One of the most powerful films you will see this year is Land and Shade (Tierra y Sombra). The 2015 winner of the prestigious Cannes Caméra d’or, the movie is simple but has that subtle quality of getting under your skin. The story revolves around very few characters, a family in the Valle de Cauca region in Colombia. It is a low-income family: the matriarch Alicia (Hilda Ruiz) and her daughter-in-law (Marleyda Soto) work in a sugar plantation in a brutal environment for very low wages. The matriarch’s son Gerardo (Edison Raigosa) has fallen ill of some sort of respiratory illness. Bed-ridden, he can no longer work on the plantation. Gerardo’s wife steps up to his job while taking care of him and their 6-year-old son. The action is set in motion when his estranged father Alfonso (Haimer Leal) returns to enter the constrained family dynamic.
On the films of Jonas Trueba — a young Spanish filmmaker transcending his last name by prying at the fourth wall of cinema
August 25, 2016
His middle name is Groucho but his comedy is far from the Marx legacy that influenced his father, Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba, and though some aspects of his films recall the French New Wave, do not call his style retro. Jonás Groucho Trueba’s films have modern concerns about love in a modern age. He also uses cinema techniques that push the against the medium’s boundaries to represent his themes with an equally fresh perspective.
August 20, 2016
Get ready, one of the most heart-rending movies of 2016 may be Little Men. It’s one of those films that will hit you like a ton of bricks with a final, subtle scene that encapsulates a somber sort of loss that is sadder in its seeming lack of significance. It’s just one moment that captures a change that no one wanted but no one could prevent. That director Ira Sachs (who co-wrote the script with Mauricio Zacharias) captures the moment with no sentiment and a brutal matter-of-factness will rip the rug from right under you.
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World considers the state of humanity in the digital age — a film review
August 19, 2016
There are few things today as ubiquitous as the internet. Our daily lives are sorted and stored online in a variety of ways, and we have become dependent on electronic information. Whether this interaction between humans and the connected world we have created is good or bad is an open question that invites many interpretations. In Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, the German philosopher/director Werner Herzog probes the depths of this relationship through a series of chapters that explore this cyber connectedness. One the one hand, he notes, the great potential and advances in scientific discovery that are beneficial to humankind. On the other, Herzog walks us through the part of the human realm that is lost or changed through this relationship.
Director Lucile Hadzihalilovic talks about the pleasures of surreal film narrative and why it took 10 years to make Evolution
August 14, 2016
Tonight, Evolution, the sci-fi/horror hybrid by French writer/director Lucile Hadzihalilovic will have its Florida premiere at the Second Annual Popcorn Frights Film Festival (Our review: Evolution skips clear narrative to create waking nightmare of body horror — a Popcorn Frights film review). Earlier this week, The Miami New Times published an interview I conducted with the filmmaker (read it here), but so much had to be trimmed out, like why did it take Hadzihalilovic 10 years to follow-up Innocence? We also spoke about the film’s strange, surreal tone and why a straight narrative doesn’t always make for the best horror movie.
August 13, 2016
The directorial feature debut by American writer/actor Brady Corbet offers an arcane psychological portrait of a little boy who grows up to become a fascist leader. The storytelling of The Childhood of a Leader is spare and counts on the empathy and patience of the viewer, as Corbet keeps the inner world of this child obscured behind a physical performance by newcomer and British child actor Tom Sweet. The film focuses on behavior, especially punishment and a clear lack of love surrounding the boy, which is accentuated beyond words and exposition by an oppressive atmosphere of darkened interiors and a grim orchestral, sometimes cacophonous, score by English musician Scott Walker.
Evolution skips clear narrative to create waking nightmare of body horror — a Popcorn Frights film review
August 11, 2016
Too often, mainstream American horror movies strain to explain circumstances to get to the bottom of a mystery, which often saps an important element of fear of the unknown from a picture. Sometimes the genre is better served by defying logic and rationale to play with fear on a more primal level. With her new film Evolution, French writer-director Lucile Hadzihalilovic builds horror on atmosphere, absurdity and the dread of the unknown.