TL;DR – An intimate exploration of a crime as it unwinds across the days.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.
In The Land Of Lost Angels Review –
In my exploration of cinema outside of my traditional Anglosphere, today I have another first. I think my previous investigation of Mongolian Cinema began and ended with watching The Hu on YouTube. Today, I take the first steps to fix that by looking at this brooding work of cinema.
So to set the scene, we open in the dark of a Los Angeles night. Ankhaa (Tumursukh Erdenemunkh) is on the phone back home telling everyone not to worry because his new job pays well, but clearly, this is not quite the truth. Along with his friend Orgil (Iveel Mashbat), they go through the motions of setting something up, including purchasing a gun, much to Orgil’s surprise. You are not sure where this is going, right up until they grab Scott (Mike Cali) from his car and slap a ransom note to the window.
The first thing you notice is that everything in the film is presented in black and white. Often times I find the notion of filming in black and white in movies set in the modern era to be almost pretentious, like a phase that you go through in film school to get it out of your system. However, here I think it works because it is not just some arbitrary style choice but a core part of the narrative. Every aspect of this film is deliberately stripped back to its bare bones as it focuses on these two characters that are slowly unwinding. It gives you the same sort of feeling you get in the first two acts of The Lighthouse.
Even though everything is often hidden away behind closed doors or suggested rather than shown, this is still a very confronting film at times. There is this threat that everything will unwind at every moment, which, given there is a gun involved, could have permanent consequences. This is amplified by the intimate nature of having most of the film be just the two lead cast members in one location. It is also intensified by the camera placement that often sits in the middle of the conversation but the audience at the centre of the conflict.
At the core of the film is the relationship between Orgil and Galaa, as they come into this with a very different idea of what should happen. They are both clearly close and care deeply for each other, making it all the worse as things start to unravel. It is the strength of that bond that pulls you in as they explore the world and gives them a shorthand when talking that makes it all work.
I will say that not everything in the film works as well as it could. Some of the acting in the supporting cast is not quite there in some of the moments. Also, the film sometimes falls into the trap of style over substance which you really see with the use of a lion, and structurally it did feel that the ending did drag a little bit more than it should have. While these are issues, none of them is significant or gets into the way of the film.
In the end, do we recommend In The Land Of Lost Angels? Yes, I think we would. There is a pull that takes you through the film from start to finish which helps given a lot of the film is shot in one location. The characters are interesting, and you feel the tension when it hits. If you liked In The Land Of Lost Angels, I would also recommend to you The Great Buddha+.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of In The Land Of Lost Angels
Directed by – Bishrel Mashbat
Written by – Bishrel Mashbat
Music by – Kristen Baum
Cinematography by – Mike Maliwanag
Edited by – Sasha Lembbriht
Production/Distribution Companies – The Filmbridge
Starring – Tumursukh Erdenemunkh, Iveel Mashbat, Mike Cali, Robert Corsini, Uyanga Mashbat, Sarah McCann, Roy Oraschin, Saint Lozon & Sam Bayaraa,
Rating – Around an Australia: M;