3 1/2 - Life of an Innocent Child - Hemantha Kumar
There are some films that you can never truly enjoy, no matter how amazing they are. This was the case for me and 3 1/2, not because it was not good, but because it was so heavy, so full of death and loss, so dark, that I found myself begging for relief. The story focuses on slavery, poverty, and loss, death is a looming presence in the film, and while it's incredibly well-produced, I don't think I can watch it again unless I've had days worth of my babies' smiles and cuddles. It's well-produced, and while some of the acting will strike an audience brought up on watching Western movies as either hokey or over-the-top, I found it powerful and impressive. The sound design, in particular, is a driving force, and takes the film into a realm where it is not merely a Von Trier-ian exploration of the ills of a society, but a powerful statement about why these ills exist and how we often push them ahead instead of putting them aside. Powerful, without question.
They Will All Die In Space - Javier Chillon
I'm a scifi guy. We all know this, and They Will All Die in Space is a science fiction film that goes beyond what I would expect. A long-run ship has people in cryogenic storage, and they are adrift through space, doomed to slowly parish. That alone is enough to keep me watching, though there is a certain slowness to the film that I would rather consider deliberate than dull. There are moments when I tuned out, but the film reads as a hybrid of classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, and Alien, which it holds up well alongside. The acting is spotty at times, but never feels overly forced. The script is strong, if a touch laconic, and the cinematography, stark black-and-white, is perfect for the mood, the tone, the setting.