Among the films that played recently at the 24th San Diego Latino Film Festival, held at the AMC Fashion Valley 18 Theater at the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, CA I was able to view and review the following:
The Darkness (orig. Las Tinieblas)  [IMDb] [FA.es]*(directed and cowritten by Daniel Castro Zimbrón [IMDb] [FA.es]* along with Denis Languérand [IMDb] and David Pablos [IMDb]) proved to be a quite "fun" / quite well-executed low-budget post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi horror movie coming from MEXICO. Inspired in Lord Byron's similarly post-Apocalyptic poem "The Darkness," the story centers on a family - father (played by Brontis Jodorowsky [IMDb]), older teenage son named Marcos (played by Fernando Álvarez Rebeil [IMDb]) and the younger son, about 10-12 y.o., named Argel (played by Aliocha Sotnikoff [IMDb]) and then a cute-as-a-button if rather sickly 8 y.o. daughter named Luciana (played by Camila Robertson Glennie[IMDb]). At the beginning of the story, they find themselves holed-up in a random cabin somewhere deep in a forest, and they were, in effect, "hiding." Hiding from what? Well something, unclear, had happened in the world outside. Indeed at the beginning of the film, the father and sons would don gas masks (!) whenever they stepped outside. There also seemed to be giant spider-like (alien?) monsters outside. However, these monsters are never really seen even though they are occasionally heard (the whole shack _shakes_ violently whenever one of the monsters seems to be foraging outside). However, since these monsters are _never_ really seen and about midway through the story, the 10 year old son Argel discovers that he doesn't really need a gas mask when he walks out outside, both he and his younger sister (the older son disappears early in the film) begin to wonder IF THE FATHER IS JUST "MAKING IT ALL UP." Maybe HE'S making the whole house shake in some way -- blaming this on "the monsters" -- to keep his two remaining children "scared." And there it is: Throughout the whole film, the audience also wonders if the GIANT spider-like monsters" are REAL or whether the father is somehow faking it all, in an attempt to keep his remaining children "in line." Fascinating film ;-) -- 3 Stars
Jules and Dolores (orig. O Roubo da Taça)  [IMDb] [AC]*(directed and cowritten by Caito Ortiz [IMDb] [AC]* along with Lusa Silvestre [IMDb]) is a TRULY FUNNY Brazilian comedy about the circumstances surrounding the actual 1983 theft of the REVERED Jules Rimet World Cup Soccer Trophy by, it turns out, two Rio de Janeiro "good old boys" (one with a large gambling debt, owing money to a local mobster called "O Reverendo"....). The film begins with the words: "Some of this actually happened..." ;-). The two small time crooks (one known by all his friends in the neighborhood as "A Barba" (The Beard ... and he didn't wear a mask ...) _really_ "didn't think things through" ;-). But then neither did the Brazilian Soccer Federation: They put the trophy in a prominent display case in their central offices "behind a plate of bullet proof glass." But THE DISPLAY CASE ITSELF was of the kind that one could "buy at Walmart." Hence "O Barba" just took-out his keys and pried-off THE LITTLE PIECE OF WOODEN FRAME that held the "BULLET PROOF GLASS" in place. The plate of "Bullet Proof Glass" fell to the floor (it _did not_ break ;-) ... and there they were, a grasp away from the most revered trophy in 3/4 of the world ;-). Okay, they successfully ran-off with the second most revered object in all of Brazil, the most revered being the similarly quite small (and initially headless) image of Our Lady of the Aparecida, the Patroness of Brazil. Where the heck does one sell it? Who'd buy it? One of the "gold dealers" in Rio (but also, needless to say, A SOCCER FAN) pulled out a shotgun and wanted to shoot them right then and there ... ;-). But they do finally find a buyer ... a smiling, kinda swarmy if also kinda simpathetic ... ARGENTINIAN ;-). Much ensues ... ;-) ... Honestly, the characters in the film were brilliantly drawn -- including the two small time crooks, the mobster "O Reverendo," the smiling / swarmy Argentinian, the "no nonsense" local police detective put on the case who generally found the easiest way "to get a lead on a case" was to just _step-on_ (well STOMP ON) the toes of some random two-bit thug "brought in for questioning" ;-) and then the never seen but often heard (by said local detective) disembodied voice of the "policia militar" (Brazil was under a military dictatorship at the time ...) offering "their assistance" to said "pansy a..." local Rio police detective if he couldn't break-open the case. Finally, there was the girlfriend of one of the small time crooks named, Dolores (played wonderfully by Taís Araújo [IMDb] [AC]*) who, in fact, narrates the story and who was the ONLY ONE in the saga will _any_ REAL BRAINS ... ONE SPECTACULARLY FUNNY MOVIE -- 4+ Stars.
Where I Grow Old (orig. A Cidade onde Envelheço)  [IMDb] [AC]*(directed and cowritten by Marília Rocha [IMDb] [AC]* along with João Dumans [IMDb] and Thais Fujinaga [IMDb]) is a small BRAZILIAN / PORTUGUESE "indie piece" set entirely in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte (the third largest in Brazil) about two women, Teresa and Francisca (played by Elizabete Francisca Santos [IMDb] [AC]* and Francisca Manuel [IMDb] [AC]*) in their later-20s from Portugal, one already living in Belo Horizonte for a while, the other just arriving at the beginning of the story, both trying to decide throughout the whole of the story WHERE they'd each like to "settle down." Now though this film is about two women in their later-20s living together, neither is gay. Both have boyfriends / reasonably good, caring / sensitive men in their lives. But neither sees a true / serious / enduring future with any of them. On the other hand, the "clock is ticking" (not necessarily "the biological clock" but simply _the clock_). Where does one want ... to grow old? Each may be in their later-20s, but both are realizing that serious _decisions_ will begin to have to be made. A very nice, _thoughtful_ reflection worthy of young adult (and even Church) reflection. -- 3 1/2 Stars
<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here? If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation. To donate just CLICK HERE. Thank you! :-) >>