Review: Viggo Mortensen in Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja”

jaaujaMysteriously opaque and thrillingly spooky, Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja evokes what many films aspire to yet rarely achieve: a genuine lucid state of cinema-as-dream. Staking out terrain somewhere between a surrealist Western and Fordian fairy-tale, it’s a singular work from the Argentine filmmaker, who’s taken his previous explorations of strangers in strange lands to a whole new level of enigma here. It’s also the first time he’s worked with a major movie actor, and in this case, a guy who was practically born to wander the edges of time and space: the great Viggo Mortensen.

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Interview: Lisandro Alonso on “Jauja”

lisandroJauja, the new film by Argentine director Lisandro Alonso, is a work of singular grace and mystery. Set against the deceptive beauty of 19th-century Patagonia and composed in saturated, old-world color, it stars Viggo Mortensen as a Danish engineer roaming the barren landscape in search of his missing daughter—a strange journey that appears to lead him to the edge of time itself. In this interview, Alonso discusses the perils of explaining the film’s narrative, his decision to project in an unusual, rounded-frame Academy ratio, and the idea behind that ending.

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Review: Jaume Collet-Serra’s “Run All Night”

runallnight“I’m coming after you with everything I’ve got,” growls Irish godfather Ed Harris at his old buddy Liam Neeson, the two adversaries facing off over midnight coffee at a New York diner. “As long as you’re coming after Michael,” Neeson later retorts, “I’m coming after you.” The scene is a laughable attempt at evoking the De Niro/Pacino summit in Heat, to be sure, but the gravitas of these two veteran actors excavates something more fascinating: the deep undertow of melancholy that’s been haunting the Liam Neeson genre of late. Like last year’s somber, would-be genre throwback A Walk Among the Tombstones, Run All Night is rich with weariness and regret, a far more ponderous and reflective picture than its title and ticking-clock premise might suggest. It’s not exactly Neeson’s Unforgiven (though that can’t be far away), but it is a movie curiously at odds with itself, dutifully doling out the violent clichés while brooding over the carnage. Continue reading

Review: Yann Demange’s “’71”

71From In the Name of the Father to Bloody Sunday to Hunger, there’s no shortage of films willing to engage the Troubles in Northern Ireland, but Yann Demange’s ’71 might be the closest the political subgenre has come to full-blown action cinema. Essentially an old-fashioned chase movie set against a turbulent political landscape, Demange’s feature synthesizes the speed and dynamism of early Kathryn Bigelow with a more obvious docu-drama approach to serious subjects—the kind of tastefully gritty craftsmanship that’s become the standard for conveying “realism” on film and television alike. But it’s the latter that proves to be the least effective aspect of the film. Continue reading