Film reviews: Holy Spider, Operación Fortune and El Despertar de María

Direction: Ali Abbasi. Screenplay: Ali Abbasi and Afshin Kamran Bahrami. interpreters: Tsar Amir-Ebrahimi, Mehdi Bajestani, Arash Ashtiani, Forouzan Jamshidnejad and Mesbah Taleb. Country: Denmark. 2022 Duration: 117 minutes.

With a Danish flag but Iranian afflictions, Holy Spider seems to be entering a similar terrain to the one that gave Bong Joon-ho his international projection: Memories of Murder (2003). As is remembered, or as can be traced, the director of Parasites emitted unequivocal signs of his talent with a dark thriller at the service of an essential idea: the political and social health of a country can be gauged through the behavior of their bodies. police. In the pre-democratic South Korea in which Joon-ho placed his film, 1986, a serial killer filled the province of Gyunggi with anxiety, sowing the fields with the bodies of dismembered women.

If in the film by the Korean filmmaker, the police, as disastrous as they were violent, tried to find the psychopath, in Abbasi’s film, set in that dark period between the end of the war between Iran and Iraq and the attack on the World Trade Center, he doesn’t even try. If the aggressive and clumsy police of the dictatorship of the Han country inspired shame, the police, the judicial system and the condition of women in Iran are scary.

Holy Spider, like Memories of Murder, grows from true events. What we are told happened – more or less – like this. In this case, an ex-combatant, a martyr for Allah, murdered 16 prostitutes in the holy city of Mashdad. This anchoring with reality serves to understand that cinema, however grotesque and brutal it tries to be, does not overcome the cosmic horror of everyday life.

Abbasi was born in Tehran but grew up in cinema in Denmark and Sweden. His style knows Scandinavian coldness and drinks from the same sources in which a whole generation of Viking noir writers and filmmakers have felt the essence of the execrable, pain and cruelty. Ali Abbasi moves in the distance, in contention. La Border de él (2018), an unforgettable foray into Slavic legends, was questioned by the / lo human (ism) or to intuit that it is an ideal in retreat. The same thing happens with Shelley, a story about the maternal instinct that is related to the more epiphanic Polanski.

In Holy Spider, Abbasi leaves his headquarters in Copenhagen to return to his native country. He films the tension, always perceptible, like an unfulfilled omen, a chill that, seen from the West, is disconcerting because its social protocols and its tacit negotiations are unknown, where the civil and the religious never show clear differences. His camera portrays the characters as if he were scrutinizing the skin. Their faces take on a tragic meaning, they look like flesh masks behind whose shine and stains only anguish and fear beat. They are scared monsters of a terror that has no gaze.

In Border, the monstrous was an animal, olfactory presence; In Holy Spider, its main spider brings us back to the paradox that Bertrand Tavernier formulated in Captain Conan (1996), what to do with war heroes if when peace returns they are still thirsty for blood?

The one spilling into Holy Spider screams her helplessness. In The Circle, Panahi choreographed the spiral of guilt of a gender, the feminine, always convicted for misogynists imbibed by the faith of God. In Holy Spider, Abbasi articulates a film committed to showing a situation that today continues to claim helpless lives in two parts. The need to prove this denunciation is entangled with the story of a murderer who believes he was sent by Allah and blessed by his Imam. He is confronted by a young female journalist who knows that her life there is not worth more than that of the murdered prostitutes. The perpetrator and the victim fight in a duel before the sinister echo of the expressions of empathy raised by that criminal executioner.

Abbasi films unsweetened chokeholds. The immolated women exhale their last breath without any filter, looking at the camera. But what is truly terrifying is the simulation that the murderer’s son makes of the heroic crimes of his father. A future that does not forgive, a bloody holy spider that does not want to stop.

The Power of Gold / Operation Fortune: The Great Hoax

Direction:Guy Ritchie. Screenplay: Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies and Guy Ritchie. interpreters: Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Hartnett, Cary Elwes and Hugh Grant. Country: USA 2022. Duration: 114 minutes.

With 54 years, eight children, an old and dominated dyslexia and two “ex”, one of them Madonna, Guy Ritchie, if he is not back, it seems. Possessor of a feverish style, video clip of race and amphetamine rhythm, he has been directing for himself for years; In other words, he does what he wants. With a brilliant start –Lock, Stock (1998) and Snatch (2000)–, everything in Ritchie looks revolutionized, as if it had been turned around. Thirteen features later, Ritchie hasn’t let up on the tension of his prose. It is enough to observe carefully the first minutes of Operation Fortune to understand that very few directors have so much visual energy.

In her previous film, Arouse the Fury, she collaborated again with Jason Statham, the actor with whom she made her first two films, in a gesture of returning to her youth. Here, she repeats with Statham again and makes Hugh Grant the main antagonist of him. With this, Ritchie reiterates the hallmarks of an evasion cinema, scopic and without apparent pretensions. Fireworks to dazzle.

Extreme escapism for a plot that mixes canonical thriller references –from Mission Impossible to 007– and which includes, of course, the self-generated references by Ritchie himself in his versions of Sherlock Holmes or in his rewrite of the old CIPOL agent (Operation UNCLE ).

And as it happens with the wicker that Ritchie generally uses, in this commercial cinema, under its harmless banality, some premonitory parables about geopolitics and the interests of neocapital are cultivated. Thus, in The Big Hoax, a famous actor, a carbon copy of Tom Cruise, finds himself mixed up with a group of agents on a mission to dismantle an operation that tries to sink the digital-virtual empire system. Soulless Ukrainians, homeless Turks and enriched biotechnocrats, assume the role of the enemy to mix humor with action, luxury with stupidity, and freshness with plot anorexia.

Pure obscene apology for money that does not hesitate to redeem the scoundrel, played with phlegm and wealth by Grant, and that reminds us how Brexit Britain rots.

Start Over: The Awakening of Mary (Maria rëve)

Direction and script: Lauriane Escaffre and Yvonnick Muller. interpreters: Karin Viard, Grégory Gadebois, Noée Abita and Catherine Salee. Country: France. 2022. Duration: 93 minutes.

For different reasons, commercial cinema does not know how to portray the world of contemporary art. Their reflections are filled with old prejudices or take refuge in fat jokes, worn out and/or with little or no grace. It is more than likely that the diopters with which some filmmakers approach this question are as poorly calibrated as those of the majority of those who are so distrustful of the plastic arts of our century. So, when faced with the proposal to attend a comedy about a cleaning worker in a contemporary art production center, one could only expect the worst.

However, co-written and co-directed by Lauriane Escaffre and Yvonnick Muller, Maria’s Awakening soon leaves artistic proposals as a backdrop, to apply itself to the last chance of a bored middle-aged mother, whose daughter has flown from the nest and whose husband is kept between cobwebs and no passion. María, who must look for a job because the owner of the house in which she has served for years has just passed away, sees her peaceful and monotonous existence break when she begins to work in an artistic production center. There, the young residents passing through, who for months develop her proposals, in her coexistence with María, discover things and behaviors that she was unaware of.

For example, your own body. Requested as a model to pose nude, encouraged by the apparent madness and nonsense in which the young artists enjoy their existence, helped by a contemporaneous janitor, also infected by the mischievous spirit of heterodoxy, soon the old microcosm of María crumbles.

With friendly tones and soft humor, without avoiding clichés, such as the fact that, on his first day of work, he throws away a piece by a renowned artist, Escaffre and Muller delve into what the title of their film preludes. Everything revolves, then, around an awakening, that of María, something that implies going into crisis and making a radical decision that will transform her daily life.

Two veteran comedy actors, Karin Viard and Grégory Gadebois, carry the weight of a light and trivial story. The artistic universe of the young scholarship holders adorns and marks the vanishing point of a proposal aimed at a middle-aged and female audience, which encourages them to rise up from normality, embrace the impossible and not miss the chance to love again. he

Film reviews: Holy Spider, Operación Fortune and El Despertar de María