May 4, 2012 |
More successful when mining its DePalma-esque tale of a red-dressed avenging angel than during its flatter romantic or domestic moments, first-time feature writer-director Oscar Luis Costo's "Shanghai Red" largely emerges as a tantalizing, involving thriller. A coolly enigmatic Vivian Wu ("The Joy Luck Club," "The Pillow Book") stars as Meili Zhu, a widow whose husband was killed as a result of a business venture gone bad, the specifics of which are intriguingly saved for last. Motivated by honor and guilt, Meili dons an assumed identity - a high-end call girl dubbed Shanghai Red - and sets out to murder her late mate's alleged assassins.
February 8, 2008 |
The decline of the art-house theater has severely curtailed America's exposure to foreign films -- now limited largely to the occasional picture so prize-laden or distinctive that it breaks through. Romania's current critical darling, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," is a prime example.
May 6, 1999 |
As the growing number of otaku (American fans of anime) can attest, animation in Japan is very different from what Americans are accustomed to seeing. In the United States, virtually every feature has followed the upbeat musical comedy model Walt Disney established in 1937 with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Nuanced acting and lip-sync dialogue bring the characters to life as individuals.
August 23, 2012 |
At any other time, the storyline of a film like "R2B: Return to Base" - a reckless young fighter pilot (Korean superstar Rain) is taken down a few pegs by a more experienced and disciplined rival (Yu Jun-sang) and learns the value of teamwork - would likely earn references to "Top Gun. " With the film by chance seeing release so closely after the recent death of "Top Gun" director Tony Scott, one almost feels sorry for "R2B" director Kim Dong-won for how inescapable the comparisons will be. They are not unfounded, of course, as Kim's film looks to get premium mileage from the thrill of a slo-mo formation walk across a tarmac or the whooshing rush of the horizon line slipping by the cockpit.
January 13, 2008
The Air I Breathe Four stories based on a Chinese proverb interweave to depict life's emotional cornerstones: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. With Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Brendan Fraser, Julie Delpy and Emile Hirsch. Written by Jieho Lee and Bob DeRosa. Directed by Lee. ThinkFilm, Jan. 25. Alexandra Opera star Galina Vishnevskaya plays an elderly woman visiting her grandson, an army officer, at his base in Chechnya.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 28, 2012 |
Alma, the 15-year-old heroine of the Nordic import "Turn Me On, Dammit!," is introduced pleasuring herself on the floor of her kitchen to the chatter of a phone sex operator. Instead of setting up a single-minded comedy about teenage desire, however, this gently amusing film from writer-director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen delicately renders more than a few shades of a turbulent female adolescence. Soft-eyed, hangdog Alma (a wonderful Helene Bergsholm) is racked with horny/romantic fantasies and hates the backwater mountain village where she lives.
January 10, 2013 |
Prolific filmmaker Hong Sang-soo's latest experiment in form, "In Another Country," is a beguiling set of variations on a theme, a gossamer-light étude composed for delight rather than dissection. The movie comprises a triptych of vignettes, each about half an hour long and centering on a French woman, played by Isabelle Huppert, who's visiting a seaside town in South Korea. The three scenarios are presented as the creations of a young screenwriter (Jung Yumi) who's at loose ends.
May 11, 2012 |
At the outset of the new film"Where Do We Go Now?"the usual constant fighting between Muslim and Christian men in a remote Lebanese village has reached a fragile peace aided by the arrival of a television set. When a series of events threatens this uneasy accord, the women of the town must band together to bring things back to an even keel with a plan that comes to involve Eastern European belly dancers and baked goods laced with hashish. Directed, co-written by and starring Nadine Labaki, the film aims to be a gentle comedy (there are even some songs approaching musical numbers)
November 1, 2013
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 6 A Case of You A young writer smitten with the barista at his local coffee shop scours her Facebook profile for intel and tries to transform himself into her dream guy. With Justin Long and Evan Rachel Wood. Written by Long. Directed by Kat Coiro. IFC Films The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers A documentary tracing six decades of Israel's history, from its founding into the early 21st century. Directed by Richard Trank. Moriah Films FRIDAY, NOV. 8 The Armstrong Lie This documentary follows cyclist Lance Armstrong's return from retirement in 2005 in an attempt to win an eighth Tour de France, and the eventual scandal that resulted from his admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs after a federal criminal investigation.
December 6, 2013 |
It's debatable whether the best love stories are also the "weirdest," as Emile Hirsch's character declares in "Twice Born. " But they do require chemistry, the missing piece in his pairing with Penélope Cruz. Set in Sarajevo before, during and many years after the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, the drama is undone by hyperventilating poetics and a busy time-hopping structure. The usually subtle Hirsch flounders as American photographer Diego, who falls hard for older Italian graduate student Gemma (Cruz)