Sunday, April 29, 2012
Director Chris Weitz delivered his best film since "About a Boy" with this devastating drama. An illegal Mexican gardener's hopes for a better life is shattered when his truck is stolen. Based on a story by Roger L. Simon, Weitz and screenwriter Eric Eason hit all the right notes to give a human face to the controversial subject of illegal immigration. Demián Bichir gives a heartbreaking performance as the single father who desperately fights for a better future for his teenage son. The solid supporting cast includes José Julián who makes his feature debut as the teenage son. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi made his feature debut with this psychological thriller. After a fatal shooting, a woman has disturbing visions that affects her relationship with a former cop and a criminal. Brilliantly written full of twists and turns that makes for an effective thriller where nothing is as it seems. Capotondi shows tremendous skills for a first time director with a solid cast and crew. Kseniya Rappoport and Filippo Timi star with solid performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Irish writer and director Mary McGuckian's adaptation of the novel by Thornton Wilder is a mess with an all star cast. A monk's attempt to examine God's intent and the lives of the five people who died at the collapse of a bridge gets him on trial in 17th century Peru. The problem lies in the structure of the script by McGuckian that derails the film which's great example of what works in a novel doesn't in film. The mostly European and American cast is also problematic which includes Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne, Geraldine Chaplin, Dominique Pinon, Émilie Dequenne and Pilar López de Ayala. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Brilliant writer, director and actor Christopher Guest's second feature is another hilarious mockumentary. A small mid-western town brings in a director from New York to stage a musical that celebrates their town's history. It's a funny film with substance where Guest pokes fun at every stereo type that comes in his way in the hilarious portrayal of a small town and big personalities. Guest stars with his regular collaborators that includes Parker Posey, Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy amongst others with terrific performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Director Francis Lawrence turned to 1920's Depression era set romantic drama with his third feature. After a tragedy makes a veterinary student to abandons his studies, he joins a circus where he falls in love with the wife of the vicious owner. Based on the novel by Sara Gruen and adapted by Richard LaGravenese, the film's target audience should be pleased with it which stars the heartthrob of the moment, Robert Pattinson who stars along with Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz. The film is a typical Hollywood formula film filled with predictable choices from the story to the cast and crew who have excelled with previous similar material. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Director Justin Lin's third film in the franchise finally delivers the goods. After fighting the law in the US, Dominic Toretto and his team arrive in Brazil to take on a drug lord with another federal agent chasing them down. The formula is basically the same, only with new location, villains and action. Lin delivers some potent set pieces that will please the fans of the franchise and genre. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker return as a team with Dwayne Johnson as the new member. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, April 23, 2012
French master of suspense Henri-Georges Clouzot delivered his second masterpiece with this thriller. At a private boarding school, the mistress and wife of the abusive headmaster plan to kill him which has unexpected consequences. Clouzot delivered a superb thriller that blends drama and suspense that brilliantly holds up the time. Clouzot made a film worthy of Hitchcock who would have made the film himself if he had the rights to the novel by Thomas Narcejac instead turned another novel of his into his masterpiece "Vertigo." Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot star as the two opposite women seduced by the same man played by Paul Meurisse. The supporting cast includes Charles Vanel and Michel Serrault with solid performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Legendary Italian writer and director Roberto Rossellini finished his war trilogy with this heartbreaking tale set in Berlin. In the aftermath of the end of WWII, a young boy roams the streets of Berlin to survive and falls under the influence of former teacher and Nazi sympathizer which leads him to commit a desperate act with devastating consequences. After showing Rome during the Nazi occupation in "Rome Open City" and Italy after the war, Rossellini shows Germany after the war and the price the survivors paid through the eyes of the children. The films are time capsules of a bygone era besides being milestones in the history of cinema. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
French actor and director Mathieu Kassovitz was multi-tasking on this drama that attacks French Colonialism. A hostage negotiator is sent from Paris to New Caledonia where he finds himself in conflict with the military who has a different objective that puts innocent lives at risk. Based on a true incident, Kassovitz criticizes the French politics and takes the side of the Kanaks and their leader Alphonse Dianou who wanted to be heard but instead was betrayed and killed. Besides starring and directing, Kassovitz also produced and co-wrote the screenplay. The supporting cast includes Iabe Lapacas, Malik Zidi, Philippe Torreton and Sylvie Testud. 1001 Films' coverage of the SFIFF55 (San Francisco International Film Festival).
Friday, April 20, 2012
British director Phyllida Lloyd reunited with Meryl Streep for this character study about the controversial British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who became one of the most powerful women in the 20th Century. An elderly Margaret Thatcher reflects on her life who chose a political career and became the first female prime minister in Great Britain. Lloyd's ace is Streep who as usual rises to the challenge and saves the day with a tour-de-force performance. The film written by Abi Morgan is too disjointed and jumps around too much in time instead of a linear story which without Streep would have fallen into pieces. The talented cast includes Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher with another solid performance. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
French writer and director Benoît Jacquot gives an intimate look at the last days of monarchy during the beginning of the French Revolution. A young woman's eagerness to please the Queen gets her in danger when she's assigned a secret mission that could get her killed. Jacquot wisely avoids what's already known by focusing on the intimate details of the last days of Versailles where Marie Antoinette is involved in a love triangle with two other women. It's a beautiful and intimate period drama with a contemporary feel for authenticity. The solid cast includes Léa Seydoux as the naive reader to Diane Kruger's Marie Antoinette. The supporting cast includes Virginie Ledoyen, Xavier Beauvois and Noémie Lvovsky. 1001 Films' coverage of the SFIFF55 (San Francisco International Film Festival).
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
German writer and director Christoph Hochhäusler was one of the three directors to take part in a trilogy that takes place in the same location but each dealing with different characters and loosely tied to the others. In the third part, the escaped murderer that haunted the other films comes out of the shadows as he escapes from the police and hides in the forest to survive while being hunted. Hochhäusler uses elements of a psychological thriller for the story of a dangerous man on the loose while given insight to his madness. Stefan Kurt's subtle and nuanced performance of the hunted man is chilling. 1001 Films' coverage of the SFIFF55 (San Francisco International Film Festival).
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
German writer and director Dominik Graf was one of the three directors to take part in a trilogy that takes place in the same location but each dealing with different characters and loosely tied to the others. In the second part, a police psychologist arrives in the small town of Dreileben where she becomes an agent of change that exposes illegal police activity while disturbing the idyllic life of an old friend. Graf changes the tone with a character study that seems harmless at first before the sparks fly affecting everyone involved. Jeanette Hain stars with Susanne Wolff and Misel Maticevic with terrific performances. 1001 Films' coverage of the SFIFF55 (San Francisco International Film Festival).
Monday, April 16, 2012
German writer and director Christian Petzold was one of the three directors to take part in a trilogy that takes place in the same location but each dealing with different characters and loosely tied to the others. In the first part, two teenagers experience love and heartbreak while an escaped murderer is on the loose in the idyllic surroundings. Petzold masterfully blends fairy tale elements with sinister undertones that lurks in the woods with a chilling climax. Jacob Matschenz and Luna Mijovic are perfectly cast the leads with nuanced performances. 1001 Films' coverage of the SFIFF55 (San Francisco International Film Festival).
Sunday, April 15, 2012
The French-Iranian writing and directing team of Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi return with their second feature with this whimsical fable set in Iran. After his beloved violin is destroyed by his wife, a musician decides to die which reveals a tale of love and heartache. Based on the graphic novel by Satrapi who draws on the experiences of her family and memories of Iran, the film blends tragedy with comedy in a fable setting. The splendid cast includes Mathieu Amalric, Maria de Medeiros, Eric Caravaca, Chiara Mastroianni, Isabella Rossellini, Jamel Debbouze and Golshifteh Farahani who is the only Iranian actor in the film. While the themes are universal, the film is more French in feel and tone than Iranian which represented only in a thin thread throughout the films. 1001 Films' coverage of the SFIFF55 (San Francisco International Film Festival).
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Greek writer and director Giorgos Lanthimos returns with another bizarre and original film that fails to live up to "Dogtooth," his stunning breakthrough film. A mysterious group that specializes impersonating the recently deceased for their families runs into trouble when one of its members takes her role too seriously. Lanthimos' offbeat and dark humor is evident in his utterly unique films. The expectations were high for this film which has its moments of brilliance but feels disjointed and lacks the punch of his previous film. 1001 Films' coverage of the SFIFF55 (San Francisco International Film Festival).
Friday, April 13, 2012
Legendary Italian writer and director Roberto Rossellini delivered his first masterpiece with this heartbreaking tale set during the end of World War II. The search for the leader of the Resistance by the Nazis has devastating consequences on his friends and supporters. The film marked the beginning of the Italian neorealist movement which changed the course of cinema with its gritty and honest depiction that blurred the line between fiction and documentary. Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi lead the impeccable cast of professional and non-professional actors. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
German writer and director Ulrich Köhler explores cultural divide in this complex social drama. The paths of a veteran German doctor in Africa and a Frenchman of African origins cross where both experience hostility in subtle ways. Köhler takes a stab at the first world attempts to help the third world without understanding the underlying issues where after decades of help those countries are worse off with the help which ends up in the wrong hand. The performances are across the board solid which are enhanced by authentic locations. 1001 Films coverage of the SFIFF55 (San Francisco International Film Festival).
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Legendary Italian writer and director Roberto Rossellini delivered his second masterpiece with this classic film set during the end of WWII. In six vignettes, the allied forces are shown discovering the aftermath of the German devastation across Italy from Venice to Sicily. Rossellini blends drama and documentary that's heartbreaking and unforgettable because the people and locations are real. It's one of the milestones of Italian neo-realism that changed cinema forever. The film was also the second collaboration between Rossellini and Federico Fellini who wrote several of his films before embarking on his own stellar career. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Israeli writer and director Danny Lerner made this uneven thriller about two abused women. A Ukrainian woman forced into prostitution in Israel becomes an assassin where she befriends her abused neighbor which derails her plans to return home. Lerner misses a great opportunity to deliver some unique and original instead opts for the conventional nonsense that comes with the genre. The stunning Olga Kurylenko stars with a solid performance but can't save the poorly written script which has huge plausibility gaps. The talented supporting cast includes Ninette Tayeb and Liron Levo. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, April 9, 2012
British cinematographer turned director Nicolas Roeg made this bizarre science fiction drama. An alien pretending to be a British man embarks on a secret mission in the US which is derailed by human intervention. The film is shaped for the look of David Bowie who fits the role with his androgynous looks regardless of the story which is silly and bizarre to say the least. Rip Torn, Candy Clark and Buck Henry are game in the supporting roles. The film's strange quality and retro style makes it cult classic. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Legendary British actor Charles Laughton's only effort as a director produced an unforgettable masterpiece with this terrifying and sinister fairy tale for adults. A vicious convict posing as a priest stalks the children of a naive widow in order to retrieve the stolen money hidden by their father. Instead of playing safe Laughton took bold risks that pays off with this stylized and theatrical thriller heavy with religious symbolism. Robert Mitchum stars with a riveting and iconic performance along with an equally terrific supporting cast that includes Shelley Winters and Lilian Gish. The stunning chiaroscuro cinematography by legendary cinematographer Stanley Cortez another highlight of this timeless classic. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Swedish writer and director Lasse Hallström's definitive masterpiece is a timeless classic about youth dealing with death and sex. A young boy is sent away to live with his uncle after his mother becomes ill where he copes with the loss as well as growing up pains. Based on the novel by Reidar Jönsson, Hallström and his talented cast and crew delivered a heartbreaking coming of age story that's one of the greatest films about children. Young Anton Glanzelius delivered a remarkably mature performance that's the heart and soul of the film. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Friday, April 6, 2012
French director Eric Lartigau delivered a formulaic French film with this comedy. After his mother and sisters force him to marry, a bachelor hatches a plan to stay single which backfires. The French formula is more intricate and complex than the Hollywood one that makes for more original characters but can't escape the predictability of the story. French comedian Alain Chabat stars with Charlotte Gainsbourg in the leads with a solid supporting cast. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
French director Olivier Megaton delivered a stylish thriller with this action packed film. After witnessing the murder of her parents, a young Colombian girl becomes an assassin to seek revenge. Writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen took the familiar revenge story and given it a refreshing make-over that works well despite it flaws. Megaton keeps the pace and provides arresting visuals. Zoe Saldana shines in the lead with the solid support of Cliff Curtis, Jordi Mollà and Michael Vartan. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
French writer and director Jean-Jacques Beineix bounced back with this tragic love story after his disastrous second film. A young handyman's relationship with a beautiful but unstable woman ends up in tragedy. Beineix scored with a potent love story between two people who complete each other despite their shortcomings. Newcomers Béatrice Dalle and Jean-Hugues Anglade brought freshness and charisma with their pitch-perfect performances that made them stars while making the film a cult classic in Europe. The haunting score by Gabriel Yared is a classic. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
French writer and director Jean-Jacques Beineix followed his breakthrough debut with this yarn that almost derailed his career before it started. A man haunted by his sister's suicide searches for the rapist until he meets a beautiful and mysterious woman. Poorly written and even more poorly directed where nothing makes sense, Beineix aimed for style which is also misplaced in the worst possible sense that leaves a bitter aftertaste. It's an exploitative and trashy exercise that attracted a talented cast and crew who couldn't save it. The cast includes Gérard Depardieu, Nastassja Kinski, Victoria Abril and Dominique Pinon. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Russian-American writer and director Julia Loktev delivers a stunning film with her second feature. A young couple get their relationship tested on a journey to the remote Caucasus mountains in Georgia. Loktev's film features an original tale with compelling characters set in stunning locations rarely seen on screen. It's a poetic and profound film that will resonate with those who are looking for something new and different. Gael García Bernal stars along with Hani Furstenberg and Bidzina Gujabidze. 1001 Films' coverage of upcoming releases.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Legendary French director Louis Malle's swan song is worthy of an illustrious career that spanned four decades. A group of actors rehearse the classic and timeless play by Anton Chekhov in a rundown theater in New York exploring themes of love and despair while trapped in their circumstances. Chekhov's play adapted by David Mamet is stripped to its bare essentials without costumes and artifice which highlights the brilliance and timelessness of the play. Malle who always seemed game for a challenge found another one that pays off brilliantly as he reunited with Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. The stellar cast includes Julianne Moore and Brooke Smith with equally terrific performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.