Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Capsule Reviews - July 13, 2021

Birds of Passage (2018)

Set in the Wayu-controlled region of Columbia, Birds of Passage spans two decades (the 1960s to the 1980s), bringing to life the origins of drug trafficking in that country. Co-directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, Birds of Passage is beautifully shot, with many scenes set in remote areas of Columbia, and it’s the film’s consistently startling imagery that makes it worth checking out. The performances aren’t the strongest: according to Gallego and Guerra, who were married when production on this movie began and divorced by the end of it (10 years later), 30% of the cast featured non-professionals, most indigenous to the region (and it shows). But as a crime film and a time capsule of that country’s tumultuous history, Birds of Passage is an absolute winner.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

My two favorite genres (horror and westerns) meld together perfectly in writer / director S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk. Kurt Russell plays the sheriff of a small town who leads a rescue mission to save his deputy (Evan Jonigkeit) and local physician Mrs. O’Dwyer (Lili Simmons), both of whom were abducted by a particularly brutal tribe of cave-dwelling Native Americans. The cast - which also includes Patrick Wilson (as Mr. O’Dwyer), Matthew Fox, David Arquette (as a drifter who inadvertently leads the natives to town), Sid Haig, and Richard Jenkins (as the sheriff’s elderly, not-too-bright “back-up” deputy) - is strong, as is the setting (the movie was shot at the Paramount Ranch in Malibu, California). Yet it’s the Native American tribe at the center of it all, called “Troglodytes” by the townsfolk, that makes Bone Tomahawk as memorable as it is (later scenes set inside the Troglodytes lair are positively terrifying). Ranks alongside The Burrowers, Near Dark, and John Carpenter’s Vampires as one of the finest horror westerns ever produced.
Rating: 9 out of 10

Why Don’t You Just Die! (2018)

A sharply funny, immensely violent motion picture, director Kirill Sokolov’s 2018 Russian film Why Don’t You Just Die is an absolutely wild ride! Police Detective Andrei Gennadievitch (Vitaliy Khaev) is having a bad day. For starters, Matvei (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) - the boyfriend of Andrei’s daughter Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde) - is trying to kill him. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Andrei’s longtime partner Yevgenich (Michael Gor) is also gunning for him. Will Andrei survive the onslaught? A copious amount of blood is spilled in Why Don’t You Just Die, most flowing from poor Matvei, who, despite being in way over his head, somehow manages to weather Andrei’s storm of brutality time and time again (what happens to Matvei is beyond belief, and there’s a scene involving a drill that’s particularly hard to watch). In addition to the violence, director Sokolov’s kinetic, stylish approach brings a sense of fun to the proceedings; he shoots the various showdowns between his characters as if they were in a Sergio Leone western (right down to the Morricone-influenced soundtrack). This one is not to be missed!
Rating: 9 out of 10

No comments: