In his movies, Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos sets up surreal, outlandish premises and then pulls you inside, so the nonsensical takes on weighty, emotional import. In 2007’s Oscar-nominated Dogtooth, the lives of the members of a screwed-up family served as an exploration of misbegotten parenting and the perils of strict idealism. In 2011’s Alps, a group of eccentrics hired themselves out to people mourning the recent death of a loved one, examining the ways in which we all sometimes role-play or take on different personas when we think that is what is expected of us.
Samantha Montgomery was a 38-year-old single woman living in New Orleans, working at a nursing facility for the elderly during the day and pouring her heart out on YouTube at night in candid video diary postings that hinted at the emotional darkness she was trying to stave away. She spoke about the physical and sexual abuse she suffered as a child. She talked about the biography she was planning to write, to be titled Flying on Broken Wings.
The Rebound is nominally a documentary about the non-profit Miami Heat Wheels wheelchair basketball team and their attempt to win the league’s national championship in 2013. But the real theme of this lively, emotionally engrossing movie is how we react after we suffer a crushing, life-altering blow. Some of us never recover. Others, like the extraordinary athletes you get to know in this documentary, figure out a way to find meaning out of tragedy: They are down, but they refuse to be counted out.
Rosario “Charin” Suárez, the titular subject of Queen of Thursdays, got her nickname during her glory days as a ballerina at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, whose famous director Alicia Alonso was so jealous of Suarez’s talent that she didn’t let her perform on weekends. After years of struggle in Cuba, Suárez fled to Miami in 1995, seeking, like so many exile artists before and since, artistic fulfillment and a better life.
Mr. Dorsey, the music teacher at the center of the documentary Sweet Dillard, opens the film by saying something unexpected for a music teacher. “I don’t want them to leave saying they learned to play a mean saxophone,” he says to the camera. “If they can leave the program saying they learned about life, about relationships, I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Although he’s made several movies in English — including Perdita Durango, the unofficial sequel to Wild at Heart, starring Javier Bardem and Rosie Perez as a pair of Satan worshipers and human-fetus traffickers — Spanish wildman Álex de la Iglesia has never broken through to the U.S. mainstream. Perhaps his sense of humor is too dark and outrageous (Perdita Durango, for example, was only released here on DVD in a heavily edited version retitled Dance With the Devil). Or perhaps de la Iglesia’s brand of comedy hinges too heavily on Spain’s pop culture to work outside his home turf. A lot of the jokes are simply lost in translation.
The Argentine box-office smash The Clan is one of the highlights of this weekend’s GEMS showcase, a series of screenings of upcoming and noteworthy films presented by Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival.