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


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

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.