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)
Polar (dir. Jonas Åkerlund, 2019) – Hitman Duncan Vizla is about to go into retirement, but his employer has no plans of letting him settle down in peace.
Emotionally distant and distractingly explicit, Polar may leave one feeling ice cold following the heat of the action.
Former musician Jonas Åkerlund has long since established himself as a big name in the making of explicit music videos. Known for his unbridled depiction of sex, drugs, and violence, the man was responsible for the party visuals behind Rammstein’s Pussy, The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up, and other aptly named greatest hits.
Who then would expect anything more from him than a no holds barred show of exploitative hyper-violence and abundant butt close-ups? It is indeed no surprise to see Polar serve up another one of his trademark cocktails, where the hard-R trinity shows up in gratuitous excess.
Continue reading Review: Polar (2019)
Aquaman (dir. James Wan, 2018) – To preserve peace between land and sea, Arthur Curry must find the trident that will prove his worth as the King of Atlantis.
The Atlantean King’s first solo outing gets inundated with one too many villains, including a leaden script.
It was never Arthur’s intent to vie for the throne. But he soon finds his hand forced when the next heir in line threatens to wage a dangerous war. Having left his world behind at a young age, the late King’s firstborn son must find a sacred weapon, which will prove his worth to rule a world in disarray.
The to-be King is no heir of Camelot, but borne of the Atlantean Queen and a mortal lighthouse keeper. As the son of star-crossed lovers from two worlds, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) knows better than anyone about unity. It takes little convincing for him to get his quest for peace started, as his initial reluctance quickly washes off to make room for explosive underwater action.
Continue reading Review: Aquaman (2018)