Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Wind and the Lion

R2 Portugal



In the early 1900s, an American businessman was kidnapped by a rebellious Arab chieftain, principally as a means to embarrass the sultan of Morocco. This abduction sparked the threat of armed intervention by President Theodore Roosevelt, which was never carried out. In The Wind and the Lion, the unattractive male captive is replaced by the gorgeous female Mrs. Pedecaris, an American widow played by Candice Bergen. The ruthless but essentially decent Arab chief Raisuli is portrayed by Sean Connery, while Teddy Roosevelt is depicted as a jingoistic blowhard by Brian Keith. The film's main theme -- that of America's emergence as a world power -- is largely secondary to the growing mutual-respect relationship between Mrs. Pedecaris and Raisuli. After releasing his hostage, Raisuli is himself captured by German forces, who at the behest of the Kaiser are seeking out methods of laying the groundwork for what would evolve into World War I. Mrs. Pedecaris must then help Raisuli escape.


Harrison Ford Collection

R2 Portugal










Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Da Vinci Code

R2 Portugal


Dan Brown's controversial best-selling novel about a powerful secret that's been kept under wraps for thousands of years comes to the screen in this suspense thriller from director Ron Howard. The stately silence of Paris' Louvre museum is broken when one of the gallery's leading curators is found dead on the grounds, with strange symbols carved into his body and left around the spot where he died. Hoping to learn the significance of the symbols, police bring in Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), a gifted cryptographer who is also the victim's granddaughter. Needing help, Sophie calls on Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), a leading symbologist from the United States. As Sophie and Robert dig deeper into the case, they discover the victim's involvement in the Priory of Sion, a secret society whose members have been privy to forbidden knowledge dating back to the birth of Christianity. In their search, Sophie and Robert happen upon evidence that could lead to the final resting place of the Holy Grail, while members of the priory and an underground Catholic society known as Opus Dei give chase, determined to prevent them from sharing their greatest secrets with the world. Also starring Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, and Alfred Molina, The Da Vinci Code was shot on location in France and the United Kingdom; the Louvre allowed the producers to film at the famous museum, but scenes taking place at Westminster Abbey had to filmed elsewhere when church officials declined permission.


Tomb Raider :The Cradle of Life

R2 Spain



This sequel to the 2001 hit video-game adaptation Lara Croft: Tomb Raider finds Jan de Bont stepping in for director Simon West, helming his first feature since 1999's The Haunting. From a script by first-time scribe Dean Georgaris, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life finds Angelina Jolie once again portraying the titular curvaceous adventurer. But where the first film saw Croft in a race against the Illuminati to acquire an elusive relic that offers control over life and death, this entry in the series follows the heroine as she ventures to an underwater temple in search of the mythological Pandora's Box. Unfortunately, once she secures the legendary artifact, it is promptly stolen by the villainous leader of a Chinese crime syndicate. It is then up to Lara to get the box back before an evil mastermind gets hold of it and uses it to construct a weapon of catastrophic capabilities. Gerard Butler, Djimon Hounsou, and Noah Taylor head up the supporting cast.


Tomb Raider

R2 Spain

A popular video game comes to the screen with this big-budget adventure starring Angelina Jolie as a buxom heroine recalling equal parts Indiana Jones and James Bond. Jolie is Lara Croft, a proper British aristocrat groomed at schools for the children of the elite. Croft leads a double life, however, as an acquirer of lost antiquities through questionable means, highly trained in combat skills with the help of a robotic opponent called Simon. Despite her exciting profession and a life of wealth and breeding, Lara pines for her father, Lord Croft (Jon Voight), whose passing left her orphaned. On the eve of a celestial event that will also mark the anniversary of Lord Croft's death, Lara comes up against an ancient organization called the Illuminati, represented by the sinister Powell (Iain Glen), who's in pursuit of an ancient relic with power over time and even death itself. With the aid of her high-tech support team, Lara travels to some exotic locales in search of the artifact, including a foray into a decrepit Asian temple guarded by lethal stone apes and other creatures that spring to life. Filmed at various locations in Great Britain as well as Iceland and the Angkor Wat temples of Cambodia, Tomb Raider co-stars Noah Taylor, Chris Barrie, Daniel Craig, Rachel Appleton, Leslie Phillips, Mark Collie, and Julian Rhind-Tutt.


Ultraviolet

R2 Spain

In the late 21st a disease called Hemophagia has genetically modified nearly an entire race of people, leaving them with such enhanced speed, intelligence, and strength that they resemble vampires in nearly every way. Fear begins to breed within the power elite as the disease continues to spread and those infected prove to be truly superhuman, and now, a civil war is brewing between uninfected humans and those altered by Hemophagia. Caught dead in the center of it is an infected woman called Violet (Milla Jovovich), who is bent on vengeance and has little left to lose. Provoked beyond reason by powers that will not rest until she and her people are dead, she will become everything her persecutors feared her to be.

Snakes on a Plane

R2 Portugal



Forget terrorists or hijackers -- there's a handful of deadly assassins aboard a jet liner and they don't even have arms or legs in this airborne thriller. Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) is an FBI agent handling what seems like a routine assignment -- serving as bodyguard for Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips), a Hawaiian surfer dude who is flying to California to testify in a high-profile criminal trial after witnessing mobster Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) murdering one of his underlings. However, Flynn's job gets a lot more challenging when he discovers Kim's associates don't want Jones to talk, and have devised a unique way to ensure his silence. A cache of highly dangerous poisonous snakes has been hidden on board the jet, and is released using a timed mechanism once the flight is well underway. The snakes quickly attack several members of the flight crew and are eagerly eying the passengers when Flynn decides its time to get medieval on the reptiles. Also starring Rachel Blanchard, Benjamin McKenzie, and Mark Houghton, Snakes on a Plane was produced under the title of Pacific Air Flight 121, but in several interviews Samuel L. Jackson expressed his enthusiasm for the script's original title, Snakes on a Plane, and the high-concept moniker quickly made the film's title and theme a favorite with bloggers and on Internet fan sites all over the world.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Lies Beneath

R2 Portugal




In this supernatural thriller, a woman believes that a visitor from another dimension is trying to guide her into a sinister mystery. Feeling lonely after her daughter leaves home for college, Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) begins to sense that something is wrong in her house, and feels a spirit is trying to contact her. At first her husband Norman (Harrison Ford), a scientist doing research in genetics, attributes her paranormal beliefs to stress or possibly a nervous breakdown, and sends her to a psychiatrist (Joe Morton) who puts no more stock in Claire's stories than does Norman. While Claire's contention that someone or something sinister is afoot leads her down a number of blind alleys, in time she becomes convinced that the mysterious happenings at her home are somehow connected to the disappearance of a woman who was a student at the nearby college -- and bore a striking resemblance to Claire. What Lies Beneath marked the debut of screenwriter Clark Gregg, whose script is based on a story by himself and Sarah Kernochan; the supporting cast includes Diana Scarwid as Claire's best friend Jody, and James Remar and Miranda Otto as a contentious couple living next door.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Road to Perdition

R2 Portugal








The acclaimed graphic novel from crime writer Max Allan Collins becomes this big budget Dreamworks drama from director Sam Mendes and screenwriter David Self. Tom Hanks stars as Michael Sullivan, a morally conflicted Depression-era hit man committing murder in the name of his employer, John Rooney (Paul Newman). A kindly, aging Irish crime boss who raised Sullivan as his surrogate son, Rooney is affiliated with Al Capone in Chicago and thus wields great power in the "Tri-Cities" of Moline, IL; Rock Island, IL; and Davenport, IA. Curious about his father's mysterious profession, Sullivan's son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), stows away in his father's automobile one night and witnesses the execution of a man at the hands of Sullivan and Rooney's biological son, Connor (Daniel Craig). Although Michael keeps his promise to remain silent about what he's seen, the paranoid and unstable Connor tries to wipe out the entire Sullivan clan anyway, succeeding only in killing Sullivan's wife, Annie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and youngest son, Peter (Liam Aiken). Enraged at this and another surprise betrayal by the Rooneys, Sullivan embarks on a path of bloody retribution, Michael in tow. Although he intends to leave his boy with relatives in the rural town of Perdition once the coast is clear, he ends up exposing Michael to the goriest aspects of his talents, slaughtering former associates as he dodges contract assassin Maguire (Jude Law) and cripples the cash flow of the Rooney and Capone organizations through a series of bank robberies, attempting to force either mob family to offer up the sequestered Connor as a sacrifice. Inspired by the popular Japanese comic book series Lone Wolf and Cub and based loosely on an episode from the life and career of notorious real-life crime figures John and Connor Looney, Road to Perdition co-stars Stanley Tucci as legendary Chicago mobster Frank Nitti.

Training Day

R2 Spain







The Fast and the Furious (2001) screenwriter David Ayer follows up that fast-paced action hit with this gritty cop drama from director Antoine Fuqua. Ethan Hawke stars as Jake Hoyt, a fresh-faced Los Angeles Police Department rookie anxious to join the elite narcotics squad headed up by 13-year veteran Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Harris has agreed to give Hoyt a shot at joining his team with a one-day ride-along during which Hoyt must prove his mettle. As the day wears on, however, it becomes increasingly clear to the greenhorn that his experienced mentor has blurred the line between right and wrong to an alarming degree, enforcing his own morally compromised code of ethics and street justice. As he struggles with his conscience, an increasingly alarmed Hoyt begins to suspect that he's not really being given an audition at all; he's being set up as the fall guy in an elaborate scheme. Training Day co-stars Tom Berenger, Scott Glenn, and recording artists Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Macy Gray.


Enemy of the State

R2 Portugal





The action producing-directing team of Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott is back with another thrill-a-minute ride called Enemy of the State. Taking its "innocent man accidentally caught up in political corruption" story from such films as Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation, Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Sydney Pollack's Three Days of the Condor, they turn up the high-tech volume in an attempt to create the ultimate action film. Robert Clayton Dean, played by Will Smith, is a devoted father, husband, and attorney shopping for a sexy gift for his wife. What he doesn't know is that he was given a videotape from a friend (Jason Lee) regarding the recent murder of a U.S. senator led by corrupt National Security Agency official Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight). Now Reynolds is after Dean to cover his tracks or, as the audience soon finds out, frame Dean for Rachel's murder. Since Dean isn't up on his high-tech gadgetry, he needs the aid of ex-intelligence operative Brill (Gene Hackman). Between the explosions and chases is the subtext of George Orwell's 1984 mantra "beware of big brother," as Dean realizes that in the modern world, there is no such thing as total privacy.

Déjà Vu

R2 Portugal





Adrenaline-loving director Tony Scott teams with iconic action producer Jerry Bruckheimer for this high-flung sci-fi action thriller concerning a New Orleans-based maverick ATF agent named Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) who is brought in on a top-secret government program to catch the terrorist (Jim Caviezel) responsible for a ferry bombing that kills hundreds. Able to do what most law enforcement officers only dream of, Carlin is now able to look back in time at the perpetrator's movements, and at the life of the innocent woman whose death would set the events into motion. Carlin's instincts tell him that something is amiss, however, and while the government agent who tapped him for the job (Val Kilmer) and the team of ultra-cool scientists who run the project (Adam Goldberg, Erika Alexander) tell him one story about the quantum physics behind this marvel of technology, the hotshot agent suspects that there is a greater power at their fingertips -- one that might not just solve the crime at hand, but prevent it.

El Laberinto del Fauno

R2 Spain





Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro returns to the phantasmagorical cinema that defined such early fare as Cronos and The Devil's Backbone with this haunting fantasy-drama set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and detailing the strange journeys of an imaginative young girl who may be the mythical princess of an underground kingdom. Her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), recently remarried to sadistic army captain Vidal (Sergi López) and soon to bear the cruel military man's child, shy young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is forced to entertain herself as her recently-formed family settles into their new home nestled deep in the Spanish countryside. As Ofelia's bed-ridden mother lies immobilized in anticipation of her forthcoming child and her high-ranking stepfather remains determined to fulfill the orders of General Francisco Franco to crush a nearby guerilla uprising, the young girl soon ventures into an elaborate stone labyrinth presided over by the mythical faun Pan (Doug Jones). Convinced by Pan that she is the lost princess of legend and that in order to return to her underground home she must complete a trio of life-threatening tasks, Ofelia sets out to reclaim her kingdom and return to her grieving father as Vidal's housekeeper Mercedes (Maribel Verdú) and doctor (Alex Angulo) plot secretly on the surface to keep the revolution alive.



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Master and Commander:The Far Side of the World

R2 Spain



Director Peter Weir's first turn behind the camera since 1998's critically acclaimed The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is based on two Napoleanic War-era adventure novels in author Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, Master and Commander and The Far Side of the World. Russell Crowe stars as Captain Jack Aubrey, a high-seas adventurer who maintains a strong bond with ship-surgeon Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany). After conquering much of Europe already, Napoleon's forces have set their sights on taking Britain, so Aubrey and the crew of his ship, the HMS Surprise, take to the Pacific to intercept any attacking ships from the French fleet. When Aubrey eyes a renegade French super-frigate, the Surprise pursues, leading to an adrenaline-charged chase through the distant reaches of the sea. Edward Woodall, James D'Arcy, and Lee Ingleby also star as members of the Surprise's crew.

The Count of Monte Cristo

R2 Portugal

The classic tale of swashbuckling adventure by the senior Alexandre Dumas comes to the screen in its umpteenth incarnation, this time from Kevin Reynolds, directing his first feature in five years. James Caviezel stars as Edmond Dantes, an honest sailor who plans to marry his beautiful lover Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk). Edmond doesn't know that his best friend Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce) secretly desires Mercedes for himself and schemes with fallen aristocrat Villefort (James Frain) to frame Edmond for a crime he didn't commit. Sentenced to life on the remote island prison of D'If, Edmond becomes consumed by plans for revenge. Thirteen years pass and he meets a fellow innocent convict, Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), who becomes Edmond's mentor in swordfighting, finance, and escape, confiding that a vast treasure awaits a discoverer on the island of Monte Cristo. Eventually, Edmond is able to get away using Faria's tunnels and makes his way to Monte Cristo, where he retrieves the fortune and uses it to make himself over as the wealthy "Count of Monte Cristo." With the help of a loyal sidekick (Luis Guzman), Edmond insinuates himself into French royalty and sets about getting revenge on Villefort and Fernand, who is now married to Mercedes. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) also stars Michael Wincott and Albie Woodington.


1492 Conquest of Paradise

R2 Portugal

This, the second of 1992's 500th anniversary Christopher Columbus films (the first being Warner Bros. Christopher Columbus: The Discovery), adheres to the historical facts of Columbus's (Gerard Depardieu) possessed quest to discover the New World, and his solicitation of Queen Isabella (Sigourney Weaver) to gain the necessary funding. Despite travelogue-quality footage replete with beautiful scenery of Caribbean islands and a massive cast, this film tends to plod along with too predictable a plot and a mis-cast Columbus. Depardieu -- a very capable French actor speaking English and playing an Italian -- becomes perhaps the movie's bright spot (even if at his own expense) as he laughably struggles with line after line. Michael Wincott puts forth a worthy performance as a nasty Spanish nobleman whose mistreatment of the natives results in an open rebellion.

Kagemusha

R2 Spain







Just as many American studio-era directors found acclaim abroad that was denied them in their home country, by 1980 Akira Kurosawa's reputation outside Japan exceeded his esteem at home. As uncompromising as ever, he found considerable difficulty securing backing for his ambitious projects. Unsure he would be able to film it, the director, an aspiring artist before he entered filmmaking, converted Kagemusha into a series of paintings, and it was partly on the basis of these that he won the financial support of longtime admirers Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Set in the 16th century, when powerful warlords competed for control of Japan, it offers an examination of the nature of political power and the slipperiness of identity. For some time, Shingen Takeda Tatsuya Nakadai has been able to stay removed from the heat of battle by using his brother Nobukado Tsutomu Yamazaki as a double. As the film opens, Nobukado offers another option, having discovered a condemned thief (also played by Tatsuya Nakadai) bearing an uncanny resemblance to the warlord. After he insists on witnessing the fall of an enemy in person, Shingen falls victim to a sniper's bullet, forcing his advisers to present the thief as the fallen warrior. At first awkward in his new position and plagued by dreams in which the spirit of his double confronts him, he slowly grows into the role even as his enemies begin to advance on his kingdom. The winner of the Palm D'Or at Cannes, Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior has also been released as The Double.