Sunday, September 30, 2007

From Yahoo! News:

PARIS (AFP) - France is to award US filmmaker David Lynch with the Legion of Honour -- its top civilian honour -- and induct British band The Police into the Order of Arts and Letters, officials said here Saturday.

Lynch, the man behind Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive and the cult television show Twin Peaks, will become an officer of the legion in a ceremony Monday, said presidential palace spokesman David Martinon.

President Nicolas Sarkozy will "pay homage to the immense talent of this great creator and filmmaker, but also to the artist who is accomplished in several disciplines", Martinon said in a statement.

"The president will recall the demanding approach of David Lynch, a creator who changes not only the style and form of filmmaking but also the cinematic genre itself," he said.

Weekend box office estimates:

1. The Game Plan - $22,675,000
2. The Kingdom - $17,694,000
3. Resident Evil: Extinction - $8,000,000
4. Good Luck Chuck - $6,300,000
5. 3:10 to Yuma - $4,160,000
6. The Brave One - $3,760,000
7. Mr. Woodcock - $3,000,000
8. Eastern Promises - $2,892,000
9. Sydney White - $2,685,000
10. Across the Universe - $2,050,000

Saturday, September 29, 2007

In a world where international terrorism, the war in Iraq, and control of Middle Eastern oil are topics at the forefront of world discussion, it's surprising that a film that deals with all of those issues would treat them so indifferently. Discussion and exploration of complex themes are not at the forefront of Peter Berg's The Kingdom. Action is. For a film that tries to be Syriana meets Black Hawk Down meets (as many other critics have pointed out) CSI, The Kingdom displays none of the insight of Syriana, the gutwrenching power of Black Hawk Down, or the gripping entertainment value of CSI.

Instead, the film opts to squander any potential it had to explore the grand international themes that were set up in the film's excellent title sequence, and descends into a rote, predicable shoot-em-up.

Jamie Foxx stars as Ronald Fleury, an FBI agent who leads a team of investigators (played by Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, and Jason Bateman) into Saudi Arabia against the government's wishes to investigate a terrorist bombing that killed two of their agents. Once there, they face an unfamiliar culture that becomes increasingly hostile as they get closer and closer to catching the terrorist mastermind who plotted the attack.

It's a plot that's just begging to be connected to foreign policy and the history of the region. But it isn't. Berg manages to whittle down years of turmoil and political unrest into hyperkinetic gun battles with faceless Muslim extremists.

Why are these people the way they are? Why are they trying to kill us? Are they crazy, or did we help make them this way? Berg never tells us, nor does he even attempt to even ask those questions.

"Why does it matter?" You may ask. "Not every movie has to have any deeper meaning."

That's true. But I believe that it is an artist's responsibility to interpret the world around them, to process it and make sense of it. There are much bigger things at work in the world of The Kingdom, but we never see any of it. It's what separates this film from something like Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah, a film that takes a single event and ties it in to current events with beautiful subtlety. With so much relevance to today's world, The Kingdom the film should resonate more than it does. But it doesn't.

Berg does try in the final moments of the film to make a statement about the endless cycle of violence, but the moment is so hamfisted and forced that it comes out of nowhere, and doesn't mesh with the personalities of the characters as they have been developed up until then. It's a sad waste of a subject rife with possibility - a dumbing down of complex themes into violent action fodder for the masses - kind of like our own current foreign policy.

Hmmm...maybe The Kingdom has a message after all.

GRADE - **

THE KINGDOM; Directed by Peter Berg; Stars Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Ashraf Barhom, Ali Suliman, Jeremy Piven; Rated R for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language

Friday, September 28, 2007

Watching films about Alzheimer's Disease isn't always an easy task. My grandmother has been in a nursing home for 8 years now with the disease, unable to speak or walk. I know what it is like, I have seen it. And these films tend to hit close to home.

Such was the case with Away From Her, actress Sarah Polley's tender and charming feature directorial debut, in which Gordon Pinsent plays a man coping with his wife's (Julie Christie) illness and deterioration from Alzheimers, as he watches her forge a deep connection with another man in her nursing home.

It is a unique and unexpected premise, and through the earnest performances of its two leads (especially Christie, who is simply luminous), it works perfectly. They are aided by a crisply written screenplay by the director herself, adapted from the short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alice Munro.

What makes the film such an unexpected knockout, however, is its refusal to go for the obvious. This is not the best film to deal with Alzheimer's I have seen (that title goes to Richard Eyre's Iris, with Judi Dench giving the most stunningly accurate portrayal of the disease ever put to film), but it earns many of its points for taking the road less traveled. It does not wallow in the sadness of its story, but focuses on the positive. And it does not end it tragedy and death, it ends on a positive note, in a moment of recognition, a bittersweet glimmer of what once was. We know were the story will inevitably lead after the last frame has faded away, but we are sent away with hope, a poignant reminder of the power and pain of love.

Much of the praise surrounding the film has focused on Christie's performance. And she is indeed luminous, often managing to seem both spirited and vulnerable at the same time. Her moments of normalcy make the moments rob her of herself that much more painful - to see such a strong personality suddenly become lost in a world it no longer recognizes or understands.

Polley displays a keen understanding of the sense of confusion and loss that goes along with Alzheimer's, and she handles it well, guiding the film with a warmth, humor, and heart that takes a fresh approach to a very serious subject. Away From Her is a film that earns its tears honestly - and by presenting hope in the midst of despair, light in the midst of darkness, she has painted a portrait of Alzheimer's that rings painfully and beautifully true.

GRADE - ***½

AWAY FROM HER; Directed by Sarah Polley; Stars Julie Christie, Gordon Pinset, Olympia Dukakis, Wendy Crewson; Rated PG-13 for some strong language

When I first heard the song Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) by Peter Sarstedt in Wes Anderson's new short, Hotel Chevalier, the other day, I thought it was goofy and a little irritating - but I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Now I think it was a borderline brilliant choice for the film - a pitch-perfect mix of quirkiness and pathos that brings the film to life.

Thanks to Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood-Elsewhere for linking to this video:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I was browsing through my favorite, independently owned movie rental store this evening (I'm not a big fan of the big chains), and ran across a copy of Samuel Fuller's I Shot Jesse James.

I had never actually heard of the film before, so I rented it out of curiosity, especially with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford making its theatrical debut tomorrow. And I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It may have been a B-western with some hokey moments, but it's solidly crafted and remarkably engaging. It tells the story of Robert Ford, an outlaw who shot his best friend Jesse James in the back in exchange for amnesty, and how the murder haunted him for the rest of his life. The film, which was Fuller's first, focuses more on the aftermath than the friendship between James and Ford, examining the psychological unraveling of a man who murdered his best friend for love, and how it destroys his life.

Unlike many westerns of its time (it was released in 1949), it features a mix of character-driven drama and gunslinging action. It's a B-movie with a brain, and an exceptionally suspenseful and entertaining one at that.

The film is available on Criterion's excellent Eclipse collection - The First Films of Samuel Fuller, a series that releases overlooked films films from specific directors or themes. The people at Criterion have done a typically excellent job of restoring the film and transferring it to DVD. The set also comes with The Baron of Arizona (1950) and The Steel Helment (1951).

If you took all the movies throughout history about a ragtag group of rebels fighting off the mighty British Empire, you could probably fill a small library. It's a popular theme, with many cultural variations to keep things from getting boring. But its prevalence also makes originality difficult. After all, what was The Patriot if not Braveheart set in America? So for Ken Loach's 2006 Cannes Palme D'Or winner, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, to be such a unique and singular work, is something special indeed.

Set in Ireland in 1920, The Wind that Shakes the Barley is, on the surface, a tale of the Irish rebellion against the British, and the radicalization of a young doctor (Cillian Murphy) as he joins the IRA to drive the British from their homeland and establish a free Irish state. But what Loach creates here is not a mere historical document; instead he draws very clear parallels between the Irish rebellion and the current Iraq war - a band of guerrilla fighters fighting against an occupying force who labels them terrorists. It's a disturbing and thought provoking parallel, and it gives the film an immediacy that, even though it takes place 87 years ago, makes it urgently and vibrantly current.

Not only does it lend the film topicality, but it makes it much more readily identifiable. Their situation is not so different from one we find ourseleves in today, and a tale nearly 90 years old suddenly seems as current as the nightly news. He allows us to see our world in theirs, and they no longer seem so far removed.

That would have been enough to make a very good movie. But Loach takes it a step further. The film takes a third-act turn after the British reach a compromise with the Irish to set up an independent Irish state that still swears an oath of allegiance to the crown. This causes unrest within the IRA itself, with many taking the compromise, while others view it as selling out. The result is brother turning against brother, a war of moderates versus radicals that the film takes its first ambivalent stance on. It has undeniable socialist sympathies, but the final message of the film is ambiguous. Was it right to reach the compromise? Is that what their comrades had fought and died for? Or had they in essence sold their souls to the devil to save their own skins? And what happens when those in power become the very thing they had fought against? It becomes Animal Farm populated with people.

Loach, along with cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, shot the film in an almost documentary-like style, adding to the film's naturalistic tone and stunning realism, and makes great use of the breathtaking Irish countryside. The often peaceful but ever present nature reminds of not only what these men are fighting for, but serve as a sharp contrast to the senseless violence. In a place surrounded by so much beauty, so many horrors are committed by human beings.

It's one of the many points to ponder in The Wind that Shakes the Barley, one of the richest cinematic feasts I have seen in a while. It is a powerful, haunting work, and a dire warning of history repeating itself.

The idea that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter never rang so true.

GRADE - ****

THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY; Directed by Ken Loach; Stars Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, Gerard Kearney, William Ruane; Not Rated
Just released on DVD on Tuesday, Paul Verhoeven's Black Book is not your typical WWII movie. And its definitely not your typical Holocaust movie. But coming from the director of Basic Instinct and Showgirls, that shouldn't be expected.

Black Book is a slickly produced historical melodrama set in occupied Holland near the end of WWII. Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten), a young Jewish woman in hiding from the Nazis, who after the death of her family, joins the Dutch resistance and dyes her hair blonde to infiltrate the Gestapo headquarters, where she falls in love with the German commander of the SS.

Oh yes, it's every bit as lurid and pulpy as one would expect from Verhoeven, with its classic Hollywood production values and lush cinematography with reds that pop off the screen like the Technicolor epics of yore. And of course sex. Lots and lots of sex. But Verhoeven never cheapens his subject. Its got Hollywood sensibilities up one side and down the other (despite being a Dutch production), but he uses those to his advantage. Black Book is a thrilling, old fashioned nail-biter, filled with intrigue, suspense, and romance.

Unlike many other films on this subject, however, Black Book is an unabashed movie-movie. It's not on the level of the granddaddy of all Resistance films, Jean-Pierre Melville's mesmerizing 1969 masterpiece, Army of Shadows, but it holds its own. Realism is not Verhoeven's first concern here, entertainment value is. But he never sacrifices credibility for it. He earns his suspense honestly, through our genuine empathy for his characters. It is not as immediate or as grim as Army of Shadows, but it paints an intense portrait of the near-impossible challenge faced by the underground Resisance fighters.

It all makes for a fantastic espionage thriller, and van Houten makes an appealing lead. It is her character we feel the most for, and she provides the backbone for the film, while Verhoeven almost single handedly redeems himself for Showgirls. The film manages to turn German occupied Holland circa 1944 into a fast-paced thrill ride without sacrificing the emotional core and very real human toll. He takes the material of throw-away beach reads and turns it into a sharply crafted, lushly filmed nailbiter with wonderfully old fashioned sensibilities. One could almost imagine Black Book being made in the late 40s sometime. It's a Hollywood throwback that out-Hollywoods Hollywood.

And in this day and age, isn't that saying something?

GRADE - ***½

BLACK BOOK; Directed by Paul Verhoeven; Stars Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Halina Reijn, Thom Hoffman, Waldemar Kobus; Rated R for some strong violence, graphic nudity, sexuality and language
In Dutch, German, and English w/English subtitles

I just finished watching Wes Anderson's Hotel Chevalier, a short film billed as Part 1 of his new feature film The Darjeeling Limited (which opens in NY and LA on 9/29). It is a 13-minute long short meant to provide backstory for the film's main character, played by Jason Schwartzman, and is being shown in front of press screenings of the film and is set to be included on the DVD. It's an interesting film, especially from a compositional standpoint (which is, as usual, stellar - and unmistakably Anderson), well acted and sharply written by Anderson. It left me wondering what the history of the characters were, which I hope we will find out in Darjeeling. Think of it as a teaser that doesn't actually show any of the film its teasing. A definitely unique little film.

The film, which also features Natalie Portman, is now available as a free download on iTunes, which you can get by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

From CNN:

LONDON, England (AP) -- A special effects technician has been killed in a crash during production of the latest Batman film, Warner Bros. said Tuesday.

The studio said the man, who was not identified, died when a truck carrying a camera platform crashed into a tree while following a stunt vehicle on Monday.

Filming on the movie, "The Dark Knight," was not taking place at the time, and no actors were involved in the accident.

The accident took place during a test run at a racetrack near Chertsey, south of London.

The studio said producers, cast and crew "are deeply saddened by this tragedy and their hearts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased."

Britain's Health and Safety Executive said it was investigating the accident.

From the New York Post:

September 25, 2007 -- A BIG-mouthed extra working on the new "Indiana Jones" flick has blown his fledgling movie career to smithereens by spilling the film's major plot points. Director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas made the entire cast and crew of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" sign nondisclosure agreements. But Tyler Nelson - cast as a "dancing Russian soldier" - gave an interview to his hometown newspaper, the Edmond Sun in Oklahoma, in which he revealed that...

Spielberg's spokesman, Marvin Levy, wouldn't say whether any of Nelson's spoilers are accurate, but noted: "Who knows whether that particular person will ever work in this town again?"
Moral of the story? Don't mess with Steven Spielberg.

You can read the entire story here, but be warned, it is full of spoilers that I'm surprised the Post printed (but probably shouldn't be). I just skipped that part.

In celebration of From the Front Row's one year anniversary, and in honor of the release of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, FTFR, in conjunction with Warner Brothers Pictures, is proud to announce the first of what will hopefully be many contests on this site.

The winner will recieve a poster for the film from Warner Brothers (pictured above). All you have to do is send your name and email address to It's that simple. The winner will be chosen from a random drawing and announced on October 31st, the date of the first post here at From the Front Row, and contacted via email for their shipping information. Winners' info will only be shared with Warner Brothers for the purpose of shipping their prize.

Good luck!

Monday, September 24, 2007

I just got finished watching Zoo, Robinson Devor's polarizing, hugely controversial documentary about a man who died of a perforated colon as a result of having sex with a horse. A film on this kind of subject isn't the kind of thing that would "play in Peoria" as Groucho Marx would say, and as such only had a very limited release in 5 theaters. And while it's subject matter may be shocking and taboo, the film itself is a lyrical, strangely beautiful thing. Devor disarms us from the get-go, we are not prepared for something so poetic to come out of such a repulsive subject.

But that is where Zoo succeeds the most. It does not judge its subjects. While its focus is mainly the never-named man who died, Zoo takes us into an underground world where men gather for the purpose of having sex with animals, and attempts to at least help us understand why these men do what they do. It never asks us to condone or accept it, but it does attempt to illuminate a very real (albeit small) segment of society than many of us never even think about. And it balances it nicely with the perspectives of the vets who rescue the animals from the farm that serves as the gathering place for "zoophiles" from all over.

The part where the movie falters, however, is in its insight. These men claim to love these animals the way you would a romantic partner. But that begs the question - how can an animal consent, and how does all of this affect them? It is a question that is asked, but never answered. One side says they can, the other says they can't. But Devor never fully explores why these men do what they do - what it is that makes them feel a closer connection to animals than other humans.

Who are these men? The film never tells us. The poster bears the tagline: "we are not who we appear to be." But we are never told who these men are outside their shadow world of bestiality. The dead man, known only as Mr. Hands, is shown to be a family man with a wife and child, but we are told nothing about his outside life, or the lives of the other men. They are defined solely by their affinity for sex with animals. As such, the movie loses its chance to explore deeper themes of lonliness and alienation that it only hints it.

To his credit, Devor handles the subject well. The film was nicknamed the "horse-fucking movie" after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, which is unfair. It is not a graphic film at all, despite the "MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY" warning emblazoned across the DVD cover. It is delicate and haunting, an eerie mood piece that displays a keen stylistic eye on the part of Devor. But it left me ultimately unsatisfied. At only 76 minutes long, it feels slight and unfulfilling, leaving vast oceans of material unexplored. We really know no more about these men than we did before. They have sex with horses - but where's the why, where's the debate? Zoo raises all kinds of interesting questions - the kind that make you examine and question beliefs of right and wrong. But it never explores them. It asks us to examine why we believe what we believe, but it never asks the same of its subjects. What we are left with is a beautiful and quietly unnerving film about a forbidden subject...that leaves us wishing there was more to it.

GRADE - **½

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah is expanding to 317 theaters tomorrow. As one of this year's early Oscar front runners, it will be watched closely, but buzz is strong and the reviews have been good. It doesn't have the huge band of detractors that Crash had (especially after its shocking Oscar victory), but the anti-Haggis crowd is already throwing out some pot-shots sight-unseen. However, advanced word has said that Elah is a stronger film than Crash in almost every way.

Here is the trailer:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thanks to Awards Daily for linking to this truly twisted trailer for Michael Haneke's new film Funny Games, a remake of his own 1997 film of the same name.

His last film, Cache, was one of the creepiest films in recent years...and this looks just as disturbing. Haneke is shaping up to be the modern Hitchcock.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Variety is reporting that David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises was awarded Best Film by audiences at the Toronto Film Festival, beating out the hugely populer Jason Reitman comedy Juno, which recieved First Runner Up.

For a complete list of winners, click here.

Eastern Promises opened in select cities yesterday, and will go wide on September 21.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

From the New York Times:

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 11 — The Academy Awards haven’t exactly turned into a yearly show with Jon Stewart. But Mr. Stewart, the political satirist and star of “The Daily Show,” is getting another shot at the Oscar podium.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which bestows the Oscars, is expected to bring back Mr. Stewart, who was host of the ceremony in 2006. An is scheduled for Wednesday, according to two people involved with the plan who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the news media.
As much as I like Jon Stewart, I would actually rather see someone else up there more connected with the movie business - like Billy Crystal or Steve Martin. Or bring Ellen back. The Daily Show is one of my favorites, and while I enjoyed Stewart's Oscar hosting gig, it's not really his element.

Monday, September 10, 2007

From CNN:

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Jane Wyman, an Academy Award winner for her performance as the deaf rape victim in "Johnny Belinda," star of the long-running TV series "Falcon Crest" and Ronald Reagan's first wife, died Monday morning at 93.

Wyman died at her Palm Springs home, said Richard Adney of Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Cathedral City. No other details were immediately available.

Wyman's film career spanned from the 1930s, including "Gold Diggers of 1937," to 1969's "How to Commit Marriage," co-starring Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason. From 1981 to 1990 she played Angela Channing, a Napa Valley winery owner who maintained her power with a steely will on CBS' "Falcon Crest."

Her marriage in 1940 to fellow Warner Bros. contract player Reagan was celebrated in the fan magazines as one of Hollywood's ideal unions. While he was in uniform during World War II, her career ascended, signaled by her 1946 Oscar nomination for "The Yearling."

I'll always remember Wyman for her role as Aunt Polly in Pollyanna, a favorite of mine as a little kid, and when I got older for Douglas Sirk's 1955 masterpiece All That Heaven Allows, in which she played a widowed housewife in love with a younger man, played by Rock Hudson.

She was a fine talent and a beautiful woman, and she will be missed.
Weekend box office estimates:

1. 3:10 to Yuma - $14,100,000
2. Halloween - $10,034,000
3. Superbad - $8,000,000
4. Balls of Fury - $5,693,000
5. The Bourne Ultimatum - $5,478,000
6. Shoot 'Em Up - $5,450,000
7. Rush Hour 3 - $5,330,000
8. Mr. Bean's Holiday - $3,387,000
9. The Nanny Diaries - $3,321,000
10. Hairspray - $1,950,000

Source: Box Office Mojo

James Mangold's excellent Western, 3:10 to Yuma, took the top spot at the weekend box office with a relatively weak $14.1 million, especially considering last weekend's record setting Halloween victory with $30.5 million. The only other new release on the charts, Shoot 'Em Up, barely made a splash with $5.5 million.

As for older films, Superbad, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Hairspray are all holding on just fine, reaching totals of $103,668,000, $210,099,000, and $114,881,000 respectively.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

And the winners out of Venice are:

GOLDEN LION for Best Film:
SE, JIE (LUST, CAUTION) by Ang LEE (USA/China/China, Taiwan)

SILVER LION for Best Director to:
Brian DE PALMA for the film: REDACTED (USA)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE to (ex aequo):

COPPA VOLPI for Best Actor:

COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress:
Cate BLANCHETT in the film: I’M NOT THERE by Todd HAYNES (USA)

MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD for Best Young Actor or Actress:
Hafsia HERZI in the film LA GRAINE ET LE MULET by Abdellatif KECHICHE (France)

OSELLA for Best Cinematography to:
Rodrigo PRIETO director of photography for the SE, JIE (LUST, CAUTION) di Ang LEE (USA/China/China, Taiwan)

OSELLA for Best Screenplay to:
Paul LAVERTY for the film IT’S A FREE WORLD… by Ken LOACH(UK/Italy/Germany/Spain)

SPECIAL LION for Overall Work to:

To see the full list of winners, click here.
Thanks to Sasha Stone at Awards Daily for reporting these.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

From Entertainment Weekly:

Candy corn's not the only thing giving Rob Zombie a sweet tooth these days. His remake of Halloween has spooked up more than $30 million, the biggest Labor Day weekend opening ever. And with his newly cemented two-picture contract with Dimension Films, one might assume that Zombie, who directed 1000 Corpses and its sequel, The Devil's Rejects, now considers horror his foolproof way to the top.

Not the case, it turns out. Though Dimension may try to terrorize Zombie into more of the Michael Myers franchise, the director has higher aspirations. ''I'm not going to do any more Halloween movies, or any more remakes of any kind. I signed up for two more pictures, but not two more Halloween pictures,'' he says. ''They're going to be original stuff — and I don't necessarily know that they're going to be related to the horror genre either.''
I would like to see Zombie direct something that has nothing to do with the horror genre. He's obviously talented (even if his Halloween falls apart after the first 40 minutes...his original material was quite good), I think it would be interesting to see him branch out and apply that to other things. It may not work, but it's always good to expand one's horizons.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weekend box office estimates:

1. Halloween - $26,503,000
2. Superbad - $12,200,000
3. Balls of Fury - $11,605,000
4. The Bourne Ultimatum - $10,183,000
5. Rush Hour 3 - $8,560,000
6. Mr. Bean's Holiday - $5,930,000
7. The Nanny Diaries - $5,108,000
8. Death Sentence - $4,180,000
9. WAR - $3,610,000
10. Stardust - $3,008,000

Source: Box Office Mojo

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The reviews are pouring in, and Joe Wright's Atonement is looking to be the year's first serious Oscar contender.

From Variety:

Rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so enthrallingly in pure movie terms, as with “Atonement,” Brit helmer Joe Wright’s smart, dazzlingly upholstered adaptation of Ian McEwan’s celebrated 2001 novel. Period yarn, largely set in 1930s and ‘40s England, about an adolescent outburst of spite that destroys two lives and crumples a third, preserves much of the tome’s metaphysical depth and all of its emotional power. And as in Wright’s “Pride & Prejudice,” Keira Knightley -- echoed by co-thesp James McAvoy --proves every bit as magnetic as the divas of those classic mellers pic consciously references.
From The Hollywood Reporter:

"Atonement," Ian McEwan's best-selling novel of love thwarted by juvenile fantasy, has been rendered on screen so well by director Joe Wright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton that it ranks with the best novel adaptations of recent times... With compelling and charismatic performances by Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as the lovers, and a stunning contribution from Romola Garai as their remorseful nemesis, the film goes directly to "The English Patient" territory and might also expect rapturous audiences and major awards.
It's a rave! Let the race begin...
There are few cinematic milestones as significant as this one. Maybe not as earth-shattering today as D.W. Griffith's 1915 The Birth of a Nation (which heralded the birth of modern cinema as we know it), but The Lumiere Brothers' The Sprinkler Sprinkled (L'Arroseur arrosé) from 1895 is the first fictional film ever shown in public. Most of the films by the Lumiere Brothers, Edison, et al had been records of actual events, such as the minute long Workers Leaving the Factory, which was the first film ever projected in public.

It also happens to be the first comedy. Enjoy this piece of cinematic history:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Jean-Luc Godard's classic À bout de souffle (Breathless), the film that catapulted the director into the international spotlight, and along with Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows jumpstarted the French New Wave, is finally getting the deluxe, two-disc DVD treatment from the Criterion Collection this October.

The Criterion website has this to say about the film:
There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless. Jean-Luc Godard burst onto the film scene in 1960 with this jazzy, free-form, and sexy homage to the American film genres that inspired him as a writer for Cahiers du cinéma. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, anything-goes crime narrative, and effervescent young stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, Breathless helped launch the French new wave and ensured cinema would never be the same.
It's one of the few major Godard works that is not available on Criterion DVD, and this will a must have addition to any film lover's library.