WATCHED: 15 films - including 3 shorts.
Down With Love, La Pasion Segun Berenice, Ars Colonia, El Escapulario, Daughters Of The Dust, Las Poquianchis, The Mirror, La Ciénaga, Dead King, Sunshine, Canoa, Pariah, Tortilla Soup, Mobile Men, Mysterious Object At Noon
I watched few films this month. But I’ve been busy with school. And I actually got to be on a filmset for a couple of days!!! So that’s great.
TOTAL FILMS 2012: 288 films (78.90% of total)
1. Daughters Of The Dust
3.Mysterious Object At Noon
1.DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST
All the performances are great. I can’t wait to see more of her stuff. I know some people don’t like comparing the films by POCs to Western films, but this really gave me a sense of Fanny and Alexander. The production design, the costumes, and even the hairstyles are all very good. I think that the editing hasn’t held up in time extremely well, but it is nonetheless an incredible film. More people need to see this.
Canoa (Cazals, 1976) is a story that showcases the power of ignorance. It tells the real-life events (as the first title card reminds us: “Esto Si Pasó (This Did Happen)” of several University workers who arrive to the small town of Canoa after a rainstorm prevents them from hiking up a nearby mountain. The villagers, herded by the corrupt priest, attack, maim and kill the workers believing them to be atheistic communists who intend to kill the priest.
From a historical point of view, one can argue that Cazal’s film is subjective since we get only one side of the story, with the priest emerging the clear antagonist. But after decades of very few corrupt, power-holding officials controlling every aspect of Mexican politics, life and economy, Cazals’ argument is rather valid.
Achieved with technical mastery that is common in Mexican cinema in the 70s (sadly, after this mini-renaissance, Mexican cinema would again decay), Canoa is an example of great filmmaking. The first scene consists of two reporters on the phone as one dictates the events we are yet to see. Then we see the aftermath of the lynching, in a pseudo-police report, as the credits roll. This introduces a film narrative technique Cazals will employ through the rest of the film: that of breaking the fourth wall, or in plain terms, the characters addressing the camera. Acting as if it were the camera of news reporters investigating the affair after the fact, it interviews a common citizen (played by Salvador Sánchez) who informs us of the events leading up to the lynching, and acting like the choir in a classical Greek play. He tells us of the grip the priest has over the town and his instigation that resulted in the lynching.
His peculiar decision to address the audience provides a link from the events to the viewer, making it even more real. This is especially effective considering less than a month later, the Tlatelolco Massacre would break out, and two weeks after that, Mexico would be in the world’s spotlight as it hosted the 1968 Olympics.
This, I think, is the irony of it all. Mexico, on the verge of modernity, almost catching up with the rest of the world’s powers, has to deal with the inheritance of centuries of corruption and violence. And yet, no one is without blame. The lynched workers who tried to distance themselves from current events, the priest and his symbolic place in Mexican history and hierarchy, and the people who allow themselves to be coaxed into believing everything.
In the end, the result is horrifying. The scenes that depict the mob attacking the workers is nightmarish. Scarier, I think than some horror films. Human nature, at its worst, is grislier than any monster.
3. MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON
The director himself admits that his intentions with the film changed halfway through the 3-year production. And it shows. While I found the first half entertaining and masterful, the second was more passive. Not sure if it’s completely a bad thing, but I honestly prefered the first half. Although the second provides some good moments, it’s more on the boring side, or at least requires more patience.
4. LAS POQUIANCHIS
There is no one that ends up being innocent. No one. In the film, all the characters share blame, probably except for the girls, who interestingly are featured very little. The two true victims are the two sisters, but as in the bible-old story, one goes down the wrong path and kills the other. It’s good, dealing with history and social critique. Ending in bitterness and melancholy, offering a solution under it all.
5. EL ESCAPULARIO
It may be redundant to say this about any film photographed by Figueroa, but: CINEMATOGRAPHY! It is glorious, perfect and awesome. There was more than one moment that made me go “what?” The editing and sound design do not stay behind, and we end with something incredible. I am not feeling the story as a whole, since it feels a bit fragmented, but the rest is very good. I definitely need to rewatch this. Soon.
Seriously, though. That little ugly still that I have currently does not do justice.
Films watched were in the following LANGUAGES:
- SPANISH: 6
- THAI: 2
- RUSSIAN: 1
Watched 2 films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul:
- Mysterious Object at Noon
- Mobile Men
Watched 2 films by Felipe Cazals:
- The women in Daughters of the Dust
- especially Barbarao