I am unsure if this is more due to the greater number of films being made around the world, but the recent updates of the 1001 list have definitely aired on the side of including more films from different countries. This is such a great boon for this challenge in particular as well as giving some much needed visibility to films outside of traditional film nations.
So, today I watched my first Colombian film, a take on Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness with a main cast of child actors in the role of jungle commandos. They are part of a wider organisation, although the only clue we get to them being part of a larger whole comes from grueling training sessions with their handler and a nocturnal fight sequence. Oh, also that they have an American woman hostage and we are dropped into her situation in media res.
There is a lot of good things in Monos from Mica Levi’s sparse and tense score, the stunning location shots (including areas never before on film) and the majority of the young cast. When this film gets past the initial set-up which (although essential to laying out how serious consequences for failure are) takes a little too long, there is a brutally intense jungle thriller to be savoured.
I do wish that the director had trusted his audience more to get his references instead of having us see a literal pig’s head on a spike. Like, these children were semi-feral to begin with given their strange ritualistic celebrations we see them engaging before being trapped in the jungle – back when there was some modicum of order up on the mountain. We go full mud make-up and guttural roars by the end of it so, again, no need to be so literal with the pig head.
Still though, this is a different point of view of a film and really is going to be one to stick with me. It will be especially weird when I get to the final season of Ally McBeal and see a younger Julianne Nicholson as a ditzy lawyer instead of this more hardened hostage who you are begging to be able to escape when ever she is on screen.