Tag Archives: Natalia Reyes

Hello, Old Friends

Terminator: Dark Fate

by George Wolf

I know it’s sounds about as insightful as “feel good movie of the year,” but Dark Fate really is the Terminator sequel we’ve been waiting for. Its fast- paced and thrilling, surprisingly funny, and manages to honor our investment in two classic characters while it carves out a damn fine blueprint for updating a warhorse.

After re-connecting us with T2: Judgment Day via some crazy good de-aging technology that apparently wasn’t shared with Gemini Man, Dark Fate gives us a future savior that must be protected.

She’s Dani (Natalia Reyes from Birds of Passage), a Mexico City factory worker being hunted by the latest and greatest Terminator, the Rev 9 (Gabriel Luna). But Dani has Grace (Tully‘s Mackenzie Davis, terrific), an “augmented” human from the year 2042 to protect her, plus a new friend with a long history of battling Terminators.

With the most badass entrance since Ripley wore the loader, Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor, instantly giving Dark Fate enough juice to send all the sequels without her to a time of wind and ghosts.

But director Tim Miller is just getting started. The action-filled set pieces keep coming, each one surpassing the last and bursting with the stylized energy he brought to Deadpool.

Need to catch your breath? Oh, look it’s Arnold.

We knew he’d be back, but we didn’t expect him as a T-800 model living a quiet family life as “Carl,” and selling high quality draperies at rock-bottom prices. He’s a stone-faced hoot, and when Carl and Sarah get back in their guns blazing, side by side saddles, just try to keep the nostalgic smile off your face.

But even with all this surface level fun, the film’s secret weapon is a script from David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray that’s heady enough to wonder if they got an early look at Rambo: Last Blood and thought a 2019 franchise revival that wasn’t offensively tone deaf might be nice. Each character has an arc to anchor it, and while the film is always mindful of how the future can be rewritten, the topical nods to border security and valuing women as more than birthing vessels are unmistakable.

OK, fine, there are a few clunky spots, some lower-grade CGI on the hyper-jumps and an (understandable) overconfidence in how much we want this to work.

But we do, and damn near all of it does, enough to make you hope they won’t be back.

Of a Feather

Birds of Passage

by Hope Madden

It’s difficult to imagine a fresh cartel story, a novel approach to the rise-and-fall arc of a self-made kingpin. And though scene after scene of Birds of Passage recalls that familiar structure, reminding you of what’s to come, you have never seen a film quite like this.

To begin with, directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra set this narco-thriller and its tale of the corrupting lure of luxury deep inside Colombia’s indigenous Wayuu culture. And though anyone who’s seen Scarface can guess how tides may turn for Rapayet (Jose Acosta), the entrepreneur at the heart of this saga, the tragic difference in this film is the way the same insidious rot destined to eat Rapayet alive also seeps into and destroys the Wayuu culture itself.

Spanning twenty years, Birds of Passage opens with Rapayet participating in a ritual, beautiful and peculiar. He proposes, but his gift is inappropriate – it’s a luxury, a thing. He’s already begun to lose touch with his roots, and yet he is determined to earn the dowry and his bride, Zaida (Natalia Reyes).

Rapayet straddles two existences, never truly fitting into either. He’s the bridge for the two ecosystems to meet, but Acosta’s performance is intriguing. Hardly the ambitious firebrand who builds an empire, he’s quiet and perhaps even weak, bringing an end to his culture accidentally, like an infected animal who doesn’t know what he’s brought home with him.

David Gallego’s cinematography renders an absurdly beautiful desolation, colors splashing and popping against bleached sandy neutrals. Naturalistic performances from the entire cast aid in the film’s authentic feeling, but the poetry of the directors’ use of long shots and the singing voiceover give Birds of Passage the tone of folklore.

It’s a fitting balance —the story itself being both intimate and epic. Like Guerra’s Oscar-nominated Embrace the Serpent, this film again examines the moment when an indigenous people watch the death of their culture in favor of something more globally acknowledged and yet clearly inferior.