10 items from 2013
This hard-hitting tale of Catholic priests working in the slums of Argentina thrills from start to finish
This excellent, hard-hitting movie from one of Latin America's rising talents centres on two dedicated priests, the Argentinian Father Julián (Ricardo Darín) and the French Father Nicolas (Jérémie Renier), battling with the cautious church leaders and corrupt politicians to serve their slum parish and build a hospital while trying to keep the peace between rival drug gangs. The material is familiar, but the milieu is vividly realised and there's both an arresting opening when Father Nicolas sees the Indians he's been serving in the jungle butchered by a punitive military mission and a superbly staged climax during a riot in the slum district. The two actors are both formidable and sensitive, and Federico Barga is terrific as the dedicated social worker Nicolas falls for and has a transgressive affair with. The election of »
- Philip French
Iron Man 3 (12A)
Fears of post-Avengers superhero blowout fatigue are briskly swept away by Marvel's latest epic, whose snappy, poppy script packs in twists and quips between the bludgeoning (but technically seamless) action. It's Kingsley's Bin Laden-esque Mandarin and Pearce's creepy scientist who are out to de-swagger Tony Stark this time round, but there are surprises in store for everyone.
The Look Of Love (18)
Despite the Soho excess, the retro kitsch, the racy subject matter and the great cast, this biopic of Britain's pornographer-in-chief Paul Raymond somehow never feels like it's telling the full story. »
- Steve Rose
It isn't clear where the focus lies in Pablo Trapero's drama about priests trying to save a sprawling Buenos Aires slum
The Argentinian film-maker Pablo Trapero has always brought muscular confidence and flair to his work, and White Elephant is no exception, a movie about faith and hope to which the new papal election has given an arrowhead of relevance. It is set in the Villa Virgin barrio, the toughest shantytown in Buenos Aires, a grim place dominated surreally by the gigantic ruined TB hospital built in the 1930s; now a deserted wreck and cathedral of poverty known as the "white elephant" where the homeless camp and drug-dealers ply their trade. (It looks, to me, creepily like the Ceaușescu presidential palace in Bucharest.) Two priests work tirelessly to help the people there: Father Julián (Ricardo Darin) and his new younger Belgian colleague, Father Nicolás (Jérémie Renier), who believes in actively mediating drug wars. »
★★★★☆ Following on from 2010's Carancho (The Vulture), director Pablo Trapero reunites with actor Ricardo Darín once more for White Elephant (Elefante blanco, 2012), another high-paced examination of systemic Argentine society. The film's title refers to the dilapidated shell of what was once envisioned as the largest hospital in Latin America. This casualty of Argentina's economic regression is now the beating heart of Villa Maria, a sprawling network of Buenos Aires slums. It's here that real-life figure Father Carlos Mugica was shot dead by the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (Aaa), a militant anti-communist group.
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- CineVue UK
The Spaniards are coming.
They have little choice. The number of big pics going into production is plunging, so top Spanish movie companies are reaching out abroad for sizable, sell-able movies to co-produce and sell.
For foreign companies, the trend opens up a slew of possibilities, such as Spanish production co-finance and sales agents’ minimum guarantees.
The outreach will allow more foreign companies to tap into a major lure: Selling to one of the world’s fastest-growing big movie markets, Latin America.
“Ten years ago, Latin America was dead and Western Europe very strong. Now it’s pretty well the other way round,” said Geraldine Gonard, at Imagina Intl. Sales.
There have been a flurry of recent Spanish outreach deals. On Friday, Barcelona-based Film Factory announced it had taken international rights to “Relatos salvajes,” a six-part omnibus helmed by one of Argentina’s most talked-about crossover talents, Daniel Szifron (“The Pretender, »
- John Hopewell
Madrid – Universal Pictures Intl.’s “Thesis on a Homicide” grossed an impressive first-week take of Euros755,844 ($992,423) off 219 prints over April 5-11 in Spain, vindicating U’s pick-up of the film.
The results were a feat of Darin-do: Ricardo Darin has a big marquee value in his native Argentina, but clearly has a big following in other countries. That’s partly due to his talent and charm, but also in his choice of films. He is known to be discriminating, so his name is a signal of quality.
“Secret” grossed Euros6.3 million ($8.25 million) for indie distrib Alta Films in Spain in 2009.
- John Hopewell
The Film That Changed My Life | Argentine Film Festival | Daniel Day-Lewis | Jameson Cult Film Club
The Film That Changed My Life, London
A simple idea to mark the centenary of the Critics' Circle: 14 well-known film critics introduce their favourite movies, and try to change your life. Understandably, most the movies are classics, from Kate Muir's choice (and Martin Scorsese fave) I Know Where I'm Going! to If… and The 400 Blows. From the Guardian/Observer stable, Peter Bradshaw goes for Raging Bull, Philip French Bad Day At Black Rock, and Jason Solomons Annie Hall. For something more alternative, the Evening Standard's Derek Malcolm presents Ship Of Theseus, an acclaimed Mumbai drama made just last year, while Empire's Kim Newman offers an obscure 1960s double bill from Nathan Juran: First Men In The Moon and East Of Sudan.
Barbican, EC2, Fri to 2 May
Argentine Film Festival, London
Cinema won't settle the Falklands/Malvinas dispute, »
- Steve Rose
Pablo Trapero’s “White Elephant” is a smartly acted, beautifully scored, often bracingly directed film of good intentions and big ambition. Yet it can only be called a modest success, and, in light of how strong some of its individual elements are, even a slight disappointment. Word from Cannes, where the film premiered last May, was that writer/director Trapero’s study of two Catholic priests working in the slums of Buenos Aires never quite connects, and was probably the least successful of the Latin American films on display at the film festival. (It was no “No,” apparently.) That buzz was accurate, but that doesn’t make “White Elephant” without value. It just means Trapero stopped at second following a base hit that should have led to an easy triple. Trapero’s previous film, 2010’s acclaimed crime drama “Carancho,” starred the actor who is the greatest asset in "White Elephant": Ricardo Darin. »
- Christopher Schobert
DVD Release Date: April 2, 2013
Price: DVD $27.99
Studio: Strand Releasing
Critically acclaimed, foreign movie White Elephant was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as others.
The drama film stars Ricardo Darin (The Secret in Their Eyes) and Jeremie Renier (Atonement) as Julian and Nicolas, priests working to help the local poor people in the slums of Buenos Aires. Julian is working hard to build a hospital, and Nicolas joins the project after another project he was working on failed when paramilitary forces killed members of the community.
Troubled, Nicolas finds peace with Luciana (Martina Gusman, Carancho), an atheist social worker. As his beliefs wane, tension and violence grows between drug-dealing cartels in the slums, and when a ministerial decree stops work on the hospital, the faith of the community is tested.
White Elephant didn’t hit theaters in the U.S. but was screened in the AFI Los Angeles, »
This article is dedicated to Andrew Copp: filmmaker, film writer, artist and close friend who passed away on January 19, 2013. You are loved and missed, brother.
Looking at the Best Actor Academy Award nominations for the film year 2012, the one miss that clearly cries out for more attention is Liam Neeson’s powerful performance in Joe Carnahan’s excellent survival film The Grey, easily one of the best roles of Neeson’s career.
Along with negligence, other factors commonly prevent outstanding lead acting performances from getting the kind of critical attention they deserve. Sometimes it’s that the performance is in a film not considered “Oscar material” or even worthy of any substantial critical attention. »
- Terek Puckett
10 items from 2013
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