Innocent voices

A film by Luis Mandoki

Cast: Carlos Padilla, Leonor Varela, Xuna Primus

The plot is set during the Salvadoran Civil War, and is based on writer Óscar Torres’s childhood. It is a true story. A young boy is trying to have a normal childhood in Salvator in 1980 during the civil war. He is trying to survive with his family with the war raging around him.

His father escaped to the United States at the start of the civil war when he was only 5. His family lives in a small town of Cuscatancingo that is currently heavily fought over between the Salvadoran army and the El Salvador guerrillas. In Innocent Voices, the government is being given American funds to fight the communist-led guerrillas. Now I don’t know if you saw the Oliver’s Stone film Salvator but it is about a journalist that covers both sides. What sets Innocent voices apart is that is about this boy and his family who are in the middle of this war. It is there point of view of this boy named Chava. His uncle is with the guerrillas, so he supports his uncle , and he fears the government because he does not want to be taken into the army. His mother is trying to survive and works odd jobs to feed her family. Chava takes upon himself to have a job, he talks into a bus driver to be the conductor. There are some terrifying scenes where the resident has to go under their mattress to dodge bullets when the soldier and the guerrillas get into a shoot out to top it all off it is almost every night. To live under those condition plus move further to avoid the war it is not an easy thing to do as Chava and his family come to find out.  There are some scenes that are heard wrenching I will give you this warning. The film is effective here and you will go how did they survive this hell hole. Plus they had to evade the army because they where taking kids that are 12 years old to train them to fight. There was 300,000 kids all over the world that were forced to be trained as soldier. When it comes to war the innocent will suffer as well and that is a shame.

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A monster with a thousand heads

A film by Rodrigo Plá

Cast: Jana Raluy, Sebastián Aguirre, Hugo Albores

The new film by Rodrigo Plá is a very angry film. It looks like the insurance company in Mexico works about the same way that the one in the US. There is bureaucracy of course a bunch of red tape to go with it  which is going to be followed by rage. If you are not satisfied with your primary physician it is a simple as filling a form and voila you have a new physician.

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But Sonia Bonet (Jana Raluy) needs a signature. First, she needs one from her doctor.But he blows her off and she gets pissed off following him with her son to his house where she takes him hostage and try to get him to sign. This leads her to a more violent confrontation at the club  to be chain up with with some high ranking official from the insurance company later. The frustration of this woman that becomes rage is terrifying with some dark  humor into it.  Jana Rally fills the screen with admirable presence in this film. She allows us to understand the dark logic under most of her outwardly irrational decisions. The thing is with the insurance company everybody at some point or an other is fed up with them and at some point desperate people with do desperate things for their spouse. It is a film with some interesting shot here, with some voice over of the trial as the action continues. Remember the film John Q (2002) that is the american version but Rodrigo Plá is  as original as he can be with the story adapted by Laura Santullo from her own novel which he slightly tweak it. Plá shot it with very creative angles.  Plá sets out to make this controversial film at its purest form , not a commercialized movie. And it shows.

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LA ZONA (2007)

La zona, propriété privée (2007)

A film byRodrigo Plá

Cast: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Daniel Tovar, Alan Chávez

La Zona  has a point to make about Mexican society and perhaps about the divisions in society on a huge global scale. You see in Mexico as well as everywhere else there are the rich gated community than there are the poor. It is getting just getting like that in France and I know it is like that already in the US. The rich has their own security with cameras and their own laws. Basically they have a committee and they police themselves. There are a wall that separate them from the poor with barbwires. One night an accident causes one of the power pylons of a billboard  next to the Zone to collapse  on the wall and knocks  the security system off guard which leaves an opening for 3 thieves to get in and rob an old lady. Things go wrong however two of the boys get shot and one is at large plus an old lady and a security guard are dead.

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Here is an intelligent thriller at its best, that open many questions. To top it all off this kind of incident is going to divide the community, and the tension build up to the point the boil pot is going to blow. The resident of the zone vote to clean their own mess up which involves some little white lies to cover up the truth,  and not involve the police, well do you think the rich wants to go to jail? you see there are people who will have different opinions about what to do some wants to tell the truth to the police, one even called them up, which he got of lot of flock from the others, others are okay to cover it up and even can live with themselves. Based on a story by the director’s wife, Laura Santullo, La Zona certainly presents a situation scarce with deep feelings and mounting tension of the resident who wants to cover it up and shut down those who don’t.

The film opens up can of bad worms with interesting question can we police ourselves? taking the law into our own hand is it worth it? segregation, paranoia and insularity, rich versus poor, good vs bad need I go on, you get the point. It build up to the point intelligent people will think stupidly and will do stupid things that later they are going to regret. Of course there is the suspicious cop who is trying to find out the truth. Like I said here is an intelligent story that produces a tons of questions. See the thing is that the rich look after themselves, the poor has no voice, and the system is corrupt, in the ned the one who has more money wins.


JAUJA (2015)

Jauja (2014)

A film by Lisandro Alonso

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Ghita Nørby, Viilbjørk Malling Agger

First off don’t expect a linear, mainstream film or you may be disappointed. I just gave you the warning. The story takes place in Argentina Patagonia, and what a beautiful landscape I might add. The story goes like this. It is the 19th century and Captain Dinesen (Viggo Mortensen) is a Danish engineer on a quest to find Jauja, a mythical land of happiness. His daughter ( Viilbjork Malling Agger) wants a dog that follows her everywhere. When captain Dinesen goes to bed one night has this feeling, and decided to go to see it his daughter who should be  asleep safe and sound comes to find out that she is gone. He saddles up and goes after her.

Here is a neo-neorealism film and beyond. The film was shot in a 1.33:1 ratio frame and has unmated  rounded corners. It is a slow cinematic film so if that is not your thing do what other people did do not see it. I went to see this film and 5 people got out within 20 minutes of the film. Technically I called it an art film. You will immerse yourself in this cinematography of beautiful and raw landscape. Alonso deploys a large distance between the characters and you can see the landscape rich color. When Dinesen goes in the cave to see the old women that lives there you get the sense that is his daughter when she is older. Towards the end it is as I call it his Urban daughter, yes it is a strange art film but beautiful as hell. Yes it does not make any sense but it does not have to. Viggo Mortenson is fluent in both Danish Spanish and French. You might interpret the film differently, Alonso even said that some stuff that he really didn’t understand and he co-wrote it, how funny is that. So there you are going to love it or hate it, no in between. After all it is not your typical western.




sin hombre

A film by Cary Fukunaga

Cast: Paulina Gaitan, Marco Antonio Aguirre, Leonardo Alonso

The film has 2 stories. First you have a young woman Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) from Honduras Who join her father and her uncle to go to Guatemala through Mexico than the United States to relatives in New Jersey for a better life. The other involved Willy (Edgar Flores) his gang name Casper and a 12 year old kid who want to be in the gang and their leader to rob the train where the people are going to the United states the 2 stories collide with each other. The is the film debut of Cary Fukunaga who was 31 at the time and he has already master story telling and the cinematography of this film. Sayra’s father and her uncle are on this journey to get to Jersey to see the family who lives there but the journey is carved in hell. You will see what people will endure to get there. Casper join the gang by force and smiley the 12 years old kid want to be in the gang he get initiated by being beating to death then Casper show him around the compound where the gang leaves and show him the rope.  when Casper meets Sayra you think their fate is sealed but all hell breaks loose. You see Cary has ride the train and he knew what went on. It is not a pretty site, bu it is the reality of it. And smiley it is terrifying to see a 12 years old kid to want to be in the gang and be accepted on the top of it he will do anything they will ask him to do even kill someone. The scenery is superb is this film no doubt. Before they reach a train station the jump off the train and make a detour on foot to avoid the guards. Sin Hombre is a great film showing the incredible will power to endure anything to get to their destination.




A film by  Hugo Rodríguez.
Cast: Diego Luna, Rafael Inclán, Rosa María Bianchi.
“Nicotina,” is a crime caper set in Mexico City about a simple exchange that goes awry, causing the lives of nine unsuspecting characters to explode in one tumultuous night over a fortune in diamonds. Diego Luna stars as computer hacker Lolo, who is infatuated with his neighbor Andrea and catalogs her every move via high-tech peeping devices. Lolo teams with amateur criminals Tomson and his younger counterpart Nene in a deal with a Russian mobster that involves the exchange of diamonds for computer access to Swiss bank accounts. But the deal goes terribly wrong after Lolo’s attempts to spoil Andrea’s romantic trysts spiral out of control. Down the street, the irritable pharmacist Beto and his fed-up wife Clara get inadvertently entangled in the exchange, along with the humble barber Goyo and his domineering other half Carmen. Infected with diamond lust, these characters become obsessed with the intoxicating possibility of an easy life and their greed quickly transforms into fiery.

Yes! a mexican dark comedy/crime story directed by Hugo Rodriguez. Bullit are flying and bodies are dropping left and right. Looking good baby. And the tile is translated nicotine. And yes most of the character are having a fit of nicotine because they quit smoking the other do not smoke. Now this movie is a little à la quentin Tarantino but it is still fun to watch and yes it could be funnier but I still like this one we do not get too many film from mexico those days. Message of the film is that forget quitting smoking, do smoke because if you are a gangster you are going to get shot and die anyway so what is your point. like the female in the drug store said to a customer why deny yourself the single pleasure in life from a cigarette.


A film by Pedro almodovar. Stars: Liberto Rabal, Francesca Neri and Javier Bardem Pizza delivery man Victor is having an argument with Elena, whom he met a few days ago, but she was high then and doesn’t want to hear about him. Reacting to the noise, two cops, young David and older Sancho, arrive at the scene, the gun accidentally goes off.. Four years later David is a wheelchair basketball star, he’s married to Elena, Victor is released out of prison and their destinies begin to cross again.