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Film Review: THE UNSEEN (Canada 2016) ***1/2

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The Unseen Poster
A man who abandoned his family now risks everything to find his missing daughter, including exposing the secret that he is becoming invisible.

Director:

Geoff Redknap

 

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Film Review: SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO (USA 2018) ***

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado Poster
The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.

Director:

Stefano Sollima

 

Italian director Stefano Sollima takes over the director duties from Denis Villeneuve in the SICARIO sequel, both films written by Taylor Sheridan.  The director’s imprint makes a difference with the sequel, a solid one at that playing more like a no-nonsense action suspensor.  In case one is wondering, the film translating to English would read: Hitman: Day of the Soldier.

The film’s trailer shows the film’s key scenes where the task and thus the subject of the film is at hand.  It is an operative that has no rules, and one that is as dirty as it gets.

The film is as current as it gets with Trump wanting to build a wall between the border of the the U.S. and Mexico.  The setting is the U.S. Mexican border where illegal aliens are crossing the river to get into the States.  The drug cartels are, according to the film, smuggling terrorists across the U.S. border.  When the film opens, a terrorist attack has just occurred with innocent Americans killed.  The Americans want revenge and hire CIA agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) from the first movie to start a drug war. so that these drug lords will destroy each other.  Graver hires undercover operative Alejandro Gillick (Oscar Winner Benicio Del Toro) to kidnap Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner), the daughter of a drug lord, in a false flag operation designed to incite war between rival cartels.   The mission goes awry when it is discovered by the Mexican government, prompting Graver to order Reyes’ execution.  When Gillick refuses, he turns rogue to protect her as Graver assembles a new team to hunt them both.  

One of the film’s extended segments shows Isabela in school having a schoolyard fight with another girl who she punches in the face.  At the principal’s office, she challenges the principal to expel her.  Her toughness is clear but after her kidnapping, all she does is scream and get scared.  It is puzzling the reason Isabel is shown to be tough unless it is to show the trauma she is going through while being kidnapped.  The film also omits any scene with her father, Carlos Reyes.

The script by Sheridan opens the film up for many subplots.  One is the young Mexican who is an expert on the area around the border, and who is hired to guide the illegal aliens across the border.  His character is smart, merciless and yet vulnerable with a family he cares for.

Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin make the movie.  They play hard-ass characters who are violent, determined and efficient sicario (hit-men) in what they do.  Christine Keener does well as Graver’s boss who is just as brutal in the execution of her duties.  The screen lights up when these characters come head to head in confrontation.

If this SICARIO makes money, the ending prepares the audience for yet another sequel.  There are plenty of potential and opportunities for more action packed stories.  If Brolin, Del Toron and Keener are in for another SICARIO, that would indeed be a good thing.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pymm6cmE9uQ

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Film Review: LEAVE NO TRACE (USA 2018) ***

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Leave No Trace Poster
Trailer

A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living in an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.

Director:

Debra Granik

Writers:

Debra Granik (screenplay by), Anne Rosellini (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »

 

LEAVE NO TRACE is another strong female character drawn adventure drama after her successful WINTER’S BONE.  Written and directed by her and based on the book My Abandonment by Peter Rock, the film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.[2][3] Bleecker Street will release the film in the United States on June 29, 2018.[4]

The summarized plot tells the story of a father and his thirteen-year-old daughter .  Will (Ben Foster) is an ex-military who has lost his faith in humanity for reasons not disclosed.  When the film opens, he and daughter Tom (Thomasin McKEnzie) live in an isolated existence in a vastly urban park in Portland, Oregon, (the film was shot in Eagle Fern Park in Clackamas County) when a small mistake derails their lives forever.  They are taken in by social services.

The film contains several embedded messages.  The first and foremost is the question on homeschooling.  Will and Tom live an isolated existence at the film’s start, living in conditions unacceptable by normal Americans.  Tom sleeps in close proximity with her dad.  Though this is a no-no, nothing sexual occurs.  To is home schooled.  When interrogated about this, The interrogator admits that Tom is advanced in her schooling though cautioned that she lacks the social aspect of education.  But director Granik eventually pushes Tom towards normal life which she has not experienced.  Tom loves the social and interactive aspect as they are slowly integrated into society.  Until Will escapes with Tom back to square one.  When an Will has an injury, Tom is forced to choose between the two lifestyles.

LEAVE NO TRACE is Granik’s gentler more accessible film.  There is much kindness depicted in this movie than in WINTER’S BONE.  The truck driver and other strangers that encounter Will and Tom are always more than eager to help them.  

Both actors Ben Foster (THE PUNISHER, X-MEN) and Thomasin McKenzie deliver believable an human performances, worthy of any audience’s sympathy.

As far as anticipation goes, one keeps wondering where everything is leading to and how everything will end.  One can predict some friction between father and daughter when she makes her stand on independence. “The same thing that is wrong with you is not wrong with me,” is the all important line Tom confronts Bill with.  And the reply; “I know.”   The film moves on a different tangent when the father is an understanding and caring one.

The film contains a few originally performed songs with original music by Dickon Hinchliffe.  The cinematography of the vegetation and fauna of the national parks is effectively captured by Michael McDonough.

LEAVE NO TRACE is that rare film that proves that confrontation in a story need not always be resolved by shouting, screaming and cheap theatrics.  Here, the confrontation is resolved with reason and understanding.  And the film succeeds as a quiet yet effective drama of human inadequacies that sort themselves out.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_07ktacEGo8

 

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Film Review: MARLINA: THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS ****

Marlina lives quietly in Sumba until one day a man named Markus and his gang tries to rob her house and she kills him. Eventually, she is haunted by Markus, and her life turns in 180 degrees.

Director:

Mouly Surya

It is rare that a film from Malaysia or Indonesia, less an art film at that, receives commercial release in North America.  But MARLINA: THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS which premiered here at the Toronto International Film Festival is a special film that comes highly recommended.

The film plays like an Indonesian western.  It opens with a sparse landscape of dried brown vegetation to an Ennio Moricone-like soundtrack.  In the distance, is a figure of a man on a motorcycle (instead of one on a horse).   Director Surya is fond of distant shots with her characters slowly moving into her frames.  Her frames are beautifully crafted, many of which could make perfect paintings.

Marlina (Marsha Timothy), recently widowed is unable to pay her husband’s funeral services.   A troupe of ugly and unforgiving men use this excuse to take her livestock and have their way with her.  

“What do you want?”  Marlina first asks them.  “I want your money, your livestock and if we have time, we will sleep with you  All seven.”  But they are not prepared for the fury of this woman, in this revenge fantasy where women are warriors and will take no shit.  The film is surpassingly relevant in these times of female abuse.

Marlina poisons them with a soto ayam (local chicken soup dish) dinner and beheads Markus, the head of the gang, as she is riding him.

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak) is divided into 4 roughly equal parts titled The Robbery, The Journey, The Confession and The Birth.  

The confession is the most intriguing of the 4 acts where Marlin confesses her crime to a policeman at the station who nonchalantly records the facts as if they mean nothing.  He is obviously goes by the book, having being doing the same job for too long.  The last act is the most shocking and violent, bringing the film to an exciting climax.

Though the film is a slow moving and artsy, it is no less engaging a piece of storytelling that will grab one from start to end.  Humour is deadpan and always present as Marlina takes a bus with the head of Markus to make a report at the nearest police station.  She meets a pregnant neighbour, Novi who also has man trouble.  Her husband Umbu believes her late delivery is due to the fact that she has cheated on him.  The humour is mainly local, on the practices and beliefs of Marlina’s encounters.

Surya’s film is also intriguing from the observation of the unfamiliar Indonesian country culture.  I never knew horses were common in Indonesia, but I recognize much of the local dialect as I have relatives living in Indonesia, though in Jakarta.

Marsha Timothy is nothing short of amazing in her portrayal of a women of fury who will not put up with any nonsense.  The soundtrack is impressive and includes the song “Lazuardi”, composed and performed by Jakarta indie rock band Efek Rumah Kaca.

A stylish but violent film proving Surya as a fantastic storyteller.  The film is set on an island in East Indonesia shot in the language of Malay.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ikgy2Xukwng

Short Film: TWICE UPON A TIME, 14min., Serbia, Animation/Fantasy

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Image3

Twice Upon a Time, there was a king with split personality whose one half wants to become a poet and the other a fearless warrior. They share their conscience, but have opposing wishes and desperately want to get rid of each other.

Project Links
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Bio dvaput jedan kralj
  • Film Type:
    Animation, Short
  • Genres:
    Fantasy, Satire, artistic
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 10 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 10, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    84,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Serbia
  • Country of Filming:
    Canada, Hungary, Serbia
  • Film Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
    1:2.1
  • Film Color:
    Color

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Director BIO: Vojin Vasovic (TWICE UPON A TIME)

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Director Biography – Vojin Vasovic

Vojin vasovic writer and director

Vojin Vasovic is a film and theatre director. He finished his film-directing B.A. program at The Academy of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia, and Master of Arts in experimental theatre at the University of Toronto. He is the recipient of many awards for scene movement, lighting design and direction in theatre. His films (Breathtaking, Back Portrait) were enrolled in many international film festivals for which he won several awards. His previous animated short 5 Minutes Each was selected at more than 100 festivals and won 30 international awards for best animation, direction and original score. He is currently preparing his first animated feature film.

Director Statement

Twice Upon a Time is an animated poem, a fairy tale for all generations about a king with split personality, split time and a split screen. It is a story about dual nature of kings and things and how playing cards came…

View original post 140 more words

Director BIO: Vojin Vasovic (TWICE UPON A TIME)

FEEDBACK Animation Film & Screenplay Festival

Director Biography – Vojin Vasovic

Vojin vasovic writer and director

Vojin Vasovic is a film and theatre director. He finished his film-directing B.A. program at The Academy of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia, and Master of Arts in experimental theatre at the University of Toronto. He is the recipient of many awards for scene movement, lighting design and direction in theatre. His films (Breathtaking, Back Portrait) were enrolled in many international film festivals for which he won several awards. His previous animated short 5 Minutes Each was selected at more than 100 festivals and won 30 international awards for best animation, direction and original score. He is currently preparing his first animated feature film.

Director Statement

Twice Upon a Time is an animated poem, a fairy tale for all generations about a king with split personality, split time and a split screen. It is a story about dual nature of kings and things and how playing cards came…

View original post 140 more words

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