Shadows Film FestShadows off the beaten path
Indies, foreign, docs and shorts...


< <
D O C S > >

See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 3.Nov.21

A Cop Movie   Una Película de Policías
Review by Rich Cline | 4/5
A Cop Movie
dir Alonso Ruizpalacios
scr Alonso Ruizpalacios, David Gaitan
prd Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes
with Monica Del Carmen, Raul Briones, Maria Teresa Hernandez Canas, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez Hernandez, Leonardo Alonso, Marco Antonio Argueta, Esteban Caicedo, Tari Ceballos Espinoza, Carlos Corona, Yoshira Escarrega, Olivia Lagunas, Juan Carlos Medellin
release UK 29.Oct.21,
Mex/US 5.Nov.21
21/Mexico 1h47

London film fest

Now streaming...

Beautifully shot to add a sense of perspective, this documentary continually catches us by surprise as it shadows Mexico City police officers. Filmmaker Alonso Ruizpalacios uses the camera artfully, adding kicks of both drama and comedy. By using two actors as the central figures, this inventive, skilfully assembled film cleverly blurs lines between fact and fiction, highlighting urgent issues while telling a gripping story that connects with audiences globally.
Married police officers Teresa and Montoya (Canas and Hernandez played by Del Carmen and Briones) are often openly challenged by criminals, relying on each other when the system lets them down, which it does regularly. Nicknamed the "Love Patrol", Teresa and Montoya have a successful working partnership. But they worry about inadequate support and possible criminal retaliation against their extended family. And the general disrespect from the public is a real problem. All of this is also documented as the actors immerse themselves in police life for three months to prepare for their roles.
At the start, the audio track features constant police radio patter, as incidents break out around the city. Teresa and Montoya narrate scenes, sometimes speaking directly to-camera, while scenes casually reveal things like bribery, shootings and police corruption. Meanwhile, the narrative traces Teresa and Montoya's romance as fellow officers with a sharp dose of snappy wit. Their home-life is often very funny, and it also reveals deeper thoughts, feelings and strong affection under their barbed banter.

Teresa speaks about having a cop for a father who took a long time to recognise her abilities. Her stronger moments include one in which she has to tell a woman in the final throes of labour that she had no medical training at the academy. Inspired to join the force by his cool brother, Montoya talks about two shootouts he's experienced and the astonishing adrenaline rush in moments of panic. He also recalls meeting a childhood friend who grew up to be a criminal.

Ruizpalacios maintains a disarmingly light tone, mixing steely cliches from TV police shows with Teresa and Montoya's offhanded honesty about things like the shockingly inadequate medical support. The sequence in which the handsome Montoya gets a lot of attention at the Pride parade is hilarious. And in the film's second half, Del Carmen and Briones record their experiences at the academy on their own phones, adding a telling, resonant angle to the story and asking some much bigger questions.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 21.Oct.21

Miguel’s War  
Review by Rich Cline | 4/5  
Miguel's War
dir-scr-prd Eliane Raheb
with Miguel Jelelaty, Eliane Raheb, Maria Zabala Pena, Ruben Cardoso, Francois Nour, Edwin Aazar, Rouba Attieh, Maya Yammine, Hassan Lavassany, Hassan Al Badran, Nadim Deaibes
release UK Oct.21 rff
21/Lebanon 2h08

raindance film fest

Now streaming...

Jelelaty as his mother
Relentlessly inventive, this lively and often very funny documentary is a snappy portrait of a man who finally feels ready to accept his roots, which stretch in a range of directions. Filmmaker Eliane Raheb cleverly uses interviews, archive footage, hilarious reenactments and animation to reflect Miguel Jelelaty's enormous personality and fascinating journey through life. With constantly surprising touches, the film is hugely entertaining, and powerfully involving too.
Miguel thought it would be cool to sit and tell his story to the cameras, but doing this has reawakened old fears within him. Still, he manages to laugh even as he revisits and recreates dark moments from his life that bring him to tears. He feels like he wasn't actually born until he arrived in Barcelona in 1994, when Michel became Miguel. Now in his 50s, he admits that he's been with thousands of men but has never been in love. And perhaps this process with Eliane can help him understand himself more clearly.
Michel was an underachieving Muslim-Christian student who didn't turn out the way his mother wanted him to. He understood his masculinity from a very young age, falling in love with and craving the touch of a man. He always felt guilty about this, so he joined the army to prove his masculinity, even as other soldiers teased him relentlessly. He never heard the word "homosexual" until he visited Spain after his military service in 1983. And it was a decade later that he returned to start a new life there.

Casting sessions for key people in Miguel's life are witty and revealing. Amusingly, he and Eliane are unable to find the right actress to play his mother, so Miguel has to take the role himself. This brings up his entangled feelings about his Syrian heritage, as both Syria and Lebanon have been engulfed in violence over recent years. He's also forced to confront the buried truth about his military service. And he digs deeply into the concept of the man he has always held up as his true love.

While telling this very specific story in such an imaginative way, the film taps into universal feelings that echo among LGBTQ+ young people around the world, most notably the longing to escape harshly restrictive communities for a place where they can be who they are. The imagery is relentlessly eye-catching, challenging the audience with fiercely creative juxtapositions. And it's Miguel's personal journey through the making of this film that carries the strongest kick.

cert 15 themes, language, imagery 31.Oct.21 rff

The Velvet Underground  
Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5
The Velvet Underground
dir-scr Todd Haynes
prd Christine Vachon, Todd Haynes, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, David Blackman
with Lou Reed, John Cale, Moe Tucker, Sterling Morrison, Doug Yule, Jackson Browne, Mary Woronov, John Waters, Merrill Reed Weiner, Amy Taubin, Jonathan Richman, Jonas Mekas, La Monte Young
release US/UK 15.Oct.21
21/US Apple 2h01

London film fest

Now streaming...

the velvet underground
With an audacious collection of images and sound, this documentary is assembled by filmmaker Todd Haynes with a ravishing sense of style. Mixing archival footage with audio interviews and a fantastic array of music clips, the film traces the journey of a group of transgressive artists who changed their industry in profound ways. For fans of the music and Andy Warhol's New York art movement, this is essential.
Lou Reed knew early on that he wanted to be a rock star, recording his first record at 14 and moving to New York as a songwriter. Meanwhile in Wales, classically trained John Cale taught himself how to improvise musically and moved to London. He went on to New York in 1963 and became involved in the art world scene. Finding an affinity in their desire to push boundaries, Lou and John formed a band, bringing in guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Moe Tucker to make music that had to be "elegant and brutal".
Haynes unearths an astonishing collection of footage, edited together with split-screens that include a wide range of moving portraits and energetic clips of news, art and everything in between. New interviews are presented in the same square-ratio as the archival footage, so images shift within the larger cinematic frame. Otherwise, the documentary structure is straightforward, tracing events chronologically through each of their albums and breakups, spiralling out into solo careers, reunions and lingering feelings.

Because the anecdotes are recounted firsthand, they're vivid and riveting, adding to the eye-catching collection of images to build texture into the bigger story. Best of all is how the interviews properly probe beneath the surface, meaningfully exploring the darker sides of these people, including depression and drug use. And the film also touches on how Reed dealt with his homosexuality, even as he married three women. Through all of this, there's a real sense of the connection between the bandmates, especially in the words of surviving members Cale and Tucker.

Running along with the narrative is the tension between art and publicity, notably seen in the period when the Velvet Underground made music with European actress-singer Nico. Their connections with Warhol caused both huge fame and underlying tensions, exacerbated of course by drug use. Fellow musicians talk about how no two performances by the band were ever the same, because they followed their instincts. And they generously mentored and showcased young musicians, so their influence is still growing.

cert 15 themes, language, imagery 19.Oct.21

Send Shadows your reviews!

< < D O C S > >

© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall