Meanwhile, a couple of cops are closing in.Filmmaker Grau hooks us with quiet, invitingly bleak imagery and bone-dry humour. The grisliness is also pretty full-on from the start, but what makes it mesmerising is the precise camera work, which playfully uses reflections, colours, depth of field, focus and offbeat angles to keep us on our toes. And the sound mix is just as intriguing. All of this is in service of a story so thoroughly unhinged that we can't avert our gaze.The constant suspense is also completely unpredictable. We never know what's going to happen within a scene, mainly because Alfredo is so jumpy and Julian so pushy. And Patricia and Sabina are forces to reckon with as well. The cast members invest these people not only with jagged personalities but also layers of internal emotions that continually catch us off guard (Patricia doesn't want to eat prostitutes; Julian won't eat a gay man). The brotherly rivalry and camaraderie are both intense, as is the sense that the whole family is on a kind of adventure after the death of their father.As the story progresses it gets increasingly blunt and brutal. But then, this family is going to have to be brazen if it's going to survive. As the action builds to the frenzied climax, we actually begin to hope that they'll survive to carry on with their private rituals. And the fact that the filmmakers can make us feel this is seriously impressive.
Nombre opens with Caspar tutoring 12-year-old Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer) on the finer points of gang life, principally how to cover your hombres. To Smiley, watching Caspar grab a quickie with Martha is the best advertisement for being a gangster imaginable. The would-be hoodlum certainly doesn't find much honor in the execution he is forced to carry out nor the beating he receives during his initiation. But, unlike Smiley, Caspar has become numb to these images. Even the sight of a rival gang-member's entrails being fed to the Mara Salvatchura's German shepherds is commonplace.
Continue reading: Sin Nombre Review
As an updated version of a classic "this could be your daughter" sold-into-bondage story, Trade arrives on the scene with at least the appearance of higher motives. The Motorcycle Diaries' writer Jose Rivera's script is based on Peter Landesman's harrowing New York Times Magazine story, "The Girls Next Door," which found an astoundingly extensive network of traffickers who ferried their human cargo across borders with alacrity, often pimping them out of quiet houses on quaint, upscale, suburban streets. The numbers are staggering, with estimates of how many humans are currently held in a state of slavery around the world ranging as high as one million, and the conditions horrifying, with victims snatched away in broad daylight from families who are later threatened should the kidnapped woman try to run. Featuring some appropriately jittery, handheld camerawork, and starting with multiple storylines converging in a Mexico City filled to bursting with people and corruption, Trade for a time seems to have designs on doing for its subject what Traffic did to illuminate the drug war. It doesn't even come close.
Continue reading: Trade Review
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