Film Review: MUSEO (MUSEUM) (Mexico 2019) ***** Top 10

Museo Poster

In 1985, a group of criminals mock the security of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City to extract 140 pre-Hispanic pieces from their showcases.


Alonso Ruizpalacios (as Alonso Ruiz Palacios), Alonso Ruizpalacios


Manuel AlcaláAlonso Ruizpalacios (as Alonso Ruiz Palacios)

It seems that Mexico has surprised international cinema with two unforgettable films this past year – ROMA and now MUSEO.  

What happens when two slackers who know nada about artifacts decide to steal and sell them?  MUSEO tells the amazing entertaining and credible possibility of a ‘true’ story.  The titles say at the film’s start: “This is a replica of an original (story).”

Two students and best friends plan on robbing the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City and steal precious Mayan, Mixtec and Zapotec artefacts.  There is hesitance at the start as one of them Ben (Leonardo Ortizgris) is looking after his frail grandfather and he does not wish to abandon him as it might be their last Christmas together.  On the other hand, the more insistant  and confident one, Juan (Gael Bernal Garcia) uses the Christmas gathering he is at as an excuse to to do the robbery as he has the perfect alibi of being at the Christmas dinner thus sneaking off  soon after.  The funniest thing about all this is that Juan has to borrow his dad’s car as the getaway vehicle.

While everyone celebrates Christmas, the two thieves manage to break inside the museum and steal hundred of pieces. They return home to see on the news how their deed is described as an attack on the entire nation and realize that there is no turning back.

There are many pleasures to be derived from director Alonso Ruizpalacios’ film.  First and foremost besides his excellent camerawork, visuals and cinematography Damian Garcia, Ruizpalacios is able to surprise his audience with a host of other things.  One of the film’s most ecstatic moments is when Juan and Ben have just gotten away with the stolen artifacts, driving off in the car.  There is the look of elation on Juan’s face, as he cries “We did it.”  Ben’s response is “I need to pee,” when he suddenly stops the car and takes the pee.  The look of relief as he pees is just as gratifying as Juan’s previous look of elation.

The cinematography of the theft at night in the museum and the escape through the dark tunnels are magnificently shot.  Ruizpalacios and his d.p. Garcia has a series of still photos flash on the screen really quickly one after the other, that evokes an effect like stop-motion animation.  One part involves the light coming on and the pair leaving a hammer on the ground when the guards  are making their rounds.  This is suspense worthy of Hitchcock.  There are also images that astound during the museum theft.  For an image, it is usually the background that is still and the foreground (the subject or subjects) that moves.  Director Ruizpalacios reverses the effect.  As the thieves remain stationary the foreground, the background comprising of dust particle and little moths form the movement in the image.

The film covers several genres including family (dysfunctional) drama and suspense thriller.  One common complaint is that films that cover more than one genre never settles on one.  This is true for MUSEO as well but Ruizpalacios proves that his film can still work with multiple genres working side-by-side.

The story also plays like a buddy film as the thieves are two childhood friends.  Yet the odd thing is that their personalities are as different as night and day.

MUSEU is a total delight for cineastes especially with its constant cinematic surprises around every corner.  The best foreign film I have seen this this year.  Opens at the Bell Lightbox.



COCO (USA 2017) ***** TOP 10

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Coco Poster
Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to work out the mystery.


Lee UnkrichAdrian Molina (co-director)


Lee Unkrich (original story by), Jason Katz (original story by) | 4 more credits »


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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: IF YOU SAW HIS HEART (Si tu voyais son coeur) (France 2017

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

If You Saw His Heart Poster
Cast out of his insular community, a damaged and down on his luck man teeters between a life of crime and the path to redemption.


Joan Chemla


Gael García BernalMarine VacthNahuel Pérez Biscayart

The film begins with a lively wedding celebration where the audience is introduced to Daniel (Gael Garcia Bernal), a man reeling from grief from the death of his closest friend (shown multiple times in flashback, as if we need reminding) in an accident for which he feels partly responsible. He has been cast out of his insular traveller community.

Living in a rundown rooming house and always behind on rent, Daniel gets by through scams and minor burglaries. His building is populated by colourful misfits and losers, all living on the edge like him.When davidnmeets an equally damaged and fragile young woman, Francine (Vacth), life is then something to hope for.

If You Saw His Heart is based on Cuban author Guillermo Rosales’ 1987 novel Boarding Home (a.k.a. The Halfway House). Director Chemia creates the moody atmosphere of the living conditions that reflect Daniel’s feelings well, but the film suffers from continuity.

Her fond use of flashbacks and revealing the story in non-chronological order is not only confusing but breaks a mood or effect that has been created thus far.



FILM PREVIEW OF COCO (Opening November 2017)

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cocoCoco follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who sets off a chain of events relating to a century-old mystery, leading to an extraordinary family reunion.

Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Writers: Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich (based on an original idea by)
Stars: Alanna Ubach, Benjamin Bratt, Gael García Bernal

Review by Gilbert Seah

This morning (Friday 23rd June, 2017) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, film critics were treated to a delicious breakfast and presentation preview of Disney Pixar’s latest animated feature COCO to open coming November.

Coco is a 3D computer-animated fantasy adventure film based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich. The film is directed by Unkrich, and co-directed and written by Adrian Molina.

The plot involves a 12-year old Miguel (voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) whose family has banned music as his great, great grandfather had left his family to become a great musician. Despite his family’s generation-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead. The Festival of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico for the time when the dead crosses the border to be with the living. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) and together they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

The presentation was supposed to be presented by the film’s two directors and Academy Award-winning producer Darla K. Anderson. But Lee Unkrich had to stay behind to finish the film, so co-director Molina and Anderson were left, but they did deliver an awesome presentation.

The presentation began by showing the first 10 minutes of COCO’s opening, where the history of his family and the ban of music originated. The last part of the piece is still not coloured and shown in storyboard form. But one cannot mistake the magic of Disney, present throughout the 10 minutes. The finished product will undoubtedly be something unforgettable.

Other clips include Coco at the singing competition and another with Coco and his pal, Hector in the Land of the Dead. The common thread in all of these is the magnificent colour palette that makes COCO standout among other Pixar features.

Besides clips from the film, there is a clip that showed Disney staff surprising Anthony Gonzalez that he got the part for voicing Miguel. This clip shows the family atmosphere of Disney that makes the Studio great.

Co-director Molina’s mother is Mexican, so he bring a lot of his own heritage into the film. A troupe of COCO’s filmmakers also travelled and stayed in Mexico for a time, according to what was said during he presentation.

The presentation concluded with a Question and Answer section with the critics – nothing to write home about, since us critics are not the most imaginative people alive, questions or what not.

COCO opens in November and is certainly going to be an event to watch out for. Do click on the link below to watch the trailer for COCO.


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