And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "South American" category.

Review: Azor

This claustrophobic drama is set in Argentina in the late 1970s, just after a military junta has taken over the country and the moneyed elite are trying to pretend that they are not scared to death. Private banker Yvan (Fabrizio Rongione) comes to Buenos Aires from Switzerland with his wife Ines (Stéphanie Cléau) following the disappearance of his partner Keys. He’s there to shore up accounts and find out what happened. What he finds as he visits with his clients in their mansions and on their thoroughbred estates is that Keys was both loved and despised and possibly reckless. And he had a secret client that Yvan was not privvy to.

Review: Yakuza Princess

Set in São Paulo, Brazil, home to the largest Japanese diaspora in the world, Yakuza Princess is an action packed martial arts thriller and story of self-discovery. A young Japanese woman with a mysterious past, an ancient and powerful Muramasa katana (sword), and an amnesiac stranger come together to right a wrong and find redemption.  Adapted from a graphic novel, the movie begins in Osaka with the massacre of an entire family, except for a little girl. Fast forward 20 years and Akemi (Japanese pop musician MASUMI) is now a grown woman, working on her martial arts skills in Brazil, unaware of her true origins. But when a disfigured stranger (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, “The Tudors”, Match Point) appears in her apartment just in time to save her from would-be assassins, their fates are set. What follows is a couple of hours of violence as they draw closer and closer to their truths. 

Review: La Dosis (The Dose)

Back in 2012, there was a big news story about a couple of Uruguayan nurses who euthanized a lot of hospital patients. Inspired by that story Argentinian director Martin Kraut in his feature debut has fashioned an entertaining psychological thriller that centers on the rivalry between a senior and a junior nurse in a small hospital’s ICU, both playing God with the people they’re supposed to be taking care of. They couldn’t be more different in their personalities and motives though. And once they’ve each discovered the other’s proclivity, their game of wits threatens to kill one of them.

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 10

This week is heavy on movies about couples. They include rom-coms and complicated relationship stories, and the characters range from criminals to musicians to politicians, from kings to bakers. The genres include classic dramas, and film noir, and brilliant satire. And there’s a good dollop of sex, for good measure.

They’re mostly from the 80s and 90s, though one is from the 60s. And something they all (except one) have in common is that they were nominated for a lot of Oscars, and won quite a few.

 

The films are: Moonstruck, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Body Heat, Nashville, Out of Sight, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and The Lion in Winter

Review: La Llorona

This political horror film takes its title from a Meso-American folkloric legend about the ghost of a woman who roams waterfront areas mourning her drowned children. In the film La Llorona comes into the lives of a powerful family as they’re sequestered in their house and slowing pulls the patriarch’s very dark past to the surface. Set in Guatemala, the film centers on Enrique (Julio Diaz), a retired general who has been tried and convicted for the genocide of the country’s Mayan-Ixil population during the civil war there. Just after his conviction though, a higher court overturns the it, but the public is up in arms. And Enrique and his family become prisoners in their own home. All the indigenous servants except one quit, fearing for their safety. And then a young woman shows up at the door, the new maid. But who is she really?

Review: Once Upon a Time in Venezuela

This immersive documentary was seven years in the making. It takes place in Congo Mirador, a small village bordering Lake Maracaibo in northern Venezuela. At one time it was a thriving little town, but sedimentation and pollution from the country’s oil drilling industry have killing the fishing industry and people are either starving or moving away. Against this backdrop two women are in a personal political fight. Mrs. Tamara is a die-hard Chávista, and so backs Chávez’s successor Maduro and sings the government’s praises, despite how clearly it is not working for Congo Mirador. She’s also the elected representative of the town. Natalie is a schoolteacher who is vocal about her opposition to the current government, risking her job, but defiant. One of them will not come out the winner. 

Review: The Mole Agent

The Mole Agent feels very much like a narrative film even though it’s a documentary, and that’s a good thing. It tells the story of Sergio, an 83-year-old man recruited by a private investigator in Chile to go undercover in a nursing home. The daughter of one of the residents thinks her mom may be suffering abuse there. But rather than becoming a film about the evils of institutional care for the elderly, it’s a warm and humorous take on a community of old people who Sergio can’t help but grow to care for.

Review: Bacurau (Nighthawk)

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Brazil is a village called Bacurau. It’s cut off from the world. They have to truck in water and supplies. But the people live their everyday lives pretty normally. Then strange things start to happen. The town disappears from maps. Their cell signal is gone. Their water supply truck arrives with bullet holes in it. And then a couple on motorcycles appear. Turns out they’re part of a gang of blood-thirsty tourists who aim to use the town for target practice. They chose the wrong town.

Review: El Ángel

Set in Buenos Aires in 1971, El Ángel is a true crime drama about a baby-faced teenage sociopath named Carlitos (Lorenzo Ferro) whose love for thievery blossomed into a passion for cold-blooded murder when he met fellow student Ramon (Chino Darin). It’s a truly disturbing portrait of a kid totally devoid of a moral compass. And you’re on the edge of your seat the whole way because you just know he and his accomplices will (and should) be caught.

Neruda

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda received a Nobel prize for literature in 1974 and is considered by many to be one of the greatest who ever lived. More poem than biopic, Neruda is a creatively told imagining of one portion of his life. In 1948, the Chilean government outlawed the Communist Party (prodded by the US government) and Neruda (Luis Gnecco) suddenly went from esteemed Senator to revered fugitive with the doggedly determined police investigator Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal) on his tail. It is through this chase that Neruda’s character and the wide influence of his work are revealed, and Peluchonneau is brought under Neruda’s spell. It is really quite wonderful!