Elvira Minguez

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The Dancer Upstairs Review


Excellent
Although recent events have led many people in this country to believe that terrorism is the sort of calamity that can be wiped out by invading select countries in the Middle East, the dramatic events portrayed in The Dancer Upstairs remind us that violence and terror exist on a daily basis in poor nations around the world. But rather than serve as a political statement or a docudrama on social uprisings in Latin America (where the movie is set), this directorial debut from acclaimed actor John Malkovich presents a calculated, thoughtful character study of a police inspector who is unsure of his duty to the world and to himself. The result is a film that does not force you into sorrow or bliss or any other cathartic extreme, yet manages to remain ultimately memorable.

To set the tone, Malkovich begins by taking us on a long truck ride through the mountains of South America. The countryside is beautiful and we are treated to long, wide-angle shots of the truck weaving its way along the base of snow-capped peaks. The passengers listen quietly to a broadcast of Nina Simone babbling to an audience as she prepares to sing her next song. Everyone seems calm, if not peaceful. And then, without a word, the driver guns the engine and slams the vehicle into a policeman standing at a hillside checkpoint. It's this sort of unexpected violence that returns again and again during the first half of the movie. Children blow up their fathers, cars careen into restaurants, politicians are executed on stage in theaters. And, as Inspector Rejas (Javier Bardem) soon learns, these are just the early signs of what could end up being a much bloodier revolution for the impoverished country.

Continue reading: The Dancer Upstairs Review

The Reckoning Review


Weak

In "The Reckoning," a troupe of 14th century traveling actors abandon their standard Bible-story fare while visiting a small fiefdom in order to reenact the recent murder of a local boy, and discover in the process that the official version of events is a cover-up for something far more disconcerting.

Having an outsiders' perspective, the players can sense something amiss with the local Church-based justice, and one of their number -- himself a disgraced priest on the run played by Paul Bettany -- feels compelled to investigate. A mute, wild-woman healer (and thus a suspected witch) is scheduled to hang for the crime, but what he discovers leads the actors to risk their lives to expose the truth by presenting a play based on the facts.

Unfortunately, writer Mark Mills (who adapted Barry Unsworth's novel "Morality Play") and director Paul McGuigan utterly fail to address one fundamental problem with their story: What makes them think the people of this village would pay to see the still-fresh horror of a child's brutal murder fictionalized for them like some Middle-Ages Movie of the Week?

Continue reading: The Reckoning Review

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Elvira Minguez Movies

The Dancer Upstairs Movie Review

The Dancer Upstairs Movie Review

Although recent events have led many people in this country to believe that terrorism is...

The Reckoning Movie Review

The Reckoning Movie Review

In "The Reckoning," a troupe of 14th century traveling actors abandon their standard Bible-story fare...

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