8 items from 2013
Jay Bulger's boisterous rock-doc Beware of Mr Baker (2012, Curzon, 15) opens with the infamously cantankerous drummer Ginger Baker striking the director hard across the nose with a cane, drawing blood. The rest of the movie is interspersed with Baker regularly telling Bulger that he's an idiot. This would be more problematic were it not for the fact that, with very few exceptions, Baker seems tirelessly hostile to everyone. No wonder his closest associates – friends, family, band members – struggle to find anything nice to say about him, with Jack Bruce's assessment that "he's the best Ginger Baker in the world" coming as close as it gets to a personal endorsement.
Only on the subject of his drumming is there agreement that he's a genius, which is fitting, since the sole quality that Baker appears to »
- Mark Kermode
The title takes its name from the shell of a former hospital that dominates the downtown slums of the Argentinean capital. Surrounding this redundant hollow structure are a maze-like network of streets, where, among the poorest of the city, lives Father Julian (Ricardo Darrin). On a daily basis Julian battles corrupt politicians, interfering police and violent gangs, all in the effort to help the needy. When he discovers he is suffering from a terminal illness, Julian, calls upon a young, headstrong Catholic priest Father Nicolas (Jeremie Renier) to take over his work.
Trapero drew inspiration from the real life of Father Carlos Mugica, a martyr gunned down in the slums that he was trying to help. This »
- Joe Walsh
★★★★☆ 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
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
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
Pablo Trapero came to notice as part of the Argentine new wave that also included Lucrecia Martel ("The Headless Woman") and Lisandro Alonso ("Liverpool"). Writing in the New York Times in 2005, Larry Rohter argued that the loosely-knit group of directors shared no stylistic vision but rather a tendency toward personal stories that resulted in an equal aversion to politics. Such a sweeping statement never held entirely, but it does help outline the recent changes in Trapero's work, which, with an increase in budget and visibility, have also broadened in scope, leading to two recent films, "Carancho" and "White Elephant" (the latter out in theaters on Friday ahead of its April 2 DVD release), that explicitly and forcefully act as pieces of social criticism. The changes in Trapero's recent work are not new developments but products of emphasis. Trapero has, throughout his career, profiled characters often incapable of understanding and certainly incapable of controlling the political. »
- Tomas Hachard
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
8 items from 2013
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