4 June 2021.
LOS LOBOS **** (Spanish/English)
There are films that are so simple and human that they ignite an immediate connection in us.
This tale of a Mexican mother and her two little boys who have come to America to find a better life takes us right into the squalid world of the millions of refugees all over the world. These three characters become a microcosm of all the hopes and dreams of people looking for some peace, comfort and security in a new land that does not always live up to its promise. But despite their desperate lives, there is warmth and sweetness here, especially due to the endearing Max and Leo (brothers in real life).
Starting off on a bus to Albuquerque, New Mexico, then searching hard for an affordable place to live, and finally employment for the mother, we are with the boys as she goes off to her multiple jobs, telling them not to leave their makeshift flat. There is much tenderness and complicity as she sets specific rules that they must adhere to. Day after day we are with them and their little games, their boredom, their naughtiness, their desire to get out into the open. And above all, their big wish to go to Disneyland, which their mother had promised them.
This homage to his own childhood is beautifully directed by 37 year-old Samuel Kishi Leopo of Mexico. One feels the love and hope through these miserable beginnings. This unforgettable film will stay with you.
VILLA CAPRICE *** (vo French)
Here’s an elegant film noir about the very rich and powerful. The kind with private planes, helicopters and amazing homes all over the place. The kind that play at life as they would a game of chess – always planning a few moves ahead of their adversaries. Smart, ruthless, ambitious and competitive.
In this French yet somewhat Hollywoodized thriller, Patrick Bruel plays the arrogant, rich tycoon alongside an old, reputable lion of a lawyer portrayed by the always convincing and enigmatic Niels Arestrup.
Bruel’s character has recently bought the Villa Caprice, a magnificent property on the Côte d’Azur. When his real estate dealings come under legal scrutiny, he calls on the eminent lawyer to defend him. Starting off as allies, the scenario slowly brings them into a cat-and-mouse game that is devilishly conniving.
Noir is definitely the word here, with shades of power versus experience, corruption versus honesty. Intriguing.
SERVANTS (Les Seminaristes) * (vo Czech)
It’s Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s and this is a study of the harsh Communist control over society and especially the Catholic Church. Two young seminarists must choose which side to take in this precarious power play. This convoluted, black and white film pulls you into the ugly machinations of those days. The most memorable character here is the Communist interrogator who becomes a metaphor for all that is corrupt and decomposing in the regime. The others just dissolve in the slow, murky vision of the director.
There are films that are dark and dull, yet end up with awards from festivals and accolades from critics who are convinced that this is ART. The Emperor has new clothes and the posturing experts laud works that are impenetrable to the common audience, those innocents who are just looking for some heart, emotions and entertainment. I came out glassy-eyed and empty of all feeling.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.