By Roger Costa
THE INTEGRITY OF JOSEPH CHAMBERS
Built entirely on details, sounds and a furious sense of place, writer/producer/director Robert Machoian’s latest investigation on the human psych confirms him as one America’s most accomplished indie filmmakers. Collaborating for the second time with actor Clayne Crawford, the film follows the desperation and moral test experienced by a family man when he goes hunting and a freaky accident turns his life upside down. After accidentally shooting a trespasser, he must decide quickly how to procedure in order to prove his innocence and intentions. Following his sensational festival-favorite “The Killing of Two Lovers”, Machoian crafts another enigmatic, unique and deeply immersive analysis on the human condition defied by morality and integrity. He shoots the film with a fascinating sense of claustrophobia, though the open vast spaces, would suggest something different, Machoian proves his commitment to suspense and moral issues, conceiving a top-notch thriller that could cast him to higher budget productions. Anchored by Crawford’s stunningly hypnotic performance, this is a gripping and remarkable tale about human virtues confronted by its limits. Superb!
(Award Buzz: Best Director, Screenplay and Actor.)
A MATTER OF TRUST
Five apparently randomly-knit modern stories about redemption form an intriguing and absorbing dramatic puzzle in this efficient export from Denmark. The always reliable and efficient Trine Dyrholm leads the perfect ensemble cast conducting the narrative as the primary character. She plays a doctor on board of a plane where a turbulent repatriation mission takes place, leaving her trademark impressive scene-stealer technique all over it. She controls the situation- an Afghanistan family involuntarily returning home- with such intensity that proves it’s time for her to get Award recognition. Who wasn’t enthralled already by her performance in Tribeca’s selection “Nico, 1988”? How about her sexy turn in “Queen of Hearts”? She embodies each character with the comparable depth and chemistry of Meryl Streep or Julianne Moore. Of the five settings created by award-winning director Annette K. Olesen, this is the most timely and compelling: as the doctor listens to a 17 year-old girl’s opening her heart about her feelings of leaving Denmark (where she had been living since she was 10) Olesen pinches the viewer with her humanitarian message of searching justice and compassion in a world blurred by corruption, barriers and violence. It is a simple and short moment during their flight- opportunity for the doctor to analyze her (possible) estranged relationship with her daughter of the same age- yet strikingly moving. The director also examines the values enduring and challenging relationships among family relatives and other social fields, poignantly disclosed through the diversity of the stories. Next, the bond between mother and daughter, escaping from home abuse and violence at an isolated cold beach, is shot with intimacy and suspense. The encounter of two married executives at a rented house turns out hilariously out of control in a surprisingly comic segment that lively addresses adultery, loyalty and the royalties of morality and self-justified intrusion. A newly-wed young couple faces prejudice and embarrassment during a funeral when the husband is confronted by an act of the past, leading his pregnant wife to decide whether to become aware of the situation or not. Though this story is filled with tension and uncertainty, there is also a beautiful lyricism and meditation on marital vows lingering on the corners. The last one, also very striking and shocking, follows a young student victim of bullying who becomes involved with his teacher in a sexy, provocative and heart-breaking gay coming of age tale. Each story is masterly executed with urgency and efficiency, making it a thrilling and powerful ride on the importance of humanitarian respect.
(Award Buzz: Best International Film, Best Editing.)
What would you do if a loved one, most precisely a parent, would come up with the idea of anticipating their death? Apparently the first time a director delves in such an unconventional theme, this dark dramedy from the Netherlands explore the reactions affecting two siblings, as they must deal with their father’s unexpected decision to depart. Marking her fictional feature debut, director Floor van der Meulen crafts a wonderfully funny and bizarre satire on family bond and (mis)behavior, focusing on the quest of Iris for a solution for her father’s absurd existential crisis, while struggling to find herself some emotional stability. Provocative and accurate, it is a touching, and very irreverent look at a dysfunctional modern family.
(Award Buzz: Best International Feature, Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor- the father.)
Exploring the rise and power of Evangelism in South America with fearless accuracy, Bolivian filmmaker Martin Boulocq’s latest timely drama sees an ex-con returning home and trying to make things better, but when he decides to reconnect to his estranged daughter he is confronted by an influential Pastor, pushing him to his limits. An efficient slow-burn, Boulocq scores his most accomplished work to date, conceiving a master class in social-economic-religious conflicts in Latin America, a compilation of exceptional, convincingly dramatic performances, astonishing cinematography and a nail-biting suspenseful narrative technique. A simmering portrait of hierarchy and manipulation.
(Award Buzz: Best International Feature; Best Supporting Actor- the Pastor.)
(Tribeca Film Festival 2022 runs thru June 19.)