Posts Tagged ‘Argentinian cinema’

A Trip to the Moon (2018) **

Dir.: Joaquin Cambre; | Writer: Laura Farhi | Cast: Angelo Mutti Spinetta, Leticia Bredice, German Palacios, Angela Torres, Micela Amaro, Luis Machin; Argentina 2017, 87 min.

A teenage boy struggles with his traumatic past in Joaquin Cambre’s rather hit and miss feature debut which looks spectacular but is let down by implausible plot-lines and tonal flaws. The main character Tomas (Spinetta) is keen on astronomy and Space travel and manages to escape his dysfunctional childhood and fraught family life in with the help of a vivid imagination and anti-psychotic drugs. But things start to improve when Tomas claps eyes on  Iris (Torres) thanks to his trusty telescope, and after the usual setbacks, the two fall in love. Suddenly everything changes and reality and fantasy being one: Tomas packs his family into a spaceship and they all fly off to the Moon, where the secret of his trauma gradually unfolds. Cambre illicits strong performances from his able cast but sadly the abrupt shift between social realism and sci-fi leaves the audience stranded in ‘outer space’. MT




The Snatch Thief (2018)

Wri/Dir.: Agustin Toscano; Cast: Sergio Prina, Daniel Elis, Leon Zelarrayan, Liliana Juarez, Camila Plaate, Pila Benitez Vibart; Argentina, Uruguay, France 2018,  Drama, 93 min.

Set in his home town of Tucuman in northern Argentina, Agustin Toscano’s twisty tale of a thief and his victim is spiked with mordant humour.

Social services have broken down in this poverty stricken town, the police are on strike, and Miguel (Prina) is at the end of his tether. His six-year old son Leon (Zelarrayan) lives with his mother Antonella (Plaate), waiting for child support. So Miguel and his friend Colorao (Elias) turn to crime, out of sheer desperation, using Miguel’s motorbike for a snatch-job. But their victim clings on to her bag and is dragged along for several minutes, behind them. Leaving her for dead the two run off and split the money. But Miguel feels bad and decides to visit the woman in hospital, finding her identity card in the stolen purse. Elena is alive – just, but has lost her memory. Posing as a nephew Miguel inveigles himself into her life in an clever conceit that Toscano pulls off with aplomb, his convincing plot-line playing on its plausible characters caught in a folie à deux: Miguel is a master of avoiding responsibility and Elena uses him, fully aware of his guilt. The pair make an odd couple, driving the plot forward with their intransigence and childish temper tantrums. In a way, they are both kids living in a world of wishful thinking.

DoP Arauco Hernandez Holz handheld camera searches the dark interior of Elena’s flat for every source of light, but somehow it always stays dark – like the murky world of the crime-fuelled encounter. Toscano manages a last twist – ending his humanistic play on a high note. A strong cast and imaginative direction of this simple but never simplistic storyline proves once again that a low budget need not stand in the way of a really gripping drama.  





Murder Me Monster (2018) *** IFFR Rotterdam 2019

Dir Alejandro Fadel. Argentina. 2018. 106′

MURDER ME MONSTER’S widescreen solemnity might bring to mind the murder investigation in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. There are vague echoes too of Amat Escalante’s The Untamed, but that’s where the similarity ends. This brooding Andes-set crime mystery is the gruesome work of Los Selvajes director Alejandro Fadel, and it is certainly not for the feint hearted with its bestial themes and deformed zombie-like characters. Infact everyone in this stomach-turning horror fantasy is on edge and whispering morosely, for one reason or another. And a series of macabre murders, where heads are torn from bodies, seem to be the reason why.

The opening scene sees the dying moments of a woman whose throat has been severed and as a herd of sheep, and some other livestock are slowly make their supper of her remains, a blind man mumbles on about the murder, as slowly Fadel builds suspense out of a series of weird incidents that seem to indicate that a feral beast is on the prowl and out of control in this remote corner of Argentina where it invariably appears to be night.

Rural police officer Cruz (Victor Lopez) is tasked with investigating the murders and the finger seems to point to local thick-lipped weirdo David (Esteban Bigliardi) who claims that a savage creature is using certain phrases to commune with him, as if through telepathy, with a ‘silly’ voice that repeats ‘Murder Me, Monster’.

Cinematographers Manuel Rebella and Julian Apezteguia evoke nightmarish visuals often using the same technique as the painter El Greco – where the characters’ faces are often starkly backlit against a murky darkness. And there’s a garish otherworldly quality to the outdoor mountain scenes that turn increasingly Lynchian as the plot thickens. Pus-yellow, murky mustard and puke green make up the colour palette of costume and set designers Florencia and Laura Caligiuri. An atmospheric ambient score keeps the tension brewing.

This is intriguing stuff, if rather too enigmatic for its own good. A rather unsatisfying narrative eventually leaves us stranded in its own mysterious backwater, and we feel rather nauseous and bewildered by the end. MT



Orione (2017) ***

Writer/Dir: Toia Bonino | Doc | Argentina | 65′

Orione is a haunting expressionist portrait of grief in the aftermath to a shooting in Don Orione, Buenos Aires. The man who died was Alejandro “Ale” Robles, a gang member and petty criminal who was eventually betrayed by a friend and killed by a police bullet. In the days following the tragedy, Ale’s mother Ana finds soothing solace and therapy in baking – and so do we – as we watch her methodically stirring the cake mixture and kneading the topping for a football-themed cake in tribute to his life. Her feelings of shock and profound pain seep through the voice-over of this exposé of life in the barrio. Playing out in a collage of memories, footage of recent events and home movies of Ale’s childhood: A boy recalls his father being taken away, police questioning takes a sinister twist as events turn sour. As we try to fathom out what happened, an arrested suspect is led to a dimly-lit cell. Grim scenes in a mortuary follow: a greying torso still dented by clothing marks, provides the focus for the surgeons’ discussions. A lifeless hand flops over the gurney, as blood swirls away in a nearby sink. Toia Bonino’s cinema vérité mood piece slips between the macabre horror of the morgue and the tender memories of a family home, kiddies gurgling in a cosy bed. A life of crime comes out of a story of love: that of a mother for her son, and a woman who would bear him a child – post mortem. Ale chose a life of crime for the wages of death. Tonino shows how women create and men destroy in this ethnographic study of urban South America. MT

ORIONE is an ICA CINEMA distribution project | SCREENING AT THE ICA


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