The Photographer of Mauthausen / El fotógrafo de Mauthausen (dir. Mar Targarona, 2019) – Francesc Boix, a Spaniard inmate in the Austrian concentration camp, tries to save the photographic evidence of the horrors committed within.
Boix’s subtle rebellion against the Nazi death camps proves one of the most important events in history, and The Photographer of Mauthausen is necessary telling of these less known heroics.
The Mauthausen Concentration Camp was one of Nazi Germany’s most brutal concentration camps, meant mostly for the Reich’s political prisoners. Over 8,000 Spaniards were interned at the camp, of which more than half lost their lives to the Nazis’ atrocious abuse and murders. These war crimes might have gone unpunished, if not for the courage of Francesc Boix (played by Mario Casas).
The warden’s right-hand man and reluctant photographer gained privileges that few had. But even at Boix’s young age, none of that was important to him. Instead, he plotted a rebellion and risked his life, all to hide the evidence that the Nazis wished to destroy. The Photographer of Mauthausen is a long-due homage to the bravery of Boix and the other Spaniard heroes, who succeeded in saving over 3,000 photographs from destruction.
Continue reading Review: The Photographer of Mauthausen (2019)
The Dirt (dir. Jeff Tremaine, 2019) – Mötley Crüe dishes the dirt on how they came to be one of the most notorious rock ‘n roll groups in history.
Unapologetically wild, The Dirt delivers a disappointingly shallow play-by-play of Mötley Crüe’s chaotic frivolity.
The Dirt is in every way an affront to modern society, where strong women reign and amoral heroes are often frowned upon. It is thus unsurprising for vitriol to befall the Crüe stories of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, back in an era long gone. Much of the criticism is sadly rightful, this coming from a Crüehead who has been eager for the film.
Faithfulness is far from its fatal flaw, as one may expect. Accuracy is of little importance in a biopic, and even if it is, the insane stories are mostly true. Any readers of The Heroin Diaries and the titular biography would know that The Dirt is as accurate as the band’s drug-addled memories allow.
Continue reading Review: The Dirt (2019)
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)