May 11, 2008

Girl with the pearl earring, by Peter Webber

This film, adapted from a work of fiction by author Tracy Chevalier, tells a story about the events surrounding the creation of the painting "Girl With A Pearl Earring" by 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Little is known about the girl in the painting, it is speculated that she was a maid who lived in the house of the painter along with his family and other servants, though there is no historical evidence . This masterful film attempts to recreate the mysterious girl's life. Griet, played by Scarlett Johansson, is a maid in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer, played by British actor Colin Firth. Vermeer's wealthy patron and sole means of support, Van Ruijven, commissions him to paint Griet with the intent that he will have her for himself before it is finished. She must somehow secretly pose for the crucial painting without the knowledge of Vermeer's wife, avoid Van Ruijven's grasp, and protect herself from the cruel gossip of the world of a 17th century servant.
Pig Tales, by Marie Darrieussecq

In Darrieussecq's tragicomic exploration of humanity's animal nature, the chatty, mock-naive style of the unsophisticated narrator pushes every pig pun to its limits, and her deadpan comments on her changing appearance parody those of an adolescent contemplating the onset of puberty. Pig Tales is a striking modern fable by a young writer who has made a dramatic entry onto the literary scene.
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, by Robert Aldrich (1962)

Two aging film actresses live as virtual recluses in an old Hollywood mansion. Jane Hudson, a successful child star, cares for her crippled sister Blanche, who's career in later years eclipsed that of Jane. Now the two live together, their relationship affected by simmering subconscious thoughts of mutual envy, hate and revenge.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, by Jim Sharman (1975)

What do a Transylvanian transvestite, a cryogenically-preserved motorbiker and a Frankenstein's monster wearing golden underpants all have in common? They're all crucial parts of Rocky Horror Picture Show, the comedy cult classic which is at once hysterical, indispensable and truly disturbing. Innocent young lovers Brad and Janet are stranded when their car breaks down, so they are forced to seek refuge in the castle of the bizarre Dr. Frankenfurter, who is having a gathering of some kind... What ensues is an unforgettable night of music and madness where, like a circus act, you never know what's going to come next. Adding to the madness is the narration of the soporific Professor, who, in omnipotence, recounts the whole story from the comfort of his genteel study. Of course, there are pre-designed spots for audience participation - from being doused with spray bottles to throwing popcorn at the screen to getting up from your seat and dancing along to the incomparable "Time Warp". By the end of the night, fantasies will be realities, men will be women and everything will be explained - or will it?!?!?
Sounder, by Martin Ritt (1972)

The Morgans, a loving and strong family of Black sharecroppers in Louisiana in 1933, face a serious family crisis when the husband and father, Nathan Lee Morgan, is convicted of a petty crime and sent to a prison camp. After some weeks or months, the wife and mother, Rebecca Morgan, sends the oldest son, who is about 11 years old, to visit his father at the camp. The trip becomes something of an odyssey for the boy. During the journey he stays a little while with a dedicated Black schoolteacher.
It’s Every Monkey for Themseves, by Vanessa Woods

Imagine you live in a remote village in Central America. Every morning the alarm wakes you up, and for the next 14 hours you run through the jungle, chasing monkeys. You don’t know why you do it. You just do. You see everything. They quarrel. They copulate. They stab each other in the back. Imagine you live in a house with eight other people. You quarrel. You copulate. You stab each other in the back. Slowly, the differences between you and the monkeys - the differences you assumed would always be there – disappear. Memories of civilisation fades. The jungle takes over. Mosquitoes swarm in clouds. Fungus creeps into your crotch. Killer bees conspire to murder you. Something pushes you over the edge. Maybe you smash your head on a rock. Maybe you fall in love with the wrong guy. Maybe it’s something worse. It’s every monkey for themselves is a young woman’s story of life in the jungle. Witty, troubled, and deeply moving, it is about the lovers that trip you up, and the friendships that keep you going. Above all, it is a triumphant account of survival, camaraderie, and love - monkey style.
Prime, by Ben Younger

In colorful, bustling modern-day Manhattan, Rafi Gardet, a beautiful 37-year-old photography producer reeling from a recent divorce, meets David Bloomberg, a handsome 23-year-old painter recently out of college. Rafi's therapist, Dr. Lisa Metzger, who is working to help Rafi overcome her fears of intimacy, finds out that Rafi's new lover is--unfortunately for Lisa--her only son, David. Both David and Rafi must contend with their 14-year age gap, vastly different backgrounds and the demands of David's traditional mother. Despite their intense attraction, the charmed couple soon realizes that vastly different ages and backgrounds create much conflict. A Jewish hip-hop lover and closet painter who still lives with his grandparents, David has little in common with Rafi--a non-practicing Catholic from a wealthy, broken family who travels in the sophisticated, high-end world of fashion.
Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex, by Olivia Judson

Do your genitals explode? Are you 200,000 times smaller than your mate? Do you drug your lover with a potion that keeps her faithful? You may not get up to such tricks, but some creatures do: sex is one of the most powerful forces in nature, and generates an astounding diversity of forms and behaviours. But why?
Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation explores the science of sex, considering everything from why females of so many species are so promiscuous to why sex exists at all. It is a blend of wit and rigor, a fusion of science and natural history that will entertain, amaze, and inform.
Lars and the Real Girl, by Craig Gillespie

In this comedy, Lars Lindstrom is an awkwardly shy young man in a small northern town who finally brings home the girl of his dreams to his brother and sister-in-law's home. The only problem is that she's not real - she's a sex doll Lars ordered off the Internet. But sex is not what Lars has in mind, but rather a deep, meaningful relationship. His sister-in-law is worried for him, his brother thinks he's nuts, but eventually the entire town goes along with his delusion in support of this sweet natured boy that they've always loved.
Thirst, by Rod Hardy (1979)

Kate Davis, a pretty young woman, finds herself in the sights of a mysterious organization whose members inexplicably have her kidnapped. She’s taken to a tiny village nestled in a remote forest, a rigidly controlled environment that’s run like a small corporation. Hordes of zombie-like people wander the grounds whose sole purpose is to have their blood sucked and then packaged in milk containers for consumption by members of the Hyma Brotherhood, a group of people with an insatiable thirst for blood (and who dislike the term Vampire). Kate, it seems, is a descendant of Elizabeth Bathory, the notorious real life “Bloody Countess”; the Brotherhood is looking to unite Kate’s bloodline with its own in an effort to ensure their immortality. But first Kate will have to be forcibly brought around to the Brotherhood’s way of thinking. She escapes but is quickly recaptured and subjected to a series of psychological tests designed to break down resistance to her inner vampire. The process appears to work in the Brotherhood’s favour, but it’s all an act on Kate’s part. With the help of the sympathetic Dr. Fraser, Kate manages to escape via helicopter, but in fact the good doctor isn’t nearly as upstanding as he appears…
Some Like it Hot, by Billy Wilder (1959)

Two Struggling musicians witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and try to find a way out of the city before they are found and killed by the mob. The only job that will pay their way is an all girl band so the two dress up as women. In addition to hiding, each has his own problems; One falls for another band member but can't tell her his gender, and the other has a rich suitor who will not take "No," for an answer.
City by the Sea, by Michael Caton-Jones

New York City homicide detective Vincent LaMarca has forged a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, making a name for himself as a man intensely committed to his work. But on his latest case, the stakes are higher for Vincent--the suspect he's investigating is his own son. He and Joey have been painfully estranged ever since Vincent divorced his wife and left the decaying boardwalks of Long Beach, Long Island for the anonymity of Manhattan and a successful career with the NYPD. He lives his life in solitude, keeping his girlfriend at arm's length; the closest relationship he maintains is with his partner, Reg--and Vincent makes sure that stops at the precinct door. As long as Vincent lives in the protection of the present, he doesn't have to deal with the pain of his past--or his sorrow over his broken relationship with Joey. But this murder investigation is drawing Vincent home to Long Beach, the self-proclaimed City by the Sea, where the past has been waiting for him to return. The agonizing memory that has tortured him all his life--the death of his father, a convicted murderer who was executed when Vincent was just a boy--still plagues him. In the course of the investigation, he discovers that his own unresolved pain and failures as a father have deeply influenced Joey's life, and now his 18-month-old grandson may be fated to follow their self-destructive paths.

March 31, 2008

Mercury Rising, by Harold Becker

The United States government is about to launch its brand new super code. Impossible to break, or so they thought, until it was broken by a nine year old autistic boy. Now the bodies are piling up to keep it secret and the mercury is rising.
12 Monkeys, by Terry Gilliam

An unknown and lethal virus has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. A convict (James Cole) reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemic (who he's told was spread by a mysterious "Army of the 12 Monkeys") and locate the virus before it mutates so that scientists can study it. Unfortunately Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert.
Shall We Dance (1937), by Mark Sandrich

Ballet star Pete "Petrov" Peters arranges to cross the Atlantic aboard the same ship as the dancer he's fallen for but barely knows, musical star Linda Keene. By the time the ocean liner reaches New York, a little white lie has churned through the rumour mill and turned into a hot gossip item: that the two celebrities are secretly married.
Body of Evidence, by Patricia Cornwell

A reclusive writer is dead. And her final manuscript has disappeared ... Someone is stalking Beryl Madison. Someone who spies on her and makes threatening, obscene phone-calls. Terrified, Beryl flees to Key West - but eventually she must return to her Richmond home. The very night she arrives, Beryl inexplicably invites her killer in ... Thus begins for Dr Kay Scarpetta the investigation of a crime that is as convoluted as it is bizarre. Why would Beryl open the door to someone who brutally slashed and then nearly decapitated her? Did she know her killer? Adding to the intrigue is Beryl's enigmatic relationship with a prize-winning author and the disappearance of her own manuscript. As Scarpetta retraces Beryl's footsteps, an investigation that begins in the laboratory with microscopes and lasers leads her deep into a nightmare that soon becomes her own.
Birdy, by Alan Parker

Two friends arrive back from Vietnam, scarred in different ways. One has physical injuries, the other has mental problems that make him yearn to be a bird, a subject he has always been fascinated with.
Road Games, by Richard Franklin

A suspenseful thriller about a truck driver's efforts to stop a demented murderer. Pat Quid has been hired to deliver pork to Perth, Australia. Keeping him company on the road is his pet dog, who Pat claims is a dingo. After hearing about a killing spree, whose culprit remains unknown, Pat starts to believe the fiend is actually the mysterious driver of a green van he passed along the way. When the police don't believe the story, Pat decides to nab the villain on his own. After the maniac kidnaps Pamela, the pretty hitchhiker Pat picked up, the truck driver becomes even more determined to stop the madman.

March 18, 2008

L’invité (The Dinner Guest), by Laurent Bouhnik

This finely paced comedy is sheer lighthearted lunacy, with three great star talents in top form; Thierry Lhermitte, Valérie Lemercier and the remarkable Daniel Auteuil.Unemployed for three years, Gerard has landed a job in Indonesia. To start off on the right foot with his "team leader", Gerard invites him to dinner but as his wife Colette has no culinary skills, this may or may not be the brightest idea he's ever had. Thankfully, neighbour Alexandre comes to the rescue and after a series of hilarious mishaps and misunderstandings; Gérard and Colette open their door and welcome their dinner guest...Let the mayhem begin!
No Country for Old Men, by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong. Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss decides to simply take the two million dollars present for himself. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh, on his trail as he dispassionately murders nearly every rival, bystander and even employer in his pursuit of his quarry and the money. As Moss desperately attempts to keep one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in. Meanwhile, the laconic Sherrif Ed Tom Bell blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart.