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The Aura Review


Very Good
Before his untimely death earlier this year, Argentinean director Fabian Bielinsky had been stretched to near-death over the Hollywood rack. Bielinsky debuted in 2002 with Nine Queens, a smart heist flick with a simple premise, and was immediately gabbed about as a rising star. Instead of immediately giving him money to do his next movie, Warner Brothers bought the rights to the film, remade it, and drained it of all charm and potency. Four years later and five months after his death, Bielinsky's second and last film is finally getting released.

It all starts with a taxidermist named Esteban (the great Ricardo Darin) and a boring job at a museum. When he's not stretching animal fur over plaster of Paris, Esteban has a knack for figuring out heists and bank robberies in his mind. So, when a botched hunting trip with a friend leaves Esteban to help on a small robbery in Bariloche, his reserved demeanor and special talents become a rare instance of utility.

Continue reading: The Aura Review

Nine Queens Review


Good
You've likely seen a number of films a bit too much like Argentinean writer/director Fabián Belinksy's debut Nine Queens (Mamet's House of Games is the first that rushes too mind). This movie isn't shy about obviously referencing its influences, but it still feels confused, stuck firmly between genres. The twisting narrative clashes with elements of a traditional slice-of-life character study, and the unfocused result is a film that isn't nearly as clever as it thinks it is. Despite its flaws, however, Belinsky is still able to create an engaging story that keeps you guessing at almost every turn.

The first scene sets the tone for the entire film: Juan (Gastón Paulis), a young con man, attempts to scam the cashiers at a convenience store, using a trick designed to confuse them into giving him an excess amount of change as he breaks a large bill. When the store's manager catches him, a mysterious man named Marcos (Ricardo Darín) displays a gun and assures everyone that he's a police detective and is going to bring the thief back to the station. Marcos drags Juan outside, and then reveals himself to be a con man as well. Marcos, a seasoned hustler, offers the inexperienced Juan a chance to be his partner. Juan initially refuses, but after a little more persuasion, Marcos has found a new right-hand man.

Continue reading: Nine Queens Review

Cleopatra (2003) Review


Good
As Cleopatra, a retired Buenos Aires school teacher who is struggling to get by after her husband's layoff, and whose children long ago moved away, actress Norma Aleandro has a real screen presence. Her character is meant to be one who impacts those around her, and in Aleandro you can see it: She has a way of drinking in what others tell her, her bright eyes pondering their words with a bird-like stare, and she has a long, beaky nose. When she speaks, she flutters her hands or clutches at nonexistent pearls, and there's a swing in her walk that recalls nothing so much as a pigeon. Her openness to life is telegraphed in her reactions. In one scene she's taken with a song she hears on the radio while driving; when the man singing it says that his journey of self-discovery has revealed that there's a woman inside him, "and it's me," she blinks in surprise, considers this revelation, and then continues with her appreciation.

Aleandro is at the heart of the 2003 Argentinean film Cleopatra, and her quirky charm carries the film. The story follows her adventures after a chance encounter puts her in the company of a much younger and very beautiful television star named Sandra (Natalia Oreiro); Sandra is fed up with her producer/boyfriend, who's more obsessed with Sandra's career than with Sandra herself, and Cleo is fed up with her husband, who's given up on life following the loss of his job. Together the two embark on their own journey of self-discovery, taking off into the Argentinean hinterlands without notice and without a plan.

Continue reading: Cleopatra (2003) Review

Son Of The Bride Review


Excellent
It's comforting to know that hard-working people everywhere suffer from stress just as we Americans do. Rafael Belvedere, the good-looking, divorced, 42-year old restaurateur in Juan José Campanella's Son of the Bride is proof. At the center of this Argentine/Spanish production (a 2002 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film), he is a foul-mouthed slave driver in the workplace, a forgetful Dad, an unfeeling son, and oh, he's about to have a heart attack. The health setback causes Rafael to rethink his path, and head for personal salvation; at the same time, Campanella redirects his own cinematic journey, turning a saccharine, overplayed concept into a smartly-written, touching family diary, full of drama and wit.

Just as the pre-cardiac arrest Rafa is vapid and unhappy, so is Campanella's film before the incident. Ricardo Darín, in the lead role, is a standout, sputtering dialogue like an angry boxer throwing jabs, but we've seen most of this before. He ignores the situations around him, works his fingers to the bone, and doesn't appreciate life. The prospects for an original, honest movie get worse when Rafa's aging father (Héctor Alterio) reveals his wish to renew his vows with Rafa's stunning mother (Norma Aleandro), regardless of her losing battle with Alzheimer's. Alterio's gushy proclamation is too sticky-sweet, and the film seems headed for soap opera territory.

Continue reading: Son Of The Bride Review

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Pablo Bossi Movies

The Aura Movie Review

The Aura Movie Review

Before his untimely death earlier this year, Argentinean director Fabian Bielinsky had been stretched to...

Nine Queens Movie Review

Nine Queens Movie Review

You've likely seen a number of films a bit too much like Argentinean writer/director Fabián...

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Son of the Bride Movie Review

Son of the Bride Movie Review

It's comforting to know that hard-working people everywhere suffer from stress just as we Americans...

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