Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Que Viva Mexico

I found the Que Viva Mexico to be an interesting film even though it seemed a little disorganized in terms of the storyline. It appeared to be made as a documentary in the first half which showed the traditions and lifestyles in Mexico and the other half about a story of a man trying to get his fiancĂ©e back and fighting alongside the other peasants against the landlords. As a soviet production it seemed as though they focused on showing the strength of the Mexican people as they banded together when needed and showed they’re solidarity and loyalty amongst themselves during a time of necessity. In a way I felt that the filmmakers were trying to find a common ground in order to be able to relate this as a form of communism. Because the film was essentially made for a Russian audience, it was almost an attempt to show their countrymen that communism exists in different places and in different forms and that there should be a sense of pride because of that. It can almost be considered as a form of propaganda. Another interesting element was the way the film depicted a kind of Mexico where the men and women worked and were found side by side; that a sense of equality was shown, except for the second part of the movie where the upper class took advantage of the girl. Compared to the other movies that we have watched where either the man or woman were depicted as dominant or weak, in this one they showed each other to be alike. Like the one scene where the guy’s daughter went alongside with the other cowboys to hunt down the rebels. She was out there firing that gun showing that she can be just as effective and courageous as the others, although she does end up getting killed.

An interesting component in the Que Viva Mexico is the limited use of dialogue and when there was some, mainly from the narrator in Russian; sounds seemed to be re-produced in the studio. The presenter did mention that the movie was incomplete and that some elements had obliviously been added such as the scene during the bullfight as a camera was mounted on a bull to produce the sensation of bulls’ perspective and that the viewer was riding the bull. One last thing to mention is my curiosity with the fascination with the skulls and faces and as to why the camera seemed to do a lot of close ups of them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Batalla en el cielo

Overall, I did not like Batalla en el cielo. The fact that is it was almost a border line pornography film kind of helped with determining my opinion because it lacked dialogue and overall story telling; you didn’t really know what people were thinking or why they were acting the way they were. The movie mainly relied on the cinematography with the visual shots as there were many facial and body close-ups. It’s like the director wanted to put you in the persons place to see what one would see in real life. Like when Marcus would lose his glasses and all he saw was a blur, then the camera would become blurry. And when that would happen the focus was then on the audio as certain sounds would resonate louder than others, such as the clocks to possibly act as symbols to give clues or hidden meanings the filmmakers wanted to use. The director looks like he wanted to use a different style to maybe have a shock value to get audiences talking. With a lack of script you were focused on trying to read peoples body language and use the environment to help set the mood. In a way, the audience would be the one making up the storyline as they interpreted it themselves. This film, as a few films we have watched so far, has again centered mainly on a negative story from start to finish. It showed the misery of a couple living a miserable life when their kidnapping victim ends up dead. The constant close-ups of Marcus and his wife kind of made things eerie as it first gave an impression that they were desperate people, along with the long pauses of them staring at each other, kind of made things awkward as you weren’t sure what to make of it. It didn’t help advance the storyline as it didn’t help explain why they did the kidnapping or how the child died and kind of put us in a moment in their lives as we interrupted their misfortunes and watched their life unfold.

A few scenes that I did not quite understand were when Marcus ends up killing Ana. He leaves her place and walks into the hallway and pauses where he wets himself and then decides to walk back into her place and kills her. Because there is no reasoning why he did this one could only assume that maybe when she used the words when she was seeing him off, “you will always be in my heart” that maybe that angered him as that was the same thing his wife used and that his wife meant more to him than her and felt betrayed by the girl. Another possibility could be that when he said that he was going to turn himself in that he expected a better reaction from her, because it looked like she didn’t care much and sort of wanted him to leave the apartment quickly with not much concern.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

El callejon de los milagros

El callejon de los milagros was a very confusing and sad film. It reminded me of Los Olvidados where the whole film revolved around peoples misfortunes in life. As in the movie Mecanica Nacional, the father shows he is the central figure and mistreats his family by mishandling his son Chava and also his wife Eusebia, whom he verbally and physically attacked after she confronts him about the affair, but then shows his weak side as he cries for his son on her lap after he runs away.

It can be mentioned that the men were depicted as being machismo as they treated the women in their lives and women in general like trash, such as Don Ru who cheats on his wife ,the jeweler Don Fidel to Alma as he tries to marry her, Jose Luis to Alma as he forces her into prostitution, Chava to the landlady, Susanita, for taking her money, Chava to his own wife as he attempts to pick up Alma’s friend right in front of her, the husband Guicho to Susanita for marrying her for the money as he steals from her, and even Alma herself to Abel as she misleads him. It seems everyone attempted to screw each-other over as scandals broke out everywhere. The director seems to have attempted to make a soap opera (like tres destinos) in a film format and made it in a way to serve the appetite of popular culture that are intrigued by the exaggerated and scandalous plots and story lines. The issue of classes and self-worth was a central theme as the mainly lower-middle class characters in this film believed that wealth was important to attain for the purpose of both living well off and also having social status in society as in the case of Alma.

What I found to be quite profound was the very end of the movie. One could sense that Alma did not truly love Abel and that she was misleading him the whole way. She lied when she said that she had waited for him, as she almost got married right after he left and went into prostitution at her own free will. She was promised a good life and was lied to by Jose Luis. It seems that only true person who was loyal was Abel for not breaking his promise but he ends up broken hearted and dead. I think that the director wanted to show that both sexes, not just men, can treat each with just as much disregard.