The final day brought us a thriller from Spain, a supernatural horror film from Laos, and a black comedy from Australia.
(This final entry is going to be kind of brief, as I came down with a severe head cold on Thursday and am still recovering from feeling weak, feeble, and having a solid lead ingot instead of a brain.)
The Invisible Guest
Spain, 2016. AKA Contratiempo. Directed by Oriol Paulo. Starring Mario Casas, Bárbara Lennie, Ana Wagener. 106 minutes. ★★★
Oriol Paulo’s crime thriller The Invisible Guest has more twists and turns than the Spanish country road that serves as the site of an event that eventually leads to the murder of a celebrated artist/photographer and the implication of her lover, an up-and-coming businessman, in her death. Paulo’s story probably goes a twist or two too far, but a game cast including MVP Ana Wagener helps tie everything together.
Australia, 2016. Directed by Abe Forsythe. Starring Lincoln Younes, Rahel Romahn, Michael Denkha, Fayssal Bazzi, Alexander England, Damon Herriman, Justin Rosniak, Chris Bunton. 87 minutes. ★★★★
Director Abe Forsythe pulls no punches in this “smart comedy about stupid people” which follows two groups of Australians–one group white, the other of Middle Eastern heritage–get caught up in the violence of the 2005 Cronulla race riots. It’ll all end in tears, to be sure, but Forsythe supplies plenty of uncomfortable laughs along the journey, with a series of indelible characters to match. Black humor doesn’t get much darker, or better, than this.
Short film: The Dog
Norway, 2016. Directed by Aleksander Nordaas & Hallvard Holmen.
Paired up with Down Under for obvious reasons, The Dog gives us a distinctly Scandinavian standoff over the murder of the titular pooch. Sad, but the whole situation could have been avoided with some fact-checking. I guess dead puppies really aren’t much fun after all.
Laos/France/Estonia, 2016. Directed by Mattie Do. Starring Amphaiphun Phommapunya, Vilouna Phetmany, Tambet Tuisk, Manivanh Boulom, Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy, Brandon Hashimoto. 100 minutes. ★★
Mattie Do follows up two firsts–her début, Chanthaly, was also the first Laotian horror film–with Dearest Sister, a heavily atmospheric if not always coherent effort. Unfortunately for Do and writer Christopher Larsen, Dearest Sister suffers in comparison to Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl, as the two films have the exact same setup (sheltered young woman is hired by a distant relative to take care of her) and many of the same character beats. Still, Do shows promise as a filmmaker, and her cast delivers many fine performances.
And that covers it for 2016! This year’s thanks go to Amanda Peterson and Dave Cowen (of course), plus Dave Canfield, Jason Coffman, and Alex White. See y’all in 2017!