Pablo Trapero – Elefante blanco (2012)

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The “elefante blanco” (white elephant) in Pablo Trapero’s eponymous film is the phantasmagorical structure of what was to be Latin America’s biggest hospital, construction of which was approved in 1937 and started in 1938. In line with Argentina’s sociopolitical upheaval, the project was never completed and is now home to thousands of outcasts who live among rubble, rats, pollution, illness, crime, deadly drug lords’ feuds.
Trapero’s Elefante blanco, focusing on the painstaking work of two shanty-town priests and a social worker, is a trip through urban hell. Contrary to the barrage of political harangue we are subjected to on a daily basis, Elefante blanco lays out the bare facts: a Third World country playing welfare state but in reality struggling to stay afloat. No other aborted social project could make such a visible, powerful impact as the elefante blanco, palpable proof that not everyone is given the same possibilities to attain social mobility and think ahead to a better future. Continue reading

Lucrecia Martel – La Ciénaga AKA The Swamp (2001)

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Rotten Tomatoes wrote:
This Argentinean tale, which revolves around a group of families passing summer vacation in a rural country house, does not rely on a concrete plotline, but rather roves, rambles, and stumbles upon each new event. The most notable characteristic of La Ciénaga is its mood — a brooding, dreadful, fearsome tension that does not wain or cease even in the very last moment of the film. No event, no action, no exchange of words, no scene of the movie is more or less important than another. Instead, the film continues nonsequentially in what feels like a prolonged wait. Continue reading

Leopoldo Torre Nilsson – La chica del lunes AKA Monday’s Child (1967)

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In December 1965, Telsun had announced that production of the fifth movie had been postponed once again (the original postponement having been part of the February 1965 announcement). The film, to be produced by Sam Spiegel, was to highlight UN peacekeeping efforts along the India-Pakistan border, and some filming had already been completed. However, an armed conflict had erupted between the two nations over the disputed Kashmir territory (including one of the largest tank battles fought since World War II), and a Telsun spokesman announced that production would not resume while the conflict continued. Spiegel had by this time moved on to another project (the 1966 movie The Chase, starring Marlon Brando and the little-known Robert Redford, whom Spiegel had personally chosen for the movie), and as it turned out the project apparently was never restarted. Continue reading

Leonardo Favio – Juan Moreira (1973)

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AllMovie wrote:

In this amazing and complex Argentine historical drama, much of the true story of the 19th-century assassin Juan Moreira comes to the screen. At the time of its release, this Argentine film was the most popular locally made film ever to be shown there. Juan Moreira was a popular folk hero on a par with Billy the Kid in the U.S., and many stories and songs have been written about him over the years. In the movie, the innocent herdsman Moreira (Rodolfo Beban) is thrown into jail at the behest of an important cattle-baron. He emerges from jail a changed man. After killing the cattleman who had him sent to jail, he at first hides among a tribe of native peoples then moves into a brothel. Fueled by drink, he kills a man whom he did not know. Because the victim was an important politician, politicians from an opposing faction hire Moreira to work for them as an assassin. When that faction fails to deliver on the promise of an amnesty for him, he starts working for the other side. This continues until the two groups of politicians temporarily make peace, which proves fatal for Juan Moreira. Continue reading

Carlos Sorín – El Perro (2004)

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User review from IMDB:

“What a movie! This is one of the movies that gives you a feeling like you’ve met the lead actor, like you’ve known him for all you’re life. A kind of film that in all its simplicity shows the magic of life transported on the movie canvas. Staring whit the fact that during the movie you can’t stop thinking “where in the hell did he found the lead actor (Juan Villegas),he must be a actor-legend in Argentina” and then you find out that man used to park the directors (Carlos Sorin) car for 5 years before he put him on film. It doesn’t end here, it’s that none of the actors in film are professional actors, so to speak. An art it self is getting that maximum out them and he did. Pure emotions on movie canvas, a master-piece in a small life story.” Continue reading

Marco Bechis – Garage Olimpo (1999)

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Chili-born Italian director Marco Bechis’s second feature is a political drama based on his experiences with the military regime of Argentina (1976-1980) when he lived there. Maria (Antonella Costa) is a militant activist in an organization that is fighting the oppressive dictatorship. She teaches reading and writing in the suburbs of Buenos Aires in an area of shantytowns. She lives in a decrepit rooming house with her mother Diane (Dominique Sanda), who rents out some rooms. One of the lodgers, a shy young man named Felix (Carlos Echeverria), is in love with Maria. He seems to have come from nowhere and is supposed to be working in a garage. One morning, Maria is kidnapped by a military squad in civilian clothes in front of her mother and is taken to the garage ‘Olimpo,’ one of the many well-known torture places in the city, which operate to the general indifference of the inhabitants. Tigre, the head of the center (Enrique Pineyro) appoints their best man ? Felix ? to the job of making Maria talk. Felix is overcome by his feelings for Maria, but Maria is determined to exploit the situation for her survival. Tender love scenes between Maria and Felix enhance the story, but the intensity never reaches the heights of some of the classics of the world cinema with a similar theme, such as The Night Porter. Bechis exerts too much control over his characters and narrative to allow an emotional rupture. 52nd Cannes Film Festival, 1999. Continue reading