Friday, June 19, 2009

Los Bastardos

The second feature film by Amat Escalante has signs of a great filmmaker in the making but it puzzles me why I always have to find relationships to films by other filmmakers. This time the story and also a little the style seems a lot like Michael Haneke’s original (not the american version) Funny Games where two men play “funny games” with their hostages. Then I was hoping that cinematography improved over Sangre and well, there are a couple of long shots (opening and closing scenes) that are great, but the rest are not really great compositions.

The films tells less than 24 hours in the life of Jesus and Fausto, two young alien day-laborers like those that stand in a corner of many USA cities waiting for someone to pickup them to do the most banal and bad paid jobs. As their normal day evolves, we see them being picked up for a construction job, going into a park to have some beers in the shadow not before almost getting into a fight with some Americans that treat them derogatively; but as they will do any kind of job for a few dollars, today is a special day as the job they accepted means more money and to carry a gun. Finally they arrive to their well-paid job and enter Karen’s house where you are totally sure that something bad is going to happen and well, it does. But it comes as a “jumping from your seat” surprise as it is totally unexpected. Film closes as it began, with a beautiful long shot in a field that according to Escalante means that everything will grow again.

I was expecting a much more terrible and even violent film, as not only I read summaries about the movie but also has a very suggestive name. In this sense the film is almost violence free, except for a few minutes in the movie climax and since the very beginning moves the story at a very slow pace with banal and not relevant things happening until both get into the house. The pace inside the house is a little bit more faster (actually not much) and things start to happen that start to make you uneasy; but while you expect things to happen they do not. So, that’s why when finally something violent happens becomes truly surprising.

As a movie is above average with very good use of sound (especially in the beginning) and remarkable editing (editing was done by Escalante and Turkish Ayhan Ergürsel that’s Nuri Belge Ceylan editor) and have to admit that even if I definitively did not enjoyed the characters, the leads are exceptional and very credible especially when were performed by non- professional actors. The film was premiered at 2008 Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section and has been collecting honors in the fest circuit including Best Mexican film at 2008 Morelia fest, Best Film at Sitges 08, Best Latin American Film at 2008 Mar del Plata fest, and Best Director at 2008 Bratislava fest.

I don’t believe that this film is for the usual art or art cinema fans and because of the story tend to think that men, more than women, will like it better. For me the experience was not pleasant and definitively liked a lot more his first film Sangre and hope that in the future his films become more interesting to watch both in story as visually. After all his mentor and co producer of this movie is Carlos Reygadas.

I cannot recommend this movie.

Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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