Thursday, November 27, 2014

APACHES and TO KILL A MAN: Two from Film Movement to make their DVDebut next week

Usually TrustMovies uses Thanksgiving Day to highlight one of the year's top turkeys. But since he's already posted on Interstellar (and, really, it's not that bad), and the "promised-to-cover-them" films are piling up faster than he can manage, he'll spend today's post on a couple of interesting movies about to make their DVDebut from Film Movement: one worth seeing and the other a tad iffy. APACHES occupies the latter category, being one of those movies about really dumb teenagers at work and (mostly) play, as well as being about the island of Corsica, which would of course include everything from Colonialism to class, race, religion, gender, tourism and most of the rest of the usual check-list.

There is evidently a large influx of Muslim immigrants to Corsica, as throughout much of the rest of Europe, and while this movie covers them, it does them no favors. Though, in truth, everyone we see in this film seems pretty close to worthless: kids, adults, French, Corsicans, Italians, immigrants -- you name 'em, and you (and the world) could easily do without 'em. Apaches is one of those more and more oft-seen movies that would seem to predict the coming apocalypse via the behavior of their dumb-as-they-come characters. You watch awhile, and before long you're murmuring, "No wonder the world is coming to its end...."

The story simply follows a two-man immigrant cleaning crew at a very expensive house on the island, one of whom returns later with friends to make use of the house for fun. Some of the friends also use it for sex, drinking, vomiting and burglary -- and it's the last of those that makes for the most difficulties.

Before long we're knee-deep in fear, betrayal, murder, and perhaps the silliest bleach job in the history of motion picture hair (I told you these kids were dumb). The performances are certainly as real as you could want, the direction (by Thierry de Peretti) and writing (by de Peretti and actor Benjamin Baroche) are adequate (I do wonder why the use of the old-fashioned ratio of 1.33 : 1?). So. Is this movie believable? Absolutely. Is it worth watching or caring about? Barely.

The second film under consideration, TO KILL A MAN, is no less unsettling but a lot more interesting. It is being billed as revenge story. But it actually is not. Instead it shows us what happens when the father of the family (living apart but still clearly concerned with the well-being of his ex and his kids) comes up against a genuinely nasty, sociopath, criminal type who will not stop harassing the family. Add to this mix a police department and judicial system that, for whatever reason, refuses to provide any real help or protection. You can't watch this film without finally wondering, "What would I do under these circumstances?"

The movie, from Chile and written and directed by Alejandro Fernández Almendras,  is anything but a revenge thriller. It's not even a thriller, exactly, because it seems far too real for that. (It's based on a true story, which we don't learn until the film's conclusion, but which is quite easy to believe.) We follow our "hero," Jorge (very well played by Daniel Candia, above and below), in both thought and deed as tension builds to the breaking point and beyond.

We see enough of both the man's family and the villain and his crowd to be able to easily take sides, and I suspect that very few viewers will be able to insist on any simple-minded Thou Shalt Not Kill platitude where this story is concerned. If Jorge were a large and powerful guy, the movie could easily begin to take on some Hollywood gloss. But, no: Instead he's on the short side and running to flab. And he doesn't want to become this avenger; he's pushed into it by circumstance-- via  the actions of the sociopath and the wretched security of the state.

Filmmaker Almendras doesn't let his hero (or us) off the hook, either, as a Hollywood movie would have done. This makes his film all that much more frustrating -- and fulfilling. You can see both these movies, beginning this coming Tuesday, December 2, on DVD and streaming via their distributor Film Movement  -- for sale or rental. If history is any guide, they'll be available via Netflix and Amazon soon, as well.

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