September 28, 2010

Flowers of Shanghaï (Chen Kaige, 1998)

About Flowers of Shanghaï, critic Kent Jones wrote, “It’s tempting to say that there’s no real nuance to speak of in Hou, just a richly composed set of surface details”. Tempting, yes, but such a stand would throw us far from the truth. Hou Hsiao Hsien (HHH)’s depiction of life in the late 19th century seems to stem from the […]
March 26, 2010

Felicidades (Lucho Bender, 2000)

It is interesting to see this movie close to the holidays as it deals with Christmas and its ideals. One Christmas Eve in Buenos Aires, several lives intersect as they all strive not to spend the holidays alone. The theme of loneliness permeates the film—as represented by the paralyzed man—and constantly comes back to the forefront in this comedic and […]
March 26, 2010

I don’t want to talk about it (Maria Luisa Bemberg, 1993)

In the film which precedes her sudden death in 1995, Maria Luisa Bemberg explores the same themes as in her most famous movie, Camila. There are numerous similarities between the two films. First, they both take place close to the beginning of the 20th century, a romantic time in the public consciousness, where most Mexican soap operas are set. Both […]
March 26, 2010

A Silent Love (Federico Hidalgo, 2004)

What’s most interesting about A Silent Love is its comical approach to its subject. As the director, Federico Hidalgo, himself admitted, there is much in common with that approach and the tongue-in-cheek of popular Mexican dramas. It was refreshing to experience comedy that closely associated with drama. They say Aristotle wrote a follow-up to Poetics, his guideline for dramas, dealing […]
March 26, 2010

The City and the Dogs (Francisco J. Lombardi, 1985)

The City and the Dogs, based on the popular novel of the same name by Mario Vargas Llosa, is an allegory of power in South America. After his friend, “the Slave” is killed, “the Poet”, a cadet in a military institution, brings the matter to the attention of Gamboa, the officer in charge, who will try, and fail, to reopen […]
March 22, 2010

Knocks at my door (Alejandro Saderman, 1994)

Knocks at my door explores the political instability that has plagued Latin-American countries and Third-world countries in general. Columbia, Haiti and African countries like Zaïre have always been subject to political upheavals. Cynics talk of a curse of the Third World, willfully ignoring these countries’ colonial pasts and the Imperialist influences shaping their present. Knocks at my door is a […]
March 22, 2010

Funny Dirty Little War (Hector Olivera, 1983)

Funny Dirty Little War is similar in a lot of ways to Macunaïma. Although separated by more than a decade and issued from two different countries, they both try to provoke social change by using satire. Talking about Brazil, Robert Stam presents an interesting confrontation between the left and the right in that country at the end of the 1960s: […]
March 22, 2010

Araya (Margot Benacerraf, 1959)

The aspect that is immediately striking with Araya is its beautifully contrasted black-and-white photography. By the opening shots of the northeastern Venezuelan coast, by insisting on the beauty of Venezuela’s nature, Benacerraf creates awe in the viewer. She succeeds in conveying her love of Venezuela. The peaceful and serene beginning supports well the poetic style of the documentary, rendered apparent […]
March 22, 2010

Alice doesn’t live here anymore (Martin Scorsese, 1974)

I’m not a big Scorsese fan. Taxi Driver, for example, is highly overrated. In the 1970s, the gout-du-jour was amoral characters, from Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy to Cosmo Vitelli in The Killing of a Chinese bookie. It is a trait of the times that I don’t believe appeals to me at all. In Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle elevates cowardice […]
March 22, 2010

The World Of Apu (Satyajit Ray, 1959)

I have to admit I was one to reduce Indian films to Bollywood. Which is not to say Bollywood films are lesser films. I recently saw Lagaan, which to me was a quintessential pop movie, down to the perfect characterizations of the ideal hero and the horrible British villains (I kept thinking of Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast). […]
March 22, 2010

Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978)

In his article in Film Comment, critic David Ehrenstein condemns the melodrama for perpetuating the illusion that the genre can convey genuine social change instead of creating change. In his opinion, “Coming Home presents itself in a much different light [than Written on the Wind]—a serious investigation of the effects of the Vietnam war.” To him, the choice to display […]
March 22, 2010

The Journey (Fernando E. Solanas, 1992)

Argentina has one of the most impressive cinematography in the world. Within that cinema, Fernando E. Solanas is a director of seminal importance. In his essay, Towards a Third cinema, Solanas and his co-writer, Octavio Getino, galvanize the overall revolutionary ideas of the time into the concept of a decolonization cinema, denouncing the weak, liberal arts that have, up until […]