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Movies Reviews: Fighting with inmates, rodents, street thugs and family standards


By Roger Costa


Dominican Republic’s official entry for this year’s Oscars is a thrilling prison experience as well as a unique tragic love story. Writer/director José María Cabral fiercely follows the powerful influence of a new inmate, as he quietly arrives at the over-packed prison, is offered explanatory tours around the facility by other fellows, and gradually becomes the most trusted and reliable inside “trader”. Their main intention is to get business running around, and to have their messages delivered to the women locked on the opposite block. Cabral develops the material with raw intensity and convincing brutal violence, coordinating a group of talented actors and non-actors, as they perform with transparency- actor Jean Jean, who plays our hero Julián, was named Best Actor at Guadalajara International Film Festival. Despite the explosive, bloody conflicts among themselves, and sometimes with the guards, there’s an important love story at the film’s core, generating an increasingly affection for the protagonists, as they use sign-language for their communication through the bars. Nominated for Top Awards at Sundance, Seattle and Miami Film Festivals, it’s a well-done realistic look at these inmates’ loneliness, rivalry and corruption. (An Outsider Pictures Release. Opens Friday, September 15th at AMC Empire 25 NYC.)


A rat tries to jump out of a trash can in Baltimore, as the camera captures its bright macabre eyes in a simply terrifying take. Director Theo Anthony’s feature debut is an investigative and suspenseful research on the city and its rat infestation, developed with enigmatic elements, claustrophobic darkened images and sharp music tones. He gathers commentaries from residents, activists, scientists, folks engaged on experiments and others dedicated to preserve and pet them, while presenting documents, photos and footage, narrated by a precisely attractive voice by Maureen Jones, and witnessing the hunts of a group using peanut butter to “fish” the pizza-lover creatures and a veteran exterminator. At last, the film proves New York is not the kingdom of the rodents. (A Cinema Guild Release. Opens Friday, September 15th at Film Society of Lincoln Center NYC.)


An outcast boy trying to fit in his crime-activity neighborhood is the mediator for first time director Amman Abbasi’s disturbingly honest and violent coming of age drama. Co-exec produced by David Gordon Green, the film showcases the natural talent of Devin Blackmon as the title character, delivering his role with nuance and wisdom. Bored, whining and longing his dead brother, Dayveon is living with his sister and in-law when he is brutally attacked by seven guys, an abusive act of “street ritual”, sort of his ticket into a different phase of adolescence. Eventually the gang is able to introduce him the adrenaline of crime, producing more hormonal conflicts, right on the edge that will define his personality throughout the rest of his life. Meanwhile, both his guardians struggle to develop a connection and understand him, but he isn’t comfortable just yet to open up his frustrations. A very naturalistic, observational filmmaker, Abbasi conceived a very authentic and witty portrait of a stolen childhood as well as an unflinching look at this generation’s mistaken idea of crime. Abbasi also brilliantly exercises the essentials of the cinema-vérité style: the chemistry among the entire cast superbly makes it feel like a doc, sometimes hard to believe it’s fictionalized. (A FilmRise Release. Now Playing at Quad Cinema NYC.)


Karen Allen gives a delicate performance in this adaptation of a New York Times best-seller, as a middle aged wife who after the wedding of her son, leaves her husband and goes on a trip to Cape Cod in order to write and reconcile with herself. There she mingles with the residents, a mysterious energized lady who loves to dance, a supermarket’s attendant dealing with her aggressive lover, and mostly a tender relationship she develops with a sailor who tours her around the gorgeous seashore. With a lovely soundtrack and insightful observations on womanhood, prolific composer Alexander Jenko’s first directorial effort is a touching and uplifting sophisticated comedy about a woman experiencing the relentless joy of a break from her own reality. (A Real Women Make Waves Release. Now playing at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas NYC. Opens Friday, September 15th at Laemmle Royal, Town Center and Playhouse 7 in Los Angeles)

Léa Campos: Futebol é Jogado e Lambari é Pescado

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