By Ciara LaVelle
By Calum Marsh
By Voice Media Group
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Sherilyn Connelly
By Inkoo Kang
By Carolina del Busto
By Alan Scherstuhl
And the weirdness doesn't stop there: Also present are drum circles bathed in the blood of lizards, where Ignacio's traveling partner, Fermin (Yull Núñez), is baptized as a musician. Then there are the machete duels on marshland walkways. But we digress.
There's no need to blather about the beauty of the cinematography, the wonderland of the Colombian countryside, or the striking whimsy of the Venice-like village bazaar. Nor will we dwell on how the narrative of a man, a young boy, a donkey, and an accordion seems to fit so nicely in a narrative about loss.
No, we'll just tell you The Wind Journeys (Los Viajes del Viento) has a stacked resumé: Best Film and Best Director at the Colombian Film Festival (2009) and Best Spanish Language Film at the Santa Barbara Film Festival (2010). If you go, wait for Ignacio's rendition of "Caballito," which is tragically moving and tragically unavailable on YouTube. Yes. Now, we can definitely stop now. Dave Landsberger March 7 at 9:30 p.m. and March 9 at 9 p.m., Tower Theater; March 14 at 4:15 p.m., Regal Cinemas South Beach
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In 2005, terrorist bombings killed 52 people in London. The resulting paranoia and xenophobia is well described in Jean Charles, directed by Henrique Goldman. Based on the true story of a Brazilian electrician living in London who was mistaken for a Muslim terrorist, the film could have been a public lashing of the British government. Instead, it is a sentimental eulogizing of a hardworking immigrant — wonderfully played by Selton Mello — doing his best to improve the circumstances of his own life and those around him.
A Londoner for three years, Jean Charles helps his cousins immigrate to London. He does what he must to survive, orchestrating fake visas for friends and stealing an electrician's job from his boss. There's such pathos that these indiscretions are offset by Jean Charles's good-guy charm and optimism.
Then, one day after a muted explosion in the distance, the characters learn of the bombings, victims, and crescendoing mania to find the suspects. Goldman, who is Brazilian, skillfully draws a wide arc where the two narratives collide in a shocking scene on the London Underground.
As we discover Jean Charles's fate, his friend Alex, played by Luis Miranda in a performance that won a Jury Award from Brazil's Prêmio Contigo Cinema, delivers a tearful tirade through clenched teeth, conveying the outrage and grief of not only Brazil but also the whole world, after an innocent man is gunned down by a government blinded by fear.
This film is a must-see. Its only fault is heavy-handedness in relaying that Jean Charles loved London. At one point, he buys a kitschy snow globe of the British capital for his homesick cousin so she can always remember how beautiful the city is. Goldman seems to be shouting, "Would a terrorist do this?" Amanda McCorquodale March 7 at 7:15 p.m. and March 14 at 9:15 p.m., Regal Cinemas South Beach; March 12 at 9 p.m., Tower Theater
Born into the itinerant life of a con artist, Kay (Aida Folch) is a sexy but street-tough young woman who has helped her father, Sebas (Manuel Morón), run scams since she learned to walk. For years, they've lived off small scores, skipping from one city to the next across Spain. But after 16 months in Barcelona, Kay and Sebas have begun to settle into a routine: She steals cars while he fences jewelry. It's almost normal.
Then, suddenly, Mexican gangsters return to collect an overdue debt. Sebas begins plotting a big job that involves a crew of crooked cops, a large bag of stolen jewels, an incriminating videotape, and a cable news network. Meanwhile, Kay gets caught stealing a BMW and escapes only with the help of Abel (Francesc Garrido), a fighter. Together, all three then chase the most monumental score of their lives.
Written and directed by first-time Spanish filmmaker Patxi Amézcua, this action thriller is more conventional than many of the other movies at this year's festival. In tone and style, 25 Carat draws from similar genre films such as Luc Besson's The Professional and Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run. However, Amézcua delivers his story with full knowledge of its sources, so it never seems derivative. Not to mention, 25 Carat is plotted so tightly, edited with such energy, and acted so deftly that it pays off in almost every way. It even has a happy ending. More or less. S. Pajot March 8 at 7 p.m. and March 14 at 4 p.m., Regal Cinemas South Beach, and March 13 at 7 p.m. Tower Theater
Michel Gondry must have been on to us. He knew we'd expect something as imaginative as his last film, The Science of Sleep, or his popular Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So in The Thorn in the Heart (L'Épine Dans le Coeur), he presents an evenhanded documentary about his aunt Suzette, a retired teacher in rural France thought to be avant-garde by her students and the life of the party by her family.
Well, almost. Gondry had intended to document Suzette's life as a teacher, but a more complicated relationship emerged — that between Suzette and her son, Gondry's cousin Jean-Yves. Juxtaposed between scenes in which Suzette is praised for her skill with schoolchildren are shots of a fragile Jean-Yves, a grown man still living under his mother's thumb and suffering nervous breakdowns after coming out as gay; his mother even hid his father's death for days. Suzette is blunt in her opinion of Jean-Yves, calling him weak and a thorn in her heart.
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