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Guanajuato International Film Festival in San Miguel de Allende

Guanajuato International Film Festival in San Miguel de Allende

GIFF with Man
Photo swiped from Intergoogle here

Today I am a film reviewer, specifically a critic of movies shown during the GIFF or Guanajuato International Film Festival or Festival Internacional de Cine de Guanajuato International.  We here in San Miguel are privileged to take full advantage of this amazing event.  This year’s GIFF, hosting over 400 shorts, documentaries, and feature films with the guest country of Colombia, arrived in San Miguel July 19 and stayed for five days and then moved on to Guanajuato.  Recognized worldwide, the GIFF began 1998 in San Miguel and has evolved into Mexico’s largest film festival creating a platform for young Latin American filmmakers known to push new horizons.

Photo swiped from Intergoogle

This is my first attempt to be a movie reviewer.  It is a feeble attempt, but because we spent FIVE days watching movies, I feel it’s my duty to at least write short essays detailing my experience.  This may be a boring post for some if not most of you, yet if you’re a movie buff, maybe, just maybe, it will inspire you to watch some of these flicks.

Did I say five straight days of movies from 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM?  You betcha!  wink.  It felt like a criminal luxury to be in the movie theatre at 10:00 AM on a weekday.  Seriously, we are so spoiled. And want to hear the best part?  All the movies were gratis.  We only had to pay for the popcorn (5 pesos).

Granted, by day five, we were pale-faced zombies much like those nocturnal people from the Omega Man, having not seen the light of day, ducking behind open windows and peering around corners. Only able to speak in the third person, and using odd motion picture jargon like cameo, aerial shot, fade-in, high camera angle, and key grip, in time, we healed after seeing the light of day and replenishing our lost Vitamin D.

Below is our rundown after spending several hours of research, sifting through pages of information and choosing what we thought were the best films for us.  Most were very good, a handful were excellent, and a couple only fair.

The GIFF fun began days before the movies rolled out.  San Miguel, all a-buzz, was transformed into into a red-carpeted, celebrity fest.  At the Jardin, a sophisticated makeshift outdoor theatre was erected replete with a stage and chairs.  The town was intoxicated with silver screen excitement and flocks of tourists from various parts of Mexico came to join in the cinematic celebrations.

Fruitvale Station Premere San Miguel de Allende
Transforming the street to a red carpeted extravaganza

The first film rolled out at Midnight as the 18th turned over to the 19th.  Sadly, we are just a bit too fogey-ish to go to a movie at that time.  I think the last time I made a midnight flick was the Rocky Horror Picture show, circa 1985.

We began promptly at 10:00 AM the first day.  Both surprised that the Cine Los Aldama (we didn’t even know about this theatre) was so lovely and empty. It’s also for sale if you can spare $2,900,000 US.  We relished having rows of seats to ourselves.  If that had been an airplane, it would’ve been my best flight of the 21st century with rows and rows to spread out.  Nearly two hours of shorts – utterly entertaining and engaging.  About 170 were involved in the competition.

I made a rating system of 1-6 with 6 being excellent.  The categories include:  1) holding my attention, 2) eliciting an emotional response, 3) thinking about the film long after it ended, and 4) Recommend

July 19, 2013
Mexican Competition IIX/ Competencia Mexicana IIX
Selección Oficial México | 102 min.

The following seven films are cortos, short films:

La banqueta/ The sidewalk
Anaïs Pareto Onghena 2013

Image found here

This is the story of three childhood friends who are now in what seems to be their early 30’s.  They were in a band together many years prior and two of them still play instruments with one being a fledgling mariachi.  One is a big-time business man and clearly leads a different life, but not necessarily a happy one.  The other is leaving for the states with the hope of a better life. The entire film takes place on a city sidewalk at night outside the departing man’s dingy apartment. They spend the night drinking, reminiscing and realizing that they are not where they once hoped they would be in life.

1) Holding my attention: 4.5 – I liked the characters and the dialogue.  Given that it was filmed on an urban sidewalk, I also kept waiting for gangsters to drive by and shoot at them.  This didn’t happen.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  4.0 – I felt sad for the guy who had to leave Mexico but more so at the end when his friend went to the Mariachi booth and sat there stone drunk and clearly bummed about life.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  4

4) Recommend:  4

Corre Sin Mirar Atrás/ Don’t Look Back
Luis Mariano García 2013

I found this image here.

This is by far the funniest of all the movies we saw.  It’s based on Felipe, a writer.  Felipe’s genre is suspense/horror comic books, and he is trying to reach a deadline.  The audience gets a fabulous view into Felipe’s unflappable and rich mind.  He’s working diligently to finish the story but his girlfriend continues to interrupt and distract him.  Felipe’s characters, a young girl and green monster, get pissed that he’s not giving them the proper attention.  Felipe’s girlfriend is frustrated he’s not giving her his full attention.  As his real-life unfold trying to take care of his girlfriend, his characters lose their patience and demand that he direct them to a successful completion.

1) Holding my attention: 6 – The viewer was a thread woven into the fabric of Don’t Look Back starting with a sort of playful suspense, relief when the film became comedic, curiosity, back to suspense, and more humor.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  5 – Yes!  Entertaining – amusing, suspenseful and downright fun.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended: 5

4) Recommend:  6 – Yes, if you can get your hands on this short, definitely watch it.

El Ruido del Mundo/ Noise of the World
Coke Riobóo 2013


This image can be found here.

Here’s some more info.

This animated movie is about a man who hears every sound, at all times, in his surroundings.  As the story progressed, I couldn’t figure out if he was insane or highly sensitive.  It’s not until the end when we learn he’s a composer and creating beautiful music from his highly acute auditory channeling.

1) Holding my attention: 5 – Yes. I wanted to understand what the heck was going on.  At one point, I felt drawn into what appeared to be the chaos of his mind.

2) Eliciting an emotional response: 3 – Surprise, perhaps, but nothing earth-shattering.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended: 3 – It was interesting, but not interesting enough to keep my mind on fire.

4) Recommend: 4 – Sure, it is worth a look-see.

Un mundo para Raúl/ A World for Raul
Mauro Mueller 2012 | Selección Oficial México | 15 min.

Image from official movie website

You can watch the trailer here.

This is a painful story of a Mexican family living in poverty with the patriarch of the family, the father, at the mercy of his wealthy boss.  The father takes his teenage son, Raúl, to visit the boss with the sole intention of borrowing a large piece of equipment for his farm.  Raúl is innocently used as a ploy by the dad (who litters, by the way, throwing a coke can out the window while driving), because the boss has a son the same age.  Once, long ago, the boys were friends but distance (both geographical and socioeconomic status) kept them apart.

The boss’ son gets Raúl drunk and makes a move on him in the family pool.  This move, essentially a rape with Raúl not having the courage to say, “no” and likely because he knew his father needed that John Deere tractor.  The father, too, didn’t muster the courage to ask for the tractor, he only mentioned he had a favor of his patron.  They were leaving when Raúl learned his father didn’t ask for the equipment, and el patron suggested they return the following week to discuss this favor.  Raúl, not wanting to return, and realizing he had sacrificed/paid in full for that tractor, asked in his father’s place.

1) Holding my attention: 4.5 – It was slow at points.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  5 –  It was painful to watch Raúl trapped by his father’s needs and expectations and the “friend’s” needs and expectations.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  3.5 – The ironic part manifested at the end when the father and Raúl were driving home, and his father said, “Son, you have balls.  Let’s go home and watch the game.  I’ll let you crack your first beer.”

4) Recommend:  4

Porcelana/ Porcelain
Betzabé García 2013 | Selección Oficial México | 12 min.
Here is a Youtube video showing an interview with Betzabé.

I had a difficult time feeling connected to this film. It’s about a 6-year old girl whose cousins come to live with her because their parents died.  She witnesses her one, very bosomy, cousin naked in the bathtub with some guy, she abuses a hamster by dumping sugar on him while playing with her cousins, and she seemingly gets herself off on one of those spring-loaded see-saw horse things outside.  That’s about all I remember.

1) Holding my attention:  3

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  2.5

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  2.5 – but only because I was trying to figure out what happened.

4) Recommend:  2.5

Ratitas/ Scoundrels
2012 | Selección Oficial México | 15 min.

Image found online – click here

This was painful.  There are four boys (2 brothers) misbehaving – partying and picking up girls.  The leader is a guy who acts super macho taking his little brother’s girl away.  Later, he breaks them into a super chic home with a pool.  They find the booze, make a mess of the place, go through the closets, and essentially vandalize the entire place.  All the while they never suspect that the home is owned by gangsters (mobsters).  The gangsters return and capture three of the boys.  The leader of the boys escapes and watches the outrageous abuses on his friends by the gangsters. This kid is no longer macho but paralyzed by the fear of what could happen to him if he intervenes.

The next morning the three boys are released and found by the police,walking down the road, naked with vulgar graffiti all over their bodies.  While being interviewed by the police, leader boy approaches  them, clearly full of regret.  The police notice him and ask if he’s involved, and with the head nod (telling him no) of his friend, a kid who seemingly has no power in the beginning, the presumed leader says no.

1) Holding my attention:  4

2) Eliciting an emotional response: 4.5 – Since the beginning, I was waiting for something bad to happen, but then again, I’m somewhat of a fatalist when it comes to film.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  4.5

4) Recommend:  4

Respira/ Breath
Josué Vázquez Peralta, Eduardo Benjamín Gutiérrez Múgica 2012 | Selección Oficial
México | 7 min.

Image from GIFF website

This about sums it up (as found on the GIFF website):  Human beings condition their environment and themselves in a way that suffocates the possibilities of life.  

I’m not a big fan of animation, yet I have been surprised a few times in my life by incredibly moving animation.  This was one of those times.  Despite the fact I didn’t always understand what was going on, it tapped into me.  One of those movies that I have to see again and again as I’m sure each time something important is missed.

1) Holding my attention:  6 – It moved so quickly, there was no time to lose attention.  Incredibly artistic and abstract and dark in a discouraging sort of way.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  5.5 – It was troubling, and I felt what I can only describe as despair.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  5 – Even after it ended, I was shaking my head and asking, “What just happened to me?”

4) Recommend:  5.5

Cohete/ The Rocket
Kim Mordaunt 2013 | Selección Oficial Largometraje Ópera Prima Internacional | 96 min.

Image from GIFF website

This movie takes place in Laos and begins with a woman giving birth with the help of her shaman-like mother. Surprisingly, she delivers another baby, this one, sadly, stillborn.  As the story unravels, we learn that twins are considered a curse in this culture, because one is always bad and one is always good.  But because families are unable to determine the good one from the bad one, both are killed.  This new mother, a beautiful and gentle soul, insists she keep her living son.  The grandmother argues eventually agreeing but with much disdain, claiming bad luck is coming their way.  And it does.  I don’t want to give the story away, because I want you to watch it.  But a string of misfortunes hits this family – one, absolutely heart-wrenching.  A rocket-building contest in a completely different village to which they’ve become refugees years later, is Ahlo’s, the surviving baby who is now 10, only chance of redemption for his family.  The question remains, is he or is he not bad luck to his family?

1) Holding my attention:  6 – Stunning cinematography and a captivating story.  I was hooked from the first scene.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  5.5 – From devastating to giddy, this deep – sometimes sad and sometimes quirky – story evoked, without pause, emotional responses from me.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  5 – Yes, it was a compelling, entertaining, and engaging story.

4) Recommend:  6 – Yes.  Find this movie and watch it.

Fruitvale Station
Ryan Coogler 2013 | Selección Oficial Largometraje Ópera Prima Internacional | 90 min.

Image found online

See the trailer here.

There was a big brouhaha with this movie.  Actors and the screenwriter and such were bombarded by paparazzi and Mexican entertainment shows.  The red carpet was all a glitter with fancily frocked ladies and well-dressed men.  And finally, the theatre was packed after being nearly empty all day, and we know this because we sat in same theatre for several hours that day.  It was so packed that we may not have gotten a seat had I not stretched the truth telling the usher I was a blogger thus landing us in the reserved press side of the theatre.

For those of you who didn’t follow this story in California a few years back, it’s about a young man of 22 named Oscar living in Oakland, CA.  It tells of his ups and downs but really focused on the last 24 hours of 2008 leading into New Year’s Eve of 2009 when he said good-night to his adorable 3-year old daughter, and he and his girlfriend along with other friends set out into San Francisco to watch fireworks, celebrate, and bring in 2009.  His mother insisted they take BART (the train aka Bay Area Rapid Transit) to avoid drinking and driving as well as dealing with others who are doing the same.  Oscar, at his core, is a good guy, despite a number of setbacks in his life and some poorly made decisions.  He listens to his mother.  A fight on the BART gets he and his friends in trouble with the BART police when they arrive at Fruitvale Station. Because this is a true story that was big news, I have no qualms about sharing the end.  Oscar is “unintentionally” shot by a BART cop who claims he thought he was using his taser.  Admittedly, this makes no sense, because Oscar is face down on the ground with his hands behind his back in handcuffs.

Scott and I lived in Alameda, and this is the station I used when traveling into the city.  Knowing about the area and recalling the story made this movie even more compelling to me.  Add to it, hearing Ryan Coogler (screenplay writer and Director) speak after the movie and knowing that he worked diligently to be true to the story, I would be remiss to not recommend this movie.

Starring Michael B. Jordan (Hello- The Wire and Friday Night Lights) and Melonie Diaz (she was also present that night), the cast was tip-top showing a chemistry that can only be had with this true-to-form and compelling story.

Q and A with Ryan Coogler and Melonie Diaz

There was an onstage interview with Ryan Coogler (writer, director) and Melonie Diaz (role of Sophina).  Asked by an audience member:  How do you view the interracial relationships as shown in the movie?

Their responses here.

Asked by an audience member:  1) How true to life is the movie with relation to the Bay Area and 2) Did the video footage filmed by regular folks on their cell phones help or hinder the case?
Their responses here.

1) Holding my attention:  6 – With the help of eye candy, Michael B, and the overall authenticity of the characters carrying out a real and realistically portrayed storyline, my mind only wandered a few times and that was because of all the other press people playing with their electronic devices sending tweets n’ such.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  5.5 – I was a runny-nosed, red-eyed mess at the end of this movie.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  5 – Yes, indeed.  The entire walk home was all about how the movie impacted us.

4) Recommend:  6 – Yes.  Find this movie and watch it.  Right now. Put a hankie in your pocket.


And that was all on the first day!

July 20, 2013

Más Amaneceres/ At dawn
Jorge Y. Leyva Robles 2012 | Selección Oficial Largometraje Ópera Prima México | 79 min.

You can see the trailer here.

This story of two children, Eva a beautiful and mature-looking girl on the verge of turning 13, and Diego, a young 11-year old.  Living in a small, poverty-stricken, fishing village, these children are at the mercy of dis-eased adults.  When Eva’s father is badly injured while walking home one night drunk, Eva’s mother makes a criminal and stomach-turning decision to sell her daughter “for one night” in order to have the necessary funds to provide medical care to her husband.  Mind you, this husband was no Steven Keaton and definitely not Coach Eric Taylor.  He was spending his earnings on booze and essentially an absentee Dad, not even noticing how his best friend was giving his TWELVE year old daughter the lustful eye.  And poor Diego.  With a psychologically unstable mother and an utterly miserable life were it not for the absolute love he feels for Eva, Diego risks his life to find (well, steal, really) the money to stop the prostitution of Eva by her MOTHER.  Did I mention it’s the girl’s mother who wants to pimp her out and all for this a-hole of a man?

1) Holding my attention:  4 – despite the intense storyline, the movie went at a snail’s pace.  The camera angles were hard to absorb – very close up shots rendering both Scott and I slightly dizzy. And the acting ranged from mediocre to great.  Eva, who was portrayed as a pensive girl lost in her thoughts dreaming for a better life, sometimes lost the audience as well.  The far-away looks got old and were barely believable.  Yet there was something essential to her cerebral absence, something that showed resignation to her situation.  But then again, at one point in the movie she claims she doesn’t want her dad to live and then later she is willing to sell her body for him.  I was like, did you forget what you said earlier, Eva? I presume the writer was trying to show us the complexities of a family in crisis.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  4.5 – Most of the emotion emerged at the end when the viewer realized how the story was unfolding along with the oceanic-like lack of morals demonstrated by the adult characters.  It was hard to grasp that every single adult in this film had the moral fiber of cheese cloth.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  5 – Yes, but mostly because it was a shocking story.

4) Recommend:  4

Peso elefante/ The weight of elephants
Daniel Joseph Borgman 2013 | Selección Oficial Largometraje Ópera Prima Internacional |83 min

Image found on The Hollywood Reporter

This Kiwi-Dutch film, based in New Zealand, is about an adorable 11-year old boy named Adrian (Demos Murphy) who was having a hard go at life.  This child’s acting makes it worth the while to see the movie.  His eyes portray a potpourri of emotion typical of an ostracized kid trying to figure out what the hell life is all about.  With only one friend who eventually betrays him by siding with the bullies, Adrian only has his rabbit to keep him company.  And after the local bullies push Adrian to bullying an unstable, foster, girl at school (he kicks a soccer ball at her head) and then lure him into an afternoon of play which ultimately resulted in their wanting to abuse his rabbit, he realizes just how alone he is.

A local news story about three missing children captivates Adrian, and in some ways helps him deal with his own miserable existence by entertaining thoughts that those children may be his neighbors.

Here’s my big question:  Why oh why was the title not more fitting, or why was there, at least,  no mention anywhere in this movie about “heaviness” (weight), “burdens” or most importantly “elephants”. Call me sterile-minded or unimaginative, but not using the word elephant anywhere in the story was odd to me.  I kept waiting for someone to say, “Eh, Adrian.  Life sometimes feel like an elephant is sittin’ on yor head, eh?”  I get it. I get that this was a heavy movie and that elephants are very heavy, but the title just didn’t jive.  If the movie had taken place in Africa or even at a zoo anywhere in the world, the whole elephant metaphor would’ve made great sense.  But it was NZ.  I don’t recall ever seeing any elephants in NZ.  Wouldn’t the Depth of Doubtful Sound or even simply, Doubtful Sound have been a more suitable title?  I know this is shallow, but the title kind of ruined it for me.

1) Holding my attention:  4.5 – Adrian’s eyes held my attention, and while the storyline was engaging, the movie limped along in what seemed to be slow-motion.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  4.5 – The biggest emotional responses I had were when Adrian had to set his rabbit free or otherwise watch him be killed, and also when Adrian’s uncle would become uncontrollably out of hand due to being bipolar.   There was so much disaster in this child’s life with the darkness becoming offset by his brilliant light-filled eyes, that sometimes it felt too in my face.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended:  4.5 – I thought more about the artistic expression of the movie than the actual storyline

4) Recommend:  4.5

While we wanted to watch more movies that night, we were beaten down with the darkness and depression of the two movies we saw during the day.  Admittedly, I was intrigued about watching the horror flicks in the cemetery that night, but not motivated enough to stay up until midnight.  See fogey section above.

July 21, 2013

Documentary Competition I/ Documental en Competencia I
Selección Oficial Corto Documental | 131 min.

El veredicto/ Presuda/ The verdict
Director Djuro Gavran 2013

Image from The Verdict Press Kit

Um, yeah.  Okay, I want to the be the kind of person that really liked this film.  I just am not. Click here for the synopsis, and here is the trailer – it’s the same link.

This movie is about the court proceedings of Croatians generals, specifically Gotovina, sixteen years after the Yugoslav Wars including the Croatian War of Independence. The entire film focuses on the thousands of people who are gathered in the square of Zabreb, waiting to hear the verdict of Ante Gotovina, Croatian Lieutenant General.  Their worlds are emotionally shaken from beneath them when he is found guilty of numerous counts (eight of nine) including war crimes and crimes against humanity.  He was indicted, along with Markač, former Commander of special police, and Čermak, Assistant Defense Minister 1991-1993.

The three were accused of aiding and abetting the murders of 324 Krajina Serb civilians and prisoners of war by “shooting, burning and/or stabbing” them and forcibly displacing almost 90,000 Serb civilians. 

Gotovina is later acquitted, rendering the Serbs unacknowledged for the crimes he committed against them.  Granted, Milošević was no angel, yet there are hundreds of thousands of innocent Serbs who suffered, were murdered, forced to leave Croatia, and who are awaiting justice.

According to Wikipedia, In June 2011, Ante Gotovina was ranked the second most creditable person for the creation of the sovereign and democratic Croatia in a large poll conducted by Večernji list.[68] On 16 November 2012, he was found not guilty on all charges by the appeals panel at the ICTY.

But I digress, the movie strictly focuses on the people standing in the square listening to a broadcast.

1) Holding my attention: 4.5 – Only because I had little idea what was going on.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  3.5 – I was confused, because I couldn’t understand how these people were worshipping someone who I thought was a criminal of the worst kind.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended: 3.5 –

4) Recommend: 3.5

Narco Cultura
Shaul Schwarz/Mexico/102 minutes

Image link can be found here

Wow.  Capital W.  This was a fabulous documentary – well made and very interesting.  You can learn a bit more about it here.

In a nutshell there were two true stories occurring simultaneously, and the alternating juxtaposition of the two stories creates a SHOCKING effect.  One, the tragic story of a CSI guy on the Juarez Police Force working and risking his life in Juarez investigating Narco-related murders.  Day after day, murder after murder, this man investigated the crimes that go nowhere with only 3% going to court and ZERO convictions. Before Narco came to Juarez, there were over 300 murders in Juarez annually.  We thought those stats were high.  Each year after their arrival, those numbers have increased almost exponentially with the year of filming nearly 4000.  Contrarily, there is a rise in a new type of music glorifying the crimes, particularly the murders by (and of) Narco gangsters. Young people in the US and some in Mexico are lovin’ on this music and supporting these musicians (who happen to have talent) and their musical promotion of drugs, gun-slinging, knifing, and decapitation.

As the movie flipped back and forth between the two harsh realities, the viewer was left holding the bag wondering how in the world we, as a universal people, will emerge unscathed from this.  The most deplorable part to me is how the United States is contributing to all of the Narco-related troubles — from actual drug purchases, to the US Government’s financial support of “drug wars” that end up in many innocents dying, to supporting the music of the Narco-Corridos that encourages criminal behavior.

1) Holding my attention: 6 – The pace of this film flip-flopped from fast and loud to slow and quiet.
2) Eliciting an emotional response: 6 – Anger, mostly.  Using sound and movement, the writer captured my attention, kept me involved, and left me wondering if the world is soon coming to an end.  I was also pissed at the US for its continued ruination of the Mexican people.
3) Thinking about the film long after it ended: 6 – I am still thinking about this movie.
4) Recommend: 6 – Find it now.  Watch it.  Then we’ll start group therapy sessions together.

Casi Treinta/Almost Thirty

Mexico/96 minutes
Alejandro Sugich López-Arias 2012

Here is the trailer in Spanish.

This romantic comedy about a corporate robot wanna be writer, Emilio (Manuel Balbi) whose 18 year old, free-spirited, gorgeous girlfriend, Cristina (Eiza González) insists he leave the hectic life to follow his dream, is really about a handful of aesthetically-pleasing friends who are the Junior Mints of eye candy.  I love Junior Mints, by the way.

I found it curious how the girlfriend wanted him to quit his VERY high-paying job to join her free-spirited life, because she clearly was not a cheap date.  Well-dressed, enjoying fine dining, exotic drinks, and a modern, expensive apartment aren’t exactly the accoutrements of someone living with a struggling writer.  I suspect she would’ve been pushing him back to his cardiac arrest job soon enough and likely before he finished writing his first chapter.  We never found out what he liked to write or even if he was a talented writer. Given how this was his dream and in some ways, the focal point of the movie, there was very little emphasis on it.

The best part of this film was the audience and their enthusiastic interaction with the characters (many of whom were at the premiere).  When the gorgeous Eiza spoke on stage, someone down below (Scott and I scored some awesome balcony seats) yelled, “Te Amo!”  The guy behind us yelled, “Yo Tambien”.  I think he meant his shared affections for the Eiza and not for the love-sharing-yelling guy.  It was a fun audience.  Youthful, impressionable, and happy.

All the young people (I can say that about people in their late twenties now that I round up to 50) in the movie were rich, which is so true to life (note tone of sarcasm), especially in Mexico and especially with 20-somethings.  The lead character was enjoying common activities like flying on private jets and wearing fine clothing, stuff really, dreams are made of, for those who dream about wealth, that is.    He hooks up with his childhood buddies in Sonora, which is made to look like a paradise designed solely for the affluent.

The movie is described as hilarious, specifically, a hilarious romantic comedy. Granted, there were some clever lines and some humor, and there may have been one time in which I laughed out loud (possibly this was the result of an audience members’ comments), but otherwise, this film was not at all hilarious.  There was seriously no hilarity.  Watching Love Story would have been more hilarious than watching this film.  I chuckled more watching Terms of Endearment. And until the end, the dialogue was shallow much like the characters.

Add to it, the one friend physically abused his pregnant wife (who was carrying their fourth child), and for some reason this was okay. THAT was the most shocking part of the movie.  Not only was it odd to jolt an abuse scene into the flow of rich people being rich and sometimes clever with one another, but it portrayed Mexican ranchers as wife beaters. And what felt almost equally depressing, this educated wife accepting her husband’s behavior as part of her destiny.  I’m not sure what the writer was thinking, because given how that scene was abruptly placed into this pop culture movie and given how lightly it seemed to be taken by the characters; one would think it could easily perpetuate and even condone abusive behavior.  Abuse is already a rampant problem in parts of Mexico.  Fortunately, the abused wife eventually spoke up threatening to leave, and the abusive husband made a miraculous and speedy recovery by the end of the movie.  So instead of the threat of stalking and hunting her down, the husband readily admitted his faults and made himself better for his family.  All within a matter of minutes.  He is a bigger man than I.

Where Casi Treinta was lacking in developed characters it was abundant in exquisite-looking people.  I enjoyed being part of the audience as they had clearly been anticipating this movie and its attractive contents.  I think the official release is in October, so we were two of the privileged 500 or so that saw it in advance.

There was an important message at the end – follow your dream.  I’m not sure the hottest guy in the movie really had to die to drive that message home, but he did.  Oh, oops, spoiler alert.  Sorry.

1) Holding my attention: 5 – I kept waiting for a stronger plot
2) Eliciting an emotional response: 4 – Is lust an emotion?
3) Thinking about the film long after it ended: 4 – If I were younger, there are a couple cast members I would still be thinking about.
4) Recommend: 4.5 – Sure, watch it for mindless entertainment, not for intellectual stimulation.

Tuesday, July 23

Nada malo puede suceder/ Tore Tanzt/ Nothing bad can happen
Katrin Gebbe 2013/German/110 minutes

Image can be found here

This is the story about a young man, Tore (played by Julius Feldmeier), lost and alone, who joins a religious cult called the Jesus Freaks.  Through a series of events, Tore moves in (well, he lives in a tent in their unkempt yard) with a family, the patriarch, a man named Benno (Sascha Gersak).  Tore becomes the abusive focus of the deranged Benno and his equally demented wife, Astrid (Annika Kuhl), which sorely tests his faith. Tore’s only true friend is Benno’s stepdaughter. Sanny (played by Swantje Kohlhof).   Most agonizing, this movie is based on a true story.  The best part of this movie and only because the movie was so incredibly disquieting, was the awesome venue, Teatro Ángela Peralta.

You can find the trailer here.

Julius Feldmeier was present that evening.  Before the movie began, he spoke and warned us about the disturbing sequence of events.  His warning came nowhere close to the reality of just how disturbing.  If his warning had been directions, I would’ve been totally lost and found myself wandering around, aimless and confused. Post-trauma, I mean, movie, postmovie, Julius, once again, stood on the stage for Q and A.  The audience, mouths agape, still stunned by the story and mostly, the end, asked questions about the real-life person, Tore.  It is a true story originally based on an article found in the newspaper.  The writer, Katrin Gebbe, came upon a newspaper article about Tore. She dedicated her creative energies to learning the whole story about this young man, thus writing the screenplay.  And yes, Benno and Astrid were convicted…in case you need to know.  I needed to know.

1) Holding my attention: 6 – Nothing short of a natural disaster could have pulled me away from this movie.  In utter disbelief and for nearly two hours, I worked to convince myself this story could no way be based on actual events.

2) Eliciting an emotional response:  6 – Shocked and horrified and later relieved it wasn’t my life.

3) Thinking about the film long after it ended: 6 – Long after.

4) Recommend: 6 – Go, but be prepared for needing obscene amounts of comfort food afterward.

Movies I didn’t review
There are a few movies I don’t mention in this post, and there are a few more mentioned below I have no particular good excuse for not reviewing outside of the fact it’s been nearly two weeks since they rolled out.  My memory isn’t serving me well, and it’s time for me to move onto something else.  I’m becoming boring.

La maquina de sueños/ Dream Machine
Andres De Tella y Dario Schvarzstein/Argentina

From GIFF Website: Sensible and precise examination of the motivations and creative processes of three contemporary Mexican artists who are renowned worldwide: Pedro Reyes, Carlos Amorales, and Minerva Cuevas. The interesting thing is, precisely, to see which and how are the paths each one takes, enabling us to think of the different ways of representation and the devices each artist puts into motion when activating their “dream machine”.

Rodrigo D: No futuro
Victor Garviria 1990 | Muestra del Pais Invitado: Colombia | 93 min.

Image found here

We arrived at the Biblioteca Publica, El Teatro Santa Ana, to watch this movie, a Colombian flick.  Much to our chagrin, there were no subtitles, and we just knew we wouldn’t be able to hang.  Too bad, it seemed like a good show about a desperate young adult who is about to jump off a building when time stops, and he is able to review his entire life.

Lluvia en los ojos/ Rain in the eyes
Rita Basulto 2013

Rain in the eyes
Taken from Rain in the eyes facebook page

I have to admit, I don’t remember much about this film except for the adorable, animated-like girl, Sofia.  I’d watch it again if I could, because I remember really liking the characters, especially the rhino.

Quebranto/ Disrupted
Roberto Fiesco 2013

Disrupted Movie
From GIFF Website:  This documentary is about the evocative memory and testimony of two characters: Fernando García who, in the seventies, was a child actor known as “Pinolito” and his mother, Lilia Ortega, also an actress. Some years ago Fernando came out as a transvestite and now calls himself Coral Bonelli. In their home in Garibaldi they both relive their times in the movies, while Coral bravely comes to terms with her gender identity. They still act.


“I believe in the transformative power of cinema. It is only through this shared dream-experience that we can transcend the oppressive minutiae of daily existence and find some spiritual connection in the deeper reality of our mutual desire.”
~Daniel Clowes

“The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”
~Alfred Hitchcock

“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.”
~Roger Ebert

“No critic writing about a film could say more than the film itself, although they do their best to make us think the oppposite.”
~Federico Fellini

“The cinema began with a passionate, physical relationship between celluloid and the artists and craftsmen and technicians who handled it, manipulated it, and came to know it the way a lover comes to know every inch of the body of the beloved. No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings.”
~Martin Scorsese


*Photos and stuff*  Please contact me for permission to use images and text for commercial or private use.

This is Mexico Post #18, to see the other Mexico posts, click click click away

Mexico Post #1, Me and My Trimalleolar go to Mexico with my Husband and our Pooch
Mexico Post #2, Dos Americanos y Su Perro en Mexico
Mexico Post #3, Feliz Ano Nuevo 2013
Mexico Post #4, Ballenas, Ballenas Hermosas
Mexico Post #5, Una Visita Morelia
Mexico Post #6, Mariposas Monarcas!
Mexico Post #7, Los Pueblos de Patzcuaro, Paracho, y Tzintzuntzan
Mexico Post #8, La pintoresca ciudad de San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Post #9, Guanajuato, Guanajuato
Mexico Post #10, Back to Sayulita and Jaime Visits!
Mexico Post #11, Semana Santa y Semana Pasqua
Mexico Post #12, Semana de Animales
Mexico Post #13, Semana de Amigos y Amigas
Mexico Post #14, Frida y Diego
Mexico Post #15, Adiós Sayulita
Mexico Post #16, Living and Grinning in San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Post #17, Puddle Jumping in San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Post #18, Guanajuato International Film Festival
Mexico Post #19, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Colonia Condesa, Colonia Coyoacán, y La Casa Azul
Mexico Post #20, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Chapultapec y Centro Historico
Mexico Post #21, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Templo Mayor
Mexico Post #22, Living the Dream in San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Post #23,  Viva la Independencia! 
Mexico Post #24,  Adios San Miguel
Mexico Post #25,  Valle de Bravo y Teploztlán
Mexico Post #26,  Ciudad de Oaxaca
Mexico Post #27,  50 Shades of Green: On the road from Oaxaca to Chiapas
Mexico Post #28,  San Cristóbal de las Casas
Mexico Post #29,  Almost Halloween Ed.: Dark Mountains,  Foggy Cliffs, Witches, Jungles & Shamans
Mexico Post #30, Veracruz, Tampico y Estados Unidos

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