Thursday, February 12, 2009

Batalla en el Cielo

I feel like there's a lot that could be said about this movie, but so much is left for interpretation, it's hard to know where to begin.
I don't know if I completely liked or agreed with the general statement of this movie, but there are some elements that I really liked. I actually really enjoyed the beginning, and the view of the world we see. It was very honest, and I felt like I was actually in the airport in Mexico City- it actually looked like how Mexico looked to me while I was there, and the feeling of watching everything through a certain muted lens resonated with me.
I agree with what Carolina said in class about how this film could be interpreted as existentialist. The tone of it reminded me so much of watching The Stranger, as well as the book (by Albert Camus). Even the plot of Batalla has similarities with the plot of The Stranger. After watching this, I don't see how this film could be anything other than some sort of existentialist commentary (this is one of those moments where I think I sound like a total douche).
The best aspect of Batalla en el Cielo for me was how it was shot. It was filmed so beautifully, someone could take a still shot from almost any moment in that movie and it would be a brilliant piece of photography. that really aided in me not disliking the movie entirely.
The sense of realism, the camera work, and how it was shot were my favorite parts. The self-indulgent takes, the intensity bordering on melodrama, and the stiff dialogue took me out of the moment and the realism. The best dialogue was from everyone on the street. Anything between characters in personal relationships felt stiff and unreal, which made me dislike the movie more. I hate it when movies just try to be different, surrealist, and/or existentialist, because those are things that I just don't prioritize first when enjoying a film. Something about at least one of the characters has to strike a chord for me to like the movie, and none of these characters felt tangible or alive for me, which detracted from the beauty of some of the realistic perspective of life in Mexico City.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

El Callejon de los Milagros

I actually really liked this movie, despite its melodramatic points. I was pretty compelled the whole way through. Obviously there are aspects of it that I found less believable than others, ie when Susanita and the twenty- six year old guy get married. That part just seemed so middle aged woman dream coming true thing that doesn't really happen very often in reality. I did like it when he responded "sure" in his sleazy way, though.
I was very impressed that this movie talked about homosexuality from the standpoint of an abusive middle aged married man. I also initially thought this movie was from the 80s, until I realized it was from 1995, but nonetheless, Mexican culture is very patriarchal and very Catholic, thus much less tolerant of homosexuality than, say, Canada, where gay marriage is legal and gay men have a much less difficult set of walls to tear down, metaphorically. This aspect of the movie made me respect it a lot more, and I also found the whole situation entirely believable. The use of drugs made this movie feel more real to me, as well.
I liked how hot and cold the father ran, not that it made me like the character for it, but I found him very realistic. Much of the time when asshole self-righteous characters are depicted in film, writers have a tendency to show them as very black and white, one-sided. But the fact that the father became so enraged when he felt betrayed and showed no vulnerability, but still simultaneously loved his grandson added more depth to his character.
There was a little bit of overacting, but it was a very dramatic movie, so somehow it fit, even though generally I can't stand overacting. In terms of this movie as a cultural depiction, I enjoyed the view of the city street that we see interspersed through the film, I thought that was a good motif, because it showed how a street in Mexico actually looks. The fact that Alma felt like her only options of a future were prostitution or marrying rich felt very real and very tragic. I'm not sure if this film was as much a societal commentary, as much as it was about human relationships and the endurance of love.