Wednesday, March 30, 2016

This day and age, modern warfare is manage over the sky. New devices called: Drones deal with the responsibility of observe, provide information for analysis and also attack. The last one is the most questionable, due the amount of crimes made by several countries who launch operations to eliminate certain targets, with the price of killing civilians.

“Eye in the Sky” is the British thriller directed by Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) tales the story of a operation by the UK government to capture a terrorist group (visually similar to Al Qaeda or ISIS) who are hiding in the city of Nairobi, Kenya. The film focus on several locations. A war room in the UK, a government building also in the UK, a military base in Nevada, Singapore, China and of course Nairobi.

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) leads the operation in the war room, while in the government building we have Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) the Attorney General and some members of the UK cabinet, in Nevada we have 2nd Lieutenant Steve Watts, a USAF drone pilot (Aaron Paul) and Carrie Gershon USAF (Phoebe Fox).

Something that makes this film a true thriller is the tension created between all the locations involved. In fact the audience will not experience true action after the first hour of film, but the plot and performances are powerful. The plot seems simple, but it gets complicated when every decision needs to be careful reviewed by some members of the government, from the legal ramifications, the political ramifications and even the cost of lives from collateral damages.

This movie satire how a minister or another member of the government could be in the most obscure situation (toilet seat) superficial (playing ping-pong with a Chinese counterpart) and even Lieutenant unable to decide which doll model was requested by his daughter but is able to decide when to shoot a missile. But the real heart of the film is how a child’s life is the real element of discussion between the military and the government. The challenges of been responsible of a crime, as price to avoid serious terrorist attacks. The subject is well putt it when 2nd Lieutenant Steve Watts, a USAF drone pilot (Aaron Paul) reject superiors orders when he is aware that a little girl is near the target of the attack and the range of the attack will include her as a casualty.

Eye in the Sky follow the footsteps of films like Dr Stranglelove by showing the vulnerabilities of the governments secret operations, lack of sensitivity loosing innocent lives and the cost of the war of terror for the greater good.

Monday, March 28, 2016

In the mist of the Argentinian dictatorship and Falklands War in 1982 Arquimedes Puccio (Guillermo Francella) patriarch of the family and worker of the state intelligence service, becomes unemployed. During this period he decided to start criminal activities by kidnapping wealthy families. Alejandro Puccio (Peter Lanzani) eldest son and the star player of a rugby club is one of the most important collaborators of the gang, by helping identify the targets, using his fame and popularity as an alibi.

“El Clan” is directed Pablo Trapper and produced in part by the Almodovar brothers. The story of the El Clan start with a very dramatic revelation, the rescue of one of the victims from the Puccio's kidnaps, then moving back to an interesting film structure, a parallel between father and son showing them separated and then reunite by this common mission. Their first victim, Ricardo Monukian friend of Alejandro.

The film explore several aspects of the crimes as well how family values becomes part of the kidnapping process. Arquimedes is a sort of Walter White who needs to commit this crimes to provide for the family. Money to send his kids to New Zealand to play Rugby, help Alejandro to get one of his biggest dreams, a surf store. The family are all accomplices, some more indirect than others. The audience feel their kids suffering when they hear the kidnapping victims crying for help next to their bedrooms while their doing homework, Alejandro’s guilt by been responsible of helping to kidnap his wealthy friends. For Arquimedes everything is for the family, he is a true psychopath, nothing can’t stop him, except one thing: democracy.

During the fall of Argentina dictatorship and the rise of a democratic government by Raúl Alfonsín who started to cleaning all the government mess, raise the flag over Puccio’s family operations, which were protected and covered in part by the past government.

The film “El Clan” is a powerful story that never stop to impress about the happenings of this horrible crimes while the Puccio family continue their daily lives using their ransom money to live a good life in Argentina.
With great performances and great film-making El Clan is one of the best films of 2016 so far.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The film open with a great vista of the jungle in Colombia. The sounds set the scene, helping the audience to immerse themselves into this mysterious journey. The black and white is powerful, but also intrigue us. Seen a jungle like this without appreciate their true colors make you want more. Now the sound surround us as well the language spoken which is one of the multiple indigenous languages.

“Embrace of The Serpent” is a film directed by Ciro Guerra, and tells two parallel stories of German scientist Theodor Koch-Grunberg and American scientist Richard Evans Schultes. Set in 1909 and 1940. Both of them experienced their journey thru the jungle with Karamakate an Amazonian shaman who is the guide in the search for the rare yakuza, a secret plant. In this journey the audience experience the critical evolution of society in the amazon shape their future. You see human interaction with technology as a way of creating new experiences but also a way of affecting traditions and traditional learning process and heritage.

In a scene you see Grunber showing an indigenous tribe how to use a compass, later the compass disappear. This cause a commotion between the leader of the tribe and Gurnber who is upset about this. His point is not about who stole it and why. Is the fact that indigenous tribe use stars to guide themselves thru the jungle, with a compass will loose that ability. Is the effect of using technology as a tool to make your life easier, but also to ruin your traditional learning. This also journey thru the unknown, how religion pretends to shape indigenous by destroying their essence.

“Embrace of The Serpent” is clever because show in two parallel universe the journey of Grunberg in 1909 and Schultes in 1940. The audience experience the progression of time, how society in part ruin the life of this people, by imposing new traditions and knowledge. Forcing them to change their ability to continue developing what they know, how they live, only killing what make them unique.

At the end this journey is experience first hand by one person in both periods of time. Karamakate. He understand how important is his life in the jungle, the respect and consideration of his heritage and how the presence of external characters can destroy it. He also face big challenges living there: Memories, learned traditions which can be lost if you don't share it with future generations. He cannot be corrupt, even Schltes offer him, a single dollar for his help, a true evidence of capitalism.

Ciro Guerra borrow from great films about journeys in the jungle. Apocalypse Now and Fitzcarraldo. Both films show a trip into a jungle filled with challenges in the hunt for one thing. In Apocalypse Now is a mission to eliminate Colonel Walker Kurtz a renegade against the establishment of the US Army. In Fitzcarraldo the search for rubber an element that is destroying indigenous people in Perú, because it’s constitute a new source of income, better than the life in the jungle. For “Embrace of The Serpent” the journey shows the power of rubber and how destroy the minds and life of indigenous people till their death.

“Embrace of The Serpent” is a powerful film that can leave you breathless by the power of the message, but also by the connection with Werner Herzog and Francis Copola style of filming and editing.