Tag Archives: heist

Sultanes del Sur (2007)

Love, loyalty and compassion are for the weak.”

With every heist film, you know there’s a moment when something is going to go wrong. With a techno-heist, a film in which high-tech knowledge is essential to the robbery, the possibilities of exactly when and where things will go wrong are endless. But if the heist itself goes smoothly, then the viewer knows that the deal is going to go belly-up sometime between the robbery and the divvying up of the loot.  Perhaps it will be a double-cross. Perhaps it will be some tiny detail, but something somewhere along the way will go wrong. The question is…will the operation be recoverable?

Sultanes del Sur (Sultans of the South) is a riveting Mexican heist film that starts with a smoothly run bank robbery. The gang leader, Leo (Jordi Molla) begins the heist while the rest of the gang Monica Silvari (Ana de la Reguera), Carlos (Tony Dalton who also wrote the script) and Leserio Dominguez (Silverio Palacios) take their positions. It’s all very well thought-out, very well run, and Leo, who’s just a mite too cocky, seems to have all the bases covered.

The heist goes smoothly and the next thing you know, the four thieves are on a plane to Argentina where they intend to change the 12 million dollars loot back into pesos. So far so good….

Leo is clearly in charge here, and it’s when the thieves get on the plane that things begin to seem not quite right. For a start, Leo is keeping a tight mouth about all the plans. Leo and his girl, Penelope Cruz looks-a-like, Monica fly first class while Carlos and Leserio fly coach. And then there’s history between Carlos and Monica, but now she’s Leo’s girl. But is she?

It’s in Argentina when things begin to go horribly wrong….

Sultanes del Sur has a couple of violent scenes–not too terrible but a couple of lingering close-ups I could have done without. There were also a few chase scenes and I am not a fan of this sort of filler, but the story kept me glued to the screen. Yes, the film follows the formula, but it wasn’t predictable. The gang members run into some truly evil characters and are out of their depth fast. This very effectively cut the lark aspect out of the caper and turned the film into something much darker.

A couple of words of some of the shots: in one scene, Leo, Carlos, Leserio and Monica face the hoods who are supposed to exchange the money. The camera then switches angles and it’s the same scene and same characters but from a different angle and a different shot. This was a great shot. Another excellent shot occurs as the plane takes off from Mexico.

The very last scenes in which “all” is revealed was the weakest point of the film as too much info was parlayed in a few quick flashbacks, but overall this was an entertaining crime film, suitably bleak, suitably dark, and once again, long may the Mexican Renaissance in cinema last.

From director Alejandro Lozano

1 Comment

Filed under Mexican

The Aura (2005)

“It’s all in the timing.”

In the Argentinean film, The Aura taxidermist Esteban Espinosa (Ricardo Darin) is a quiet solitary man who suffers from epilepsy. He describes the period that occurs before an epileptic fit begins, and notes that everything is calm and clear and “there’s nothing left to decide.” Watching Espinosa preparing the corpses of animals convinces the viewer of several things–he’s odd, and he’s meticulous. But then it’s revealed that Espinosa is obsessed with crime. It’s a hobby of sorts. He collects newspaper clippings of crimes, and he analyses the crucial stages at which the crimes went wrong. He’s convinced that the perfect crime is possible, and it’s a matter of timing and meticulous planning. But this is all speculation until Espinosa finds himself inadvertently mixed up in a heist.

After going on a hunting trip to a remote area of the country, Espinosa stays at a primitive resort owned by hunter Dietrich and his wife Diana (Dolores Fonzi). Events place a well-calculated crime at Espinosa’s feet. The question becomes: will he view this as an opportunity, or will he hesitate and back off? It’s one thing to be an armchair crime buff who nurses secret fantasies of the perfect crime, but it’s another thing indeed to leap into some sort of alter ego mode and hold one’s own with seasoned armed thugs. Espinosa’s incongruous fantasies about crime could just be a symptom of a desire for excitement and notoriety, yet excitement always brings the threat of a seizure. Espinosa, calm and introspective, is a peculiar man, full of contrasts. He is opposed to hunting and killing, yet is persuaded to do just that by a man he doesn’t particularly like. He’s different from most of the other brutish, bullying male characters in the film. But does he secretly wish to emulate their aggression? And in this case, a crime might provide the perfect opportunity. Or when push comes to shove will Espinosa cringe at deliberate, directed violence and discover the hard way that crime is more than just a matter of timing and planning?

Directed by Fabian Bielinsky (Nine Queens), The Aura is a moody, beautiful film. Colours are washed out, so Espinosa’s quiet, unemotional world is full of various shades of steely greys and blues. Ricardo Darin, who dominates the film, is a phenomenal mood actor, and this has to be one of his best performances. If you like neo-noir, heist films, or you are a fan of Ricardo Darin, then chances are that you’ll enjoy The Aura. Director Bielinsky died in 2006, and this is tragically, his last film. DVD extras include behind-the-scenes footage and the trailer. In Spanish with subtitles.

Leave a comment

Filed under Argentinean, Film Noir