Triple Frontier (dir. J.C. Chandor, 2019) – Former Special Forces soldiers plan to rob a known cartel boss, but the mission soon spirals out of control.
Focusing more on the thrills of the heist than its motivations, the thematic ideas of Triple Frontier sadly never come into fruition.
Triple Frontier opens with retired captain William ‘Ironhead’ Miller (Charlie Hunnam) standing before a hall of young soldiers, freshfaced as he had once been. He recounts his moment of post-traumatic stress induced violence in a grocery store, painfully aware of how war has changed him.
The rest of his ex-military crew has not adjusted well to civilian life either. Post-war, Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis (Ben Affleck) ends up a divorced, absent father with an estranged teen daughter. Former pilot Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales (Pedro Pascal) has fallen into shady company, revoked of his license to fly while under investigation.
Then, we have Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia (Oscar Isaac), who appears to have it all together. In fact, it is as though the man is ready-made for the battlefield. The now-private military advisor is the one with the big plans, gathering his A-Team to raid the home of a kingpin under the pretense of a government-backed mission.
Continue reading Review: Triple Frontier (2019)
Glass (dir. M. Night Shyamalan, 2019) – Vigilante David Dunn tracks down the mentally afflicted Kevin Wendell Crumb in an attempt to stop his next murder.
The grounded slow-burn of Unbreakable meets Split‘s psychological terror in Glass, a brilliant culmination of M Night Shyamalan’s highly inventive trilogy.
In its concluding minutes, Split introduced M. Night Shyamalan’s most ambitious twist in his long-running career. His latest antagonist Kevin/The Beast (James McAvoy) is revealed to be sharing a cinematic home with David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the indestructible protagonist of his brilliant early film Unbreakable.
At first glance, the two disparate characters in the same universe seems an outlandish idea, which makes Glass a particularly gutsy sequel. And while Unbreakable earned (deserving) plaudits following its lukewarm early days, the bold move also assumed mainstream interest in a cult classic that is by now close to two decades old.
But M. Night Shyamalan’s huge bet pays off, especially when he raises the stakes by going in unexpected directions. Against expectations, the first meeting of the two characters never gets to end in a hero versus villain showdown, when both quickly end up under lock and key.
Continue reading Review: Glass (2019)
A Twelve-Year Night / La noche de 12 años (dir. Álvaro Brechner, 2018) – Under the military dictatorship of Uruguay back in 1973, nine Tupamaro prisoners were kept in solitary confinement for twelve years.
A Twelve-Year Night puts to screen an appalling chapter of Uruguayan history, revelatory of the worst – and the best – of human nature.
It was 1973. Military dictatorship reigned over Uruguay, where political prisoners are taken and incarcerated without trial. Nine men spent over 4,300 days in solitary confinement, an unimaginable nightmare enough to drive anyone mad.
Isolation almost eclipses the pain of physical torture, as A Twelve Year Night powerfully puts the stories of three prisoners on display. The archaic punishment sees them cut off from the world and their family, all for the crime of holding on to their own political beliefs.
Continue reading Review: A Twelve-Year Night (2018)
Aterrados (dir. Demián Rugna, 2017) – Strange events occur in a neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, leading to suspicions of the paranormal.
Light on answers but heavy on tension, Aterrados presents some tautly strung scenes of terror that successfully conjure the fear of the dark.
Not many can leave a screening of Aterrados without realising their fear of the dark, and of things that go bump in the night. The paranormal takes on a thickened sheen of terror through the lens of director Demián Rugna, whose survey of the genre has paid off in full.
The tense opening makes clear that the title is its intent. A terrified Clara (Natalia Señoriales) tells her husband Juan (Agustín Rittano) about the threatening voices she hears, coming from the kitchen pipes.
He dismisses her, but soon hears knocking against the walls himself that very night. The sceptic in him would have blamed it on the neighbour. Only that the latter is away, and the noise seems to be coming from inside the house.
Continue reading Review: Aterrados / Terrified (2017)
Velvet Buzzsaw (dir. Dan Gilroy, 2019) – Art is dangerous, more so for those who sell it for greed.
Effective satire elevates the potentially campy slasher Velvet Buzzsaw to an incisive, layered work of art.
For a horror film, Velvet Buzzsaw comes off much more introspective than its company. Its effectively satirical screenplay introduces the obnoxious rulers of its galleries in broad strokes, sharply critiquing the many artists and proprietors who value art solely for money.
There is Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the sneakers of the art critic, who believes that a bad review is better than sinking into the great glut of anonymity. Not only does he compromise in ethics by accepting favours. His reviews spit pure vitriol, as one soon hears in voices that manifest from his own guilt.
Continue reading Review: Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel (dir. Robert Rodriguez, 2019) – With no memory of her past but a stunning set of combative skills, Alita sets out to unravel the mystery of who she truly is.
Slick visuals and fantastic world-building drive Alita towards her becoming, making the dreary bits worth trudging through.
Neither genres nor audiences can bound Robert Rodriguez. To date, the Desperado director and Splat Pack member has delivered well-loved entertainment in almost every realm of cinema, from the gore galore of Planet Terror, to the family-friendly franchise of Spy Kids.
Alita: Battle Angel thus seems a neat fit for his directorial versatility. Set in a futuristic albeit dystopian future, the manga adaptation aptly treads a delicate line between crowd-pleasing action and almost alienating grimness.
For one, Alita knows nothing her combative skills, made ready for an action-adventure of mass appeal. But her big, shining eyes can be deceptive. Darkness lurks in her history, as well as the post-apocalypse society of the future that has no place for the innocent.
Continue reading Review: Alita – Battle Angel (2019)