Review: Ethan Hawke stars in ‘Zeroes and Ones,’ a creatively shot political thriller.

presents

ZEROES AND ONES

Called to Rome to stop an imminent terrorist bombing, a soldier desperately seeks news of his imprisoned brother — a rebel with knowledge that could thwart the attack. Navigating the capital’s darkened streets, he races to a series of ominous encounters to keep the Vatican from being blown to bits.


Zeros and Ones is a surrealistic mash-up from Abel Ferrara – a political and pandemic thriller that is simultaneously thoughtful and baffling. This is a film that invites the viewer in while still keeping them at a distance. The film is bookended by two videos featuring start Ethan Hawke, who speaks candidly to the audience about his excitement and experience relating to the film. Hawke freely admits that he didn’t understand Ferrara’s script when he received it, but that he really liked it. Having just finished “Zeros and Ones”, Hawke’s point resonated.

The film’s achievements are especially impressive given it was filmed in Rome during a rigid COVID lockdown. By nature of these restrictions, the majority of the action is restricted. The camera is limited to claustrophobic rooms and empty nighttime streets, but cinematographer Sean Price Williams makes the most of it. The outdoor scenes, in particular, are quite striking: sanitation workers clad in PPE decontaminating a subway car, mist mingling with the glow of the street lights.

Our protagonist (Ethan Hawke’s “J.J.”) is an enigmatic military man, his face hidden beneath a black mask even when he’s in plain sight. He’s on a journey through Rome, but his objectives (and destination) are murky. He’s trying to locate his twin brother (also Hawke), an imprisoned revolutionary who may hold the key to thwarting a terrorist plot on the Vatican. While this may sound like the plot of a multi-million dollar action film, Ferrara’s vision is wisely more conservative. He is more interested in backroom deals and shadowy government priorities than big explosions.

Hawke offers a game performance in the dual role – although he seems to have far more fun playing the revolutionary brother than the military one (after all, who doesn’t want to spit lines like, “Why is nobody setting themselves on fire?!”)

J.J.’s encounters with other characters throughout the film are always one layer removed – he’s always speaking to them through a phone screen, from behind a layer of glass, or filming them using his own camera. It’s a strong artistic choice, but also puts much more emphasis on the dialogue to drive the action of the film, and contributed to an overall lack of visceral connection to the material.

Ultimately, Zeros and Ones is a wonderful example of artistic vision flourishing under restrictive circumstances. One has to wonder how we will look back historically and evaluate these films against history once the pandemic finally recedes (fingers crossed.) I’m glad Hawke and Ferrara were still willing to act up despite having to mask up.


Zeros and Ones – In Select Theaters, On Demand and Digital on November 19, 2021. Ethan Hawke, Valerio Mastandrea, Cristina Chiriac.


Review: ‘COLONIA’ holds you captive.

Colonia Poster

How far would you go for love? Would you risk your life to save another? Based on true events, COLONIA is a harrowing thriller that follows the attempted escape from one the most bloody and disturbing cults in history.

SYNOPSIS

Florian Gallenberger’s historical thriller, set around the Pinochet coup in 1970s Chile sees Emma Watson’s (Harry Potter, Noah) Lena forced to undertake a dangerous mission when her boyfriend, Daniel (Daniel Brühl, Rush), is abducted by the Chilean secret police in 1973. Lena tracks him down to Colonia Dignidad, an anti-communist sect run by preacher Paul Schäfer played by Michael Nyqvist (Blomkvist in Sweden’s Girl With A Dragon Tattoo trilogy), where they plot an unprecedented escape.

Emma watson and Daniel Bruhl in ColoniaKnowing that the film is based on true  events makes it that much more intriguing and upsetting. With gloriously elaborate sets and pristine period costuming, the look of Colonia perfectly sets the tone as the story rolls along. Starting with vibrant colors on the political revolutionaries in Chile and turning dark and monochromatic once we arrive at Colonia Dignidad. The script is comprised of vast research on the part of Director Florian Gallenberger. Perhaps what is most disturbing is the fact that I’ve never heard about this happening. You’d imagine something so awful would be much more in the limelight. This is a small but brilliant window into a terrible point in human history.Michael Nyqvist and Emma Watson in The Colony (2015)Emma Watson is simply a more grown up and matured star now. Tackling a role in which a woman rescues her boyfriend is brave and important and not often something we’re treated to these days. Her grace on screen is timeless. Daniel Brühl, who I had the pleasure of meeting during the BURNT press conference last year, is nothing short of incredible. His presence is captivating. His role allows his to stretch his acting chops quite a bit and let me say, they are impressive. Michael Nyqvist is intimidating and frightening as  cult leader Paul Schäfer. You can feel the evil emanating off of him at the suggestion of child abuse in one key scene. He a truly scary. Daniel Bruhl in ColoniaColonia is successful as a love story and a political thriller. The film is now available to view via the streaming platform We Are Colony. You can view extras such as behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and production stills. Check out the trailer below.