Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baja California: the Pacific Coast of Mexico - 1949

Silas Johnson is another "lost filmmaker, who worked out of Coronado, California. This film boasts beautiful color footage of old Baja, before Pemex stations lined the Cuota and Libre. Hunt travels from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, enchantingly stopping at the waterless village of Magdalena Bay, Tortuga Bay, and the vineyards at Santo Tomás.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Beast of Hollow Mountain - 1956

Plot: An American cowboy living in Mexico discovers his cattle is being eaten by a giant prehistoric dinosaur

Review: When it came to dinosaur special effects in the 1950s, absolutely no one came close to Ray Harryhausen, and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms still reigns as the classic of that time. Others who dared try and compete were lucky to come in a distant second, but that didn't mean there wasn't a fun quality to their films. The Beast From Hollow Mountain is one of those minor league yet highly enjoyable attempts to combine the two favorite elements of 12 to 15 year old boys when we went to the movies back in the mid-fifties: cowboys and dinosaurs. We knew Guy Madison well from his long run Wild Bill Hickock TV series, which had precious little to do with the real life of that historic character but was plenty of fun all the same. Here, he's a range rider who discovers that his cattle are disappearing. Could it be outlaws? No, the title creature, who attacks Madison, a cute little Mexican kid, the gorgeous Patricia Medina, and a whole host of vaqueros. There is (as was the case back then) precious little dinosaur footage, for the way they kept costs down back then was to 'tease' you with distant growls, but avoid showing you the real thing for as long as possible. After about an hour of this, you got maybe fifteen minutes of actual footage with the creature (who has the weirdest, wildest tongue of any dinosaur in movie history) chasing after Guy and friends with the swiftness of a professional track star. And it's a good thing they keep him offscreen, because he's at best semi-convincing when you do see him. That doesn't make this brightly colored film and less fun to watch. And the way in which Madison gets the thing at the end is a real lulu.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

La Mujer del Puerto - 1934

Plot Summary: Rosario (Palma) becomes a prostitute after losing her father and discovering her boyfriend had a liaison with another woman. In Veracruz, Rosario lives above a sordid cabaret "selling her love to the men coming from the sea." One night, sailor Alberto (Soler) rescues Rosario from the dirty hands of a drunk man. They get along and go to Rosario's room. After making love, they begin to talk and Rosario discovers they're siblings...

Starting with the leading performance from the first diva in Mexican cinematography according to some (Andrea Palma), without forgetting Domingo Soler who also makes a great contribution to the cast in this film, then the great strength of the plot and the masterful direction by Arcady Boytler. All in all this movie cannot be considered less than excellent. So yes, maybe some of the scenes don't result quite the way they should, but most of them do. Particularly the scene from the carnival at the beginning of the movie and the last scene bring you to the verge of tears. Yes it also many elements of a catholic moral (Rosario lives in guilt, her way of paying her sins is by means of sacrifice), but we have to consider the movie was released in 1934 and the Mexican society of the time had those values dictating our lives and, weather we take this into consideration or not, I think the the plot is really really tough and the theme very strong. Maybe nowadays we have many movies with plots that are twice or thrice as tough, but I think this is still a great, great movie and has no soap opera can never even remotely compare with it. Also, it is one of the first movies with recorded sound in the Mexican film industry.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Que Viva Mexico!

Que Viva Mexico! - Da zdravstvuyet Meksika! (1979)

Plot Outline: Eisenstein shows us Mexico in this movie, its history and its culture. He believes, that Mexico can become a modern state.

User Comments: Even if it would have been completed, I would bet that it would be considered one of Eisenstein's lesser works

Que Viva Mexico is an interesting (reconstruction of a) film by Sergei Eisenstein, the director of so many masterpieces. In fact, of all that I have seen, this is the only non-masterpiece of the bunch. Even the reconstruction of Beshin Meadow I like more. Que Viva Mexico is a semi-documentary. Most of it is uninteresting and, unlike Eisenstein's other films and Tisse's other cinematography, poorly composed. The only parts of real interest come near the end, with the rebellion, something that Eisenstein was used to creating on screen. There is a great gunfight with a woman participating, a precursor to Alexander Nevsky's Vasilisa, and there is a great scene where some rebels are buried up to the shoulders underground and then trampled by horses (by far the best scene in the film). The Day of the Dead celebration is also very interesting. There is also a bullfight that will demonstrate just how cruel bullfighting is.

I do have to complain about the reconstruction that I watched. This was supposed to be a silent film, I believe. The narration I did not mind, for Eisenstein would have had to find a way to communicate what the narrator did anyway. And the music is good, often great. But I object to the insertion of diagetic sound effects, like guns shooting and horses galloping. This is ridiculous. Obviously the only people who are ever going to see this film are Eisenstein enthusiasts, so to try to sell it to the public as a sound movie is ridiculous. Why?

Midaq Alley

El Callejon de los Milagros (1998) - Midaq Alley

Plot Summary: Based on the Nobel Prize Winner's novel, the Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz. The story, translated from El Cairo to Mexico City's downtown, narrates the life of the members of the neighbourhood and the connection between them Don Ru, the owner of the local pub; Eusebia, his wife; Guicho, his son and Abel his friend, who emigrate to USA in search of fortune; Susanita, the single landtender always dreaming to marry a good man; Jimmy, the pub's employee, who extracts the money when Don Ru is not there and finally marries Susanita; Alma, the very good looking girl, the Abel's dream, who becomes a luxury prostitute while he's away, etc. This movie won the Ariel (the Mexican Oscar) as best movie in 1995.

The lives of the inhabitants of El Callejon de los Milagros, in downtown Mexico City, are closely knitted as the threads of a rug. Fifty-something Don Ru (Gomez Cruz) owns a small "cantina" where all the men spend afternoons playing domino. He's tired of his longtime marriage with Eusebia (Casanova) and has recently discovered new feelings inside his heart. It doesn't matter if these feelings are not aimed to a young lady but to a young clerk (Soberanes): after all, as one of the characters says, "it's platonic love". Don Ru's son Chava (Bernal) doesn't like what he sees and almost kills his father's lover. Running away from Don Ru's anger, Chava escapes to the USA with his friend Abel (Bichir) who's deeply in love with beautiful Alma (Hayek), the daughter of Dona Cata (Rojo), a tarot reader with bad luck in love. Susanita (Sanz), the ugly landlady looking for love; Guicho (Tovar), Don Ru's cinic employee, Maru (Scanda), Don Fidel (Obregon), Dona Flor (Morett), Zacarias (Woolrich) and mean Jose Luis (Gimenez Cacho) complete the cast of characters of this complex portrait of lives.

Naturaleza Viva Frida (1986)

Naturaleza Viva Frida (1986)

Plot Summary: The most prominent female painter of Latin America, Frida Kahlo, is agonizing in her Coyoacan home. She evokes memories of her childhood, of the streetcar accident that caused her terrible pain and affliction, her friendship with Trotsky and painter Alfaro Siqueiros, her marriage to Diego Rivera, her miscarriage, her political commitment, her love affairs and the anticipated exhibition of her works.

Frida is the story of a woman who has an obsession with the physical image of herself. During the course of the movie she suffers from a profound identity crisis. The viewer will immediately notice the lack of dialogue in this film. The absence of dialogue represents the fact that communication for Frida is visual, not verbal. Her works of art speak for her as she communicates her pain and suffering through her paintings. Frida Kahlo's obsession with her physical abnormalities drives her to paint herself disfigured and in pain and directly reflects her personal suffering. The viewer realizes that art is life for Frida. Art was the way in which she communicated but unfortunately, the public does not seem to get a firm understanding of her pain nor the manner in which she expressed herself.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Mexico Cine & Video Clips

These are mostly movies I have collected over the years. Many bought thru Amazon, some copied from television to VHS and lately downloaded with a Torrent client.

Many descriptions are from Amazon and reviews are from IMDb

Peliculas de Mexico
San Diego Latino Film Festival