Saturday, November 24, 2012

Life of Pi

Taiwanese master director Ang Lee managed the impossible to bring the beloved novel by Yann Martel to the screen in glorious 3D formant. A young man survives a ship wreck with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker which leads to an epic journey of survival and adventure. Lee and writer David Magee keep all the elements of the novel in tact but make it work in cinematic terms which is quite an accomplishment by the entire talented team on and behind the screen. Like Cameron and Scorsese before him, Lee uses 3D to enhance the story and the sense of adventure which is breathtaking in its visual splendor. Newcomer Suraj Sharma shines in his screen debut with a demanding performance. The supporting cast includes veterans Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Gérard Depardieu. The cinematography by Claudio Miranda and terrific visual effects that includes the tiger are best experienced on the screen and in 3D. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Swedish director Lasse Hallström delivered his best film in more than a decade with this charming romantic comedy. A fisheries expert and a consultant fall in love when he's forced to help her and her wealthy and eccentric Arab client to introduce Salmon in the Yemen. Hallström and British writer Simon Beaufoy successfully adapted the novel by Paul Torday which is further enhanced by the performances of its stellar cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas. The underrated McGregor always delivers superb and nuanced performances who's perfectly matched by Blunt who shines in her own right. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Callas Forever

Italian writer and director Franco Zeffirelli made a fictionalized film that serves as a homage to his friend, the legendary Maria Callas. A director approaches opera legend Maria Callas at the end of her career to reenact her most famous performances to be synced with her audio recordings which gives the diva a new chance to return on stage but also a moral dilemma. The film succeeds because of Zeffirelli's real connection with Callas who might have been approached with a similar proposal. The highlight of the film is the music of Callas. French actress Fanny Ardant stars as Callas with a solid performance given the impossibility of the endeavor with the support of Jeremy Irons and Joan Plowright. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The writing and directing team of Belgian Peter Brosens and American Jessica Woodworth made their narrative debut with this fable set in Mongolia. After a young nomad and his family is uprooted from their home and relocated to mining town, he falls for a rebellious young woman who helps him discover a conspiracy. While the intentions of the filmmakers are noble, the story and film fails to deliver due to its own ambitions that's plagued by heavy symbolism and unconventional story that's neither authentic nor universal. Shooting a film in Mongolia with a native cast doesn't make it necessarily a Mongolian film as this film proves because its treatment of characters and stories are inherently Western at the core. Plenty of Western filmmakers travel to remote locations to make films that pretends to be from that country which makes for an easier entry in the festival circuit which is disingenuous. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

Director Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly made their feature debut with this charming love story disguised as Sci-Fi comedy. A journalist and his two interns travel to expose the man behind a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.The charms of the film is better left for discovery by the audience but Connolly and Trevorrow deliver an original film with original characters. The solid cast includes Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sarah's Key

French writer and director Gilles Paquet-Brenner explores the French connection to the Holocaust in this drama. A journalist's research leads her to discover a dark past that hits too close to home that involves a Jewish family with an harrowing secret. Paquet-Brenner's film suffers from the back and forth between two stories that undercuts the dramatic impact of. The film never recovers from harrowing sequence where a young girl hides her younger brother in a closet. The Holocaust is never an easy topic despite its exhaustive treatment in the history of cinema which only a handful of films successfully explored while plenty of others failed in various degrees. The always excellent Kristin Scott Thomas delivers another solid performance with a supporting cast that includes Niels Arestrup and Aidan Quinn. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Japanese superstar, writer and director Takeshi Kitano delivered another violent and action packed film about the Japanese mafia, the yakuza. An improper connection between two families starts a violent war that reaches the upper echelons of the yakuza. Kitano delivers the goods after setting the story nicely up with plenty of action sequences and body count that's not for the squeamish. Takeshi Kitano best known as Beat Takeshi also stars with a solid performance as the nonsense lieutenant responsible for the war. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch

French director Jérôme Salle adapts the graphic novel to the big screen which doesn't translate well. After a billionaire is mysteriously murdered, his secret adopted son must fight to save his fortune and find the killer. The film and its source material is clearly inspired by James Bond with its international settings and dashing hero who swings between corporate boardrooms and tough neighborhoods. Since the graphic novel is not widely known, the film version needed a global star to give it a broad appeal who doesn't get lost between the exotic locals and veteran supporting cast. Tomer Sisley stars as the title character along with the solid supporting cast that includes Kristin Scott Thomas, Miki Manojlovic, Mélanie Thierry, Gilbert Melki and Anne Consigny. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Piece of the Pie

French writer and director Cédric Klapisch returned with a social satire that succeeds before it falls apart in the final act. After loosing her factory job, a single mother is forced to become an housekeeper to the man responsible for the closure of the factory. Klapisch takes his usual signature of slice of French life and gives it social and political context which gets him in troubled waters that ultimately derails the film. Karin Viard and Gilles Lellouche star with solid performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Russian writer and director Andrey Zvyagintsev's third feature explores class warfare in contemporary Russia. When an elderly nurse married to her wealthy patient finds her inheritance threatened, it leads her to a desperate solution. Zvyagintsev delivers his best film with this brilliant character study that serves as a political and social commentary on the difference between the rich and the poor. Nadezhda Markina gives a nuanced and complex performance as the title character forced to commit an immoral act to protect her family. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dark Shadows

Director Tim Burton reunited for the eighth time with his most frequent star Johnny Depp for another off beat comedy based on a TV show. A cursed vampire is set free after two hundred years to return home in the 70's to face his descendants and the witch responsible for his ordeal. Despite some hilarious moments and stellar cast, the film fails due to the expectations of a Burton and Depp reunion which starts loosing its appeal. The stellar support cast includes Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloë Grace Moretz and Jackie Earle Haley. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monsieur Lazhar

Canadian writer and director Philippe Falardeau took on class room politics with this drama. After a traumatic incident at a school, an Algerian immigrant becomes a substitute teacher whose old-fashioned methods of teaching helps some of the students to overcome their grief. Despite some obvious flaws in the script, Falardeau delivers an emotional film that will resonate with many about the current state of education in public schools. Mohamed Fellag gives a sympathetic performance as the title character along with a bunch of natural youngsters. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Director Christopher Neil made his feature debut with this coming of age comedy. When a teenager leaves his hippie mother to go to school, he finally gets to know his conservative father which gives him a greater perspective on life. Writer Mark Poirier who adapted his own novel and Neil fail to find the right tone where most characters feel contrived and considering Neil's background as an acting coach, the performances are over the place. Graham Phillips stars with the support of Vera Farmiga, David Duchovny and Keri Russell. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles and British writer Peter Morgan took the play by Austrian Arthur Schnitzler about various degrees of relationships to an international level. Several couples' decisions to commit acts of infidelity tears some apart while brings other together from Vienna, Paris, London and Rio. Modern technology allows Meirelles and Morgan to open up the play that allows its attractive cast to go through the circular motions of love and sex on a grand scale. The stellar cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Ben Foster amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Prolific British writer and director Michael Winterbottom returns to literary adaptation by setting a classic novel in contemporary India with mixed results. The tragic love affair between a wealthy playboy and a beautiful waitress who can't escape their different backgrounds which has devastating consequences. Winterbottom hits several hurdles by simplifying and transporting Thomas Hardy's novel, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" to India which is the inherent problem to this film. Winterbottom is never afraid to take risks which makes his works always interesting and his intentions seemed justified given the parallels between the novel and India. Riz Khan and Freida Pinto are perfectly cast but can't overcome the weakness of the script dealing with complex characters that are lost in translation. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, November 9, 2012


British director Sam Mendes returns with a vengeance by delivering the best Bond film ever. The bond between M and Bond is tested while the MI6 is under fire from all sides pushing Bond's limits to find the threat that could destroy them all.
The James Bond franchise breaks away from its formula by setting a new standard for the series which quite an achievement thanks to Mendes who takes Bond to new heights with a stellar cast and crew.
Brilliantly written by John Logan and company and executed with finesse and flair by Mendes and ace cinematographer Roger Deakins. For the first time in the franchise's history, the film's story and characters feel real despite its formulaic structure by making all the key elements part of the story which pays off immensely.
Daniel Craig returns with his best performance as Bond along with terrific cast that includes Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw and Naomi Harris. The magnificent Judi Dench who was always wasted in previous films gets her due with role worthy of her considerable talents which is the core of the film. The always brilliant Javier Bardem makes for a formidable villain that a highlight of the film. Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson couldn't have come with a better film thanks to Craig, Mendes and the entire team worthy of awards and box office gold. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Get the Gringo!

Writer and director Adrian Grunberg made his feature debut with action comedy. A criminal escapes to Mexico where he finds himself in prison and tries to survive it with the help of a young boy. Grunberg made a vibrant action film with plenty of Mexican flavor as seen through the American perspective along with familiar cliches. Disgraced star Mel Gibson returns to his signature performance that made him famous which would have been a blockbuster a decade ago. Newcomer Kevin Hernandez shines as the kid along with colorful soundtrack. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mirror Mirror

Indian director Tarsem Singh brought his visual flair to this misguided treatment of a classic fairytale. A young princess fights her stepmother to regain her rightful place with the help of seven dwarfs. The story of Snow White with a different approach, lighter in tone and more friendly to the younger audiences. The film doesn't takes the story seriously with an uneven writing and directing. Julia Roberts is miscast as the stepmother with an over-the-top performance while Lily Collins and Armie Hammer are game as Snow White and her prince charming. Singh seems to focus more on the visuals in his films than the story and characters which shows in the performances. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

British director Rupert Sanders made his feature debut with this adult reinvention of the classic fairytale. A young princess fights to survive her evil stepmother who wants her killed. The basic elements of the fairytale are there but twisted with an adult spin that works along the darker visual approach and inspired casting. However every fairytale has its limits due to the predictability factor. Kristin Stewart and Charlize Theron are perfectly cast along with a solid cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


French writer and director Benoît Jacquot delivered a fictional and intimate profile of the notorious Marquis de Sade. The story focuses on Sade being imprisoned but continuing his superiority on human nature by manipulating the women and men around him during the turmoil of French Revolution. French legend Daniel Auteuil delivers another intelligent performance along with a solid supporting cast that includes Marianne Denicourt, Jeanne Balibar, Grégoire Colin, Isild Le Besco and Jean-Pierre Cassel. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


British writer turned director Sacha Gervasi makes his narrative debut with this immensely entertaining film about one of cinema's greatest directors. The private life of Alfred Hitchcock is explored during the making of "Psycho" which came during a critical time which affected his private and professional life.
Based on the book by Stephen Rebello, Gervasi and writer John J. McLaughlin had tons of material to cover which will please some and disappoint others giving its subject matter. While the film heavily focuses on Hitchcock's relationship with his wife who was allegedly more involved in his creative process, it stays away to give insight into the mind of a genius working on one his masterpieces. A 90 minute film seems too short to cover the various interesting aspects of an intriguing subject but it's refreshing welcome and overdue homage.
The casting of Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren is the biggest coup for the film and they don't disappoint with their stellar performances. The supporting cast is inspired by having Scarlett Johansson, James D'Arcy and Jessica Biel playing the stars of a classic while Danny Huston, Michael Stuhlbarg and Toni Collette playing lesser known characters. 1001 Films' coverage of upcoming releases.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Anna Karenina

British director Joe Wright returns to period drama with his fifth feature which is a dazzling adaptation of the epic novel by Leo Tolstoy. The tragic love affair between a married socialite and a cavalry officer has devastating consequences. Wright and writer Tom Stoppard created a cinematic equivalent of a Fabergé egg with their bold adaptation of the epic novel without sacrificing any characters or dramatic impact.
Wright and his talented cast and crew deliver another astonishing film that breaks new ground while staying true to the source of the material which is a remarkable achievement on all levels. Keira Knightley stars with a stellar cast down to the smallest roles which includes Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen, Alicia Vikander, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson, Michelle Dockery, Domhnall Gleeson and Raphaël Personnaz amongst others.
Knightley who reunited with Wright for the third time delivers another terrific performance as the woman caught between love and duty. She makes a convincing Anna that womanizing cavalry officer like Vronsky would fall for. Perhaps the biggest change is the role of Alexei Karenin who's much younger than in the novel, perfectly played by Jude Law in an inspired casting choice which pays off greatly adding to the complexity of conflict.
The film's technical aspects are first rate from Sarah Greenwood's production design to the costumes of Jacqueline Durran brilliantly captured by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, edited by Melanie Oliver and scored by Dario Marianelli. 1001 Films' coverage of upcoming releases.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Legendary director Steven Spielberg returns with another period piece that serves as a history lesson about a legend of American politics. In the last few months of his life, President Abraham Lincoln managed the impossible to end slavery and the Civil War through masterful maneuvering that was far from certain in dangerous times. Spielberg reunited with writer Tony Kushner to humanize Lincoln like never before and shows him in action as a President who changed the course of American history. Despite the noble intentions, the film fails to give a complete insight into Lincoln and plays it safe with its narrow focus. The main attraction to the film will be the performance of Daniel Day-Lewis who transformed himself as Lincoln with another terrific performance. The solid supporting cast includes Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Strathairn amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.