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Glasgow Film Festival 2021 – Day 10

We only have two films to talk about for day ten of the Glasgow Film Festival, but I could not wait a few days to be able to review the final few films of the festival. One of these is a film that I got to see a month ago for voting purposes, whilst the other really surprised me when I saw it during the festival.

Without further ado, here are my reviews of the two films I saw on Day 10 of the 2021 Glasgow Film Festival.

The Old Ways

Director: Christopher Alender
Writer: Marcos Gabriel
Starring: Brigitte Kali Canales, Andrea Cortés, Julian Lerma

Synopsis:

Cristina, a journalist of Mexican origin, travels to her ancestral home in Veracruz to investigate a story of sorcery and healing. There, she is kidnapped by a group of locals who claim she’s the devil incarnated.

I wanted to make sure that I watched at least one horror film from the Frightfest collection that showed at the Glasgow Film Festival, and yet I was still incredibly surprised with how effective this film was as a horror. This story had some really good thrills and an eerie tone that ran throughout, which was incredibly effective and helped the film work as a horror film.

The first hour in particular, with the mystery behind the narrative of the story and being shoved into the situation watching our lead character Cristina get tortured by her family, is incredibly effective. The lack of open space helps us get into the head space of Cristina and the claustrophobia she is feeling. The supernatural aspects also were effective, as it was not clear what was real and what was fake, building up the tension in the film.

I do think the story falters in the final third as the film is unable to find a solid conclusion to the story. The film unfortunately tries to be ambitious and is unable to fully bring to life the vision, and I wish they just scaled it down and continued to focus on the tone. However, this ended up being a pleasant surprise and a horror film that I would recommend for any fan of the genre.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

First Cow

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writers: Kelly Reichardt, Jonathan Raymond
Starring: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Dylan Smith
Based on: The Half-Life by Jonathan Raymond

Synopsis: A skilled cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant also seeking his fortune. Soon the two collaborate on a successful business.

I will openly admit that my score for this film is lower than most people have it, but I want to emphasise that I still really enjoyed the film and there is a lot to appreciate. Firstly, the atmosphere is stunning and the landscape is complete eye candy. This is a film that should be garnering attention for bringing the period to life and capturing the beautiful scenery, both in terms of production design and cinematography.

Our leading two characters are just incredibly charming to watch, and I could see them talk about and make those oily cakes for the rest of my life. However, I do think this is a film made for a specific audience and one that prefers the slow exploration of a world, with a slow pace and one that lacks in a meaty plot to keep the journey going.

This is a film that is filled with sweet moments and beautiful pieces of dialogue, but something that I wish had more of an impact narratively. It does feel simple in presentation, and that did not completely work for me when it came to the impact the opening and closing sequences should have had. Whilst I do plan on giving it a second watch and seeing if the style grows on me, it is still a film that I would highly recommend, even if my first watch never left me fully gripped.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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