Posts Tagged ‘Locarno74’

Zahori (2021) Locarno Film Festival

Dir: Mari Alessandrini | Chile, France, Swiss | Drama, 105′

In the rugged windswept remoteness of the Patagonian Pampas a lonely girl vows to avenge the macho menfolk by becoming a gaucho in this deeply sorrowful Western, a feature debut for Mari Alessandrini.

Life is tough for 13 year old Mora (a gentle Lara Tortosa) in the remote community where she lives with her unsupportive Swiss Italian parents, who are ecologists, and younger brother. There don’t seem to be many girls her age so she helps her father grow vegetables and makes friends with some of the animals on long walks across the desiccated landscape full of beetles and armadillos (that she plans to roast) and the occasional condor swirling overhead. Here she meets a Mapuche who gives her a brace of river trout as a gift, her disgruntled vegetarian parents refusing to touch them.

But deep-seated resentment and hostility dogs this outwardly peaceful existence, and it soon emerges that everyone harbours a savage mistrust of their neighbour, a product of the harsh terrain: Mora’s parents seem miserable; brigands plague the locals at night stealing livestock and a beautiful white horse belonging  to Mora’s Mapuche pal – the half-blind Nazareno (Curapil) who offers a vain reward for the recapture of his lifelong ‘friend’. But the horse seems to represent a freedom that the Mora can only dream of. Meanwhile two ludicrous American missionaries fetch up to proselytise and annoy everyone, but are given short shrift by the locals.

Chloe Zhao’s Oscar-winning feature The Rider, clearly inspired  Alessandrini although this is a more mournful, enigmatic feature that captures the remoteness of the wild locations, and the essence of the Mapuche, an endangered native of Patagonia and Southern Argentina.

Handling her material with confidence, Alessandrini knowns how to create tension with a lightness of touch in this alienated place at the edge of the world. With a simple score of guitar folk music and some old Italian hits from the Sixties this is a thoughtful and visually evocative portrait of a troubled community struggling to survive against the odds amid hardship and spiritual discontent. MT



Hinterland (2021)

Dir: Stefan Ruzowitzky | Austria/Luxembourg, Noir Thriller 99′

Germany and Austria have been brought to their knees after gruelling defeat in the Great War and limp home broken to a decadent Vienna amidst poverty, despair – and a serial killer on the loose – in this stylish noir thriller that sees Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky return after his The Counterfeiters won the international Oscar. For once the tight running time could have been extended to fully flesh out the story which also could work well in as a Netflix series. 

In the opening scenes a ship glides by laden with dead and mutilated soldiers, the living barely alive against the atmospheric green-screen technology that pictures utter devastation an a desperate homecoming. The men soon discover their surviving comrades are being preyed upon by a grisly murderer as the story unfolds around Marathon Muslu’s dynamite performance as an injured veteran embroiled in the murder mystery.

Wonky German expressionistic framing and a sombre atmosphere creates a jagged-edged feel echoing M by Fritz Lang or even something out of Grimms’ Fairy tales, suffused with Klimt’s jewel-like Secessionist paintings transporting us back to early 1920s Vienna where a savage mood of mistrust prevails at every turn in the decadent splendour of the Austrian capital. But our war hero Peter Perg (Muslu), once a respected police officer and criminologist, is still haunted by the past. After dark, the nightmarish terror of his Russian internment camp looms up in dream sequences on the vast wall behind his bed in the apartment he once shared with his wife who has fled to the sanctuary of the countryside with their daughter. Meanwhile the fatherland has lost its indomitable Emperor emperor (Franz Joseph, in 1916), and Austria is raging against a climate of anarchy and political unrest brewing throughout Vienna’s tea rooms. 

Perg teams up with the Poirot-like Detective Renner (Marc Limpach) and pathologist Theresa Korner (Liv Liese Fries) to fathom out a motive for the horrific murders perpetrated by the “Beast of Vienna” – one particularly gruesome corpse has been decapitated and flayed with a cat o’nine tails, another left to be eaten alive by sewer rats. But the team’s interest focuses on the iniquitous murder of Perg’s war-wounded comrades, who are being picked off, one by one, his close friend Captain Krainer appears to have been garrotted by the roaming psychopath. And as their investigations go underground to the murky depth’s of the city sewers Peter becomes meets the killer face to face in this seedy and stylishly evocative serial killer thriller. MT







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