Here’s a quick sampling of my week’s watches. You can find more of my reviews at Always Watch Good Movies.
Directed by: Srdan Golubovic
Country: Serbia / others
Intelligently written and structured, “Circles” is one of the most valuable contemporary dramas coming from Balkans. The story starts to be told in 1993 Trebinje, Bosnia, hometown of soldier Marko Kovacevic who returns on leave from the front. After having breakfast with his dad, Ranko, he goes to visit his girlfriend, Nada, at work, and then meet with his medic friend, Nebosja. When he witnesses a Muslim shopkeeper, Haris, being savagely beaten up by three military companions, which includes Todor and Rekita, known for spreading confusion and fear on the city streets, he tries to cool them down, but this posture will cost him his life. Twelve years later, in a peaceful Germany, all the living characters mentioned above (or some of their relatives), will cross paths, having the opportunity to forgive or take revenge, depending on the case. The film was set up in a captivating way, employing discernment to put in confrontation the good vs. evil, and showing a complexity of feelings and emotions, that was strong enough to make us conscious and alert. Also visually absorbing, the film counted with an appreciable cinematography and credible performances. Helmer Srdan Golubovic, who, in certain scenes, curiously opted for a moving camera instead of fixed shots, proves that the success achieved with “The Trap” in 2007, wasn’t just a coincidence. “Circles” is an illuminated film composed by small, interconnected stories, which, whether fair or unfair, whether immersed in light or in deep darkness, are indispensable lessons for life.
Run and Jump (2013)
Directed by: Steph Green
Country: Ireland / Germany
After “New Boy”, an acclaimed short film dated from 2007, filmmaker Steph Green makes her debut feature with “Run and Jump”, a sweet and gentle drama that doesn’t try to take any emotional advantage of Ailbhe Keogan’s screenplay (also a solid debut). Instead, it presents us a sober approach, expressing a lot of feelings in its own way and being touchy in a legitimate manner. Mother of two kids, Vanetia Casey (Maxine Peak) is a frustrated and exhausted Irish housewife who accepts to host Ted Fielding (Will Forte) in her house for a while. Ted is an American doctor interested to make a case study of her husband, Conor (Edward MacLiam) who, at the age of 38, suffered a stroke that caused him deep personality alterations. Ted, little by little, starts to be a crucial figure inside the house, not only weaving a strong connection with Vanetia, but also with her lonely son, Lenny, who entered in a complicated process of self-discovery (perhaps an avoidable subplot). The ability here was not to rush things, but let them flow with sensibility and plainness. What I liked in Green’s approach was that the film never stepped into overused melodramatic scenes, choosing to look at the problems in a positive and non-manipulative way. The pleasant score fitted well in the mood intended, while in the visual aspect “Run and Jump” was able to pull out vivid colors from the lively, luminous frames. Peak was very believable in her performance, while Forte, after a great participation in “Nebraska”, demonstrates his adaptability.
12 O’clock Boys (2013)
Directed by: Lotfy Nathan
‘12 O’clock Boys’ is the name of an illegal group of urban dirt-bike riders from Baltimore that inspired this documentary directed by New York based filmmaker and visual artist, Lotfy Nathan. The ‘boys’ challenge the local police by riding at high speed in streets packed with traffic and showing off through bike stunts. These provocative behaviors reveal to have two reverse sides for a powerless police that adopted a no-chasing policy in order to guarantee public safety. For the majority of Baltimore’s inhabitants they are seen as a radical group, while for others, such as the young Pug who is trying to join them at any cost, they are heroes and models to follow in the near future. Pug’s mother, Coco, is the one not to be satisfied with her son’s obsession, but will she be able to make him see differently? This family interaction along with decent shots of the dangerous neighborhood, were the aspects that held up the levels of consistency, since the streets’ stunts soon started to be repetitive and finally a bit boring. Even with the slight sensation that the film could have been better developed, “12 O’clock boys” is at the minimum curious and thought provoking, having a voice that speaks for itself. I felt confronted by these aimless men who don’t seem to care about the consequences of their acts, but only their exhibitionism and ego. Is the documentary sufficiently explanatory? Yes. Educative? No. Fascinating? Reasonably.
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