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Critics reviews
Birds of Passage
Ciro Guerra, Cristina Gallego Colombia, 2018
A riot of sound, color and widescreen imagery, courtesy of cinematographer David Gallego (who shot the monochrome Embrace of the Serpent and Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not A Witch, another apt frame of reference), the insights into the destabilizing impact of outside influences feel both credible and prescient.
February 15, 2019
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The screenwriters’ way of describing this world’s fall from grace due to the lures of money and luxury has the power and inevitability of classic tragedy. It could be Greek or Shakespearean, though it is palpably modern and Colombian.
February 12, 2019
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Parts of the story are narrated by a blind singer — a literally Homeric figure — and the story itself upholds Ezra Pound’s definition of the epic as “a poem containing history.” It’s about how the world changes, about how individual actions and the forces of fate work in concert to bring glory and ruin to a hero and his family.
February 12, 2019
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[Gallego and Guerra’s] arresting visual sense power the story in the eeriest of ways, from the sweeping vistas of desert and sky to the surreal appearance of a glistening white mansion where an ancient village once stood.
February 12, 2019
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It’s a movie involving a wide spectrum of experience, but its elements are nonetheless profoundly integrated.
February 11, 2019
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One could draw a delicate correspondence between the fate of the characters in Birds of Passage—culturally demolished by the search of profit—and the film itself, though the import of American filmic models undeniably enriches the movie’s expressive and political vigor.
January 02, 2019
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While the story may sound familiar, it feels fresh and novel, thanks to the filmmakers’ carefully understated approach and strategic use of both actors and actual tribespeople.
November 29, 2018
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As a film, Birds of Passage is not as challenging or evocative as Embrace of the Serpent. Its fascinating story, however, deals with the little-known history of the origins of the South American drug trade, the growing problem that has caused such upheaval in the region and is very much still with us.
October 17, 2018
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An epic and wholly original take on the cartel genre, a critique of capitalism that gains in depth and emotion by daring to begin from a place that isn’t simply outside of drug violence, but of capitalism itself.
September 05, 2018
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Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s predictable crime-family Epic-with-a-capital-E, touted as a Godfather inheritor, looked like a transparent watch-me-now bid for even bigger budgets, with screenplay groaners aplenty.
July 03, 2018
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Guerra and Gallego’s film is no dusty period piece, it is wildly alive, yet it reminds us that no matter how modern we are, there are ancient songs our forebears knew whose melodies still rush in our blood.
May 23, 2018
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The result is a film whose subject may be true, but whose thrust seems allegorical, and an allegory whose impact is significantly dampened by the admirable scope of the picture, which thereby fails to fully integrate two kinds of stories told, one of ambitions and one of traditions.
May 11, 2018
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The film vividly depicts those increasing tensions and contrasts, as when Ursula unwraps an ancient family talisman with a sizeable gold Rolex on her wrist. Elsewhere in the film, the imagery is equally striking.
May 10, 2018
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Guerra’s project seems most interested in exposing Western audiences to underrepresented cultures and customs, but his fixation on Surrealist vistas and modernist tableau reveal his hand; this is Transportive Cinema you can feel good about—cake you can have and eat, too.
May 09, 2018
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