Directed by rookie filmmaker Greg Kwedar, Transpecos is a classic crime thriller grappling with a subject increasingly common in film: the war on drugs. And despite recent fare concerning the same topic, such as Cartel Land and Sicario, Transpecos manages to find its own niche. At its core, this is a film about the relationships between three colleagues and friends, and how they react when those bonds are shattered by violence and treachery. This is greatly enhanced by the incredibly strong performances given by the three starring actors, which gives the movie an intensely personal feel. In fact, they gave the strongest performances out of all the films I’ve seen at BIFF so far. Plus, the landscapes of the Southwest are gorgeous and the film has excellent cinematography, reminding me of the sweeping vistas of Days of Heaven and other early Terrence Malick films.
Although it’s certainly not the only film dealings with its chosen subject, Transpecos is an expertly crafted and superbly acted film. It’s well-written, directed, acted, and shot. You really can’t go wrong with this one, so make sure to check it out once it gets to theatres later this year.
The Alchemist Cookbook
I’m not sure exactly what genre to classify The Alchemist Cookbook as. It has elements of a horror film, but it’s not quite a horror film. At times it seems to be a subtle homage to the exploitation films of the 70s, but in general it seems too subdued to be in that category either. In fact, the main problem with The Alchemist Cookbook is that it doesn’t seem sure of exactly what it wants to be. It has a little horror, some character development of Sean, and a smattering of subtle social commentary, but none of it is enough to add up to a completely coherent film. It’s not that the movie is confusing, per se, as much as it feels incomplete, in a way.
If the movie had been a bit longer, delved deeper into character development (there is only one other actor in the film beside Hickson), or embraced the conventions of the horror genre further, than The Alchemist Cookbook would have been a very interesting film. But as of now it stands incomplete, neither one thing nor another, and is worse off for it.