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See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 15.Oct.23

The Delinquents   Los Delincuentes
Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5
The Delinquents
dir-scr Rodrigo Moreno
prd Ezequiel Borovinsky
with Daniel Elias, Esteban Bigliardi, Margarita Molfino, German De Silva, Laura Paredes, Mariana Chaud, Gabriela Saidon, Cecilia Rainero, Javier Zoro, Lalo Rotaveria, Iair Said, Agustin Toscano
release UK Oct.23 lff,
Arg 26.Oct.23
23/Argentina 3h09

london film fest

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the bank staff
While this film is far too long, including a myriad of unnecessary details, it's also sharply well-made and infused with a superbly dry sense of humour. Argentine writer-director Rodrigo Moreno beautifully captures the rhythms of everyday life, letting scenes play out and often meander off down a side road before eventually returning to the central narrative. And it's shot with a sunny vibe that nicely contrasts city and countryside.
An unassuming Buenos Aires bank employee, Moran (Elias) doesn't want to work again, so he plans to steal cash from the vault, hide it with his colleague Roman (Bigliardi), then confess and, after serving prison time, live out his days at leisure. Soon he sets this in motion, handing himself in to the police. And now he needs to learn how to survive in a rough prison. Meanwhile, lead investigator Ortega (Paredes) digs into the situation as required, unnerving Roman in the process. He decides he needs to get the cash out of his flat.
Moran's calm demeanour as he plots and carries out his offbeat heist is thoroughly engaging, remaining unusually low-key even as he leaves town and begins traversing the countryside. Later, he sends Roman out hiking into the same countryside, where he meets a group of strangers, hangs around for a chat and a swim, and falls for one of them (Molfino). And it shouldn't be surprising when an extended flashback reveals that Moran met the same woman while he was in the area, and also visited her friend's film set.

Elias beautifully underplays Moran, the kind of guy no one really notices anyway. As his face betrays emotions, it's easy for us to root for him. As Roman, Bigliardi is amusingly dubious about this plan before listening to Moran talk about waiting 25 years to retire. "It's three and a half years in jail or 25 years in the bank," Moran says. That both men are in their own prisons is the clever point. And in a nifty bit of casting, De Silva plays both the bank's pushy manager and the fearsome prison gang boss.

As the plotlines split and spiral, the threads have intriguing parallels, including how Moreno has fun with anagrams: alongside Moran and Roman, there's filmmaker Ramon (Zoro), offering some self-referential cinematic gags. The various storylines and characters are linked together in unexpected, often surreal ways. This is a wonderfully deadpan comedy about the shared desire to escape a dead-end job and find new purpose in life's simpler pleasures.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 13.Oct.23

Robot Dreams  
Review by Rich Cline | 4.5/5   MUST must see SEE
Robot Dreams
dir-scr Pablo Berger
prd Pablo Berger, Angel Durandez, Ignasi Estape, Jerome Vidal
voices Ivan Labanda, Esther Solans, Jose Garcia Tos, Graciela Molina, Tito Trifol, Jose Mediavilla, Rafa Calvo
release US 22.Nov.23,
Sp 6.Dec.23
23/Spain 1h42

london film fest

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robot and dog at the beach
Charmingly animated in a cheeky cartoon style, this lively animated drama traces an offbeat friendship with unusual nuance. Even without a single word of spoken dialog, multiple characters reveal complex textures as they head on momentous journeys. Genius filmmaker Pablo Berger (see Blancanieves or Torremolinos 73) has made a thoroughly grown-up movie that has something important to say to children too. It deserves to become a cult classic.

In a 1980s New York populated by animals, Dog lives on his own and longs for a friend. Then he sees an ad and orders one from a home-shopping network: an assemble-yourself robot. They become inseparable buddies around the city, and head to Ocean Beach for an idyllic day out. But the water leaves Robot immobile, and Dog can't return to rescue him because the beach is closed for the season. Long months pass as Robot dreams of escaping back to his pal and Dog waits impatiently. Meanwhile, outside events conspire to divert their fates.
Witty visual details fill each scene, from the variety of critters to signs and objects positioned around the frame. The narrative passes through all of the seasons, punctuated by amusing activities around key holidays, including a skiing vacation. And every element points to the story's central themes about companionship and connection. These may be simple line drawings, but they burst with feelings that create characters who are strongly engaging. In the absence of dialog, there's a big sound mix and clever use of music.

Dog is a terrific character, introduced as he's sitting at home playing Pong and eating a microwave meal, annoyed by the loved-up cow and moose in the building opposite. No wonder the marketing phrase "Are you alone?" catches his attention. His friendship with Robot is adorable, as they explore the city and end up sweetly holding hands. There are also freaky dreams, plus cruel bunnies, bullying aardvarks and a curious Raccoon who changes Dog and Robot's destiny.

While the plot takes some big turns, most scenes are filled with normal, everyday experiences. And it's the expressive glances that cut through the noise, revealing thoughts and feelings that are easy to identify with for anyone who has ever felt lonely or loved. This is a story that takes a more tangled path than expected, tracing a series of lingering emotions and torn loyalties to a bittersweet ending. It's so honest that it can't help but win us over completely.

cert pg themes, violence 13.Sep.23

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5  
dir Lois Patino
prd Leire Apellaniz
scr Garbine Ortega, Lois Patino
with Amid Keomany, Toumor Xiong, Simone Milavanh, Mariam Vuaa Mtego, Juwairiya Idrisa Uwesu
release UK Oct.23 lff
23/Spain 1h53

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milavanh and keomany
While this experimental film has a challenging story and themes, it's also breathtakingly original, shot gorgeously on grainy, colour-drenched 16mm film and packed with fascinating documentary details. Spanish filmmaker Lois Patino is exploring reincarnation, transitioning from rural Laos to the beaches of Tanzania by way of a 15-minute sound and light odyssey through the bardo. It's such a singularly audacious experience that it's worth seeing on the big screen.
In rural Laos, young Amid (Keomany) is reading a Tibetan philosophy book to Mon (Milavanh), who is on her death bed, wondering what life she'll return to next time around. One day, Amid is approached by teen monk Be Ann (Xiong) to guide a group of his monastic friends to a nearby waterfall for a day out. And Mon dies, travelling through between death and rebirth to reawaken on a beach in Tanzania as the baby goat Neema. She's adopted by lively schoolgirl Juwairiya (Uwesu), whose mother Mariam (Mtego) farms seaweed on the tidal flats.
With its rough celluloid edges and distinctive imagery, the movie feels instantly timeless, edited to local rhythms and featuring culture, music and artistry from each culture. Overlapping dissolves add visual flourishes, evoking multiple planes of reality, while the easy cadence of the interaction runs deep. In the middle, text instructs us to close our eyes and allow light to flash through our eyelids accompanied by an intense sound mix. This is an extraordinary shared experience in a cinema.

Because of the documentary approach, no one on-screen seems to be acting at all. Interaction is low-key and earthy, while conversations drift between the mundane and the philosophical. Each person is likeable, conveying fully formed personalities with their own hopes and dreams. Even the goat has a remarkably engaging presence in the final sequence, earning our sympathies as the carefree Juwairiya allows her to wander off and get lost.

Gentle, sunny and quiet, much of the footage is observational, catching snippets of conversation or simply watching someone sleep. The dialog, imagery and events all combine to link the humanity in these two very different locations, from the lush mountainous fields of Asia to Africa's bright wide beaches. So the film becomes a lovely comment on common experiences we all share, regardless of traditions or religion. And pointed notes about tourist resorts remind us of our own connection.

cert u some themes 13.Sep.23

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