From Argentina to Ireland and the United States, a Quartet of Protagonists in a Time of Crisis
99 Homes ( 99 Homes , 2014)
Just because of the scenes in which people radiate despair when they are evicted from their homes, this movie would be a case in itself: when real estate agent Rick Carver appears at the door, accompanied by the police and the court order in hand, the same process – women try to bar the entrance of the police; men run off to call the lawyer; Children are shoved in, eyes wide with fright; neighbors will spy on the mess. The result, however, is inevitable: five minutes to collect personal necessities and then 24 hours to rescue furniture and belongings dumped on the curb. The locks are changed in the act, the innards of the family are exposed in plain sight. That night, and for many more nights, parents and children will squeeze into a motel room, surrounded by other parents and children in the same situation. Or not. In the first scene, what you see is a bathroom wall decorated with the gray mass of a guy who preferred to kill himself and give up his house. On the cell phone, Rick Carver – Michael Shannon, in a thunderous action – complains to someone of the hassle that he’ll be getting the property ready for resale.
Director Ramin Bahrani, however, has more in mind than this brutal choreography of the economic crisis and the domino of mortgages. One of the first people to see this fear and humiliation is Dennis Nash, an unemployed single parent, very young and who, despite his little intimidating appearance, has both fiber and panache – a character cut out for Andrew Garfield. Dennis does not lose his temper, holds his mother (Laura Dern), insists on keeping track of the house, realizes that one of the guys on the team has tried a tool of his own, it will charge Rick Carver. Who realizes that the competent Dennis would be a providential addition to his team, not least because he is distressed enough to swallow any ethical objections to evicting other defaulters. Dennis, in fact, swallows his disgust – and it comes down much easier with the bountiful money he begins to make. Shannon and Garfield sparkle from each other, and Bahrani’s direction is tense, full of rhythm and crisis.
The Tenth Man ( the King of Eleven , 2016)
All Daniel Burman’s films turn to the inner circle of family, friends and community. It is the circle from which Ariel (the great Alan Sabbagh) fled, sending himself to New York and leaving behind his father, Usher (Usher Barilka), whose involvement with the day-to-day of his community center and Once, the a Jewish neighborhood in Buenos Aires, he had been jealous since he was a child. After years of absence, Ariel returns to Once to visit her father – who insists on not giving up.
But even before his son disembarked, Usher had already lulled him into the demands of the community center. By cell phone, he makes Ariel clean shoes for a young man, clean the apartment of an elderly man who died, arrange medicine, settle a standoff with the butcher who was to supply the meat for the religious holiday of Purim. Ariel snorts, butt, irritates, but fulfills the tasks, always with the silent support of the young Eva (Julieta Zylberberg). And little by little, without realizing it, the coexistence comes easier, until it seems necessary or even indispensable. When Ariel and Usher finally meet, the son has somehow become the father: immersed in the past from which he fled, he gained a future he could not imagine. Remember, the film argues, is not an end in itself nor an empty exercise. The memory is the palace in which they live the Jewish and personal identity,
The Most Violent Year (2014)
For Abel Morales (the Oscar Isaac), the winter of 1981 will be a long and terribly complicated machination: your tanker’s tank trucks are being stolen every other day; the competition, a disgusting mafia that gathers in neighborhood restaurants, wants to sweep it; the millions of dollars he gave to a group of Orthodox Jews for the purchase of an old refinery will be lost if he does not complete the payment in thirty days; the New York prosecutor says he’s investigating it, but it does not reveal why; his wife (Jessica Chastain, explosive) wants him to solve things “the old way” with bribery, ailment, violence. But Abel is the immigrant who worked hard. As much as the dirt insists on swallowing it, he wants to stay clean. For the sake of character and also of pragmatism: Abel is a lucid man, and he understands that he will never have the kind of power he wants if he is outside legality. It is no coincidence that inThe More Violent Year , Abel looks so much, in anguish and even physically, with Michael Corleone played by Al Pacino in The Godfather . Director JC Chandor (of the magnificent Margin Call ) makes his film a chamber piece about the Latin immigrants who, in the 1970s, occupied that last step in the social hierarchy that had previously been outside the Sicilians and before and about the new avenues of power that were beginning to open up to people of vision like Abel and the black solicitor (David Oyelowo) who harasses him. Who likes the masters of the 70s like Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin and Sidney Lumet will be happy: Chandor is an heir to their height.
71: Forgotten in Belfast ( ’71 , 2014)
Soldier Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell, of Invincible and the Godless series) participates in his first patrol on the streets violently divided between Catholics and Protestants in Belfast in 1971. But his battalion fails to restrain a tumult, which is quickly heading for a tragedy. In the haste of retreat, Hook is left behind. It does not matter that he has not even left his teenage years: in the Catholic quarters of the capital of Northern Ireland, he is a direct representative of English oppression, and will be hunted as an animal. In Protestant quarters, your chances are slightly better. If there is a mistake that can be made about director Yann Demange’s debut film, it is to assume that one of those many scenarios where the abandoned combatant will be rescued by valiant colleagues: Belfast was not a cookie, and the specificity with which the director treats the tribal geography into which the city was then divided is appalling. Jack O’Connell, always excellent, impresses urgent and palpable dread on the young soldier’s interpretation of the lost.