Review: ‘Identifying Features’ is devastating and captivating.

IDENTIFYING FEATURES

Directed by Fernanda Valadez
Written by Fernanda Valadez & Astrid Rondero
Middle-aged Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) has lost contact with her son after he took off with a friend from their town of Guanajuato to cross the border into the U.S., hopeful to find work. Desperate to find out what happened to him—and to know whether or not he’s even alive—she embarks on an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous journey to discover the truth. At the same time, a young man named Miguel (David Illescas) has returned to Mexico after being deported from the U.S., and eventually, his path converges with Magdalena’s. From this simple but urgent premise, director Fernanda Valadez has crafted a lyrical, suspenseful slow burn, equally constructed of moments of beauty and horror, and which leads to a startling, shattering conclusion. Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Audience and Screenplay Awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
Every once in a blue moon a film comes along that pushes you past your own emotional boundaries. The heaviness of the stories in Identifying Features swallows you whole. You are forced to confront the realities that are far too often swept under the political rug here in the US and are dreaded in Mexico. With a score that vibrates your already unsettled soul, the handheld cinematography puts you in the shoes of any one of these individuals getting shoved back across the border… And those who don’t ever make it. The alternating scenes from a mother to a son build up a visceral tension to an ending that is beyond shocking. The intimacy of the sound editing and long lingering beautifully shot close-ups force you to remain engaged no matter how badly you’d like to look away. Identifying Features is brilliant in its unyielding honesty. You will sink so far into the depths of these families’ grief, digging out will take more time than you’ll realize. It’s nothing short of captivating.
This film is now playing in virtual cinemas. Click here to find a Kino Marquee virtual cinema supporting a theater near you.
Mexico /In Spanish with English subtitles / 94 min

Review: Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Theatrical Release: June 29, 2018

Run Time: 2 hours 2 minutes

Reviewed By: Reel Reviews Over Brews

Sicario: Day of the Soldado, begins a new chapter. The cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border, federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) calls on the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), whose family was murdered by a cartel kingpin, to escalate the war between rival cartels. Alejandro kidnaps the kingpin’s daughter Isabela (Isabela Moner) to spark the conflict, but when the girl is seen as collateral damage the two men will have to decide what to do with her as they question everything they are fighting for.


I’d like to start by saying I loved the first Sicario. It had me on the edge of my seat from the opening scene and had my anxiety up to levels No Country For Old Men put me at. Easily a top 3 movie of mine. Anyway, when I heard they were making a sequel I was less than thrilled. I was worried it would take away from how good the first one was. However, since Sicario, I have been following Taylor Sheridan everywhere. Writing Hell or High Water and writing/directing Wind River with a new TV series Yellowstone. I liked them all. So of course I was checking out this one.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado brought the same intensity as the first movie. The action was raw and the acting was brilliant. Brolin and Del Toro are again, as good as it gets, in Soldado. Newcomer, Isabela Moner, was excellent as well. The movie turned out to be pretty politically charged with the immigrants at the boarder being the driving force of the plot. Soldado kept you on the edge of the seat throughout the entire movie. Just when you thought everything was going smoothly the whole thing flips on its head and all that was left to do was react. One of the most well done scenes comes as a group of terrorists enter a crowed store and blow it up. It is the few moments after the initial explosions that you see a mother and daughter slowly make their way to the door pleading the final terrorist not to do it. It is grip the seat kind of tension. And that is only one of many that leave you shocked. Taylor Sheridan leaves some loose ends for presumably a 3rd installment, which after seeing Soldado I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Reel ROB Rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review!

FREE Stream of Live Action Short Nominee ‘Helium’ Plus Rent or Buy All the Oscar-Nominated Short Films on Vimeo

helium

“A young boy Alfred is dying, but through the stories about HELIUM – a magical fantasy world, told by the hospital’s eccentric janitor Enzo, Alfred regain the joy and happiness of his life, and finds a safe haven away from daily life.” via IMDb – Watch “Helium” by clicking this link. Read More →

Jeremy’s Review: 2015 Oscar Nominated Shorts – Documentary

US_2015_OSCAR_SHORTS_Web_Poster_1500px_highI am happy to again have a chance to watch and review the Oscar-nominated shorts. Not typically something I watch a lot of, short films such as these are, according to the Academy, the best the world has to offer and there most certainly is an international flavor to them all. In the coming days, I will be rolling out my reviews of those anointed by the Academy as the top five in the following categories: live-action, animated and documentary. The first crop I will tackle is the documentary shorts. Read More →