A story about love deception, the return of the past, a tragedy, or even the violence contained in an everyday detail, appear themselves to push them towards the abyss, into the undeniable pleasure of losing control.
The first ten minutes of Argentina’s Wild Tales, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, perfectly set you up for the experience you are about to have. A woman boards an airplane, then strikes up a conversation with the man across the aisle from her. It turns out he knows her ex-boyfriend. So does the woman seated in front of him. So does everyone else on the plane. It’s too much to be a coincidence, and it’s not. The guy they all know is the pilot; his passengers are people who have done him wrong. The scene ends with a stunning Twilight Zone-esque twist, then segues into an opening credits sequence set against photos of wild, often predatory animals. Writer/director Damian Szifron grabs you by the throat from the get-go, then proceeds to deliver a dazzling ride. Continue reading
“Hypnotic” is the best word to describe Favula, the latest work from director Raúl Perrone, which comes with a recommendation from none other than Apichatpong Weerasethakul – though he used the more Joe-like epithet, “bliss.” Somewhat of a secret outside of his native Argentina, Perrone has made more than 30 movies, and in recent years has reinvented his cinema, by looking back to the past, and in doing so pointing to the future. Standing apart from any other film made this year, with its magical handmade aesthetic, Favula recalls Méliès, or silent Fritz Lang, but at the same time evokes recent silent, stage-bound aesthetics like Raya Martin’s Independencia. Loosely based on an African fable, and shot employing rear-projections techniques, Favula’s simple events take place mostly in an isolated house and a nearby jungle: a marginal family’s life is interrupted by the arrival of a teenaged girl. On top of the minimalist, pulsating images, Perrone layers a maximalist soundtrack that encompasses both the sounds of the jungle and non-diegetic music (indelible contemporary songs that appeared in his last work, the cumbia punk opera P3ND3JO5). The result is a wholly unique, mythical universe of danger, passion and magic. Continue reading
In this commentary on cinematic rituals, the star of Alonso’s earlier film, Los Muertos (Vargas), wanders through the Argentine cinématheque in Buenos Aires, Teatro San Martin, searching for the film premiere in which he is the star. In contrast to his other films, Fantasma charts a journey that unfolds almost entirely within interior spaces without diminishing the power of his contemplative style.
A work that links La Libertad and Los Muertos, Fantasma (2006) is a one-hour treasure that marks a new high for the Argentine filmmaker. Set in a multiplex in Buenos Aires, Fantasma ports Vargas and Misael, this time devoid of any fictional trappings, from the lush, impenetrable greenery of the South American forests to restricted, deceptive and equally alien interiors of this concrete jungle. However, the human yearning for locating oneself within the world around remains as intense as ever. The four or five characters that we see in the film wander the empty corridors of the building like ghosts that have haunted an abandoned cinema hall. Continue reading
Tal cual podría sugerir el sentido más estricto de un invernadero, esto es, un lugar donde las plantas o alguna otra especie se confina para afianzar mejor que en el exterior los ribetes de su propio génesis, en “Invernadero”, el film de Gonzalo Castro, el escritor mexicano Mario Bellatin quedará en evidencia en el funcionamiento de sus momentos coyunturales. Un retrato de los núcleos básicos de su cotidianidad: su prótesis de metal, diálogos con personas de su entorno, relaciones entre lo material, la verdad y el complot, teorías disparatadas, todo funciona a modo de estrategia narrativa donde lo documental fundamenta una posible ficción. Y con un actor sin par, el propio Bellatin. Continue reading
The goalkeeper of a little-known soccer team is kidnapped by a Argentinean government squad and sent to a detention center. After months of torture, he plots his escape with three other young men.
If American moviegoers have plenty of reasons to feel icky about government-sponsored kidnappings and hidden prisons, “Chronicle of an Escape” gives them another good one, by viewing a fact-based Argentinean story through the stylized lens of a horror film. Laced with dread that builds to a thoroughly gripping third act, it should do well with art house audiences who like their history lessons to come with a shot of adrenaline. Continue reading
Nicolás lives in a small town in the Argentinian province of Entre Ríos. His father Jorge is a respected doctor who claims the privilege of leading a double life with two families. Seen through the eyes of Nicolás, his oldest son, Jorge is a man who will not allow himself be called ‘Dad’ and who, after a day they spend together, returns to his other family which he has privileged with much greater financial support. Nicolás takes on the role of a father: he looks after his siblings, comforts his mother and takes care of financial matters. The inconsistency of these parallel worlds becomes even more evident when Jorge calls upon Nicolás to follow in his footsteps. He is to become a doctor, too, and to take over the ranch his father inherited and manages in a colonial manner. Unperceived by the people around him, the boy starts to nurse rebellion against his father’s authoritarian ways and machismo, and against the open secret which everyone knows but which everyone ignores.
(from berlinale’s cat.) Continue reading
Skater musical from Buenos Aires suburb. In this silent black-and-white 4:3 format film, the hypnotising soundtrack drives the images. Love, desire, drama, faces. Perrone, the godfather of Argentine independent cinema, reinvents it in his 35th film.
Argentinian director Raúl Perrone calls P3ND3JO5 (‘pendejos': slang for teen, but also idiot or worse epithets) a ‘cumbia opera in three acts with coda’. Cumbia is rhythmic Columbian music that became immensely popular in Latin America during the 1940s.