Here are the quick movie reviews for “Zama”, “Ghost Stories” and “Sweet Country”.
A film that captures a look at European colonialism like no other, “Zama” is a film that oozes with its atmosphere and completely transports you to 18th century South America. Lucrecia Martel’s innovative direction never for a second spoon feeds you anything as this films deliberate slow pace puts you into the mind of the lead character brilliantly. Throughout the film you find yourself becoming more and more disoriented as our lead character, “Don Diego de Zama”, falls down a rabbit hole of frustration and confusion. Along with the direction, the lead performance by Daniel Giménez Cacho is fantastic. His stoic at times agitation brings multiple layers to the psyche of his character. As the film goes along Martel’s screenplay shows the soul crushing frustration of Zama which over time becomes a metaphor for European colonialism as a whole. “Zama” is one of the most hypnotic, beautiful and engrossing films I’ve seen so far this year, and is up there with the best.
A horror film that attempts a very much more psychological and philosophical route, “Ghost Stories” overall is kind of a mixed bag. The anthology-esque element of the film has its moments especially seen in “Case 2”, which out of the three cases it’s by far the one with the most quality. But still throughout the anthology-esque parts of the film they’re riddled with the horror tropes which brings them down multiple levels. While our main plot line takes a while to get going, once it does, the turns it takes are some of the highlights of the film. Those turns are also where we see the films creativity come into the light and shine more. As the theme of the film does get a little repetitive it still has some moments. Though the final few minutes is something we’ve seen too many times before. Yet I won’t say it’s a betrayal to all the film before, but instead of leaving you in shock, it just leaves you saying “oh, ok”.
A film with maybe the best use of mid-scene cutaways, “Sweet Country” is a Australian revisionist western that blends the beauty and horror of the Outback. Warwick Thornton directs this film with a meditative pace that sets the environment very well. Thornton is as well the co-cinematographer here along with Dylan River who both capture the sprawling desert vistas to perfection. The lead performance from Hamilton Morris, giving his acting debut, is quite strong. He brings a strong stoicism that we see begin to unravel as the film goes along. While the previously mentioned mid-scene cutaways in the film bring something I’ve never seen before. As many mid-scene cutaways seen before in other films have cut to be more of a flashback, but here we see what is coming in the future. Which brings both some misdirection and some enticing foreshadowing. “Sweet Country” comes together with it’s grime violence and hard hitting sociopolitical look at national identity and a future carved together by the injustices of the past.