Sundance 2023 review: ‘MAMACRUZ’ is a bold reclamation of sensuality.

MAMACRUZ

In Patricia Ortega‘s Sundance 2023 film MAMACRUZ, devout seamstress Mari Cruz spends her days dutifully attending to the needs of her church community and caring for her grandchild while her daughter tours with a dance troupe. But, quite by accident, we discover her longing for touch. What begins as an accidental discovery of internet pornography and then unexpected sexual fantasies of a statue of Jesus lead her down a path of exploration.

After her husband shuns her advances, Mari Cruz is undeterred. Nor does the righteous gossip at church stop her. Pushing aside shame, with her sewing skills and newfound knowledge, she heals herself and those around her.

The film looks beautiful. Fran Fernández Pardo‘s cinematography highlights the rich colors in fabrics and paint and captures extraordinary angles in fantasy sequences. The commentary on religious oppression and desire is unmissable. The performances are outstanding. Kiti Mánve breathes vulnerability and quiet ferocity into the role of Mari Cruz. It is a stunning, award-worthy turn.

The film drips with visual innuendo and lust. The audience must leave judgment at the door. MAMACRUZ permits the audience to embrace intimacy, pleasure, and the complexities of womanhood. Life is short. Choose fearless happiness.


Screening Times

In Person

  • PREMIERE
    Jan. 20 9:15PM MST

    Library Center Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 21 12:00PM MST

    Broadway Centre Cinemas – 6

    SALT LAKE CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 22 12:30PM MST

    Redstone Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:30AM MST

    Egyptian Theatre

    PARK CITY

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 27 8:30AM MST

    Holiday Village Cinemas – 1

    PARK CITY

Online

  • SECOND SCREENING
    Jan. 24 8:00AM MST

    Available Until Jan. 29  11:55PM MST


     

GRIMMFEST 2022 review: Ramiro Blas wins Best Actor for ‘THE PASSENGER’

THE PASSENGER

Notable framing and beautiful aerial shots get us settled into an eclectic mix of folks on a journey in Blasco’s vintage van he calls Nessa. Young Marta, her mother Lidia, and religious but progressive Mariela are not exactly enjoying the ride. Blasco is a brash misogynistic conspiracy theorist. After spotting something strange on the side of the road, an accident transforms the group quite literally. What stalks them is gruesome and otherworldly.

The camera work from Ignacio Aguilar gets exponentially cooler as the chaos ensues. Fantastic editing and sound design add to the gloriously gory SFX makeup. It must have been one of the most gag-worthy sets to work on. I almost lost my lunch during one closeup.

The Passenger’s cast blew me away. Each actor brings something unique to the film. Actress Cristina Akcázar launches an outrageous physical performance filled with violent movements and wild energy.

Paula Gallego plays Marta and brings everything we need from sass to “final girl” greatness. Her chemistry with Ramiro Blas takes you by surprise. It is one hell of a pairing. Speaking of Ramiro Blas, as Blasco, he manages to be slimy and loveable all at once. There’s a reason he won The Grimm Reaper award for Best Actor. You’ll love to hate him and hate and love him.

The Passenger brings the best tropes of creature feature films. The final shot is slow-clap-worthy goodness. GRIMMFEST 2022 audiences and beyond will lap this up while simultaneously gagging.


Review: ‘PIGGY’ tests morality with bloody brilliant performances and writing.

PIGGY


Morally ambiguous and brilliant, PIGGY has been making the festival rounds this year to much acclaim. Writer-director Carlota Pereda uses the backdrop of teenage bullying and dials it up to the nth degree with murder, mayhem, and lies.

The script is relentlessly chilling. Because the audience has more information than anyone else, it feels as though the characters are sitting ducks. We are right alongside Sara as she witnesses her tormentors thrown into the back of a serial killer’s van. She says nothing, both out of fear and perhaps relief. Those that have ever been on the receiving end of horrible words and despicable actions will undoubtedly wince throughout the film.

PIGGY also speaks to the weight of parental support. We find Sara’s mother to be a nagging, uncaring shrew, while her father pays attention to her with genuine love. Her woes are exacerbated by her parents owning the local butcher shop, leading vile peers to dub her “Piggy.” One of the girls, Claudia, has a deeper connection to Sara based on her delay tactics in teasing and a matching bracelet with Sara.

The stakes in the film get higher and higher as the police, the chatty locals, and Sara’s conscience drives her to the breaking point. But that’s not all that weighs on Sara’s mind. PIGGY keeps you on your toes, constantly challenging your morality. Lead actress Laura Galán gives a star-making performance. You can see the wheels turning in each deliberate beat. Raw and thoroughly vulnerable, it is one hell of a turn. PIGGY had my heart in my throat from start to finish. Audiences are in for some hard questions and emotional torture.


Release Dates: 
October 7, 2022 (Exclusively in Alamo Drafthouse Theaters)
October 14, 2022 (Theatrical/VOD)

Directed by Carlota Pereda
Cast: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Claudia Salas, Pilar Castro
Runtime: 90 mins
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Distributor: Magnet Releasing


Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘EVERYONE WILL BURN’ melds religion and revenge for one hell of a reckoning.

EVERYONE WILL BURN

María José has lost her will to live following the tragic death of her son and the constant reminders of her cruel small town. When the mysterious little Lucía appears out of nowhere, calling her “Mommy,” María José initiates a reckoning fit for the gods or maybe the devil.

The townspeople are religious fanatics, believing María José triggered the apocalypse years ago with the birth of her son. Exacerbated by nosy neighbors, weak church figureheads, and zealots with a modicum of power, fear takes hold when little Lucía appears to use supernatural powers in gruesome acts of revenge. Everyone Will Burn culminates in a violent confrontation that’s intensely rewarding as a genre fan. Do not move a muscle when the credits roll. The best moment is yet to come.

Macarena Gómez brings a manic energy to the films. Warranted by the emotional torture of everyone in her life, her deliberate descent into pure red hot chaos is glorious. As Lucía, Sofía García skillfully walks the line between vulnerable and terrifying. She is nothing short of captivating. Her chemistry with Macarena Gómez is perfection.

Bravo to the costume and lighting teams. The no holds bar fight choreography is shocking and applause-worthy. EVERYONE WILL BURN harkens back to classic European horror and still manages to remain fresh and fantastic.


 

  • Year:
    2021
  • Runtime:
    120 minutes
  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Country:
    Spain
  • Premiere:
    North American
  • Director:
    David Hebrero
Release date: November 11, 2021 (Spain)


Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘THE ANTARES PARADOX’ pits family and faith against the universe.

THE ANTARES PARADOX

Fantastic Fest 2022 feature from Luis Tinoco, The Antares Paradox, brings together science, space, and knowledge enthusiasts. The plot revolves around Alexandra as she works the late shift at a radio telescope lab. With looming familial obligations, an absent co-worker, and the storm of the year swirling around outside, a strong signal begins transmitting to her antenna. With only two hours to confirm 20 years of research, Alex must race against the clock, the weather, other scientists who eschew her work, and her conscience.

Leading lady Andrea Trepat captures your attention from the very beginning. She has the task of carrying this film on her shoulders, as other actors appear only via video call or voice. She nails it. Anyone with a loved one who works unconventional hours understands the emotional complexity of ambition. It often comes at a great sacrifice of relationships. It is the risk we take in search of an unknown reward. In The Antares Paradox, Alex dreams of proving there is life beyond our universe. Her father understood this, even if no one else ever did.

Writer-director Luis Tinoco worked extensively with José Luis Crespo (Quantum Fracture), a YouTuber and science communicator with millions of followers. The script, while technical, is laid out concisely and understandably for all audiences. The entire film takes place in one location. The film’s sumptuous score from Arnau Bataller is perfect.

Between family, faith, and space, Tinoco’s script challenges our morality and keeps us intrigued with wonder. It is a gorgeous entry that will leave audiences spellbound.


  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    96 minutes
  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Country:
    Spain
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Director:
    Luis Tinoco Pineda