Reviews

16 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Seduction (1981)
7/10
A medium movie compared to best of Ripstein filmography
14 January 2012
Considering Ripstein one of the favorite modern Mexican filmmakers, hopes for "La seducción" must be great. It has some major topics of his career, like domination throw sexual roles, a certain critic to moral, religion and institutions with a taste of tragedy for example. It is an interesting thriller during a rural religious war, the perfect ambient to develop these topics, but, being honest, not totally achieve compared to his big hits of two previous years, "Cadena perpetua", "La tía Alejandra" or "El lugar sin límites".

Experimented actors Katy Jurado, with an outstanding performance, and Gonzalo Vega, try to shelter Viridiana Alatriste first film protagonist, sadly Viridiana never shines. She doesn't expelled the sensuality required for this character. The whole movie must gravitate around her but she fails in intensity and sex appeal. The movie is still watchable but it could be much better.
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7/10
An elusive narrative mix of bio, homage to cinema and theater
13 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Has great dialogs. Based on homonym play by Emilio Carballido, the other main idea behind is the homage Hermosillo makes to cinema mentioning in a grateful gesture names as Tarkovsky, Hitchcock, Truffaut and Emilio Fernandez. This homage is kind of biographical, using a young kid which only desire is to become film director. Through him we discover where begins the inspiration of a director to follow his passion.

I saw one problem. Sometimes it looks like theater because of a very static camera, performances of young actors Giovanna Zacarías and Ramiro Guerrero, and the way they say their dialogs. Maybe it is Hermosillo's manner to emphasized the cinema as a fiction, if it is true it's not totally achieved. This sensation of filmed theater grows because the main part (in time and substance) happens in the interior of an apartment.

It is a movie inside another movie, which is a nice detail of director's narrative. Inside, there is a love story, a story of a growing kid becoming a man by following his dreams and a more than symbolic sexual encounter which awake the desire to live. At the end we have a lovely movie, maybe a little difficult to enjoy but filmed by someone in love of cinema.
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Bandera rota (1979)
7/10
A nice piece of Retes' realistic cinema
9 January 2012
"Bandera rota" (something like "Broken Flag") has many elements of Gabriel Retes' movies, in a genre film, a thriller: beautiful presence of Tina Romero, an artistic project (a movie in this case,, furthermore, its production is stopped by money problems), critic of social, political or economical situation in contemporary Mexico from a middle class point of view and social class or ideological conflicts, for example. Retes' characters are the voice of his very personal and critical explanations of main social problems in Mexico.

The importance of movies, media in general, and possession of important information are the elements used by Retes to develop an interesting thriller. Personal interests of characters are mixed and confused with their ideologies, giving them certain profundity, enough to maintain our interest.

This is not a great movie, but has an interesting story and it is easy to watch. Dialogues are very natural with realistic intentions (specially inside the crew of filmmakers), but this realistic motif has the inconvenient of a very lazy use of the camera, a little boring. In my opinion images could've talk more.

Violence is well manage, in the exact moment and amount, also crude and realistic, with, maybe, some memorable scenes of "Bandera rota" showing a not very common face of Retes' skills.
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9/10
The evergreen style in Mexican politics
9 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
In Mexico, "La sombra del caudillo" was a prohibited film by government of PRI during decades. It is clearly identify with political corruption under PRI government, specially with the facts of Plutarco Elias Calles presidential period, around 1920s. PRI was the only party in power for seven decades and "La sombra del caudillo" reflects the way they always work.

Fidelity, traitors and of course, the hand of the President, called "el Caudillo", were the forces reigning the political destiny of a nation. Being against "el Caudillo", even in a supposedly clean election, was a risk, no matter how important the person were. "El Caudillo" was over everyone. Here, two Military Generals have the chance to be the next president, but "el Caudillo", not the population will decide.

Julio Bracho, the director, paints the politics world so cruel. For example, the only person capable of loving is destined to died in hands of their traitor friends. But no one is saved. At the end, it is not a classical fight of the good versus the bad candidate. It is simply a fight of two forces, of two generals coming from the same place, they both are the same thing, but (we never know why) one of them will be blessed with the favor of el Caudillo, and the other not.

Acting is great, but the main character, played by Tito Junco, the opposing General, has the majority of the scenes. So, great actors as Ignacio Lopez Tarso or Carlos Lopez Moctezuma are barely notable, and some others, like Roberto Canedo, Noe Nurayama or Antonio Aguilar have almost incidental parts. All of them with important careers in Mexican cinema. The ephemeral presence of el Caudillo is so sordid, and his powerful personality can be fill in the few moments appearing on screen, looking almost omnipotent. We can see him in intimate talks, alone with the opposite General, and still fill his strength.
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6/10
Gavaldon hesitate between liberation and constraint
8 January 2012
Even when best years of director Roberto Gavaldon had pasted away, this is his way for adopting new tendencies in Mexican cinema, which topics, in 1970s, became more sexually open and tried to be critic about this and other social matters.

Alma Muriel plays Laura, a similar character to others she played later in more famous films like "Amor libre" or "Retrato de una mujer casada". The apparent stability of young and rich Laura is disturbed by her sexual attraction for handsome photographer Alex (Jaime Moreno).

People around Laura, mother and friends, feels more natural in that ambient pictured by Gavaldon sometimes liberated sometimes corrupted, and in certain manner they are the spiders trying to introduce Laura in that new (and now kind of normal) situations.

At the end, Cuando tejen las arañas, is moralist for Laura, showing risks as a punishment for experimenting with new and prohibited things, like pre-marital sex or the use of drugs.

A little slow and showing abundant nudity always from long distance, Gavaldón is not fully convinced in his style applied to this topics.
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8/10
Comic and critic Jaime Humberto Hermosillo's opera prima
7 January 2012
Sex and middle class are the main topics in "La verdadera vocación de Magdalena". Hermosillo shows marriage as a matter of interests (economical and social) in the modern society. emphasizing the education, lose of tradition and customs in the gap generation of sixties youth and its parents.

Acting is kind of irregular. Angelica María, in a very personal opinion, plays the best character in his career, being a kind and vulnerable girl raised in a hard moral education. But Carmen Montejo is irregular, sometimes she complains fulfilling the screen and sometimes she just fall in melodramatic postures, like a soap opera.

The music is great, in one of the first original scores of Mexican cinema and sometimes singed by Angelica María. Also, there are footage images of Avandaro Music Festival, which increase the value of this movie.
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8/10
Heat
6 January 2012
It is an Albert Camus novel adapted to social problems in Yucatan coast, Mexico. The mix of the novel with historical problems in Yucatan, like racism or exploitation, is well achieved.

The most likable thing are the characters, some of the actors work really well. Humberto Zurita's great personality contains the megalomania of his character and hold it on the line before becoming laughable. He is surrounded by a crew of other important actors, like Jose Carlos Ruiz, Manuel Ojeda, or Angelica Aragon.

Power, money, sex and violence are the main passions that make arise the real nature of persons. The permanent heat that keeps everyone sweating is like a symbol of these passions.

"La furia de un dios" is a good and watchable movie.
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Los salvajes (1957)
7/10
Life is just the fair pay for mistakes
6 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Los salvajes" talks about Punishment. The concept is build from a moral perspective, where all the bad acts in life are considered sin and deserve that punishment. But it goes further because also gives a religious perspective, so, there is no need to be a bad person to gain punishments and also sexual desire is a sin.

The acting is great. Pedro Armendáriz plays a character he played many times, a wealthy and hard man, one of many macho stereotypes, taking the woman he likes and doing his will. Also there is a young Carlos Ancira as his younger brother with a mental illness. A tortured Anita Blanch completes the main characters.

Filmed in black and white, the cinematography is gorgeous and the high contrast reveals the deep psychology of this characters, derived from the literary work it is based on.
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9/10
Masterpiece of Mexican Horror
5 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The language used by Ripstein in "La tía Alejandra" is very simple in almost all the film. There are very few camera movements, almost always direct angles, without music and barely special effects. All this helps to centered the atteintion around the story and the characters, with great acting of Isabela Corona (as Alejandra) and Diana Bracho (as Lucía). Just at the end, when both women struggle it is barely richer.

The identity of Alejandra and the origin of deaths in the house are ambivalent. She can be a real witch or just a eccentric woman pretending to have powers, so the family could be going crazy and misjudging Alejandra... the spectator decides. The boiling water is never seeing while Malena is inside the bath, Martha is not turned into bird, and Lucía keeps hearing Alejandra's corpse, for example.

The old house where everything happens gives a macabre atmosphere. At the end, Lucía is the only real murder, also cruel. In the last part she appears covered with shadows and her dress is black, in opposition, Alejandra appears clear and with direct lights, even after death.
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8/10
An innovative and intelligent thriller
8 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A Mexican psycho-killer film before psycho-killer era... there is a man (maybe a killer) obsessed with his mother, like Psycho (1960)... there is a masked killer hunting women, like those filmed by Mario Bava's giallo in 1960s... but this is a 1950 movie. The script make it a very interesting and tense movie, also Jorge Stahl's cinematography works fine, with some touches of expressionism in the set design and the classical light/shadow use of the film-noir. Arturo De Córdova did a great job, playing a character he did tenths of times, a refined man with a dark side that eventually arise and possesses him completely. Even when Juan Bustillo Oro is barely remembered, this film is a proof of how unfaithful is that poor attention to his work in modern decades.
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8/10
Citizen Kane, less powerful, more
5 December 2011
Similar main characters and narrative style to Citizen Kane, but less great and more entertaining. The producer Shields is analogue to Kane: both became powerful in media (Shields in cinema), both begin from zero (even when Kane was multimillionaire he prefers a very small newspaper of his property), and both eventually "forgot" their roots, their friends, in order to achieve projects. Narrative is also similar. We don't see main characters but in flashbacks of their friends, loves and co-workers. Also, they both are now hated for those who once love them. The main difference between this two stories is that Citizen Kane is best in quality, innovative and one of the very best movies ever filmed, but kind of non-very-enjoyable. In the other hand The Bad and the Beautiful is very entertaining. The result is that Welles' only got one Oxcar and Minelli, ten years later, five, showing the way Hollywood likes to honor the industry.
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10/10
Spectacular mix of Fuentes' entertainment and author movie
25 November 2010
Fernando De Fuentes' career is divided in two parts. His first films are considered "author films", and the rest of his filmography is more according to the values of the entertainment industry. The important thing is that he always directed great movies, no matter the special goal he had in mind. "La selva de fuego" is one of those spectacular movies with great argument and unique Fuentes' seal of quality. The photography is amazing, specially the few times we can see characters surrounded by the jungle.

The main topic is how human law tries to suppress human nature. Dolores Del Río (Estrella) is a very sensual woman, specially shown in one scene where she undresses in an empty room, with all the workers spying through the door and window. MIguel Inclán and Manuel Dondé also have great acting roles as despicable workers. In opposition to them, Arturo De Córdova (Luciano) plays a tortured man, that will fight against his desire and his workers to defend Estrella.

It is settled in Yucatán, México. Even when it is never told, the story goes around a group of Mexican workers of a chicle extraction company (like that one founded there by Adams family in XIX century). Also a couple of workers speak with the unique style of people from that peninsula.
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8/10
One of Tin Tán's most famous comedies
25 October 2010
Like other Mexican masters of humor (for example, Cantinflas), Germán Valdés created Tin Tán with a strong feeling of a unique personality and original language. He came from a family of comedians very famous in movies and TV (he is brother of Ramón Valdés and Manuel "Loco" Valdés). Tin Tán incarnated the figure of 1940s' pachuco, young Mexican American guys, with strong feelings for his roots (music, dancing) that returned to Mexico and find a country distant to them in customs and rhythm of life. "Calabacitas tiernas" was one of the first works in the vertiginous career of Valdés, so it is one of the most representative examples of what we will find in his later works: co-working with his brothers, beautiful women, a story around the show business, problems with the police, characteristic music and dancing, references to cinema, mentions of Mexican culture topics and identity confusions.
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6/10
A nice job by Mr. Anthony Quinn
11 October 2010
It is not really a good movie. The best things are the character of Deaf Smith (Quinn), the beautiful prostitutes appearing in the film and the moves of the camera around a deaf gunman, that help us to understand how he is aware of the people around him. Anthony Quinn performance is incredible, being the most notable character without pronouncing a single word. All the scenes where he appears flows around him, even when the apparently most charming Johnny Ears (Nero) tries to be funny (sometimes he creates the opposite effect). Smith is funnier, harder and more interesting than Ears, and maybe that is the main reason to watch this film.
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Santa (1932)
9/10
The best version of Santa
11 October 2010
Gamboa's Santa is one of the most filmed stories in Mexican cinema. This is one of the first versions, maybe the most famous because it is consider to be the first non-silent Mexican movie. Besides a couple of technical mistakes, in edition and illumination, the script of this version is strong in material according to the 1930's. Lupita Tovar creates a great character of a prostitute, well developed and always proud nevertheless how hard is she hit by her condition of vulnerability. This character is enough to support the whole movie, and according to the novel, men are just companions in the raise and fall of Santa as the best prostitute.
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L'Eclisse (1962)
9/10
An innovative and beautiful piece of Antonioni
2 October 2010
Antonioni is one of the precursors of the contemplative cinema, an "Eclipse" is one of his best examples. One of the most notorious things is the astonishing cinematography, with beautiful shots in every scene. It is full of symbolism, and that's the perfect way the director choose to express his art, telling us a story with a lack of action and a lot of images speaking: The opposite styles of the architectonic constructions, the night versus the day. The narrative procedures developed by Antonioni are taken to the extreme in the last minutes of the film, creating a last scene simply powerful, original and poetic. It was a movie different from that ones of its own time, and that's why a cinema student must see the whole trilogy, but maybe, for the whole audience it would look meaningless.
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