Magic Hour – Koki Mitani – Japan
This is an overlong but funny gangster comedy. To protect himself from being killed by his mob boss, our young hero says he knows the most feared mystery assassin in the business. He doesn’t, but he does hire an actor to impersinate him, claiming that the mob are actors and the situations are staged. There are some very funny bits, but at 2 1/2 hours there is are alot of things that would have been better left out.
Loose Rope – Mehrshad Karkhani – Iran
This tells the story of two brothers struggling to survive as livestock transporters. To pay off a debt, they buy a cow and have to deliver it to the big city. Things go wrong from there. This film is disjointed and has no clear direction, themes, or symbolism. It’s deliberate pass sets up nothing, and their is no real payoff. It’s not worthwhile, and it’s pretty gross.
All Inclusive – Rodrigo Ortuzar – Chile
Hidden truths come out during a family’s trip to an all inclusive resort. Unfortunately, those truths feel like they are thrown in just to create drama. The characters are one-dimensional, and things just wrap-up too perfectly for it to feel real. The location is nice, but the sentiment is manufactured and fake.
The Stone of Destiny – Charles Martin Smith – Great Britain
This is an entertaining crowd-pleaser. A young Scottish man decides to steal back the Stone of Destiny from England. His uber-nationalism needs an outlet, and the stone rightfully belongs to the Scots, so its a no-brainer. Unforunately, the stone has been in Westminster Abbey for hundreds of years and it won’t be an easy task. But him and his ragtag group of patriots are going to give it a go. It’s fun, if slight. The characters are plain and the drama is melodramatic, but the film works on a crowd.
The Desert Within – Rodrigo Plá – Mexico
This intense drama of religious fanatacism is brutal, surreal and utterly engaging. During religious prosecution in early 20th-century Mexico, a tragedy befalls a couple and their eight children when the father attempts to bring a preist to his ailing wife. To atone for his sins, he and his childrenset out to build a church of god in the desert, away from all the other people. His unwavering beleif in God is incredible, and it sends his family down a dangerous path. The film has an excellent slow burn pace and a wonderfully surreal edge. It’s masterful film-making telling a strong story.