Y Tu Mama Tambien is inauspicious, but like many great films, it reaches for and touches the world and humanity in everyday actions and seemingly small gestures. Here, for instance, we have teen sexuality, laid out with all its romanticism and reality, filled with the kinds of empty-but-meaningful gestures that define humanity’s desires and their foibles. Director Alfonso Cuaron is a highly personal director, but he’s always most interested in defining his characters in relation to the world they inhabit. His two protagonists here are immature and petty yet deeply human, reflections of a society that won’t admit it has given birth to them and which they, initially, want no part in. He gives us a profoundly human story, built on the eternal humanness of sex as a marker of adulthood and childishness, and given life by Cuaron’s wonderfully and contrapuntally painterly version of sloppy, slovenly reality. Continue reading
With Alfonso Cuaron playing in the big leagues of sci-fi superstardom these days, it’s easy to forget where he came from. His earlier Mexican films didn’t gift him with the toybox he would later accumulate for big-budget affairs such as Gravity, but his rambunctious, sensory-heavy craft was on display from the beginning, and from the beginning he was producing more subtly radical works that didn’t insist so heavily on their filmic adventurousness. All these years later, with three good to stunning English-language blockbusters under his belt, his greatest achievement may still be a little film about two boys, a woman, and the Mexican countryside. Continue reading
Although the material, and director Pablo Lorrain’s muck-racking credentials, would beg to differ, No is no glum, morose drama. Far from it, in fact. It takes a shot of endorphins and battles the lows of the human experience with the highs of sharp, provocative filmmaking and an effervescent not-so-dark comic streak, tackling a serious subject and having a small, self-contained blast doing it. Kudos to Lorrain for following in the spirit of his main character and infusing politics with spunk and pizzaz, even if he runs into a few queasy moral calms along the way.
Slightly-diluted pop-grim aesthetic and rigorous commitment to handheld footage in tow, Lorrain’s scrappy spirit leaves Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet flustered and sweating, but not truly broken. This isn’t a dissection of Pinochet the man or Chilean democracy at large, even if the film makes its intent clear and its contemptuous spirit well-known. Instead, it has its sights set on the news media, and even there it has mixed opinions. That it finds warmth and lush buoyancy in this confusion about what to do with political pragmatism is perhaps a political and moral problem, but it is also inescapably the key to the movie’s success as vibrant cinema. Continue reading