the end of the world comes, it will hit Buenos Aires just as hard as New York—maybe
even worse, because we are more accustomed to grand scale emergencies. As social
order starts to break down, they might start to miss the military junta. A
group of schlubby middle class survivalists do not intend to wait that long.
They will enroll in a post-apocalyptic training camp—just in the nick of end times.
Prepare yourself for an aesthetically severe Armageddon in Lukas Valenta Rinner’s
Parabellum (trailer here), which screens
during this year’s New Directors/New Films.
by the constant reports of civil strife, Hernan Oviedo the unassuming office
drone is going off the grid. After cutting his utilities, he heads off for his
preparedness boot camp. He is a scrawny cat, but he is still fitter than some
of his more obese colleagues. Nevertheless, they have come to learn skills that
will soon be necessary, like camouflage, explosives, hand-to-hand combat, and
marksmanship. Rinner observes them going about their drills with a tone of
quiet mockery, but his motley characters will have the last laugh before they
even get to the third act. It seems their preparations are not simply physical.
They are also ready to become ruthless predators for the sake of survival.
is hard to believe a film about a cult-like paramilitary organization running
wild during the apocalypse could be so quiet and narratively diffuse. Granted,
plottish kinds of things do happen, but Rinner de-emphasizes them, often
relegating them to the distant corner of the screen, where they are easily
overlooked. He certainly shows no interest whatsoever in his characters’ personalities
and interior lives, but he loves his wide shots.
Seijo totally nails Oviedo’s world-weariness and existential disillusionment,
doing the best that he can in what is far from an actor’s showcase. To put it in
perspective, Rinner is far more likely to shoot his cast from behind rather
than face forward, by at least a ratio of two-to-one in favor of the backs of
their heads. That is immediately distancing and it gets rather dull over time.
initially appears to ridicule its paranoid characters, but largely
vindicates their paranoia at a relatively early stage. Roundabout or even
openly experimental approaches to apocalyptic subject matter can yield fruit,
but it seems they are better suited to short films, like Andreas Bolm’s The Revenants. In truth, Parabellum is a tough slog with a
miserly payoff. Recommended for the small handful of admirers for conceptual
filmmakers like João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata, it screens
this coming Monday (3/23) at MoMA and Tuesday (3/24) at the Walter Reade, as
part of the 2015 ND/NF.
Labels: Apocalyptic cinema, Argentine Cinema, ND/NF '15