Saturday, March 17, 2018

El Vigilante (The Night Guard): Reviews from the 2017 Curaçao Film Festival #CIFFR

Friday, April 7th, 2017, 13:30

This was one of the three Mexican films in the festival. I loved it, but several other people I spoke to (including Cor, my partner) found it a bit confusing. I hadn't realized it until they mentioned it: this film is uniquely Mexican in the sense that it portrays our idiosyncracy beautifully—our weird sense of loyalty, our mistrust of authority, our ties to family, our deference to employers—to the point where the plot hinges on it. So, if you're not Mexican, you'll probably walk away scratching your head a bit. But why didn't he just tell the truth from the beginning? Would've solved everything.

That said, as a thriller it has some very powerful moments. The cinematography is masterful, Buñuel-esque, using the construction site, the setting of the story, to full advantage. The acting, even from minor or incidental characters, is natural and fully believable. The film, director Diego Ros's debut, won Best Film in the Los Angeles Film Festival last year, as well as Best Film and Best Actor in the Morelia festival in 2016, so I'm evidently not alone in praising it.

If you like thrillers, especially of the psychological kind, you may want to give this one a try.

(Sorry about the trailer; couldn't find one with English subtitles. But you can perhaps gain a bit of insight of what I meant about the cinematography.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pop Aye: Reviews from the Curaçao Film Festival 2017 #CIFFR

Thursday, April 6th, 2017, 21:30

Beautiful, beautiful movie. A naiveté that stole my heart and made me cry and cry in spite of the (sort of) positive ending. Or maybe it was the elephant.

No, no it wasn't.

Well, not just the elephant. Yes, I loved that pachyderm, and I loved his story, but the magic of this film resides in the narrative style. There's plenty of humor—fine, subtle, often guileless, humor—guaranteed to make you chuckle (and, if you're feeling particularly susceptible, even laugh out loud). But this is a social statement, a critique on the materialistic lifestyles we've somehow managed to convince ourselves we need. And because it is told in such a guileless way, it underlines even more harshly the redundancy of the goals we live and die by.

This is a feel-good movie. Remember to keep the tissues handy at the end, though.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Casamance: Reviews from the Curaçao Film Festival 2017 #CIFFR

Thursday, April 6th, 2017, 19:00

Some might think it a tad amateurish (I'm not one of them), but even those can't help being swept away by the magic of music and candor that is this film. Documentaries are difficult to make; unpredictable plots, characters that insist on doing their own thing instead of sticking to the script—oh, wait, no script. Documentaries are about truth: real people, real events, heart and soul given flesh. And the music! An exploration into African rhythms, their history and evolution, and their trasmutation into Latin culture and music... This one had us tapping our feet—and looking into trips to Senegal.

It's almost time for the 2018 film festival, and I am far, far behind on the reviews for the 2017 films! So over the next four weeks I'm going to be posting three or four times a week in order to get through them all. They'll be shorter than originally planned, and I do apologize. Yes, it's a time issue, but it's also what I specifically didn't want to happen: I have forgotten a lot about these beautiful, beautiful films. *Sigh*

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