Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Readings and other delights

The readings for this week seem to be more centered around "El Callejon de los Milagros" than "Mecanica Nacional," so I'm going to focus more on the readings.
The "Sexuality in Space" reading goes pretty far in depth into the film, even as far as camera angles, as mentioned on page 31: "As two men take leave of one another the camera pans slightly to the right, thereby bringing into view the opening of the Zocalo metro station..." and goes further into more detail about every small technical aspect of the film. I found this article to be a little bit over the top in ways of the use of academic jargon as well as hardcore film vocabulary that always sends a piece of writing over the top when applied.
Noble talked about Y Tu Mama Tambien in the post-script at the end of the piece, noting that "...this road movie, a genre, like melodrama, that endows space with an excess of symbolic signification," etc., etc. Y Tu Mama Tambien is one of my favorite movies, but it's hard for me to talk about it in such a way that detaches the emotion from the film. For me, film is such a visceral, intense, emotional experience, especially Y Tu Mama, and it's hard for me to turn into a set of chattering words that turn it into a mathematical equation of social commentary.
It's also hard for me to agree or disagree with Noble's thoughts on this upcoming movie, as it's next week's choice and I haven't seen it yet. But there was one idea I was intrigued by on page 31, reading a motif in the movie of "the male body being closed and the female body being open." Anyone can gather certain evidence from random motifs in any movie, we can read into anything as we see fit. But this idea struck a chord with me, not because of any literal meanings, but the idea that men and women gather information and cope with life in different ways based on our genetic make-up and what constitutes our sex as well as gender. That not only culture helps shape how we handle the world, but that our physiology plays a part, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I thought "Los Olvidados" was a great film. Even though it was very subversive and ahead of its time in a lot of ways, it was also very different from recent dramatic social commentary films in that it showed slumming Mexican life all from real characters with no comedic releases. The only deviation from the injustice and suffering that was nearly constantly portrayed was when any one of the children just had a moment where they acted like kids and did something silly.
Though it was much harder to watch because there was nearly nothing buffering us from the truth or lightening the mood at all for the whole duration, it felt intensely powerful and prolific. The truth of it really resonated with me in a whole new way, I truly felt the injustices of the time. Though it's a bad comparison, I've noticed from being American and growing up in the states that the more neglected and disenfranchized and the less educated a society becomes a la its government, the more the internal workings of a society begin to combust.
What I find interesting while truly depressing about the message of this film is that progress was never really reached. At the beginning, we are shown that the message of this film was not that of pessimism, but that of optimism, hoping that by educating people more and more, that eventually progress would change the fate of the impoverished Mexican communities. What's sad is that some progress has been made, but now there's even less of a middle class than there once was in Mexico, and poverty rates continue to flourish. I hope that progress can be made, especially with a brand new American president, who I'm hoping won't say silly things like let's "seal the borders," who will work with the Mexican president.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The readings for this week were alright, I liked reading about Cantiflas. I found it interesting to learn that Mexican cinema comments more on socioeconomic differences and cultural issues. The film tonight felt ahead of its, in my opinion. In terms of camera angles and some of the acting, it felt more real than many films of its time, even from where there were more resources for film, like the states. It was also nicely shot, the still shots for a while, the connection between the two entertainers, it all felt more palpable, and timeless in some aspects. I didn't entirely comprehend all of the dialogue, but from what I could understand, I really felt a connection between the two male protagonists.
Cuando estaban borrachos por la mayoria del tiempo, pensaba que este fue un comentario en como la clase social mas abajo maneja su lugar an la sociedad. Para el sueno, no comprendi por que el sueno era tan largo, o que el sueno realmente significaba. Por que fue el baile tan larga y que significaba la novia cantando por mucho tiempo? Eran las palabras que cantaba de ella importante al sueno, y la idea y tema de la pelicula?
In the reading "the Formation of a National Cinema Audience," I found an interesting note on page 73: "Where the church had previously been one of the few public spaces in which different sectors of society would have encountered one another in their leisure time, the cinema represented a new point of contact in this hierarchical society." It's so fascinating how Mexican cinema came to be a bridge between the social classes, as well as a major commentary on the disparity between rich and poor. It's always great to see film as a means to enlightenment and understanding of human nature, instead of some cheesy, lowest common denomonator film that helps to form drool on the side of one's chin while watching it, ie "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."

Monday, January 12, 2009


So, this is round two with this blog. Please ignore any previous entries, they're all from SPAN312.
My name is Rose Finn, and I'm from Portland, Oregon. I'm a creative writing major, but I'm looking into a Spanish minor, because I've been taking Spanish classes since I was in seventh grade, and my family is a group of JeMexicans (a phrase I coined). My dad and his siblings were all born in Mexico, and his siblings were raised there, while by the time my dad was five, his Jewish parents up and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconson. So there you have it- JewMexicans. They all speak fluent Spanish, especially my aunt who runs a bilingual school in Chicago and married an Ecuadorian.
The readings thus far are interesting, although it's always difficult for me to sift through the academic jargon that overpowers academic articles. In my program, my initial focus was on screenplay, so I'm hoping this class will provide a whole new take on film, which already it's shaping up that way. I found it interesting in the Monsivais reading about how Mexican cinema has been sociological rather than artistic, which would make a lot of sense, given it's blatant social problems. I'm fascinated and intrigued with Mexican culture, though it happens to be a third world country, and there are certain malfunctions of a society that go with that title. I was in Mexico last February, and I noticed how there are virtually no regulations with workers' compensation, when workdays are permitted to start and end, alcohol, and many other facets of society that are highly regulated in Canada and the US.