Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Japon (Carlos Reygadas, 2002)

After only two films (Japon and the equally wonderful Battle in Heaven), Carlos Reygadas is already one of the filmmakers I respect most. I saw Battle in Heaven earlier this year, and was taken aback by the utter patience and beauty Reygadas infused into the film. The long, meticulous shots, the unflinching view we're given of people's mistakes, and the sincere quest for salvation were all just shocking. I haven't seen many other films that were that pain-stakingly occupied with portraying a mood. Japon is the same way. The exploration of sexuality and religion that Reygadas expands upon in Battle is set in motion in Japon. The protagonist, an unnamed artist, probably from Mexico City, goes to rugged mountainside Mexico country to kill himself. The first scene, where the artist puts a bird out of his misery and then gets a ride from a hunter who takes the suicide plan in stride, brought tears to my eyes, as the truckful of men listen to classical music and Reygadas shoots this rough terrain with so much love. The audience can already see, as the artist may or may not come to, that the world is beautiful and worth living for.

And finding the beauty in "ugly" things is another preoccupation of Reygadas' work. The artist eventually ends up staying with Ascen, an elderly woman who lives by herself in the mountains and is being taken total advantage of by her grandson. The artist is at first mildly annoyed by Ascen, but eventually finds something in her that he needs. The landscape really is a main character in this film, and the scene where the artist lays on a plateau with a dead horse is particularly gorgeous. I don't want to say too much more about the plot of the film, which picks up a little bit in the second half, because it's surprising and touching, and, most of all, completely real. Some have called Reygadas pretentious for his long shots and non-professional actors, but he does an amazing job at bringing out the beautiful and the important, for lack of a better word, out of the ordinary. I can't wait for Reygadas' Silent Light, due in 2007, and sounds like he picks up on his same themes again. Reygadas is really one of the best and most promising filmmakers in the New Mexican Cinema genre, and seems to be one that won't abandon Mexican film once he gets a bit of fame.


RIYL: Inarritu/Cuaron

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