Film Review – Io Capitano

Io Capitano

The latest film from Matteo Garrone, Io Capitano, is definitely worth a watch! It is a coming-of-age film for two young men, Seydour, played by Seydou Sarr and Moussa, played by Moustsphas Fall. These Senegalese young men want to leave their town of Dakar and make their way to Europe in search of a better life.

This film is the story of their journey up to the time officials from Italy meet them. We are used to watching the news of undocumented immigrants being picked up by authorities; well, this is the story that finishes at that point. The film shows the strength of the friendship between the two main characters, no matter what hardships they face. They have saved a considerable sum of money, believing that is all they need to have a successful journey to Italy.

They begin their journey as a bit of a boy’s own adventure. The journey takes us across North Africa from Dakar to Tripoli. They are naïve at the beginning. Real events inspire this road movie. It is a stunning visual, but it also has its raw moments, as the boys discover as they travel across North Africa. On this journey, they meet the worst in people. The reality is nothing like what they imagined the trek would be. The film shows the fragility and strength these two lads need to make their journey successful.

As they travel, they meet the worst of humanity, the people smugglers, the slave traders, the pure evil that man can be, with nightmarish, dehumanizing scenarios. These violent scenes have been shot in a way that is not too shocking, but you get to understand the real violence that any refugees/ immigrants are often subjected to. There is the Libyan Mafia, which is the most unscrupulous. On the other hand, they meet the people who care for and understand them, showing that even in suffering, you meet good individuals. The boys get split up soon after passing a field of corpses. Moussa is dragged off at gunpoint to prison whilst the Liyan Mafia tortures Seydou in an effort to extort money from his family.

Several scenes contain magical dream sequences full of meaning that may seem to divert the film and, for some, possibly slow its pace. Still, the sequences remain important as they counterpoint the acts of violence we see in other parts of the film.

Once Seydou reaches Tripoli and is reunited with his wounded cousin, Moussa, he is recruited by a human trafficker to captain a boat across the Mediterranean. He has minimal training for the task ahead. The old rust bucket of a boat is filled to the gunwales with other Africans wanting a better life in Europe. They are heading to the coast under the command of Sydou, or Io Capitano, as those on board call him. The film ends as the helicopters arrive.

This is a great film. It could have been depressing, but it manages to retain an uplifting and inspirational edge, and I highly advise that you see it.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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Riders – Europa Festival Film Review

Riders - Europa Festival Film Review

The Europa Film Festival is in full swing in Melbourne and Sydney, offering me the perfect opportunity to review the Australian Premiere of Slovenia’s Riders.

Directed by Dominik Mencej, Riders was Slovenia’s submission for the Best International Feature Film Academy Award and this, its Australian premiere, forms part of the Europa Europa film festival running from Feb 15th to Mar 11th.

Set in the spring of 1999 in Slovenia, the film follows two friends from a small village. Inspired by their love of Easy Rider, they travel cross-country on their souped-up mopeds. Anton (Petja Labovic) is seemingly on a quest for his ex-girlfriend, and Tomaz (Timon Sturbej) is seeking truth and acceptance. They are joined along the way by the enigmatic Ana (Anja Novak), who is trying to travel cross-country for reasons of her own, and elder bikie Peter (Nikola Kojo), a father figure and older version of Anton.

Riders - Europa Festival Film Review

The performances are nuanced and authentic, with Tomaz and Anton sharing equal billing in their journey. Tomaz, with his gentle demeanour and unwavering loyalty, becomes the unsung hero of the journey, while Anton’s fiery spirit and impulsive actions add a layer of unpredictability. With her mysterious allure, Ana redirects their path towards the seaside, a twist that enriches their voyage. The initially tense relationship between Anton and Peter evolves into a believable mentor-protege bond, adding another layer of emotional depth to the story.

Mencej masterfully controls the film’s pacing, allowing audiences ample time to engage with each character’s development and the group’s interpersonal dynamics. This deliberate storytelling showcases the complexity of their personalities and mirrors their internal quests for identity and belonging.

At its heart, “Riders” is a meditation on the search for self, brilliantly symbolized by the protagonists’ journey across Slovenia. Is there any better way to do this than to jump on your motorbike and journey across the country?

We glimpse love, jealousy, anger, tragedy, a hint of romance, and redemption of a kind that culminates in a conclusion that satisfies but remains open-ended at the same time, inviting us to ponder the characters’ futures.

This is an excellent film with a simple premise about the ever-elusive quest for truth, portrayed with depth and authenticity.

This film gives us a small snapshot into another time and another country far removed from Australia but remains timeless in terms of the human experience. We’ve all had our seminal moments, and this film encourages us to reflect on our own journey, the personal truths we’ve uncovered along the way, and ponder those that still remain hidden from our view.

I wholeheartedly recommend “Riders” to anyone attending the Europa Film Festival.

For Sydneysiders, this film can be viewed at the Ritz Cinema in Randwick on the 18/2 and 3/3 at 5:15pm.

For Melbournites, this film can be viewed at Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick, on 18/2, 29/2 and 8/3 from 5:15pm.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

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We Have Never Been Modern Film Review

We Have Never Been Modern Film Review

We Have Never Been Modern is a 2023 Czech-Slovak crime drama directed by Matej Chlupacek and written by Miro Sifra. The film is set in 1937 in a town that is being transformed into a modern metropolis by the Bata shoe company. We Have Never Been Modern is a glimpse into life in Czechoslovakia.

In We Have Never Been Modern, we meet protagonist Helena (Elisha Krenkova), a former medical student who moves to Svit with her husband, Alois (Miloslav Konig), a factory manager. However, their hopes for a bright future are shattered when a shocking discovery is made on the factory grounds.

We Have Never Been Modern Film Review

The performances of this film are excellent, especially by Krenkova, who portrays Helena with intelligence and courage. Helena is not afraid to say what is on her mind, which is a touch of humour, and to go after what she thinks is right. Another stand out of the film was Richard Langdon, who played Alexander “Sasa” Matula, a young man’s story we follow in the second half of the film.

The film ran for 1 hour and 57 minutes, but the pacing kept you watching throughout the film, especially during the second half. This is the second feature film from director Matej Chlupacek, but with his approach and execution of his vision, I will be watching more of him in the future.

The film has a rich colour palette, dynamic cinematography, and a production design that recreates the period atmosphere. Although the design recreated the period atmosphere, it did not make the film look dated. The film features a score by Martin Douba, adding suspense and emotion of the story. There were one or two moments where I thought the score was too loud for the story.

The film explores the themes of otherness and prejudice in a society undergoing rapid modernization. Helena is the only one who wants to uncover the truth behind the mysterious case, while the others are quick to dismiss it as communist sabotage or a curse.

She faces resistance from the local authorities, the factory workers, and even her husband, who are all invested in maintaining the status quo and the image of progress. As she delves deeper into the investigation, she also uncovers secrets and lies that threaten to destroy her marriage and her life.

The film is a compelling and original blend of historical drama, mystery, and social commentary. It challenges the conventional notions of gender, identity, and morality. I found the film a reflection of how we have grown, but how we have stayed the same in a way.

We Have Never Been Modern is a film that challenges us to rethink our assumptions and embrace the complexity and diversity of life. It can be seen at this year’s Europa Film Festival, which runs from Feb 15 to Mar 11. Užívat si (Enjoy!)!

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

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The Rooster Film Review

The Rooster Film Review

The Rooster, a cinematic journey directed by Mark Leonard Winter and set against the backdrop of Australia’s picturesque bush landscape, opens with a scene shrouded in mystery, immediately captivating the audience. Its title, a symbol laden with anticipation and curiosity, sets the tone for a film that promises an exploration of deep themes and complex relationships.

From the outset, the film establishes its narrative pace and character development through the silent routines of its main characters. This method, mostly devoid of dialogue, is well executed and intriguingly allows the audience to immerse themselves in the characters’ lives and get to know them by observing their actions, particularly highlighting Dan, a small-town policeman portrayed with depth and nuance.

The storyline revolves around Dan (Phoenix Raei) as he navigates the aftermath of discovering his oldest friend buried in a shallow grave. This discovery propels him on a quest for answers, leading him to Tim (Hugo Weaving), a hermit living off the grid and the last person to see Dan’s friend alive. But was Dan looking to solve a potential murder mystery or attempting to answer his own questions? What ensues is a complex tapestry of friendship, grief, and existential search for meaning.

The investigation into the friend’s death, initially the story’s core, gradually becomes a backdrop to a series of events that, while visually compelling and enhanced by the Australian bush’s stunning cinematography, meander away from the initial mystery. At times, the friendship that forms between Dan and Tim feels muddled by actions and decisions that seem incongruent with the actions of real people.

Disappointingly, the film takes the time for the obligatory and unoriginal disrespect towards a religious symbol, which serves little purpose in portraying the character’s evolving relationship and rips the watcher out of the story. We’ve seen it all before, and it unnecessarily distracts from the story’s emotional resonance and thematic coherence.

The visual storytelling, particularly the outdoor scenes set in the Australian bush, showcases the film’s technical strengths with excellent lighting and innovative camera angles.

As “The Rooster” concludes, the audience is left pondering the significance of its symbolism, the resolution of its mysteries, and the true arc of its protagonist, Dan.

The film explores themes of friendship, redemption, and the search for hope in unlikely places. Despite the strong performances and a promising premise, the film takes too long to develop the relationships between the central characters. The movie’s final act hints at the promise of an intense payoff worth the investment in time but inexplicably chooses to lower the stakes before concluding.

In summary, “The Rooster” offers an interesting afternoon’s entertainment, and with the star box office attraction Hugo Weaving present, fans will delight in his performance.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

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