Servando González – El escapulario AKA The Scapular (1968)

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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)

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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

Nicolás Pereda – Los ausentes (2014)

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A poor man in his mid seventies lives alone in a house near the beach in the south of Mexico. He doesn’t have the and deed and a foreign man claims the property is his. The man attends a hearing to solve the conflict, but nothing gets resolved. During this time he starts losing his mind. Memories of the past start hunting his daily life. He ends up losing his property and his house gets demolished. He embarks on a journey to the mountains in search for people he knew in the past. A memory of his younger self hunts him throughout the trip. He ends up finding some people he knew, but no one he can stay with, so he continues wandering through the forest and into his memories. He meets his younger self, but doesn’t recognize him. They get drunk together, sing songs of the past and nearly pass out after a long night of drinking. Continue reading

Alfonso Cuarón – Y tu mamá también AKA And Your Mother Too [+Extras] (2001)

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Quote:
Abandoned by their girlfriends for the summer, teenagers Tenoch and Julio meet the older Luisa at a wedding. Trying to be impressive, the friends tell Luisa they are headed on a road trip to a beautiful, secret beach called Boca del Cielo. Intrigued with their story and desperate to escape, Luisa asks if she can join them on their trip. Soon the three are headed out of Mexico City, making their way toward the fictional destination. Along the way, seduction, argument and the contrast of the trio against the harsh realities of the surrounding poverty ensue. Continue reading

Luis Buñuel – El AKA This Strange Passion (1953)

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Quote:
Francisco is rich, rather strict on principles, and still a bachelor. After meeting Gloria by accident, he is suddenly intent on her becoming his wife and courts her until she agrees to marry him. Francisco is a dedicated husband, but little by little his passion starts to exhibit disturbing traits. Nevertheless, Gloria meets with scepticism as she expresses her worries to their acquaintances. Continue reading

Jaime Humberto Hermosillo – Matinée (1977)

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Synopsis (University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive)
Within the framework of a thriller, Hermosillo presents in Matinee a film that is rich in the dreams and ambiguities of childhood. Two precocious provincial boys, enamored of the movies, head out for Mexico City in search of some real-life adventure. They are kidnapped by a gang of gunmen who adopt them as mascots, but also involve them in their cutthroat activities. The criminal escapades are a dream-come-true for the boys, until the police come into the picture and they are forced to betray their kidnappers. The boys are returned to the provinces as hometown heroes–returned to the quiet streets and the dubious thrill of the Saturday matinee. Hermosillo recalls the black humor of Buñuel and the boyhood adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain; and like them, he rejects the innocence of childhood for something more complex, which, though it is never defined, is the subject of Matinee. Continue reading

Nicolás Pereda – El palacio (2013)

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Pereda’s films pass through a transitional period; Los mejores temas was probably a conscious farewell to a filmic representation system while Matar extraños turned out to be an enigmatic first test; El palacio is a new attempt at renovation, an experiment. These last two films show a novel element —the shifting of the family and domestic spheres to a public and political space. Whereas Matar extraños used revolution as its focal concept, in this enigmatic film the microphysics of power is the permeating idea.
The opening wide shot is brilliant; the 17 women who appear in this film are washing their teeth at the same time. Among this group there are little girls, young and old women, and they are not at a bathroom but at a patio filled with large sinks. Their activity unites them, though their experiences and, eventually, their functions differ. Where are they? For several minutes the only thing we will see are the diverse cleaning-related actions performed by these women. Everything happens in an old house, without any indication of its location. Abstraction and routine. Pereda is capable of filming someone hanging clothes to dry or making a bed as if those were aesthetic events.
A donkey wonders around and imposes a comical tone for a moment; but a donkey is an animal used for servitude. And the title of the film mentions a palace.
Continue reading