Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Film Review: Nada - A Story About Hope (2020)

The movie Nada - A Story of Hope, which "nada" directly translates to "hope" from Bosnian (and most other Ex-Yugoslav languages) starts off with a poem. It's a simple poem about a street, while at the same time the frame showcases an image of a town that could be anywhere in the Balkans. Some old house roofs, a mosque minaret, and cheap residential buildings in the bare concrete, long pass their socialistic hay day. Above them, calm blue skies. All seems peaceful as the poem unravels, almost outside of any present space-time continuous.

Then, the story kicks in in a moment, showing the residents of the same town. They try to get by while they go to work, drink with their lowlife friends, or scramble to get their first job. One of them is Damir, an ordinary teen looking to do the same for his life. However, the brutal and bleak reality of modern Bosnian life, now well in its third post-war decade, is still a harsh and grinding reality. For Damir, this means a violent pull into the world of petty but relentless crime, personified in Kiki, a local street thug with driving ambition.

There's a smoothness in the way Dino Longo Sabanovic, who wrote and directed the film, showcases Damir's story. Using a lot from both natural settings and (I'm guessing) local and amateur actors, he creates a piece of art that easily communicates on a very emotional basis. For example, sequences where Kiki leads Damir and the rest of the gang to a derelict tavern after a job includes a very interesting process of applying two soundtracks. One is the atmospheric music in the actual club and the other is a classical piano tune taking place over it. All the while, the ramblings of Kiki are heard as well as his deal to sell the stolen goods goes down.
In theory, none of this should work, but it blends seamlessly in a form of outer manifestation of what is to be Damir. Yes, you can get high, you can get drunk or even feel euphoric, but you’re still trapped and wedged between all the wrong, humiliating and even tragically final choices you can make. Yet, throughout the film, you see glimmers of hope, just like its name says - from the serene nature that surrounds the town to the images of Josip Broz Tito, which is presented almost like a divine figure or long-lost saint and finally, in the character of Merima.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Two-Paragraph Review: Extraction (2020)

Even with the massive success of Extraction, I still have mainly one takeaway from the movie and it's not a rational idea, but a feeling. The movie, for the lack of a better word, feels tiresome to me. Yes, it's action-packed and the story tries to do what it can with a pretty limited setup - it's about Tyler, an Australian mercenary entering the city of Dhaka to extract a boy named Ovi Mahajan Jr. As the son of an Indian drug lord, he was kidnapped by a rival gang in Bangladesh. It's up to Tyler to save Ovi once his mission goes seriously wrong.

If anything, the movie showcases the potential of the modern Indian and Bangladeshi film industry outside of their regular genres. However, the film itself is based on Chris Hemsworth as Tyler killing people at close and sometimes medium range. Sadly, that one-trick pony gets used up quickly. At the half-point mark, all this killing becomes exceedingly tiresome and tedious, while the film as a whole never recovers from being a FPS live-action footage someone else is playing. Extraction is the biggest film Netflix made and overall, a watchable action, but it will still most likely leave you tired once it ends.