Sunday, March 19, 2006


Sangre (Blood)

Written and Directed
By Amat Escalante

Diego(Cirilo Recio) is a sad sack security guard working for the Mexican government. He and his wife Blanca(Laura Saldana) live in a run-down apartment in Mexico city and lead a very boring life indeed. They fight, shag and watch TV. Before going to bed or eating. That's pretty much the first two-thirds of the film right there.

There is a bit of a twist, however. Diego has a daughter, Karina(Claudia Orozco), from a previous marrage. She wants to move in, but Blanca won't have it. She hates anything or anyone that reminds Diego of his previous existence. So…there's not much that goes on here either until near the end. But even with this we're bored to tears. I myself had a tough time staying awake.

Don't waste your money.

MAN PUSH CART USA 2005; 87 min.

Written and Directed
by Ramin Bahrani

Ahmad (Ahmad Razvi) is a failure. Once upon a time, he was a major star back in Pakistan, but he came to America with his wife and kid and she died, the in-laws (Arun Lal and Razia Mujahid), took the kidand now he's selling bagels and coffee in a pushcart in Manhattan while living in a tiny apartment in Queens.

So he gets up early every morning to push his cart to the appointed spot, and sell coffee, tea and bagels to the commuters on their way to work. It's a boring life, but he sees no real choice in the matter. A friend of his working in a newspaper stand has mysteriously disappeared and has been replaced by Noemi(Leticia Dolera), who's from Spain and is just off the plane. The romance is tentative, and there's of course, complications,

The complication is opportunity knocking at the door in the form of Mohammad (Charles Daniel Sandoval), a yuppie from Lahore back in Pakistan who was a fan of our hero back before he emigrated. He offers Ahmad some work here and there, and tries to help him network with the Indo/Pak entertainment industry, for what it is, in order to get Ahmad back on track as far as his singing career goes.

Mohammad has some ulterior motives, as he tries to get into Noemi's pants and begins treating Ahmad as more or less a servant. In the meantime Ahmad continues to live his “Groundhog Day” existence pushing his cart to the spot every day. It's both enthralling and boring as hell. Then it turns to shit in the end.

The performance by Raziya is very subdued. There's this air of quiet suffering that pervades the entire film, and we begin to wonder if the character, though trapped wants to get out of where he's at. It's a very sad film and very well done.

A SOAP Denmark, 2006; 104 min.

Written and Directed
by Fischer Christensen

Charlotte (Trine Dyrholm) has just left her live-in boyfriend Kristian(Frank Thiel) and has brought him over to her new digs in order to have him move the bed, he refuses. And leaves in a huff. Meanwhile, downstairs, a drag queen named Ulrik,who calls himself Veronica (David Dencik), is plying her trade as a dominatrix. “Will they ever find what they're looking for?” The narrator(voice of Christian Mosbæk) asks. I hope not.

The problem with this thing is that it doesn't have any really likeable characters. An unconventional romance, we're expected to hope against hope that Charlotte can cure Veronica of his transexuality and become a real man. At least that's what appears to be happening during much of the film, and appearances are everything in cinema, right?

The acting is rather good. Dencik's Victoria is a thoroughly miserable person who hates his body. Clearly when Charlotte begins coming on to him, he WANTS to respond in kind, but he just can't. Dyrholm just plays Charotte as a bitch pure and simple. She has some endearing qualities, but for the most part, she's a manipulative jerk who's the homosexual caricature of what womanhood's all about. The story goes ahead in a decent pace ,but in general there's large masses of dead space between events. The episodic nature of the films structure [the narration is a total waste of time]

The ending is pretty much expected. Fortunately this film isn't how Our tax dollars are spent, only Denmark's. But they shouldn't have to be forced to finance this crap either.

ELEVEN MEN OUT Iceland/Finland/United Kingdom, 2005; 90 min.

Directed by
Robert I. Douglas

This is supposed to be an uplifting tale of self-empowerment, but winds up just the opposite. In fact, this is one of the most misanthropic sports films I've ever seen.

Ottar Thor (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) is a star. He's the number one footballer in Iceland, and everyone loves him with maybe the exception of his ex-wife Gugga (Lilja Nott), a former Miss Iceland, but she seems to be okay with the status quo,having joint custody of their son Magnus (Arnmundur Ernst), whom we see as a normal kid. That is until a female reporter tells him that coverage of him and his team is going to be near the back to lack of interest.

So, in order to get on the cover, he comes out of the closet. His entire family is devistaed. His father(Sigurdur Skulason) is furious for not only the expected reasons, but for being blindsided in such a way. He decides on an intervention and we meet the rest of the family, a repulsive brother(co-scenarist Jon Atli Jonasson), who treats his wife like dirt, and when that doesn't work, he, as the coach of the club, throws his son of the team.

A friend invites Ottar to join one of the local amateur clubs, and pretty soon all the straight players have run away and are replaced by gays. The team is dubbed “Pride Untied.” Now if this were a Hollywood movie, we'd concentrate on the team and how they went from success to success with a bump here and there, but this is a government-sponsored European drama, and thus when Ottar has custody of Magnus, the latter arrives to see Dad getting head from a teammate. Mom starts going to pot and winds up in rehab.

Meanwhile, Pride United gets to the top of the league by having most of the other teams default. This is mean spirited. Nobody comes out looking the least bit good, with the possible exception of Magnus's new girlfriend.

The climax is somewhat satisfying, but had the rest of the film not been such a mess, it would have been a lot moreso.

No comments: