I watch a lot of movies: good, bad, indifferent; all genres; English and non-English speaking; and, occasionally, I write a few comments. Here are the first half a dozen mini-reviews, in no particular order. The percentage/numerical ratings in the title fields are from the review-aggregation website, Rotten Tomatoes (where I look for 60% or higher), and the online movie database, IMDb (where, again, I look for 6.0 or higher). Figures correct on date of posting.
1. 7 Boxes (7 Cajas), Thriller/Action/Comedy, Directors Juan Carlos Maneglia, Tana Schémbori , 2012 Paraguay, 97%/7.1
Victor (Celso Franco) is a teenage free-lance carrier in a Paraguayan market, moving boxes of produce from one market location to another for a small pittance. When asked to move seven boxes, contents unknown, accompanied by Liz (Lali Gonzalez), his tetchy but protective female friend, and all the while trying to evade a rival carrier who wants the business and carries a gun, all hell breaks loose in a plot that has more twists than the maze-like layout of the market. The movie will leave you breathless but satisfied.
2. Amanda, Drama, Director Mikhaël Hers, 2018 France, 96%/7.0
Living in Paris, David (Vincent Lacoste) is asked to look after his single-mum sister Sandrine’s 7-year-old daughter, Amanda (Isaure Multrier), after Sandrine is killed in a terrorist attack. At first, the relationship between uncle and niece is strained but subsequent events conspire to change the way each sees the other. If you enjoyed the development of the uncle-nephew relationship in Manchester by the Sea (2016), you will enjoy Amanda.
3. Dara of Jasenovac, War/History/Drama, Director Predrag Antonijevic, 2021 Serbia, 57%/8.3
Jasenovac is the WW2 concentration and extermination camp few have heard of. Established in what is now Croatia by the Ustaše quisling regime, the camp housed ethnic Serbs, Jews, and Roma and was particularly brutal in its methods of casual and organised execution. Mothers and children were split from their fathers and conditions were harsh. The movie tells the story of 10-year-old Serbian Dara and her family after transportation to the camp.
I found the movie to be slightly unreal. Prisoners looked to be well-fed and reasonably clothed. Living conditions, although sparse, were not over-crowded. And guards, although occasionally brutal, were not otherwise overly harsh in their treatment of the inmates. But, if the purpose of the movie was to raise the awareness of what is now seen to be part of the 1941–1945 Serbian genocide during WW2, then that aim is achieved.
4. Frozen River, Crime/Drama, Director Courtney Hunt, 2008 USA, 88%/7.1
A sober story of a deserted mum, Ray (Melissa Leo), with two sons struggling to make ends meet and living close to the border with Canada wherein lies an Indian Mohawk reservation that extends on both sides of the St. Lawrence River border. There is money to be made smuggling people from Canada into the United States across the frozen river (a hair-raising dangerous drive) and Ray forms an uneasy alliance with a Mohawk, Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham), in an attempt to raise money to replace her mobile home. As you might expect, nothing goes to plan.
5. Godzilla vs. Kong, Monster, Director Adam Wingard, 2021 USA, 75%/6.5
As monsters go, they don’t get any better than the giant ape, King Kong, and the prehistoric sea monster, Godzilla. Ever since 1933 when King Kong first made his appearance and befriended Fay Wray in the movie King Kong, and Godzilla appearing 21 years later in the 1954 Japanese movie, Godzilla, there has been speculation as to who would win if the two monsters were to engage in fisticuffs. Well, watch Godzilla vs. King slug it out one more time and find out. This is the only reason to watch this movie. The computer-generated graphics is incredible but the storyline almost non-existent and only there to fill in the gaps between the various battles of the monsters.
6. I Saw the Devil (Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da), Horror/Thriller, Director Kim Jee-woon, 2010 Korean, 81%/7.8
South Korean filmmakers excel at detective/kkanpae (gangster) movies involving double-cross and revenge and, usually, huge amounts of imaginative and excruciating violence. They also excel at horror movies, particularly ghost but also slasher and gore. Put the two together and you get I Saw the Devil. Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) is a Korean National Intelligence Service agent who decides to identify and hunt down the murderer of his fiancée, Jang Joo-Yun (Oh San-ha). Suspicion falls on school-bus driver Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-suk) and so the game of proof and evasion begins, liberally splattered with the blood of further murders.
This movie is not for the faint-hearted or timid disposition. The depiction of the various murders is particularly gruesome and cannibalism rears its ugly head, as does sexual assault. But, if this is your type of movie, you’ll be hard put to find one better than I Saw the Devil.