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)
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)
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)
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (dir. David Slade, 2018) – A young programmer attempts to adapt a fantasy novel into a choose-your-own-adventure video game, but loses control over the choices in his own life.
Bearing the hallmarks of a typical Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch pulls us into Charlie Brooker’s deeply engaging mind game that yet again flaunts his creative brilliance and dark tendencies.
Named after the creature of the whimsical Wonderland tale, Bandersnatch is itself a monster of a wildly imaginative story. Black Mirror’s first interactive episode has us live and re-live the multiple lives of Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), whose obsessive creation of his choose-your-own-adventure game soon starts to warp his own reality.
“I feel like I’m not guiding [my decisions],” he tries to explain his building disorientation. “Someone else is.”
And every time we choose whether to have him destroy a computer or hit a desk, he looks down at his own hands fearfully as if they do not belong to him. His conviction that he is being controlled brings about a tinge of guilt – that we may just be responsible for recklessly manipulating the fate of a sentient digital being (see: USS Callister, Hang the DJ).
Continue reading Review: Black Mirror – Bandersnatch (2018)