DRAMA/MYSTERY: “Murder on the Orient Express

With a bit of British restraint
Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe and Judi Dench

By now, film adaptations based on the oeuvre of the two most prolific British writers of crime fiction, Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, form a respectable body. Of the latter, probably the best-known work remains “Murder on the Orient Express.” Today comes a new version by the, himself now almost venerable, Brit actor, Kenneth Branagh. From the get-go in this iteration, the ... more >

I’m So Excited

As irreverently fun as a bathroom foam fight
Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Antonio de la Torre
Directed by Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar’s “I’m So Excited” received a largely underwhelming response earlier this year in the director’s native Spain, as well as a few cranky complaints here; IndieWire, for instance, called it his worst film. Notably absent are the standard Almodovar themes of a sexual predator preying on the powerless (“Talk to Her,” “The Skin I Live In”), or murderous sexual jealousy playing itself out ... more >

To rome with love (Penelope Cruz)

To Rome with love

Four stories intersecting in la bella città
Roberto Benigni, Alison Pill and Penelope Cruz
Directed by Woody Allen

Woody Allen continues his European wandering, this time taking on four stories centered around love, infidelity and fame and set in beautiful Rome, la bella città. Only the narrative is so slight and the comedy so unfunny that "To Rome with love" quickly grows tiresome. This is the first time that Allen has gone in front of the camera in a while and it helps because he gives himself all the ... more >

Editor’s log: Volver

At the press luncheon

In 2006 while at the Cannes Film Festival I attended a press lunch for Volver (Pedro Almodovar); Almodovar and his lead actress Penelope Cruz would be answering questions from the press seated at a lunch table festooned with plates of seafood and prosciutto. I was running late. The lobby of the Carlton Hotel was swarming with well-heeled clients laden with shopping bags from Hermes and ... more >