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FRESHFARM workers ratify union agreement
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 15, 2024

What We’re Watching: Top picks from FilmFest DC

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Carson Rolleri and Tim Palmieri.

Local theaters will host 71 films from dozens of foreign countries as part of FilmFest DC over the next few weeks. It might be tough to narrow your options, so we picked movies from two top categories, comedy and action, to help point you in the right direction.

THE LIGHTER SIDE: COMEDIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Still from "We are the Nobles," the Hatchet's pick for comedy film. Photo courtesy of FilmFest DC.
Still from “We are the Nobles,” the Hatchet’s pick for comedy film. Photo courtesy of FilmFest DC.

“We Are the Nobles”

Country: Mexico

Director: Gary Alazrai

4 out of 5 stars

The film follows the lives of the wealthy, dysfunctional Noble family. There’s Javi (Luis Gerardo Mendez), who frustrates his father with his irresponsible business ventures, Barbara (Karla Souza), who shows a poor attitude and even poorer judgement of men, and Charlie (Juan Pablo Gil), who was recently expelled from college and has a preference for older women. Their millionaire father, German Noble (Gonzalo Vega), cuts them off from their inheritance and forces them to do the unthinkable: work.

While the film is predictable, quick humor and the flaws of the characters keep you emotionally invested until you see their well-earned transformations. The characters are hokey, but they don’t feel forced, and their evolutions are believable. The film tackles the complexities of family with ease, making it a feel-good film with a few laughs.

“The Mafia Bookkeeper”

Country: Italy

Director: Federico Rizzo

2 out of 5 stars

Based on the novel “Il Ragioniere della Mafia,” this modern, action-packed film follows Giuseppe (Lorenzo Flaherty), an Italian man who gets roped into the dealings of the mafia as a new bookkeeper. After he loses his job and most of his money gambling, he accepts an offer to join the mafia. Giuseppe adopts the name “Angelo Bianco” and passes a series of tests before his initiation, but hopes he can one day get out of the business. The hour-long whirlwind portrays the inner-workings of organized crime.

“The Mafia Bookkeeper” is nothing moviegoers haven’t seen before. The plot is exciting, but it’s often confusing, and the lack of emotional range from the characters highlights the overused and tired plot devices of any typical mafia movie. It’s “Ocean’s Eleven,” but with a more intricate storyline – without the charisma and engaging cast.

TRUST NO ONE: THRILLERS, CRIME DRAMAS AND SPY MOVIES

cold1
Still from “Cold Eyes,” the Hatchet’s pick for best action film. Photo courtesy of FilmFest DC.

“Cold Eyes”

Country: South Korea

Directors: Jo Ui-seok, Kim Byung-seo

4 out of 5 stars

With realism and suspense as the backbone of “Cold Eyes,” the directors deliver a riveting story about a rookie detective trying to apprehend the mastermind behind an elaborate armed robbery. To solve the case, the protagonist has to overcome conflicts between her surveillance team’s rules and her own intuition.

The direction of the film is clear from the beginning. Well-executed pacing and parallels between the opening and the conclusion provide insight and significance to some of the film’s minor details, like detective Ha Yoon-joo’s induction test. This technique leads to memorable lines and scenes, especially those that focus on the team’s veteran leader, Hwang. The structure of the film enables audiences to systematically understand the plot as they grow with the rookie.

The film scraps high-tech gadgets and excessive fire fights in favor of sleepless research and stealth espionage. The rookie’s team uses codes and pre-planned routes to track and hunt down suspects. These realistic elements enhance the viewing experience and separate the film from the typical detective movie.

“Traffic Department”

Country: Poland

Director: Wojciech Smarzowski

2.5 out of 5 stars

Bribery, scandal and sex pervade “Traffic Department,” a story about corruption in the Polish police force. When an innocent sergeant is framed for murdering a man who was having an affair with his wife, the sergeant becomes a fugitive and must fight to prove his innocence.

The film is slow at first, but the second half picks up the pace. The film uses shots from surveillance cameras and cell phones, which create eye-catching scenes, but can be hard to follow. From the shady deals between officers to the sergeant’s pursuit of evidence, the acting is superb and may even convince you that some of the footage is real.

Despite the film’s imperfections, Smarzowski offers an important message about justice that leaves audiences satisfied – as long as they can make it to the end.

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