Monday, April 29, 2013

The Patience Stone

French based Afghan novelist turned director Atiq Rahimi adapted his second novel for the screen which puts him in a small circle of authors adapting their own novel for the cinema. Set during an unspecified time, a young Afghan woman finds solace in her own comatose husband whom she imagines as her own magical stone that she can tell her secrets and desires. Rahimi who won the highest literature prize in France for his novel, the Prix Goncourt adapted his novel with legendary writer Jean-Claude Carrière helping him to open the mostly monologue driven novel for cinematic interpretation. Rahimi who also adapted his first novel "Earth and Ashes" for the screen, succeeds even more the second time around which cuts deep into the hypocrisy of the male dominated Afghan culture to shed light on the plight of Afghan women who have the burden to overcome their suffering of mythical proportions that's beyond imagination. Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani gives a tour-de-force performance in the lead with a flawless performance overcoming the language barrier. Ace French cinematographer Thierry Arbogast's contribution can't be underestimated with his stunning photography from the first frame to the last. 1001 Films' coverage of the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Island President

Director Jon Shenk's second feature documentary took him to the islands of Maldives and its President, Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed was the first elected president of islands that was ruled by a dictator for three decades while the islands were a vacation destination for the rich and famous. Nasheed's first challenge was to save the islands from disappearing into the ocean due to global warming which threatens the islands everyday. Shenk got unprecedented access to Nasheed as he prepares for the global climate conference in Copenhagen. It's fascinating and inspiring film that tackles of the greatest threats in human history that's being ignored by the superpowers while the president of a small nation fights for the survival of his country. Unfortunately the fate of Maldives remains critical while Nasheed has been ousted and fights for a return for power. Besides the stunning footage of the islands, most of the soundtrack is provided by Radiohead classics which makes for an haunting experience. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Legendary Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo followed his masterpiece "The Battle of Algiers" with another absorbing attack on Colonialism which united him with another legend, Marlon Brando. A mercenary is sent by the British to a Portuguese colony in order to instigate the slaves to revolt which initially helps the British before it backfires. Pontecorvo exposes the common practice of many Western powers whose foreign policy has ravaged many countries for their self-interest and continues to do so. A powerful film with an important message that attracted Brando to deliver another terrific performance. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, April 19, 2013

To the Wonder

Reclusive writer and director Terrence Malick continues his spiritual exploration with sixth feature which another visually stunning and lyrical film. After falling in love, a couple find themselves with spiritual void which tears them apart and unable to find joy or happiness around them. While Malick explored the burden of the past and childhood innocence in his "The Tree of Life," he explores the adulthood in the same manner in this unofficial sequel where the power of love is fleeting and the world void of spirituality. It's a darker and more hopeless film despite its attractive cast and gorgeous scenery. Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko star with almost silent performances along with Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem in the supporting roles. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boogie Nights

Writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson took on the adult film industry in his second feature. A young man joins a group of misfits that form a family working in the porn industry during the changing times of the late 70's and early 80's where he becomes the rising star. Anderson takes a classic Hollywood story to shed light on its backyard where the adult film industry has always flourished and recruited its members. As in Hollywood, the porn industry has its stars whose rise and fall is driven by fame and drugs. Mark Wahlberg stars with career changing performance along with a stellar supporting cast that includes Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham, Luis Guzmán and Philip Seymour Hoffman amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author turned director Stephen Chbosky adapted his own novel into a terrific film which is a rare feat. A troubled high school freshman befriends a group of misfits and outsiders who help him discover friendship, love and himself. It's triumph for Chbosky to make the transition from book to screen by hitting all the right notes in his second feature. The film perfectly captures the agony and ecstasy of teenage years which paves the way for adulthood. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller star with terrific performances. The solid supporting cast includes Paul Rudd, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Lynskey and Joan Cusack. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top of the Lake

Kiwi writer and director Jane Campion returned to her native New Zealand for this epic drama series where feminism clashes with misogyny. A detective visiting her hometown is drawn to an investigation of the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant daughter of a local drug lord that opens old wounds that could shatter her forever. Campion and co-writer Gerard Lee created a dense and richly layered tale with complex and memorable characters set in the majestic landscapes of New Zealand which provides glorious sights while looking at the darkness beneath. Elisabeth Moss and Peter Mullan star with riveting performances along with terrific supporting cast that includes David Wenham, Thomas M. Wright and Holly Hunter who reunited with Campion on her return. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sleepless Night

French writer and director Frédéric Jardin delivers an action packed thriller set in Paris. An undercover cop's attempt to expose a powerful drug dealer puts the life of his son at risk when police and criminal face off at a nightclub. Jardin sidesteps plausibility to deliver the goods which action movies like this requires, non-stop action from beginning till the end. Tomer Sisley stars along with Serge Riaboukine, Joey Starr and Birol Ünel. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

To Rome With Love

Legendary writer and director Woody Allen continued his journey abroad with another travelogue that took him to the eternal city. Rome is experienced differently by four different characters, an American family clashes with an Italian one when their children want to get married, a Italian couple on their honeymoon get separated and meet a prostitute and a movie star, an American student falling for the friend of his girlfriend and an ordinary Roman finds celebrity status addicting. Allen seems to have fallen under the spell of Rome that he tried to bring four different stories into one film which doesn't add up to a coherent film. As usual with a Allen film, it's up to the actors to make an impression and some manage to do that while others struggle but none can match the allure and grace of the eternal city which deservedly gets all the attention. Veterans such as Allen, Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni, Alec Baldwin and Penélope Cruz face off with newcomers like Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Alison Pill, Alessandra Mastronardi and Flavio Parenti. 1001 Films coverage of films on DVD.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Writer and director Leslye Headland made her feature debut with this comedy about female bonding and rivalry. Three friends are shocked to find out that their overweight friend is getting married which sends them on a journey of self-discovery while trying to sabotage the wedding. Headland taps into the female psyche of entitlement that's rooted in superficiality more than substance allowing the talented cast dive into the characters with hilarious results. Kirsten Dunst stars along with Rebel Wilson, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher with winning performances allowing them to shine. The supporting cast includes James Marsden, Adam Scott and Ann Dowd. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cemetery Junction

British comedian, writer and director Ricky Gervais joined forces with fellow Brit, Stephen Merchant for his sophomore film going down the memory lane. In the 1970's England, three working class men try to escape their small town and its trappings, only to find themselves as adults. Gervais and Merchant tap into the formula trap to create this nostalgia infused homage to a bygone era full of its cliches and idealism. The best moments are the details in the conversations between several characters that seem genuine with its candor. Newcomers Christian Cooke and Tom Hughes star along with Felicity Jones and Matthew Goode and the strong support of veterans such as Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Anne Reid, Gervais and Merchant. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Indian-American writer and director Vikram Gandhi made his feature debut with this fascinating documentary. Gandhi suffering from a spiritual crisis finds inspiration in guru and pretends to be one to explore the nature of phenomena with unexpected and hilarious results. Gandhi taps into some interesting territory with this film which can be interpreted in many way which changes himself in the process. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sound of My Voice

Writer and director Zal Batmanglij along with co-writer Brit Marling made their feature debut with this riveting drama. A couple try to infiltrate a mysterious cult whose enigmatic leader claims to be from the future. Batmanglij and Marling hit all the right notes with this original mystery tale that's executed expertly until the end. Co-writer Marling stars with Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius where all deliver credible performances in this fascinating story about a cult set in Los Angeles that echoes another one with directly referencing it. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Winning Streak

Spanish writer and director Eduard Cortés made this drama based on a real story about a family's attempt to break the bank at a casino. After years of trying to come with a system to beat a casino, a gambler seems to found it and enlists his family's help which takes them on journey of defying the odd. Cortés uses the "Ocean 11" formula which gives the film its slick visuals but also one note characters. This kind of film requires meticulous plot and character development with perfect pacing for the climax to pay off. After the initial setup the story and film struggles to find the right balance which derails long before the pay off. Lluís Homar and Daniel Brühl star as the father and son along with solid cast that includes Eduard Fernández, Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Blanca Suárez. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, April 8, 2013

End of Watch

Writer and director David Ayer scored with his third feature which again deals with the LAPD officers in the streets. Two police officers on their daily routines in the streets of Los Angeles get themselves involved with the Mexican cartels which has tragic consequences for the two friends and family men. Shot in documentary style, Ayer hits all the right notes that feels compelling and authentic thanks the stellar cast, some which deliver their best work. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña deliver career best performances in the leads. The solid supporting cast includes Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, David Harbour, Frank Grillo and America Ferrera amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Phil Spector

Writer and director David Mamet delivers his best work in a decade with this riveting drama based on the notorious case. Defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden is called upon to defend legendary music producer Phil Spector accused of murder. Mamet takes a well known case to create a Greek tragedy that challenges the audiences perception at every turn with its brilliant writing and performances. The Phil Spector case is used as tool to raise universal questions about the nature of guilt, celebrity and practice of law amongst others. Spector whose eccentric appearance played into the media frenzy is brilliantly played by Al Pacino who delivers his best performance in ages along with a superb Helen Mirren who delivers another riveting performance. The supporting cast includes Jeffrey Tambor and Chiwetel Ejiofor. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Royal Affair

Danish writer and director Nikolaj Arcel serves a delicious slice of Danish history with this splendid period drama. When a charismatic German doctor becomes the physician of the King, he brings the principles of the Enlightenment to the royal court which makes the lonely queen fall in love with him,  paving the way for tragedy for all involved. Based on the novel by Bodil Steensen-Leth, Arcel and his talented cast and crew delivered an excellent film about an important part of Danish history. Swedish beauty Alicia Vikander shines in the lead with a star making performance along with equally terrific performances by Danish superstar Mads Mikkelsen and newcomer Mikkel Boe Følsgaard who made his feature debut. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lay the Favorite

British director Stephen Frears returned to the US for this uninspired comedy. A former stripper finds her calling in Las Vegas where she gets herself entangled in the world of gambling. Based on the memoir by Beth Raymer, Frears wasted his talent on this forgettable tale that doesn't bring anything new or fresh to the genre. The talented Rebecca Hall stars with a decent performance while the supporting cast doesn't fare so well which includes Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vince Vaughn and Joshua Jackson. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.