rising stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton deliver solid performances along with Nick Nolte as their father. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Director Tate Taylor delivers a very effective film with his second feature. An aspiring writer sets out to write a novel from the perspective of the African-American maids about their lives and treatment from their white employers during the volatile 1960's when the civil rights movement started. Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, Taylor and his talented team focus on the powerful story which is brought to live by a stellar cast. Despite its flaws and fable like setting, the film works because it's a story that should have been told long time ago which gives it relevance and timeliness. The film's power comes from the terrific performances by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson that makes it soar. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Writer and director Alexander Payne returns with another keenly observed drama with plenty of heart and humor. After a tragic accident that leaves his wife in coma, a man tries to connect to his two daughters while dealing with the harsh realities of life. Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, Payne and his talented team deliver a complex and nuanced story with terrific performances by George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Judy Greer amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Director Brad Bird made his live-action debut with the fourth installation of the franchise. Ethan Hunt and his team go rogue and global hunt in order to catch the bad guy who wants to start a nuclear war. This kind of films were never about story but to provide a roller coaster ride which it does provide plenty to exhausting effect. Bird who delivered some terrific films for Pixar manages to boost some energy into the tired franchise. Tom Cruise returns to show off his skills with another terrific ensemble that includes Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist amongst others. 1001 Films coverage of current releases.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
French writer and director Bruno Dumont explores the dangers of faith with this drama. A young and religious woman gets kicked out of a convent for not following the rules which leads her to befriend a devout Muslim man who recruits her as a suicide bomber. Dumont shows how faith and religion can be dangerous in the wrong hands like a weapon which brings religious fanaticism closer to home. It's one of best films about religion whether it's Christian, Muslim or Jewish or any other. Newcomer Julie Sokolowski gives a powerful performance as the lead. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Danish writing and directing duo, Tobias Lindholm and Michael Noer made their feature debut with this riveting prison drama. Two new inmates at a prison learn to adapt and survive the system, however their brief encounter and friendship becomes a liability for both with devastating consequences. Lindholm and Noer using their background in documentary to show the prison life where everybody has to go through the trial by fire to survive it. Johan Philip Asbæk leads the cast of professional and non-professional actors, some of which were ex-convicts and guards. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, December 19, 2011
While having the right approach for Tintin, director Steven Spielberg misses a great opportunity with this film. A young boy befriends a horse which is sold to the cavalry during WWI where it changes hands as the war goes on. Overproduced, directed and acted that takes away the power of the story. The best scenes are with the horse and without any dialog which the film should have emphasized more instead of focusing the human characters that are full of cliches and saturated with a heavy dose of sentimentality. Spielberg could have made a masterpiece like Robert Bresson's "Au Hasard Balthazar" with this film which is a real shame. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Legendary director Steven Spielberg seems the perfect match for the adaptation of the classic comic book series by Hergé. Young detective Tintin and his beloved dog snowy try to solve the mystery of the unicorn which leads them to an extraordinary adventure. Spielberg and his team that consists of producer Peter Jackson and a trio of hot British writers manage to combine three classic comic books into one film that uses the latest 3D technology for a satisfying experience. While the film takes a departure from the books, it allows a new generation to discover it in a new way which will make sure that the adventures of Tintin will be cherished for ages. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, delivered one of their best films with this dark comedy. A desperate car salesman, a pregnant cop and two violent criminals cross paths after a kidnapping goes wrong with unexpected consequences. Brilliantly written and directed by the Coens who always deliver original and unique films with their signature written all over it. Frances McDormand, William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi lead the solid ensemble with their terrific performances. Regular collaborators like Roger Deakins, Carter Burwell and Mary Zophres deliver their usual best for a classic. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, December 16, 2011
After Blue and White which clever played on liberty/tragedy and equality/comedy, Polish master Krzysztof Kieslowski turned to Red which dealt with fraternity in a metaphysical way that became his swan song. An accident brings together a beautiful model and an elderly judge together which changes the paths of their lives in unexpected ways. Kieslowski and his team take on modern technology which unites and separates human contact in more than one way which won't stop humanity to reach out and connect whenever possible. Irène Jacob and Jean-Louis Trintignant deliver terrific outstanding performances as the unlikely strangers whose encounter has profound effects on their existence. Cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski masterfully connects the characters with the perfect blend of light and color while composer Zbigniew Preisner continues to expand on the score to new glorious heights, worthy of the final masterpiece. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
For the second installment, Kieslowski took on the color white which represents equality. A Polish man is divorced by his French wife and returns back to his country where he find success which leads him to get even with her. The lightest and weakest of the three films only because the other two turned out to be striking masterpieces. It's more political but with plenty of humor which makes for memorable film none-the-less. Zbigniew Zamachowski and Julie Delpy star as the couple whose equality is challenged by their nationalities which tests their love and relationship. Cinematographer Edward Klosinski brings a realistic and sober look washed by light while Zbigniew Preisner continues the score with different variation. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Polish master Krzysztof Kieslowski started his dazzling trilogy with this drama. A tragic accident that kills her husband and daughter liberates a woman who sets out to shut herself from the world with unexpected consequences. Kieslowski and his co-writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz based their trilogy on the meaning of the French flag but interpret it in their own way which makes for powerful and unforgettable cinema. In this first film they take on the color blue which represents liberty but instead of a political interpretation they opt for an utterly personal one. Juliette Binoche delivered another outstanding performance as the woman shattered by loss who has to find a way to live again. Besides the brilliant writing and directing, the film features a glorious cinematography by Slawomir Idziak and haunting score by Zbigniew Preisner. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
British director Simon West returns with another uninspired action film which is another forgettable remake. A betrayed hit man kills his mentor and takes his son as his apprentice who's bound to find his father's killer. The film suffers from the poorly written script which derails a potentially decent action film. Jason Statham stars with his trademark performance that he delivers in every film along with Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland in supporting roles. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
French writer and director Fred Cavayé delivered another riveting thriller with this action packed drama. A male nurse and his pregnant wife get involved in a dangerous race against time when a injured thief on the run ends up in his station. Cavayé weaves an original tale full of action that makes for a satisfying and entertaining experience. Gilles Lellouche stars along with Elena Anaya, Roschdy Zem and Gérard Lanvin. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
British director Malcolm Venville made his feature debut with this misguided drama. A group of friends kidnap the Frenchman who stole the wife of their friend who's shattered after she left him. It's basically a one note film without anything to say about friendship or infidelity which would have been totally ignored without its talented cast. Ray Winstone stars along with Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Belgian writer and director Lucas Belvaux delivered a riveting film with this effective thriller. After a wealthy industrialist is kidnapped, his family can't pay the ransom while his company and the police try to interfere with the negotiation that puts his life in endanger. Belvaux takes the formula and gives it a complex twist that makes for a satisfying experience without losing any tension. The talented cast that includes Yvan Attal, Anne Consigny and Alex Descas provide more depth to the characters with their solid performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Chinese director Zhang Yimou returns with another period drama that uses the infamous Nanjing massacre in the background. During the Japanese invasion of Nanjing in 1937, an American man gets trapped with a group of convent girls and courtesans in a church where they try to survive the ordeal that requires a great deal of courage and sacrifice. The challenge that faced the filmmakers were how to make a film about one of the darkest episodes in Chinese history that would appeal to a world wide audience. In that case, Yimou found the right approach to use it as background due to its limited appeal, however the contrived story and plot using fake heroism and sex appeal undermines the scope of the actual tragedy. Christian Bale stars as the clueless American who finds his calling in the hour of crisis is more worthy of Hollywood formula film than a foreign film. The film marks the debut of the stunning Ni Ni who could follow the path of Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. 1001 Films' coverage of upcoming releases.
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Yun Jung-Hee, Poetry
Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life
Best Foreign Language Film
City of Life and Death
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Best Animated Feature
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Best Production Design
Dante Ferretti, Hugo
The Chemical Brothers, Hanna
For more info: www.lafca.net
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The directing duo of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa return with their second feature with this generic comedy/drama featuring an stellar cast. A middle-aged man gets the shock of his life when his wife divorces him which puts him on a path of self-discovery with the help of a playboy. This kind of formula movies are entirely reliable on the cast to make or break it, so Ficarra and Requa hit a home run with their superior cast that includes Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone who were game to grace it with their presence that makes it watchable. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Legendary director Roman Polanski returns with another terrific film with this comedy of manners. After their sons got involved into a fight in the playground, two couples meet to discuss the incident in a civil manner which erupts into a battle of the sexes. Based on the play by
Yasmina Reza, Polanski and his stellar cast and crew made one of the funniest films of the year which speaks volumes about human nature. Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz deliver outstanding performances as the couples in question. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
French master Jean Renoir delivered his definitive masterpiece with this scathing look at the French society before the beginning of World War II disguised as a comedy of manners. During an hunting party in the country, a group of upper class society and their servants get involved in a game of romantic entanglements that ends with a tragedy. All the characters are driven by their notion of love that justifies their actions towards each other and those around them causing pain and suffering. Brilliant written and directed by Renoir who also appears in a crucial role in the terrific ensemble. What remains impressive about this masterpiece is the fluidity of the camera that swirls around the many characters seamlessly without losing its focus on the story and themes which remains a towering achievement in the history of cinema. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
French actress turned writer and director Josiane Balasko returned with this love triangle. A single and middle-aged woman falls in love with a gigolo who lives double life for financial reasons that gets him in trouble with his wife. Balasko a superb comedian always focuses on strong female characters in her films which she delivers again with smart writing and direction with plenty of heart and humor. Nathalie Baye stars with another outstanding performance with the solid support of Balasko, Eric Caravaca and Isabelle Carré. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Director Gore Verbinski reunited with Johnny Depp for this original animation written by John Logan. An ordinary lizard gets abandoned in the desert where he becomes an unlikely hero. Verbinski and his team draw inspiration from classic films to make an original film. While it has plenty of humor and jokes, the film is more for an older audience than its main target. Johnny Depp stars as the chameleon that fits his talents with the stellar supporting cast. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, December 5, 2011
New Zealander director Christine Jeffs' second feature took her to the past in the troubled life of poets. American poet Sylvia Plath falls in love British poet Ted Hughes which leads to a doomed marriage that ends in tragedy. It's grim story and film that shows the dark side of creativity that comes with heavy burden. While Plath was clearly talented, she was insecure and depressed that drove her husband away which paved the way for the tragedy. The film might be not accurate as films rarely are, it takes a stand which can be justified or not. Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig deliver solid performances as the doomed poets which is the heart of the film. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Director David Fincher's third feature was this clever thriller that came between Seven and Fight Club. A lonely and wealthy man gets a strange and live changing gift from his younger brother that involves him to engage in a real life game. Fincher and his talented team take the thriller elements to play with the audience which makes for an entertaining exercise. Michael Douglas stars with a solid performance along with Deborah Kara Unger and Sean Penn in the supporting cast. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Writer and director Mike Mills' second feature is a complex coming of age drama/comedy with plenty of charm and humor that makes for a wonderful experience. A man still mourning the death of his parents falls in love with a French actress that makes him reevaluate his life with the help of a Jack Russell terrier. Thoughtfully written and directed, Mills has created complex characters based on himself, his family and experiences. He blends style and substance in a perfect balance that's a rare accomplishment. The stellar cast includes Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent, Christopher Plummer and Goran Visnjic with terrific performances that are the heart and soul of the film. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.