It Was the Son (2012)

It Was the Son (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Daniele Cipri
Country: Italy

Movie Review: Confrontational and witty, “It Was the Son” makes a deliciously poignant look into a Sicilian family marked by the misfortune of an accidental death and its own greediness. Presented as a story inside a story, the film manages quite well in combining drama and humor, which is carry out in a subtle and peculiar manner. Toni Servillo is brilliant in the role of Nicola Ciraulo, a father who lost his young daughter, Serenella, shot accidentally by the Mafia. After the first impact, Nicola decides to ask for a State’s compensation for his loss, being granted with 220 million lire after a long wait due to bureaucratic issues. For this same reason, the money was put on hold for another eternity and Ciraulo family got almost anything to eat, sank in more and more debts. Surviving with the help of suspicious loans, Nicola becomes desperate. But right after the money has been transfered to his bank account, he came up with an ironic solution: to buy a blue Mercedes, protected with determination by all the family members. The disgrace came when Nicola’s son, the apathetic Tancredi, convinced by his exemplar cousin Masino, decides to drive the car to the local cinema. Some details in direction deserve good attention, and the same is applied to the acute cinematography given in glossy tones (Golden Osella at Venice). The identity of the man who tells the story didn’t cause any surprise but the story’s denouement created a staggering impact. An effective tale of greed based on the novel by Roberto Alaimo.

Il Futuro (2013)

Il Futuro (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Alicia Scherson
Country: Italy / Chile / others

Movie Review: Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson travels to Rome, embarking in an ambitious project based on the last novel by Roberto Bolaño entitled “Una Novelita Lumpen”, dedicated to his two children and published for the first time in Spain, in 2002. The result was a powerful film that became easy to follow due to the curiosity aroused by their accurately built characters. The film is narrated by Bianca (Manuela Martelli), an orphan teenager who lost her parent’s in a car accident, has to keep an eye on her younger brother, Tomas (Luigi Ciardo), a reckless school skipper that hangs out with two bodybuilders of doubtful reputation. Not by chance, these characters installed themselves in the siblings' apartment since they had a plan to rob a blind, former actor and bodybuilder called Maciste (Rutger Hauer). For that, and with the future in mind, they persuade Bianca to act as bait, offering intimate pleasures to get access to his lugubrious mansion. A menacing sensation is constantly present, enhanced by the gloomy atmosphere and dim lights that surround the sinister character of Maciste. The confident direction can be sensed when the obscure scenarios become filled with a sort of enchantment ruled by strange forces and mixed with an absorbing psychological perversity associated to every act related to Bianca. Beautifully shot, “Il Futuro” is a confrontational coming-of-age tale about changing, where good and bad, present and future, sincerity and falseness, pureness and vice, are laid bare with purpose.

Expecting (2013)

Expecting (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Jessie McCormack
Country: USA

Movie Review: “Expecting” is an easy watching dramedy that still provides a couple of good laughs despite the messy plot, but former actress Jessie McCormack’s debut on writing, direction, and production, leaves mixed feelings. The story, at first glance not so inviting, just stands shakily on its feet due to the solid performances from the cast and an acceptable direction. It depicts the story of a couple, Peter and Lizzie, who are struggling for years to have a baby without practical results. Even attending marital counseling, with the extravagant and laid-back Dr. Grayson (the funnier character in the film), the couple remains very sensible to the matter. One day, Lizzie’s heart becomes filled with hope when her best friend, Andie, someone so needy of attention, reveals she got pregnant after a one-night stand. For her friends’ sake she decides to have the baby, planning to entrust her own child to the dissatisfied couple, right after giving birth (what a big heart!). Will this decision solve everyone’s problems? To increase the mess, Andie starts a relationship with Pete’s brother, who got out of rehab and is trying to adapt again to the real world, while Peter hasn’t much success as a real estate salesperson, especially with a particular annoying client. Insipidly written, “Expecting” becomes devious with the use of these subplots and doesn’t always feel real, only providing the minimum amount of entertainment.

White Reindeer (2013)

White Reindeer (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Zach Clark
Country: USA

Movie Review: Zach Clark’s “White Reindeer” is a cheerless drama labeled as comedy that depicts the terrible Christmas of real-estate agent Suzanne Barrington (Anna Margaret Hollyman). After her husband has been brutally assassinated during a house breaking, Suzanne will find out some of his hidden dirty secrets, including Internet pornography and frequent sexual encounters with his lover Autumn (Laura Lemar-Goldsborough), a striper whom she gets curious to meet. In a visible depressive state, Suzanne becomes friends with Autumn, often attending night parties and getting into the world of drugs and alcohol. To worse even more the situation, her parents decide to split up after long years of marriage, while financial crisis is inevitable once she starts compulsively shopping online. The strangest situation comes when she invites herself for a swinger party in her neighbor’s, which was depicted with some interesting scenes, increasing even more her psychological degradation. To culminate in beauty, she realizes she's pregnant and the nightmare seems not to have an end. Thus, if you think that there’s nothing better than a good comedy to enhance Christmas’ spirit, don’t be mislead by this unfunny dramatic comedy, that goes exactly in the opposite way. Despite its degrading darkness, the film presents some hope in the end, but nothing more than that, since all the rest are just feel-bad situations and sad occurrences that don’t take Suzanne, or us, anywhere.

La Playa DC (2012)

La Playa DC (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Juan Andrés Arango
Country: Colombia / others

Movie Review: Drugs and racism are addressed without any special feature in this drama focused on Tomas, an Afro-Colombian teenager who tries to survive in the streets of Bogotá after leaving home due to incompatibility with his mother’s white boyfriend. When he learns about the disappearance of his traumatized and drug addict younger brother, Jairo, he starts beating the streets, joined by his other brother Chaco whose dream is to leave for north. An opportunity to work as barber will be given to Tomas, but the good winds don't blow to his side, since he lost the confidence of his employer, all to save his brother from the drug dealers’ hands. Observant yet somehow bashful, “La Playa DC” seems to accept too easily the fate of these brave kids, painting a too bland and softened picture of a reality that requires some more stimulating vibes to be distinguishable. Debutant writer/director and former cinematographer, Juan Andrés Arango, despite the good intentions, lingers too much in stories about hair and haircuts instead of putting a bit more anger and frustration in the scenes. This way the film loses the additional strength that the drama needed to be placed above similar works. With moments of real tension being just a mirage, “La Playa DC” turned out to be another volatile, low-key exercise on street survival and broken family. Nonprofessional actor Juan Carlos Guevara did a competent job.

The Last Days on Mars (2013)

The Last Days on Mars (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Ruairi Robinson
Country: UK / Ireland

Movie Review: Created with the expected limitations of a low-budget film, “Last Days on Mars” relies more on the suspense of its story than anything else. Ruairi Robinson’s debut on direction was too modest and conventional to impress. The film, based on a short story and mainly shot at Jordan’s desert, follows a crew of astronauts who become exposed to a dangerous bacterial threat in the last days of their six-month mission to Mars, leading to tragic consequences. Victimizing one by one, these mysterious bacteria show strong resilience when tested with other substances. In the first half-hour I had to make an extra-effort to remain focused on what was happening, since the plot looked pretty familiar with its mediocre execution, tense score, and visuals that weren’t so creative. A big obstruction factor to a more acceptable result was that the ones infected became a sort of raging spatial zombies. When I compare “Last Days on Mars” with “Europa Report”, another low-budget sci-fi film released this year and reviewed in this blog, I came to the conclusion that the latter’s approach gains in terms of mystery and technical execution. I guess dead men turned into zombies in space just asphyxiated all the curiosity that could come out from a somber story of this type. The uncertain finale still tried to tease us somehow, but even that aspect wasn’t particularly new. It felt short with the lack of positive ideas.

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (2013)

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Country: France

Movie Review: After the realism of “The We and The I” and the surrealism of “Mood Indigo”, the multifaceted Michel Gondry embarks in a unique conversation with Noam Chomsky, a renown American linguist philosopher, politic commentator and activist. Shot with an old mechanical Bolex camera and adorned with animation, “Is the Tall Man Happy?” reveals an interesting approach and presents a very didactic conversation about themes such as evolution, development, science, traditional vs. modern, religion, astrology and life's coincidences, generative grammar, holocaust and death, among others. Therefore, and for quite some time, the film seems like a philosophical lecture that encompasses Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, and David Hume, just to mention a few. The interesting here is that Chomsky also enters in the personal field, telling us about past memories, from childhood to high school and college, and elucidating us about his professional path and the education given to his three children who grew up surrounded with political tension and took different directions in life. The simplistic animation was carried out on top of images with an antique look, like a simple room, streets, places, or occasionally the interview itself. Hard to be absorbed immediately, this instructive animated-documentary, narrated in English with a strong French accent by its filmmaker, requires to be seen more than once to be fully apprehended. If you’re interested in philosophy and science, this is a film for you; otherwise you may find it too dense and puzzling.

Cutie and the Boxer (2013)

Cutie and the Boxer (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Zachary Heinzerling
Country: USA

Movie Review: “Cutie and the Boxer” is a legitimate documentary focused on the turbulent life and 40 year marriage of Japanese neo-Dadaist artist Ushio Shinohara, also known as boxing painter, and his wife Noriko, also an artist. Debutant director Zachary Heinzerling, also cinematographer and producer, captured in a simple and efficient manner the peculiar relationship and constant struggles of Shinohara family while living in New York City. Through animation sequences painted by Noriko, we get to know more of her story after she has come alone to New York with her parents’ money, at the age of 19. In that time, she met 41 year-old Ushio who got completely fascinated by her beauty. Since then, the couple sacrificed everything in favor of art, which always has been their priority, but continues living in a constant struggle to balance their relationship, pay the rent, and control their alcoholic son Alex, who according to his mother didn’t grow up in a healthy environment since his father was always drunk before until suddenly become allergic to alcohol. Noriko’s complains and regrets are genuine, and we can glimpse sadness in her eyes when she talks about her discontinued artwork or the inferiority complex in relation to her teacher and successful husband, who exhibited his works in famous museums and galleries of New York and Tokyo, among others. More intense in the last part,  “Cutie and the Boxer” competently represents a slice of real life, and a masquerade love story of coldness and resentment, everything for the sake of art.

Jin (2013)

Jin (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Reha Erdem
Country: Turkey / others

Movie Review: So far, speaking of Turkish filmmaker Reha Erdem means interesting cinema, and “Jin” is here to confirm that. It tells the journey of a 17-year-old Kurdish girl who tries to leave a delimited and well-guarded mountain region in Turkey where she hides, in order to reach the border and get to her family. In a strange, almost supernatural communion with nature and animals along the way, Jin decides to move from her permanent hideaway among the rocks and rob a house where an old woman was bedridden. She steals food, clothes, money, and a book from the woman’s granddaughter to practice her reading. But fate will make her fall into the hands of several irascible men who wanted to take advantage of her. Jin will manage to escape and show her good heart in two occasions and in two different ways: when she kills a suffering Kurdish man at his request in prison, and when she saves a wounded Turkish soldier. Having walked in circles, it was with huge sorrow that Jin returns to her origin place, the hideaway cave, just to find more devastating bombardments and a sad scenario of misery and war. Throughout the film, I got fond of Jin and her good nature, excusing every little misdemeanor she was compelled to do in order to survive. With a superb cinematography by the habitual Florent Herry, the grim story of “Jin” gives us a totally different morality depicted in an astute and articulate manner, and showing to have more to give than a mere observation of the conflict.

Touch of the Light (2012)

Touch of the Light (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Rong-ji Chang
Country: Taiwan

Movie Review: “Touch Of the Light” is a soapy drama based on true events that constantly tests your patience with its sweetness and all-smile characters. The story follows two teenagers who are searching for recognition in what they love most. Siang (played by himself), blind since childbirth and with a special ear for music, is trying to adapt himself to his new school where he studies piano, while Jie (Sandrine Pinna) is unhappy working in a drink shop and wants to dance professionally. The two will bump into each other by chance and the encounter will be fruitful for both. Nothing stood out in this romanticized melodrama filled with manipulated tensions and encased in the same music and dance sequences. It was clear that Taiwanese director Rong-Ji Chang’s debut on fiction was aimed to reach the masses, creating an uninteresting atmosphere of frustration and personal struggle that completely put me off. The tedious pastiche that comes out of the story, written by Nyssa Li (director’s collaborator in two previous documentaries), only aggravates its lack of originality and monotone tones. Despite its numerous critical problems, the film won the PIPRESCI prize at Golden Horse Film Festival in Taipei, place where director Chang was also considered best new director. To finish, I must say this sentimental flick is totally dispensable.

Philomena (2013)

Philomena (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Country: UK / USA

Movie Review: English helmer Stephen Frears returns to the right track after the recent mishaps in his career, as were the cases of uninteresting “Lay the Favorite”, or the completely tedious “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight”. Based on real events, “Philomena” was set as a traditional drama, but presented an openness and empathy that made it stand above other similar dramatizations. In addition to the good story, everything worked just perfect here due to the performances. Judi Dench was simply incredible as the desperate Philomena Lee, running against time to find the son who was taken away from her, 50 years before, when she was confined to an abbey in Roscrea, Ireland, as a pregnant teenager. Steve Coogan also did a good job as the inquisitive BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith, the man who got sensitized by Philomena’s story and made all the efforts to reach the truth. The sadness associated to the events and the infuriating revelations about Irish-Catholic church shouldn’t leave anyone indifferent, but how amazing was to see that Philomena, instead of being mad with them, was able to find peace in her heart by forgiveness. The film intelligently managed to convey all the resignation and compassion without being lame, sparing us to exaggerated heaviness and even adding some charm. Coogan and Jeff Pope were awarded with the best screenplay at Venice, festival where the filmmaker Stephen Frears was also distinguished with eight prizes for his career.

Nairobi Half Life (2012)

Nairobi Half Life (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: David Tosh Gitonga
Country: Kenya / Germany

Movie Review: “Nairobi Half Life”, Kenya’s first official entry for foreign-language film Oscar, presents us the dangers faced by young Mwas (Joseph Wairimu), who decides to leave his poor village to try his luck as an actor in Nairobi, by joining a street company that performed in his town. However, the adventure becomes turbulent, since Mwas is robbed at his arrival and then arrested for something he hasn’t done. Our sympathetic hero, always with a smile in his face, will manage to make some friends and ask for help, forcibly becoming a thief and gangster in order to survive in a merciful city ruled by corruption, prostitution, and crime. Whether some diverting episodes tried to ease the harshness of the story, like the way Mwas dealt with prostitutes, others simply imply that you need some madness (natural or fake) to keep going. Living in two incompatible worlds, he will try his best to get out of crime and stick to acting, which is his true passion. The consistent script is depicted with the help of several images where chaos and savagery reign, giving the precise idea of the overwhelming atmosphere lived. I found the cinematography very appealing, an aspect that is not always well achieved when it comes to African cinema. Sometimes disgustful, sometimes gritty, “Nairobi Half Life” loses some strength in its final third but succeeds in capturing the city vibes, giving us at the same time the personal story of a young man who refuses to give up his dreams.

Gloria (2013)

Gloria (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Sebastián Lelio
Country: Chile / Spain

Movie Review: Set in Santiago, this film compellingly depicts a complicated phase in the life of Gloria (Paulina Garcia), a 58-year-old Chilean woman and her problematical relationship with Rudolfo (Sergio Hernandez), an ex-naval officer she got to know in one of the local night clubs she often attends. Both divorced, they face life and deal with their children in a very distinct manner. While Gloria is more detached without stop being sensitive, Rudolfo has in his daughters a big obstacle in life, and gets constantly tied up in family affairs. What could have been a beautiful love story between two mature adults ends up in a sequence of challenges that will compromise their relationship. The film was carried out in a very natural and cozy way, making us watch its episodes with curiosity and fondness. Gloria’s life is portrayed in such a way that leaves no doubts about her habits or personality. And all the merit goes to the performances of Paulina Garcia (best actress at Berlin) and Sergio Hernandez, who put every feeling and behavior in the right place. The sex scenes were raw and nudity was embraced naturally and without complexes. Some scenes are hilarious, like when Gloria furiously discharges a paint-ball gun at Rudolfo; yet some others are touching, exemplified when Gloria suddenly gets the notion of her age while seeing a skeleton puppet show in the street. Sensible and insightful, "Gloria" was awarded at Berlin and San Sebastian Film Festivals.

Gagarin: First in Space (2013)

Gagarin: First in Space (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Pavel Parkhomenko
Country: Russia

Movie Review: “Gagarin: First in Space” is the first biopic of Soviet pilot and cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, the first man to reach the outer space, when in April 12, 1961, his spacecraft Vostok 3KA completed an entire orbit around the Earth. Presented in radiant colored tones that recreate decently the 60’s, this state-funded film doesn’t hide its patriotic exacerbation, reinforcing the Soviet strictness, military determination, and national enthusiasm about the man who would open the frontiers of unexplored space. The story focuses on the period right before the tough tests that Gagarin was subjected along with a competitive group of 19 pilots, until his return from space. However, some flashbacks take us to several episodes of his poor childhood, involving his humble parents and brother, and how he met his wife for the first time during a dance ball. Despite his irreproachable career, his private life didn’t reveal anything particularly remarkable, and even his unwarming relationship with his incredulous father was depicted exactly in the way he always behave when facing a stressful situation: cold and unemotional. The fact that production designer turned director Parkhomenko (who worked in Alexey Balabanov’s films) has left behind the last seven years of Gagarin’s life, including the jet crash that caused his death in 1968, and the speculations about conspiracy involving it, must seem incomplete in the eyes of many. Production values are strong, while the special effects aren’t exuberant but appropriate.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Country: USA

Movie Review: The second part of The Hunger Games trilogy, “Catching Fire”, was directed by former music video director Francis Lawrence, giving continuity to the adventures of dauntless Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who keeps fighting for her life. As winners of the 74th Hunger Games, she and her friend Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), abandoned their homes to take the Victor’s Tour of the districts, eventually falling in the hands of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the head behind the games, who trap them with the preparations of a special 25-year event named Quarter Quell. “Catching Fire” is slightly better than the previous one, as it is more substantial. The story was well thought and had its good moments, although the last part (the games themselves) was the weaker section, still presenting clichés and artifacts, which create the well-known situations of danger and suspense with occasional bustling, where the special effects oscillate between acceptable and ignorable. This time, the participants’ goal was simply try to survive rather than competing with one another, and this change of strategy brought beneficial results, along with the unexpected final revelations that left everything in suspension until the last part of the saga is created. Definitely not a must, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, despite its conventional patterns, is a watchable blockbuster.

Doomsdays (2013)

Doomsdays (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Eddie Mullins
Country: USA

Movie Review: Darkly funny and sufficiently anarchic in concept to arise curiosity, “Doomsdays” contributes to maintain the American independent cinema in good health. The story follows two buddies, Dirty Fred (Justin Rice) and Bruho (Leo Fitzpatrick), who fearing the end of the world, decide to live aimlessly, breaking into empty rich houses in upstate New York where they stay until be discovered. Once inside a house, the buddies act very distinctively. While Dirty Fred quietly sits, reads, and drinks compulsively, Bruho entertains himself destroying cars and whatever comes to his mind. Their favorite games vary from punching each other’s arms to pissing in the face of whoever falls asleep. Seemingly enjoying this adventurous life, the pair will be joined by other two wandering fellows, the discarded teen Jaidon and the attractive Reyna. The story succeeds in part due to its dark humor and complete commitment from the actors, who confess that some of the scenes became accidentally improvised. In the other hand, some stuff seemed too childish to totally engage but the film was never pretentious or seemed out of reality, despite the outer-reality of its characters. At least, former critic and debutant writer/director, Eddie Mullins, was able to put originality in a story that lives from the individual experiences and transformations of its characters, rather than looking for a logical sequence of a plot, which as a whole was not so valuable. 

Nebraska (2013)

Directed by: Alexander Payne
Country: USA

Movie Review: “Nebraska” is one of those films you won’t easily forget. Director Alexander Payne (“About Schmidt”, “Sideways”, “The Descendants”) grabs this wonderful story by Bob Nelson, and with masterly simplicity builds a near perfect portrait of Nebraska, along with one of its typical families. Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is a stubborn, hard of hearing, and alcoholic old man who, motivated by a scam letter issued by a marketing company saying he won a million dollars, persuades his son, David (Will Forte) to drive him from Billings, Montana, where they actually live, to Lincoln, Nebraska. Along the way, they take the opportunity to revisit their hometown, Hawthorne, where they will meet Woody’s older brother (almost a copy of himself) and his family, and some old acquaintances who certainly won’t be missed. Woody’s outspoken wife, Kate (June Squibb), and his well-succeeded older son, Ross (Bob Odenkirk), will also join him later towards a splendid and unforgettable family adventure. The characters were well thought and fantastically built through the excellent performances by Dern (best actor in Cannes), Forte, and Squibb. The serenity, transparency, and honesty evinced here, are big lessons to those dramas that use cheap machinations to depict reality. Deep and damn funny, “Nebraska” stands as a timeless road trip drama reinforced with amazing landscapes painted in cool shades of grey. Assuredly, it is a major accomplishment of the American cinema.

Shield of Straw (2013)

Shield of Straw (2013) - Movie Review
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Country: Japan

Movie Review: Mixing invigorating action scenes with some others often exaggerated or dull, “Shield of Straw” marks the return of prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike, now in a cop thriller that most of time evinced neither head nor tail in its concept. This way Miike continues to punctuate its filmography with ups and downs. Last year was a good example: “Ace Attorney” pleased me with its eccentric courtroom adventures, while “Lesson of the Evil” wasn't what I expected. “Shield of Straw” promised so much but ended up in silliness, telling the story of the police escort of Kiyomaru, one of the most dangerous psychopaths in Japan, responsible for several killings, including a seven-year-old girl whose influent grandfather demands her killer’s death in exchange of a great sum of money. Four agents were assigned with the tough mission of transporting and protecting him from a Japan in fury. By car, train, or walking, the threats come from everywhere and include other greedy cops, nurses, a plane sabotage, a truck with explosive materials, and citizens who were related with some victims. Nothing to say about Miike’s competent direction but the manipulative plot and some performances didn’t convince at all. More laughable than thrilling, and sank in doubtful psychology, the film sustains the moral question: ‘why protect a lousy criminal instead of innocent people’? Notwithstanding some sense here, the situations were addressed with obtuseness and never provided the desirable satisfaction.

La Pirogue (2012)

La Pirogue (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Moussa Touré
Country: Senegal / France / others

Movie Review: “La Pirogue” is a Senegalese drama that follows a group of African men who embark in the dangerous adventure of crossing the Atlantic in a fishing pirogue in order to reach Spain where they expect to find better life conditions. The pirogue will be handled by Baye Laye (Souleymane Seye Ndiaye in its debut), a Senegalese fisherman who is a truly connoisseur of the seas. Among the passengers there are Senegalese, a group of Guinean emigrants, one single woman, and a chicken. The perils of the trip could be felt, including some unlikeable surprises along the trip, dehydration, hunger, despair, and panic attacks. Frequent close-ups demonstrate the sadness mirrored in travellers’ faces, while joyful moments were very scarce. With a well-handled cinematography by Thomas Letellier, the film makes a curious introduction to its origin country through colorful scenes of African daily life, rituals, and rhythms, after definitely take off to the anguishing isolation of the ocean. The film was directed by Moussa Touré who counts with three feature-films and one documentary in a career that started in 1991. His 1998 comedy “TGV” got international recognition. Visually strong, “La Pirogue” wasn’t so original in concept but honestly conveys a tough reality, unfortunately more and more common nowadays. A questionable aspect here was the soundtrack, which sometimes gave the sensation of appeasement when tension was more appropriate to the situation. Not a big issue to discourage me from recommending it.

The Land of Hope (2012)

The Land of Hope (2012) - Movie Review
Directed by: Shion Sono
Country: Japan / others

Movie Review: Despair and hope walk side-by-side in “The Land of Hope”, the first film to depict the consequences of 2011 Fukushima’s nuclear disaster in Japan. Set in the small village of Oba Town, the story follows a family of farmers through their journey of separation, anxiety, and tough decisions, in order to protect one another and continue living a proper life. Yasuhiko is proud to be a farmer who takes care of his forgetful wife Chieko. With them, lives the rest of the family, their son Yoichi and his wife Izumi who are expecting a baby. As their property stands half in and half out of the evacuation area, the elder couple decides to stay and send the younger away in order to protect the coming child. In parallel, we follow another young couple who was trying to find their home, now transformed in a ghostly place. The images of destruction and desolation revealed to be more subtle than strong, in an intelligent story that addresses the particular instead of focusing in the whole problem. After a faltering start, the film step by step started to reach satisfactory levels. More realistic and dramatic, and less violent and shocking (this time immoderate images were left aside), “The Land of Hope” still is a Shion Sono’s film, carrying humor in the most unexpected situations, depicting the scenes with a strangeness that involves, and making a social criticism to the way people are deceived by the Japanese government.