El Mudo {The Mute}

El Mudo

Why Watch It: For its non-judgmental story about the world of judges, cops, criminals, and families in Peru. For the direction of Diego Vega Vidal and Daniel Vega Vidal. For the acting of Fernando Bacilio.

Warning: Plot Spoilers ahead.

Review: Constatino Zeggara {Fernando Bacilio}, a Peruvian judge, who is seen to be tough on crime, gets shot in his neck and loses his voice. Because of his inability to speak, he faces challenges in his work, and has to deal with changes in his household led by his wife Otilia{Norka Ramirez} and his daughter.

So Constantino must learn to speak, to cope with his new job responsibilities, and to navigate the dynamics with his family members. The police suspect that he may have been accidentally shot. But he declines to believe this. He keeps pushing the police to investigate criminals he has been tough on, even resorting to bribery. How Constantino copes up with the changes at the workplace and house, investigates the shooting, and tries to recover his voice is artfully shown in this subtitled film.

Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars. Almost gets very interesting but misses the spot because of the slow pace.

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Hush {Suti}

Female protogonist Beba with her young daughter

Female protogonist Beba with her young daughter

Why Watch It: Just so that we don’t forget what a deep-seated problem child abuse is. And to remind ourselves how a hard-hitting film should be look and feel like.

Disclaimer: Plot spoilers ahead.

Story: Beba {Tihana Lazovic}, while giving a bath to her little daughter, discovers signs of sexual abuse. She confronts her drug-dealing husband Mirko {Zivko Anocic} about and it becomes obvious that he was the rapist. During the fight that ensues he hits her and walks out and she stabs him on the leg with a scissor as he is leaving. Terribly upset, she settles in the bath with her daughter and puts on the gas, presumably to commit suicide and kill her daughter.

Then she looks back at her past and remembers various horrific incidents. Her mother {Lana Baric} was always ill and her father {Milan Plestina} was a rough man. One fine day, her father left along with the mother and gave her and her brother in the care of a porn maker. When she and her brother grew up to be teens, her father was back in their lives and tearing off her clothes on camera for the porn movies. When her father got violent with her at one point of time, her brother attacked with a hammer. But the father took the hammer from him and crushed the head of the brother.

Later Beba was in jail and got romantically involved with Mirko, when she learned through a letter about about her father’s death. She then married Mirko but the celebration was marred by her husband’s friend rape attempt on the jail’s official.

After recalling all these events, she takes a decision and sends her daughter to go to a particular neighbor and report the crime. She continues sitting in the bath even as she imagines that her dead mother has joined her there. She tells her dead mother that as a child she could not tell during her childhood about what had been done to her.

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars. I strongly recommend watching this Croatian film written and directed by Lucas Nola. To make it a perfect for me as a viewer, I would have liked the female protagonist to go along with the young daughter who is after all a small child.

Taxi Driver: Politicians and Pimps

Cover of "Taxi Driver [Blu-ray]"

Cover of Taxi Driver [Blu-ray]

Taxi Driver (1976) is a cult movie dealing with enraged armed-and-dangerous taxi driver on a mission to rid the system of its grime. Please note that the  story and the ending are disclosed in the paragraphs below.So if you want to watch the flick and not know what to except then stop reading here.

War veteran Travis Bickle {Robert De Niro} can’t sleep. He reckons that he could use the extra waking hours and gets hired as a cabbie driving in rough areas at night. He notes the rain batter the streets and wishes they could wash away certain criminals from there as well.

He gets strongly attracted to Betsy {Cybill Shepherd} a woman canvassing for Presidential Candidate Charles Palantine {Leonard Harris}. After some hesitation he decides to offer to volunteer for the campaign and ask her out.

Meanwhile, he gets shaken up with an incident where a 12-year-old runaway girl Iris {Jodie Foster} gets into his taxi and asks for his help but is then pulled away by a pimp. Travis decides he wants the streets to be emptied of the pimps and dealers.  When Candidate Palentine rides in his cab, Travis tells him his concern but candidate politely tells him that it’s a problem that will be difficult to handle. Meanwhile, the early promise of a good romantic relation with Betsy ends when she is extremely put off by a movie he takes her. Betsy is unwilling to consider giving him another chance. Upset at all these events, Travis theorizes that society is cold-hearted and calculated and that no-one is doing anything to make the necessary changes.

He decides to be unlike others and be the man “who stood up” against all that was wrong. With this in mind, he arms himself and stakes out the Presidential candidate Palantine who gave him a lackadaisal response. His attention is once again drawn towards Iris whom he recognizes when he sees her again — this time on the street and also encounters the pimp Sport {Harvey Keitel} who is exploiting Iris.  Travis is mentally disturbed, his emotions are heightened, his sleep is compromised, his energy is peaking and he wants to shake up the system. He wants to get eliminate not only the criminal underbelly but also society’s passivity towards the thugs. As such, he is on two missions. After some explosive action Travis completes at least one to his satisfaction — luckily it’s the one which the law approves off, i.e. the rescue of the child prostitute.

Rating: 7/10 for De Niro’s and Foster’s acting, some tense moments, the conclusion of the story, and “You talking to me?” mirror scene. Also a big thumbs up for comparing the crimes of commission done by thugs with the sins of omission by authorities who avoid tackling crime and helping the victims.