REVIEW: Clara Sola [2022]

Stay inside the purple zone. While it’s not explicitly stated, the assumption is that the majority of Clara’s (Wendy Chinchilla Araya) family’s finances comes from donations made in her name. Some arrives courtesy of horse tours through their Costa Rican landscape as run by a local acquaintance (Daniel Castañeda Rincón‘s Santiago) with their white mare Yuca, but that can’t guarantee a consistent revenue stream. So, Clara’s aging mother Fresia (Flor María Vargas Chavez) forces her into a corset to stand and recite blessings to a room of strangers desperate for…

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TRIBECA22 REVIEW: Huesera [2022]

Bleed from the inside. According to Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés in Women who Run with the Wolves, the “Bone Woman,” or La Huesera, “collects and preserves that which is in danger of being lost to the world.” A Mexican myth sees her scouring the mountains and riverbeds for the remains of wolves, assembling what she finds to recreate the animal as though an ivory sculpture which will eventually become reanimated and ultimately reborn as a human woman freely laughing towards the horizon. They say she provides a glimpse of the…

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REVIEW: Virus :32 [2022]

Today is not a day to be scared of madness. An unknown virus has spread throughout Montevideo, causing a zombie-like apocalypse scenario. No one knows what it is or where it came from, but signs of aggression leading up to the all-out carnage were there for anyone looking. Iris (Paula Silva) wasn’t. Her existence of late has epitomized not paying attention as a means of survival. She’s retreated from loved ones (Franco Rilla as her husband Javi and Pilar Garcia as their daughter Tata) in order to numb her pain…

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BERLINALE22 REVIEW: Manto de Gemas [Robe of Gems] [2022]

We see things differently. I made the mistake of worrying about plot while watching Natalia López‘s feature directorial debut Manto de gemas [Robe of Gems]. The synopsis dares you to worry with its talk of three women colliding courtesy of a missing person in Mexican cartel territory, asking us to wonder how things will resolve. Except we already know. The bodies found in landfills and marshes throughout the film prove it. If those who are kidnapped aren’t already found dead, you can assume they will be soon. That doesn’t mean…

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BERLINALE22 REVIEW: Mis dos voces [My Two Voices] [2022]

We’re doing great. The title to Lina Rodriguez‘s documentary Mis dos voces [My Two Voices] says it all. Her three subjects (as well as her) are Latin American immigrants living in Canada with similar journeys full of insight, experience, and perseverance that are important for those about to follow in their footsteps and those lucky enough to never have to do the same. The idea of two voices is steeped in the idea of past versus present, but also identity considering the challenge of that shift. They want to hold…

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REVIEW: Madres paralelas [Parallel Mothers] [2021]

I don’t regret it. Janis (Penélope Cruz) and Ana (Milena Smit) find themselves as roommates in a Madrid maternity ward—two single women about to give birth to their first child. The former is a successful photographer who conceived while having an affair with a married man (Israel Elejalde‘s Arturo). The latter is a teenager, the father and circumstances surrounding her pregnancy not yet explained. Ana is trepidatious about the whole ordeal for obvious reasons while Janis is looking forward to the experience, her maternal instincts already kicking in as a…

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REVIEW: Noche de fuego [Prayers for the Stolen] [2021]

Sometimes, our perception of what we see is not real. Everything that happens in the small town at the center of documentarian Tatiana Huezo‘s fiction debut Noche de fuego [Prayers for the Stolen] runs through the Mexican drug cartel. The men have all but left to find work elsewhere, sending money to pay off collectors. The women work in the poppy fields, scratching opium bulbs to pay bills and earn a semblance of “protection” by being useful to the cause. And the soldiers stationed there act tough with guns as…

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BIFF21 REVIEW: Cólera Morbo [Rage] [2021]

The crow never forgets. Everyone collided one fateful day in 1993. Beatriz (Liseth Delgado) and Lizeth (Karen Osorio) left school and cheered up sad little Mateo (Sebastián Carreño) before a speeding car passed and crashed a few feet away. Engulfed in flames, the driver (Carlos Fernando Pérez‘s Carlos Cota) screamed as he fought to escape the wreckage. The teens ran to the burning man to suppress the fire with their jackets, saving him until an ambulance could arrive. It was a harrowing moment captured on a roll of film inside…

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REVIEW: Arrebato [Rapture] [1979]

Suspended in pure pause. It’s not until heroin is mentioned that Ana Turner (Cecilia Roth) stops and reconsiders the offer to partake by boyfriend José Sirgado (Eusebio Poncela). She’s game for acid and coke, but that stuff causes addiction. It ruins lives. “Not if you don’t take too much,” he says—a line he recently heard from an acquaintance named Pedro (Will More). This guy is a basket case recluse who can barely muster two words while looking creepy in the corner of the room, staring daggers through the back of…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: El otro Tom [The Other Tom] [2021]

You never keep your promises. Tom (Israel Rodriguez) is an uncontrollable youth in school and at home. Is it because he has ADHD? Probably. Is it also because he lives in a volatile household with a single mother who has justifiable anger issues augmented by people (Tom’s father Julien doesn’t pay child support) and institutions (government, education, medical) constantly failing them? Definitely. While all these issues are present throughout Rodrigo Plá and Laura Santullo‘s (based on her novel) El otro Tom [The Other Tom], however, it’s a single aspect of…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Les oiseaux ivres [Drunken Birds] [2021]

I’m scared I’ll forget her. We start at the end—the end of a cartel. Men climb the walls to go inside the now abandoned estate, walking amongst paintings and sculptures before stripping naked to take a dip in the indoor swimming pool while a giant portrait of their unwitting (and now imprisoned) benefactor looks on. One decides to don a fur coat as he rifles through the papers sitting on the kingpin’s desk. He picks up a note and begins to read before discarding it out of boredom. The voice…

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