Entries in Independent films (3)
Komona’s (Rachel Mwanza) life was irreversibly altered at the tender age of 12 when rebel forces led by the Great Tiger (Mizinga Mwinga) rampaged through her tiny African village. The unfortunate girl was forced at gunpoint to kill her own parents (Starlette Mathata and Alex Herabo) before being abducted and brainwashed into joining the cause.
Deep in the jungle, she was befriended by other kids orphaned by the conflict before being trained to use a weapon against government soldiers. However, more valuable than marksmanship, Komona developed an uncanny knack for sensing enemy positions, a skill which proved handy during encounters with deadly snipers and machine gun nests.
This supernatural ability came to the attention of her superiors, and by the time she turned 13, the so-called “War Witch” was appointed a personal advisor of General Tiger. In that capacity, Komona also had to work closely with Magician (Serge Kanyinda), an albino boy with extra sensory perception.
It’s been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. Apparently there aren’t any celibates in foxholes either. For, it’s not long before the two seers fall madly in love. Magician proposes, they go AWOL, and Komona ends up pregnant by her 14th birthday.
Thus unfolds War Witch, a haunting drama chronicling an adolescent’s coming-of-age under the most trying of circumstances. Written and directed by Canadian Kim Nguyen who shot on location in the Congo, the moving character study was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category.
The picture is cleverly constructed as a series of vivid flashbacks narrated by Komona directly addressing the unborn baby growing in her belly. While the plucky protagonist easily earns our admiration for maintaining her sanity in the midst of the madness, there is still something slightly unsettling about a production so matter-of-fact about the endless atrocities providing the backdrop for such a touching front story.
21st Century Africa presented as a godforsaken wasteland conjuring up primitive images reminiscent of the ghoulish dystopia chronicled by Conrad in Heart of Darkness.
Very Good (3 stars)
In French and Lingala with subtitles
Running time: 90 minutes
Distributor: TriBeCa Film
by Kam Williams
For movies opening June 1, 2012
BIG BUDGET FILMS
Battlefield America (PG-13 for profanity, drug use and mature themes) Overcoming-the-odds drama, set in L.A., about a charismatic businessman (Marques Houston) who hires a choreographer to help a rag-tag team of inner-city kids prepare for an underground, hip-hop dance competition. With Lynn Whitfield, Valarie Pettiford and Mekia Cox.
Piranha 3DD (R for sexuality, profanity, drug use, graphic nudity and gory violence) High body-count, horror sequel set at the grand opening of an adult-themed water park whose patrons are blissfully unaware of an impending attack by a swarm of man-eating fish. Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey, David Hasselhoff and Elise Neal.
Snow White and the Huntsman (PG-13 for intense violence and brief sensuality) Medieval variation on the classic fairytale finds the fair princess (Kristen Stewart) banished to the forest where she plots revenge against the evil queen (Charlize Theron) with the help of 8 dwarfs and the swordsman (Chris Hemsworth) ordered to kill her. Cast includes Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone and Toby Jones.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
5 Broken Cameras (Unrated) Middle East documentary chronicling a family of Palestinian farmers’ non-violent protest against the Israeli government’s confiscating land in their tiny, West Bank town for the benefit of profit and politically-motivated, real estate developers. (In Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles)
6 Month Rule (R for profanity and sexuality) Battle-of-the-sexes comedy, set in Shreveport, Louisiana, revolving around a confirmed bachelor (Blayne Weaver) who finally decides to settle down when he unexpectedly falls head-over-heels for a woman (Natalie Morales) he can’t just seduce and abandon as usual. With Jamie Pressley, Martin Starr and Vanessa Branch.
Apartment 143 (R for profanity and terror) Found-footage horror flick about a team of parapsychologists’ investigation of strange phenomena occurring inside of a haunted house. Starring Francesc Garrido, Fiona Glascott and Rick Gonzalez.
A Cat in Paris (PG for action, violence and mature themes) Animated crime caper about a cat who leads a double life, living with a grieving, 7 year-old orphan (Oriane Zani) by day, and working with a kindhearted burglar (Bruno Salomone) by night. Voice cast includes Dominique Blanc, Bernadette Lafont and Jean Benguigui. (In French with subtitles)
Cellmates (Unrated) Unlikely-buddy comedy about the friendship which blossoms behind bars between the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan (Tom Sizemore) and a Mexican farm worker/community organizer (Hector Jimenez), when the two are forced to share a tiny prison cell. With Stacy Keach, Kevin P. Farley and Olga Segura.
Chely Wright: Wish Me Away (Unrated) Out-of-the-closet documentary about the blowback felt by country singer Chely Wright after making the difficult decision to inform her family and fans that she’s a lesbian.
Crooked Arrows (PG-13 for suggestive language) David vs. Goliath sports flick featuring a team of Iroquois underdogs competing against better-equipped rivals in a prep school league lacrosse tournament. With Brandon Routh, Michael Hudson and Gil Birmingham.
For Greater Glory (R for graphic violence and disturbing images) Faith-based historical drama revisiting the events surrounding the Cristeros War (1926-1929), an insurrection ignited by the Mexican government’s decision to secularize the country by outlawing Catholicism. Starring Eva Longoria, Andy Garcia, Ruben Blades, Peter O’Toole and Bruce McGill. (In Spanish and English with subtitles)
Hide Away (PG-13 for sensuality, mature themes and brief profanity) Bittersweet tale of redemption about a regretful businessman (Josh Lucas) who tries to recover from an unspeakable tragedy by restoring a fixer-upper sailboat on a remote island off the coast of Michigan where he’s befriended by a waitress (Ayelet Zurer), a cashier (Casey LaBow) and an ancient mariner (James Cromwell). With Jon Tenney, Anne Faba and Taylor Nichols.
High School (R for nudity, sexuality, crude humor, pervasive profanity and incessant drug use) Misery-likes-company comedy about a high school valedictorian (Matt Bush) who tries to get the entire senior class stoned after he’s suspended for failing a drug test just before graduation. Cast includes Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks and Mikelti Williamson.
The Loved Ones (Unrated) Gruesome horror thriller about a jilted, high school coed (Robin McLeavy) who plots revenge with the help of her father (John Brumpton) against the hunky classmate (Xavier Samuel) who turned her down as his prom date. With Victoria Thaine, Jessica McNamee and Richard Wilson.
Pink Ribbons, Inc. (Unrated) Non-profit expose’ investigating what happens to the millions of dollars raised in the name of breast cancer, the corporate charity that Madison Avenue marketing experts have dubbed “The Dream Cause.”
U.N. Me (PG-13 for disturbing images and mature themes involving genocide and rape) Incendiary documentary indicting the United Nations as a corrupt, bribe-taking outfit of fake peacekeepers who frequently fail to intervene while witnessing crimes against humanity and who have even participated in murders at the scene of international hotspots.