Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day Nine - Friday, August 29

Cumbia Callera (Cumbia Connection)
René U. Villarreal - Mexico - 95 min.
Spanish, eng. sub.
Another Mexican film that breaks out of the stereotype of drugs, violence, and corruption. As the director also said, an experimental film about a love triangle. And it is scored with a Columbian popular style of music from the barrios (slums) of Monterey, a retro style of music played by Celso Pino, accordian player and singer. For some Youtube clips featuring his music, both of which were used (among many other songs) in the film:
With no more than 5 or 10 minutes of dialogue in the whole film, and barely that much more implied, everything is communicated with actions, facial expression, and music. The story (a very simple one, really) revolves around a young videographer, who sees and begins to obsessively video a muchacha from the slums as she goes about her daily routine. He wants to woo her and gets a chance when he tries to return a shoe, one of a pair she had shoplifted, with her boyfriend. The boyfriend, a macho street-attitude type, self-taught artist who paints murals when he isn’t slaving away as a construction worker, isn’t about to let her go, despite her getting involved with the other guy. The story of two young men coming to uneasy terms of sharing a girlfriend who wants them both is actually only a vehicle for the lively music.

Anthony Chen - Singapore - 14 min.
Eng. sub. (actually, there were none).
A couple of Chinese Singaporean adolescents stuck at home during a heat wave, discover sex. Oh sorry, a boy and a girl. I mean, this IS a Singapore film. There was enough English peppering their narrative to work out what they were saying contextually: too hot - haze (smog?) alert- skip school. Boredom after food and TV, then horseplay around the apartment - arousal. Concerns about (pregnancy? safe sex? both?). A condom. Cigarette afterward (lots of smoking - it's an Asian film, don't be surprised) - will you love me forever? Don't be silly, the boy answers.

Animated American
James Baker, Joe Haidar - United States - 15 min.
Hand-drawn classic toons plot revenge on the studio mogul that put them out of work. A la Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Cute.

The Price of Pleasure
Miguel Picker, Chyng Sun - United States - 55 min.
A completely negatively biased documentary on the porn industry compared to 9 to 5 days in Porn, this film works from the assumption that (heterosexual) pornography is bad and seeks out to prove its hypothesis, with blatant subjectivity in definitions, interviewed subjects, test criteria, and manipulative editing. All that was missing was the usual religious/moral hypocrisy. Instead the film (and filmmakers) proceed from the standpoint that they are serious academics studying the effect of pornographic media on culture, but if one looks up the Media Education Foundation, their website states their agenda is to challenge mass media assumptions. Draw your own conclusions (pro or con) that their board of advisors include Noam Chomsky,
Susan Faludi, Noami Klein, and others.
Left-wing academics have a history of being anti-erotic, and over the last 30 years shared an uneasy alliance with right-wing Christian fundamentalists in their attemtps to dictate what the populace should be allowed to watch. With the porn industry becoming a $15 billion a year industry, it’s natural that they’d have even more reason to go after it – after all, the left has always been against eroticism as a frivolous pastime of the idle rich (as opposed to an evil design by the devil, as supposed by the religionists), and now there’s the horrific commoditisation of sexuality as well, as they see it. This film sadly is so crude in its attempt to validate itself that it almost seems like a parody of the religious anti-porn diatribes.
Another review (in the Montreal Gazette) that echoes my world view on this film to a large degree :

Gigantes de Valdés (Valdés Giants)
Alex Tossenberger - Argentina - 110 min.
Spanish, eng. sub.
Set in Patagonia in the Valdes Peninsula, amongst the beauty of the land, sea, and all of the flora and fauna, this film could easily be transplanted into Alaska by a U.S. film company, with only minor changes to characters and the story. And maybe that’s what wrong with the film for me. A very conventional story about a business scout sent to convince the locals to sign on to the building of a huge luxury hotel, one that would destroy the pristine beauty and fragile ecosystems. Big business against the locals who cherish the whales, seals, penguins, and so on. There’s the usual conversion from city slicker-must-get-a-job-done to nature lover, the falling in love with the sincere local teacher, the simple, illiterate, but wise fisherman. And the one bad townie, the big man, who runs everything, but who everyone despises. Hrmm…any ideas who the company deals with when newly converted dude sides with the Townies?

No comments: