A famous cabaret in Mexico City, Salón Mexico was staffed by ficheras, women who charged clients for dancing and, more often than not, for sex. Fernández’s celebrated melodrama tells the story of one such dancer, Mercedes (Marga López) who must fight off the attentions of an abusive pimp while working to finance the schooling of her younger sister. A danzón contest offers salvation, but will Mercedes see her chance of redemption cruelly snatched away? Deliciously dark with noir overtones, its fine performances are matched by Gabriel Figueroa’s superlative cinematography. Continue reading
A group of scientists in search of lost Atlantis are plane wrecked on an uncharted island full of stock footage monsters fresh from One Million BC. Occasionally we get an original papier mache monster peaking out from behind an alcove, but for the most part this is typical Mexican filmmaking for the period. With Armond Silvestre and Alma Delia Fuentes. Continue reading
This stunning film is one of a few films made by Adolfo Best Maugard (“Fito Best”), the great Mexican painter. Initially banned under the administration of Lázaro Cárdenas, it was released in a badly censored form for a short run under his successor’s administration but was critically panned and disappeared for the next half century. Continue reading
Voy a Explotar (I’m Gonna Explode) is the contemporary Mexican teenage Pierrot le Fou. It knows this, and it wants you to know it, and it doesn’t care if this makes you hate it on principle. The third feature by Gerardo Naranjo (director of Drama/Mex, co-writer and star of Azazel Jacobs‘ The GoodTimeskid), it’s the rare love letter to influence that’s infused with enough personal style and sentiment to transform the stolen into something thrilling and moving.
15 year-old Maru (Maria Deschamps) is a prep school bad girl with a mangy mane of hair and, apparently, a drinking problem. When spoiled little rich boy son of a right-wing politician Roman (Juan Pablo de Santiago) gets kicked out of his school and transfers to Maru’s, he introduces himself via faking his own hanging at a talent show. The girl is instantly besotted. “He exists, but I also made him up,” she writes in a letter to a friend which doubles as internal monologue. “The best part is that he’s angry.” Roman is equally smitten, and soon the pair are scheming to run away together. Continue reading
Here’s a gem of mexican film making and a must for any real film noir fans.
A very unique and incredible film, Rolando Klein made it in 1974 after spending two years living among the Tzeltal Indians of Chiapas, collecting stories, events, and anecdotes from their culture. A graduate of UCLA film school and of Chilean birth, Klein “returned to his Hispanic roots” at the urging of director and mentor Jules Dassin in 1972. A village is experiencing a drought detrimental to their crops and, resultantly, their survival. After only failure comes from consultation with their usual shaman, they attempt to gain aid from a mysterious diviner living in the mountains, who is said to practice the ancient ways forgotten by all else in the village. After securing his help, the diviner leads twelve tribesmen on a long journey as part of the rain-bringing ceremony. Eventually they return to the village to enact the ceremony proper, and incredible events ensue. In the meantime, there is always skepticism of the diviner’s abilities; indeed, he might be merely bewitching the village for his own purposes. Or is he…? Continue reading
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