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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rodrigo D: No Future (Victor Gaviria, 1990)

Blessed with one of the most nihilistic film titles of all time, Rodrigo D: No Future really lives up to its title. Set in Medellin, Columbia, in 1988, Gaviria's film follows a loosely-knit group of friends, who happen to be mostly drug dealers or thieves, through what seems like a typical period of time in their lives. There is no real plot (the main complaint I've read about this film, although any plot enforced on these lives would seem silly and, well, forced), and it is shot in almost documentary style. The line between fiction and non-fiction is blurred in the film, because Gaviria did, in fact, use mostly local street people for the roles, as only Ramiro Meneses as Rodrigo was a real actor. How much of this was written by Gaviria, and how much was actually just filmed? Probably a fair amount of both. The acting is so realistic that this definitely could be shown as a documentary, and I think few people would dispute the title.

Rodrigo wants to get out of his Medellin home, and he thinks punk music is the way out. He desperately wants to buy a drum kit, but doesn't have the money or the resources to find one. He finally gets a woodworker to make him a set of drum sticks, and he spends the rest of the movie drumming on any available surface, while his friends practice fighting and talk shit to one another. I got the feeling that while Rodrigo doesn't seem much different than his friends, that he was going to get out of his life because of his love of punk - he really wants to start a band, and starts hanging out more with his musician friends than his thug ones. Also interesting, I thought, was to see these urban, disenfranchised youths embracing punk music rather than, say, hip-hop. It makes perfect sense, though, because punk embodies the anger and the energy these young men have in every day life.

There are some minor tragedies in Rodrigo D, but they don't affect the audience so much because we get the sense that this kind of stuff happens all the time. In fact, Gaviria put a note at the end of the film, saying that some of the street tough non-actors had been killed in ways similar to what characters in the movie had died, even before the film had been finished. This is a less polished, way more real version of City of God, and really gives you a taste of what life can be like in a world not that far from (at least my) own. I definitely recommend it as an artifact and way to peek into a different kind of life, but it's not incredibly strong as a film on its own.


RIYL: City of God, Amores Perros

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