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Batalla en el cielo (2005)
From 'cinéma vérité' to Big Brother aesthetics
Dealing to be impartial and generous with the last work of Carlos Reygadas, I could recognize its effort to obtain a different film, cradle absolutely in personal convictions and without considerations for the Box office. But that "effort" is also what bothers me: Too many pretensions for so miserable result: 1)Its pretension of veracity like a documented reality or more likely a "cinéma vérité" work, using real people and non-actors, impostors of emotional states for a very diluted script fails resoundingly: A script exists. And it is perceivable that their individuals or "characters" are acting, and as is expected with nonprofessional actors, acting poorly. Their dialogs are unbelievable. And contributing to the feeling of unreal and falsification, the director uses abundant sequences in fixed positions where the characters seemed to be forced dummies, nothing that corresponds with the naturalness of the human body in the plotted situations. Everything is false, artificial and unreal.
2)I think questionable that the "authenticity" had some aesthetic merit, or therefore, any "Big Brother" or Real TV would be equal to the last work of Reygadas: In them there is no plot, and the people are real either. I do not believe that Carlos Reygadas finds in "The Real Cancun" some aesthetic merit, nevertheless, this one has the same characteristics that he looks for in "Batalla en el Cielo". Both fulfill with his simplistic belief in "real cinema": not directed by history at all, being something unreachable, similar to music experience, been perceived of different form by each member from the hearing. Semiotics does not come to the case, but considering image and a spoken language similar ways to obtains diffuse effects like the music experience, without considering the implicit qualities of precision of those means, has not hit the target.
3)Its pretension of reflection and depth with its long pauses like Tarkovsky did, doing a film totally rate devoid is disturbed, breaking any calm or reflexive feelings, with some real jewels of involuntary humor, as the gross and shocking moves in, any deep feelings or reflections on the human condition moves out. Crazy laughs or repulsion stays.
4)When the film has finished, I felt to be the filthy accomplice of a director without scruples, with has so much passion for create, but very little to say. That his work is fundamentally based on the value of ordinary people who were used to expose themselves in cinematographic sessions of explicit sex in a film with many artistic pretensions, but where the only art were the sounds and music of the sound track.
Runaway Train (1985)
Runaway Train is about Freedom
This wonderful film, as a good art, it can be interpreted saying much more that what their authors originally tried to say. With a simple beginning, its characters and plot, more related to action films (escaped prisoners that are catched within a train without control), finish developing metaphors on those great abstractions that are the ideas of Freedom, Determinism and Free Will. I exaggerate? Perhaps.
Previous to the book publication like "Freedom Evolves" by Daniel C. Dennett ("Our capacity of forecast helps us to surpass the evident determinism extending the margins of our freedom") and of unfortunate lives losses on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (1986), for which this film seems its prologue: displaying a brief reflection with the images of the Challenger, showing it like which it was: One of the more complex and sophisticated pieces of technology never constructed, from the narrative of this film emerges the message that even with all our technology supporting our forecasts to control our future, can be insufficient to control the collisions of forces in conflict: The destructive fatality of one represents the redemptive freedom of other.
* * * SPOILER This is evident mainly in the skillful final sequence, with the protagonist, escaped from the prison and that apparently, has been left prisoner in a train that runs at full speed to his death. Nevertheless, being able to stop it, it chooses not to stop the locomotive: He is not a prisoner, in the free exercise of his will, allows it run at full speed. The runaway machine force is the force of his freedom, unstoppable, running towards the unknown.
What a masterpiece!