Tracking Shots: This Week in Film


The Village Voice reviews most movies opening in New York. Here are some you may have missed.

The Nile Hilton Incident
Directed by Tarik Saleh
Strand Releasing
Opens August 11, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Quad Cinema

Borrowing David Fincher’s viridian hues, director Tarik Saleh (Swedish, but of Egyptian descent) has created a smoky film noir based on true and recent events. The happenings of The Nile Hilton Incident lead up to the Egyptian revolution of January 25, 2011. In real life, as briefly depicted in the film, Egyptian demonstrators protested the corrupt government, calling for an end to the Mubarak regime. In Saleh’s film, corruption is found compacted into a single fictional incident — yes, at the Nile Hilton — involving a murdered singer/sex worker, the Sudanese maid who witnessed the crime, and the officials in the business of cover-ups. The film navigates this world of crooked law enforcement, with lead Fares Fares playing police commander Noredin Mostafa, the investigator on the case, who is met with shadiness that runs deep in the force. Though Fares is charismatic — with slicked hair and a habit of chain-smoking — he struggles to hold viewers’ interest past the murder scene. As sometimes happens in noirs, the audience is told whodunit at the beginning, but the best examples of this specialized subgenre maintain a high intensity even as they work backward. The Nile Hilton Incident, despite a stylish, seedy coating, fails to even come close to the canon of greats that have influenced it. Saleh attempts a smart parallel between his story and the larger, real one that serves as his backdrop, but the revolution here seems a tired afterthought. Sadly, the movie ends up playing out like an unmemorable Law & Order episode. — Kristen Yoonsoo Kim

In This Corner of the World
Directed by Sunao Katabuchi
Shout Factory
Opens August 11, Angelika Film Center and AMC Empire 25

Location is everything: Sunao Katabuchi’s anime In This Corner of the World is about a young woman named Suzu (Non), who in 1944 moves to live with her husband’s family in the city of Kure, some ten miles away from Hiroshima. Though Kure is home to the dockyard from which the (sea, not space) battleship Yamato was launched, its citizens are largely unaffected by the war — until they aren’t. The subtitled date-stamps notably speed up as August 1945 approaches, though the inevitable Hiroshima explosion isn’t the end of Suzu’s story, nor even necessarily the most traumatic thing that happens to her. Though this is a far gentler film, In This Corner of the World has thematic similarities to The Tin Drum, of all things: Like Drum’s pint-size protagonist, Suzu is facing a world at war; is small for her age (eighteen); and, as often gets observed, is far from the sharpest knife in the drawer, even getting lost on the way home from the market. After The Girl Without Hands, In This Corner of the World also has the curious distinction of being the second animated foreign film this month in which the female protagonist loses one or both of her hands. What a fun trend! — Sherilyn Connelly