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)
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.
October 24, 2013 |
From the stark glare of paralyzing grief to the shadow eroticism of a neo-gothic romance, "Il Futuro" makes for a peculiar strain of otherworldly viewing. An exquisitely shot love-among-the-ruins story adapted by Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson from a novel by her late countryman, the cult author Roberto Bolaño, it begins with a pair of dazed, bored teenagers, Bianca (Manuela Martelli) and younger brother Tomas (Luigi Ciardo), facing uncertain times in a rundown Rome apartment following their parents' death from a car accident.
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.
October 3, 2013 |
It may not have been an "official" mental disorder, but a condition known as Linsanity broke out for a few crazy weeks in February 2012. That was when New York Knicks backup point guard Jeremy Lin - the second Asian American ever to play in the NBA - unexpectedly led his flailing team to a seven-game winning streak, earning him explosive international acclaim. The events leading to this media-fueled frenzy and the genial, low-key underdog at its epicenter are given a peppy workout by director Evan Jackson Leong in the enjoyable documentary called, yes, "Linsanity.
June 22, 2012 |
Too many questions and not enough answers haunt the slow-going mystery "The Woman in the Fifth,"a thankless lead vehicle for Ethan Hawke who's left largely stranded by writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski's opaque adaptation of Douglas Kennedy's novel. Hawke stars as American writer Tom Ricks, a one-book wonder who arrives in Paris to reunite with his ex-wife, Nathalie (Delphine Chuillot), and their small daughter, Chloé (Julie Papillon). But complications instantly pile up: Nathalie blocks Tom from seeing Chloé, his money and belongings are stolen, Tom's dumpy hotel room comes complete with sinister proprietor (Samir Guesmi)
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.
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.
November 4, 2011 |
'Silenced' is harrowing A recent hit in Korea, "Silenced" (" Dogani ") is based on a true story in which administrators at a school for deaf children received extremely light penalties for sexually abusing their young charges. In the film, a teacher (Gong Yoo) uncovers the awful goings-on and enlists a local human rights worker (Jung Yu-mi) to seek justice. They come to realize that officials are more concerned with sweeping the problem under the rug than bringing vicious predators to justice.