REVIEW: Dolor y gloria [Pain & Glory] [2019]

“Compassionate and controlled” A lot has been said about Pedro Almodóvar‘s latest film Dolor y gloria [Pain & Glory] being autofiction, but the director says it best himself when explaining that the character (Antonio Banderas‘ Salvador Mallo) “wasn’t me, but was inside me.” There’s power to that statement because it accepts the notion that everything […]

REVIEW: Así habló el cambista [The Moneychanger] [2019]

“Enjoy every penny earned and spent” Mr. Schweinsteiger (Luis Machín) ran a good game in Uruguay by helping unsavory folks launder money through him for a percentage. He was smart too, refusing to work with politicians knowing they’d eventually screw something up and drag his name down with them. Unfortunately, however, the man he willingly […]

REVIEW: Jauja [2014]

“The desert devours everything” Colonialism, Manifest Destiny, and any other act by a foreign nation to claim the land of an indigenous people as its own are performed with a desire for power and prosperity. It’s about ego and entitlement—the search to create a mythology that glosses over genocide for the “heroism” of a brute […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Ema [2019]

“You’ll forget all this” There’s a lot to unpack in Pablo Larraín‘s dance film Ema. From two lead characters as unreliable to the plot as they are fickle with each other to an elaborate scheme preying on the weaknesses of man and the pleasures of flesh, it’s tough to know what the director wants us […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] [2019]

“But we’re Christians” Director Alejandro Amenábar spoke very briefly before the screening of his latest film Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] and the main sentiment was this: “It could happen anywhere.” He doesn’t, however, just mean rebellion or uprising. He doesn’t mean a coup or military dictatorship either. What he and co-writer Alejandro […]

REVIEW: Buñuel en el laberinto de las tortugas [Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles] [2019]

“I think I’ve been lost since I got here” Before surrealist legend Luis Buñuel found himself directing multiple films a year during the 1950s on the way to creating French classics like Belle de Jour and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie in the 60s and 70s respectively, he became a persona non grata when […]

REVIEW: Gloria [2013]

“Are you always this happy?” While sitting next to her ex-husband (Alejandro Goic‘s Gabriel) at their adult son’s birthday party, Gloria (Paulina García) peers at old wedding photos and comments about how naïve they were. He of course tries shifting those sentiments by exclaiming they were in love, but she just smiles and repeats “naïve” […]

REVIEW: Zama [2017]

“Europe is best remembered by those who were never there” A man speaks about a fish rejected by the water it needs to breathe, swimming back and forth to fight that current of repulsion and stay alive in the hopes of earning an opportunity to be desired, valued, and worthy of the life God has […]

BERLINALE19 REVIEW: Breve historia del planeta verde [Brief Story From the Green Planet] [2019]

“Don’t be scared of what you’re about to see” I have no idea what’s happening inside Santiago Loza‘s Breve historia del planeta verde [Brief Story from the Green Planet]. This quest on behalf of three outcast best friends since childhood to deliver an ailing alien to the place where one’s grandmother found it is disorienting […]

SUNDANCE19 REVIEW: Esto no es Berlín [This Is Not Berlin] [2019]

“You’re not your parents” It opens in slomotion with teenage bodies wrestling and punching inside chaotic dust swirls, one boy (Xabiani Ponce de León‘s Carlos) caught isolated in the middle of the frame. He’s not looking to hit any of the others. In fact he’s barely dodging out of the way when they come too […]

REVIEW: Madre [Mother] [2017]

“Why hasn’t he come back?” A woman (Marta Nieto‘s Marta) and her mother (Blanca Apilánez) arrive at the former’s apartment talking about men. Marta speaks about friends, her mother leans into romanticism when the subject of a handsome gentleman comes up, and some jealousy arrives when it’s explained that he’s already attached to someone else. […]