¡Viva el Cine Mexicano!

Dates and Venue 10 -21 Feb | Pacific Cinematheque, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Silent Light (2007)

Ths is an excellent film, especially if you're in an Ingmar Bergmanish mood. Despite the long sequences, and the film's slow rhythm, the cinematorgraphy was close to perfection. The extreme close-ups, the visuals, the angles--all excellently shot. Filmmaker Carlos Reygadas filmed this in Chihuahua, and as I was watching, I said to myself: "This can't be Mexico". There's even a scene in winter, and I thought, "Is this a Mennonite community in northern Europe, Canada or northern USA?". No, not at all, and yet, you can easily be deceived thinking that it is. All the actors are blonde and blue-eyed Caucasians and everyone speaks a German dialect. I found out later that it was in fact northern Mexico, where there are Mennonite communities still thriving. It was indeed a unique experience watching a Mexican film with Spanish subtitles! This film won a number of awards in Cannes, Chicago, Havana and other international film festivals.21 Feb 7.30pm

Midaq Alley (1995)

Veteran director Jorge Fons comes up with a multi-award-winning film based on the novel Zuqāq al-Midaq by Egyptian Nobel-prize winner Naguib Mahfouz. Salma Hayek stars in this film about different characters whose lives are all interconnected. Fons did a superb job picking the write cast for the different colourful personalities depicted in the plot. The film was funny, tragic, melodramatic, and Fons did a great job adapting the plot of the original novel's locale in Cairo's Midaq Alley to Mexico's El Callejón de los milagros. This is the opening film of the festival. Totally entertaining and enjoyable. A must see. 10 Feb 7.30pm.

Cronos (1993)

This film was the debut feature of Screenwriter/Director Guillermo del Toro who went on to do Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. The horror/supernatural genre is Toro at his best, and this unique vampire story is quite unlike the Count Dracula and Rocky Horror picture shows we're exposed to in North America. What an imagination! A living insect is entombed within an internal clockwork device that injects a solution that makes a human immortal. Wow! What a horror genius this man is! This is another must-see film especially for those who go for horror movies. 13 Feb 7.15pm

Solo con tu pareja (1991)

Alfonso Cuarón´s sex comedy, freely translated as Love in the Time of Hysteria, is considered one of the best comedies of Mexico. A yuppie ad man and Casanova, Tomás Tomás has a taste of his own medicine when the nurse Sylvia, one of his conquests, writes "positive"in the results of an AIDS blood test. He looks for the fastest and easiest way to commit suicide, but meanwhile, he falls in love with a flight stewardess, Clarisa who also wants to commit suicide because her boyfriend, a pilot, was having an affair with another flight stewardess. It's entertaining, but you have to be in a frivolous mood to see this film.12 Feb 7.00pm &18 Feb 8.50pm

Lola (1989)

This was the feature debut of Maria Novaro as a filmmaker. Perhaps 20 years ago a film like this would make headlines, and in fact, it did win an award at the Berlin Film Festival around 20 years ago. However, today, the theme is a bit trite and common: a single mom who has to eke out a living. She drinks, plays around with other men, and although she has a free-wheeling existence, she still cares for her daughter. We're left hanging at the end of the film,when she leaves the big city with her child and goes to settle temporarily in a seacoast town. This probably might be of interest to single moms who could identify with her plight. 15 Feb 8.50pm & 18 Feb 7.00pm

Frida, naturaleza viva (1986)

Unlike the commercially oriented film Frida (2002) starring Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas, Paul Leduc's approach is poetic and almost metaphorical. There's not much talking in this film; rather we see images and songs as Frida Kahlo, agonizing in her deathbed at her Coyoacan home, recalls memories of her childhood, her accident when she was 18 that caused her leg to be amputated, her friendship with Trotsky and Siquieros, her marriage to muralist Diego Rivera, her miscarriage, her political commitment, her lesbian affairs, and most interesting, different close-up shots of her paintings. The downside in this film is you have to know something about Mexican history in the first half of the 20th century, such as what Trotsky was doing in Mexico and how and why Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were involved,and so forth. Otherwise, it would be difficult to understand the plot. 19 Feb 7.00pm & 20 Feb 5.00pm

Reed: Mexico Insurgente (1973)

This is the first film of Mexican-born Paul Leduc based on John Reed's account of his 1913 travel to México. It is, in the opinion of most, considered the first true portrait of the Mexican revolution filmed as a feature. The documentary approach is used here by Leduc, using such techniques as historical narration, black and white and sepia-tinted images. A minor flaw in this film is that there are extended shots of Reed doing nothing more than walking, running and sitting for prolonged periods. A knowledge of Mexican history during this period would be useful so viewers would know who's who, i.e., who the "colorados" and "federales"were, the roles played by historical figures like Carranzas, Urbina, Villa and others, and so forth. Eight years after this film was screened, a Hollywood version of John Reed's life starring Warren Beatty entitled Reds (1981) was produced, although it focused more on his activities as a member of the Communist Party and his self-exile to Russia where he met Lenin, Trotsky, and other leading Bolsheviks. He died of typhus fever in Moscow in 1920.11 Feb 8.45pm

Ensayo de un crimen (1955)

Luis Buñuel in his later years moved from surrealism to realism in his films, always with black comedy in mind. This film whose title is loosely translated to English as The Criminal Life Of Archibaldo De La Cruz still conserves the surrealistic dream theme that characterizes his films. Here, the protagonist, Archibaldo, dreams of crimes in his mind and is convinced from a made-up story of his governess when he was a child that a music box with a dancing bailarina given to him by his mother, would give him the power to kill anyone he wishes. A series of deaths do indeed occur, coincidentally, because of his death desires, and he finally confesses to a judge saying that he is guilty of all these crimes. However, the judge lets him go and tells him it's all in his imagination. In this film and his later films like Viridiana, he continues to poke fun at the pomps and rituals of the Catholic Church. 16 Feb 7.00pm

© 2010 Ed Farolan