David Stratton, At the Movies:
… from the title I was expecting some kind of thriller and, of course, not at all. A very, very, very intelligent and very universal film, I think, about men’s business. Not so secret in this case, and so beautifully written and so really well acted.
Amongst its many crimes, something which bothered me about Man of Steel was its (and seemingly its director’s) narrow interpretation of masculinity. Set aside even the last hour or so of bloodless genocide, and look to the opening scenes in which Jor-El faces off against Zod. Zod is a man bred for warfare, Jor-El for science. Yet instead of using his wits and his intelligence to withstand Zod we get a fistfight - and one in which the scientist holds his own and perhaps even wins. It is implausible, but it is the only way in which the film feels it can express Jor-El’s power against Zod.
Which brings me to this very quiet Spanish film in which grown men have the audacity to act like adults. Well, mostly like adults. Plenty of tension, but no fist fights. Brilliantly directed conversations, constantly twisting expectations.
After Man of Steel crushed my faith in cinema, A Field in England quickly restored it. A Gun in Each Hand surprised me by demonstrating that a film about a group of middle-aged men didn’t have to be soul-crushingly banal.