Loading...

Hollow City 

Wednesday, Jun 21 2006
Comments

Writer-director Maria João Ganga’s remarkable debut is also one of the first films to emerge from Angola since the end of that country’s decades-long civil war in 2002. Set in the capital city of Luanda in 1991, a year that saw one of many short-lived lulls in the fighting, Hollow City keeps the horrors of war at its periphery as Ganga explores the aftermath and legacy of violence in the life of a 12-year-old boy. N’dala arrives in Luanda on a military cargo plane with a group of war orphans in the care of a missionary nun. But between the plane and the mission’s waiting bus, N’dala steals off the tarmac to wander the city’s forbidding streets in search of a way back to his rural village. As N’dala follows his curiosity and his hunger, Ganga takes us on a child’s-eye urban tour reminiscent of Iranian films such as The Mirror and The White Balloon. N’dala’s every encounter — with a homeless man, a fisherman, a street vendor — plays out as naturalist portrait, cultural critique and pregnant metaphor for the war-torn country’s competing forces of hope, madness and greed. Eventually, N’dala is befriended by Ze, an older schoolboy who happens to be starring in a school play about a wandering warrior in search of an unselfish man. In Ganga’s assured hands, such an obvious parallel is anything but heavy-handed. She works, instead, by building subtle connections and impressions across scenes and compositions. When we first see N’dala, he’s looking out from the window of a plane — a simple image that, by the end of the movie, powerfully underscores the innocence with which he meets this violent world: He is looking for his parents in the sky, just as the nun said. Ganga’s feelings about her country’s current fragile peace are most evident in the film’s lack of sentimentality. Even when the story takes a sudden tragic turn, we accept it as a fact of life in a country where nothing is ever certain.

—Paul Malcolm

Other recommended new releases: Cemetery Man (DVD); Clark Gable: The Signature Collection: Boom Town, China Seas, Dancing Lady, Mogambo, San Francisco, Wife vs. Secretary (DVD); Equinox (DVD); The Loved One (DVD). Also released this week: DVD: The Adventures of Superboy: The Complete First Season; The Adventures of Superman: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons; Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; Charlie Chan Collection, Vol. 1: Charlie Chan in Egypt, Charlie Chan in London, Charlie Chan in Paris, Charlie Chan in Shanghai, Eran Trece; The Cult of the Suicide Bomber; Eight Below; En Route to Baghdad; Fatwa; A Fine Madness; The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight; The Hills Have Eyes; I Love You, Alice B. Toklas; In Country; Justice League of America: Season 2; The King of Queens: The Complete Fifth Season; KORN: Live on the Other Side; Krypto the Superdog, Vol. 1: Cosmic Canine; Lois & Clark: The Complete Third Season; Look, Up in the Sky!: The Amazing Story of Superman; Louis L’Amour’s Shaughnessy: The Iron Marshal; Married . . . With Children: The Complete Fifth Season; Mary Tyler Moore: Season 4; NewsRadio: The Complete Fourth Season; Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor); NYPD Blue: Season 4; The Omen: The Collector’s Edition; Petulia; Shanghai Panic; Smallville: Lois & Clark — Adventures of Superman: Season 1; Superman: Brainiac Attacks; Superman: The Animated Series, Vol. 3; Syriana; The Valley of the Dolls;What’s Eating Gilbert Grape: Special Collector’s Edition; Why We Fight.

click to enlarge 1704535.t.jpg

Related Stories

Related Content

Now Showing

  1. Thu 10
  2. Fri 11
  3. Sat 12
  4. Sun 13
  5. Mon 14
  6. Tue 15
  7. Wed 16

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!

Around The Web

Slideshows

  • 10 Movies You Should See This Summer
    The phrase "summer movies" will never not mean broad, action-driven crowd-pleasers to me: I counted the days until Batman (June 23, 1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (July 3, 1991), and Jurassic Park (June 11, 1993) were released. For every Dark Knight there are 10 Prometheuses — and that's just among the films that are actually trying to be good — but the hype and anticipation of summer movies remains a fun spectator sport. (More fun than sports, anyway.) Here, 10 from Memorial Day weekend and after for which I have, as the song says, high hopes. By Chris Klimek
  • Doc Docs: 8 Powerful Medical Documentaries
    Code Black is the latest in a string of powerful documentaries examining the domestic health care system's flaws and profiling its physicians, caretakers and patients. In this film -- which will be released in select theaters on June 20 -- the cameras are pointed at the nation's busiest emergency room, that of L.A. County Hospital. Here are seven moving medical docs. Click on the film name to read the full review.

    See also:
    35 Music Documentaries Worth Seeing

    15 Documentaries That Help You Understand the World Right Now
  • Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel in Lego
    A Lego replica of The Grand Budapest Hotel was unveiled this past Saturday, June 14, by builder Ryan Ziegelbauer and star of the film Tony Revolori at The Grove in L.A. Ziegelbaur and his team built the 7-foot, 150-pound structure from over 50,000 Lego bricks. The celebration was held in honor of the Blu-Ray and DVD release of Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel on June 17th by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. All photos by Mary Bove.

Movie Trailers

View all movie trailers >>

Now Trending