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last update 1.Jul.14
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Goal of the Dead
dir Benjamin Rocher, Thierry Poiraud
scr Marie Garel Weiss
prd Raphael Rocher, Jerome Vidal
with Alban Lenoir, Charlie Bruneau, Tiphaine Daviot, Ahmed Sylla, Alexandre Philip, Vincent Debost, Benoit Moret, Jean-Francois Cayrey, Philippe du Janerand, Bruno Salomone, Renaud Rutten, Patrick Ligardes
lenoir release Fr 27.Feb.14, UK 7.Jul.14
14/France Canal+ 1h56
Goal of the Dead Shot like two separate movies spliced together, this is a football comedy blended with a zombie thriller. It's even presented as two films, with directors Rocher and Poiraud directing the first and second halves respectively. There's probably a snappy 90-minute film in here, but this two-hour version feels somewhat bloated.

Now a big star, veteran player Sam (Lenoir) returns to his hometown with his premiere-league team, including rising hotshot Idriss (Sylla) and snoopy journalist Solene (Bruneau). But the local yobs (Philip, Debost, Moret and Cayrey) are ready to heckle the stars from Paris, especially the traitorous Sam. On the other hand, teen fan Cleo (Daviot) is nervously looking forward to his reappearance on his home pitch. Meanwhile, a mad doctor (du Janerand) is experimenting with a medicine to enhance the home team's players.

High-quality production values help obscure the thin plot and indulgent filmmaking. Honestly, two hours is far too long for this kind of movie, especially when the tone falls in the crack between the comedy and horror, so it's only sporadically funny or scary. The filmmakers are clearly too pleased with their whizzy but unnecessary football montages to bother developing any of the plot-threads, and the wait for the action to kick off feels never-ending.

At least the rambling approach allows for some character development, especially as Sam faces small-minded people who still blame him for their miserable lives 17 years after he left town. And the actors get to play some intriguing interaction between them. As utter mayhem breaks out, various characters are forced to bond in order to survive, but none of the connections grabs hold because the filmmakers seem afraid to push anything in an interesting direction.

The one original (but unimaginative) touch is that the zombies spread their infection through projectile vomiting, which makes the carnage especially revolting. But the filmmakers play everything too straight for a film that so clearly wants to be a ridiculous pastiche. The second half cranks up the violence, although Poiraud opts to turn off the lights, making the action incomprehensible. This also flattens the comedy and leaves the twisty melodramatics undercooked. So when the apocalyptic face-off finally arrives, it's enjoyably insane but badly fragmented.

18 themes, language, strong violence
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The Golden Dream
4/5   La Jaula de Oro •
aka: The Golden Cage
dir-scr Diego Quemada-Diez
prd Edher Campos, Inna Payan, Luis Salinas
with Brandon Lopez, Rodolfo Dominguez, Karen Martinez, Carlos Chajon, Hector Tahuite, Ricardo Esquerra, Luis Alberti, Cesar Banuelos, Gilberto Barraza, Juan Carlos Medellin, Salvador Ramirez Jimenez, Jose Concepcion Macias
domingues, lopez and martinez release US Oct.13 afif,
UK 27.Jun.14
13/Guatemala 1h42

london film festival
east end film fest
The Golden Dream This film's gorgeous cinematography and sensitive performances help carry us through a narrative that's tough and rather bleak. But the story is so beautifully told that we are gripped by the strong characters and a variety of funny, scary and downright unthinkable situations.

In rural Guatemala, three 16-year-olds run away from home: Sara (Martinez) chops off her hair, straps up her chest and calls herself Oswaldo as she runs off with the perpetually angry Juan (Lopez) and his hapless friend Samuel (Chajon). Along the road they meet indigenous teen Chauk (Dominguez), who speaks no Spanish, and make it into Mexico before being caught and returned home. Samuel gives up, but the other three head straight back north, hitching rides on trains with hundreds of people hoping for a better life in the United States.

There's definitely a sense that the Guatemalan government commissioned this movie to put teens off the idea that endless riches await them if they take a simple journey to el norte. Each episode these kids face along the road is staggeringly horrific, usually involving violence by greedy thugs who prey on desperate people who might be carrying cash. And there's also an element of randomness here too, as survival depends more on luck than anything else.

Filmmaker Quemada-Diez gives each setting a vivid, relentless sense of peril. From mountains to deserts, along train tracks and rivers, through dusty towns and thick forests, the film is a skilfully shot travelogue through Central America, accompanied by an evocative score and a sweeping geographical scale. The actors are so authentic that the movie often feels like a documentary, while the three central characters have startlingly complex chemistry in both quieter moments and life-threatening situations. Ultimately their companionship is all they have.

But this isn't a film about friendship. It's a quietly harrowing odyssey in which these young people are roughed up by cops, chased by immigration officers and attacked by bandits. In their desperation they turn to theft and crippling work, but there are also priests and locals who offer food and shelter. And with its earthy, edgy tone, the film is a strikingly important portrait of a huge migration of people, vividly showing the wrenching reality at the end of honest dreams.

15 themes, language, violence
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dir-scr Marco Berger
prd Marco Berger, Pedro Irusta
with Manuel Vignau, Mateo Chiarino, Luz Palazon, Antonia De Michelis, Manuel Martinez Sobrado
vignau and chiarino
release Arg Apr.13 baff,
UK 23.Jun.14
13/Argentina 1h42

flare film festival
Hawaii Like Berger's previous films Plan B and Absent, this gentle drama takes an askance look at attraction between men who perhaps aren't quite ready to take the plunge, as it were. Beautifully shot and edited with a patiently escalating pace, the film pulls us in to a story we can easily identify with.

With no place to live for the summer, Martin (Chiarino) sleeps rough on the streets of the town he grew up in and visits the family home of his childhood friend Eugenio (Vignau), who's staying in the house alone to do some writing. Eugenio hires Martin to work around the house as they revisit their friendship, but each is afraid to admit that there's another layer of attraction between them after all of these years. And the unspoken tension nearly drives them crazy.

Berger has always had a special skill for capturing the physicality between men who are struggling to fit into macho Argentine society. Furtive glances, awkward touches, hesitant conversations all add up to a powerful mix of unacknowledged attraction, both lust and something potentially deeper. Of course, this requires actors who are adept at conveying much of the characters' personalities without words, and both Vignau and Chiarino are terrific at revealing insecurities that make them stay silent.

The film has a quiet, gentle rhythm with a surging big-movie score that implies all kinds of subtext. Dialog is kept to a minimum, as everything is told through the characters' eye contact and relaxed physical proximity in the balmy, shirtless summer weather. These are two lonely men who are happy to find an old friend. But anything more than that is unthinkable. Even though it's the only thing on their minds. Vignau and Chiarino get this balance exactly right, exposing their clear attraction as well as their crippling nerves.

Refreshingly understated, Berger's direction focuses on easy interaction and the power of mutual attraction even in a society where homosexuality is seen as some sort of failure. As these men circle around each other, the film captures moments of earthy humour, both in the way they relive old memories and in frequent near-kisses and refusals to move forward. It's all a bit of a tease; even side characters see what's happening ("You like him!"). But as they recall their childhood dreams about visiting Hawaii, we begin to think there might be some hope after all.

15 themes, language, nudity
29.Mar.14 flare
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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
3.5/5   Hundraåringen Som Klev ut Genom Fönstret och Försvann
dir Felix Herngren
scr Felix Herngren, Hans Ingemansson
prd Malte Forssell, Felix Herngren, Henrik Jansson-Schweizer, Patrick Nebout
with Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg, Mia Skaringer, Jens Hulten, Sven Lonn, Ralph Carlsson, David Shackleton, Alan Ford, Georg Nikoloff, Sergej Merkusjev, Simon Sappenen
gustafsson and 'einstein' release Swe 25.Dec.13,
UK 4.Jul.14
13/Sweden 1h54

The Hundred-Year-Old Man... A jagged sense of Scandinavian wit makes this riotous adventure a lot of fun, even if there's not much to it. Spanning a century of history, it's like a black-comedy version of Forrest Gump or Zelig, as a likeable central character influences key historical moments.

Allan (Gustafsson) has been obsessed with explosives since he was a very young child. On his own since age 10, his passion for blowing things up found him running into Franco during the Spanish Civil War, helping Oppenheimer develop the A-bomb and working as a double agent through the Cold War. And now at age 100, he has no intention of stopping, escaping from his nursing home to go on an adventure involving a suitcase of cash as he runs from a violent biker gang, collecting a crew of his own as he goes along.

Filmmaker Herngren cross-cuts between Allan's wild life story and his current antics before ultimately bringing the two together. Yes, the plot is packed with outrageous coincidences and silly slapstick, all of which remind us that this is a fable about how haplessly humanity plays with its own destructive power. But the script is also a riot of comical invention, keeping us laughing at each unexpected joke. And it refreshingly keeps the moralising to a minimum.

It's also packed with terrific characters. In the present-day caper, Allan teams up with a bored old man (Wiklander), an indecisive expert (Wiberg) and an elephant-owning activist (Skaringer) while fleeing from two hilariously frazzled thugs (Hulten and Lonn) and an exhausted detective (Carlsson). Gustafsson sometimes struggles to express himself under heavy make-up, but he brings a haphazard intensity to Allan that holds our interest.

The freewheeling plot also engagingly spans the globe, playfully juggling key figures and events from 20th century history as Allan both fuels and defuses a wide variety of conflicts and interacts with the likes of Stalin, Truman, Reagan and Gorbachev. The whole film feels oddly de-sexed (like Allan himself), and the film's approach to its bigger themes is somewhat muddled. But it's so much fun that we barely notice.

15 themes, language, violence, sexuality
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