On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: CARLOS (Sundance Channel).
Carlos … the legend that hijacked the world…
By Cynthia Kane
After premiering at Festival de Cannes 2010 in its 330-minute version, IFC Films and Sundance Channel picked up this gem, both for theatrical release in the US and for a 3 part-television event to air on Sundance Channel. It was a brilliant move (winning this year's Golden Globe for Best Mini Series).
CARLOS follows the career of a man born as Ilich Ramírez Sanchez in Venezuela, who “seduced” and terrified the world as the internationally-known terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, active primarily during the 70’s and 80’s, and who, after being arrested in 1994, remains for life in a French prison.
This remarkable film was crafted through intensive research with few known facts, archival material and persons still living. Yet it’s very strongly labeled a fiction because so much of the existence of Carlos the Jackal still eludes us. His life was built on legend and myth as much on the terrorist activities he organized or was involved in.
As a young man, Carlos claimed to be a Marxist and his cause the liberation of Palestine. Yet he was quick to turn to terrorism as a mercenary, willing to take on a cause for a price. He was well financed by shady governments to buy and trade arms, but there’s not much that he actually succeeded in, except the glory of Carlos.
CARLOS (Sundance Channel On Demand)
We follow him from his late youth in London and Paris when affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to the OPEC oil ministers - hostage taking in Vienna, to Algeria, to Syria, East Germany, Hungary and back to Syria again, to his final days in Sudan, all but washed-up due to a changing world and the fall of communism.
What’s most welcome here is the intelligence of the script, the acting- with a fine international cast largely unknown to a US audience, the cinematography and the editing. CARLOS shines not only as an astonishing and seductive story from recent history but through the exquisite craft of an extraordinary filmmaking team. Olivier Assayas has long been a favorite – his LATE AUGUST, EARLY SEPTEMBER and IRMA VEP caught me and got me as a life-long fan, yet only with a strong collective team as he assembled here could he accomplish something a fine as CARLOS.
Olivier Assayas (Sundance Channel On Demand)
Edgar Ramírez as Carlos captures the charisma, brutality, misogyny and narcissism of this man. His performance falls far away from stereotypes as we see him as a multi-dimensional human being with many colors, if hardly sympathetic. It seems a role he was born to play, also a Venezuelan, having lived all over the world and speaking at least five languages, although he admits having to learn in Arabic-speaking lines phonetically.
You might be contemplating the length; well, it’s broken into three parts. Yet you may surprise yourself and do what I did. Being so compelled and hooked into Part One, I watched all 5+ hours at one sitting. Of course, it’s your choice. One thing, time will fly and you’ll have wanted more.
CARLOS (Sundance Channel On Demand)
Sundance Channel creates wonderful series and productions of late – I am a huge fan of BRICK CITY and others, yet this somewhat harkens back to the earlier days of the channel, celebrating independence and innovation in film. One can only hope with the success of CARLOS, they will bring more smart, edgy international series to our screens. Fresh and unique, it offers the thinking-viewer so much more.
- Cynthia Kane
Cynthia Kane reviews documentaries for On Demand Weekly. She is a writer and Sr Programming Manager for [ ITVS], overseeing the International Initiative for funding in their SF office. Prior she’s had many incarnations from actor to writer to producer. She co-created DOCday on Sundance Channel.
CARLOS is available for FREE On Demand as a 3 part mini series to Sundance Channel subscribers 2/2/11 - 3/15/11.
Part 1 (104 min)
Part 2 (109 min)
Part 3 (119 min)
Total (332 min)
Rated TV MA
Read Other Reviews & Articles By Cynthia Kane:
Top 10 of 2010 - Features
Top 13 Docs of 2010
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