The film's direction and script -- co-written by Nava and Anna Thomas -- are spare yet purposeful. At times, Nava and Thomas's work feels a bit clumsy with its jabs at broad cultural stereotypes (fatuous gringo employers, vulgar Mexicans, etc.) and liberal dips into melodrama, but El Norte is also lyrically eloquent, steeped in dreams and visual metaphors that allude to a portentous future for its protagonists.
Continue reading: El Norte Review
In 1944, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a bookish 12-year-old arrives with her pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) at an isolated farmhouse in northern Spain. Here, amidst the dark woods and quietly subservient peasants, her new stepfather Vidal (Sergi López), an army captain, has set up base to harass leftover anti-Fascist rebels from the Civil War. The carefully sadistic Vidal has no squeamishness about the humanity of his anti-insurgent campaign, coolly ordering that all food and medical supplies for the nearby villagers be locked up in the farmhouse and only doled out under guard -- an attempt to starve out the rebels hiding up in the mountains. While the adults (including the excellent Maribel Verdú from Y Tu Mamá También as a woman with rebel ties) are fully enmeshed in their pungent dramas, Ofelia has her own problems of a different sort.
Continue reading: Pan's Labyrinth Review
In a career of so-so horror movies (Mimic, Blade II), Guillermo del Toro made his biggest impression with Cronos, an alternately sweet, funny, and creepy horrorshow the likes of which we don't often see.
Continue reading: Cronos Review
The film opens with one of the most harrowing depictions of a near-lynching ever captured on film. In a small town in Ecuador, mourners hold a funeral for the most recent victim of the "Monster of Babahoyo," whose tally of tortured, butchered children is already in the hundreds. After the ceremony, the twin brother of the victim is suddenly run over in a tragic accident. In a murderous rage, the father of the boy and some of the townspeople attempt to immolate the driver, Vinicio (Damián Alcázar). At the last minute, he is saved in part by the efforts of Manolo (John Leguizamo), a famous telejournalist there to cover the slayings.
Continue reading: Crónicas Review