What to watch: Film reviews

By bogotapost May 12, 2015
Todos se van

Nieve in Colombian director Sergio Cabrera’s comeback, ‘Todos se van’. Photo: Jimeno Acevedo Asociados

Todos se van

He’s finally back. Sergio Cabrera, one of the most renowned Colombian film makers of all time, kept us guessing for a decade about whether he would ever make another movie. Thankfully, he did, and he doesn’t disappoint with Todos se van, an emotionally charged family drama set in rural Cuba during the Cold War.

Based on the novel of the same name by acclaimed Cuban writer Wendy Guerra, Todos se van tells the story of Nieve, an adorable and free-spirited eight-year-old girl growing up in a country where the word freedom has different meanings, depending on who you ask.

Nieve lives with her mother Eva and stepfather Dan in their little private paradise, a big house by the sea isolated from the harsh rules of the revolution.

She skips school whenever she wants to spend time in her imaginary city made of sand. Apparently, she fears next to nothing, not even dead people or witchcraft. The only thing that really scares her is her biological father, Manuel, a drunk playwright who is losing his mind over the complicated duty of being a loyal revolutionary.

When Eva loses custody of Nieve in a bitter legal battle with Manuel, the girl is sent to live with him in a remote mountain village that to her is hell on earth.

This film revolves around the idea of freedom, represented by the caring mother Eva, versus authority, personified by Manuel, an abusive man who violently imposes rules on his daughter and, at the same time, neglects her basic needs.

Filmed entirely in Colombia, the movie portrays a convincing snapshot of Cuba in the early 1980s. It was lauded at the Havana Film Festival last December, despite the fact the Cuban government didn’t let Cabrera make the film there.

Back in the 1990s it was nearly impossible to make a movie in Colombia, but Sergio Cabrera found critical and commercial success with his masterpiece La Estrategia del Caracol and other titles, including Águilas no cazan moscas, Ilona llega con la lluvia and Golpe de estadio.

It’s been 11 years since his last project Perder es cuestion de método was released, during which time the national film landscape has changed dramatically, but it’s safe to say that many people have a special place in their hearts for Cabrera’s work and have been eagerly awaiting his return.

With frank, mature storytelling, Cabrera makes a great comeback with this carefully crafted film. His style is classic without being formulaic and he succeeds in letting the emotions of Guerra’s characters shine through the silver screen. That is, of course, with the help of an outstanding cast.

It’s hard not to get caught up in this emotional roller coaster. For some sceptics it may come off as an overly melodramatic tear-jerker, but this film is in fact a hymn to freedom wrapped up in a nuanced portrait of a family, that symbolises a turbulent society where collective paranoia sometimes wrecks people’s lives.

By Jazid Contreras



It can be difficult to portray a terrible human situation in a beautiful and aesthetic form. Yet this is what director Abderrahmane Sissako managed to do with Oscar-nominated Timbuktu, recently presented at the 55th Cartagena International Film Festival.

The film focuses on political and religious radicalism but does so in a poetic and striking way. Timbuktu was inspired by the stoning of a couple by a Tuareg rebel group for living together “in sin”. The director, who was born in Mauritania but raised in Mali, focuses the story on how the culture and peace of Timbuktu was destroyed when Tuareg radicals came to power in Mali in 2012.

Although the central story is about Satima, Kidane and Toya, a family with a peaceful but fragile life in the dunes, we see glimpses of other short stories about how a conflict can affect the traditions of a people, including things which, to us, are simple and everlasting – like music and sport.

This movie is full of symbolism, with scenes that will leave you completely engrossed and moved to tears, bringing to life the strength and magic of the moving image.

Timbuktu also won seven César Awards, including best film, and best director. If you want to be surprised with memorable performances and absolutely stunning cinematography, then this is the film you should go to see.

In a world seemingly bereft of humanity it’s always good to find a story that refreshes our spirit and gives us hope.

By Carolina Morales


avengers__age_of_ultron_poster_wallpaper_by_davidsobo-d7pty8uAvengers: Age of Ultron

Robert Downey Jr. and co. crash, bang and wallop their way through the latest instalment of the Avengers franchise. The film’s director, Joss Whedon, admitted in an interview that directing a superhero movie with so many disparate characters proved particularly challenging. Yet to his credit, Whedon largely succeeds in offering up an entertaining orgy of frenetic fight scenes and CGI-generated destruction on an epic scale.

Downey Jr. heads a star-studded Hollywood cast which gamely jostles for screen time throughout. Here, he once again reprises his role as billionaire industrialist and engineer Tony Stark who, this time around, recovers the powerful sceptre previously owned by Thor’s wayward brother Loki (strangely absent in this film) and uses the artificial intelligence found within the sceptre’s gem to finish his global defence programme. Predictably, Stark’s best-laid plans go awry as he inadvertently creates Ultron, a fairly forgettable robot super villain intent on destroying the Avengers and the entirety of the human race.

As expected in a superhero movie, plot comes secondary to action, yet I felt that Whedon’s handling of the plentiful action sequences occasionally fell flat and the final city-set extravaganza of destruction is starting to feel like a genre cliché.

Despite the occasionally derivative feel of the action scenes, you can always rely on Whedon’s films to feature genuinely witty scripts with knowing, whip-smart dialogue and Age of Ultron is no exception. Typically, the film’s best lines are reserved for Tony Stark, though some of his Avengers co-stars could have benefited from better direction; the muscular frames of Thor and Captain America may be well-developed, but the same cannot be said for their superhero personalities or the acting ability of their stars.

Fortunately, Whedon manages to coax decent performances from Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo who, as Black Widow and the Hulk, provide the film with some welcome character depth in an engaging and complex love story between the two Avengers team members.

Age of Ultron is a worthy addition to the Marvel movie canon, yet with a running time weighing in at a bum-numbing 141 minutes, you almost need the sensory capacity and stamina of a super-hero to put up with the large-scale destruction and superpower-enhanced fisticuffs on display. Of course, it’s all in the name of saving the world…again.

By Robin Davies