In ancient times China was divided into seven kingdoms. Qin, the king of the northern province, is under permanent threat of assassination attempts. His greatest fears are the warriors "Broken Sword" "Flying Snow" and "Sky". When a man called 'Nameless' (Jet Li) claims to have defeated all three of the emperor's adversaries and used the love between "Broken Sword" and "Flying Snow" to subdue them he is summoned to the palace to tell Qin the story of his surprising victory. Highlighted by a pageant of breathtaking images, Zhang Yimou's exhilarating HERO is at once an epic historical tale, a rousing action movie, and an intimate romance. With its similarly romantic take on the 'wuxia' genre of gravity defying, sword wielding heroes, comparisons to Ang Lee's CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON are inevitable but Yimou's wholly intoxicating film is no mere pale imitation. Immaculately conceived (the film employs a daring but satisfying flashback structure) and beautifully composed, this is filmmaking of the very highest order.
Prince Salina (Lancaster), a Sicilian landowner, known as The Leopard for his power and prowess, struggles to come to terms with the rapidly changing Italian social structure of the 1860s after 'Il Risorgimento', the unification of Italy. He arranges for his nephew, Tancredi (Alain Delon), to marry Angela (Claudia Cardinale), the daughter of a rich merchant, in an attempt to shore up his status and lifestyle. A superb, sumptuous epic based on Guiseppe di Lampedusa's novel about the decline of the Italian aristocracy and the rise to power of the bourgeoisie, THE LEOPARD is a fascinating account of the interplay between the personal and the social, directed by Italian maestro Visconti with piercingly perceptive social, political and historical insight. The ball scene, at which the aristocrats come to accept that power has passed into the hands of the nouveaux riches, is justly regarded as one of the finest set pieces in film history. Originally released in a version much truncated by the studio that financed it, the film's stature increased when a restored print was presented in 1983. This newest, pristine presentation is a major showcase for the BFI's increasingly important restoration programme.
From the singular mind of acclaimed Canadian auteur Guy Maddin comes a surreal and tragi-comedy fairy-tale. Harkening back to the Golden Age of Cinema, this dazzler from the `Maestro of Melodrama' entices the viewer into a strange and wondrous world of love, lust, loss and beer. The machinations of fate (and a cataclysmic fire) soon sort matters out for all the characters and the disconsolate denizens of Depression Era Winnipeg where Lady Port-Huntley (Rossellini) announces a worldwide contest to determine which country can produce "the saddest music in the world." National musical teams from around the world come to wintry Winnipeg - voted three times the world capital of sorrow by the London Times - to try to win the misery contest. This pits members of the Kent family against each other: Chester (McKinney), a sleazy pretend American producer quickly begins raiding the best of other countries' music and adds some showbiz sizzle to the American act. His brother Roderick (Ross McMillan) decides to represent Serbia, while he mourns the loss of his wife (de Medeiros) and son. Their father Fyodor (David Fox) is a disgraced doctor, who is trying to build glass legs for Lady Port-Huntley, whose legs he inadvertently amputated during a drunken emergency surgery. Raucously funny and endlessly inventive, THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD will delight Maddin's ardent admirers and should, if justice prevails, bring his maverick genius to a whole new legion of those seeking esoteric and intelligent celluloid kicks.
The conclusion to 2003's KILL BILL VOLUME 1, KILL BILL VOLUME 2 picks up where the events of the first film left off and finds The Bride (Uma Thurman) continuing her vengeful assault on the four assassins who massacred everyone at her wedding, leaving her for dead. As The Bride takes them down one-by-one, she gets closer and closer to her ultimate goal of laying waste to her former employer, Bill (David Carradine), the man who ordered the hit on her. Bringing some of the more peripheral characters from the first instalment closer to the fore (Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen feature more heavily), KILL BILL VOLUME 2 is again a bravura (the set pieces and choreography is superlative), adrenalin inducing exercise in genre filmmaking that confirms Tarantino as the most exciting filmmaker at work in America today. One problem, after this double-whammy, where does Quentin go next?
Certainly one of the most anticipated British films of the year, comedian and raconteur Stephen Fry makes his directorial debut with his adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. Described as a period film with a modern pace, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS deals with fame, scandal, greed, nightclubbing and the frantic glamour of youth amongst a group of party-going eccentrics obsessed with new-fangled inventions such as the gramophone record and the telephone. Generally shocking to the older generation, this group of young radicals seem hellbent on self-destruction. Amidst all the chaos Adam (played by newcomer Stephen Campbell Moore) is desperately trying to raise enough money to marry the beautiful Nina (Mortimer, LOVELY AND AMAZING). Exquisitely mounted and boasting an impeccable, starry cast, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS would seem to suggest that Fry's directorial future is very much assured.
A side-splitting, head-smashing, gloriously gory horror comedy, Shaun Of The Dead is hilarious. From the brains behind the superb sitcom Spaced, it's a knockabout caper that will amuse casual viewers and delight genre fans, paying knowing tribute to George A Romero's zombie classic Trilogy Of The Dead. Co-writer Simon Pegg stars as Shaun, an ambition-starved shop assistant freshly dumped by his girlfriend (Kate Ashfield). "It's not the end of the world," says his best mate, Ed (Nick Frost). Only it is. The dead start coming back to life and Shaun and friends must fight for survival.
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
Mel Gibson's well publicized and controversial film concerning the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus. Betrayed by Judas and condemned to death, Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate for sentencing. Severely beaten, Jesus is then made to carry his cross up to Golgotha for crucifixion. A work of truly passionate and often disquieting intensity (be warned: the film features scenes of hideous barbarity and human suffering), THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is an undeniably intelligent and deeply affecting work that will undoubtedly provoke fierce debate. Religious groups in the US have largely approved of the film but it is, as are many important works of art, something to experience before being judged.
19th-century Japan. Zatoichi ('Beat' Takeshi) is a blind wanderer who makes a living by gambling and as a masseur. But behind this humble facade Zatoichi is a master swordsman, gifted with lightning-fast draw and strokes of breathtaking precision. Zatoichi discovers a remote mountain town at the mercy of the Ginzo gang who have recruited Hattori (Asano), the mighty samurai ronin to enforce their rule. Zatoichi and his trustworthy friend Shinkichi (Taka) meet up with two mysterious geishas, Okinu and her sister Osei who have come to avenge their parents' murder. With his legendary cane sword, Zatoichi's path is destined for a violent showdown... A highly entertaining and full-blooded blade-swishing extravaganza from the award-winning director of HANA-BI and DOLLS, ZATOICHI is Takeshi Kitano's first period movie. ZATOICHI, which sees Kitano in playful mood, has proved both a critical success and audience pleaser, winning both the Silver Lion for Best Director and Leone del Pubblico Audience Award at Venice and the AGF People's Choice Award at Toronto, as well as the recent sell out screening at the London Film Festival. A Japanese cult classic, the character of Zatoichi was made famous by Shintano Katsu in a series of films between 1962 and 1989. In an inspired and innovative remake, Kitano has made the character of Zatoichi his own. With his platinum blonde hair and blood red cane sword, 'Beat' Takeshi gives a typically deadpan and understated central performance as the deadly swordsman. ZATOICHI is a perfectly stylised and choreographed visual treat which Kitano clearly enjoyed making. With its explosive pacing and elaborate swordplay (spurting fountains of digital blood), knockabout humour, rich full-blooded cinematography (by Kitano regular Katsumi Yanagijima), inventive percussion based score, costumes supervised by Yohji Yamamoto, and final tap dancing musical finale by 'funk-a-step' group THE STRIPES, Kitano has revamped the classic samurai genre and made it his own, whilst openly acknowledging the influence of Akira Kurosawa, the undisputed master of the genre.
Mexican director Alejandro González Inarritu burst onto the world's screens with his impressive debut feature AMORES PERROS, and his much anticipated second film takes some of the same preoccupations - life, death, guilt, redemption - and paints them large. 21 GRAMS alludes to the amount of weight supposedly lost by each person at the time of death, which some believe is a consequence of the soul leaving the body. This link between the spiritual and the physical is the driving force in this powerful story of three intersecting lives, written by AMORES PERROS screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga. A tragic incident sparks the tinder, bringing together a terminally ill mathematics professor (Sean Penn), a single mother battling her grief and addictions (Naomi Watts) and an ex-con in search of redemption (Benicio Del Toro). Technically the film is exhilarating, shot with an immediacy and rawness that grips from the opening frames. Structurally complex, it moves boldly backwards and forwards through time, jumping between narratives and trusting the audience to keep up. Remarkably, the film has as much substance as it has style, its devastating emotional charge carried by the three extraordinary central performances.
The winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance and numerous awards in its native Italy, this romantic comedy follows a young man, Carlo (Stefano Accorsi) on the verge of marriage, fatherhood, and grown-up responsibility. Predictably enough, Carlo responds with panic and falls into the arms of a teenage temptress (Martina Stella), an entanglement mirrored in the similarly complex love lives of his equally anxious buddies. The film is utterly, endearingly Italian, from the 'boys will be boys' attitude to love and sex, the glamour of the actresses (both rising above the limited expectations of women in Italian cinema), to the frequent tempestuous confrontations with much shouting and waving of arms. This is no caricature, however: this was a big hit in Italy, and the cynicism about human relationships is balanced by an intelligent realism about actions having consequences. Director Muccino demonstrates a tight control over his clamorous material, and is clearly a talent to watch: his already-completed new feature RICCORDATI DI ME is hotly tipped on the festival circuit and he offers a strong hope for a resurgence in Italian filmmaking.
Acclaimed director Denys Arcand's (JESUS OF MONTREAL) triumphant return and double Cannes prize winner is an acerbic and sharply written masterpiece - a witty, tender and intelligent drama comedy concerning the universal themes of love, faith, family and mortality. The film reunites many of the cast from THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE and is a reflective taking of stock, picking up the original story fifteen years on; which sees Arcand's characters older but not necessarily wiser and introduces the audience to a new generation. Rémy (Girard), divorced in his early fifties, and an inveterate womaniser with a lust for life is hospitalised. His ex-wife, Louise, asks their son Sébastien (Rousseau) to come home from London where he now lives as a successful financial whiz kid. Sébastien hesitates; he and his father haven't had much to say to one another for years now. He relents, however, and flies to Montreal with his beautiful fiancée to help his mother and support his father. To Rémy, Sébastien represents the barbarian at the gates of the citadel - acquisitive, non-intellectual and threatening everything he holds dear and all that Rémy represents. Sébastien for his part, is equally contemptuous of his father who abandoned him and his mother. Sébastien moves heaven and earth, brings his contacts into play and disrupts the system in every way possible to ease the ordeal that awaits Rémy. He also reunites the merry band that marked Rémy's past around his father's bedside: relatives, friends and former mistresses. What have they become in this age of "barbarian invasions"? Retaining much of the astutely observed wit that was a hallmark of his earlier classic, THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS is a gleefully irreverent black satire which boasts compelling performances from Arcand's uniformly excellent cast - Rémy Girard and Stéphane Rousseau are particularly outstanding in the genuinely touching relationship between father and son - delivering a richly rewarding experience that fails to strike a false note.
A classic exploration of creativity and the nature of love, SYLVIA is based on the passionate and turbulent marriage of American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath and revered English poet Ted Hughes, whom Plath met in 1955 on a Fulbright Scholarship visit to England. The film follows their seven-year marriage, showing with raw honesty the joy and the pain of their relationship. It also offers a trenchant take on the difficulties Plath faced as a woman in the late 50s and early 60s, trying to juggle her writing with her role as a wife and mother. Respectful of its literary origins and, given the level of emotion many people feel about the marriage and the tragic end to Plath's life, the film wisely resists the temptation either to sanctify or demonise. Craig (LOVE IS THE DEVIL, THE ROAD TO PERDITION) is a charismatic Hughes, skilfully highlighting both the poet's selfishness and his frustration at being unable to preserve Sylvia's happiness. Displaying a remarkable and often overlooked range, Paltrow (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) is amazing in the central role, fully articulating a troubled, brilliant writer driven to the brink of madness by her love. The supporting cast is equally well chosen with, in a piece of casting serendipity, Blythe Danner acting alongside her own daughter in a small but memorable role as Sylvia's fiercely protective mother. A distinctive second feature from Christine Jeffs (RAIN), SYLVIA makes for compelling and profoundly moving viewing.
Based on Tracy Chevalier's best-selling novel, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING tells the imagined, intriguing story behind one of Vermeer's best-loved paintings. In 17th-century Flanders, Griet is forced by circumstance to become a servant in the artist's household. Fascinated by his work, she soon displays an aptitude for helping in his studio, and is drawn into his world of colour and light. But the growing closeness between master and servant cannot go unnoticed, and becomes a threat to the ordered household and to Griet's own respectability. This absorbing story makes for a compelling screen adaptation, and the reproduction of the period and place are entirely convincing, aided in no small part by Eduardo Serra's masterly cinematography. Revealing much about the social stratifications of the period, and the relationship between creativity and commerce, this is nevertheless an essentially intimate tale. Colin Firth is the suitably brooding artistic genius, but it is Scarlet Johansson as Griet who really shines. Giving a beautifully nuanced performance as a girl embracing something she can't fully comprehend, she is the enigmatic anchor of this richly rewarding film.
An evocative, subtle dramatisation of the life of a particular family who live within an isolated fishing community on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, RESPIRO concentrates on the trials and tribulations that beset Grazia (Valeria Golino), the mother of the family. However, Crialese's film also offers more of a tapestry, stitching together vignettes of a society that seems almost completely removed from modern day existence. The stark beauty of the sun-drenched island is used to great effect as a backdrop for the characters' domestic disputes and miniature dramas and provides haunting images superbly shot by cinematographer Fabio Zamarion.
Wizards and spells and stuff.
The story of a travelling circus group of freaks who exact a terrible revenge on a beautiful trapeze artist and her strong-man lover after one of their number is nearly murdered for his fortune, FREAKS was disowned by MGM and banned in Britain until the 60s. A deliciously dark and macabre affair, it has since come to be rightly recognised as horror maestro Browning's masterpiece and a classic of the genre. Using real circus performers, Browning avoids charges of voyeurism and exploitation, crafting an intelligent and ultimately moving mediation on greed and solidarity. Undercut with a subversive black humour, FREAKS retains a mesmerising power and only improves with each repeated viewing.
THE DEVIL DOLL (1936)
Like FREAKS, Browning's cult classic, THE DEVIL-DOLL is given a splendid restoration and released in a brand new print. Co-scripted by Eric Von Stroheim from A Merritt's provocative novel BURN WITCH BURN!, the film features Lionel Barrymore as an escaped convict now running a macabre toyshop where the dolls are real-life people reduced to miniature size. Slightly lighter in tone than FREAKS, the film boasts impressive miniaturisation effects and a number of chilling set-pieces involving the malevolent little dolls, all working to exact Barrymore's terrible revenge on those who had sent him to the hostile confines of Devil's Island. A genuinely unsettling experience that's ripe for re-discovery.
Small-town America, 1988. After an engine from an airliner destroys his parents' house, narrowly missing him, troubled teen Donald 'Donnie' Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) starts to receive visions of Frank, a horrific, giant alien rabbit creature that imparts information to him about time travel and 'the end of the world'. From then on, the already unstable Donnie takes to increasingly bizarre and dangerous acts that disturb his teachers and parents, amaze his friends, and put his own life in jeopardy. A singular, dark and disturbing vision of contemporary American society, an intricate piece of science-fiction, a sly pastiche of the 80s teen movie, and a surreal black comedy, the genre-bending DONNIE DARKO is one of the most auspicious American feature debuts in recent memory. Also benefiting from the commanding performance of sexy rising star Jake Gyllenhaal (OCTOBER SKY), and some knowing support from Eighties icons Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze, this is undoubtedly a cult classic in the making.
A critical and commercial sensation in its native Hong Kong, THE EYE is perhaps the most thrilling horror film to emerge from the Far East since Hideo Nakata's sensational RINGU (1998). Directed by twin brothers Danny and Oxide Pang (BANGKOK DANGEROUS), the film tells the tale of Mann (Sin-Je), blind since the age of two, but now gifted vision by a successful corneal transplant. However, a series of inexplicable events leads Mann to believe that there is more than meets the eye to her newfound ability to see. Described by the directors as an examination of suffering and fate, THE EYE is suffused with a distinctive flair and a palpable sense of terror. See it before the inevitable American remake and catch two directors at the beginning of what promises to be a remarkable career. OFFICIAL SITE
Undoubtedly one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year, ROAD TO PERDITION marks Sam Mendes' first time behind the camera since the critical and commercial success of AMERICAN BEAUTY. Taken from the dark, Depression-era Chicago set cult graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, the film revolves around a hitman, Michael O'Sullivan (Tom Hanks, CAST AWAY) known as The Angel of Death, who decides to make things personal when his wife and child are viciously murdered. Imbued with a dark and dizzying sensibility, the film also features a stellar supporting cast including Jennifer Jason Leigh (EXISTENZ) and Stanley Tucci (THE DAYTRIPPERS) alongside screen veteran Paul Newman, giving his most impressive performance since NOBODY'S FOOL. Unmissable.
An archetypal heist thriller concerning a group of thieves who band together for the meticulously planned robbery of a high-class jewellers, RIFIFI is classic, riveting fare. Featuring a captivating 35-minute set-piece in which the crooks silently execute their business, the sequence went on to influence everyone from Melville to Soderbergh. Dassin, who also appears billed as Perlo Vita, directs with uninhibited flair, bringing a noir-tinged fatalism to the proceedings.
Released in a sparkling new print by the British Film Institute, VIVRE SA VIE tells the story of a provincial ingenue (Anna Karina) who becomes a Paris whore because she can't pay the rent. Stylistically, a merging of cursory homage to American gangster movies with a quasi-sociological investigation of prostitution, structured in twelve Brechtian chapters (or stations of the cross), the film also utilises cinema-verit style observation, interviews, statistics and quotes. The examination of prostitution finally proves subordinate to an obsessive, rapturous portrait of Karina (Godard's wife), which seems to probe her individuality and glamour while placing her in context to cinematic icons of the past like Lillian Gish, Falconetti and Louise Brooks. As Godard later noted, the film was the first stage in the dissolution of their marriage.
From the acclaimed director of ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, and one of European cinema's most consistently thought-provoking and intelligent directors, comes a moving tale of loss, loneliness and regret, centred around a private clinic where two men, Benigno (Cámara) and Marco (Grandinetti), fortuitously meet and form an unlikely friendship. Directed with characteristic brio and style, TALK TO HER offers further evidence of Almodovar's ability to craft strong female characters and win the confidence of his actors who, as ever, oblige with deft performances of, at times, almost spiritual intensity. A valuable and gently optimistic contribution to Almodovar's increasingly impressive canon.
A comedy about a mother's relationship with three very different daughters, this is an unusual digitally shot film which captures the glossy look of celluloid through an impressive deployment of lighting tones. Director Holofcener (WALKING AND TALKING) has assembled a crack cast for a film which depends on the naturalism of its relationships: Keener (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) excels as the stylish sister tired of adult responsibility, whilst Blethyn (SECRETS AND LIES) creates another expert portrait of a contemporary mother. Full of sharp perceptive dialogue, LOVELY AND AMAZING is also refreshingly honest about female insecurities and strengths.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever normal benign animal life is exposed to either atomic radiation or toxic waste, it immediately grows due to a gigantic size and develops a taste for human flesh.
The winner of eight Academy Awards upon release (including Best Director for legendary Czech director Milos Forman, MAN ON THE MOON, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST), the phenomenally influential and entertaining AMADEUS is back on the big screen in an extended director's cut. The deathbed-told confession of how court composer Antonio Salieri (an Oscar-winning performance from F Murray Abraham, THE NAME OF THE ROSE) jealously murdered the prodigiously gifted Mozart (Tom Hulce, FEARLESS), AMADEUS boasts, alongside an inventive flashback structure and visual flare, music to die for and a erudite and entertaining script from playwright Peter Shaffer.
Austin Powers returns.
When Italian police fail to act appropriately following the death of her husband, Philippa Paccard (Blanchett, ELIZABETH) takes the law into her own hands in an attempt to dispense justice. The consequences are disastrous and Paccard soon finds herself under arrest for murder. Believing her to be innocent, one of the officers, Filipo (Ribisi, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES), hatches a plan to effect her escape and, before long, the pair are fugitives from justice and teetering on the brink of falling in love. From a script written by the acclaimed Polish auteur Krzysztof Kieslowski and his regular writing partner Krzysztof Piesiewicz (THE DEKALOG, THREE COLOURS TRILOGY), Tom Tykwer (RUN LOLA RUN) fashions a suitably metaphysical, intensely spiritual mediation on loss and love. Beautifully shot by Tykwer?s regular cinematographer Frank Griebe and sensitively scored by Arvo Pärt, it's an achievement in its own right and, moreover, a fitting tribute to a late, lamented master.
Initially shot on Digital Video with a cast of some 60 actors and then painstakingly animated frame by frame by a collective of artists and animators, US indie-wünderkind Richard Linklater's (SLACKER, BEFORE SUNRISE) WAKING LIFE is a hypnotic and wilfully meditative affair. The film loosely follows the hallucinatory meanderings of Wiley Wiggins (DAZED AND CONFUSED) and his increasingly disparate, freeform encounters with various friends, family and independent thinkers, all willing to dispense their wit and wisdom on human existence. In its lack of cynicism and refreshing naivety, the film evokes the spirit of the 60s and it certainly marks a return to form from one of contemporary cinema's most idiosyncratic and eclectic directors.
A perceptive, gently humorous study of the aftermath of loss, THE LAWLESS HEART is one of the finest British films of the year and a genuine antidote to the current national penchant for mindless gangster pics and tired comedy capers. The writer-director team of Hunsinger and Hunter (the pair previously collaborated on 1996s BOYFRIENDS) have assembled a potent cast including the ever-watchable Bill Nighy (by far the best thing about LUCKY BREAK), Douglas Henshall (THIS YEAR'S LOVE) and Tom Hollander (ENIGMA) as the loved ones who reunite for the funeral of the recently departed Stuart (David Coffey). Told using an impressive flashback structure, the film shows how the central characters re-evaluate their relationships and all that they hold dear. Already lauded as a British THE BIG CHILL, THE LAWLESS HEART nonetheless boasts an intensity and depth of feeling all of its very own.
Not a film as such but it was instead of one, and lots of fun too..
Orphaned at an early age, Peter Parker lived the life of a normal student, working as a photographer at the Daily Bugle and pining after the beautiful Mary Jane Watson. On a school trip, Peter is bitten by a genetically altered spider. Soon after, he discovers that he has unusual powers and is endowed with the strength and the agility of a spider. Peter uses his powers to fight evil.
In this adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel, Hugh Grant stars as Will, a rich, child-free and irresponsible Londoner in his thirties who, in search of available women, invents an imaginary son and starts attending single parents meetings. As a result of one of his liaisons, he meets Marcus, an odd 12-year-old boy. Will teaches Marcus how to be a cool kid and Marcus helps Will to finally grow up.
One of the most outstanding films at this year's London Film Festival, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is Aronofsky's hard-hitting follow-up to his remarkable debut PI. Aronofsky is clearly determined to push the boundaries of filmmaking and with REQUIEM... he not only succeeds in forging his own truly original style but makes a compelling, emotionally powerful and shocking piece of cinema. The film centres on four individuals: Sara Goldfarb, a Jewish widow obsessed with her fantasy of appearing on her favourite quiz show; her son Harry, a bright, good-looking dropout who dabbles in drugs; his girlfriend Marion; and best friend Tyrone. Harry, Marion and Tyrone dream of making it big, getting enough cash together by executing a perfect drug deal and putting the money into a small boutique. Harry also intends to pay his mother Sara back for all the hardship he has caused her over the years. However, things don't work out quite as planned and over the course of a year their lives take a serious downward spiral. Uncompromising in its bleak outlook on the human condition, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is one of the most powerful films likely to be screened in 2001 with Aronofsky's striking and stylish visuals also making it one of the most memorable.
Obscure film about spaceships.
Spanish director Medem's follow up to the delightful LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE is a gem, an intricately plotted, beautifully shot love story; seductive, erotic and powerful. Lucia (Paz Vega) is a young waitress in a restaurant in Madrid. Following the death of her long-time boyfriend, a writer, she seeks refuge on a quiet, secluded Mediterranean island. There, through a series of coincidences, Lucia begins to discover the dark corners of her past relationship... Dealing with the similar themes of chance and fate covered in LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, SEX AND LUCIA again displays Medem's filmmaking dexterity and accomplishment as a storyteller. The film seamlessly weaves interconnections past and present, gradually constructing an elaborate and thrilling narrative that only fully unfolds in the final reel. Brilliantly played and superbly realised, this is one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable films likely to be released this year.
Lafcadia is leader of the warriors commanded by a tyrannical local ruler. While they are torching a small village, the warrior has a vision, realising that he must leave his life of violence behind him, but finds breaking old bonds of blood is not as easy as he may hope First-time director Asif Kapadia's film centres on Lafcadia (the excellent Irfan Khan), leader of the warriors commanded by a tyrannical local ruler. While they are torching a small village, the warrior has a vision, realising that he must leave his life of violence behind him, but finds breaking old bonds of blood is not as easy as he may hope. Kapadia's film is truly epic, boasting stunning widescreen photography and a fantastic score, while Lafcadia perfectly fills the role of the questing hero. The film's strength lies in its simplicity, with the wonderful images and music conveying the emotion of the story just as much as the dialogue. If Sergio Leone had made Once Upon A Time In The East, it would have been something like this. Sumptuous and profound, this is a stunning debut.
THE RED SQUIRREL
Julio Medem follows up his enigmatic 19th century tale VACAS, with an intriguing mystery comedy. When Jota, a suicidal rock musician encounters a mysterious, amnesiac woman on a deserted beach he persuades her that he is her lover and rushes her off to the Red Squirrel campsite. Giving her a new name, Lisa, he invents a new identity and a new past for her. From his principle lie, he constructs a story of their past together weaving a web of falsehoods all of which are intrinsically related to the falsehood that inspired the first. As the tale of love and deception develops between the two complete strangers, the other campers around them engage in a bizarre parody of the rituals of family life whilst red squirrels frolic amongst the white pines that surround the campsite. A superbly imagined film, Medem uses the story to ridicule male virility and the behavioural patterns that it induces. "Striking romantic mystery .... from Spain's most exciting young director" Time Out "An erotic, psychological thriller, as taught as Hitchcock" Daily Telegraph " A delicate love story, powered by surreal wit" Daily Mail
Master of the unexpected, with VACAS and THE RED SQUIRREL, Julio Medem established a reputation for electric, metaphysical melodramas and his follow up TIERRA certainly doesn't disappoint. A unique psycho-drama, this centres on Angel, a man who is plagued by celestial voices and believes that he is half man and half angel. Sent to fumigate the desolate vineyards of an unnamed region of Spain he vainly tries to discover the enigma of life and decide between the two women he has fallen in love or at least in lust with. The question is - is he insane or is he really connected to the cosmos? Hallmarked by daring intelligence, stylish invention and visual dynamism Medem's films are truly bizarre and unlike anything else being made for the screen. "Medem is one of the most original and exciting talents in contemporary cinema...TIERRA is a startling, disquieting piece of work...as a piece of cinema it's brilliant"
Tom Collins' brilliantly researched, beautifully compiled film is a fitting tribute to Derry's finest and most famous pop group, The Undertones. Mixing vintage footage of the band at the very height of their powers with contemporary interviews, it's a smashing little film about a great pop group, possibly the friendliest and least assuming ever to have achieved fame, and with John Peel and the inevitable Saturday night atmosphere, it promises to be an unmissable event. (INTRODUCED BY JOHN PEEL)
Hot on the heels of AMORES PERROS comes yet further exciting evidence of the continued renaissance in Mexican cinema. A charming, immensely likeable road movie and coming-of-age drama, the film charts the journey of two highly excitable but inexperienced boyhood friends on a journey to a mythical sun-kissed paradise. Along for the ride is the voluptuous Spanish wife of an older relative who takes it upon herself to teach her young charges a thing or two about life and love. Confidently helmed by Alfonso Cuarón, fresh from an American sojourn and projects such as GREAT EXPECTATIONS, the decidedly sparky Y TU MAMA TAMBIÉN also boasts sumptuous photography from Emmanuel Lubezki (ALI) and yet another revelatory lead performance from rapidly rising star Gael Garcia Bérnal.
Set amongst the Indian community of Trinidad during the 1950s, MYSTIC MASSEUR, adapted from V S Naipaul's debut novel, takes a look at a little explored area of Caribbean history. Ganesh is an unemployed teacher whose fortunes take a dramatic upturn when he decides to follow into his father's profession as a masseur. Adding a little spiritual mysticism to his newfound work he builds up quite a following, plus he finds himself a wife, Leela. However, when he is dragged into the complex colonial politics of the time, his followers are quick to desert him. Ismail Merchant's first feature as director since COTTON MARY is a good-humoured rags-to-riches-to-rags drama that makes excellent use of some lovely locations and a relatively young cast. [INTRODUCED BY DIRECTOR ISMAIL MERCHANT]
Following the quirky RUSHMORE, Wes Anderson continues to plough his own wholly original and distinctive vein with THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, a wonderful comic opus about a dysfunctional family of geniuses. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) is the errant patriarch of the Tenenbaum clan, who after a number of years without contact tries to worm his way back into the family's affections when his layabout lifestyle becomes no longer possible. His children, however, are reluctant to welcome him open armed with all of them facing problems of their own. Oldest son Chas (Ben Stiller), who made his name as an entrepreneurial wiz-kid from an early age, is now a widower with two sons, paranoid about the safety of his family following the accident which killed his wife. Adopted daughter Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), a precocious child playwright who hasn't written anything for years, drifts through a series of promiscuous encounters despite being married to psychologist Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray). Younger son Richie (Luke Wilson), a former tennis champ, aimlessly travels the high seas following a public breakdown brought about by his impossible love for Margot. Episodically unfolding like chapters in a book, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS is guided by the wry narration of Alec Baldwin as the film moves between short, sharp and hugely enjoyable comic vignettes. Visually inventive and altogether stylish, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS is distinguished by spot-on comic performances and has all the makings of a cult hit .
THE OFFICER'S WARD, based on the novel by Marc Dugain, revolves around fround-breaking work in plastic surgery during World War 1. A young officer, Adrien, is badly injured when a shell explodes in his face. Miraculously surviving the blast, he is taken to a special hospital where the army plastic surgeon is developing new techniques. Whilst the war rages outside, the film unfolds in the hermetically sealed world of the war. Adrien, at first suicidal at his perceived loss of identity, slowly begins to rebuild his life as the surgeon works his magic. Beautifully shot in its historical steeing, THE OFFICER'S WARD tells a universal story about the strength of the human condition, the possibility of rebirth and the thirst for love. Focusing mainly on the developing camaraderie between the patients, the film has a warm sense of humour and examines human courage and valour away from the battle ground. [ INTRODUCED BY THE STAR, ERIC CARAVACA, AND THE AUTHOR OF THE NOVEL, MARC DUGAIN]
David Lynch follows BLUE VELVET with a controversial winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, a scarifying mix of extreme violence, mordant wit and laid back, absurdist humour in which road movie meets chase thriller and sweaty erotic romance in a joky narrative that playfully confounds audience expectations and genre conventions. The first half of WILD AT HEART is propelled by Diane Ladd as the awesome widow Marietta, a wealthy dowager with a Martini problem whose determination to conceal a murderous past leads to setting hitmen on the trail of daughter Lula's tearaway lover, Sailor Ripley. And Ripley's a problem, not just because he's a jailbird and unsuitable match for Lula (Laura Dern): he is also a witness to the murder by incineration of Lula's father, an act carried out at Marietta's instigation by Santos, her malevolent consort in crime. Released from detention and trailed by the sadistic Johnny Perou (Willem Dafoe), Ripley heads out with Lula on an open-topped, gum chewing odyssey that leaves a wake of up-turned cars and dead bodies scattered across the Texas plains.
Here is a true classic, a gem from an era of high-wire cinema, a cinema of breathtaking ambition - a film about a folie de grandeur , the making of which has passed into cinema lore as hardly less daring, and hardly less mad, than its subject matter. Werner Herzog's 1972 movie is about Pizarro and his expeditionary force of 16th-century conquistadores who set out to colonise Peru: credulous, greedy privateers all, maddened by tales of El Dorado. One of Pizarro's advance parties is hijacked by the bullying Aguirre, played by Klaus Kinski, who leads hi terrified men downriver into hostile Indian territory.
Just as J K Rowling's children's books have become instant classics, the star-studded HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE, the first big-screen adaptation of the series, looks set to capture the world's imagination. Our eponymous orphan hero, for those of you who have been living on another planet these past years, lives in a cupboard under the stairs of 4 Privet Drive with his repugnant, neglectful relatives, the Dursleys. One fateful night, however, his life changes completely as he begins to learn of his true heritage and legendary status in the world of magic. Harry sets off for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there, with his newfound friends, Ron and Hermione, commences his wizard education, discovers a natural talent for Quidditch, and manages to get himself into more than a little trouble. The exciting and perilous journey to his destiny begins. Leave your Muggle troubles behind and lose yourself in one of the most anticipated family films of all time.
Highly applauded at the Cannes Film Festival this year, THE PIANO TEACHER won both the Best Actress and Best Actor award. Adapted by Haneke (FUNNY GAMES, CODE UNKNOWN) from a novel by fellow Austrian Elfriede Jelinek, THE PIANO TEACHER is the latest in a line of recent European films such as ROMANCE and INTIMACY that explore the darker side of sexual desire. Huppert gives a striking performance as Erika Kohut, an esteemed professor at a Viennese Music Conservatory. Ruthlessly demanding with her students she shares an apartment with her mother, who has an obsessively controlling influence. When a young self-assured student, Walter (Benoit Magimel), is recommended for her masterclass, he tries to break her icy reserve and attempts to seduce her. However, Erika challenges the notion of accepted female sexuality, leading Walter in a number of sexually masochistic acts. A compelling, if at times difficult to watch, psychodrama, THE PIANO TEACHER further establishes Haneke as one of Europe¹s most challenging and provocative directors.
Following last year's hugely successful O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, the ever inventive Coen brothers return with a James M Cain-inspired noir thriller. Shot in lustrous black and white, THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE unfolds in the small Californian town of Santa Rosa (incidentally, Hitchcock's setting for SHADOW OF A DOUBT). There, Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) goes about his daily business as a barber whilst his wife Doris (Frances McDormand) conducts an affair with Big Dave (James Gandolfini), her boss at the local department store. When a chatty customer of Ed's, Creighton Tolliver (Jon Polito), offers him the chance to invest in a new business venture, Ed hits on the idea of blackmailing Big Dave for the money. However, Ed's plans go very quickly awry when Big Dave turns up dead. Brilliantly played as ever by a regular Coen brothers cast, THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE is an immensely enjoyable re-creation of the hard-boiled-noir, its production design wonderfully evoking the period, and the photography, simply stunning.
A nominee for Best Foreign Language film at this year's Academy Awards, HIMALAYA is a breathtaking and deeply spiritual journey into the heart of Tibetan culture. The film follows a Tibetan village's annual trek across the perilous trails that traverse the Himalayan mountains and rich Nepalese valleys. Tinle, a charismatic old chieftain, whose eldest son has just died, refuses to allow the young, rebellious Karma to lead the party. Karma, though, defies the elders, gathering the village's young men and setting out. Yet, against all reason, Tinle and the elders resolve to make the journey themselves and to catch Karama's party before they run out of supplies. Against the spectacular and treacherous backdrop of the mountains, this epic drama is played out as tragedies unfold, a family is divided and ancestral prejudices separate the village's young lovers. Magnificently shot, HIMALAYA is infused with authenticity by a cast of mainly first time actors, most playing characters close to their own lives.
Spanish director Benito Zambrano is the anti-Almodovar. In "Solas," he has made an extraordinary and heartfelt film that is in no way zany, brash or farcical. It's about small but decisive movements of the soul. In English, the title would be "Alone." The picture takes place in a city, where loneliness is especially acute. Ana Fernandez plays Maria, a hard-drinking 35-year-old cleaning woman. Her bitterness is scalding. To make matters worse, she finds out that she is pregnant by her verbally abusive boyfriend, a truck driver. "Solas" takes place over the course of a few days in which Maria's father recovers from an operation and her mother comes to stay with her. Maria Galiana plays the mother, a character written -- and played -- with great restraint. The script gives her little to say, none of it profound. Yet despite the fact that there is nothing saintly in her manner, one comes to see the mother as the embodiment of love. Both women are amazing, but Fernandez is the revelation. Until now she'd never starred in a feature, but "Solas" is enough to turn her into an international star. As Maria, Fernandez gives a compelling portrait of an intelligent woman in hell. She is closed off for most of the film, neither vulnerable nor excessively brash so as to suggest vulnerability. She is just a dark cloud. And then she lets go. She doesn't quite break down; "Solas" is too honest and too lacking in unearned sentiment for that. Fernandez merely lets down her guard for a moment and shows us a hint of Maria's anger and despair. The hurt is so deep it sucks the audience right into her pain.
The most charming film likely to be screened this year, Amelie is an exquisitely photographed, wonderfully whimsical, fresh and funny tale from one half of the directing duo that brought Delicatessen and City Of Lost Children to cinemas screens. Following a childhood largely spent in isolation from other children, Amelie (Audrey Tautou) has an over-developed sense of imagination and a slightly skewed outlook on life. Living in the Montmatre district of Paris and working as a waitress in an old fashioned cafe, Amelie discovers she has the ability to change other people's lives in small ways by the courses of action she takes. Beautifully crafted, Jean Pierre Jeunet treats the viewer to an artists-eye view of Paris in which each setting, costume and object is chosen and placed with considerable care and attention to detail. Performances from the entire cast that make up Amelie's peculiar friends, colleagues and neighbours are all utterly enchanting, but none shine quite so brightly as Audrey Tautou in the title role.
Based on the bestselling novel by Robert Harris, "Enigma" is a superior period drama that pays tribute to the heroic cryptanalysts of Bletchley Park. They spent World War II deciphering the codes Nazi U-boats used to communicate with each other. Stylishly directed by Michael Apted from an intelligent Tom Stoppard script, it's a ripping yarn that recalls such early Hitchcock classics as "The Secret Agent" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much". Dougray Scott plays Tom Jericho, a brilliant code breaker recovering from a breakdown brought on by his obsessive desire for the beautiful Claire (Saffron Burrows). Returning to Bletchley Park, he finds himself embroiled in two seemingly unrelated mysteries. One involves Claire's sudden disappearance, the other is a race to crack the Germans' Enigma code before their subs make mincemeat of an Allied convoy crossing the Atlantic. With help from Claire's room mate Hester (a bespectacled Kate Winslet), Tom uncovers a web of betrayal and intrigue every bit as fiendish as the Enigma itself. There are many reasons to admire this engrossing and literate movie: the stirring score by John Barry, the excellent period detail, Stoppard's deft combination of historical fact and dramatic conjecture. What can't be added to that list is the film's hurried and implausible conclusion, which whisks the viewer away from Bletchley to facilitate an unlikely action-packed climax. But this is a minor weakness in a classy picture that marks an auspicious debut for Mick Jagger's new production company, Jagged Films.
Sex, violence, computer crime and John Travolta.
Swedish director Lukas Moodysson made an impression last year with his feature debut SHOW ME LOVE. However, sweet and enjoyable as this film was, no-one could have predicted the follow-up would be quite so extraordinary. Sweden 1975: Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren), a housewife living in the suburbs, tires of her drunken husband and, taking her two kids with her, goes to stay with her brother, Goran. His life is a little different from hers as he lives in an alternative commune (called 'Together') with half a dozen or so others: academics, political activists, philosophers and drop-outs. Elisabeth's arrival to this arena of political discussion, free sex, vegetable growing and wine drinking sparks a change in her, as well as the rest of the household, and slowly things in Together begin to change... Brilliantly acted and paced, TOGETHER is full of humour, humanity and pathos, building towards a genuinely uplifting resolution sure to move even the toughest of cinema-goers. One of the best films of the year so far, Moodysson has crafted here a minor masterpiece.
Following its State side success CROUPIER is deservedly re-released into British cinemas. Set in the underworld of London's Casinos and after hours drinking clubs CROUPIER is a compelling thriller from the director of the seminal British gangster film, GET CARTER. Clive Owen stars as Jack, a would be writer who discovers a wealth of inspiration when he falls back on his old skills as a croupier and takes up a job at The Golden Lion. From his position of card dealer and author Jack has the perfect overview of the seedy gambling world. However, his objectivity does not stay with him long as he moves from glittering Casino lifestyle to the underbelly of the gambler's den.
Short film about scary dinosaurs.
One of India's biggest box-office smashes of the last year, MISSION KASHMIR is the story of Altaaf, who discovers one day that his adopted father, Inayat Khan, is also the man who killed his parents. He flees, swearing revenge . . . . Grown into a fearless fighter, Altaaf joins up with a guerilla group whose highly secret 'Mission Kashmir' will change the map of the subcontinent forever. One man stands against this apocalypse - Inayat Khan. As the countdown to the Mission ticks down, the two men engage in a duel to the death. The fate of Kashmir will depend on their final, fatal encounter. A new take on the all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood spectacular, this is a love-story, thriller and action movie in one. With an all star cast joining one of the best directors in India, Vinod Chopra, MATRIX-inspired special effects and a backdrop of the stunning Kashmirir valley, this is undoubtedly an instant classic
Internationally renowned director CLAUDE LANZMANN is welcomed to Cambridge to introduce this special opening night gala screening of his new outstanding work, SOBIBOR, 14TH OCTOBER 1943,4PM. A companion piece for his celebrated masterpiece SHOAH, Claude Lanzmann?s latest documentary blends previously unseen material shot in 1979 and more recent footage from Poland. In the infamous Sobibor at 4pm on the 14th October 1943, the only successful uprising in a Nazi extermination camp took place. The remarkable story told directly to camera by Yehuda Lerner, a young protagonist of the uprising, has a terrible and gripping fascination and in this unique document he refutes the widely held beliefs that the Jews had no inkling of what awaited them in the gas chambers and that they went to their deaths without resistance. Taken to the Warsaw ghetto when he was just 16, the brave and resourceful Lerner proceeded to escape from eight camps in six months before eventually being put on a train to Sobibor. With the aura of a fairytale he describes the uprising in chilling detail together with his own incredible role in the events. [FOLLOWED BY DISCUSSION WITH DIRECTOR CLAUDE LANZMANN]
With the blistering, beguiling RUN LOLA RUN, Tom Tykwer established himself as the enfant terrible of German cinema, a reputation confirmed in this remarkable follow-up. A quasi-mythological urban romance between a psychiatric nurse and a bank robber, THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR displays all the wit, imagination and visual flair found in LOLA but with a greater substance and depth than in the previous film. Sissi (Franka Potente), like her mother before her, is a nurse at Birkenhof asylum. She lives a secluded life and is completely devoted to her patients. On a sortie to town one day she meets Bodo (Benno Fuermann), an ex-soldier and drifter, in extraordinary circumstances. Fleeing from police, Bodo causes an accident that leaves Sissi under truck, unable to breathe. Whilst he provides emergency first aid, Sissi begins to wonder whether this chance meeting was destined and that Bodo might be her true love...
This Jean-Luc Godard classic is one of his most outwardly enjoyable films and one to which many an independent film-maker is indebted. A hip gangster romance which follows two hopeless boys and a girl's attmpt at burglary. Concentrating mainly on the time between planning and execution of the crime, BANDE A PART has a carefree construction centring around a number of wonderful and wholly enjoyable scenes including a high speed run around the Louvre and a spontaneous dance number. Still refreshingly good after all these years..!
Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, he is in Havana. He meets the wealthy Pepe, an early lover; a love-hate relationship lasts for years. Openly gay behavior is a way to spite the government. His writing and homosexuality get him into trouble: he spends two years in prison, writing letters for other inmates and smuggling out a novel. He befriends Lzaro Gomes Garriles, with whom he lives stateless and in poverty in Manhattan after leaving Cuba in the Mariel boat-lift. When asked why he writes, he replies cheerfully, "Revenge."
Death in the Venetian canals. Nicolas Roeg's unsettling thriller (based on a story by Daphne du Maurier) of death foretold and death pursued, with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as grieving parents in the deserted off season city, encountering elderly mediums bearing a message from their drowned daughter. Constructed in Roeg's characteristic, fragmented style, evoking a chilling aura of menace through a complex series of visual, thematic and emotional associations.
HLYNUR is the ultimate slacker... he sleeps all day, drinks all night and fails to maintain any kind of sensible relationship with members of the opposite sex - except for his mother whose home he still lives in. Life is pretty simple in a depressing and dull sort of a way until Hlynur sleeps with a beautiful Spanish houseguest (the wonderful Abril) who it then transpires is his mother's lesbian lover... This is a wonderful black comedy with Hlynur being an extreme example of a nerdy mother's boy who hadn't a clue how to grow up since he's never needed to, until his life suddenly changes without warning. The construction of the relationship between him and his mother is particularly realistic and touching (as well as funny); a highpoint of which is a wonderful scene where she slowly and unsurely comes out to her incredibly distracted son. Hlynur is played with just the right blend of hopelessness, uselessness and self pity required and, though fairly unlikable to begin with, he grows more sympathetic. That much of his geekiness and depressive personality are more or less retained throughout this process is a credit to the quality of the acting and writing here. Giving a marvelously judged performance as Hlynur is Hilmir Snaer Gudnason who is certainly worth keeping an eye on in the future. As the exotic love interest Victoria Abril is her usual stunning and intelligent self making her attraction to both Hlynur and his mother totally credible. Meanwhile Hlynur's mother is an appropriately important but low-key figure and her own vulnerability and increasing confidence are both subtly evident in the background of Hlynur's world. Outside of the central plot Hlynur's friends (classic disaffected youth) and the wonderfully awful family reunion scenes are very funny, as are his challenging appointments with the government unemployment people. Add stark shots of the city, a dramatic Icelandic landscape and a capable score from Blur's Damon Albarn (who also happens to own a bar in Iceland's capital city), and it is easy to see why this film could earn considerable success. One of the best films I've seen in months - it will leave you smiling to yourself all day!
Le Gout des Autres is a delightful touching love story that is full of humour and warmth. In a small provincial French town, a diverse group of characters become intertwined through a series of love affairs. Conservative and repressed, Castella is a succe ssful director of a manufacturing company and generally content with his existence. One day his neurotic wife drags him to the local theatre. Although initially dismayed by this, Castella soon becomes taken in by the play, and in particular, the performan ce of the lead actress, Clara. Inspired and charmed, Castella seeks to open himself up to the world of art and bohemia in the attempt to woo Clara, much to the actress' initial amusement. With perfectly judged performances and a sparkling script, Agnes Ja oui's film manages to feel fresh and unpredictable as well as being completely real and believable. Le Gout des Autres is a rare gem and an absolute joy from start to finish.
An enigmatic story centring around a virtuoso performance from Charlotte Rampling. Marie, a college lecturer, has been married to Jean for twenty-five years. The film opens as they drive toward their country house for a holiday, obviously at ease and happy in each others company. The next day Marie relaxes on the beach whilst Jean goes out for a swim - he never returns. Back in Paris, Marie struggles to come to terms with her loss, continuing to think of her relationship with Jean in the present tense. Far less radical in its outlook than Ozon's previous works (WATER DROPS ON BURNING ROCKS and SITCOM), UNDER THE SAND is an intimate and discreet portrayal of grief powered by Rampling's magnificent and touching performance.
Set and filmed entirely on the gorgeous Greek island of Kefalonia, John Madden's (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) adaptation of CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN is a heart-rending rendition of de Bernieres' novel. Nicolas Cage stars as the irrepressibly jovial officer stationed on the remote Greek island during the Italian occupation of World War II. His hopes of a peaceful time, however, are torn asunder when the Italian surrender to the allied forces on the continent precipitates a Nazi attack on the island. Penelope Cruz plays the beautiful and wilful Pelagia who is torn between the gallant Italian Captain and her freedom fighting Greek fiancee Mandras (Christian Bale). Consumately acted (Cage is uncharacteristically restrained in his performance, and Hurt as Pelagia's father is the best he's been in a long time), the film is sumptuously mounted and beautifully shot. An altogether enchanting piece of cinema which will prove pleasing to fans of the best-selling book (DON'T THINK SO..! MDT).
Stanley Kubrick's epic science fiction film follows man's evolution from primitive ape to cosmic star child. Technology takes a giant leap forward with the super-intelligent computer Hal making an attempt to control the Jupiter bound mission. Kubrick's design conscious vision of the future is packed with ideas and is certainly interesting to look back on, whilst the film arguably features the most supreme blending of music and image ever seen on the big screen.
Problems are piling up for computer company executive NJ (Wu Nien-Jen). His mother-in-law is in a coma, sending his wife (Elaine Jin) to a religious retreat; the firm which he founded with a group of college friends is struggling to develop new products; and an old flame Sherry (Ko Su-Yun) - who married a Chinese-American businessman - has just materialised after a 30-year absence. Meanwhile NJ's inquisitive young son Yang-Yang (Jonathan Chang) is in trouble at school and acting up at home, and his teenage daughter is experiencing the difficulties of her own first love. On a crucial business trip to Japan, where he arranges to meet Sherry, the mild-mannered NJ is forced to take stock of his existence... Taiwanese writer-director Edward Yang ('A Brighter Summer Day') won the Best Director Prize at Cannes 2000 for this novelistic portrait of a middle-class Taiwanese family in crisis. It's an immensely insightful, poignant and often amusing film on the subject of modern urban life, whose resonance effortlessly transcends cultural, national and geographical boundaries: it's about our universal fear of change, of facing up to life's possibilities, of acknowledging our emotional connections to lovers, friends and relatives.
This bracing black comedy has such energy and affection for its twisted characters that you can't help but love it. We see the story from three perspectives: It all starts one night at McCool's bar in Middle America, where bartender Randy (Dillon) and his lawyer cousin Carl (Reiser) both meet the gorgeous femme fatale Jewell (Tyler). A crime takes place, and in walks Detective Dehling (Goodman), who swiftly develops his own fantasies about Jewell. And as these three men tell their stories--Randy to a suspiciously coiffed guy (Douglas) in a bingo hall, Carl to his disbelieving shrink (McEntire), Dehling to his priest (Jenkins)--we get three very different takes on both the situation and the object of their affection. But who will end up with her? Or perhaps a better question is: Who will survive their encounter with her?
The most visually inventive film of the 60s is also one of the funniest. For this remarkable 1967 comedy about man and his modern world, Jacques Tati attempted nothing less than a complete reworking of the conventional notions of montage and, amazingly, he succeeded. Instead of cutting within scenes, Tati creates comic tableaux of such detail that, as Jonathan Rosenbaum has said, the film has to be seen not only several times, but from several different points in the theater to be appreciated fully. Within the film's three large movements, Tati's M. Hulot goes from fear of his ultramodern, glass-towered environment to a poetic transcendence of it. A masterpiece among masterpieces, and certainly the last word on Mies van der Rohe.
CINEMA PARADISO director Tornatore makes a breathtaking return to form with this touching and exquisitely mounted rites-of-passage drama. Set in a provincial Italian town during the Second World War, MALENA tells the story of Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro), an adolescent boy, and his infatuation with the town's belle, Malena (Monica Bellucci). Her husband away at the war, Malena's beauty takes a strong grip on the town's psyche; the men lust over her, the women resent her, and Renato is beguiled by her kindness and mystery. However, when Malena's husband is reported dead, her life takes a turn for the worse and the town see this as an opportunity to exploit and punish her. Lavishly shot, Tornatore's film perfectly captures the turbulence of growing up, juxtaposing Renato's confusion with the unpredictability of the war. Warm, touching and powerful, there is much to admire in Tornatore's film, and Belluci, in the title role, is nothing short of mesmerising.
Taking elements from fact and mythology, Godard and Annaud (Quest for Fire, The Name of the Rose) have created an extraordinary World War II film--one that couldn't have been made 10 years ago, since the heroes are Russians! It features a decent story, fine acting and astonishing production design. With expert sharpshooting skills honed protecting his childhood farm from wolves, Vassili Zaitsev (Law) soon becomes a hero of the epic 1942 battle for Stalingrad. His mythical stature is built up by the propagandist Danilov (Fiennes), who amid the gruesome carnage of war convinces Commissar Khruschev (Hoskins) of the need for heroic morale-building news. But while Zaitsev and Danilov develop trust and friendship, a handful of things threaten to undo them: a love triangle with a gorgeous female comrade (Weisz), a teenaged double agent (Marshall Thomson) and most notably the German ace sniper (Harris) brought in to put an end to Zaitsev's exploits. Annaud directs the film with a post-Cold War mentality (the Russians as good guys oppressed by a cruel regime that threatened to kill them if they weren't killed by the Germans first), as well as a post-Saving Private Ryan film sensibility (gruelling, kinetic, horrific battle sequences). The result looks absolutely stunning, both on the grand scale of war and in the minute character details. The plot boils down to a rather pedestrian melodrama (for example, no one dies senselessly, which is hardly likely in one of the bloodiest battles in human history), but it's elevated by compelling performances from the entire cast, all of whom do wonders with their rather underwritten roles. As usual, Law brings layers of interest seemingly out of thin air, while Harris' steely presence provides a terrific counterpoint. And it looks so good that it can't help but draw us into its environment, making us feel the overwhelming fear and misery here at the crux of the German-Russian conflict.
Gary 'Gal' Dove (Ray Winstone) has retired from the game and emigrated from London to the sunnier climes of the Costa Del Sol. Here, heís enjoying the good life in his swanky villa, soaking up the rays on the poolside with his loving wife (Amanda Redman). That is, however, until the unexpected arrival of one of Gal's old colleagues from the crime world. Don Logan (played with chilling intensity by Ben Kingsley) has travelled to Spain to recruit Gal for one last spectacular and daring heist. But Gal is adamant that he will not work again a sentiment that does not go down so well with Logan. Jonathan Glazer's directorial debut is a punchy, stylish affair full of the sort of visual flourishes one would expect from the man behind the Guinness commercials. The film also benefits from an intelligent, multi-layered and witty script performed with aplomb by a quality British cast at the top of their game. A thriller, a comedy and a touching love story, this is an original beast from a director to keep an eye on.
Triple bill of Kieslowski's Three Colours films - 'Blue','White' and 'Red'.
Mr. Winterbottom follows his London set drama WONDERLAND with a sweeping and majestic epic inspired by Thomas Hardy's 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'. In the harsh snowbound Sierra Nevada Mountains, a travelling goldminer sells his wife and daughter to another prospector in return for the claim to a gold mine. Twenty years later the wife (Nastassja Kinski) and daughter (Sarah Polley) return to the now relatively prosperous town where the goldminer, Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan), rules like a king. The return of the women, however, is enough to throw Dillon's and the town's life into turmoil as a tragedy of greed, regret and redemption is played out against the snowy backdrop. A visually impressive film which makes the most of the contrasts between the harsh and cold landscape and the plush interiors of Dillon's kingdom, THE CLAIM portrays a very different version of the American West than the one usually captured on film.
A very unusual premise for a movie, SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is probably best described as a warped 'making of' drama about that first and greatest of all Vampire films NOSFERATU. Malkovich plays director FW Murnau, who in his quest to rid his production of artifice heads off to Czechoslovakia where he has made an almost Faustian pact with an actual vampire, Max Schreck, to play the title role in return for the neck of the leading lady. However, Murnau is not prepared for his leads insatiable appetite and as members of the crew disappear, the company begin to smell a rat. Anchored by strong performances from both Malkovich and Dafoe (as the tormented Schreck), SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is a charming, if not slightly outrageous, film which blends moments of genuine horror and drama with some comic sequences where Murnau desperately tries to make his lead behave. Finely crafted, SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is particularly strong on recreating scenes from the original masterpiece, and gives a little insight into the workings of a man driven by a quest for filmmaking perfection.
Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical and hugely enjoyable ode to the 1970s music scene. Patrick Fugit plays William Miller, a bright adolescent on the road to self-discovery. At the age of just fifteen he is commissioned by Rolling Stone magazine to write an article about an up-and-coming rock band. Defying the wishes of his over-protective mother (wonderfully played by Frances McDormand), he takes to the road with the band and a gaggle of groupies, and begins to learn a thing or two about the music industry, being a journalist, and adult life in general. Ultimately a feel-good coming-of-age story, ALMOST FAMOUS captures the spirit of the age and the excitement and disappointments of youth. Goldie Hawn's daughter Kate Hudson gives a star performance and marks herself out as one to watch as the beautiful Penny Lane, who follows the band and encourages young William to walk on the wild side.
Based on the award-winning play by Doug Wright, this erotic and fantastical drama reconstructs the unknown fate of the Marquis de Sade, the writer and sexual deviant who was imprisoned in Charenton Asylum for the last 10 years of his life. QUILLS is a Gothic period piece from director Philip Kaufman that details the fall of the French Revolution and the subsequent imprisonment of the fallen aristocrat, a notorious free thinker who lived to write with an outstanding creative spirit and provocative sexual appetite. In the film, the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) befriends the liberal director of the asylum, Abbe Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), and both share affections with the asylum laundress, Madeleine (Kate Winslet). Madeleine is a nubile but virginal young woman profoundly attracted to the mental prowess of the clever and wickedly defiant inmate who willingly smuggles his banished texts out of the asylum. But, when Napoleon reads JUSTINE, one of Sade's anonymous texts, he sends in Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine), a cruel and moralistic man, to "cure" the Marquis of his supposed madness. However, the battle between the moralistic doctor and Sade only provokes the prisoner's rebellious spirit, resulting in a horrifying tragedy. QUILLS is a deliriously beautiful film that captures the free spirit of the imagination and the powers of undaunted artistic expression. Geoffrey Rush is a marvel as the profane and ingenious writer, strutting and flourishing about his erotically charged cell with awe-inspiring passion and greatness.
This Italian docu-drama on the events following the assassination of Communist poet, activist, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini attempts to unveil the reasons why the truth around his death remains, officially, cloaked in secrecy and ambiguity. Director Marco Tullio Giordana follows the teenager who, after allegedly being propositioned by Pasolini, bludgeoned him to death, then ran him over with the director's own Alfa Romeo. Giordana begins to dig into the layers of Italian society that were threatened by Pasolini's lyrical and incisive politics, suggesting a broad and insidious conspiracy of Church, organized crime, and government.
Samira Makhmalbaf is fastly emerging as one of the most prodigiously talented young filmmakers from Iran. Still only twenty, Makhmalbaf follows her acclaimed debut THE APPLE with an altogether bolder and more provocative piece that examines the plight of refugees struggling to survive on the dangerous Iran-Iraq border. The film centres on a group of displaced teachers who are first seen struggling across mountainous paths, carrying their blackboards on their backs. Searching for people to teach, these dispossessed teachers form the central metaphor in BLACKBOARDS, which is not only a brave and uncompromising film but an effective and suspenseful drama.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is so beautiful, so elegantly made, that the excitement of it seems gilded. This gives it a grand edge over most martial arts films, where the action scenes are the only pieces that really sustain interest (and even those on a barely adult level). It is magnificent entertainment from Ang Lee, the director who proved himself in America and England but returned to his Taiwanese roots for this film. Bringing to traditional material the supple mastery he demonstrated with "Sense and Sensibility," "The Ice Storm" and "Ride With the Devil," Lee seems to dream-screen the story as his Chinese reverie. He reaches into the vital popular elements of his heritage and unites them with a classically Chinese love of beauty. At its frequent best, most notable in the superbly concluding half-hour, "Crouching Tiger" is like an animated calligraphic scroll and Taoist painting. You can feel physically empowered, yet your spirit is seduced by something more subtle. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Take a tour around the world in motion pictures at the end of the
Nineteenth Century and the close of the Victorian Era.
This is the last in our series of silent cinema specials. Screened at the
London Film Festival 2000, at the International Silent Film Festival in
Sacile and a sellout at the Southampton Film Festival, the programme is
presented as if it was compiled in January 1901,at the time of Queen
Victoria's death, THE WORLD IN 1900 takes us on a journey in films which
includes rarities such as
-Mitchell and Kenyon's 1900 Boer War film THE DISPATCH BEARER,
-A.C. Haddon's 1898 TORRES STRAIT,
-the beautifully shot 1896 American Biograph ACROSS BROOKLYN BRIDGE
-British comedy treasures such as Hepworth's HOW IT FEELS TO BE RUN OVER (1900) and Williamson's THE BIG SWALLOW (1901).
These prints from the National Film and Television Archive, London, will be presented by Frank Gray (South East Film and Video Archive) and Luke McKernan ( British Universities Film and Video Council)
WITH LIVE PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT FROM THE HIGHLY ACCLAIMED NEIL BRAND
Like SWEET & LOWDOWN on release earlier this year, SMALL TIME CROOKS is a broadly comic affair reminiscent of Allen's early films. Ray Winkler (Allen) is a hopeless con with a plan to rob the local bank by tunnelling into the vaults from a disused shop two doors down the road. Gathering together a team of petty crooks he enlists the help of his bolshy New Jersey wife Frenchy (Ullman) to front the shop as a cookie store whilst they tunnel. The bank robbery doesn't go too well, but the cookie store takes off big time. Soon franchises are opened all over America and the Winklers are catapulted into the high-life. Largely a satire on social acceptability, many of the film's funnier moments are derived from Frenchy's desire to belong to the in-crowd. Cringe-worthy dinner parties and bad taste interiors are abound but SMALL TIME CROOKS is not without its moments of poignancy as the unbridgeable social gap swallows the Winklers whole.
A work of art lovingly depicting a society preserved in tradition within the exquisite beauty of the Mongolian landscape. A Russian truckdriver accidentally comes into the lives of a Mongol family, and the resulting culture clash posits the question of what constitutes civilization. This warm and humorous story shines an affectionate light on the inhabitants of the Mongolian Steppes, a landscape of majestic wonder beautifully filmed by the acclaimed director of DARK EYES. Oscar-nominated, it scooped top prize at the Venice and Berlin Film festivals in 1992, and proved such a critical favourite that many were moved to unequivocal praise regarding this deceptively simple tale of old-versus-new.
Filmed in the crumbling towns and desolate coutryside of Calabria long before post-war development had penetrated the Italian South, Pier Paolo Pasolini's Gospel employs non-professional actors, Neo-Realist method and eclectic borrowed score to narrate th e life, teachings and death of Christ in a manner which evokes folk chronicle and medieval fresco. Within a determined, Marxist attempt to divorce the Gospel story from Catholic authority (though part funded by the church) Pasolini presents a startling po etic reminder of Christianity's origins among the poor and dispossessed.
The Ismail Merchant and James Ivory adaptation of Henry James' last completed novel. Uma Thurman and Jeremy Northam head the cast as a pair of adulterous lovers whose actions have far reaching effects on those around them. Set in 1903 and moving back and forward between Italy and England, the story centres on Amerigo (Northam), the descendant of an illustrious but bankrupt line of Roman princes. He is about to marry Maggie (Kate Beckinsale), the daughter of America's first billionaire, but when Maggie's school friend Charlotte (Thurman) appears on the scene his plans are interrupted. Amerigo and Charlotte had an affair years before, and the sight of her rekindles old passions. James' last novel unearthed in a masterful, and ironic manner the power games played in the name of love and survival in a society divided by wealth and social standing. [FOLLOWED BY DISCUSSION WITH JAMES IVORY AND ISMAIL MERCHANT]
Terence Davies (DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES, THE LONG DAY CLOSES) gets to the heart of Edith Wharton's turn-of-the-century novel in his beautiful adaptation of her text. Lily Bart (Anderson) is a well bred, intelligent but unfortunately penniless society woman. Whilst her charm can get her into most elite gatherings, her long-term place in society will only be secured by marriage. She is both aware of her predicament and frustrated by it, reluctant to make an unhappy match for the sake of her social position. However, a single woman will only be tolerated for so long in a society where appearances are all, and Lily's love of independence soon becomes her downfall. Exquisitely shot at a languid pace, Davies' eye for detail is as apparent as ever and Anderson gives a surprisingly accomplished and moving performance as the impecunious Lily.
As soon as you see the keyhole in the opening credits, you know that "Kika" is going to be about voyeurism, crime and comically voluptuous women. And you sense that it could only have been made by Pedro Almodovar. Trashy and melodramatic, hysterically, brazenly, luridly, zanily sex-obsessed, the kooky, kinky "Kika" takes everything to sweet excess. Spain's outre answer to Russ Meyer and John Waters, the rogue director champions style over substance, over everything. So it doesn't matter that "Kika" doesn't make sense -- doesn't even try to make sense. It's just so much fun to watch. Almodovar's outlandish plot designs are enhanced by outrageous Versace and Gaultier fashions -- the splashy clash of stripes, plaids, dots, checks and unnatural colors are a perfect match for the kitschy collage that is "Kika."
An extraordinary, visually astounding, biopic of the painter Francisco Goya. Director Carlos Saura (TANGO and FLAMENCO) creates a beautiful, sumptuous and dark film which perfectly reflects the tortured beauty of Goya's painting. The painter's life and turbulent times unfold in flashback as he lives in exile in Bordeaux, remembering his youth, his work and his major loves. Many of his most notable works are evoked and recreated in the film which ends with an intricate and moving tableau based on the famous etchings Disasters of War. A truly remarkable film with some quite breathtaking imagery and a very strong visual style.
British theatre director Stephen Daldry makes a winning feature film debut with Billy Elliot, a highly emotional, poignant, and ultimately feel-good drama in the tradition of the best in British film-making. Set in Durham during the 80s miners strike, Bi lly, a staunchly brought-up miner's son discovers he has a rare talent, not for boxing as his father would desire, but for ballet. Against the backdrop of picket-line tension the young billy finds he can achieve a real sense of freedom when he puts on a pair of balballet slippers and starts dancing. The local teacher, Mrs Wilkinson (Julie Walters) recognizes Billy's innate talent and recommends he auditions for the Royal School, but the thought of a ballet dancing son is too much for Billy's Dad to bear. Reminiscent of last years brilliant East is East , the film focuses on the family conflict caused by a a clash in cultural expectations.
A vivid adaptation of Shakespeare's little performed gruesome melodrama 'Titus Andronicus' by applauded Broadway director Julie Taymor. Taymor's TITUS is a visually stylish piece which successfully moves between ancient Rome, the 1930s, and contemporary times, making a bold statement about the nature of violence and violent behaviour. Distinguished by an excellent performances led by Hopkins as Titus Andronicus, TITUS is one of the most intelligent and interesting recent interpretations of Shakespeare to hit the big screen. [FOLLOWED BY DISCUSSION WITH DIRECTOR JULIE TAYMOR]
A visually splendid epic from the director of YELLOW EARTH and FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE. Set in the third century BC, the story tells of the ambitious King of Qin who dreams of unifying China and becoming its first Emperor. To this end, he embarks on an unparalleled reign of terror and brutality against all those who stand in his way. By his side is his childhood love Lady Zhao (Gong Li), who promises to help him by arranging a fake assassination plot which will give him a legitimate excuse to invade the neighbouring territory. However, when he relinquishes his word to Zhoa and attacks her own homeland she turns against him and joins in an assassination plot for real. Beautifully shot by RAISE THE RED LANTERN cinematographer Zhao Fei, THE EMPEROR AND THE ASSASSIN charts a particularly bloody story of love and betrayal from Chinese history.
Shot on a shoestring and none the worse for it, Jean-Luc Godard's gritty and engaging first feature had an almost revolutionary impact when it was first released in 1960. It lays down most of the Godardian repertoire that his later films would build upon: male bravado spiced with plug-ugly mugging and amusing self-mockery (brought to perfection in Jean-Paul Belmondo's wonderful performance); a fascination with female beauty and treachery (the indelible Jean Seberg as the archetypal American abroad); an emulation of the American gangster movie (with reverent nods to Humphrey Bogart, Monogram Pictures, Dashiell Hammett, Samuel Fuller, and Jean-Pierre Melville--a predecessor in this sort of French connoisseurship, who appears as the first of Godard's fatherly sages, playing a novelist interviewed at an airport), and a love-hatred for America in general; a radical employment of jump cuts that has the effect of a needle skipping gaily across a record; a taste for literary, painterly, and musical quotations, as well as original aphorisms; and a restless, witty sense of fun that can make the unexpected happen at almost any moment. Less characteristic of Godard's later work is the superb jazz score (by French pianist Martial Solal), a relatively coherent and continuous narrative, and postsynchronized dialogue. Jean-Paul Sartre declared this a masterpiece at an early Paris screening, and there's certainly no doubt that this is the quintessential existentialist movie in style as well as attitude. Belmondo plays a small-time hood on the run after killing a cop, and Godard himself, in a cameo, plays the informer who recognizes him on the street. Characteristic of Godard's irreverent use of montage is a brief sequence that was cut by the French censors: de Gaulle following Eisenhower in a parade down the Champs-Elysees, followed by Belmondo chasing after Seberg on the sidewalk. In short, mandatory viewing.
The wonderful imagination of Nick Park and the Aardman Studio team bring to life the story of chickens in trouble. Trapped behind wire, Ginger, Bunty, Babs and Fowler are in fear for their lives. As soon as their egg quota drops it's chicken pie time. However, a plan is hatching. The chickens determine to make a break for freedom and, with the newly recruited all-American rooster 'Rocky' (voiced by Mel Gibson), they might just make it.
A lavish new production of one of Shakespeare's best loved comedies. After the recent string of updated classics A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM stands apart as an altogether more traditional rendition. Shot on location in Italy, it is set in the delightful Tuscan countryside during the 1920s. Hermia has been betrothed to Demetrius, but she is passionately in love with Lysander, whilst best friend Helena is head over heels for Demetrius. Confusion knows no bounds when Hermia and Lysander elope, closely followed by Demetrius who is followed by Helena. A little fairy trickery from Puck (STANLEY TUCCI) ensures that the mixed up couples fall in and out of love before finally matching up perfectly. Shakespeare's lighthearted look at the follies of youth and love
Acclaimed at festivals everywhere, this recent Japanese feature explores the elusive, mercurial connections between memory, imagination and identity - and our relationship with the movies and with each other - in the story about a normal week in Limbo. On Monday, a new consignment of recently dead people arrives for processing. In shabby institutional rooms, sympathetic counsellors allow the deceased three days to choose - and recreate for eternity - the single moment in life he or she most wants to remember. [Review]
"Tous Les Matins du Monde," is about a man to whom life must have once seemed limitless, and whose mornings are now numbered. This is a simple story, made of three things: music, love, and regret. It won seven Cesar awards in France last year, including best film and director. The soundtrack album is the alltime French best-seller. It reminds us that music, like any art, is a gift sometimes bestowed on those who do not deserve it.
TCM's first scary Dead Teenager Movie.
Shot in stylish monochrome, this new film by Patrice Leconte opens in night-time Paris with a distracted girl preparing to drown her sorrows in the Seine. An unknown stranger intervenes, whose motives prove not entirely selfless. Hang-dog and middle-aged, Gabor is a knife thrower in need of a partner and assistant for his show. Bidding farewell to a string of romantic disasters, beautiful, scatty Adele signs on for a Mediterranean tour and the shared benefits of luck at the gambling tables, before her sex-starved desire for every attractive man puts a professional partnership under strain.
Opening with possibly the longest, most celebrated credit sequence in cinema history, the scene of three hired gunmen awaiting the arrival of a train carrying a mysterious harmonica-playing avenger (Charles Bronson), ONCE UPON A TIME... brings epic, mythic, CinemaScope stature to the spaghetti western. As landowners and railroad speculators scheme and murder for water-rights, civilisation and corruption take root in empty pristine desert, and a former whore (Claudia Cardinale) determines to build a town. Co-scripted by Bernardo Bertolucci, the plot unfolds as a series of elegaic, extravagant evocations of western scenes and themes. Leone called his film a ballet for the dead; others, equally aptly, an opera where the arias are not sung, but stared.
A remarkable visual feast from the director of BLADE RUNNER and ALIEN. Ridley Scott enlivens the BEN HUR style epic with a host of digitally created effects and impressive backdrops to create an exciting, visceral and sometimes brutal tale from the Roman Empire. Russell Crowe stars as Maximus, the gallant, battle-weary hero who is greatly wronged by the new young Caesar. Forced to fight as a gladiator in the Arena, Maximus swears his revenge and sets out to right the wrong done to him and hand Rome back to the Romans. Scott doesn't skimp on the battle scenes which are executed on a grand scale, and the blood-thirsty clashes in the Arena are stomach-churningly effective. GLADIATOR is also notable for containing the last performance of the late Oliver Reed.
Based on true events, Tim Robbins new film weaves boisterous, ironic comedy from interconnecting incidents from a dangerous, intoxicating moment in American history. New York City, 1937. As industrial unrest erupts across the country, Nelson Rockefeller commissions murals from Mexican radical Diego Rivera for the lobby of the newly built Rockefeller Centre. The patron imagines the murals will eulogise the rapturous collaboration of Capital and Labour. Italian propagandist Margherita Sarfatti, meanwhile, peddles Renaissance masterpieces to millionaires to fund Mussoliniís war in Abyssinia. And while vaudeville producers determine to purge their troupes of communists, 22-year-old Orson Welles (MacFadyen) opens rehearsals of a government-funded production of The Cradle Will Rock, a play with music by Marc Blitzstein, addressing the political and social struggles of the time...
Nominated for a swathe of awards, this film charts the rise and fall of a prosperous Jewish family through a century of catastrophe and change, from the 1840s to the Hungarian revolution of 1956. Ralph Fiennes plays three pivotal roles, succeeding heirs to a family fortune founded on Emmanuel Sonnenschein's secret recipe for a herbal tonic. At the turn of the century, the ambitious conservative Ignatz forges a prominent career in the law but rebels against his elders to marry his alluring first cousin. Ignatz supports military action against Serbia in 1914. Twenty years later, his sons Istvan and Adam come of age as Hitler rises to power and Adam, a world class fencer, changes name and religion to qualify for the Berlin Olympics. Fame and wealth fail to protect his family from the horror of the Holocaust. After Hitler's defeat Adam's son Ivan emerges into the post-war world. The narrator of the tale, and his immediate family's sole survivor, Ivan trusts no-one but is determined to make his way in the ruling communist regime.
One of Spain's brightest young talents follows his acclaimed debut TESIS with one of the biggest Spanish films of last year, already snapped up by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman for an American remake. An intriguing psychological thriller, OPEN YOUR EYES be gs the question 'Can money really buy happiness?', and if it does what would you be prepared to pay? A wealthy playboy swaps good looks for paranoia, amnesia and a murder charge following a disfiguring accident. A playful and perplexing, visually audaciou s and thought-provoking thriller, which proves that top notch film-making is alive and well in Spain.
To infinity.. and beyond.
Craig Schwartz is an unemployed puppet master and perennial loser (perfectly embodied by John Cusack), married to a nutty, pet shop owner (Cameron Diaz doing her best to look unattractive, courtesy of a bad hairstyle). In an attempt to get out of a rut, h e takes a job as a filing clerk only to discover a magical portal in his office that leads into the head of acclaimed American actor, John Malkovich. Joining forces with his sexy and cynical office mate (Catherine Keener), they set up the bizarre busines s of selling tickets to be inside John Malkovich for 15 minutes at a time. Unfortunately, no-one counts on Malkovich himself becoming aware of the scheme or the fact that the two women in our hapless hero's life, are more interested in each other than hi m. Not so much a film within a film, more of a mind within a mind, this is a madcap, hilarious farce with great comic turns for all the cast, but Malkovich gives a particularly bravura, self-ridiculing performance. A stunning feature film from director S pike Jonze that deserves major acclaim.
Almodovar's fourth feature, his first international hit, set the stamp on his reputation as the garish, irrepressible provocateur of post-Franco Spain. A deliriously convoluted, skilfully structured plot concerns Gloria, a middle-aged housewife whose attempts to make ends meet in her raucous, lower-Madrid neighbourhood lead to her rampantly gay son being sold off to a lecherous dentist, her husband collaborating with an ex-lover in the forging of Hitler's diaries and conflict with an eccentric, bellicose mother-in-law while her neighbour persecutes her telekinetic child.
Our verdict: very stupid and very funny
Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, Anthony Minghella's eagerly-awaited follow-up to The English Patient stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, a lavatory attend ant in 50s Manhattan who borrows a Princeton jacket to moonlight as a pianist at an exclusive garden party where shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf mistakes him for a friend and classmate of his son Dickie, currently living the playboy life on the Italian Riviera. Almost immediately, Tom receives the offer of $1000 to go to Europe and bring the reprobate home. Quickly attaching himself to Dickie's circle, Tom basks in the Riviera high-life, drinking the charismatic socialite's champagne, wearing his cloth es, spending his money - until the moment Dickie tires of his company and dismisses him as a sponger and a bore. Tom stands revealed as accomplished mimic and liar - but is ready to employ other talents and goto any lengths to protect his aspirations and make the Greenleaf lifestyle his own. [FOLLOWED BY DISCUSSION WITH DIRECTOR ANTHONY MINGHELLA]
Mike Leigh's eagerly awaited and most ambitious film is a grand and lavishly detailed period drama about the legendary British opera composers Gilbert and Sullivan. In particular TOPSY TURVY depicts the creative ferment that leads to the writing and first production of their masterpiece The Mikado. Part bio-pic, part back-stage musical, TOPSY TURVY succeeds on various levels, providing sad, salacious and funny insights into the lives of composers and their theatrical troupe. Leigh's film has a rich range of characters and an intimacy that is so characteristic of his best work. Taking us step by step through the first production, replete with fantastically staged excerpts, Leigh reveals the painstaking craft of its creators. Mike Leigh has dramatically extended his own artistic range and created a film which reinterprets Gilbert and Sullivan for a new generation.
A rare screening of Dylan Thomas's classic play adapted for film by Cambridge-educated novelist, historian and film-maker Andrew Sinclair. Originally written for radio, UNDER MILK WOOD celebrates life, death and the yearly round, following people and events in a small Welsh harbour town from one spring to the next where awake or asleep , blind mariner Captain Cat (Peter O' Toole) yearns for Rosie Probert (Elizabeth Taylor), the lost love of his youth. Richard Burton plays the key role of the first voice, the all-seeing compassionate narrator. [SCREENING INTRODUCED BY ANDREW SINCLAIR].
10th anniversary re-issue of one of the most popular European movies ever: a rapturous celebration of the special magic of film and the film-going experience from the director of the recent LEGEND OF 1900. Told in flashback as a successful film-maker makes a nostalgic return to his native Sicilian village, CINEMA PARADISO tells of the friendship between the younger Salvatore and irascible projectionist Alfredo, jealous curator of a secret collection of hot footage censored by the village priest. From Alfredo the boy inherits a love of film and a job when the fleapit burns down and is duly resurrected as Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, enjoying a brief term of glory as the hub of a deprived community before the heyday of TV and pop.
The title is, if not sarcastic, then oxymoronic. As far as he can see, there's nothing beautiful about Lester Burnham's life. After 14 years working in the same office, he's about to get canned. After two decades married to the same woman, he can't stand her any more. Carolyn (Annette Bening) is no more fond of him. And as for their daughter, Jane (Thora Birch), she's just dying from the embarrassment of it all. And so, the worm turns. He quits his job. He takes stock of what he's lost, and he begins to b ench press, smoke pot and have some fun flirting with Jane's best friend, Angela. It's lunacy, but it allows him to look himself in the mirror without cringing. The best-reviewed movie of the year is a polished and acerbic social satire with what may be q uaintly termed `counter-cultural' tendencies. What does Lester (Kevin Spacey) do but `turn on, tune in, and drop out'? Admittedly, he's not necessarily heroic; in fact, the real hero of the piece is his teenage neighbour Ricky (Wes Bentley), a video-voyeu r and a drug-pusher (and the real villain is Ricky's martinet father, a repressed, homophobic army officer, played by Chris Cooper). Fortunately, the film is less schematic than this makes it sound. Having established a recognisably droll, sardonic voice in Spacey's narratio n, Alan Ball's screenplay tempers biting wit with unexpected compassion for even the most obnoxious characters. Director Sam Mendes guides an artful path between desire (complete with florid fantasy scenes for Lester) and self-disgust, playing youth again st experience, male against female. Arguably, it's a shade too pat to be truly revelatory (and as a suspense film it's frankly unconvincing), but `American Beauty' is still a movie which repeatedly transcends its apparent limitations to insist, after Arth ur Miller, `attention must be paid' .
Directed by Robert Bresson, and based on a novel by Georges Bernanos, Mouchette tells of the hapless life of an inarticulate 14-year old girl condemned to a life of unremitting hardship in provincial France. Burdened with a dying mother and alcoholic father, Mouchette is shunned by her schoolfellows and meets rejection and incomprehension at every turn. Ultimately her life culminates in catastrophe and grace.
An extraordinary conflation of avant-garde art film and de luxe literary period drama, this ambitious assault on Proust's fifteenth volume in `Remembrance of Things Past' constitutes a peculiar triumph. Numerous film-makers have been defeated in the attempt, but exiled Chilean Ruiz never hesitates: his version is a bold, dazzling time-trip which nevertheless honours the complexity of the original. We're plunged into the very thick of French high society, as Marcel (Mazzarella) remembers his love for Gilberte (Béart), her equally ravishing mother Odette (Deneuve), the controversial Baron de Charlus (Malkovich), and his affair with the composer Morel (Perez). Now, it must be said, it's a toss-up which is more bewildering: the extremely entangled social relations which form the chief topic of everyone's conversation, or Ruiz's elegant, avant-garde party tricks. Yet the starry cast helps us keep track; the film casts quite a spell.
Martin Scorses's eagerly-awaited new film revisits defining themes of trauma and
redemption in the urban underbelly of New York. Set in the early 1990s - some years before Mayor Giuliani's Manhattan renaissance - Bringing Out The Dead follows 56 hours in the life of Emergency Srvices paramedic Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage), an experien
ced driver nearing spiritual and emotional collapse. While colleagues on the graveyard shift take refuge in caustic humour and cynicism, Frank knows he's close to cracking, worn through the years of saving and losing lives.
The entire tale of The Legend of 1900 takes place aboard a cruise ship during the early decades of the 20th century, but this is no Titanic. Told in flashback by a down-on-his luck trumpet player named Max (Pruitt Taylor Vince), the movie is presented as half-fable, half-melodrama. The main character, Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900, or 1900 for short (played by Tim Roth), is found abandoned on board the ocean liner The Virginian by an engine room worker (Bill Nunn), who keeps him and gives him his name (based on the year of his birth). 1900 grows up to be an agoraphobe who never knows life outside the ship. He is a genius at the piano, and his reputation spreads far and wide across the globe, but he never leaves The Virginian to claim the slice of fame that could be his. Even love cannot lure him from the open sea. The Virginian was where he was born and where he intends to die
Here is a nice review.
One of the best of Federico Fellini.
James Bond returns for TCM Films first trip away from the Arts Cinema
Mario Martone's Neapolitan thriller explores the secrets and distortions of a mother daughter relationship. Delia returns to her home city for her aged mother's funeral, unconvinced by the coroner's verdict of suicide and confused by a recent phone call from the deceased. Staying on and searching for clues in her own m emories and through encounters with the men in her mother's life - variously sinister, lecherous or threatening - Delia begins to piece together the mystery and discover new meanings in a past revisited through adult eyes.
Filmed in the crumbling towns and desolate coutryside of Calabria long before post-war development had penetrated the Italian South, Pier Paolo Pasolini's Gospel employs non-professional actors, Neo-Realist method and eclectic borrowed score to narrate th e life, teachings and death of Christ in a manner which evokes folk chronicle and medieval fresco. Within a determined, Marxist attempt to divorce the Gospel story from Catholic authority (though part funded by the church) Pasolini presents a startling po etic reminder of Christianity's origins among the poor and dispossessed.
Our verdict - Moving. Cool Music. Plot draws inspiration from Monty Python's "Life of Brian" except it isn't very funny [5/4/00 NOTE TO CHRISTIANS: THIS IS A JOKE].
Lauded for many years as the best Shakespeare film ever, Kozintsev's Hamlet is set in a vast Baltic castle perched on crags between sea and storm-blasted plain, home to a vividly imagined post-Renaissance court c.1600 - a material as well as metaphorical prison brought to life with elemental imagery and an exciting Shostakovitch score. Material conviction extends to performance and interpretation: Innokenty Smoktunovsky anticipates recent Hamlets in replacing the vacillating dreamer of yore with a charismatic, competent hero and Kozintsev treats a radically-edited text (based on Boris Pasternak's translation) like a political thriller with a riveting focus on the rituals and exercise of power.
The director of the wonderful 32 SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD returns to the musical theme with a tragic story which traces the history of a violin across the continents and through the centuries. In 1693 a master violin maker loses both his wife and child to a difficult birth, distraught he adds their blood to the varnish of his latest and finest instrument, creating the 'red violin'. In the coming years the violin is played in post-Mozart Vienna, nineteenth century England and China in the throws of Cultural Revolution before falling into the hands of an expert (Samuel L. Jackson) who has to decide its fate.
One of the most successful German films of all time, the highly accomplished and exhilarating RUN LOLA RUN has become one of the hottest European films of recent years and signals the emergence of a highly exciting new talent in Tom Tykwer. A breathless race against the clock, the flame haired Lola has just 20 minutes to save her lover from certain death, as she begins her dash through the city the tiniest choices become life altering decisions. Polished and smartly conceived the film is rich in humour, rhythm, energy and inventiveness as Tykwer, with unfaltering confidence, uses multiple viewpoints, split screens, fast and slow motion, rapid montage, jump cuts, stills photographs and animation to magnificent effect in powering the story.
While filming in Hiroshima a French actress embarks on a brief affair with a Jap anese architect and public reminders of the bomb - death, suffering, physical mu tilation - alternate with memories of her personal anguish during the liberation when her German lover was killed. Scripted by Marguerite Duras, Alain Resnais' first fiction feature remains one of the most essential debuts in post-war film: a complex meditation on the interaction of past, present and future, on private and political catastrophe with inventive use of flashback, montage and subjecti ve sound.
One of the most challenging films to hit the Film Festival circuit last year, Catherine Breillat's brave, controversial and ironically titled ROMANCE is an explicit yet cerebral exploration of the male-female war fought through sexuality. A savage look at female desire and identity, the film centres on Marie (Caroline Ducey), who, when her partner refuses to sleep with her, embarks an existential journey of sexual self-awareness which encompasses a good-natured stud, rough street encounters, and sado-masochism. Filmed with an austere minimalism the sexually explicit ROMANCE emerges from its potentially lurid and sensationalist material, as a devastating, emotionally complex and at times uncomfortable examination of the nature of intimacy, desire, longing and fulfilment.
The film generally expected to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year, Pedro Almodovar's popular and arguably finest film to date had to settle for a very well deserved Best Director Prize. Distinctive in style and subject, but enriched with a maturity and emotional depth, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER is a riveting melodrama which sees Almodovar on top form. Following the tragic death of her son, Manuela returns to her native Barcelona to try to start a new life and to search out Esteban, the father her son never knew. Drawing inspiration from the Bette Davis classic ALL ABOUT EVE and Tennessee Williams' masterpiece A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, both of which feature in the film, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER is an exploration of strong women probing the ideas of women and actresses - motherhood, female solidarity and the very notion of being a woman. Bursting with superb performances, moving insight, a genuinely witty script and splendid visuals ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER confirms Almodovar as one of the world's foremost directors.
The latest film from distinguished French director Claude Lelouch, perhaps still best known for his classic A MAN AND A WOMAN, CHANCES AND COINCIDENCES is a visually enthralling and emotionally resonant tale of love and possibility. Whilst visiting Venice with her young son Myriam, a ballerina, meets a French art dealer and gradually they fall in love. On an idyllic holiday tragedy strikes and Myriam, destroyed by grief, sets out on an odyssey in which she hopes both to lose herself and find mementoes of her loved ones. Packed with staggering images (shot by one of France's greatest cinematographers Pierre William Glenn), this is an entrancing, romantic and ultimately life affirming film.
Our verdict - completely wonderful