Capsule Movie Review: ‘MOJAVE’ and ‘SON OF SAUL’

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

MOJAVE | 93 min | R
Director: William Monahan
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Walton Goggins and Mark Wahlberg

Oh, “brother.” Just when you started liking Oscar Isaac, he goes and does this pile.

Marking his sophomore directing effort, Academy Award-winner William Monahan (THE DEPARTED) brings together the likes of Garrett Hedlund (TRON: LEGACY) and Oscar Isaac (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS) for a movie that’s so self-indulgent you can’t wait to exit the theater.

The film follows the story of a suicidal artist (Hedlund) who goes off in the desert to clear his conscience, Jim Morrison-style, but runs into a drifter (Isaac) who makes his life a living hell. While the plot may sound somewhat enticing, the ponderous script and weak characterization will have you furious from beginning to end.

MOJAVE opens today at AMC Mesquite 30.

SON OF SAUL | 107 min | R
Director: László Nemes
Cast: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár and Urs Rechn

In 1993, Steven Spielberg made many quiver in shame, as SCHINDLER’S LIST illustrated the despicable reality of the Holocaust. It broke ground in its portrayal and even swept in many prestigious awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture and Director. SON OF SAUL, however, puts the lens closer on the event by making audiences active participants in the story.

There aren’t many cuts in SON OF SAUL. The camera continues to roll and follow our characters as they go through their devastating journey. It’s a visceral tour at the heart of the infamous death camps.

László Nemes is the type of filmmaker who is not afraid to expose everything and take you to dark, often uncomfortable places. With its 4:3 aspect ratio, Nemes makes SON OF SAUL so riveting that even when you want to look away, especially scenes that showcase the Jews being rushed into pits or shower rooms, you cannot take your eyes off the screen. It’s a real work of art that deserves the foreign film Oscar.

SON OF SAUL opens today at Landmark Magnolia and Cinemark West Plano.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.