Luis Buñuel – Simón del desierto AKA Simon of the Desert [+Extra] (1965)

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Simon of the Desert is Luis Buñuel’s wicked and wild take on the life of devoted ascetic Saint Simeon Stylites, who waited atop a pillar surrounded by a barren landscape for six years, six months, and six days, in order to prove his devotion to God. Yet the devil, in the figure of the beautiful Silvia Pinal, huddles below, trying to tempt him down. A skeptic’s vision of human conviction, Buñuel’s short and sweet satire is one of the master filmmaker’s most renowned works of surrealism. Continue reading

Fernando de Fuentes – Vámonos con Pancho Villa! AKA Let’s Go With Pancho Villa [+extra] (1936)


Six hearty fellows in the tiny hamlet of San Pablo decide to join the revolutionary army of Pancho Villa. The Federales have already put a price on the head of young Miguel Ángel del Toro (Ramón Vallarino), and the others rush to join up under the unofficial leadership of Don Tiburcio Maya (Antonio R. Frausto), a farmer who leaves behind a wife and two small children. They boast that they are known as ‘The Lions’ when they meet Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa (Domingo Soler); he makes them lieutenants and encourages them to live up to their claim. The six fight fiercely, lead assaults and pull off major coups like riding right up to an enemy machine gun and dragging it off with a lasso. This crazy do-or-die spirit results in a slow attrition of their numbers. The surviving three are promoted to Major but Don Tiburcio begins to feel that they’ve contributed enough to the slaughter, even if the devil-may-care jokester Melitón Botello (Manuel Tamés) feels compelled to tampt fate through stupid tests of manhood. The Revolution uses up good men, with little reward but empty glory.
— Glenn Erickson. Continue reading

Raya Martin & Mark Peranson – La última película (2013)


In this documentary within a narrative-and vice versa-a grandiose filmmaker (Alex Ross Perry) arrives in the Yucatán to scout locations for his new movie, a production that will involve exposing the last extant celluloid film stock on the eve of the Mayan Apocalypse. Instead, he finds himself waylaid by the formal schizophrenia of the film in which he himself is a character. Simultaneously a tribute to and a critique of The Last Movie (Dennis Hopper’s seminal obliteration of the boundary separating life and cinema), La última película engages with the impending death of celluloid through a veritable cyclone of film and video formats, genres, modes, and methods. Martin and Peranson have created an unclassifiable work that mirrors the contortions and leaps of the medium’s history and present. An Art of the Real 2014 selection. A M’Aidez Films release (C) Lincoln Center Continue reading

René Cardona Jr. – Cyclone (1978)


What starts out as a beautiful peaceful afternoon in the Caribbean quickly turns ugly when a Cyclone takes down a Jet plane killing most of its passengers. Out at sea about the same time is a group of tourists on a boat who are now lost at sea due to the storm knocking out all their navigation devices. The group of tourist’s on the boat come across the survivors of the jet plane as they drift aimlessly out at sea. Tensions start to build between the survivors of the Cyclone as the supplies dwindle and the days go by with no hope of rescue in site. Will they be rescued before they turn on each other? Continue reading

Servando González – El escapulario AKA The Scapular (1968)


Synopsis: A woman who is about to die calls the town’s priest and hands him a scapulary, saying that she knows of its great powers. Anybody who does not believe in them will end up dead.

In the times of Mexican Revolution, a dying woman sends for the young priest of the village, she confesses to him that she has a miraculous scapular which has the power to protect the life of the owner; before she dies, she tells the skeptical priest how the scapular saved the life of her four children, thus reviving four incredible crossed stories.

The movie gives the date: November 7, 1910, a mere two weeks before the Mexican Revolution. Yet, in the flashbacks, seven years earlier, we can see a full fledged organized insurgency. Continue reading

Alfonso Cuarón – Cuarteto para el fin del tiempo AKA Quartet for the End of Time (1983)


A man sits alone in his apartment. Why does he watch as his goldfish washes down the drain? Why does he blow up balloons then release them out the window for no one to see? And for whom does he take out his clarinet to play ‘Quartet for the End of Time’?.

Shot in 16mm, while Alfonso Cuarón was a film student, Cuarteto Para El Fin Del Tiempo is a meditation on isolation and a young man’s withdrawal from the outside world. Using very few words, Cuarón relies on the power of the image to narrate the film, for which there was no written script:

‘It was an emotion rather than an idea that drove the process, it was about improvising and trying different things every day, trying to blend the character and the location with this emotion.’ Continue reading