Saturday, November 20, 2010

Revolución (Revolution)

As many of you recall I don’t like to read about movies before watching and this anthology was no exception; so had no idea what was going to see and maybe in the back of my head I had a thought that was a series of short films about the infamous Mexican Revolution and yes, Pancho Villa. You have no idea of how deeply WRONG was I and it’s a true shame to admit what I was expecting when the compilation had films by Reygadas, Escalante, Plá, Eimbcke, and Naranjo, I should have known better!

My head is still spinning from watching the shorts but I’m clear that there are at least two ways to watch the outstanding film: one as representation of current trends in contemporary Mexican cinema (or easier, as films –which most serious reviewers seems tend to do) and second, as a series of films with stories that could simply blow your mind IF you’re familiar with Mexico past and present history, Mexican idiosyncrasy and Mexican traditions. To me the one way that totally blew my mind is the second that I should really expand from Mexico to many other countries in the world that had revolutions at one (or more) time (s) in their History, especially those Latin American countries that have ‘similar’ idiosyncrasies to Mexico.

Ten films reflect and some literally tell what I can call “the effects of the revolution 100 years after” and I know that many will not be prepared at all to what you’re going to watch as honestly is not easy to admit that not much has changed after 100 years and like it’s said in a short: “we need another revolution”. Almost all topics of Mexican idiosyncrasy are touched in the films from religion, traditions, expectations, behaviors, feelings, and so many more things that wont list as list could be very long. Maybe I’m totally biased but story wise Carlos Reygadas This is My Kindom is the ONE that stunningly shows in one scenario (had to be a party) the huge diversity of Mexican population plus their appalling behaviors and views of life. Not what I was expecting visually from Reygadas BUT the storytelling technique fits the absolutely impactful story. Amazing and quite hard to watch if you know what happens in many Latin American countries including the one I’m currently ‘visiting’.

Visually I was taken aback with Amat Escalante outstanding short El Cura Nicolas Colgado (The Hanging Priest) with many visually breath taking images and compositions plus a style that some are relating to Buñuel and Jodorowsky but I believe that in this short, more than in his films, he is developing a style that should explore further to make it his own. Briefly, is an excellent short with a strong story that for a moment I thought it was Reygadas, but soon enough decided was Escalante and felt relief when I was right, gasp.

Fernando Eimbcke’s Bienvenida (The Welcome Ceremony) opens the compilation with a visually outstanding film shot in black and white that absolutely plays with light and darkness while telling a compelling story about how today expectations are still peculiarly fulfilled or maybe totally unfulfilled. Gerardo Naranjo’s R-100 tells about how to save something you have to destroy something else as no one will help you saving without first thinking about consequences or how to run away from your past; a gritty story with nice use of digital colors. Rodrigo Plá’s 30/30 (is a ‘corrido’) is perhaps the only that directly deals with a story about politics with a visual style that plays with photos and moving pictures to effectively show disrespect for what is verbally/sentimentally most respected Mexican past; obviously a story that talks about politics but also about almost everything else.

Most impressive for the message and style is Rodrigo García’s La 7th y Alvarado that with what looks like real footage of the Los Angeles intersection blends filmed images of Revolution revolutionaries. The effect is superb with special mention to opening scene; story made me think about how the “real” revolution consequence is now also happening in some streets of USA. I’m so tempted to do an analysis of what I saw in all the above films and a well-known revolution: the American Revolution, but the post will be long and will have to get into ‘dangerous’ not cinema-related issues, so I leave the analysis up to you reader if you feel like getting into those troubled -but very interesting- similarities.

The other shorts by Marina Chenillo, Patricia Riggen, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal are acceptable less impactful stories with more ‘normal’ styles that help to rest/entertain from the ones that have stronger stories plus more interesting storytelling, cinematography and style.

In summary an interesting compilation of different styles, different stories and one theme in common, what’s happening after 100 years since the infamous Revolution.

Wish I could say what’s the natural target for this omnibus but is not easy to figure out. My instinct says that is Must Be Seen for those that enjoy strong human stories and don’t mind to think a lot beyond what the eyes see and the ears hear; but also should be an ‘obligate’ tour-de-force for everyone that lives in Latin America and all countries with a revolution (or war) in the past or present. Obviously must be seen for those that enjoy extraordinary good and art cinema for the films by Reygadas, Escalante, Eimbcke, Naranjo, Plá, and García.

I enjoyed the compilation beyond any expectations and absolutely understand why the film was in Semaine de la Critique in 2010 Cannes, 2010 Berlinale and transited other fests in the festival circuit. Some short films are simply perfect shorts, the kind that leaves you with the sensation that you have seen everything; you don’t need more as they are complete stories. Excellent!!!


Watch trailer @MOC

Here is a photo with the ten directors at the Berlinale.

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