VIFF 2011 Reviews: Por el Camino; Roadie; Granito.

Reviews of films 20 to 22. The previews — open to pass holders — winnow the choices, making it just a little easier to decide what I am going to see when the festival officially opens in a week.

Por el Camino. Uruguay/Brazil, 85 min.

It was never clear to me that the South American wanderings of the central characters — an Argentine banker and a Belgian woman — were not symptomatic of the director’s hesitance to make up his mind about what to do with them. For the first hour they drive from village to shore and back to another village to the accompaniment of soft rock until, at last, she leaves him. At last, real drama. With less than half an hour remaining. The unfinished bridge metaphor in the final scene is ham-fisted. A good number of savvy film buffs liked this film. I did not.

Summary: More a travelogue than a drama.

Roadie. USA, 96 min.

Fired after 20 years lugging equipment for a rock band, roadie Bobby Testagross returns to his mother’s house. Bragging that he is now manager and song writer for the band, he renews an uneasy drug and alcohol-fed friendship with his ex-girlfriend and her husband. Will he come clean and admit to himself and his friends that his life so far has amounted to nothing? Surprisingly, director Michael Cuesta imbues this simple plot with enough tension and sympathy to make it engrossing. And another final scene with a metaphor.

Summary: A believable, engrossing drama.

Granito: How to nail a dictator. USA, 103 min.

This is a sequel to film maker Pamela Yates’ 1984 documentary When the Mountains Tremble, which documented the terror campaign of Guatemalan president Efrain Rios Montt. When a Spanish court launches a belated prosecution of Montt and his collaborators, Yates reviews the out-takes of her nearly 30-year old film and uncovers what could be damning evidence against the dictator, whose brutal 1982 government oversaw the murder of tens of thousands of political dissidents and Mayan peasants. In this film, she interviews lawyers, activists and even archivists as they assemble the evidence against Montt. The subtitle of the film is inaccurate. Montt is still living comfortably in the country he once savaged.

Summary: This film will leave you angry or despondent

About aharmlessdrudge

Way back during the late Bronze age -- actually it was the 1950s -- all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. "If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?" I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home. I cannot remember what I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and -- after a five-year stint in journalism -- back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics. Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel -- more about that in good time -- and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.
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