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Argentina

Adrián Caetano – Crónica de una fuga aka Chronicle of an Escape (2006)

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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.

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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. Read More »

Lisandro Alonso – Liverpool (2008)

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Plot :
A boat worker, Farrel (Juan Fernandez), spends his shore leave traveling from the port city to a rural community in the mountains build around an old saw mill. Ostensibly traveling to see his mother, Farrel takes his time and drinks enough alcohol along the way to suggest a significant confrontation is brewing. But the result couldn’t be further from the suggestion. Alonso’s single-shot observational style records only dry action—Farrel getting dressed for a night shift, packing his bags, waiting for a ride to the mountains, or pulling yet another swig from his seemingly bottomless bottle of vodka. The result is that the confrontation between Farrel, his mother, and the daughter he left in the logging camp has the same anti-dramatic weight as a shot of Farrel zipping up his handbag or eating a meal.
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Juan Taratuto – Papeles en el viento AKA Papers in the Wind (2015)

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When Alejandro “Mono” dies, his brother and two closest friends, a tight-knit group since childhood, are left to figure out how to take care of his young daughter, Guadalupe. They want to give her all the love they felt for Mono and secure her future, but there isn’t a single peso left in the bank. Mono invested all of his money in a promising soccer player whose promise hasn’t panned out, and the three hundred thousand dollars Mono spent on his transfer is soon to be lost for good. How do you sell a forward who can’t score a goal? How do you maintain relationships when repeated failures create fissures in lifelong loyalties? Fernando, Mauricio, and “Ruso” pool the few resources in their arsenal to come up with strategies in their desperate attempt to recoup Mono’s investment for Guadalupe. Papers in the Wind is a tribute to friendship and proof that love and humor can triumph over sadness. Read More »

Hugo Santiago – Invasión (1969)

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nvasion is the legend of a city, real or imagined, under attack by powerful enemies and defended by a handful of men who may not be heroes. They will carry on their struggle to the finish, unaware that the battle is endless.

“Two analogous experiences, distant from each other, now live in my memory. The oldest has been with me since 1923: I’m referring to that afternoon when I held in my hands the first copy of my first book. The other, the recent one, is the emotion I felt when I saw Invasion on the screen. A printed book is not so different from a manuscript; a film is a visible projection, detailed, heard, enriched, and magical os something dreamed, barely descried. As I am one of the authors, I cannot allow myself to priase it. I would like to leave in writing, however, that Invasion es loke no other film, and it might well be the first of a new fantastic genre” –Jorge Luis Borges, Buenos Aires, April 1969 Read More »

Pablo Fendrik – El asaltante AKA The Mugger (2007)

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Clocking in at only 70 minutes, Argentine director Pablo Fendrik’s unsparingly tense drama El Asaltante (AKA The Assailant, 2007) observes – in real-time – the various conflicting emotions undergone by a perpetrator before he commits a serious and potentially lethal act of aggression. After premeditating the event in his mind for ages, the titular assailant opts to move forward, step by step, and experiences a co-mingling of fear, apprehension, rage, and an overriding loss of hope that will ultimately drive him to commit the most desperate act of his life. Read More »

Héctor Olivera – No habrá más penas ni olvido aka Funny Dirty Little War [+Extras] (1983)

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This production was shot in the province of Buenos Aires while the ruling generals were yet in power, and was released in the midst of the election period in 1983 when leftist radicals retired the Perónists, an event that this work helped bring about, in large part due to a graphic depiction of right-wing death squads, murdered hostages and torture, being most certainly a film of seminal importance to those having knowledge of the Perónist period Read More »

Milagros Mumenthaler – Abrir puertas y ventanas aka Open Doors, Open Windows (2011)

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From Argentina, this film is called Abrir puertas y ventanas in Spanish, “To Open Doors and Windows.” And indeed the first time director, Milagros Mumenthaler, has a fixation on these two apertures: the camera is always catching a window or a door being gone through, opened, slammed. As has been remarked by others, it is the visuals that appeal in this slow-moving, delicate film. Less appealing and not deeply explored are the protagonists — three sisters, though they don’t resemble each other. Marina (Maria Canale), a college student and the most responsible one of the three, doesn’t want anything to change. The irritable and uncooperative Sofia (Martina Juncadella) is an obvious contrast, constantly changing outfits and rearranging or disposing of the decor. The listless Violeta (Ailin Salas) lies about scantily clad, most of the time too lazy even to get fully dressed. Something is off, but it takes a while to find out what — their grandmother and guardian, a university professor, has recently died of a heart attack. Hanging around in their comfortable house and troubled by family secrets, the sisters appear to have few friends and no other family. Though Maria occasionally goes off to school, they all seem largely immobilized, it would seem as much by laziness, the heat, and boredom as by grief; or they may need to express grief and lack the energy to do so. They can’t be bothered to go to a video shop and merely telephone to order a movie to be delivered — “A comedy,” “Something that’s not Argentinean.” Read More »