Whisky (Uruguay) JACOBO’S small sock factory is run by his faithful and ultra-competent assistant Marta.
She has always been there for him and agrees without question when he asks her for a rather unusual favour — to live with him and pretend to be his wife while his brother comes to visit.
With her quiet efficiency, Marta takes over, anticipating needs Jacobo did not consider.
Saying “whisky” is the equivalent of saying “cheese” to smile for the camera. Neither Jacobo nor Marta are used to smiling.
Marta has downturned lips and a dour expression, but is not, as she might seem, discontent with her life. Meanwhile, Jacobo is a simple, nervous man embarrassed to ask for anything without compensation, and so used to routine that he never imagines there could be a better way of living.
He won’t believe anything good ever happens and because of this, takes a risk which is, frankly, insane. When the result is something so good, it is almost miraculous, Jacobo’s biggest reward is a sudden new confidence with which he might get a better life.
Even with virtually no dialogue and limited facial expressions, the film is woven into gold by the two leads, Andrés Pazos and especially, Mirella Pascual. n Screening at GSC 1 Utama on Sat at 4.45pm; Mid Valley at noon on Sat and Pavilion KL at 2.15pm on Sun. Giant (Uruguay) THE second of Uruguay’s two entries, this film also speaks volumes while going easy on the dialogue.
Although he is so big Jara gets bullied by smaller men.
His job as a security guard is strictly non-physical. His shift is spent locked in a little room, keeping an eye on the security cameras between reading, doing crosswords, and sometimes, sleeping at his post.
Shy and unambitious, this suits Jara just fine until one day, his eye is drawn to one of the new floor cleaners.
Now, he can’t pull his eyes from the screen and soon just observing her during work hours is not enough. With no cameras to follow Julia outside of work, Jara takes to following her himself.
Julia is clueless, which is lucky because Jara is a terrible stalker; less because he is head and shoulders above the crowd, but because he is incredibly clumsy when nervous.
Nor is the stalking ever creepy because Jara is just a huge puppy, whose infatuation inspires him to be someone Julia might notice.
Secretly, he performs small acts of chivalry and leaves her anonymous gifts. The more he changes for her, the harder it is for Jara to remain in the background, or to keep out of Julia’s life, but this is a sweet romantic comedy, so you are promised a warm and fuzzy ending. n Screening at Pavilion KL at 5.45pm on Sun and Mid Valley at 4.45pm on Sun. Dawson, Island 10 (Chile) EVERY film festival should have at least one entry that requires its audience to have enough courage to stare ugly truths in the face. Dawson, Island 10 is one such film.
Dawson, an island off the coast of Chile, houses a concentration camp where cabinet members were sent after the democratically-elected communist government was overthrown.
Concentration camps are a study in how we cope with inhumanity. With their names replaced by numbers, prisoners struggle to keep anything that reminds them of who they are.
One of the prisoners wears his suit and an impeccably knotted tie. When asked by a guard what is the point of this, the prisoner haughtily assures him that in this place, wearing a tie is the least of his inconveniences.
If prisoners survive by reminding themselves to be human, guards enjoy the illusion of strength for the cruelties they can impose.
Sadists thrive here, spend their time devising twisted ways to break a fellow man’s spirit and rise swiftly to the top. Guards who do not start out as being naturally cruel find they can only cope by forcing themselves to hate the prisoners.
There is no room for a genuinely decent person in the ranks. A young guard pays dearly when he is unable to become the monster he is asked to be. Dawson, Island 10 is not easy to watch, but it is unforgettable. n Screening at GSC 1 Utama on Sun at 2.15pm; Mid Valley at noon on Sun and Pavilion KL at 3.30pm on Sat. El Estudiante (Mexico) A DIGNIFIED older gentleman enters a noisy university classroom. At once, the students quiet down and take their seats, staring at him expectantly, waiting for him to start teaching. Smiling apologetically, he politely asks for permission to sit down in one of the empty seats. He is their new classmate, Chano, a man retired from work, but not ready to retire from adventure.
Delighted to be in this new environment, Chano enjoys observing this generation’s behaviour and language, like an enthusiastic anthropologist.
However, things are not quite as easy when he is required to participate. If, at first, classmates help or talk to him out of pity, they start to see that Chano holds secrets they long to possess.
Through their friendship with Chano, they begin to shed the protective cynicism that they believe makes them cool.
Though the dialogue and acting won’t win any awards, there are lovely moments and, yes, lessons in El Estudiante which make it worth watching. Bring tissues. n Screening at GSC Pavilion KL on Sat at 1.30pm and 7.30pm; and on Sun at noon.
NOW, don’t get confused. This movie is actually a prequel to The Thing (1982), not a remake as you might think.
The 1982 John Carpenter movie, which incidentally is a remake of The Thing From Another World (1951), set the story in an American Antarctica research station, but showed that the human-replicating enemy alien was previously discovered by a Norwegian research team.
This prequel shows how the alien was discovered, and how it wreaked havoc at the Norwegian research station before reaching the American one.
Considering that this is, after all, a Hollywood film, viewers shouldn’t be surprised that the hero of the movie is actually an American.
But à la Alien’s Ripley, it is a she — paleontology graduate student Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who has been recruited by Norwegian scientist Dr Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) to examine some strange remains uncovered in Antarctica.
However, kudos to the producers for actually using Norwegian actors to portray the Norwegian members of the research team.
I particularly liked the character Lars (Jørgen Langhelle), the only member of the team who doesn’t speak English.
As I didn’t watch the original movie starring Kurt Russell, I can’t offer a comparison to the sci-fi horror cult favourite.
But, I thought that the alien in this movie looked really good, especially the part-human, part-alien hybrid. If some of it looks familiar, it might be because the visual effects team here were also behind the aliens in District 9 (2009).
So, will this also be a cult favourite?
Not, in my opinion. It simply doesn’t sufficiently build up the sense of paranoia and claustrophobia that the 1982 film is known for.
This prequel is a watchable movie, but quite forgettable after you leave the cinema. So, recommended only if you want to catch a movie – any movie – on your weekly mall trip. – Tan Shiow Chin ( HHHII)
What’s Your Number?
IF there’s one reason to catch this