Month: January 2012

We Are What We Are (2010)

Written for a blog known as MovieBoozer. That’s Movie and Boozer. Reviews alongside drinking games. Yes. It’s real and somehow this review of a mexican film I like was on there.

 We Are What We Are takes a similar form to Dogtooth in presenting a darkly twisted tale, from within a warped family unit. Just trade out the incest for some good old people-eating fun. 

we_are_what_we_are

An impoverished man, aged and worn, collapses in a shopping mall of Mexico City after perusing the dummies of shop windows. Spewing blood and bile on to the floor beneath him – he dies, only to be cleared away by paramedics and cleaning staff. An autopsy reveals a human finger inside his stomach, though this doesn’t surprise the coroner who exercises a casual familiarity with partially consumed corpses. This was the father of a now leaderless family: his wife and her three children Alfredo, Julian and Sabina, must now fulfil the role of their former patriarch. This entails the execution of a furtive ‘ritual’ that accounts for the state of their deceased father.

Hailed as the ‘Mexican Let The Right One In’, WAWA deals with social issues within an extreme context. Where the former had focussed on a young boy’s torment at the hands of school-yard bullies, this film deals with a family dynamic in the face of poverty and political disregard. With the fantastical element removed from the story, we are presented with a more feasible horror. The setting transforms from a snow-blanketed residential area, to a more slum-like location that brings with it an inescapable darkness, interlaced with bouts of uncompromising gore.

ltrJi

Let the Right Juan In. Forgive me

The central theme of cannibalism is shown to be a product of circumstance for the family: delivered as psychologically understandable alongside the realistic relationships of the central characters. The explanation of the ritual is touched upon but not fully explained: fitting with the visual motif of doors closing on the camera – keeping the audience out. This exclusion from the story is assisted by a volatile sound design that becomes faint and inaudible for extensive periods of time.

The film’s master stroke comes from treating the horrific elements as casual and not cowering to spectacle. The title of the film prescribes a certain shamelessness to the characters – their actions born out of necessity. In this sense, the horror becomes grounded and is almost pushed into the background by the social trials of the family.

Refusing to pander to the audience, We Are What We Are creates an intrigue that is ordinarily too contrived to be effective – utilising a lack of exposition to make the minimal that much more powerful.

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Fuckers Who Kill People For Money: The Unsentimental Portrayal of the Hitman in Kill List

KillList

The hitman has become a cultural figure that has undergone various aesthetic and moral transformations in cinema. The most typical and somewhat surprising characteristic of the contracted-killer is that he or she is shown to be a solitary figure worthy of empathy or even admiration; a sleek and often charming loner that the story is attracted to – suspending the audience’s judgement or allowing them to explore his/her inner conflict in order to understand their motivation or veiled humility. Amongst his description of the subcategories of hitmen in his chapter of ‘Crime Culture: Figuring Criminality in Fiction and Film’, Andrew Spicer describes the aestheticised version of the hitman as the ‘Angel of Death’: “a highly masculine fantasy of total self-sufficiency”. This increasingly recognisable antagonist and the subsequent notion of fantastical perfection is precisely what Ben Wheatley challenges in his latest feature – Kill List (2011).

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Between Heros and Villains: Some British Filmmakers of 2011

In 2011 we saw a new generation of filmmakers with a series of debut features that emanate originality;  subverting the form and challenging the typical narrative of cinema as well as the characters it produces. The hero pulled down from his pedestal with flaws displayed unashamedly – imperfect, vulnerable  and sometimes far from moral. The fables clouded by removing the binary opposition of good and bad, a blurring of the lines between hero and villain as the allure is maintained but the passivity is quashed. A realism that requires the viewer to find their own moral teachings amidst the challenged stereotypes.

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