East End Film Festival: Tigre – Review

There are parts of this rich, rich world that are unknown or undiscovered to us. Idyllic spaces of vast greenery, dream-like water flowing copiously through the leaves and soils, and creatures of all-kinds creeping across the jungle floor. Within these spaces, not coveted by most Western eyes, are communities of people thriving on their own accord. In these pockets of isolation, there are equal bouts of conflict – whether it is war, survival, or even fractions of the same family, battling invisible horns upon their forehead for dominance.

Tigre is a film that floats between this sentiments with wonderful cohesiveness and precision.

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Directed by in Silvina Schnicer and Ulises Porra Guardiola’s rich, seductive debut film revolves around sixty-five year old Rina who has spent her time away from her home in the deep Argentinian Tigre Delta. When developers threaten to repossess the land, Rina revisits her family, alongside her forty-something friend Elena. With hopes to reconnect with her adult son at the same time, the pair head back with tension already mounted on their shoulders.. As emotions broil in the hot summer sun, Rina finds herself confronting her past that had been buried for a mighty long time.

Tigre is teaming with absolute poignant and battered emotion as worlds, ages, religions, and preservation as generations meet in similarities and differences. The stifling attitudes of both the young and the old as their tribes attempt to pull forward against a whole new world. There is a constant threat that looms over the collective here and it is not just the bulldozers nipping at the jungle in attempt to flatten this seemingly quiet place. As sexuality and religion become forefront of the pieces, tensions broil over in this seductively beautiful piece.

None of this would be at all possible if it weren’t for Schnicer’s accomplished script and the mesh of performances that excavate the pulp and the grit that comes with both ageing and being young at the same time. Marilú Marini, María Ucedo, and Agustín Rittano are brilliantly as the middle-aged to elderly cast whereas María Ucedo, Magalí Fernández. Ornella D’Elia, and Tomás Raimondi, row along as the young fraction of the screen. There are absolutely impeccable performances here that bring life to this complex and brilliant film.

Featured image for Tigre

Technically superb, with sound-design and cinematography beating with visual and aural intensity allows a view to see the beauty around them. Tigre melts with palpable explosions that simmer in the decadent heat of the vast Delta. As physical destruction edges closer and closer to the thicket of people in personal turmoil, as does the ruinous attitudes of everyone battling against one another in a matriarchal backlash of ideals. It’s amazingly succinct and incredibly engrossing to watch in this shimmer of green, wave of nightmarish water, and creatures crawling across the floor.

Tigre screens at East End Film Festival on 15th July 

Brigsby Bear – Review

There are movies out there that take you entirely by surprise. Whether you researched them or not, you go in with one view on how it’s all going to turn out and come out completely shocked. It could be that the film is worse or better than expected, but most of the time it has touched you in some ways. This often happens with independent films that choose to alter a perceptions like, most recently, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (because, like it or not, it was different.) Anyway, regardless, going into Brigsby Bear, I had an open-mind, and expected pure insanity.

What transpired was an emotional yet funny 97 minutes that resulted in tears streaming down my face.

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Directed by Dave McCory, Brigsby Bear revolves around James, a man kept in a bunker by his parents and forced to watch countless of episodes of Brigsby Bear – a fictional, crime fighting hero who also teaches particular lessons about love, life, maths, and, weirdly, masturbation. James has zero contact with the outside world but that comes crumbling down when the compound is stormed by police. As it transpires, James was kidnapped as a baby by Ted and April, who have been masquerading as his adults and keeping him locked away. Reunited with his real family, James has to adjust to a world he hasn’t known…when all he wants to do is watch Brigsby. That may prove most difficult seeing as Brigsby wasn’t a real show but one created by Ted solely for James…

Brigsby Bear is a sweet and enduring film of adaptation and friendship. Yes, the premise in which it resides is a silly sketch-type show  one and yet it never feels flimsy. In fact, within this nugget of story is a film about survival and charm.

This mainly comes from Kyle Mooney as our lead James. Coming from SNL and bit parts in comedies such as Zoolander 2 and Bad Neighbours 2, Mooney effectively transfers to lead here. Encompassing every second of the screen time, he becomes this maladjusted yet still naive character who doesn’t understand the normal world yet longs for himself and Brigsby to be part of it. His ignorance to modern society is played for a few laughs but none too patronising or overtly comical. Around him in support are Mark Hamill as Ted who brings his gravitas to his kidnapper role (and he certainly needs to be in more dramas such as this,) and Greg Kinnear as the friendly police officer who becomes immersed in James’ life.  The characters around James are really special, bringing him much needed kinship in a world he perceives as bizarre. The young high-school students including his sister Aubrey and her friend Spender (Ryan Simpkins and Jorge Jackson Jr respectively.)

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There are twee elements to the story but it is immersed in dramatic elements. In fact, Brigsby Bear is more a like an SNL version of Room in which the lead has to adjust after being held prisoner for so long, from such a young age . McCory’s work includes this more visceral moments, no matter how tragic. There are bleak moments against the humour which work entirely well. Most of all, Brigsby Bear has heart: As much as the animatronic cuddle on-screen bear has.

Meaningful, mournful, and magical, Brigsby Bear has a tenderness within the hilarity to make it a must-see event.

Brigsby Bear is out 8th December! 

East End Film Festival: House Without Roof – Review

The idea of family is one tricky beast to navigate. There are people around you who are intrinsically linked to you, no matter how hard you try to sahek them off. Bound by blood (that sounded more Gothic than I thought,) and diligent with duty, you could clash and bicker personally but still have to be lumped together. Of course, once you hit a sweet and legal age, you can abscond from your loved ones and live life according to who you are, only seeing the family at important holidays, sometimes birthdays, and nearly always at funerals.

Movies have always thrived upon this,conflict, looking at layered love and intimate tensions as family members quarrel over a tragedy. One such movie, House Without Roof, takes a look at strained sibling relationships in a bitter road trip movie .

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Directed by Soleen Yousef, the film revolves around three siblings, Liya, Jan, and Alan who were born in the Kurdish area of Iraq.  However, due to the political climate of their country, the trio were brought up in Germany by their loving mother. When she dies, the three are pulled together unwillingly to carry out her last wishes – to be buried by her husband who as murdered in the Saddam Hussein regime. As they embark on an a perilous journey across Kurdistan, their differences and views collide with the tense backdrop.

There is a spiritual accompaniment here to Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying as loved ones cart a dead body across a country despite protestations and strained relations. Except the film is a lot dryer in comedy (as in, it is pretty much non-existent,) and rife with social-commentary, religious and political views, and sibling rivalry.  Each component here has spent time carving out their own paths alone and separate from the war-torn culture that their mother was well-versed in. This lends itself to an intriguing and poignant film, one that balances many different components. Youseef’s work here captures the beauty as well as the macabre join to make an wrought and ultimately humanistic piece.

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The structure is somewhat simple but the clash of history, politics, and culture burns with the Kurdish sun, present as two languages weave and entwine. The growth away of Kurdistan is more present in Liya and Alan; a woman who has adapted to more independence and a young man whose enjoyed a boozy freedom in Germany whilst Jan has attempted a more serious life as the eldest. As they explore a more traditional world and combat against their family, it is within these confrontations where the film thrives.

Actors Mina Sadic, Sasun Sayan, and Murat Seven are fantastic to watch in these roles. Yousef has developed an endearing film that, albeit slightly too long, drama that is a grand depiction of the intimacies and pain between siblings.

House Without Roof premieres at East End Film Festival on 15th July