[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Thunder Road
Official Selection – International Fiction Feature
Dir. Jim Cummings
The Richter Scale says: In society, the man is expected to be the one who takes care of everything and not cry about it or ask for help, always in control of his emotions. That’s what’s expected of masculinity, but sometimes, like all human beings, a man needs to express his feelings and someone to listen. In his second feature film as writer/director, actor Jim Cummings (not the one who voices all those Disney characters) explores a character who has a lot to express, many reasons to complain and yeti s always apologizing for expressing himself in ways that the world around him has deemed inappropriate for someone like him. Jim Arnaud is a small-town Texas policeman who just lost his mother. We meet him at the funeral when he’s giving a speech at the church podium. For 10 agonizingly hilarious minutes, Jim lets many things out about his mother, his relationship with her, the things he could never say to her because he wasn’t very nice to her and trying to play a Springsteen song in a tape recorder that doesn’t work. He keeps going and going until his daughter Crystal (Kendal Farr, a little girl who bears a striking resemblance to comedian Amy Schumer) approaches him to, apparently, console him, and yet once they go sit together, she doesn’t want to sit next to him. This is the beginning of this character study (and, as I understand, the whole of the short film that Jim Cummings made previously that this is based on) of this man whose life is falling apart.
This film was obviously made to facilitate the performance at its center, a story that Jim Cummings created to give himself a vehicle to showcase his talents. It’s one of those projects that’s frequently looked down upon as a “vanity project”, but when it leads to such a brave and vulnerable performance like the one Cummings is giving here, it’s worth it. Jim Cummings lets everything out with this character, leaving his vanity behind and showing the more pathetic facets of this man, thus earning the sympathy that gets exactly what he’s going through. As a director, Cummings uses several long takes on his own face, not just during the funeral, but also during a speech that he gives to his superiors outside a police station where he’s taking off his clothes almost as a symbol of everything he’s losing. It’s painful and explosively funny. Another standout scene is one where he speaks to his daughter’s teacher, trying to show a composure he’s unable to maintain, particularly when the teacher mentions a learning disability that the daughter may have gotten from him.
Even though the focus of the film is Cummings’ performance, the cast around hi mis also terrific, particularly Nican Robinson as Officer Nate Lewis, Jim’s partner who shows a sensibility toward what he’s feeling, while making it clear that he has limits. Kendal Farr is a natural, portraying the challenges of raising a daughter of that age, especially one who is so aware of what’s going on around her. It’s not a film that stands out visually, since all the formal elements are in place to serve the story and this performance, but when both are of this high a caliber, that makes us want to see where this artist is going next.
7-22-2018 – Cinemex Plaza Luciérnaga 1 – 18:00 hrs
7-26-2018 – UG Auditorium – 16:00 hrs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Moronga
Official Selection – Fiction Feature Mexico
Dir. John Dickie
The Richter Scale says: Some films aim to portray a feeling. Something that certain audience members can recognize as something that felt good or something that scared them, perhaps both at the same time. With Black Pudding, Scottish documentary filmmaker John Dickie presents his first fiction feature, a film that portrays a social uprising in an unspecified town somewhere in Southern Mexico (one of those uprisings that lead to people “borrowing” public buses for their protests) and among this chaos we meet a man from outside who tries to make some sense of what he sees. This being his first fiction film, Dickie shows he’s most comfortable when he’s working with something that’s close to documentary filmmaking. The protest scenes, the atmosphere of a town in which protesters lock police officers up in jail cells and all of the graffiti on the streets. This is a world that is so absurd it can only be real interlinks with the world we experience through the narrative.
What we experience if the twisted mind of Sergeant Frank Pelluco (Matt O’Leary), the antihero of our film, an ex U.S. Marine who, for some reason, has ended up in this town teaching English. Pelluco wants to kill himself and we know it because he won’t shut up about it, but he doesn’t seem to have the courage to shoot himself. He’s tormented by memories of his past, including those of a transvestite woman named Marilyn (Krystian Ferrer) whom he may have killed (and whom we see protesting on the streets, although there we see her as a man). The Day of the Dead celebrations are coming and Pelluco gets wrapped up in a case of pregnant girl, a rich entrepreneur who possibly raped her and a the quinceañera of one of his students where everything comes together. Most of this is shown through hallucinations, showing us a mind that is breaking into pieces. Matt O’Leary’s performance sets the tone of the piece as a man who has completely lost control, staring into infinity, reacting to what’s going on in absurd ways (it almost looks like he’s smiling when he’s scared), which indicates this man is not completely connected to this world, and that’s scary.
This exploration of a sick mind seeking redemption before it’s time for the pig to meet his butcher (one of the more haunting images in the film make reference to that) is achieved mostly through the editing, done by Sam Baixauli, who puts the scenes together in a way that doesn’t make much sense and a cinematography by Juan Pablo Ramírez, who places the camera in uncomfortable angles, sometimes focusing on Pelluco’s face for too long and making him look absolutely possessed (one of the more uncomfortable scenes in the movie is when Pelluco won’t stop pestering a Mormon, going so far as to touch him). Everything in this film is uncomfortable, even gestures as small as the way Pelluco holds the hand of the girl he’s accompanying to her quinceañera, or the grotesque positions assumed by Don Elizario (José Sefami), a millionaire businessman whom, the film never hides how creepy he is. It’s not necessarily a pleasant time and most of the characters are grotesque, but for anyone who enjoys that in cinema, it’s a formidable example of that type.
7-22-2018 – Cinemex Plaza Luciérnaga 2 – 20:00 hrs
7-26-2018 – Juárez Theater – 16:00 hrs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]